South Florida Woman Gets Encouragement for Weight Loss Journey From Supporters on Instagram

Crystal Moss posts her "before" and "after" pictures on her Instagram account

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    Crystal Moss from Sunrise has shed 85 pounds on her fitness journey. She has received encouragement from people on social media, and shared her results online. (Published Tuesday, June 18, 2013)

    It's hard to believe the Crystal Moss stretching for a run in the park is the same person as the one in her "before" picture on Instagram. It was snapped back in 2009.

    The now-fit woman from Sunrise has shed 85 pounds on her fitness journey. It's one motivated by health.

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    "I found out I was close to getting diabetes. That was the pivotal moment when I realized it's time for a change," says Moss about an eye-opening doctor's visit.

    Diabetes runs in her family. She was determined to change. No pills. No gimmicks, no tricks.

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    "It's a lifestyle. It's not just something that you can do for a month and expect to change overnight. It's not going to happen that way," she says.

    Moss works on it every day, and encouragement hasn't just come from her family members and friends. Sometimes it comes from complete strangers.

    Moss posts her "before" and "after" pictures on her personal Instagram account. Users she's never met before comment on her progress.

    "Your transformation has me in awe. Today, I start my own journey. And just got truly inspired by your page," one comment reads.

    But Moss says it goes both ways.

    "Those comments also motivate me to continue going on my path," she says.

    A quick search of hashtags on Instagram like #progresspic and #cleaneating reveal there are thousands like her. A health-conscious online community sharing healthy recipes, a good workout, and incredible transformation photos.

    Transformation photos are also shared on Facebook.

    "When I went into the dressing room and I was the biggest size I ever was, I was crying in the dressing room and I said, 'I'm not going to the next step,'" Peggy Bradford says.

    Bradford has more than 4,700 friends to keep her motivated – most of whom she doesn't know. After shedding 75 pounds, she started the Facebook group "Steps to Good Health" to help others.

    "I have wonderful family and friends but I felt very alone. I know there's a lot of people out there who may be feeling alone," says Bradford, who spoke with NBC 6 via Skype from New Jersey.

    On the Facebook page, members share daily accomplishments like the number of steps they walk. Other members cheer them on. "You rock!," some comments read.

    "My group in particular is a group where you can go and no one will judge you," she says.

    Strangers helping strangers, inspiring them with kind words, and tangible proof that change is possible.

    "I would never be able to reach out to these amazing people without this tool," says Bradford.

    "You can do it too. All you need is motivation and drive," says Moss.

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