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How to use Facebook to lose weight

By TOM RAWSTONE Time of article published Dec 1, 2013

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London - What would induce you to take a photograph of yourself posing in nothing but your bra and knickers, then share it with thousands of total strangers online?

An exhibitionist with supermodel proportions might be willing to risk ridicule for a few compliments.

But what if you weighed a more wobbly 13st and hated your body? What could possibly make you do it then?

It’s a question you could well ask Pippa Lewis. For that was exactly how she felt about her figure and yet, three months ago, she posted a photo of herself wearing nothing but her biggest undies on Facebook.

But it wasn’t for fun: rather it was all part of a controversial new online diet programme.

Pippa, a farmer’s wife from Rye, East Sussex, had signed up to the 12-week Frank Personal Training plan. While this diet and exercise advice isn’t anything new, what’s revolutionary is that those who join have to upload a photo of themselves at the beginning of the plan, and once a week thereafter.

Participants have to be in their underwear and photos taken from the front, the back and the side - and include every inch of their body, including faces. They are put on Facebook where all those taking part can not only see the images, but comment on them.

Given the reputation of the internet as a place where cruel posts, bullying and trolling are commonplace, it is hardly surprising that women like Pippa, already insecure about how they look, would pause before exposing themselves to such scrutiny.

But Pippa says she was so desperate to lose weight that she was willing to risk humiliation.

Following the birth of her second child five years ago, the 36-year-old’s weight had crept up from 11½st (73.2kg) to more than 13st (82.5kg).

While she’d always battled with her weight, she was utterly dismayed to find that only size 18s would fit her. She despaired at the sight of her bulging arms and flabby thighs.

Three months ago, Pippa says she was inspired, after seeing the impressive results of a friend who’d dropped two dress sizes after signing up.

“When my friend told me about the photo side of things it really made me question whether I wanted to go ahead,” she said. “I remember saying to her: ‘Crumbs, you must be brave.’

“I got my daughter to take my picture. It was awful - a photo shows up everything. I thought it was going to be bad, but when you see a full-screen photo of your bulging tummy and big bottom it’s even worse. I wanted to weep. But in the end, I thought if I don’t do this, nothing is going to change. I was bigger than I’d ever been and I hated it.”

In the last three months Pippa, 5ft 5in (1.65m), has lost a total of 38lb (17.2kg).

Although diet and exercise is, of course, behind her transformation, she is in no doubt what made her stick to her guns. “Over the years I’ve done every diet going - Weight Watchers, Slimming World, cabbage soup diet, even a diet where you just ate eggs,” says Pippa, whose daughters are eight and five.

“They work for a time but I always found it so hard to stick to them and as soon as I wavered, the weight went back on.

“With this programme, I still have days when I think: ‘Well, the odd bowl of pasta or bottle of wine won’t make a difference’. But I stop myself because I know that if I do that, when I put up the next photo, everyone will know what I’ve been up to.”

And Pippa now even looks forward to stripping off for what she and her fellow Frankettes, as they call each other, refer to as “Naked Saturdays”, when they post their latest pictures online.

Frank Gorman, the personal trainer behind the programme, agrees that while the idea of posting photos might sound humiliating, it’s at the heart of its success. Since he launched Frank Personal Training in April, 2 000 people have signed up.

He decided that he would ask those signing up to the plan to post regular photos of themselves so he could effectively monitor the effects of the programme remotely. “At the start they’ll be wearing the biggest pants they can find,’ he jokes. ‘By the end they’re so proud of the results they are in their skimpiest underwear.”

“When I posted the first picture I was terrified by what people would say,” says Pippa. “But in fact everyone has been incredibly supportive. With the first picture, they’ll tell you that you’ve taken the hardest step. Then if you are having a bad day and say ‘God I’m craving chocolate’ you will have 50 people on there saying ‘Don’t do it! Look at your picture, you’re doing really well’. Everyone supports everybody.”

What protects dieters from ridicule is that unless you are prepared to pay the £49 fee and pose in your undies too, you can’t have access to the members-only Facebook groups, split between men and women (the vast majority).

