Staying in shape goes beyond physical exercise. Sometimes the motivation to keep fit comes down to a mental battle.
Such venues often provide a great support system for people trying to lose weight or stay fit, said Grace Ann Arnold, spokeswoman for www.weightwatchers.com.
"Blogging has a more communal aspect, more immediacy," Arnold said. "The message boards are a source of inspiration and motivation 24/7. I know that there are people who post messages when they're in a moment of weakness. It's an online resource that keeps people on track with the plan."
The Weight Watchers Web site has more than 30 message boards organized by age, stage of life and specific weight loss interests.
"The way the boards are designed you can really find a group that fits with what you need," Arnold said. "You're sure to find a community you can identify with."
In this casual format, fellow dieters form friendships, offer tips on what worked for them and even swap recipes low on fat and high on flavor.
Many Web sites go beyond the casual support network of strangers to provide professional help with maintaining healthy lifestyles. For instance, Weight Watchers includes workout videos for Web visitors to show them how to do certain exercises correctly, which can be a significant motivating factor to continue the pursuit of fitness, Arnold said.
Personal trainers can help people stay on track, but blogs and other types of social media can be more convenient, said Tanya Blatt, owner of Curves in Port Clinton.
"Everybody has their own thing. For some people, it might help. Some people it might not," Blatt said. "Whatever helps someone keep motivated to exercise is wonderful. Our society needs it."
"I would suggest that journaling in any form in blogging or longhand is key to weight loss," Arnold said. "It's scientifically proven that writing down what you eat aides in weight loss."
Weightwatchers.com offers a plan manager to allow visitors to keep track of calorie intake and exercises. The Web site also includes a community recipe database of 15,000 healthy alternative recipes. Visitors to Weightwatchers.com can also check out testimonials from those who've succeeded in shedding the pounds.
"We have found that people really respond to success stories," Arnold said. "It's sort of a role model that's someone you can relate to."