Technology and Weight Loss: Pros and Cons

Mindfulness – This word and practice has the power to change your life completely.  Meditation gurus will tout the benefits of mindfulness, and teach the importance of being in the MyGoal #015 illustration (Twitter) present moment.  You do not have to spend hours in a meditation center to learn mindfulness.  You can practice it in your everyday life, because it is simply the art and act of paying attention.

Sounds easy, right?  In theory yes, but what do you do when the kids are crying for dinner, your boss needs that work project yesterday, and now your mom is calling you?  How mindful can you be when life gets busy? Add in an extra 75 emails you have yet to respond to, because your internet has been down for the last three days.

Whew!  It is one thing to be mindful while sitting in a quiet space, but maintaining that focus when life comes at you can become difficult and overwhelming.

How many email lists are you on?  How many messages do you receive each week for special offers and discounts?  And don’t even get me started on pop-up ads – they can pull you off your center in about 0.2 seconds.  Talk about distraction!

Technology can be stressful, but there are benefits.  Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have the power to keep you connected and may even help you reap positive benefits as it relates to weight loss.  A new study from the University of South Carolina School of Public Health studied the impact of Twitter use on weight loss.  This research study led by Brie Turner-McGrievy found those who participated in a weight loss program enjoyed more success when they used the site to share information.

The study included 96 overweight and obese men, who were divided into two groups.  One group listened to podcasts, while the other group listened to podcasts and utilized mobile phone use to follow each other on Twitter.  They posted updates and words of encouragement.  Weight loss counselors also chimed in, joining the tweeting efforts to provide information and support (2x/day).

Turner-McGrievy says, “Those who regularly utilized Twitter as part of a mobile weight loss program lost more weight.”

There are multiple benefits to technology, as it relates to weight loss.  It keeps you informed and connected.  It allows you to teach, learn, share, and express.  Not to mention the countless apps available for losing weight, tracking calories, exercise, and healthy restaurants.  It seems there is an app for everything.

The key is to align your lifestyle with the appropriate app.  Keep it simple and focused, so you do not find yourself belonging to 15 different sites and forgetting the passwords for them all!  Choose one to start, and use it mindfully.  Expand your array of technological choices as your mindfulness allows.  Remember technology is supposed to make things easier – including weight loss.


References:

Turner-McGrievy, G.;Tate, D. (2011) Tweets, Apps, and Pods: Results of the 6-month Mobile Pounds Off Digitally (Mobile POD) Randomized Weight Loss Intervention Among Adults.  Journal of Medical Internet Research, 13:4.