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.

Obesity Help 2012 Conference Recap

bariatric bad girls at waffle house

Last month, I attended the 2012 Obesity Help Conference in Atlanta (hashtag #OHAtlanta). Even though I’m not active in the Obesity Help support forums, I was happy that they were hosting an event. A lot of my friends from Bariatric Bad Girls Club were attending, which was enough motivation I needed to buy a ticket.

Because I was flying out to Atlanta on standby, I wasn’t exactly sure when I’d be arriving. I had my hotel room at the Hilton booked for Friday and Saturday night, but I ended up getting out on Thursday. And by getting out, I mean that I took the scenic route. I missed the direct flight to Atlanta by about 5 minutes because the stupid security line at SLC was longer than I’d ever seen it. Rather than waiting 5 hours for the next direct flight, I connected in Tulsa, and got to Atlanta Thursday evening.

waffle house cheese eggs

I tried to connect with the other BBGC ladies throughout my travels, but I couldn’t find anyone who had an empty bed in their room. I found an inexpensive (aka ghetto) hotel that was a few blocks from the Hilton, which was convenient for our breakfast plans in the morning.  In the morning,  I hauled my luggage down Virginia Avenue toward the conference. I was flagged down by a bunch of friendly people thinking I was mistakenly trying to walk to the Atlanta airport (which is close, but not within walking distance). I got to the Hilton, and immediately saw my BBGC ladies.

And where did we decide on for breakfast during an obesity conference in the South? Yup, Waffle House. Let’s just say a few people in the group got very tummysick and regretted the meal. I got the cheese ‘n eggs and was spared from getting myself too ill.

bariatric bad girls in AtlantaWhen we got back to the hotel, we went to the clothing exchange in one of the conference rooms. It was nice to be able to get some “new” clothes in smaller sizes. Between what I got in the exchange, and from Robin from BBGC, my suitcase was totally full when I came home.

There were lots of classes each day. Some were panel discussions, others were intensive courses about everything from plastic surgery to diet plans. Beth (aka Melting Mama) is the fearless leader of the BBGC, and was on the best panel discussion that I attended. She is excellent at bringing up difficult topics and discussing the hard realities of life after weight loss surgery. A lot of people don’t realize that weight loss surgery makes you more prone to alcoholism. When the food that you’ve relied on your whole life suddenly loses it’s appeal, transfer addictions happen. The discussions that happened about transfer addictions at the conference were very enlightening.

BBGC Fab 4 in Atlanta

One of the most wonderful things about OHAtlanta was the creation of “The Fab Four.” Suzanne, Angela, Crystal and I were naturally drawn to each other during the first day of the conference, and we were inseparable until we all left to go home. We sat with each other in classes, ate our meals together, chatted over drinks, and bonded like sisters. Although I connected with almost all of the BBGC’s in Atlanta, the Fab Four is the best thing that came out of the conference for me. We talk daily over a group instant messenger, and discuss food, clothes, relationships, non-scale victories, and our inappropriate senses of humor.

On Saturday night, there was a weight loss fashion show and masquerade ball. It was so fun to see the men and women in the fashion show who have had success and have gained confidence. So many smiles from the participants and cheers from the audience. After the fashion show, people donned their masks for the masquerade ball. Because it was in October, some people went with pretty dresses and masks, others went in Halloween costumes.

I went with a dress that I really like and feel cute and confident in. But part of me wishes that I’d gotten in on the group costume. Because black and pink are the colors of BBGC, a bunch of the ladies decided to go as the Pink Ladies from Grease, complete with Beth in her fashion show attire and Carla as “slutty Sandy” wearing her Slimpressions and red heels. I’m not in the Pink Ladies pic, but look how cute they are!

Besides the official conference events, we had a blast going through the vendor booths. There were some great vitamin, protein, and weight loss surgery-friendly products for sale. I skipped on the fizzy tablet that turns into vitamin jello, but I did buy my first Slimpressions.

I feel so blessed and fortunate to be a part of such a wonderful group of ladies (and a few token gents). It’s not just a support group for me. They are my virtual family. Because they’ve gone through a lot of the same struggles in life, we’re bonded. We rely on each other when times are tough, answer questions that we may have been misinformed on, and get our daily vitamin reminders from Toni. I met quite a few of the BBGCs briefly in May when I stopped by the WLSFA meet and greet on my way down to Cali for a wedding, but I didn’t get to bond with many people. After spending adequate time with my ladies in Atlanta, I can’t imagine my daily life without their support and humor. There is a lot of love in BBGC…just ask Carla who gave the most epic kiss of the weekend.

I went to quite a few conferences this year, and I had the most fun at OHAtlanta, hands down. If you’re interested in attending a future weight loss surgery event with the Bariatric Bad Girls, the next one will be the Las Vegas WLSFA Meet and Greet in May. I’ll be there with bells on.