This post has nothing to do about travel, but it does have to do with something 80% of us probably want to do – lose weight. In a recent social media post, I shared my Noom Success Story and I had so many questions and comments about my weight loss, I decided to write about it. Plus – my life isn’t always about travel (Hello 2020!).
In actuality weight loss has to do with everything in your life; physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Over the last 5 years I have felt out of shape and it has most definitely affected my outlook on traveling and all of the adventures I have wanted to do. So in a way, it does has a little to do with travel.
I didn’t just feel out of shape, I felt old, broken, slightly depressed, and I was worried I was on the road to diabetes (runs in my family) as I continued to gain 5 to 7 pounds a year. That’s 25 to 35 pounds I had put on, and as much as I tried to ignore it COVID threw me over the edge. Not to mention with each pound I put on, I lost more and more self-confidence and self-esteem.
Middle Age and Weight Management Woes
I’m 51, and it’s easy to blame weight gain on menopause and aging, but I knew deep down, this was a motivation issue for me. I used to be a really active runner, but injuries while being nomadic for 11 years with crappy insurance brought an end to that. One injury led to another, led to another, led to back pain; if felt as if everything was breaking down. And through it all, I wasn’t really doing regular exercise any longer.
I drank more.
I ate more.
I exercised less.
I made excuses.
I knew deep down it was a recipe for disaster – but I wasn’t ready to face it.
Size 8 stuff started getting packed away as my ‘skinny clothes I’ll get back to someday’ – then size 10, and soon I was shopping for size 12. Even though I loved my life and job, I wasn’t happy with me…the deep, down me. I didn’t fully attribute that to weight, but I knew it was part of the equation. I don’t think I knew how big of part of the equation it was until I started losing weight though.
Hello Back Pain
The next chain of events was my constant back pain. The MRI showed arthritis in my low back that was kicking off my back issues. I tried shots, sleep pillows, and physical therapy with no relief. Every morning I woke up stiff and in pain; I felt like I was 70 years old, not 51.
My doctor said I should try to lose a little weight. She also told me to try biking or swimming since running wasn’t great for my knees or my back. Instead of trying actively to lose weight, I chose the easier and more expensive path of more injections, and even went as far as burning my nerve endings – but nothing helped with the back pain.
After living up the month of December as if it were a month-long Fat Tuesday, I signed up for the free trial of Noom on January 1st. Cliché New Year’s resolution I know, but it provided motivation for me. I had been flirting around with all of the Noom ads I saw on my social media feeds. I was skeptical, but I was willing to try because I wanted something to work.
And it did.
Note – I paid for Noom on my own completely outside of anything I do on my blog – this was personal for me.
What is Noom?
Basically, it’s a phone app in its simplest state. It’s a way of educating yourself about food and your relationship with food; digging into the psychology of that relationship. From there, the app helps you make good choices based on what you are learning about your relationship.
It’s no fad diet, in fact it’s not really a diet at all. There are no shakes, no fasting, no off-limit food, there’s not even a food list – it’s just good old-fashioned nutrition and calories in vs. calories out.
Behavior Modification and Change
I know what you are thinking, if it’s not a diet, then what is it? It an education program that empowers personal change. The change is in the form of how you eat, how you exercise, and how you think about your health and wellness overall.
It’s about habits; how to break bad ones and form new ones. That way there is no ‘old bad habits’ to go back to. New habits lead to change. And fun fact – our brain doesn’t differentiate from good habits or bad habits – it’s just happy to be doing habits.
The Noom ‘system’ is really about behavior modification and true change.
Does Noom Work?
I am a Noom success story, it worked for me. I lost 35 pounds in 5 months. I don’t know if it’ll work for you, but I really liked the program and most importantly it fit my personality. There were a few things that were stacked in my favor that helped me be successful (which I talk about below); however, each person is different. I’m obviously not making guarantees, but you really have little to lose to try it.
