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A sleeker, stronger body could be just a tweet or a Facebook post away
By Jamie Beckman
One of the best tools for peeling off pounds is already in your bag: It's your smartphone or iPad. In fact, all that texting, tweeting, and posting — the average woman spends more than 80 minutes a day on her phone, according to a recent report from the mobile apps analytics firm Flurry — can tip the scales in your favor.
And one in three of us are already using social sites like Facebook to get slender, reports research from the University of Arizona. So go ahead and steal these suggestions from women who took their shape-up viral.
Tweet Your Way Thin
Nancy Tessier, 50, lost 28 pounds by posting all her meals and snacks to Tweet What You Eat (@twye), an online food journal that lets others eyeball your noshes. "Sometimes it was a lot easier to decide not to eat something than to have to tweet it for the world to see," she says.
Posting your weight-loss numbers can help, too. The University of Arizona research suggests that women who reveal shape-up victories on a weekly basis trim down faster than those who update less frequently. If you're feeling shy, think up a Twitter handle and upload a cartoon character as your avatar so you can share the skinny without feeling self-conscious.
Gain a Following
Get some virtual support pronto by following Twitter hash tags like #fitblog. Carla Shorts, 27, started chiming in on #fitblog's weekly live chats — and dropped from a size 12 to a size 6 in just a year. "When my weight loss reached a plateau, having women point out that my 30-minute elliptical routine wasn't going to cut it anymore was key," she says. "I started running and began to lose again."
You can also start your own hashtag, like Sherry Pagoto, 38, from Massachusetts, did with #plankaday, a challenge to spend at least a minute in plank pose each day.
Find more ways your phone can help you lose weight after the break.
When Shareen Newman, 43, needed advice on how to enjoy parties without gaining back the 75 pounds she had just lost, she turned to Facebook.
"One friend suggested I bring a healthy dish as my go-to food," says Newman. "I do that now with every party — I make a mean taco-less Mexican salad." Poll your online brain trust anytime you need real-world wisdom, from how to resist office cupcakes to where to find a good trainer. You'll get road-tested advice, plus a reminder that you're not the only one trying to healthy up.
Get Your Group On
Deborah Collins-Rapp, 50, lost 85 pounds with help from her 20-member "100-Pound Bootcamp" Facebook group. "These people were strangers, but we bonded over losing weight," she says. "When I had trouble cutting down on bread, one woman had me write down everything I ate and send it to her. She kept me accountable."
Find your own trim-down team through groups like "Give Up the Booze to Lose" on sparkpeople.com. Or start your own on Facebook or Google+: First, make it invisible to nonmembers. Then, nail down a day each week for everyone to share their pounds lost. Folks can post on the group's wall or use a free video-conferencing site like oovoo.com or the "hangout" feature on Google+ to check in en masse.
Don't worry, get app-y
There are more than 11,000 apps to help you lose weight. Some are truly innovative: Snap a photo of your grub and send it to Diet Snaps ($2; dietsnaps.com) to store the shots in a visual food journal. Or use My Fitness Pal (free; myfitnesspal.com) to scan a food's barcode; the calories instantly upload to a food log you can share with friends on Facebook and Twitter.
Sienna Farris, 37, knows the power of apps: After visiting her gym for the first time, she set her sights on getting a Mayor title on Foursquare, a prize awarded to whomever checks into a locale most often. She scored the crown — and lost 60 pounds in the process. "My account shows I've been to that gym 411 times," Farris says. "I'm so proud of myself!"