Health Stories: Successful Weight Loss Aided by Online Tools

February 2, 2009 at 7:37 pm 44 comments is an example of a thriving, well-segmented online health community. The segmentation has been applied to their success stories as well, making it easy to locate stories that are likely to resonate. With both the discussion forums and stories, segmentation works because of the number of contributions. also seemingly does what many consumer websites have failed at: charges for parts of the website. They employ a tiered approach to registration and payment: most of the site is available to someone who is browsing; contributing requires registration; and using their online tools requires paying fees. While I have used the website often as an example in my classes, I had never tried the online tools and was interested when I met someone who had not only used them, but successfully lost weight.

When I joined Weight Watchers in May of 2007, I was really pleased that they were offering a promotional rate of $39 per month for unlimited meeting attendance as well as unlimited use of their “member website” which definitely has more to offer than their “free site” for lifetime members.  I had tried to lose weight earlier in the year by logging on to “Spark People” which I believe is supported by a government agency.  I just didn’t find it gave me the format that I needed even though it has some of the same features as weight watchers like keeping a journal of what you eat.

The pay site for weight watchers reinforced the simple ideas of weight watchers and I just put my faith in the “flex program” of counting points.  If I couldn’t make it to a in person meeting on a given week, I found a lot of the same principles reinforced on the website, and all I seemed to need was a “weekly mantra” to keep me on track for the week.  The pay site also has a place where you can chart your progress, and weeks that I would go to a meeting I would “log in” my current weight, and it felt great to have the little chart appear and show my weight going down.  Another thing that I found really useful on the pay website was the feature where I could input my own recipes and find their point value.  I like the flex plan because you can eat your own food, and I like to cook, so I could use my old recipes and still stay on the plan and I would KNOW what the point value was.  The pay website also had point values for different restaurant meals and some neat chat rooms.  I definitely logged on frequently while I was in the “losing phase” of weight watchers, and I found it motivated me when I felt a little lost.

I hit my goal weight after about 14 weeks ( 17 pounds), and I paid for a total of 5 months and became a lifetime member almost exactly a year ago.  I go to the “free website,” but I don’t find it quite as interesting or motivating, but I’ve been “maintaining” so I guess I have the tools that I need (A.M., private correspondence, 10/13/08).


Entry filed under: health, online health communities.

Cereal and the Internet or Can’t I Eat My Breakfast without Going Online? The Doctor as the Second Opinion and the Internet as the First

44 Comments Add your own

  • 1. wymetto  |  September 13, 2010 at 2:41 am

    well now it’s seems like i’m promoting a site but I have been out of shape and overweight for years – I had to do something and came up with the “practice what you preach” I think you will like this site built for us…going live in two weeks..

  • 2. Trevor  |  July 11, 2010 at 8:57 am

    Weight watchers definitly works but like most programs if you don’t have proper mind set, than they are still going to struggle.

  • 3. xocoslim  |  July 1, 2010 at 9:44 pm

    Great to hear you have such nice results from weight watchers.I have read some negative comments on weight watchers as well, but you never know If a person is dedicated or not.You have to be consistent otherwise nothing will work…..

  • 4. Tony Sauer  |  June 22, 2010 at 3:36 am

    Weight Watchers combined with Hypnotherapy would guarantee weight loss. Hypnotherapy will keep your self motivation high and you will be more determined to follow the diet.

  • 5. Susanne  |  June 13, 2010 at 10:04 pm

    Very informative, I had a good time here, Thank you..

  • 6. Ms South African Hoodia Gordonii  |  June 9, 2010 at 7:53 am

    Tks for sharing!!

    I think weight loss and fitness always boil down to 2 things: 1) Metabolism and 2) Nutrition.

    Metabolism: You worked to expend the excess calories so that they do not turn into fats. To do that, either you create a calories deficit or you increase your calories usage.

    For most cutting calories (aka reduce portion size) is easier but not everyone can withstand the hunger pangs. That’s when a hoodia gordonii supplement can be useful as it make your brain think you are full so that you won’t feel lethargic or cranky.

    For those who prefer to exercise, you should focus on weight training and high intensity interval training like wind sprinting. Forget about cardio.

    Nutrition: First thing is to get the habit of reading labels. If you see anything that says high fructose corn syrup, trans fat, hydrogenated or partial hydrogenated oil, put it back.

    Next understand that you need to eat a balance meal, and not follow a fad diet. One that contains carbohydrates, protein and fat.

