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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – If you’re trying to lose weight and reach fitness goals, snapping selfies could pay off.

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Gina Licata can attest to that. She’s documenting her physical transformation for the world to see. She’s posting selfies, gym pictures, and ‘before and after’ shot on Instagram as her followers cheer her on.

“At first I didn’t really tell a lot of people in my personal life about it, it was just strangers on the internet,” she said.

Licata has lost 80 pounds over the last year and a half. She credits much of her success to the social media support she’s received.

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“I just wanted to hold myself accountable and be sort of a member of this community and just have that support,” she said. “It helps me think, like well you know, I should get this workout in because then I’ll have something to post on Instagram.”

A recent study in the Journal of Interactive Marketing found virtual support communities are in fact helpful and that sharing successes and disappointments online can be a key part of reaching weight loss goals.

“So we were able to see all of their achievements, their milestones, their setbacks, over that year time period. And we saw that people really used this forum as a way to commit to these goals and achieve them one by one,” said Sonya A. Grier with American University.

Licata has more than 14 thousand people keeping track of her progress, encouraging her to “keep going,” calling her “incredible,” and wishing her “congratulations.”

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Her weight loss secret? Just old fashioned diet and exercise.