Noom Before and After
I filled out the initial information form for Noom (they require everyone to do this), and I put down my goal weight of 147 lbs (a loss of 25 lbs for me). It spit out an answer telling me I could reach that goal weight in 4 months using Noom – I laughed out loud…like a full on belly laugh. I thought the whole thing was a total scam – there was no way I was going to lose 25 pounds in 4 months.
I signed up for the free trial just to see what magic Kool-Aid they were trying to sell.
I started the program, I struggled at first but was determined. I loved the lessons, and they kept me motivated (even it if was because I was stubborn and wanted to sort of prove them wrong), but then something crazy happened – it started to work. It was hard to make the changes, but it was working.
By April I had lost 25 lbs. I lost another 8 in April/May. So overall, I lost about 35 lbs.
I have dug back out my size 8 clothes! I feel great, I mentally feel great, and I emotionally feel great. My self-confidence and self-esteem have increased back to where they used to be when I was younger. In fact, I feel younger.
But the best part of my Noom success is that my back pain is gone. All of those aches and pains I had in the morning and while sleeping have diminished. The doctor was right – losing weight did help tremendously with my back and knee issues. This is probably why Noom also works directly with corporate programs to help them decrease their health/insurance costs. It has certainly decreased my doctor bills for the time being.
Use my special link for a two week trial of the Noom app!
Why Noom Was a Success For Me
Are there people who join Noom and don’t find success? Yes. However, it was a success for me thanks to some of the following things. As you consider joining Noom, you can consider if some of these things will hinder your success or help you.
This was one time where COVID was a benefit. Habits are easier to form when you can control your environment, and the pandemic was good for that in a weird way. I had few restaurant temptations, and few social temptations. I cooked for myself at home most nights which allowed me to control my portions, and ingredients.
I think if you are starting Noom now when there isn’t a pandemic, then you need to ensure that your friends and your work is supportive of your goals. And you have to be pretty disciplined in the beginning and do more cooking at home where you can control your eating environment.
I Like Exercise
I actually like to exercise; I just have trouble making time for it these days. But thanks to the calorie counting and earning calories back when I exercised, I made time to exercise. It was a way that I could eat a bit more than my normal 1200 calories a day! But honestly my weight loss was more about my eating changes than an intense exercise program. I started out just walking every day (about 3 miles). Then I started to walk further (5 miles), I even started doing a little running. And then I found my ‘thing’ – biking.
It’s crazy because I had poo-poo’d biking when my doctor told me to take it up because I didn’t think I could start something new and love it as much as running. It was COVID that got me out on my bike last summer and then something weird happened…I started liking it. I bought a new bike, and now I’m obsessed. That’s sort of my personality when it comes to exercise – once I get over the hump of being new at something, I start to go all in; that’s what happened to me with running back in my 30’s.
It’s fun to obsess about a new sport and learn something new like biking at age 50…I love that it has taken hold of me.
Science and Logic Appeal to Me
Honestly, I expected to hate the app and the learning aspect. I thought it was going to be too ‘woo woo’ for me and that I would turn off. However, it somehow struck the right chord with me; it certainly emphasized wellness, but it also used science and logic – and that’s what sucked me in. I am a person who loves learning and I love learning about how we learn and grow. So, the daily lessons were engaging to me – not dorky.
Plus, Noom somehow did the impossible, they made learning fun and engaging for adults. Many times, I hate learning as an adult because I think it’s to basic, I can anticipate and know what to expect. I feel like I crack the code and then I’m not engaged. However, the Noom lessons and the overall lesson plan was so well thought out and just darn smart; I didn’t crack the code and stayed completely engaged. I really do believe it is the best learning app I have seen; it’s clever.
Merging These Habits with my Travel Lifestyle
My challenge now becomes how to travel with my new knowledge. When I travel, I’m eating out all the time, I get wined and dined from tourism boards, I sleep less, I am more stressed due to the fact that travel for me is work, and I have no routine when I travel.