    Opt for unprocessed carbs and when possible, it’s better to take fruits (not fruit juice) and vegetables. Technically speaking, fruit and vegetables are less calories dense. Good for losing weight.

    Get your plant protein from beans, legumes, and nuts, while animal protein, eat free-range and/or organic meats.

    Get this straight, we need fat. And the right kind of fats would make you fat. What we need is natural fats from fishes like salmon and tout or fruits like avocado.

    When you need oil, use coconut oils and pure virgin olive oils.

    By the way, for the ladies and gentlemen out there, avoid soy based products and beer.

    Guys, soy and beer (contains estrogenic compounds) cause fats to accumulate on your chest. So unless you are interest to grow boobs continue eating.

    Ladies, one of the reasons why your stubborn belly fat never go away could be due to your high intake of soy based product and beer.

    Oops, I blah too much on a blog post! That’s it. 🙂

  • 7. Shannon  |  June 8, 2010 at 4:00 am

    Weight Watchers is an awesome program.. I can say a whole lot about it. It helped me lose all my pregnancy weight. Not only did it help me with the weight it has actually tought me a lot as far as my eating habbits go. I got my eating habbits under control thanks to weight watchers. Now I am in the best shape and healthbest shape and health of my life. Not all do to weight watchers but that was the start.

  • 8. andy shaw  |  June 2, 2010 at 9:29 pm

    Weight Watchers seems like a nifty program to lose weight. I’m glad to hear that it worked for you. For many months already, I’m following this simple yet effective weight loss program

  • 9. bellyfatlosswithDane  |  May 30, 2010 at 3:05 am

    Having a support group definitely helps when it comes to losing fat. As does having meals ready to go that are of the correct portion size. Overall, any plan like this will work for a while, but for surefire lasting results, eating healthly and exercising need to be a priority in one’s life. More frequent smaller meals, some form or cardio interval training that fits your fitness level, and a plan to build muscle are all important parts of losing belly fat and keeping it off.

  • 10. sharioni1  |  May 19, 2010 at 6:48 pm

    I worked for a really well known slimming organisation and was surprised at the number of clients who failed to lose weight and keep it off. No matter how good the diet plan, if the urge to overeat is still there, the weight will eventually creep back on. I notice that WW have addressed this in their recent TV advertising, so perhaps they`ve now recognised how important this fact is.

  • 11. stainless steel toaster  |  May 2, 2010 at 1:29 am

    Love the blog and if this does not help people lose weight i dont know what will!

  • 12. The Fat Burning Furnace Review Guy  |  April 1, 2010 at 4:08 am

    My sister tried Weight Watchers for about two months and she loved it. I think she lost about 15 pounds, which is pretty good. I think the only reason she stopped using the members access was because she couldn’t afford the payments. Probably what gave her the most benefit was the amount good information that she learned through the program, which is going to help her a lot in the long run! = )

  • 13. Acai Optimum Weight Loss Plan  |  March 29, 2010 at 10:50 pm

    Sure, right to the point. is great website

  • 14. weightlossdiet  |  March 14, 2010 at 4:49 pm

    That’s easy to understand. Weight watchers is one of the most successfu weight loss membership programs. Must be that it works for so many to sign on

  • 15. lahgibbs  |  March 12, 2010 at 2:29 am

    It’s a known fact that when you invest in some endeavor that you want to engage in, you are forced to go through with it more than if you are just using sheer willpower. I sometimes pay for things I would otherwise get free just to ensure I use it, because I know I may not. Also, having a community to belong in entices us to conform which also helps.

    But really, wouldn’t it be better if we could do all these fantastic things just by deciding? 🙂

  • 16. ben king  |  February 16, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    What I find haard to cope with is the mental side of dieting. This is what most of us need to deal with

  • 17. CalorieShiftingDiet  |  February 11, 2010 at 6:50 pm

    Most of us want to be fit and healthy. This is a great help for people who want to lose weight. Nice blog post! Keep it up!

  • 18. Philip Kustner  |  February 6, 2010 at 9:12 am

    Congratulations on your sucess with Weight Watchers.

    ALL diets require more than just eating the right food, or taking the right pill. I had to boil it down to 7 habits for myself, and thought others could benefit from the things that I found in my weight loss journey.

    Tracking progress as well as keeping a journal of what you eat are part of the 7 habits, and are great for keeping you motivated, and to let you know when you are slippin.

