Bulge blogging: Social networking keeps dieting honest

Wednesday, January 14, 2009 | 10:00 a.m. CST

Weight Watchers. Jenny Craig. Celebrity Endorsements. Magic weight loss pills. Lose 20 pounds for $20. Trimspa, baby!

We’ve all heard the gimmicks. Dieting has become a standard in our lives. We always have a friend or family member on a diet. And if it’s not them, it’s us trying to trim the waistline. Low-carb, bread is bad. Low-fat, eat more salmon. No sugar, step away from the cupcake. Take these pills three times a day with four glasses of water.

I believe the dieting industry must be one of the leading moneymaking industries in America. As obesity in the U.S. is rising, it seems the dieting business is getting fatter pockets. One would expect an inverse relationship.

The University of California has conducted a study with some interesting findings. According to its results, two-thirds of dieters gain the weight back. Is this discouraging? Yes. Is there anything we can do about it? Maybe.

With my generation’s dependence on technology, could we be more apt to listen to the computer than a dietician? Could blogging replace trips to Jenny Craig? Will a Twitter message replace that Twinkie? For a group of my friends, this may be the case.

The arrival of the new year has yet again brought promises of weight-loss, hopes of bikini bodies and a goal to be more healthy. In anticipation of spring break, some of my girlfriends have banded together and formed a support group.

This isn’t a new idea. Many friends go on diets together to keep each other accountable. But this isn’t our mother’s diet. This is the dieting of the future. Not only do we feel the urge to do better than our friends, but being constantly reminded every time I hop online that Savannah has lost three pounds, or the Kellogg’s cereal challenge is working, gives me more resolve. The girls have created blogs to give updates on their progress and hold them accountable. With almost everyone on Twitter and Facebook these days, moral support is just a click away.

One of my girlfriends posted on her blog that she was hesitant about putting everything out on the Web, but thinks the pros outweigh the cons. “That would mean discussing the area where I've got the lowest self-esteem. And yet, what a perfect idea, because my friends can support me as I work to achieve my goals.”

The girls can toss ideas back and forth that everyone can comment on, create workout events and keep each other informed of progress. We have moved from the Battle of the Bulge to the Battle of the Blog. There are no pills, just pop-ups.

The blogs remain upbeat and light-hearted. Progress is being made; workout regimes are being laid out. However, it’s still too early to tell if this will be a fad, like Beyonce’s Lemonade Diet.    

Tracy Barnes graduated from MU in 2008 with degrees in journalism and English. She is a former copy editor and multimedia editor for the Missourian. She can be contacted at


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