So far, on the trips I have taken (Alaska, Sedona, Grand Junction), I have sort of half-heartedly continued to track my calories and read the daily lessons. I still make pretty healthy eating choices at restaurants though. Plus, I still tried to control my breakfast and lunch calories pretty closely. In fact, I often took instant oatmeal packets with me to ensure I could get a filling but low-calorie breakfast.
However, I find when I travel, I move and am very active – so that’s a good thing as my exercise increases quite a bit. On each of my trips so far, I’ve actually taken a ‘vacation’ from the logging and reading part of the program and just put the things I’ve learned to work and when I got home I either lost weight or gained very little. Then when I got home, I’d get right back on my logging and cooking for myself.
It made me realize that I could sort of trust myself when I didn’t do all of the logging work.
However, this summer as I ramp up work and travel more, it’ll be a big chance to see how strong those habits really are.
How Does Noom Work
One thing that Noom does that is sort of annoying is that it doesn’t tell you much about the program/app before you get into the trial (that may be for some Physch reason!) – so I’ll try to give you a little information about how it works and what you do daily to start working towards your goals.
You start the process by filling out a form about yourself and your goal weight and why you are considering Noom. It spits back out some info and tells you how long it’ll take you to get to your goal weight. That’s where I doubled over laughing.
You sign up for the free trial, and download the app. It uses the info you filled out in the form to set up your daily calorie intake.
The app has a few daily things you are expected to fill out:
This was my favorite part of the day. The lessons were clever, fun, engaging, and inspiring. When you first set up Noom, it asks you how much time you want to spend on lessons each day, I chose 10 minutes. Then it ensures that you only spend 10 minutes on it and when you reach 10 minutes of reading material, it’ll tell you that you are done for the day.
You might wonder how much they can talk about food daily – but the lessons aren’t really about food, they are about how we look at food, and interact with it. It provides tips and techniques to trick your old thoughts about hunger and eating and start forming new habits. They cover wellness, social pressures, sleep, meditation, exercise, eating, change, critical thinking, decision making, and so much more.
Sometimes there are exercises/homework to complete. I found that the exercises started really simple and were quick to do, but as you work your way through the course they start requiring a bit more time and journaling.
I had 1200 calories I had to try to keep to in a day. At first, I thought this was ludicrous – and even unhealthy. How can a grown adult survive on 1200 calories a day?! However – after I got used to it and figured out how to make some simple changes in my menus – it became easier. Then as the months went on and my new habits were formed, it actually became easy…yes…easy.
You log all the food you eat in a day. It has a bar code scanner where you can just scan the bar code on a package and the calorie and serving information comes up for you to choose. One of the hard things is logging all of the ingredients when you cook or figuring out all of the ingredients when you go out to a restaurant and order a meal. I’m not going to tell you that the food logging is easy – but it is worth it.
One thing that makes it easier is having a kitchen scale to weigh things and start to see what healthy portions look like.
Noom has a food system that is red/yellow/green in which no food is off limits (Yay!). You can eat as much green food as you want, yellow in moderation (<540 calories), and limit the red (<300 calories). I watched as my daily food choices change form mostly red foods, into mostly green foods over 5 months.
The best part about logging is that you learn how many calories some of your favorite foods are – and that is enlightening and depressing at the same time. However, in retrospect, I think it’s good to reacquaint yourself with this info occasionally. It had been probably 30 years since I had counted calories. I thought I knew what food was healthy and what calorie counts are – but over 30 years – that gets pretty distorted.
The first thing I did was buy the cheapest scale I could find (still thinking this was a hopeless cause). I also hadn’t had a scale for 30 years. Every day you weigh yourself at the same time-ish of the day. I normally hate scales, and stayed away from them because I thought they were unhealthy and distorted your view of yourself. However, when you are trying to lose weight, they are pretty important.
