When Fitness meets Social Gaming

Self Magazine to Launch Facebook Diet Program and Social Game.


Dealing with a Social Media Crisis

A photo is worth a thousand words….

Earlier this evening, I logged on to my Facebook app from my iPhone despite it’s foreboding warning of only 20% battery life remaining.  To my surprise, at the top of my news feed was an unexpected picture on a highly controversial topic from a company that manufactured one of my greatest loves in life: Chocolate. The picture in question read “Hypocrisy: Demanding that the government stay out of your bedroom and your womb while simultaneously demanding they pay for your birth control and abortions.” This Bay Area based business shocked not only myself, but a number of their fan base when this politically charged photo went live across numbers of news feeds throughout the world.

Within a minute or so of being published, the photo was immediately taken down without so much as an explanation, or apology, or even DENIAL of it ever had being put up. However, the damage had been done and the wall posts were just filing in. The chocolate company received every kind of response imaginable including the expected “why are you posting this?” to the evangelistic “Your political views make me want to buy your chocolate even more!” to the somewhat patronizing “What else do you expect from a [Bay Area] based company.” And just as quickly as these wall posts appeared…they started to DISAPPEAR.

Deleting posts is a Social Media 101 No-No!

Deleting post: a Social Media 101 No-No!

As marketers, we’ve discussed in class various reasons why deleting negative posts from users is a big No-No (unless the post is totally 100% offensive). Rather, companies should welcome constructive criticism from its customers and find ways to reward their continued patronage. Deleting posts will more than likely only add fuel to the fire. Instead of clicking that tiny gray “x”, I offer 5 tips for dealing with a Social Media Crisis.

5 Tips for dealing with a Social Media Crisis

1. Don’t Delete, Respond. – When a number of people post the same criticism on your Facebook page, often times than not they have a valid concern. Rather than hiding the evidence, take the time to directly address the problem. Your fans will feel that you truly appreciate them when you take the time to respond.

2. Act Quickly – The longer you let something sit, the higher the chance it will be construed and twisted into something uglier than it already is. Respond quickly to any crisis by 1. acknowledging the issue 2. issuing an apology, and 3. Providing reassurance that the issue is being corrected. Remember, like certain viruses in the body, it takes a little less than 24 hours for something to go viral on the web.

3. Take Advantage of the Momentum – Fans and customers love knowing that companies actually LISTEN when they speak. Find ways to reward their efforts, and most of all, tell your fans that they are appreciated.

4. Form a Response Plan – Having a Social Media response plan is an important part to any type of marketing plan. Just as important as determining your tag line, or your medias for distribution, having a ready to execute plan on stand by can make or break how people will view your company or business in the wake of a disaster.

5. Listen and Learn from the Fallout – While a social media crisis can look like a hopeless situation, its also an opportunity to learn from your mistakes to prevent such a thing from happening again. After the immediate fallout has settled down, take some time to sit down and analyze the situation from beginning to end. Pinpoint weak spots and figure out how to strengthen them.

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Zombies, RUN!

The only way to survive in the game, is to RUN in real life.

Zombies, Run! is a semi-immersive fitness game that integrates accelerometer or GPS functionality with the fictional threat of the zombie apocalypse. The game takes place in a post apocalyptic world, where you, the runner/player is a member of a small society of survivors who are huddled together attempting to rebuild civilization. As the player, it is your mission to run out on various mission in which it is your objective to retrieve certain items to bring back to your camp. As you complete your running objectives, you earn items which you can then use to add to and build your society.

The game is available in the iPhone app store for $7.99. After you lace up your shoes, apply some sunblock, and step outside for your next run, open the app for a unique workout experience in which you can fully immerse yourself in the game’s mission and let the threat of flesh eating zombies become your motivator. The app can integrate with your existing iTunes playlist, with the option of only allowing game play audio to occur between songs. With GPS enabled, you have the option of “turning in” to areas occupied by zombies, where you will then have to speed up your run speed for intervals lasting up to 1 minute in order for your character to escape alive.

