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Log On to Lose Weight: How Blogs Can Save Your Diet

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Log On, Lose Weight

For many bloggers, myself included, the anonymity of keeping an online journal encourages a frankness and sense of accountability that may be difficult to develop in real life. For instance, bloggers often publish their starting, current, and goal weights and post before, during, and after photos of themselves. "Knowing that I have to post my stats every Wednesday motivates me to eat better throughout the week," says Shauna Marsh, the Australian creator of "The Amazing Adventures of Diet Girl!" (dietgirl.org), who's lost a whopping 161 pounds. Blogging may also help dieters cultivate healthier eating habits by helping them develop what experts call "focused awareness" -- the ability to home in on what's driving your behavior, whether it's positive (swapping yogurt for milkshakes) or negative (diving into a bag of Cheetos whenever you feel mad at the world). "Reading your own essays can help you recognize when and why you make unhealthy food choices," explains Patricia Saunders, PhD, a clinical psychologist in New York City. "Down the road, they can also help you prevent destructive patterns, like emotional eating."

Quick Support, Instant Feedback

Writing a blog also gives you access to an instant support network, which experts believe is key to losing weight and keeping it off. Most bloggers chronicle their lives for an audience of dozens, but some high-visibility sites can have thousands of daily readers; that's a lot of people tracking your progress. On my blog, I offer a comments section where readers post reactions, suggestions or even just a thank-you; their feedback is an enormous source of strength. Denise Elliott of San Diego, who lost almost 40 pounds while writing "Do You Have That in My Size???" (lottalatte.blogspot.com), agrees: "When I write a particularly painful entry, I might receive dozens of comments that help bolster my confidence."

Readers also benefit. "Blogs can teach you how others deal with setbacks and relapses," says John Foreyt, PhD, director of the Behavioral Medicine Research Center at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. Some sites even offer bulletin boards where you can post questions to other dieters; you'd be surprised how many solutions to common calorie conundrums you'll turn up.

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