Connecting on Social Media For Weight Loss Support, Outreach, and Accountability

Earlier this month, I presented at ObesityHelp’s 10th Annual National Convention in Anaheim. I was luck y enough to kick off the event by being the first speaker. My presentation was on how I’ve used my blog and social media for weight loss support, outreach and accountability. I’ve been asked by several people to give an overview of my session for those who were not able to attend, and for those who want additional information and resources.


Blogging and social media have been an important component to my weight loss success since gastric bypass surgery. In this presentation, I reviewed my history in blogging and social media, and why I chose to start a new blog to document my weight loss surgery experience at Beauty and the Bypass.

A Tale of Two Personas • Cute Culture Chick and Beauty and the Bypass

When I decided to have bariatric surgery, I was already a well-established blogger, with a blog focused on pop culture, travel, family, and personal memoir. Although I did talk about my health, I didn’t feel like my whole gastric bypass experience was a good fit for Cute Culture Chick. So I decided to make a new blog to document my surgery, and that is how Beauty and the Bypass was born. It was a lot easier to come up with content back when I was in the rapid weight loss phase, but I still find topics that are relevant to the WLS community, as well as my personal journey. I am more active on my Cute Culture Chick blog and social media accounts, but I find ways to balance both personas.

Facebook Fan Pages
While a Facebook fan page isn’t a good fit for every weight loss surgery patient, it can be a great way to connect with other WLS patients (and people who have an interest in bariatric surgery in general). If you don’t want a fan page, be careful about starting a personal page with a WLS nickname – Facebook has been cracking down on anonymous/duplicate accounts. Here are some ideas of content to share on Facebook fan pages.

  • Weight loss updates
  • Non-scale victories
  • Comparison pictures
  • Sharing articles/blog posts


  • Follow hashtags to find relevant users and news (#WLS, #RNY, #GastricBypass, #VSG)
  • Be conversational
  • Share confidential information over direct message (DM)


  • Make boards for recipes and food ideas
  • Share your transformation photos
  • Connect with other WLS patients by commenting, liking, and repinning

nicole instagramInstagram

  • Show a visual glimpse into your life (what you wear, where you go, what you eat, etc)
  • Be involved in memes (eg. Throwback Thursday #tbt)
  • Don’t use too many hashtags
  • Like, follow, and comment


  • Record in landscape
  • Upload in HD
  • Use keyword-rich titles and descriptions
  • The most successful videos are under 2 minutes

Fitness Apps

  • MyFitnessPal
  • Nike
  • Fitocracy
  • RunKeeper
  • Strava
  • FitBit

Dark Social (non-public communication online)

  • Facebook Messenger
  • Twitter Direct Messages
  • IM
  • Email

selfie tutorialSelfie Tutorial

  • Mind your lighting (not too much direct light or backlight)
  • Angle (position camera higher than head, with head slightly tilted)
  • Steady Hand (brace arm against body/wall/tree for a clear picture)
  • Crop (mind the rule of thirds)
  • Take more than one pic (just in case)

Social Media Advice from the Trenches

  • Take it offline – become friends in real life with your online connections
  • Pre-approve pictures before tagging
  • Don’t abuse #hashtags
  • Focus on quality over quantity (you don’t need to be friends with everyone)
  • Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should
  • It’s okay to take a break – return when you’re ready

I’m Speaking At ObesityHelp in Anaheim

speaking at obesityhelp 2013 in anaheimTomorrow, I’m heading to Anaheim to speak at the 10th Annual ObesityHelp National Conference. Last year, I attended the ObesityHelp event in Atlanta, and I feel honored that I was selected to speak at this year’s event. My session is titled “How to Connect for Support, Outreach, and Accountability.” Here’s a quick session overview from the event page:

Learn priceless tips on how to amplify the use of social media to help you make lasting connections during and after your conference experience. Nicole will talk about Blogging, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and food and fitness tracking systems. Discover strategies that will help you connect with others on your journey for support, outreach and accountability. You’ll walk away with a list of actionable tips that you can put to work right away at the Conference and for the long haul of your journey.

nicole bullock obesity help 2013
I’ve been told that my session is sold out, which might be because I’ll be giving out a Nexus 7 tablet in my session. I’m not sure if those not registered will be able to sneak in. You may need to bribe someone at the door. If you can’t make my individual session,  I will also be speaking on a post-op panel with Beth Sheldon-BadoreTerry RowMichelle VicariChris Waffle, and Jessica Stockton.