For more info on the app, check out the reviews in the app store, here.

Refresh your workout routine with Apps

Breaking through that plateau

Have you ever gotten to a point in your workout/diet routine that you just somehow couldn’t seem to get past? Doing the same workout, and sticking to the same diets without change for a long period of time will eventually cause you to encounter a plateau. A plateau can take the form of anything from an inability to increase strength, or a difficult time breaking past a certain weight barrier. In order to avoid plateaus, its best to periodically switch up your workout or diet in order to continually challenge your body and push yourself to your limits.

There’s an app for that!

Here are two free apps available in the Apple App store that can inspire you to switch up your boring routine. Each app comes with a list of programed workouts which you can do anywhere, including the gym, the park, between class, or even at home.


image via iTunes

Workout trainer allows you to browse and download various workouts. Workouts are sorted either by muscle group, or type. Categories include Strength, stretching, butt& Legs, abs, weight loss, yoga and many more. You can also select a category and hit the “Shake” feature to select a workout at random. You can find workouts that suite your needs. Each workout is “coached” by a speaker, similar to the way you expect your GPS to give you turn-by-turn directions. The app is available at a Freemium, meaning that some features can only be unlocked with an in app purchase.You can connect with friends who also use this app to compare workout routines.

image via iTunes

image via iTunes

Another app that is handy for inspiration is the Nike Training Club. This easy to navigate and well designed app also features a number of workouts which you can browse and download. The app keeps track of your total workout time, and rewards you at certain benchmarks. You can browse apps by goal (as pictured above) including the “Get Focused” category which shows workouts that target a specific area of the body. The app also features a number of “Bonus workouts” provided by guest celebrities.

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Thirsty Thursday: SMSD’s Frozen Hot Chocolate

Social Media Slim-Down Frozen Hot Chocolate

Social Media Slim-Down Frozen Hot Chocolate

According to Twitter, today (9 Feb 2012) is Chocolate Day! Not a bad food holiday, if I do say so myself. To celebrate, today’s #ThirstyThursday post features my adaptation of a popular treat, the Frozen Hot Chocolate. The Frrrozen Hot Chocolate is a cold, creamy and decadent chocolate drink made famous by NYC restaurant Serendipity 3. The original recipe (which you can view on epicurious.com here) combines high quality dark chocolate with store bought hot chocolate mix to create the cold yet warming concoction. In September 2010, I had the privileged of savoring this drink in person at the original Serendipity 3 location in NYC. I was fortunate enough to come in at a time when restaurant owner Stephen Bruce was manning the phones taking reservations for later that evening. He was gracious enough to pose for the following picture, as well as sign a copy of his book, which I gave to my sister.

Stephen Bruce Serendipity 3 Owner Frozen Hot Chocolate

Me with owner Stephen Bruce at Serendipity 3 restaurant in NYC. (From September 2010)

Slimmed down but still sexy

Since my trip to NYC in 2010, I’ve experienced a number of changes. One of which involved me eliminating dairy products from my diet as a result of becoming lactose intolerant. My adaptation of the Frozen Hot Chocolate substitutes coconut milk and pure cocoa powder to create the same warming sensation inspired by the original recipe. Each 8 oz serving contains approx 220 calories and a boatload of happiness.


1/3 cup Lite Coconut Milk (Feel free to substitute whatever milk of your choice, I just prefer coconut)

2 Tablespoons Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

2 Tablespoons Cocoa Powder (Dutch process preferred)

Dash of Cinnamon

Sweetener of Choice – To Taste (Optional)

1 1/2 – 2 cups Ice

Social Media Slim Down Frozen Hot ChoColate

Social Media Slim Down Frozen Hot Chocolate Ingredients


Combine Coconut milk and semi-sweet chocolate chips in a microwave safe container. Microwave on HIGH for 45 seconds until coconut milk is bubbly and chocolate is melted (do not let coconut milk boil over). Place the warm mixture in a blender. Add cocoa powder, cinnamon and sweetener (if using). Blend on High for 1 minute until frothy. Add ice and continue to blend until smooth.

