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Saw It On Social: Noom

Talking about weight and body image isn’t easy for anyone.  My body image struggles are not the same as your struggles, just as your struggles may not be the same as those of you sister, your best friend, etc..  Conversations about weight and body image are very personal, every woman has a weight/size/level of fitness where she is happiest and most comfortable.

Being in my late-30s now, I see weight and size differently than I did in my 20s or early 30s.  I no longer care what number is on the tag in my jeans.  If they fit and they look good, that’s all that matters.  I don’t want to diet all the time, but I do want to eat more vegetables and healthy foods because my body deserves them.  And I no longer shape my expectations for my body based on what society thinks women should look like.

But that doesn’t mean that I’m happy with my body all the time.

In the run up to my wedding last year, I knew that I wanted to use that motivation to go back to the gym.  I was very clear with my trainer that I did not care what I weighed on my wedding day.  There was no pound or size goal at the end of the rainbow.  I wanted to feel good about my body based on the work I was putting in to take care of it.

I put on my wedding dress weighing the same 140lbs that I weighed three months before, but I was significantly stronger and more toned.  I felt genuinely good about my body for the first time in five years.

Then, COVID happened.

With no gym to go to and increasing food delivery bills, the body I had worked so hard for went away in a hurry.  And I felt awful about it.

I bought a Peloton, but motivation and time are fleeting.  I went back to the gym as soon as it opened, but the hunger just isn’t there.  And frankly, tacos are delicious, and exactly what I want when my job, my marriage, my mental health, and my home are all upended right now.

So when I saw a commercial for Noom, I figured why the hell not.  Clearly part of the problem is in my head, maybe Noom can help me tame that part.

Like a lot of people, I often make unconscious choices about food and exercise.  I don’t often think about what I’m eating in terms of calories or nutrition.  And I have never been good about exercising as a regular practice.

Noom makes software to help change that.  Their app contains a calorie and weight tracker, step counter and exercise log, but it is much more than that.  Every day, the app gives you five-minutes of simple exercises that educate you about nutrition, the psychology behind food choices, and decision-making around exercise.

The first thing you do with Noom is set a weight loss goal.  It can be as big or as small as you want to make it.  You can try to do it with speed or at an easier pace.  The app coaches you through the process so you choose a goal that is reasonable and achievable.

The first two weeks, logging daily calories sucked.  It felt like reporting to a hall monitor.  But that subsided.  As I learned how many calories were in a lot of my favorite meals, I figured out how to budget the calories I was allotted each day better.

Noom also has an interesting tracker that rates foods as red, yellow and green.  (You can see the chart here.)  No foods are off limits, but you learn how to balance the different kinds of food better.

Think about eating raisins vs. grapes.  Neither is bad for you, but you can eat a lot of grapes and consume fewer calories than you would with a small serving of raisins.  And once you start thinking about food swaps that way, and shopping in a way that prepares for those swaps, eating habits change quickly.

I will tell you that there are days when I hate the Noom education slides.  Where I’m just like skim, swipe, skim, swipe, yay, we’re done.  And there are even weeks where I don’t do them at all.  Not one.  And it’s fine, you can go back to them later.

I kept excellent track of my calories and exercise for two months, then, as work got busier, I stopped.  For two weeks, just full stop.  But then I started up again, and it was no big deal.  I didn’t feel any shame in quitting.  I certainly didn’t need to hide from an app or ask for its forgiveness.  I just started again.

As for results, I had great results during the time I was diligent about using the app.  I lost five pounds, and I kept it off.  My results went up for a while when our kitchen was ripped out and I lost the ability to cook.  But we’re back to eating at home, I’m back to Noom, and this week, I’ve lost two pounds.

But the difference between my weight loss with Noom and not on Noom is the way I think about it.  I don’t feel guilty.  I don’t feel pressured.  I don’t feel like I’m failing if I quit for a minute.

