In the old days, to tone up, you’d go outside for a run, eat right and maybe lift a few weights in the garage a la Kevin Spacey in American Beauty. These days, the average guy can still do all that. But then he’ll probably feel the urge to tell someone about it on Facebook. Which is cool, because you can actually use your social media accounts to drive your physique to new levels of ripped-ness. Here’s how.
Set Bold Fitness Goals and Announce Them
Let’s say you’ve got extra pounds you want to drop. Log in and type, “I’m going to lose 20 pounds in the next 20 weeks. Please stay on me and ask me how things are going.” That’s what New York Times writer Brian Stelter did. He set a goal on Twitter to lose 25 pounds by his 25th birthday, and he ended up shedding more than 75. Deadspin scribe Drew Magary did the same thing, starting a “Public Humiliation Diet” and dropping more than 60. Might as well put peer pressure to work for something good, right?
You’ll definitely want to show yourself getting fitter, which will generate even more encouragement while giving you a visual timeline of your progress.
Send Updates, Receive Encouragement
The next step is to send lots of updates about your fitness progress. Go on Facebook or Twitter and announce when you work out, what you did, what you’re eating, what you’re not eating, how many pounds you’ve lost, how you’re feeling, etc. Sending these kinds of messages sets you up for a flood of support from friends and followers, which will in turn drive you to keep working toward your goals. Bonus: these updates may inspire your friends to get in shape as well.
Post Pictures, Maps and Charts
Sharing photos is another great way to stay on track. Some people post a picture on Facebook of everything they eat, turning their account into a food journal to help them count calories. Even if you don’t want to go that far, you’ll definitely want to show yourself getting fitter, which will generate even more encouragement while giving you a visual timeline of your progress. And with apps like Walkmeter and Nike+, you can also share Google maps of your runs and charts of your workouts. There’s even a WiFi scale that will post your weight, body fat percentage and BMI directly to Facebook. Talk about holding yourself accountable.
Gather Inspiration and Info
Some of the most inspiring and knowledgeable fitness people on the planet have Twitter accounts. So follow them. They’ll motivate you, and they’ll also dispense great workout and diet tips and expose you to some excellent articles that you might’ve otherwise missed. As far as fitness personalities, there are people like Bob Harper and Jillian Michaels (and, you know, me).
Find Training Partners
Facebook and other sites are also great for rallying your friends to participate in runs, hikes and various other activities. (Tip: to set up weekly pick-up games in, say, basketball or soccer, you can also try Evite.) And if you want to find like minded people in your area to train with and draw support from (in terms of workout ideas, exercise tips and encouragement).
Participate in “Virtual” Workouts
Thanks to programs like FaceTime and Skype, you no longer have to be in the same room with your personal trainer or workout partner. For example, when my clients are traveling, I’ll actually do training sessions with them over their laptop, iPad or iPhone. (These same clients will sometimes take me grocery shopping with them, virtually.)
Reduce Your Stress
Don’t forget: “fitness” isn’t just about working out. It’s an overall lifestyle. That means eating right, getting enough sleep and keeping your stress levels under control. Social media can really help with that last one. Whether it’s firing off a quick note on Facebook about the tough day you’re having, or following people on Twitter who make you laugh, social media can help you keep things in perspective and brighten your day. It’s also easier to have a quick chat with someone you care about, no matter where they live. Because sometimes the best way to de-stress is by spending a few minutes talking to a friend. And if that fails, you can always hit a heavy bag for 10 minutes, of course.