About Chocolate:

In relation to diet, and weight loss, chocolate is a contentious topic. On one hand, the sweet confection contains saturated fat, and sugar. However, on the other, chocolate, especially Dark chocolate with a high cocoa content is rich in antioxidants, and proven to produce endorphins and other chemicals that promote a positive feeling, and feeling of satisfaction. For more facts about chocolate, visit 7 Myths and Facts about Chocolate via Sparkpeople.com.

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Battle: Food Diary App

One of the most common pieces of diet advice you will hear when trying to lose weight is to keep a food diary. Fortunately, with the advent of smart phones, keeping a paper diary is a thing of the past. As the proverbial saying goes, “There’s an app for that.” The following is a head-to-head review of three of the most popular Food logging apps available on the market.

These apps allow you to track your calorie intake, log your workouts and help you figure out both nutritional and exercise guidelines to meet your specific goals.

 MyFitnessPal (4****/5)

Overview: Simplest of the 3 to use and the one I personally use daily. Has a 5 star rating on the Apple App store. App syncs with your existing account on MyFitnessPal.com account. Log foods, create custom recipes, and log both cardio and strength exercises. Find friends and support one another towards accomplishing your goals. Sync with your twitter or facebook accounts to share with your social network.


  • Huge database for searching foods both manually and via barcode scanner. Type in an entree from pretty much any chain restaurant to get nutritional info fast, or scan the barcode on that bag of chips you’re about to eat.
  • Options to view nutritional data either with visual pie chart or in list form.
  • Exercise logging includes both cardio and strength exercises (will not calculate calories burned doing strength training)


  • Counts calories burned during exercise against calories consumed. For example, burning 300 calories on an elliptical trainer allows you to consume an extra 300 calories in food. This is my one major complaint about this app.
  • Calculates an overly generous number of “calories burned” during various exercises. For example, entering 30 minutes on an elliptical trainer tells me I burn 353 calories. According to the machine, I burned 315, while according to my heart rate monitor, I only burned 255.

CalorieCount (4****/5)

Overview: App syncs with your existing account on caloriecount.about.com where you can enter your beginning stats, enter a goal weight and a desired deadline. CalorieCount then calculates your “Daily Burn” (Basal metabolic rate/ Resting metabolic rate) based on your activity level, and stats. You can customize your nutrition settings, (Select either USDA guidelines, low carb, vegetarian, or set your own custom values etc.)  or even go further and enter your own allocations for target percentage of calories from proteins, carbs, fats, sugars, etc.


  • Multiple ways to log food including manual search, search via barcode, and voice search as well as capabilities to enter custom recipes and meals.
  • Ability to tag items for easy logging.
  • Exercise database has a number of activities, including some obscure activities including (but not limited to) Accordion playing, loading/unloading a car, and planting trees.
  • Nice visual tools to show you your calorie intake vs expenditures, as well as your nutrition breakdown.
  • App has easy access to online forums.


  • Search by barcode feature is somewhat limited.
  • No option to add strength training exercises.
  • No capabilities to share to Facebook or Twitter.
  • Crashed 3 times in one week (on my iPhone 3Gs)

Daily Burn Tracker (3***/5)

Overview: Daily Burn Tracker syncs with the DailyBurn.com website. This “Freemium”  app allows you to sync with your existing dailyburn.com account. Create your own workout plan, or select from a number of pre-made itineraries. Program parameters such as how many days you want to work out, and workout goals such as increase strenght or lose weight. The nutrition tracker provides visual renderings of your nutritional intake.


