Eat Right. Exercise. Tweet?

There’s no way around it: America’s got a weight problem. Politicians, public health officials and even Paula Deen are constantly warning against the dangers posed by our expanding waist lines. For the scores of Americans who have heeded the call to get in shape, lose weight and maintain a healthy lifestyle, long-term support and accountability are vital. And, according to researchers, cataloguing your diet via social media can be an effective way to get there.

In a study conducted at the University of South Carolina’s Arnold School of Medicine, participants who regularly used Twitter to communicate with others about their weight loss efforts lost more weight than those who did not.

We know a personal support system can be one of the most important factors in achieving long-term success. Posting updates to Twitter expands your accountability network from your spouse and close friends to the thousands of Americans who support the desire to get healthy – and more accountability can mean more motivation to succeed.

Ready to tweet? Here are a few tips for maximizing Twitter’s impact as a crowd-sourced weight loss coach.

Just put it out there: It may seem scary at first, but a simple post declaring your fitness goals can connect you with fellow tweeters who are fighting the same battle. Establishing this connection early on fosters dialogue around being accountable and sharing tips. Plus, there’s the obvious social implication: no one wants to fail in front of their peers!

Search for inspiration: Don’t be afraid to ask for help. People who have successfully met their fitness goals are usually quick to offer tips for others. Browse fitness-related hashtags and insert yourself into ongoing conversations.  What worked for others? How can I implement some of their tips into my routine?

Maintaining a diet and exercise routine can be a struggle. Twitter provides a free, no-judgment forum to vent, share and learn from the thousands of others who’ve been there. And who knows? Your tweets might inspire others to pursue their health and fitness goals.