The authors of the study believed that the website worked as a result of its mixture of accountability and sociability.
Site users were asked log in once a week to enter their weight and the amount of exercise they'd done -- and if they didn't log in regularly, they got an e-mail and then an automated phone call. Users could also chat with other study participants.
Time Magazine reports:
"The study began with 1,600 overweight or obese participants, about 350 of whom lost enough weight ... to stay in the trial ... Users who had logged on the most regularly -- at least once a month for 28 months -- had kept off the most weight, an average of 9 lbs. People who used the website the least kept off only 3 lb. on average."
This is a great idea, and Mercola.com will be deploying the Mercola Health Navigator later this year, which should provide the type of weight loss support mentioned in the article.
Whether it was the social support or the accountability of recording weekly weight and exercise logs, the Kaiser Permanente weight loss site worked to help people lose weight, and I'm very hopeful the Mercola Health Navigator will help you to do the same.
Motivation and Support: Two Keys to Weight Loss
Among the major challenges of long-term weight loss are finding the motivation and support to stick with your healthy diet and exercise program. Often there is no better way to find this than by enlisting a good friend who can give you the extra push to head to the gym when you'd rather lie on the couch, or cook yourself a wholesome meal when it'd be easier to run out for fast food.
Preferably, that friend would be one who is trying to lose weight too, who understands exactly what you're going through -- both the ups and the downs.
The problem is, not everyone has access to a supportive friend, much less one who is going through the same challenges you are. That's what's so great about the Internet. It gives you access to hundreds of people who are just like you … people who are also committed to getting healthy and achieving their ideal weight … and these people can be among your biggest fans and supporters in your weight loss journey.
The Internet also gives you a non-confrontational place for you to keep a record of your weight loss goals. When you have a forum full of people rooting you on, it makes you want to try harder to succeed. It also provides a spot for you to write down your achievements, making you personally accountable for your success.
With positive sites like the Mercola Health Navigator, you'll be able to change your time spent on the Internet from time that could potentially sabotage your weight to time that is spent productively supporting your health goals.
The Cornerstones of Virtually Every Weight Loss Program
Internet or no, in order to effectively lose weight you'll need to move away from the computer at some point and start to make some healthy changes in your life.
It's not necessarily as simple as just eating a salad and going out for a walk, but the changes are certainly well within most people's reach if the desire is there. Here are the three tips that everyone who is trying to lose weight should focus on:
- Tailor your diet to your nutritional type. These are the foods that are right for your biochemistry, and these are the foods that will push your body toward its ideal weight. (By the way, these foods may be high in fat, high in carbs, heavy on protein or heavy on veggies, it all depends on YOU).
- View exercise as a drug. When you're trying to lose weight, a casual walk here and there is not going to cut it. There are a number of routes you can go here, but ideally, you need to exercise each and every day.
Fortunately, there's a highly effective exercise strategy that can dramatically reduce your workout time and maximize your weight loss; it's called Peak Fitness.
- Address your emotional blocks. Tools like the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) are your friend and ally when it comes to losing weight. For some, emotional eating is more complex and an experienced EFT practitioner may be able to help unravel some of your deeper emotional issues.
Avoid Dietary Enemy #1
In addition to the three steps above, if you are overweight or obese it's important to understand that your number one dietary enemy is fructose.
Avoiding fructose and eating according to your nutritional type is THE one-two diet punch that can finally make a dramatic difference in your weight and health.
The health effects of fructose are now becoming quite well understood, and it is very clear that fructose is the leading culprit for our obesity epidemic.
That includes fructose in the form of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), other added sugars, and natural fructose found in fruit and fruit juices.
Avoiding fructose means severely limiting or eliminating sodas, sugary drinks, and nearly all processed foods from your diet, as they are loaded with HFCS. Eating a diet based on processed foods is a well-known way to do two things that are nearly guaranteed to make you pack on the pounds:
- Interfere with your body's ability to regulate insulin
- Interfere with your body's ability to regulate leptin
As for fruit, although whole fruits contain synergistic factors that ameliorate much of the detrimental health effects of fructose, if you are overweight or are insulin resistant, you do need to carefully limit your fruit intake as well.
I believe most everyone needs to limit their fructose intake to 25 grams a day, but if you are overweight, diabetic, or have high blood pressure or high cholesterol, you'll want to limit your fructose intake even further -- to 15 grams a day -- until your condition normalizes.
In addition, the latest research shows that your uric acid levels can be used as an indicator of fructose toxicity. If you have a level of below 4 for men, or 3.5 for women, you probably are at a very low risk for fructose toxicity and can be more liberal with these limits.
The higher your uric acid though, the more you need to limit or even avoid fructose until your uric acid level normalizes (and most often, if you are overweight your uric acid level will be elevated).
Using the Internet as a Health and Weight Loss Tool
You can, of course, easily spend hours a day frivolously searching the Web, being sedentary and even eating a host of ready-made junk foods along with it. But the Internet also gives you access to an incredible wealth of information previous generations did not have, while giving each of us a platform to share ideas that, collectively, could change the very fabric of the future.
Thanks to the Internet, "tribes" are now everywhere, connecting people with similar interests all across the globe.
Even people on the fringes can find each other and connect to make positive change. This was exactly the case for Nancy Makin, who told TIME she was able to go from 703 pounds down to 170 pounds because of the supportive, and accepting, friends she found online.
We now have nearly 2 million subscribers to this newsletter. All of you are interested in taking control of your health, and many of you are also trying to lose weight.
With the launch of the Mercola Health Navigator later this year, you will soon be able to collectively share your goals, aspirations and knowledge to help each other reach a higher level of health.
It is tribes of likeminded people like you that are not only able to incite change in our world, but also on a highly personal, individual level as well. So I look forward to the health and weight loss goals that will come to fruition for many of you with the launch of this new system, and in the meantime please continue to share your thoughts and successes in the Community Comments section below.