Crowd-sourcing your motivation

Originally published on Intel IQ

crowdsourcingOne of the most inspiring things about our brave new world of technology is the way it seems to bring out everyone’s collaborative nature. From open-source coding to crowd-sourced encyclopedias, we’re working together like never before, sparking creativity and accelerating the pace of progress.

Turns out, you can even crowd-source your motivation! Whether your goal is to run your first 10K, quit smoking, or lose that last (or first) ten pounds, tapping into a network of supportive friends or even like-minded strangers can increase your chance of success.

Accountability 2.0

If you use an app to log your meals or workouts, for example, take advantage of social functions that connect you with other users. Sharing your progress (and your setbacks) appears to be a powerful tool for change. Developers of MyFitnessPal report that users who “friend” other users tend to lose more weight. In fact, the more friends they link to, the more weight they lose!

Most of the leading diet and fitness trackers (Lose it, MapMyRun, Fitocracy, and Daily Burn are just a few of the most popular) offer community and social networking functions. Here, you’ll find support, encouragement, helpful tips and advice, and some friendly competitiveness to spur you to the next level. You can link to your existing social networks or join virtual communities.

Even developers are getting social, configuring their apps to integrate with third-party devices (such as the popular FitBit activity tracker) and with one another—making for a seamless user experience.

Putting Your Money Where Your Intention Is

Is public praise (or shame) not enough to keep you on track? “Social gaming” utilities, such as DietBet and GymPact, have “players” back their intentions with a cash pledge. Those who fall off the wagon forfeit their stake; those who make good on their goal split the pot. About 80 listeners of my weekly Nutrition Diva podcast recently took part in a DietBet game, for example. Although I was not actively participating in the game, I was watching from the sidelines to see how it would go. It was heart-warming to see the group cheer each other’s successes and encourage those who struggled. Players lost an average of 6 pounds over the course of 4 weeks–and most reported back that they found the experience fun and motivating.

The Power of Community

Sometimes, the power of community can actually make the impossible, possible. After smoking for 35 years, my friend (and personal hero) Amy quit cold turkey five years ago. She credits her success to the support she found on Stopsmokingcenter.net

“The online community was huge for me! I needed the support of the population who truly understood what I was going through. Yes, my family [of non-smokers] was supportive but there are physical and emotional aspects to “cigarette as best friend” that only others in your boat can empathize with. I still go on the site once in a while to reflect on how far I have come in five years. Stopping smoking has taught me that I can do anything.”

And now, it’s your turn! Do you use any of these apps to track your diet, fitness, or other goals? Do you get social with your goals or prefer to keep your stats to yourself? Is it more motivating to share your goals with people you know or do you prefer to rely on the help of (friendly) strangers?

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