  • Database of existing and programmable exercises. Tracks not only calories burned during cardio, but amount of weight lifted, and distance traveled. Mobile application has a number of reference pictures of exercises.
  • LOTS of customizable options in the Freemium version. Even more available in the Premium (Paid) version.
  • Ability to find or create personal challenges.


  • Mobile application quit multiple times during use (on iPhone 3Gs)
  • Freemium version has limited features, and LOTS of ads.
  • Difficult to navigate at first.
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The Dog Strikes Back: 2012 Volkswagen Game Day Commercial

Art (or Advertising) imitating life

Are you a fan of the big game? If you’re like me, not only do you look forward to the all day feasting and the team camaraderie (and the eventual smack talking) but almost central to the two teams playing, you look forward to the advertising spectacle taking place between plays.  As a follow up to last year’s wildly successful The Force  (staring the Pint-sized Darth Vader) Volkswagen released their 2012 Game Day commercial, featuring a pudgy pooch who receives a rude awakening after seeing a shiny, red VW Beetle drive by.  While overindulgence is inevitable on Game Day, I hope Fido keeps you inspired to stay motivated, and positive in pursuing your long term diet and exercise goals.


While not as “sticky” as The Force, I think this is still cute and relative, especially given the fact that this is the time of the year when most people start loosening their belts on those New Year’s resolution diet and exercise  plans. With The Bark Side teaser trailer, I was expecting more Star Wars action, (especially the Whippet AT-AT). The Mos Eisles Cantina scene at the end felt like a giveaway, or more of an obligation to knowledge the expectations set forth from last year’s commercial.  One thing that I felt was missing was the element of The Jester (see Advertising Archetypes) that was so prevalent in most of VW’s advertising history.

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Music Monday: Songs from 10 years ago

Back in 2002…

Back in 2002, I was a freshman in high school. One thing I remember dreading about school was PE, specifically our once a month timed test of running the mile. I was That kid. The one who got straight A’s without trying… in everything except Physical Education. I was not a runner then, (nor am i much of a fan of running now), and distinctly remember struggling to come in under the 15 minute time limit. I was a young 15 year old who couldn’t even complete a 1 mile run without having to take a break in the middle to walk.
Fast forward 10 years, and here I am! Not only can I complete that 1 mile test without stopping, but I can demolish that 15 minute time limit. This Music Monday posts is inspired by music that was popular 10 years ago. Where were you at 10 years ago? Were you more active that you are now? Does the memory of your younger self motivate you to get in shape? Or does it fill you with pride when you consider the progress of where you’ve come?

Music Monday’s Playlist for 30 January 2012

1. What’s Luv – Fat Joe, Ja Rule, Ashanti

2. Heaven (featuring Do) – DJ Sammy, Do

3. In the End – Linkin Park

4. Hey Baby – No Doubt

5. Whenever, Wherever – Shakira

6. Hot in Herre – Nelly

7. Love At First Sight – Kylie Minogue

8. Dirrty – Christina Aguilera

9. Just a Friend 2002 – Mario

10. Without Me – Eminem

11. Always On Time – Ja Rule, Ashanti

12. Gotta Get Thru This – Daniel Bedingfield

13. Sk8er Boi – Avril Lavigne

Thirsty Thursday’s: Green Smoothies

Green smoothies

Benefits of Green Smoothies

Green smoothies are an easy way to incorporate nutrition from whole foods into your diet. All you need is a blender, and an assortment of produce, and some ice. You can make green smoothies using a variety of combinations of fruits and veggies so feel free to experiment and find your favorite combination. I usually use a 50:50 ratio of veggie and fruit. A typical green smoothie for me can include the following: 1 handful of dark leafy greens, 1/2 small cucumber (skin and seeds removed), 2-4 pieces of broccoli, 1/2 apple, juice of 1 lime, 1/2  handful of mangoes or pineapple and 1 TB flax seed. The following is a list of benefits of drinking green smoothies.

