Mo. senator lost 50 pounds with Twitter's help

When most people take their first step toward shedding pounds, they go about it various ways, such as hiring a personal trainer, joining a yoga class, even trashing every fatty food in their fridge.

But Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) took a different route to losing weight: Twitter.

Back in May, she turned to her Twitter family of 60,000 followers, saying, "I'm tired of looking and feeling fat. Maybe talking about it publicly will keep me on track."

Since then, McCaskill has kept her followers in the loop on her profile by posting updates of her fitness goals and eating habits.

Now, just five months after her first tweet, the senator has reached her goal of a loss of 50 pounds.

On top of that, McCaskill is now gaining attention for her use of social media to invite the public into her personal life -- something rather rare for an elected official.

Earlier this month, she tweeted her fitness coach and followers saying, "I did it! ... Thank you Team Charles and my new BFF...Mr Treadmill"

Will McCaskill continue her weight loss tweets now that she's reached her goal?

On "The Early Show," McCaskill said she plans to, in large part because keeping her weight loss public will keep her accountable.

"This is really going to be embarrassing," she said. "If I managed to get healthy and then I go back to my old ways, it will be a public humiliation. That public accountability -- sometimes it's not fun to be so public -- believe me, when I go to the grocery store, I hear about it. In other times, in terms of staying healthy, I think folks out there are paying attention and realizing that I've accomplished this will keep me on track to maintain a healthy weight."

But why Twitter?

McCaskill said, "My Twitter account -- I look at it as a way for people in Missouri to see the whole picture. I tweet about my kids. Yesterday, I tweeted about how happy I was that my daughter said she had cleaned her apartment all day. I think it's important for people to see that I've got the same kind of problems and challenges that everybody else does and, obviously, for a woman in her 50s, figuring out how to stay in shape with a really hectic schedule is a big part of everybody's daily struggle in my state and, I think, all across the country."

But McCaskill said she thought "long and hard" about whether or not she wanted to send her first weight loss tweet to her masses of followers.

"It meant that people were going to be watching to see if, in fact, I stayed on track, if I actually made that commitment to work out every day of the week and to really be accountable," she said. "And so, when I hit that send button that day, I knew that there was no going back."

Along the way, McCaskill said she got lots of ideas from her followers.

She said, "I got lots of tweets from folks who were doing the same thing...especially when I tweeted one time about how I had divorced bread and pasta and I hoped that someday we could be friends again. A lot of folks responded to that, saying, 'Hey, yeah, if you focus on fruits and vegetables and protein and if that is what you focus on, then and you work out, this is not a complicated thing.' I think when you're struggling to get there, you make it harder than it needs to be, and that reinforcement I got from so many people across the country really was helpful."

McCaskill said today, she's focusing on maintaining her weight loss, but could perhaps, one day, see herself becoming "friends again" with bread and pasta.

She explained, "Every once in a while it's not a bad thing to eat not healthy, but it has to be something that happens every once in a while, instead of something that happened every night. Before I started on this thing, I would sit around and feel sorry for myself that I worked hard and thought Ben and Jerry's was my best friend - and now it's probably more an apple."

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