  • 19. Amberayn(Health Nut)  |  January 31, 2010 at 9:35 am

    Great info. I tried weight watchers for a while but most of the people were older than me. I couldnt afford to go all the time so I just started eating healthier. I watched the movie Food Inc and read up on dieting products that my friends and family suggested.
    Ive lost 10 pounds in 30 days using Para slim. I love it


  • 20. Pharmacy First  |  January 27, 2010 at 8:39 pm

    Great Article. I have only Just found your blog but I will definately be coming back again! Keep writing! Jen

  • 21. boris  |  January 27, 2010 at 5:12 am

    I was on a diet for some time and I always kept gaining the weight back no matter what I tried.
    Until I started exercising. So diet along is not enough. Healthy diet and daily exercise = success.

  • 22. Jackie  |  January 21, 2010 at 2:40 pm

    Great blog there. Another way to lose weight is to have organic meal replacements. Not only will we lose weight this way, we will lose weight healthily as we are eating organic food (with no harmful chemicals). They help us to detox our body as well.

  • 23. Marc Kincade  |  January 18, 2010 at 4:14 am

    I am always looking for great information regarding improvement of both mind and body.Yours is one of the most informative I have happened upon while researching this topic. Thanks and keep up the good work. Marc

  • 24. Richard Kuhns  |  January 16, 2010 at 10:05 am

    Whether one uses Weight Watchers or any other program–and they all work to some extent as far as helping people lose weith, emotional eating has been identified as the largest reason why 95% of those who lose weight gain it back. Even the so-called experts who write about emotional eating miss the mark–they usually give advice to do things like go for a walk, take a deep breadth, eat celery, and at best suggest focusing on the stress that causes the emotion. The reality is that the real stress is the resultant emotion from the stress. Focus on that emotion, feel it, embrace it and it disappears and so does emotional eating.

  • 25. Jeff  |  January 12, 2010 at 7:19 pm

    Nice post, very interesting topic. In addition to that I do found a great site that will help you shed your fats in less time.if you are sick and tired of wearing fit jeans and shirts, this is the right time you visit this site and learn how to lose those pounds annoying you everytime you dressed up. As the saying goes why start tomorrow if you can start it NOW by visiting this site

  • 26. Hannah Waterman Body Blitz  |  December 30, 2009 at 10:55 am

    Weightwatchers have helped many people.

  • 27. Bobbie, Low Fat Low Carb  |  December 9, 2009 at 11:27 pm

    Not only are online diet tools useful, but they’re very economical for today’s difficult financial problems.

  • 28. Chelsea, keeping weight off with tea  |  December 9, 2009 at 11:07 pm

    Keep up the good job! It definitely feels good knowing more and more people are getting serious about keeping a healthy lifestyle which, in turn, has positive effect on weight. Losing the extra pounds of fat is ideal for the body to be at it’s best. There has been a great deal of issues concerning weight loss and the society’s attitude towards “weight” but if we can only look at the bigger picture, it’s all about being healthy and loving life. Weight loss is still a consequence of a healthy, responsible lifestyle.

  • 29. Nikki  |  December 6, 2009 at 3:38 pm

    How wonderful you found the diet that works for you! Everyone needs to find the diet that fits their lifestyle and weight loss goals. Morbidly obese people especially might need a faster diet because 1 pound a week means months before they’ll notice any loss or move down a pant size.

    Great post, thanks!

  • 30. Francis Cowie  |  November 26, 2009 at 8:52 am

    This is very interesting – sometimes we think there is a ‘secret’ to losing weight when really just good old fashioned sense is what is going to get us there in the end.
    I have tried WW and it is a great lifestyle tool but I guess I just wasn’t ready do what I had to do at that time.
    Now I like to think of fat reduction in terms of ‘steps’ not ‘secrets’ and the term reducing is more appropriate to use rather than ‘losing’. What we loose we always want to find again.
    For me the most important step is to ditch the diet mentality.
    Lean protein, whole grains, fruit and vegetables and of course water with a moderate amount of exercise is the way to go.

  • 31. Bobby C  |  September 27, 2009 at 9:25 am

    Congratulations on making a commitment to WW and weight loss. There are 3 key ingredients to any structured weight management programs…

    Structured nutritional choices
    Structured behavioral choices
    Structured exercise choices

    Keep up the good work!

  • 33. Dan Beckwith  |  September 15, 2009 at 4:45 am

    Weight loss doesn’t have to be rocket science. But I’m concerned about the chemicals being leeched into our “Weight Watcher” frozen dinners by the
    plastic containers it comes in.