I also think more about what I’m eating in a way that feels healthy and positive, not in a if-you-eat-that-pizza-after-you-ate-tacos-for-lunch-you-are-an-ogre kind of way.  I am choosing healthier food and I am learning to stop eating when I’m full.  And that has made a big difference for my occasionally toxic relationship with food (Hello, fellow eaters of your feelings, welcome!).

Noom is not cheap.  An annual plan is just over $200.  Mostly plans run $59+.  I bought the annual plan because I felt like even if I didn’t stick with it, I was losing a static amount of money and not doing that thing where you forget to cancel month-after-month until you’ve spent $150 unwittingly.  But if you’ve tried everything else, this might be a good option for you.

Did I have radical, life changing results?  No.  Will my body look like J.Los by next summer?  No.  But do I feel better about the choices I’m making, and am I happy with my modest, but lasting, results.  Yes, yes I am.

If you want to start Noom, I would recommend starting now and not after the holidays.  Having that foundation of positive thinking going into the eating and sitting season will help you keep any holiday weight gain at bay or minimal.  Because once you think about food a little differently and have a way to hold yourself accountable, it does get a little easier.  The program still won’t work if you don’t do it (though you don’t have to be militant about it), but it does work.

Have you tried Noom?  Leave your thoughts in the comments.

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    35 comments

  1. Liz says:

    I just started NOOM the other week. COVID-related issues hit me hard – stress, migraines, neck and back tension … and weight gain. I’m using the app to track the small, daily ways I can invest in my health. And while I have yet to see much weight loss, the daily weigh ins are (surprisingly!) reassuring. Honestly, with the chaos of the news, and the world, and growing pressures at work, it’s nice to see some stability. (FWIW: my current goal is to avoid further weight gain, I don’t mean to imply that the program wouldn’t work for those looking for more significant weight loss.)

    October 7, 2020/Reply
  2. Kay says:

    I did Noom at the beginning of this year after recommendations from the Thirtyish Group. I am going to be honest, I was hungry all the time and it resulted in a weight yo-yo. Not ideal for me.

    I recently did a program called Fat Loss Lifestyle School and I am seeing much better results. It’s a month long program where they teach you what to eat, how much to eat, and how to figure it out on the fly without counting calories. Honestly, it’s been great. They taught me by adding a small starchy carb (like an apple, oats, or half of a medium potato) to my breakfast, I literally stay full until lunch. They focus on getting movement into your routine and how to read to break down menus.

    I am only two months in and only down 5 lbs, but I lost a full 4 inches on my waist, gained some tone, and I am not hungry. This is sustainable and freeing. I highly recommend checking them out!

    October 7, 2020/Reply
    • Nellie says:

      I also did Fat Loss Lifestyle School, right after I did a free two-week trial on Noom. It had some faws, but I did really like how practical and specific the instructions and video lessons were. I definitely lost a few pounds in a month. While I’m not sticking to the plan to a T these days, it definitely taught me some things I’m still doing, like knowing how to compose a meal to to feel full and daily walks. For me Noom was a little too loosey-goosey but I know others who have definitely found it helpful.

      October 7, 2020/Reply
      • Kay says:

        Nelly, I agree FLLS definitely has flaws. I just enjoyed how I was having results without counting calories/lots of pressure and how I am not hungry. It is much easier to not eat junk food or snack on “healthy” items when I am full.

        October 8, 2020/Reply
        • Emily says:

          I also did Fat Loss Lifestyle School but was extremely disappointed in the program. I thought it was a waste of money. For example, I realized that a lot of material is shared for free via their promotions for the program. I felt that Leslie was extremely judgmental about my slip ups and the facebook group way of participating in the program was awful. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone, frankly.

          October 8, 2020/Reply
  3. sierra delta says:

    I have a cell phone from the Age of the Dinosaurs. I’m embarrassed to ask this, but will the Noom app work on my MacBook Pro laptop?

    October 7, 2020/Reply
    • Belle says:

      I think its phone or iPad only.