1. Whole food nutrition – Chop and blend a mix of fruits and veggies such as broccoli, celery, spinach or parsley with apples, kiwi, pineapple, or frozen mangoes. The blender’s chopping action will break down cellular walls, making the vitamins easy to absorb.

2. Extra fiber – Using whole foods as opposed to juicing them keeps the fiber intact. Blend on High for at least 2 minutes (depending on the power of your blender) to get a smooth consistency. Fiber fill you up quickly and keep you satisfied.

3. Less mess – Blending usually requires less cleanup and creates less byproducts than juicing. Because you’re using less produce, you end up saving money in the long run.

Suggested Smoothie ingredients:

Dark Leafy Greens: Kale, Swiss Chard, Collard Greens, carrot tops, beet greens, spinach, parsley

Vegetables: Broccoli, celery, cucumbers, avocados

Fruits: Apples (any kinds, remove core and keep skin), kiwi, pineapple,  grapes (red or green) berries, pears, bananas (fresh or frozen), mangoes (fresh or frozen), melons,

Other ingredients: Fruit juices, coconut milk, almond milk, yogurt or other dairy

Optional supplements to add: Green tea extract, whey protein, flax seed, omega-3 fatty acids,

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Documenting your progress with photo sharing apps

Documenting progress with photo sharing apps torrey pines

Photo sharing apps are a great way to keep your diet/fitness goals close at hand. Documenting your daily activities and sharing them with your social network enables you to leverage your relationship with your friends to build support. Whether you use Instagram, Flickr, or even just share on Facebook, here are some tips on using photo sharing to document your progress.

10 ways  to use photo sharing apps to accomplish your diet/exercise goals

1. Set incremental goals. Set and document short term goals and  post your progress. Create small challenges like substituting dessert with fresh fruit for a week. Looking to go Vegan for a couple of days or go Pescatarian for lent? Post pics of your meals.

2. Document your long term progress. Is your goal to be able to bench press your body weight before the end of summer? Snap a photo of progress now, and compare it to where you’re at by the end of your deadline. Looking to decrease your body fat? Snap a photo of yourself in a swimsuit,  holding a book, or magazine for scale. Take the same photo with the same book/magazine a couple months down the road. Seeing your long term progress will keep you motivated to continue improving.

3. Snap a photo of what you eat. Photographing your food allows you to reconsider what you’re eating. Should I really have that large of a slice of cake? Is there any way I can eat more greens? Remember, what you eat in private, you wear out in public.

Cake ball tower

I'll pass on the 3rd cake ball, thanks!

4. Go off the beaten path. Hello, SoCal? Have you looked outside today? Not a cloud in the sky! (Sorry, rest of the country) Skip the gym and go for a run on the beach, or a hike at Torrey Pines.
5. Compare pics of Then and Now. Want to get back to your college weight? What about fit back into your wedding dress? Snap a Then and Now pic so you can visualize your goal.

6. Follow, Follow, Follow – Find users who post pics of healthy meals, or fitness ideas. Seeing these  photos on your feed acts as a subtle reminder to eat healthy and stay active.

7. Share, Share , Share – Have you enrolled in a killer workout class? Post a picture. Saw a cute guy at the gym? (Surreptitiously snap,) and post a picture.

8. Embrace the 1 photo per day for 100 days challenge. Like the name says, challenge yourself to post at least 1 photo per day, for the next 100 days. Even better, you can thematically center this challenge around documenting things that you have done to improve yourself in the new year.

9. Document small moments of WIN! Are your jeans feeling extra roomy today? Did you skip on dessert today? Find a penny on the ground in the  parking lot of the gym? Share your small moments of WIN with friends and family. Help inspire them to take the jump to make change for the better.

10. Prove the nay-sayers wrong. “You’re going to the gym now, but that’s only because it’s the beginning of the year.” “You’ll never be able to give up cake for more than a month.” Show them all that you can do it, and provide the photographic evidence.

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