Sunday, August 15, 2010

Diet: The Humiliation Diet - Tweet What You Eat



Who knows exactly how much you weigh? Weight has typically been a very private matter for most people, but there's a new trend on Twitter that is bringing the sometimes shaming number out into the open.

The social networking revolution has led to a new way to fight the battle of the bulge, where Twitter users share their weight, along with everything that they're eating, and exactly how much, with the world.

The idea is to force oneself, by fear of public embarrassment, to eat right and get in shape.

Drew Margay is one Tweeter who took the public weight posting plunge late last year.
He went on to post his results -- no matter how painful -- every day for the next five months to his 8,000-plus followers on Twitter.

"On December 15, 2009, I weighed 260 pounds," Margay said. "I had a great deal of back pain because I was so overweight. I know if I keep my weight monitored and I keep it public every day, I'm always going to have an incentive to keep what I eat balanced."

Margay is not alone in the online "humiliation diet" trend. Tens of thousands of tweeters are following suit, posting their weight, eating habits and exercise routines to their friends, family and complete strangers.

Searching Twitter for the hash tags #publichumiliationdiet and #tweetyourweight brings up hundreds of updates from the past week from around the globe.

Tweetwhatyoueat.com launched in January 2008, is the brainchild of Alex Rossi. In the summer of 2007, Rossi was looking for a way to track what he was eating and get fit ahead of his wedding. After finding success with his program, losing seven pounds, Rossi launched the site as a Twitter-based food diary for the masses.

"It appeals to a certain type of person that needs that assurance, and wants to be held accountable for what they're eating, and wants to engage in a community," Rossi said. "You can end up getting more support than humiliation."

So far, posting his weight has worked well for Margay, who said he has now lost more than 60 pounds. He continues to post his weight to Twitter, and according to Friday's update, he's now down to 193 pounds, and continues keeping himself honest and fit.

Samantha Heller, a dietician and exercise physiologist who wrote "Get Smart: Samantha Heller's Nutrition Prescription for Boosting Brain Power and Optimizing Total Body Health," said she sees two sides to such public displays of weight.

"When you make a testament, it makes you accountable, and it can help people lose weight," Heller said in an interview with "Good Morning America." "But any time you're humiliated or shamed into doing something, it promotes a negative self-image. It's not a good way to promote healthy lifestyle changes or behavior change. We want these changes to be positive."

While for some people for whom weight loss is and will remain a private matter, the option to see a dietician or nutritionist is always an option, she said.

And for those who want to keep their regimen offline, she recommended groups like Weight Watchers and Overeaters Anonymous as healthy options.

"It depends on what works best for you to support you in making a healthy lifestyle change," Heller said.


"Good Morning America" correspondent John Berman will be joining the fold all day and sharing what he's eating on his Twitter feed. Follow him at twitter.com/abcdude.
resource: abc.com