  • 34. russ  |  August 31, 2009 at 3:42 pm

    quite a good and interesting point of view i have known quiet a few people have sucsess with weight watchers

  • 35. Truth About Abs  |  August 15, 2009 at 6:35 am

    yah, I’ve gotta say, in my own quest to lose some fat, I was at a total standstill, even with the gym membership… not until I got online and started finding tools and communities did I get off that plateau and finally strip off my final 10 lbs. I wonder if I ever would have gotten there at all without the stuff I found to support me via the internet…
    thanks for a totally awesome post. REALLY appreciated that one.

  • 36. Cure de slabit  |  June 9, 2009 at 6:51 pm

    It’s interesting to see how many people discard the natural products and foods during the weight loss process.

    Eating junk-food, just because they trust those miracle weight loss pills isn’t giving any results. Nor does the lack of exercising.

    My weight loss principles are:
    a) a moderate diet, low on carbs and fat;
    b) drink a lot of water;
    c) get your ass on the move;
    d) have phun

  • 37. 11 day diet  |  June 8, 2009 at 12:39 am

    Hey great info! Weight Watchers is a great diet. The accountability factor really helped me when I was trying to lose weight. It helps keep you focused on the goal. I’m glad you are finding it useful as well.

  • 38. James  |  June 5, 2009 at 3:51 am

    Hi there… Just dropped by. Like your sriting style, very nice 🙂 Could you please write more about this anytime soon.. Added to my google reader… thanks!

  • 39. Ske  |  May 30, 2009 at 7:49 pm

    Excellent article!! Keep ’em coming!

  • 40. Robin  |  May 12, 2009 at 10:20 pm

    Weight Watchers has a good program and I’ve used it off and on for a few yearsI didn’t like going to the meetings, not a meeting sorta girl! But I found the online WW to be a big help. Thanks for posting this!
    Food and Sugar Addiction

  • 41. Jan  |  April 21, 2009 at 4:32 pm

    this is a great medium for health consious people like me. thanks for sharing.

  • 42. jay jayesser  |  February 15, 2009 at 6:38 am

    It looks like all positive comments. The women i know who have tried weight watchers didnt succeed with it but that does not mean it doesnt work – we are all different so Im sure its good and it works.

    accidentally got into the whole weight loss thing ironically becasue im someone who tries to put weight on. I figure the opposite of what I am doing helps people to lose weight. Ive seen a few female friends lose substantial weight just by changing their diets unintentionally and the weight has stayed off too. They just happened to eat less due to work worries or just not having time to eat as per normal.

    One girl at work has lost an impressive amount and is still losing it. I noticed this and started to ask questions. I now monitor progress of people who i know are trying to lose wight, offer encouragement and advice. Its all very well going on a diet but without the right encouragement it will be harder to succeed. Ive learnt a lot about weight loss and how to achieve it and its great to be able to help others and see long term results.

    Ive seen real life examples of food as a major factor in weight loss so nice to see a site about it. You can eat meat and still lose weight – the women i know who have lost weight all eat meat. You know one of them even pigs out on chocolate and stuff and still keeps the weight off by walking a lot and stuff and she was pretty big.

    For anyone who is having trouble with progress, do your best – it will take time – the women i monitor took a good while to get where they are now but they got there!!!!!!!!

    Jayesser Jay

  • 43. Joans Weight Loss Story  |  February 14, 2009 at 1:49 am

    Interesting blog, I just found it and I’m already a fan
    I hope it’s not too brash but I have just begun writing
    my own weight loss(I went down 30 pounds in a month, so I’m happy
    , and I was curious if you could share
    the weight loss products I used for your blog readers.
    My latest post is fast weight loss diets
    If you would be willing to do a link exchange
    that would be excellent because I want to share my weight loss success
    with as many people as possible. If I can lose weight then
    anyone else can too. Whatever you do, don’t give up and you WILL
    reach all your weight loss goals!
    with kind regards,

  • 44. This Teens Weight Loss Plan  |  February 2, 2009 at 11:54 pm

    Wow that is so cool! I hope many will benefit from!


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Lisa Gualtieri, PhD, ScM

Lisa GualtieriLisa Gualtieri is Assistant Professor at Tufts University School of Medicine in the Department of Public Health and Community Medicine. She is Director of the Certificate Program in Digital Health Communication. Lisa teaches Designing Health Campaigns using Social Media, Social Media and Health, Mobile Health Design, and Digital Strategies for Health Communication. Contact Lisa:


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