The fee also gets you 12 weeks of advice on diet and exercise. Those following the diet do not count calories but are encouraged to cut out carbs, and eat three large meat or fish-based meals every day - breakfast included.

“The idea is to eat three times a day so that your blood sugar levels are controlled and you do not need to snack,” says Frank. Coupled with this, is a straightforward exercise regime which participants are expected to do for 30 minutes four times a week. It involves sessions of simple repetitions such as squats and press-ups, as well as some dumbbell work. And it seems age is no bar to stripping for Frank’s forums - clients are aged from 18 to 65.

Among them is Wendy Clifford, a married mother-of-four and grandmother of two who lives in Stroud, Gloucestershire.

The 55-year-old signed up six months ago after becoming convinced she was never going to shift her middle-aged spread. “My husband John and I had tried all sorts of diets, but we were stuck in this eternal round of starting something and then not being able to see it through,” says Wendy, who with her husband runs their own IT company.

“We started running, we went to the gym and all that happened was every single bloody year we just got fatter and fatter. When you have kids and you can’t go out, you start treating yourself - you have a bottle of wine, you have chocolate and you end up sitting there watching TV and feeling terrible.

“I was middle-aged, lethargic and depressed. Everywhere I went I couldn’t buy clothes that fitted and the places that I could buy clothes I didn’t feel reflected me. I was 11 stone 10lb (74.5kg), size 14 and shopping in Marks & Spencer.”

Encouraged by her daughter, whose friend had signed up with Frank, Wendy bit the bullet and posted that first photo.

“In my first picture, I may be smiling but I hated what I looked like. I didn’t even like looking at myself in the mirror, I would avoid it,’ she says. ‘I didn’t recognise myself. I had enormous 34G boobs that would enter the room before me and wouldn’t fit in any clothes, a spare tyre around my tummy and too much weight on my bum.”

But from the start the feedback to the photos encouraged her to keep going.

“When a person posts their first picture they’ll write: ‘I’m so ashamed I’ve let myself go like this, I cried before I put this up,’” she recalls. “And immediately the other members will say: ‘You’ve done the hardest thing - we all know how bad you feel.’

“Then maybe the next week they’ll post that they’re not seeing any changes and people will reply: ‘Are you joking? Look at your tummy, look at your back - you can’t see it, but we can’.”

Today, six months on, Wendy now weighs 9st 10lb (61.5kg) and has dropped to a size 10.

Equally reluctant, initially, to disrobe in public was 31-year-old Sarah Graystone, from East Grinstead in West Sussex.

Together with her husband Jason she runs a building management business as well as being mom to two sons aged eight and five. After giving birth to her second child, Sarah suffered post-natal depression. This led to an eating disorder characterised by an irrational fear that she might choke while eating.

As a result, Sarah began bingeing on chocolate and soft cheese - foods she believed she could swallow easily.

Earlier this summer she tipped the scales at nearly 10 st 9lb (67.5kg), and was a size 16 - having been 8st 4lb (52.8) at her lightest.

“I had reached the stage where I had given up,” she says. “I wasn’t even happy with my husband seeing me in my underwear, let alone anyone else. I was miserable and it was affecting our relationship, including the physical side of it.”

For Sarah, who learnt about the Facebook group from a friend, taking the photo in July was particularly difficult. “I was very self-conscious about the way I looked. In the end I got my husband to take the picture and before I posted it hovered over the button for ages until I thought: ‘Sod it what’s the worst that can happen?’

“You are literally laying yourself bare in front of people you don’t know week after week,” she says. “I figured that if I could do that, I could do anything. The people I have met online are like friends now - even though we haven’t actually met in person.” Sarah is now 9st 2lb (58kg).

That is set to change shortly as the women have been busily arranging a series of Christmas lunches around the country for all those who have taken part in the programme.

And given how they first got to know one another then getting dressed for the occasion - rather than undressed - will doubtless make a more than pleasant change. - Daily Mail

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