LIVINGSTON, NJ - People use their social media statuses to share photos of their children, tell friends where they are or have been, share clever quips, ask for restaurant, vacation spot and hotel recommendations and for so much more. They also share information on their work-out routines, weight loss goals and successes, as well as pictures of favorite meals, and healthy recipes. Social media sites also enable people to tell friends when and where they will be at the gym, walking or running at the oval, or riding their bike. And, according to a compilation conducted by Facebook for Yahoo! Shine, these types of status updates are not only prevalent—they have helped Livingston be named one of ‘Facebook’s Fittest Cities’.
According to Yahoo! Shine regarding Facebook’s list, “Its calculations are based on user activity such as fitness-related status updates, gym check-ins, use of fitness apps, and fitness-related life events added to a person's timeline between January 1, 2013, and March 31, 2013 in cities with at least 200,000 Facebook users.”
The following is the list of the 10 fittest cities:
1. Virginia Beach, Virginia
2. Colorado Springs, Colorado
3. Austin, Texas
4. San Antonio, Texas
5. Livingston, New Jersey
6. Portland, Oregon
7. El Paso, Texas
8. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
9. Tacoma, Washington
10. Albuquerque, New Mexico
In addition, according to the study, Livingston was also dubbed "the weight-loss city," because of the number of people involved in posting weight-loss milestones to their timelines.
Livingston-based weight-loss doctor, E. Martin Maida, M.D., said, "I am not surprised by Livingston's place on the list because as a weight loss doctor, I have seen countless people here over the years trying to lose weight. They have tried so many diets. They use online aps to keep track of their weight loss and fitness achievements. They keep me apprised of how they are doing on my Facebook page. I have also seen them write about their weight loss and fitness regimens in their statuses. And, many local people work with me to lose weight because I am a medical doctor with expertise in weight loss."
Dr. Maida added, "Medical weight loss is not surgery or diet pills. It is physician-directed weight management based on medical scientific principles that target the root causes of obesity and weight gain to achieve and sustain a healthy weight in the long-term. The Center For Medical Weight Loss is physician directed and tailored to individual needs. Eighty-four percent of our patients reach goal weight – that's the easy part! Our plan is to stop the yo-yo dieting, for example we work on true lifestyle' changes. That's where the Physician plays the most important role. Our patients know they have a partner and a "coach,'' someone who really cares about their well-being, and the chance for them to live a full and rewarding life."
Livingston’s YMCA Executive Director, Helen Flores said that regarding what she witnesses each day in the facility, the result of the Facebook survey is unexpected but not surprising.
She added, “Livingston is full of intelligent people that know if they want to maintain a healthy lifestyle, it starts with weight. We have seen an increase in memberships and about 500 people a day in our facility because people here are aware of the significance of staying fit.”
To kick-off the summer of 2013, the West Essex YMCA started an 8-week weight-loss challenge called "Y Winner" for any community members interested in losing weight. This counseling program invited both members and non-members looking to make behavioral modifications for life-long health.
“We started the Y Winner program after determining a need to support our community in their challenges to live a healthier lifestyle by losing weight,” said YMCA Health Enhancement Director Barbara Santola. “Our hope was to bring awareness to the value of incorporating proper nutrition and physical activity.”
Over the span of 8 weeks, participants were offered nutrition counseling, personal training sessions and a weekly newsletter that supported educational meetings. The Ultimate “Y Winner,” Bernadette Gonzalez, a non-member, received a year’s free membership to the facility in honor of her achievements.
“We were excited to find such significant involvement in a program that offered encouragement for our participants’ nutrition and weight-loss goals,” Santola said.
Aside from the YMCA, Livingston Township has a significant number of organizations that support healthy living. For instance, Saint Barnabas Medical Center offers a wide range of seminars also meant for behavioral modifications in nutrition and weight loss.
Mary Pfister, R.N. Holistic Nurse Coordinator at the SBMC Cardiac Service Center said, “Our community is paying more attention to weight and nutrition because they are becoming aware of the ‘know your numbers’ concept. This concept educates them on the importance of knowing their own Blood Pressure and BMI (Body Mass Index), also resulting in attentiveness to heart disease, diabetes and obesity.”
“Being educated on heart disease and obesity makes people aware that exercise is a natural way to prevent it so they won’t need medication or open heart surgery later,” Pfister said.
Pfister concluded, “It’s inspiring to think Livingston is being modeled as a town that is doing so well and will make people know we’re on the map for health and wellness.”