Ok, so you’ve heard me talking a LOT about wommen.org.uk as an innovative way to use Social Media (SoMe) in #breast screening. But I’m not going to bang on about WoMMeN today.
Here’s a SoMe community with proven positive health outcomes; our Whatsapp group, PORKIES.
About 4 years ago Lynn (my big sis) and me, we decided we’d had enough of constantly battling to get to our ‘ideal’ weight. It seemed it had been a lifelong struggle. Although neither of us was obese (well, ok, bordering) we never quite felt happy or healthy.
We decided to have our very own group which we aptly name Porkies, and set up a Whatsapp group: she’s in Eastbourne and I’m in Manchester so we had to do it online. We also thought we’d have a bit of competitive fun; there’d be a prize and trophy for the winner at the end of 10 weeks. We invited some more family members and friends to join us. We thought it’d run for the 10 weeks. Well that was four years ago and now we’re hooked! It’s the only time I’ve ever managed to keep my weight constant at a healthy figure in my life.
Here’s how it works.
First we declare our target for the 10 week period. This could be to lose a lot, lose a little or to maintain (depending on each member’s starting point). Every week we have to either lose weight (if our overall aim is to lose) or keep the same (if we’re at target and need to maintain).
Every Friday we get weighed and take a picture of ourselves on the scales (up to the knees only!) and post it on the group.
If we don’t achieve our goal for the week (i.e. we’ve stayed the same or put on weight if we’ve said we’ll lose) we get a dreaded penalty point for the week.
The winner is the one who’s achieved their overall aim at the end of the 10 weeks with the fewest penalty points. Each member sends the winner £20 and, more importantly, the winner receives the coveted Porkies Trophy.
The wonderful Shaz records it all on the spreadsheet and posts for all (in the group) to see!
So how have we done? Well, this last period (May – July, 10 weeks) we lost 6 stone 2lb between the 13 of us. That’s an average of 6lb.6 which doesn’t sound too much but a few of the group are on a maintaining regime so intentionally haven’t lost.
Some have lost more than a stone!
But Porkies works because we post much, much more than pictures of our scales; this is where the social media element adds that important dimension.
We support, share recipes, post hundreds of images and videos of food (and just about everything else) give advice, (e.g. one week the group solved one member’s dilemma about whether to wear a hat or fascinator to a wedding) and scrutinise the weekly chart.
And the funny thing is that apart from me and Lynn, we don’t know what most of the other 11 ladies who’ve joined along the way (friends of friends) look like except for their feet!
In these days when we hear so much bad press about social media we thought you’d like this light-hearted and very positive story about the benefits online communities can bring. It’s so easy to set up too and we’d encourage other groups to try the same.
Oh, and just because I can’t resist the opportunity to Make Every Contact Count I did post this along the way…the benefits of a healthy diet for reducing the risk of breast cancer!