NEW YORK — If you’re trying to lose weight and reach fitness goals, snapping a selfie could pay off.
Here’s a look at new research that shows us how social media helped one woman shed a third of her body weight.
Gina Licata is documenting her physical transformation for the world to see, snapping selfies, gym picture and posting before and after shots on Instagram as her followers cheer her on.
“At first, I didn’t really tell a lot of people in my personal life about it, it was just strangers on the Internet,” Licata said.
She’s lost 80 pounds over the last year and a half and she credits much of her success to that social media support group.
“Just wanted to hold myself accountable and be sort of a member of this community and just have that support,” Licata said. “It helps me think like well you know I should get this workout in because then I’ll have something to post to Instagram.”
A recent study in the Journal of Interactive Marketing finds virtual support communities are in fact helpful and that sharing successes and disappointments online can be a key part of reaching weight loss goals.
“So we were able to see all of their achievements, their milestones, their setbacks, over that year time period,” Sonya A. Grier, with American University, said. “And we saw that people really used this forum as a way to commit to these goals and achieve them one by one.”
Gina has more than 14,000 people keeping track of her progress, encouraging her to “keep going,” calling her ”incredible” and wishing her “congratulations!”
Her weight loss secret? Just old fashioned diet and exercise.
“How do you feel when you look at these before and after pictures?” a reporter asked.
“I feel proud!” Licata said.
And her digital followers consider her an inspiration.