My Health Quest: We Begin With Noom & Why It Is Different

This post and series will discuss intentional weight loss struggles and may be difficult for anyone with an eating disorder

The last week of December 2021, I signed up for Noom not knowing exactly what to expect, but decided to try something new. [Please note that this is NOT a sponsored post and I get nothing from Noom, but will happily accept any gift they want to give.]

Official Description of Noom

“Noom is a psychology-based program that empowers you to make healthier choices by better understanding yourself, your brain, and the science of choice. Powered by data, technology, and human coaches, Noom helps millions of people meet their personal health and wellness goals—from weight management to diabetes prevention to stress reduction.” from the Noom Fact Sheet 2021

Image from Noom’s Press Kit

How It Works

The process begins with a series of questions to assess your goals. Your goals dictate the price, so someone trying to lose a little weight in 3 months versus someone trying to lose a lot of weight in a year will pay accordingly. After my assessment, they believed I could lose 90 pounds in a year. I laughed at the idea, but now I’m at 40 pounds at mid-year, and I’m not laughing anymore.

The whole program works through an app on a user’s phone. Each day there are new articles to read, which take 5-10 minutes depending on the day. The app has a way to track your weight, your food, and your steps. For the steps, you can connect to a fitness tracker or use theirs, which means keeping your phone on you all the time. For weight and food, you add manually.

Image from Noom’s Press Kit

The articles, in the beginning, ease you into the whole process and explain what to expect. Some days, there are questions or commitments they want the user’s response. The writing tone is light, encouraging, and at times humorous, depending on the topic. Noom is also VFOA (Very Fond of Acronyms) and loves quizzes. They use both religiously throughout and make fun of themselves sometimes for it.

Additionally, Noom provides you with two additional sets of support: an individual coach and a group of other Noom users who started at the same time. Participation is optional. I have a weekly check-in with my coach, and I rarely check the group chat.

How I Describe Noom

For someone like myself who has participated in an ungodly amount of different diets, Noom is “diet rehab.” The articles focus on learning or unlearning how to make the best decisions between food and exercise options. They do not tell you what foods to eat or avoid but instead focus on what leads to you making those decisions. They help you form habits (or break them), and they approach topics from different angles causing you to see the situation from another perspective.

The additional supports are like personal and group therapy. Some people need more one-on-one attention, while others benefit from listening to others’ stories. You get out of it, what you put into it.

The process feels like rehab, but I understand how, from a marketing perspective, that would seem like a turnoff. After all, in the immortal words of Amy Winehouse, “They tried to make me go to rehab, but I said no, no, no.” However, the dieting process has been marketed to us in a way that causes negative ways of thinking about food and exercise and how we think of ourselves when dieting and exercising. Noom’s process helps fix the relationship with those things healthily and sustainably.

What I Like About It

I added reading the articles part of my morning routine, so I start the day off in the right mindset. The app holds me accountable without feeling overbearing. The writing is short, engaging, and humorous at times. I’ve actively participated for six whole months now, and I’m not bored. I have graduated to not having to log my weight every day, and the articles are even shorter.

Noom’s most significant physical effect on me is that I look at my calorie limit like a budget. I’ll read the nutritional information and think “too expensive” or “I can afford some extra cheese on this” or “I’ll be over budget, but it’s worth it.” I’m not looking at a piece of chocolate as five pounds on the scale tomorrow or having to walk extra miles. I’m looking at it as being a bit pricey but possibly worth the splurge.

“Penelope Special”

I realized cooking fresh food is better than reheating frozen foods. Previously, I microwaved 90% of my food and only used it when other people came to visit (and they cooked). Now, I bake a bunch of chicken in advance for the week. For lunch, I bake a mixture of asparagus, potatoes, and mushrooms (plus olive oil and seasoning). I mix the chicken in with the veggies, and boom, a nice cheap meal that fills me up. I call this a “Penelope Special.” Penelope loves the smell of veggies (broccoli is her favorite). She doesn’t eat it just sits in front of the oven purring or trying to stick her head in my mouth because my breath smells fantastic. She managed to get a piece of lettuce on her nose, and she just walked around breathing it in. My cat is a weirdo.

Penelope becomes one with veggies

What Noom Is Not

Noom won’t tell you what specific things to do to lose weight with a guaranteed result. The process leads you to find and make the best decisions yourself through education. They provide you with all the tools and support you need. This isn’t a juice cleanse to lose extra weight to fit into a suit or dress by following a recipe. Noom isn’t for everyone, and having the right mindset makes a huge difference.

I have very minor issues with Noom. Some inconsistencies with the food journal. They break foods into three categories, and sometimes an update will move food from one type to another. The coaches understandably seem to work from a pre-written text in the beginning. It took me several interactions before I had any meaningful interactions that didn’t feel cut and pasted from a script.

Let me know if you have any questions or if you want to share your experience. I’m always happy to discuss with anyone about anything at just about anytime.

Next week’s blog is a side quest that accidentally led to another big piece of my exercise regime.

Next up: My Health Quest: Side Quest – Blood Donations

Did you miss any of the previous posts in the My Health Quest series?

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