      October 7, 2020/Reply
  4. Aar1 says:

    I did noom pretty consistently from Nov 2019-January 2020 for a wedding I was in. I loved the ability to scan barcodes for calorie counting, and the general concept of making a meal bigger but not more caloric by adding fresh fruits and veggies was very beneficial.
    I ultimately gave up on it because I didn’t like having to calculate the calories for things I cooked myself—which I’ve done much more regularly during Covid.
    But I for sure saw results with it.

    October 7, 2020/Reply
  5. Diane says:

    I also successfully lost weight with NOOM. I knew what I needed to eat/not eat, I just lacked the discipline and attention span to stick with it long enough to lose any weight. For some reason I felt more obligated to keep track of my calories with NOOM, more so than any free calorie tracking programs I’d previously used. I rarely hit their recommended daily target for me, so my weight loss was very slow, but if I could get within 200-300 calories of their target I figured I was still eating less than I would have otherwise and called it a win. I lost about 17 lbs. of post baby weight in about 6 months and then cancelled NOOM. I have thus far kept it off for 3 months now. I would recommend it as well.

    October 7, 2020/Reply
  6. KC says:

    I used Noom for a year (started Oct. 2019) and I have lost about 20 lbs! While it’s definitely felt like a slow process, I do feel like I have made the habit changes and mental shifts to make this last. My weight has gone up and down by the day, but overall it’s been a pretty consistent downward trend (even with irregular pizza binge days). I would HIGHLY suggest Noom with the caveats that 1) logging your food and drinks can be annoying, and 2) losing weight/feeling better may take some time, but it is absolutely worth it.

    October 7, 2020/Reply
  7. CHloe says:

    I tried Noom. I liked it for the first few weeks, I felt like it was giving me good advice and I appreciated the food logging and the ‘adding’ of exercise, etc. I also liked the education but what annoyed me was that I felt the personal coach did absolutely nothing – it didn’t feel custom or tailored and that is what I was led to think was going to happen. I canceled probably two months in. Way too expensive for what it was, but I did drop a few lbs and learn some healthier habits.

    October 7, 2020/Reply
    • Belle says:

      Agreed on the “personal coach” that I think was really just a bot.

      October 7, 2020/Reply
  8. Ashley B says:

    I tried Noom for about 2 weeks. Ultimately I didn’t like it because it encouraged an eating disorder I’ve had ever since I started “counting calories” in my twenties. I used to not eat carbs or cheese or oil or avocado, because of the calories. Now I realize that they can all be good parts of a diet. I didn’t like how Noom characterized foods as red, yellow, and green. Some of the red foods were perfectly healthy foods to have. I also thought that the target calories per day were super low, and they did not allow me to customize by the fact that I am breastfeeding and thus need more calories.

    October 7, 2020/Reply
    • Leslie says:

      This. The calorie count it gave me was so low it was unhealthy. I did the trial but found it all very concerning.

      October 8, 2020/Reply
      • Michelle says:

        I was interested in this before but worried about it those same issues. Sounds like something to avoid.

        October 8, 2020/Reply
  9. Lee says:

    I’m 48 & have been using Noom since June; I’ve lost about 13-14 lbs. I’m pretty happy with it overall because it’s fairly easy to follow & understand & it’s not intense. Going at a slow pace definitely works better for me. It’s helped me think about portion size more, making smarter choices, etc. Sure, it’s stuff I “know” but I think the act of reading the daily lessons that are short & quick helps, as does logging my food. I started while I was off work in the summer, so now that I’m back at work, there are times when it’s a bit more work & I still have moments where I want to eat my stressful feelings! But, it’s helped me pause & think a bit before possibly overdoing it. Not sure how much longer I’ll stay with it, but overall, I’m pleased.