I think the best thing about weighing yourself every day is that you learn that SO MANY THINGS factor into your daily weight fluctuation; hormones, sleep, water, stress, as well as what you are eating. The lessons really pound this into you too. So you will see your weight swing wildly from day to day – but you learn not to worry about it and obsess on it. Eventually the downward trend is what you are looking for. Mine had an overall downward trend, but it was up and down every day! And of course, you can expect some plateaus.
You also log your exercise every day. The app does integrate with fit bits and similar trackers so it does add in your steps automatically. However – you still have to add in your exact exercise (you can enter the calories directly or enter your time or distance and it will calculate the calories). This seems a bit silly to have to add this yourself, but I think they make you add in your exact exercise because when it calculates the calories, then it only adds half of those calories burned back into your total calorie allotment for the day! Sneaky and mean…but it works.
Groups and Personal Coach
After you finish the trial and pay for the app, then you are assigned a personal coach and eventually are also assigned to a group. The group is made up of a Noom facilitator and people at a similar spot where you are in the program. I thought this was going to be awesome, but I honestly didn’t use the Coach much at all except for a couple of questions. I did enjoy the group interaction though. Since I was doing this on my own, it was nice to be able to talk to people about the process, frustrations, and accomplishments.
My Coach was pretty lame, and wasn’t very involved, but it didn’t bother me too much. I was getting what I needed from the lessons and the group. However, for some people this may be something that is really important to them. I have had other people say they loved their Coach – so I think it’s a bit hit or miss. When they did assign the coach, they asked a bunch of questions on how you best liked to learn and be coached, so they do try to pair you with a Coach that fits your learning style.
My Noom Journey and Behavior Modifications
I can’t do this – it’s impossible. I can’t believe how many calories are in cheese, and in olive oil! My sweet tooth (which is really strong) was in full withdrawal mode. I was angry, until I discovered broiled bananas with spices and a little brown sugar. I also discovered the use of spices for flavor and I started giving up or modifying little things that were less important to me like milk in my coffee. My nightly cheese plates became occasional skinny cheese slices on a small plate (to make it look like I was eating more to my eyes). I found that if I just sliced the cheese thinner, I still felt satisfied with the cheese taste I was craving, but I was taking in fewer calories.
I was starting to get a few results. I started to use exercise to ‘buy back’ calories for the day. This was my strategy whenever I wanted to eat something higher calorie, or have drinks with friends, I would just go out and walk further so that I could earn back those daily calories (even if it was only half the calories I was earning back!). I also started changing more little food things like eating different lower calorie foods (I found a bread that was lower calorie, I started using cauliflower rice instead of real rice, I switched to lite mayo for sandwiches and used more mustard, I stopped using salad dressing). I only had my skinny cheese plates when I really craved them. I took to drinking a lot of tea at night instead of having sweets late at night. I switched my cocktails to alcohol forward ones instead of mixers with lots of calories.
My whole grocery cart was now filled with fruits and veggies (this was a huge change). I started getting really into biking thanks to my new bike. This amped up my exercise even more. I fell in love with salads, and making fish. My sweet tooth withdrawal had tamed down and I was eating more fruit for sweets. I’m not sure how to explain it – but things changed. And because I could see the results, it motivated me even more. Yes – I hit some plateaus, but for me they weren’t that long. I also really focused on getting more and better sleep.
How does it end?
I’m honestly not really sure yet. But I do know that I’m at a weight that I haven’t been in 25 years, and that’s more than good enough for me. Now I’m in a maintenance mode.
Negative thinking, stress eating, social pressure, and boredom eating don’t go away – ever. However, the goal is to learn to recognize them, and make better decisions. That’s one of the things I really liked about the lessons, it teaches you what things like stress eating are and how to have less stress in your life. You understand all of the things that lead you down the destructive health path and you are better equipped to make good decisions for yourself.
