In partnership with Noom.
I was born to write this review. Let me explain. I grew up in a household with parents who have long struggled with their weight. A momma’s boy, I fondly recall accompanying my mom to the ‘OG’ Weight Watchers meetings as a young kid in the ‘90s. Our bookshelves were full to the brim of ‘Diet’ cookbooks cataloguing the (many) fad diets that have churned through Americana: Atkins, Zone, Whole 30, South Beach, and the list goes on and on. Our kitchen pantry was the laughing stock of my friends -- “Your snack stash is simply awful, Scott.” Can you blame them? Replace classic sugar cereals like Fruit Loops for Kashi Go Lean Crunch; Cheez-Its for Ak Mak Crackers, Doritos for Rice Cakes, and you start to get the gist. Weight -- and the struggles to maintain a healthy lifestyle -- was an omnipresent part of my childhood.
Luckily, I mostly ‘escaped’ the weight struggles of my parents -- they often teased my natural disposition for fruit over the plentiful cakes and cookies often found on our dessert table -- and had success as a relatively athletic guy in high school into my 20s and early 30s. But for the first time in my life -- coinciding (perhaps not too surprisingly) with the dumpster fire that was 2020 -- I really struggled to maintain my weight and physique this past year. Combining the WFH sedentary lifestyle with the comfort food that helped get me through the doom and gloom of the last 12 months, I hit my ‘oh shit’ moment around my 33rd birthday this year when I jumped on the scale and hit a personal high -- 219 pounds. Just as concerning as the sticker shock of the 219 number was the realization that I no longer felt in control of my habits -- portion control was far from in-check, late night snacking was the norm, and frankly, I was completely off the rails.
As eerily expected, Instagram seemed to pick up on my concern and began serving me ads for Noom, the self-proclaimed “last weight-loss program you’ll ever need.” At first I was in denial -- growing up around constant dieting, I was always the supportive observer, never the participant. Was it finally my turn? Noom’s ad messaging, to their copywriter’s credit, felt approachable and authentic: the focus was on helping achieve goals using a proven psychology and cognitive behavioral therapy practice.
A science-first approach was certainly appealing and seemed to buck the trend of ‘fad diets.’ Even if I didn’t have meaningful weight-loss success with Noom, I reasoned that I was motivated to learn more about my recent behavior shift and how I could get back in control. Coupled with access to Noom’s Registered Dietitians, Nutritionists, and Goal Specialists, I’d be in great hands to embark on this journey. Luckily I’m a December baby, so all of this came together around the natural momentum of New Year’s Resolutions. I signed up shortly thereafter, and I’ve lost nearly 20 pounds since that peak at 219. Below is my journey with Noom. Spoiler alert -- it works, and I’m a massive fan.
Slick Onboarding + User Experience
First impressions go a long way -- and that was certainly the case with my onboarding to Noom’s weight loss program. After answering a few demographic profile questions and setting my weight loss goals, I was dropped into Noom’s curriculum.
Spanning three major chapters of coursework, the Noom program is expected to take 6-8 weeks to complete, and you can ‘tune in’ for ~10 minutes a day to chip away slowly but surely at each concept. It’s a smart approach -- slow and steady always wins the race -- and over the course of a week, for example, you’ve covered a meaningful amount of material without having to spend too much time any one given day in the app. It’s intuitive with a great user interface; any tech-savvy user will be impressed and inspired to continue.
A Personalized Framework, Powered By Tech & AI
Based on the inputs I provided in my onboarding along with my end-goal and time horizon, Noom presented a diet plan composed of a personalized calorie and food-type breakdown for me to adhere to. Instead of assigning foods ‘points’ -- as I know Weight Watchers does -- Noom breaks their meal plan into into three color categories based on food groups: Green, Yellow, and Red. Green foods include all fruits and veggies and plant proteins, Yellow foods include animal proteins and whole grains/carbs, and Red foods are Fats -- healthy and otherwise. As you could probably guess -- Green and Yellow are where most of your foods should fall, with Reds to be consumed more sparingly.