    October 7, 2020/Reply
  10. BN says:

    How is Noom different from My Fitness Pal (which also has you log calories, lets you scan barcodes in, tells you when you’ve made a good food choice or a less-ideal one, etc. + has blog posts and other health information in-app)? Not challenging, just trying to understand 🙂

    October 8, 2020/Reply
    • Lee says:

      Good question! The main differences are that with Noom, you get little daily “lessons” that are psychological-type tips to help you as you try to be healthier. I’ve used My Fitness Pal in the past & lost weight with it too. Then I quit logging my meals & my weight slowly crept back up. I do think Noom was a bit more user friendly, for me at least. I like the way it keeps up with my calories for the day & I could easily see what I had left. I’ve not checked in on MFP in a while so maybe it’s gotten easier too.

      For me, Noom gave me a bit more to think about, learn. etc. Those lessons are short & easy reads & gave me good info on food ideas, exercise suggestions, etc. It was all done in an encouraging way & low pressure—again, worked for me. There’s also a “personal coach” with Noom but I agree with others—it’s a bot. But, that was helpful to me in the beginning because it was encouragement, which I needed. I dropped my subscription last night & am going to try my best to switch over to My Fitness Pal since I’ve come to realize that logging food is key for me.

      October 8, 2020/Reply
      • Nellie says:

        Agreed, when I learned I could use MyFitnessPal to apply the lessons I learned from Noom (and FLLS) for free, I canceled my subscription.

        October 8, 2020/Reply
    • Diane says:

      Very similar. I had used My Fitness Pal in the past, but could never keep up with calorie tracking beyond a couple weeks. For some reason, with Noom it felt more official and I was able to keep up long-term motivation to do it every day for a number of months. It’s hard to do if you’re losing less than a lb. per week and seemingly not seeing any progress.

      October 8, 2020/Reply
  11. Alisha says:

    I am a nutritionist. Noom can be a good tool for awareness and basic education. However, the total calories recommended are often too low. For those who do you use Noom or another tracking tool, I’d recommend using the NIH’s body weight planner to calculate total calories. It takes your activity level into account along with your body’s needs as your weight changes. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/bwp
    Also, I’ll put out there that under the ACA many more insurance companies cover nutrition counseling under preventative coverage, so you don’t need a specific condition to see a dietitian/nutritionist.

    October 8, 2020/Reply
    • Emily says:

      The website you linked is so helpful! My fitness pal suggested I do 1200 calories a day which left me starvinggg. It was fascinating to see this website recommend 1700 calories/day for realistic weight loss.

      October 8, 2020/Reply
      • Alisha says:

        I have no idea why their calorie recommendation is so low. Most women need at least 1600 calories. 1200 calories is what the average toddler needs!

        October 8, 2020/Reply
  12. CLSDC says:

    I tried Noom and really tried to give it a fair shot. I liked the modern interface, and the “lessons” are done with a bit of snark and humor, and don’t always feel so “preachy”. But I tried it because I was trying to get past a plateau, and the daily food log and daily weigh ins really got me down. I question a few of their preferred food choices (one brand of yogurt vs another when all the nutrition seems to match) and question some of their “preloaded” nutrition counts for store bought foods. I found the “chats” and group I was placed in to not be useful.

    I’m very active and workout daily, eat pretty healthy 90% of the time, and was trying to just get past a plateau in losing a few pounds I had put on last winter. I started Noom back in January, and quit in April/May, finally. For me, their lessons were things I already knew, understood and practiced. And the motivation in the groups wasn’t helpful. I was hoping for someone to help push me further, and when their goals weren’t advanced enough for me.

    I think this is a great program if you’re just getting started, or trying to remotivate yourself and either learn or remind yourself of healthy habits and nutrition. But for someone that already has that base and is looking for something deeper, this isn’t a great program. I’m glad I tried it, but have been doing better on my own reading other books and finding new workouts online to push me harder.

