I had to say “An honest review”, because that is how so many bot-generated product reviews start. I always wonder when someone says “Honestly, (foo blah)”. That implies they are dishonest by default. Integrity Plumbing, Patriot Gun Sales, Trustworthy Auto Sales. Me, I walk away fast.
Digressions aside, let us now proceed to My Honest Noom Review. Noom is a psychology-based weight loss program. It is not a diet. It is a series of lessons that teach you to understand yourself better, why you eat the way you do, and how to change your mindset. I think of it as “Train the brain, and the body will follow”. No foods are off-limit, they don’t sell scammy supplements, or packaged foods, or weird gadgets, or any of the usual miracle weight loss crud.
The short story: good program, vexing app.
Noom provides a simplified nutrition guide by color-coding foods according to their calorie density. Green foods are low-calorie and dense in nutrients. Yellow foods are more calorie-dense, and orange foods are the most calorie-dense. There are no good or bad foods. Noom recommends you eat the following daily calorie proportions in each category:
Green 30%. This includes fruit, vegetables, non-fat dairy, and certain whole grains.
Yellow 45% Lean beef, fish, poultry, tofu, pasta, low-fat dairy.
Orange 25% Oils, nuts, seeds, full-fat dairy, fattier cuts of beef, pork, desserts, dried fruit.
Unless you have special needs, this should feed you well and provide all the nutrients you need.
Trapped in Interrogation
When you first visit noom.com, you are immediately corralled into an intrusive survey. They don’t want to provide any real information, but instead learn about you. It is difficult to browse the site and get information without giving up a bunch of personal information. The only link I found on the site, to read articles instead of dodging sales pitches, is in the bottom left navigation bar. Under “Individuals” click “Lose Weight” to read useful articles.
If you want to try Noom you have two options. One, sign up online. You get a two-week free trial. Two, buy their book “The Noom Mindset: Learn the Science, Lose the Weight” instead of enrolling in the online course. I enrolled in the online course and bought a 10-month subscription for about $175. Buying a subscription is like buying a vehicle from Trustworthy Auto Sales, the more you play hard-to-get the the more the price drops. Don’t take their first offer.
You pay for the whole subscription at once. If you have a change of heart after the trial period you don’t get a refund, because they consider your entire subscription as a single billing period.
The Online Course
The online course is delivered in a phone app, Android or iOS. There is no Linux, Windows, or Mac option. Before I reveal my opinion of the app, you get my experience with the course.
Before you enroll you have to answer a long series of questions about your weight, height, activity level, health, and many other questions. Give the most accurate information you can, because Noom uses this to calculate your weight loss calorie range, and a target date for your weight loss goal. If you don’t answer accurately you’re just sabotaging yourself. My daily calorie range is 1360-2090. The app adjusts this periodically according to my progress.
The course is solid. You get daily lessons, and are encouraged to weigh in daily and record your weight in the app, and log everything you eat and drink. The Noom Communities are a collection of user forums, and you can join or form your own private groups. The peer support is valuable.
The Noom program is successful in proportion to how much time and effort you invest. No matter how together you think you are, I guarantee you will find at least some of the lessons surprising and useful. Food and weight are very emotional, and carry tons of emotional baggage. If you don’t track your weight and food you’re wasting your money. The goal is to unlearn old bad habits, and form new habits and skills that last your lifetime. Anyone can drop a ton of weight, usually in a not healthy way. Keeping it off, and learning how to maintain a healthy lifestyle takes work.
Noom doesn’t expect you to learn everything at once. Each lesson builds on the previous lessons, and you go at your own pace. A succession of small changes works better than occasional heroic efforts. Have patience and take the long view.
If you are already used to shopping, storing, and preparing your food, Noom will be easier for you. If you’re not, you’ll have a longer learning curve. You should know how to do these things anyway, for your own benefit. American factory-made and restaurant foods are not all that good for us.
The biggest downside for me is the app. I call it the crapp. Everything about it annoys me. (Your mileage may vary; I have worked in tech for a long time, and I hate 95% of it. It’s shoddy, it’s spyware, and they never learn a blessed thing.) When you log your meals, you can use the built-in food database with portions and calorie counts. However. It is not maintained, and it contains a lot of inaccurate crowd-sourced entries. This is the source of many many many complaints.
The weight loss graph is not resizable. In fact, nothing in the app is resizable, so if you need something enlarged too bad for you. Some, but not all of the lessons have an audio version. I guess I should be used to our innovation heroes the techbros to be hostile to accessibility. The community forums are run on some kind of broken forum software that mangles images and makes it impossible to tag a particular person, because it does not differentiate between multiple people with the same name. You can’t follow or block anyone.
Going back in time is a real pain. If you want to review a week in your past, you have to scroll manually week by week. This is also how to revisit past lessons, unless you bookmark them.
The food logger is cumbersome, and you cannot see your whole day in one screen, but only individual meals. There is supposed to be a personal recipe feature, but I’ve never seen it. Instead I have a button that shows me previous meals, to select one to re-log.
The program works. I can deal with the crapp as long as I can whine through the basic functions without too much struggle. This is for keeps, I am making long-term lifestyle changes. I have dropped 20 pounds since I joined Noom, averaging a little more than a pound per week. I eat near the top of my calorie range, averaging ~1800 per day. I eat 4x per day, and most of the time I’m not hungry, it’s not difficult to stay on my plan.
I also work out regularly, I do some kind of cardio every day for at least 30 minutes, in addition to ranch chores and out-and-abouting. Really, it’s no secret- move more, eat less.
Back at the beginning, it was a bit of a shock to see how much I was really eating every day. Now my energy level is up, blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood glucose are down. I need new clothes. Smaller!
I don’t have the challenges that a lot of Noomers are struggling with, like unsupportive spouses, icky families, stressful jobs (because I quit my terrible toxic job, ha! Take that, losers!), and I don’t have the emotional pain that a lot of people have to deal with, the self-loathing and self-sabotage. Anyone who has deeper issues to resolve will have to work harder. Noom teaches to not see yourself as a failure when you have trouble sticking to your plan, but rather as someone who is trying. I think that is the most valuable lesson of all.