The color coding was a dead-simple way to re-frame the types and quantities of foods I had been consuming. It also freed me from the restriction of having to eliminate certain types of foods other diets impose on you. Instead Noom encouraged me to think more high level: was this meal veggie heavy or was it densely packed with carbs, fats, and proteins?
The color coding also helped unlock the concept of calorie density when making food choices.
The visual below from the program was simply staggering -- calorie dense foods like McDonald’s quarter-pounder was 14x the calories of ¼ pound of salad greens or veggies. And how about the cheeky message at the bottom: “If you eat ¼ of salad greens, you’ll be just as full as if you eat a quarter pounder. Because stomachs don’t have eyes. Seriously.”
With this revelation of calorie density understood, a big shift I’ve made since using Noom has been a concerted effort to eat more ‘Green’ foods -- for example berries for breakfast and an apple or a cup of chopped carrots with hummus for a snack. I’ll even find myself roasting zucchini or asparagus as a midday snack. (Sounds a bit silly at first, but it’s a delicious snack that really fills me up.) It’s been a small change but it goes a long way, and -- if you’re a foodie like me -- great restaurants make delicious and interesting vegetable recipes. Trust.
Disciplined Approach To Data
At the end of the day, Noom is a diet framework. And with that comes sustained discipline and motivation. There’s no way around that. But even here, Noom stands out. Noom strongly recommends weighing yourself every single day, on the same scale, at the same time. I rolled my eyes at first -- I’ve never been the type to weigh myself, and thought I could keep in check with less exacting tactics such as feeling how tight my jeans fit or how my belly looked in the mirror after a shower. But clearly those strategies had failed me as of late, and so on the scale I went. Every single day. There’s a psychological trick that Noom is tapping into here; if you’re working the plan, you’re going to lose weight. And if you’re seeing the numbers on the scale slowly decline, a positive feedback loop is established to keep your positive behavior rolling.
No lies -- I can’t wait to wake up every morning now to jump on the scale for my daily weigh-ins. Either I’m making continued progress and I feel AMAZING, or I have a real-time data input that I slipped a bit and need to quickly get back on track.
As of the writing of this review, I’m down almost 20 lbs after starting to use Noom, well on my way to my goal weight! My specific numbers and progress aside, it’s so clear to me now how critical this data set is to keeping yourself accountable.
Noom also strongly encourages you to track your food each day via the app. I’ll be honest -- food logging can be a serious drag, but it works wonders. The simple act of tracking what you’re eating keeps you on budget, and also, over time, helps to reorient your thinking around the ‘value’ of each calorie. I liken it to the value of a dollar and that moment in your mid-20s when you finally realize the true purchasing power of each dollar earned. I’m far less careless with what I eat nowadays -- the mindless chowing of potato chips is mostly gone; it’s been replaced with a near enlightened consciousness about everything I consume.
My last ‘stress’ test of the Noom diet and framework was how well I’d fare on vacation. I’m fairly used to the cycle of keeping clean and letting myself go the second my OOO turns on. I was curious how I’d handle our cross-country trip to visit my in-laws for Passover this year. After educating the family on Noom’s best practices -- (Noom encourages that social sharing as a form of an extended support system) I successfully navigated our Seder meal mainly intact and have stayed committed throughout the trip. These sort of milestones give me the confidence to view the Noom lessons as a new normal -- and not some passing fad -- and for that I’m incredibly grateful.
If you’re looking for a supportive tool to regain control of your weight loss journey, I can’t endorse Noom strongly enough.
5 More Reasons To Love Noom:
- Diets tell you what to change, Noom uses psychology to teach you how to change for lasting results and holistic wellness.
- Noom is personalized to you, helping to find what works best for you. It’s not a one-size fits all approach.
- If you’re looking for additional support and motivation via coaching, Noom offers in-app coaching as part of its core offering. Noom's health coaches consult on everything from healthy eating to overall healthy habits. I’m more a self-study type, so I didn’t leverage the coaching tools that much -- but others swear by them to stay engaged and motivated.
- Diet & workout plans can be expensive. Noom has affordable pricing and gives you the tools to make lasting change for $199 a year or $59 a month. It also offers a 7-day trial.
- The time commitment is such a low barrier to entry. No meetings to schedule and attend, just consume the content via the app as your schedule allows.