    October 8, 2020/Reply
  13. Cait says:

    I used Noom before my wedding and dropped 20lbs in 3 months while decreasing fat and increasing muscle percentages. I used a smart scale to get these metrics, which isn’t part of Noom but I thought worked well alongside the program. I stopped using Noom after the wedding and 3 months later I had gained back 10 lbs, but I was able to lose 5 of those pretty easily and I’m working on losing the rest without Noom.
    What was most helpful was figuring out what a workable “healthy lifestyle” actually looks like for me. I learned what forms of exercise I could tolerate and which I actually enjoyed. I found some things I really like eating that are nutrient-dense and not calorie-dense. I liked that the program took away my constant questioning and attempts to do too much too fast. I used to go from 0 to 100 and then burn out quickly, but Noom ramps you up slowly. Now I can pretty easily ramp myself up a little when I realize things are slipping instead of going from eating pizza on my couch for 3 days straight to running 2 miles and eating nothing but spinach for a week and then inevitably crashing back to the couch and pizza.
    I concur with others that the coaching on Noom is a joke. It’s also really expensive. I would recommend setting a budget, doing it for the amount of time that budget allows (3 mo, 6 mo, or 1 year), and making a point to keep using the skills and strategies after the paid subscription ends.

    October 8, 2020/Reply
  14. Liz says:

    I tried WW, which is similar to Noom, a few years ago and it was really helpful to learn where I was unintentionally consuming too much without realizing it. But for me, anything where I have to track or log is just not sustainable long term. It sucks the joy out of eating and it’s hard not to gain back what I lost once I stop logging. I gained weight in quarantine due to a lot of wine and being less active, but about a month ago I decided to turn things around and just focus on basic healthy habits: only eating when I’m hungry and stopping when I’m just about full, having fruit/vegetables and protein at every meal, cutting back on wine and treats, and walking more. I’ve lost 5 lbs so far and it feels pretty effortless, although I probably will not lose as much as if I was tracking calories/macros. Idk if anyone else approaches weight loss this way?

    October 8, 2020/Reply
    • Cait says:

      This is essentially how I approach things post-Noom. I logged meals when I used Noom and it helped me identify and change some habits, but I haven’t continued tracking afterwards and I’ve still been able to lose weight. I needed Noom as an initial kick in the pants and education for how to do those things that seem so straightforward but I could never figure out how to make work. But now that I learned how to do the healthy habits, I’m good to go on my own without paying $$$.

      October 8, 2020/Reply
  15. J says:

    Hi Abra,

    As someone who is in recovery from an eating disorder, I do think it would be helpful to highlight in your post that apps and programs like this are not recommended by healthcare professionals for those who have struggled with ED. As a personal example, I was working with a trainer who also had me do a food log, and used a color coding system similar to this one. Within a month, I was back in the cycle of severely restrictive eating habits and anxiety about all of my food. I worked through it with my doctor and my therapist, and ultimately changed the way I worked with the trainer (no more food logs, no reports of numbers at my check-ins, etc.), and I got back on track. But I do think it might be helpful to point out the potential harms and triggers of apps like this, as well.

    Thanks for listening.

    J

    October 8, 2020/Reply
    • CLSDC says:

      Yes, this is VERY important. If you are struggling with any sort of ED, these types of programs can be counterproductive to any progress you’ve made. I’m so glad you pointed this out. I’m glad you were able to get back on track. Best wishes to your continued success.

      October 8, 2020/Reply
  16. SacDhar says:

    I tried noom, and the app was ok… kinda the same as you i didn’t hate it didn’t love it. HOWEVER, my experience when trying to cancel was horrid. the customer support team was rude and refused to give any leeway if you forget to cancel on time. I’d be ok with an “oops” of one month but they charge you for 3 months and refuse to give any partial refunds. i’m NOT ok with that business model and will never use them again.

    October 8, 2020/Reply
  17. SC says:

    Thank you for your review! I’ve seen and heard a lot about Noom, and I’ve been tempted, but I just can’t get on board with calorie counting and food tracking. We cook all of our meals at home and trying to figure out the calories and portions and percentages makes me want to scream. (I, ummm, also have binge-eating tendencies and entering “20 PB cups” into a calorie tracker just makes me feel bad about myself.)