So much of my success I’ve achieved in my weight loss has been through the support I’ve felt online. Many of these online connections have become real-life friends and confidants. To be honest, I feel like a bit of a hack lately for being chosen for this topic. The support and outreach I felt so confident with in the first year of my weight loss experience has waned in the last 6 months (due to some health problems I plan to address in a post in the near future). It’s crazy how when you’re not feeling well, it’s harder to reach out for the support you need (which, consequently, is when you might need it most). Connecting over social media has given me an important link to the weight loss world while I had to take a break from blogging. I’ve decided that it’s okay to take a break, and I’ll be talking about that in my session.

It’s not too late to register of ObesityHelp in Anaheim. You can sign up on their website, or register at the door. Tickets are very affordable at $75, and include two days of education, entertainment, food, and fun.

Behind The Lens

This weekend I was at the Breathing Space Blogger Retreat. It was a meetup of 75 bloggers, mostly local to the Wasatch Front area, held at Daybreak. I’ve known about the retreat for several months, and one my factors of motivation was to lose enough weight to look good in pictures.

For a long time, I’ve shuddered at the thought of group photos. I’m usually the largest woman in the groups, and I just pore over the pictures in nit-picky comparison. But this week I hit the 60 pound mark in my weight loss, and I had some cute clothes to wear, and I got into a mindset where I didn’t feel like I needed to stress out about how I looked for the conference.

On Friday afternoon, I went to the salon at Daybreak for a complimentary shampoo and style. The attendees of the conference  got to choose a free service, and I wanted my hair done. I was thinking we could do something fancy, and I wanted to look good for the Stepford Wives party, so I found a picture of a rockin’ 60’s beehive style. I was totally bummed when they said I’d have to pay a lot extra to do it. So I told the stylist to do whatever she wanted with my hair. She blew it out and gave it some wave, and dubbed it my “Kardashian hair.”

That evening was the Stepford Wives party, and I had a custom dress made by eShakti. I’d never ordered a dress off measurements before, and I wanted it to not be too big, so I guessed where I’d be in a few weeks when I bought it in early April. It was very tight when I got it, and the sleeves were way too tiny in circumference. I ended up picking out the stitching to get the sleeves off and wear it with a little jacket. As you can see – I’m regaining my waistline! The party was so fun, and there were so many fun dresses and outfits. The party was hard to eat at though – Corner Bakery catered the dinner, but there wasn’t much I could eat. I am addicted to their tomato basil soup, but dinner was a choice of sandwiches. I ate the meat out of my sandwich, but I was still hungry and faced an army of dessert choices. I nibbled on a few sweets, but resisted the urge to binge on cream cheese brownies and Sweet Tooth Fairy cupcakes.

Saturday was full of classes and ended with a Cinco de Mayo party. As the day went on, Jenny K (the official conference photographer) was snapping away. I started getting nervous about what pictures she was taking of me. When I went through her photostream after the conference, I felt so self-conscious. So many pictures of me from “bad angles.” In the one to the left, I can’t even tell I’ve lost weight, especially compared to the above picture in my green dress. I started feeling really hard on myself. You can’t always control what pictures are taken and shared. But you can try to control the way you think and perceive what you see.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I’ve been having a hard time emotionally with my weight loss. I care too much about what other people think, and I’m having a hard time accepting myself. I love getting compliments and attention, but sometimes I have a very hard time believing the things people say to me. I look at photos of myself so critically, and wonder if other people are judging me as harshly as I do to myself. Luckily, I’ve been finding out who really cares about me, and who I can depend on when things are hard. I gained some great new friends at the conference, and felt more accepted by new acquaintances than I have in a long time. I think I intimidate some people, and I’m hoping that I’m becoming more approachable with my weight loss. I know that I’m working on myself physically, spiritually, and mentally, and these doubts and struggles are just part of the journey.