Losing Weight the Mindful Way
My Experience with the Noom App
To start with, I’m going to give you all the disclaimers. This piece is a personal app review about my own experience with Noom. I have no affiliation with Noom other than the fact that I used the app for eight months. I am not a doctor, nutritionist, or health professional. I know nothing about your health situation; therefore, I am not qualified to give you advice. I am only here to write my unsolicited opinion on an application that I credit with helping me lose weight. I have never used any other weight loss plan or diet, so I have nothing with which to compare it. If reading about weight loss is a “trigger” for you, stop right here and find a different story to read.
In February and March of 2020, right before the COVID-19 pandemic closed down the world, I had to have two major surgeries. Following the second one, my weight was down 10 pounds from my presurgery weight. Due to the hospital visiting restrictions at that time, I never received any physical therapy. By the Fall of 2020, I had gained back all of the weight and more. I was a total of 22 pounds overweight on the most generous calculation I could find. I was gaining steadily. I also hadn’t made a lot of recovery of physical strength, nor had I been doing even the most basic of exercise, walking.
During this time, I helped a relative with some basic home-based exercises for hip surgery recovery. This event made me think to look online for simple strengthening exercises to use for my particular situation.
I came across a review of a weight loss app called Noom. Since you are encouraged to begin from where you are, and a total change in diet is not required, the plan sounded like something I could do and maintain after finishing the course. A smartphone and a scale for daily weigh-ins are the two essential pieces of equipment needed. I downloaded the wavy sun app for a two-week free trial and got started. During the two-week trial, I didn’t lose much weight. But, since much of the material isn’t available during the free trial, I thought I might do better by committing to a plan. I chose the basic plan, excluding extra coaching and other options offered.
One of the first things that will pop up in a Noom based weight loss journey is a short questionnaire. You enter your beginning weight into the app, choose a target weight, and a speed for weight loss. Age, height, and choosing male or female also aids Noom in calculating the number of calories assigned at the beginning of each day. The goal is to consume fewer calories than you need to maintain your weight but eat enough to keep yourself from going into starvation mode and storing calories. I chose my target weight from a chart on the internet using a combination of my height, sex, and age. My goal was to lose 27 pounds. It was five pounds under the highest healthy weight for my height. It was not the lowest weight at which I could be comfortable; however, it seemed achievable and would give me a five-pound buffer against becoming overweight again. If you aren’t sure what your daily calorie requirements are or have any health factors, a trip to your doctor for a physical examination and medical advice would be an excellent place to begin.
The app uses a combination of five short, daily routines to help people achieve their weight loss and fitness goals. The first three are daily weigh-ins, calorie counting, and step counting. Other apps also provide these services, but I haven’t explored them. Weigh-ins at Noom are tracked on a graph showing starting weight, target weight, and date of the weigh-in. It looks different from platform to platform.
The second part of the app is the calorie counter. On Noom, food designations divide into three color-coded sections (green, yellow, red) representing the caloric density of the food. An example would be comparing two cups of lettuce to two cups of nuts (16 calories vs. about 1,600). They are the same amount of food by volume, but two cups of one choice have substantially more calories than the other. This example doesn’t mean you will be eating all lettuce and not nuts, but you will be trying to achieve a balance with more lettuce and fewer nuts. No foods are eliminated or banned in the application but, you soon become aware that a bowl of ice cream might not be a daily occurrence in your life. The goal is to help achieve balance and self-control by changing the ways you view food and eating. The app encourages you to stay within your calories for the day. Also, it persuades you to distribute your food choices among the three groups in a mindful way. Foods can be added to the daily list by brand and by different types of measurement. The main thing is to enter everything you eat or drink and be honest about the amounts. Why lie to yourself?
Step counting is a third element Noom helps make the user aware of the amount of daily movement. The application can connect to your smartphone pedometer. It can also connect to other devices such as a Fitbit to track steps. I used my phone and didn’t find it inconvenient. The pedometer works just as well if you are carrying the phone in a pocket or bag. You will enter other types of exercise such as particular sports, calisthenics, yoga, and even housework on the exercise page. 50% of the calories burned will be added to the allotted total for the day. Even without reaching the total step target of 10,000, it is possible to lose weight. My typical average is about 4,000 steps per day. Occasionally I have a 10,000 step day. When I began the weight loss program, my average was closer to 2,000.