    I do much better with “weight loss” (in quotes because I’m not actively trying to lose weight, but I don’t want to gain either, if that makes sense) when I eat mindfully and with purpose: smaller portions, not eating if I’m not hungry, keeping busy to stave off boredom snacking (that last one is big for me!), etc. Exercising helps but TBH you can’t out-exercise a bad diet.

    In an attempt to stave off my inevitable lazy winter weight gain, I’m going to sign up for the Les Mills online classes and try to keep myself busy so I’m not just sitting around thinking about what’s in the pantry.

    October 8, 2020/Reply
  18. Kylene says:

    I started Noom mid April when I had finally gotten past my “EAT ALL THE THINGS” part of lockdown. I come from a family with messed up views on weight and eating (my family members calling each other fat all the time, etc.). Of course this affected the way I view food and dieting. I have been sticking to it pretty well and have lost 25lbs so far. My greatest hints are

    1. Take their intial test but don’t sign up right away. They’ll send you a cheaper rate in a couple of days. I waited a week and got 75% off of the first price they quoted me. 😉

    2. My friend who’s experience on Noom inspired me to sign up told me that she would take notes when doing the articles. This helped me remember what they were trying to teach me and cemented it in my brain.

    3. I appreciate that no food is “bad”. It might be red but it’s ok to still eat in a smaller portion that what I would have eaten in March. It also helps to remember that my slate starts clean the next day and I’m alright. Before something like this would have set me into a Doritos filled shame spiral.

    October 8, 2020/Reply
  19. L says:

    I’ve flirted with Noom and MyFitnessPal but my favorite is Lose.It. You’re still logging daily foods (becomes a habit after a little while) but I find the user interface to be my favorite. You can see remaining daily calories easily, there’s a decent database of foods (or I google and add it from MFP…) and it identifies positive trends in your diet, mostly foods you eat on days you’re meeting your daily goals. I upgraded to premium a while ago so I could track more non-weight goals (sugar, fiber, inches) and it’s also way cheaper than Noom: I think $40 per year for premium or $175/200 for lifetime premium? I sound like a paid shill but it’s the only one I’ve returned to consistently even as my goals have changed (loss, maintenance, non-weight) over the years; it’s been a good fit for all of them. I’d encourage anyone decent with tracking but for whom Noom and MFP were meh fits to give Lose.It a try.

    Of course, this still wouldn’t be healthy for anyone with disordered eating tendencies. (Or anyone who’d feel shame about logging relatively truthfully. Tomorrow is a clean slate and it’s the long-term trends that count!)

    October 8, 2020/Reply
  20. Elizabeth says:

    Interesting insight on Noom in this post and in the comments…I have done WW several times but end up getting so sick of logging all the time. About two years ago, I worked with onpoint nutrition – they’re based in Philadelphia but it was all virtual appointments, so you could do it from anywhere. I spoke with my dietitian 2x/week and tracked all my meals in an app – nudge. What i liked about it was that they taught we how to eat…why I should prioritize proteins and veggies. It was really manageable and insurance covered most of the cost. I lost about 10 lbs but that was not my goal and we didn’t focus on that. I just wanted to be healthier.

    October 9, 2020/Reply
  21. Jenn S. says:

    I tried Noom, and recently shared my thoughts on it over on my blog. The condensed version? I hated it, personally, but I see how it would be a good tool for others.

    Noom leverages gamification to engage subscribers, and they do so because for a LOT of people, it works. To me, however, the execution in this instance feels a little childish and pandering. Also, I’m not *able* to eat at the same time each day because of my job, so getting hounded with notifications to log meals gets real old, real fast (for me).

    The language Noom uses does a good job leaving guilt and shame at the door, but for those who have experienced eating disorders, the color coding system might yield some unintended baggage.

    They also keep changing their free trial period, so be on the watch for that if you’re considering it. IMO it isn’t worth the price when you can use base MyFitnessPal for free.

    October 10, 2020/Reply

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