Marvin Bowser met his mid-life crisis head on, fighting fat with Facebook! This summer was a breakthrough for him as he shed the unwanted pounds but also inspired a movement. There are many lessons for all of us.

“As a kid there was never any focus on what we were eating or drinking. There was never any filter as far as what we consumed. Forties. Big Gulps. I used to work at McDonald’s. We made triple cheeseburgers before they existed,” Marvin said. Because he was young and active, the weight never stuck. Now as an adult, he was only playing ball once or twice a week, the beer and burgers and extra pounds stuck like Velcro.

If you ask Marvin, he will share how his gradual ascension to obesity happened under his nose. A decade ago, Marvin was recovering from an ACL injury and was climbing Mount Fuji, Japan’s tallest mountain when he felt his breathing labored; it was so intense that an 85-year-old woman passed him along the trail. Five years later he saw a beach photo of himself that caught him completely off guard. “I saw the inner tube gut and I thought, this doesn’t look right.’” Finally heeding the signs, he went in for a physical later that year. Note to black men: Prioritize your health and get an annual physical exam. It can save your life!

Marvin and his doctor had a candid conversation. At 5’10 and 235 lbs, Marvin’s doctor diagnosed him as being “obese.” Imagine having that kind of A-ha moment. Marvin started running every day. “I had the Rocky theme playing in my head,”he said. By summer’s end he was down 20 pounds. He kept it going, joining boot camp groups, practicing yoga. Eventually, he cut out sodas, sugar drinks and foods containing refined sugar and high fructose corn syrup. The pounds kept dropping but Marvin “needed to stay motivated.”

Enter, social media. A Facebook group was born to gather record and celebrate progress toward fitness goals. There were no expectations when it originated earlier this summer. But soon after, people flocked to the group and it was taking on a life of its own. People were running, spinning, and cycling longer, they were eating better, and talking about it with one another. The online club grew to more than 100 members and Marvin found himself in the leadership role, encouraging others and challenging them to challenge themselves.

Simply scroll through the group’s newsfeed and you’ll know its social networking at its best. On any given day different members from across the globe share workout tips, offer nutrition advice, tout their day’s accomplishments and generally encourage one another. The one and only fixture is Marvin’s message to start the day.

Lessons from Marvin’s Facebook Adventure:

  • Be intentional. Marvin and the group gathered for a specific purpose, health and fitness. Whether it was workout tips, food choices, or encouragement, the group had a discernable mission.
  • Be consistent. Marvin noted he started the day with a “message of the day.” This  continuity allowed for group members to know there was a constant thread, something to be counted on. In short, it became a reliable destination.
  • Be supportive. By all accounts, Marvin and online members were highly supportive of one another and the “culture” was one of openness and sharing. It became a “safe place” on the web.

Keep these lessons in mind the next time you consider starting or participating in a social media group. Congratulations Marvin. Looking good!

Article By: Dax-Devlon Ross is the author of several books, co-publisher  of Outside the Box Publishing, LLC, and the editor of the HNIC Report, a daily blog covering political issues. Mr. Ross is a sought after speaker and consultant who resides in New York.