An essential feature of Noom is the community of people who are also losing weight. A coach was assigned to shepherd a group of us as a part of my basic subscription. At this subscription level, coaches check in with individuals directly one to two times per month and also interact with the group as a whole at least once per day (although they take weekends off). They post extra lessons based on the comments, victories, and struggles of individuals within the group. It’s a great place to get advice on weight loss issues, complain on days when things aren’t going right for you, and cheer or be cheered when a cherished piece of clothing finally fits again. If you don’t want to interact with people, you can choose to be less involved. I found it helpful because my family and friends didn’t have the same level of interest as people struggling through the same effort.
The final aspect of Noom’s weight loss program, and possibly the most important, are the short daily lessons. You may read 3 to 7 of these a day, a total time commitment of about 5-10 minutes. The presentation is “cute” and chatty. It was the one thing that drove me crazy about the app. The thing is, aside from that, these lessons are jam-packed with essential and practical information on how to change the way you think about food. There are fun quizzes with a point, pieces that encourage you to give up unproductive habits or make you aware of strategies for conquering overeating in all types of situations. The lessons also help you find ways to do more or better exercise and be with other people in ways that don’t involve eating. They also encourage you to drink more water. Awareness of water intake was something that particularly helped me.
Other offerings in the basic subscription include; recipes to make, the ability to add your favorite recipes and divide them into servings, and the ability to scan bar codes rather than typing in each food.
So, how did I do with my weight loss goal? I did lose all 27 pounds to reach my target weight. It took me eight months. It was relatively slow, but I wanted to make a long-term change since, apart from my surgery, it was the lowest weight I’d been in two decades. I expected a struggle. At first, I lost about a pound a week with some ups and downs, but it took me nearly a month to lose the last pound, which was discouraging but common. Luckily, several others in my group were in the same place, so we toughed it out together. In the beginning, I had measured myself. I lost over 5 inches from my waist and 2 inches from my hips.
The only other effort I made during the eight months was to add free exercise videos from the internet. I started with two ten-minute low-impact beginner leg workouts a day. In the beginning, I was not able to complete all of the exercises in these, so I modified the routines to match my ability. After two months of these, I was able to add two ten-minute beginner routines for abdominal exercises. I usually try to do 10-30 minutes of exercise per day total, and I rotate my favorites. I did not buy any equipment or clothing; although, I do all of my routines with headphones on for the sake of the people I love. In addition to the exercises, I tried to walk outside more.
Overall, I would say this is a weight loss app for people who like to read, will consistently weigh themselves and log their food choices, and who will stay committed to their goal for a long time. Criticisms by others I have seen are that Noom makes no effort to provide a balanced diet and that it is expensive. I combatted the first by eating a wide range of foods and by taking a multivitamin. I was already eating a balanced diet, so my issues revolved more around portion control and snacking. The other point; one of cost, would depend on your particular requirements and plan you chose. The eight months of service worked out to be less than $40 per month for me or about $10/pound if you go by weight. I didn’t buy any equipment or a gym membership. By the end, I could wear two dresses, two pairs of dress trousers, shorts, and a bathing suit that were stuck languishing in my closet, and I could wear my belts again. For me, health benefits and the fun I have buying new clothes that I feel good in far outweigh the cost.
Now that I am no longer using the app for weight loss, I am still planning to keep up with the healthier habits I have begun by tracking my weight and the foods I eat. The app still allows you to chart weight, track types of food and calories, and chart water intake once you leave the plan. I certainly never want to be overweight again, and I credit using the Noom app with helping me reach that first step in my goal.
If you liked this review, and want to see more, I'd love it if you "heart" my story.
Tips will be applied to expanding my wardrobe. Who knows, we may pass on the street someday, and you'll be dazzled by my fine new feathers.