THE BLOG
11/30/2010 01:37 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Using Social Media For Weight Loss

Fat, porky, overweight, rotund, overly cuddly, obese (my least favorite word), chubby, portly, lycra challenged... that's me :-(

Until recently, I experienced two interesting problems. The first was that I never felt fat. Yes, I increased my clothes size, but not so fast that it was obvious to me. Yes, I could see myself in the mirror. Yes, I was huffing as I climbed up hills at golf. Yet, I really did not feel as fat as I was.

The second issue was that even though I felt fine physically, I intellectually and emotionally knew I was fat. The stigma of that made me desperately want to hide it, which affected my behavior.

Since my mid 20s, I have been overweight to some degree and growing up in Australia with asthma I always hated sport though I did cycle until a bad accident. I first dieted in my late 20s, and I used the Atkins diet and lost 15 kilos which I rapidly put back and then some.

When I moved to Europe my asthma disappeared entirely, and so I took up golf. While in Switzerland the second diet I undertook was their Biotta juice diet which again had me bounce down fast then later even higher in weight to my worst ever.

A couple of years later, during the growth phase of the network and social platform XING.com, a close friend referred me to Dr. Cohen's program which my wife and I did together. With spectacular results, yet with ever so much will power involved. After the Cohen's program two remarkable things happened: I did not put back any weight for nearly two years, and I lost several food allergies that I had developed, particularly to lamb and pork.

We went on a cruise to Alaska. Something I will never do again because even though the sights and experiences were amazing the ship was essentially a floating 24 hour free buffet and this destroyed both my will power and sense of food very quickly. (Perhaps it's a Chinese thing, but a free buffet is not something I can leave alone.)

The best thing about the Cohen's program was that it was fast 12 weeks to loose 35 kilos (77 pounds), and that I got lots of compliments from people who saw the weight coming off. The worst thing was the will power it required. This despite my years of mental discipline was a killer.

So what next? I watched over the years the steady increase of weight, and once I had put back 25 of the 35 kilos, I decided to for the fourth time to go on diet again because a close friend, Mike, had found an acceptable program that worked for him. My lovely wife Kerrie also decided to go on it, and we agreed that she should have a two week head start as she looses weight more slowly than I do.

My problem was that although the time frame was shorter this diet limits you to 500 calories a day. From my Cohen's experience, I know that 800 calories is damn tough. So I was sitting in front of my Mac and thinking to myself "where, oh where am I going to get the motivation?"

It hit me, then, that what I really needed to do was come clean with the world and diet in public. I know it was perhaps a moment of madness, but I decided right then and there to send out the following tweet:

"Diet day one of 98 starts. 105 kilos today, target 78 kilos."

Yes, I put my actual weight out in public, and this is something that I have been hiding for years. Oh, the stigma! In fact my worst weight ever was 115 kilos -- a whopping 254 pounds.

Seconds after I hit the tweet button, while I was pondering becoming a hermit with a tub of Ben an Jerry's, a funny thing happened: I started to get messages of support!

It's now day 18, and I am at 98.5 kilos having lost 5.5 kilos or 12 pounds. Every day I tweet my progress and everyday I am getting helpful and supportive messages even from people who follow me, and who I don't even know. I cannot describe how this has added to my will power, and I have not cheated at all on the diet. I know I am going to make it.

My friend Anna even had a brainwave and setup a page where you can sponsor our diet and the proceeds to go WeForest.org, my charity that wants to fix the climate by planting trees. You can contribute here: http://bit.ly/cWxkBF. This was something I never imagined and in 18 days our diets have planted 113 trees.

Twitter 1001 uses now 1002. I can say with certainty that the boost to my willpower of the kind tweets of good people has been immense. I can totally recommend going public and letting people in on your secret. I know as a fat person, I hate being told I need to do something about it. But now that I'm doing something about it, conversely getting daily messages of support is just so helpful. I predict that the next wave in successful dieting websites will have simple and gentle social tools that encourage the kind of support I have so far enjoyed.

PS
I am keeping the diet I am on secret until after I am done and can fully relate my experiences, as I do not think it's right to share it until I know it worked for me without side effects. So watch my tweets for the answers in 80 days from today.