It’s funny because the last part of the lessons take this weird turn about how to undo all the stuff you did…how to live without counting calories, how to eat whenever you are hungry, how to not plan your meals, and how to exercise when you want to. It’s been an interesting journey how it uses all of these tools and tips to get you there and then educates you on not using all of the tools they teach you as a crutch. Instead, you really just know that this is your new healthier life and habits you’ve chosen and they should come more naturally.
Foods and Recipes that Led to My Noom Success
Raw carrots – not the tasteless baby carrots…but real carrots (preferably from a farmers market) the you have to peel and cut up into little bit size ‘baby carrots’ yourself. Once you do this – you realize that a real carrot tastes pretty darn good, while those baby carrots you’ve been eating are tasteless. I fell in love with carrots again for their texture – they sort of replaced the need to eat something crispy like chips.
Spinach – I always liked spinach as a kid…but during this journey I fell back in love with spinach – I put it in everything – eggs, soups, stirfrys, and salads.
Honey – I use it in place of sugar most of the time – sure – it helps that my sister raises bees and I get her delicious honey all the time!
Cardamom – I always loved cardamom, but I really loved cardamom while counting calories. I’m talking about cardamom seeds. Get yourself a cheap mortar and pestle and some cardamom seeds; I ground them up and use them in coffee, oatmeal, and yogurt. It gives this sweet yet tart flavor that allows me to forgo other sugars, or just simply provides an abundance of flavor for no calories.
Cherry tomatoes – another snack I always have on hand now. Low calorie but filling.
Feta cheese – surprise, feta cheese is the lowest calorie cheese. There was no way I was giving up cheese, but I did want to find something that I could use on eggs and salads that was creamy and cheesy. Crumbled feta to the rescue!
Flavored vinegar – I have stopped using salad dressing and went to the European way of just using oil and vinegar. To spice that up – I started trying different flavor balsamic vinegars like peppercorn balsamic, cinnamon pear, fig, pomegranate, and more.
Stirfried kale, pear, and chicken apple sausage – a go-to lunch that is only three ingredients and I can cook up in 5 minutes. And the beauty is you can get it all from Trader Joes.
Noom Recipes I Loved
Noom also provides recipes in their app. In fact – it’s kind of cook how the recipes integrate with the calories logging. Each recipe has all of the calories associated with it and then you can simply say – I ate one serving for dinner and it adds all of the ingredients and calories to your daily log.
Plus – it also has a feature where you can go into recipes and it filters them by how many calories you have left for the day so you know what kind of food you can eat. This is a great way to feel better about your calories if you only have 350 left for dinner and you think – there’s no way I can eat a filling dinner for 350 calories…but then you look at the recipes that would fit into that and realize you can actually have a lot of food for few calories.
I used these recipes from the app:
Spiced Moroccan Chicken Soup
Grandma’s Mushroom Barley Soup (I added chicken and more spices to this)
Broiled Mustard and Brown Sugar Glazed Salmon Fillets with Dill
Salmon Cakes with Scallions
It Was a Noom Success Story For Me
A weird thing happens when you lose weight. Weight that you thought was going to be with you forever, and then you look in the mirror one day and say…hey…it’s working.
You not only lose weight and improve your health – but your mental and emotional well-being also moves along with it – at least it did for me. When I lifted the burden of not being happy with my body from my brain, it’s like it gave room again for me to clearly look at my mental and emotional well-being and how that related to the weight burden.
I am literally giddy with life again, my confidence is back, I feel grounded and hopeful about my future.
Hopefully this helped you learn more about the Noom journey and I wish you the best of luck on your own Noom success!
Feel free to ask me any questions in the comments – I’ll give you honest answers.
Costs to Join Noom
When you enroll in Noom’s trial, you don’t have to pay anything for the first two weeks. It’s a pay what you want trial – I chose to pay nothing…because I was skeptical and I’m cheap!
Once the trial ends, then you can decide if you want to purchase a plan. Costs are as follows:
2021 Noom Pricing
If you don’t cancel before your trial period ends, then you’ll be billed in monthly installments. You can pay per month, or save more money by opting for more months at a time.