Fly Me to the Noom

If you’ve seen our very own Jane Davis lately, you’ve likely noticed she is more svelte than ever. We caught up with Jane recently to ask how she has managed to achieve her new physique with her busy schedule, the regular gatherings of family and friends around her dining table, and her formidable cooking skills that would challenge even the most adamant of the Keto set not to eat her amazing fried rice. Turns out Jane has spent the last 12 months using the weight loss app Noom. Here’s what we learned.

Q Tell me about Noom.

It’s basically an app you download to your phone and interact with daily. Setup includes recording your current stats: weight, height, age, gender, goal weight, activity level. Caloric allowance is based on how quickly you want to lose weight.

Q So it’s a calorie-based system, not low-fat or low-carb?

You can eat whatever you want but you will end up choosing lower fat or lower carb foods to stay within your allowed calories. For me, that was 1200 calories a day. But your allotted daily caloric intake can actually be manipulated a bit by recording activity throughout the day. Whenever I took a lunchtime walk, I recorded that workout in Noom and it added to my remaining number of calories available for the day. I’ve earned up to 200 extra calories just by doing an afternoon of non-strenuous gardening.

Q Is exercise required?

Not required, but definitely encouraged.

Q Is it a specific diet or what? 

My one and only question when signing up was, “Where’s my food plan?” And the answer is, there isn’t one. You’re on your own to faithfully record your meals. A lot of food is already included in their database, so it wasn’t difficult to do. For homemade meals, I found a website where you can list your ingredients and it analyzes the nutrition information for you.

Q Do you have to engage in counseling or group therapy?

Not really. There are articles to read, with little quizzes along the way, groups that you can join to connect with other people on the program, and recipes to try. You record your food intake, weigh in daily, and journal your progress and pertinent notes from the articles. You’re essentially left to be accountable to yourself, although you can set the app to prompt you when you don’t read the articles, check in with your group, or log your meals. 

Q How is Noom different from other fitness or weight loss systems that you have tried in the past?

The only other diet program I’ve done is Weight Watchers years ago, so I can only compare Noom to that. Everything about Noom is simple. The education isn’t earth-shattering or anything I hadn’t read before. And, to be honest, I’m not sure why participating in Noom worked, as opposed to just doing it myself. I think their main focus of being mindful of when and why you eat is really key. It’s not as much about what or how much you eat, as it is about being mindful of why you would eat or drink that food or beverage. Are you actually hungry? Or are you bored? Is this the only food or beverage that will satisfy you right now? Or could you have something less caloric and just as satisfying?

Q Did you learn anything you didn’t know while using Noom?

Oh, yes. One, I am a stress/boredom eater. I find the need to munch when faced with either hard work or nothing to do. So, instead of eating lunch for breakfast, or snacking on crackers/chips, my new go-to is carrot chips. If I’m bored, there are always mindless distractions like CandyCrush, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, or Seattle Times puzzles. If I’m feeling ambitious, I’ll walk around the block, put on music and do chores, or pick up my knitting needles. 

Two, recording my food/calorie intake is crucial and allows me to make mindful decisions about what food to eat and how much. If I’m planning to indulge later in the day, I reserve some calories when having lunch and snacks. Or, if I’ve overdone it, then I might decide the next day to stick to soups and lighter fare. Since ending my Noom subscription, I’ve switched to using my Fitbit app to continue entering my meals. 

Three, I don’t mind weighing in daily. It might be the control-freak in me, but I like seeing how the ups and downs on the scale match with how well or poorly I ate the previous couple of days. And even though I step on the scale every morning, I only record my weight once a week, which at this point still shows steadily down.

And, finally, sleep. Better quality and quantity of sleep equals weight loss. I’ve been tracking my sleep through the updated Fitbit app, and I’ve noticed that when I have at least 6 hours of sleep, I will lose a few ounces in spite of possibly surpassing my calorie budget the day before. My goal is to get 7 hours, but my average is about 5 1/2, which is actually an improvement from about 5 hours.

Jane in 2018, left, and Jane at the 2019 Symposium, four months into the Noom program.

Q Do you mind sharing how much weight you have lost and how long it took?

I’ve been on it for a year, which is the commitment I set for myself. After 12 months, I’m down about 25 pounds.

Q How much does it cost to use Noom?

The subscription costs about $130 per quarter, but they provide a free 2-week trial to see if it’s a fit for you.

Q Would you recommend Noom?

Yes. I really liked it, and I think because I had to learn how to just eat in the real world it has become part of how I live. Which I think is the point.