Last November, I had the opportunity to check out Noom to see if it was a good fit for me. This opportunity was extended to me gratis with the idea that I might like it enough to promote, so I have not paid for a membership. I am in fact able to use affiliate links for Noom to monetize conversions (sign-ups) but I am not for reasons that will become evident.
Starting over a year before that, I had decided to stop assuming that I could ride the coattails of my metabolism forever and made some lifestyle changes to better suit my health and my sedentary career.
People who know me are going to read that and have a stroke. STOP! Breathe.
I work 50+ hours a week and I sit for practically all of it. This, for me, is not about weight loss. This is about making healthier choices so my body does the thing better, for a longer time. I can binge 1500 calories of Reese’s cups in a sitting or I can try to consider my nutritional needs.
I don’t diet. I don’t believe in, “dieting,” because they imply a temporary adjustment is going to cultivate lasting change. This is not reason; it is folly. I’d been managing by my own reason using an if-it-fits-your-macros or IIFYM approach based on my activity level, goals, and needs. When I encountered Noom and found that they are not about that, ‘diet,’ life, I figured – oh, what the hell.
So I took them up on it and tried Noom to see if it was worth it.
What is Noom?
Let’s start with their mission statement:
Help people everywhere lead healthier lives through behavior change.
Okay, this resonates. But what IS it? Realistically, Noom is an accountability tool that helps establish and promote healthier behaviors through a series of positive reinforcement. It IS NOT a diet or fitness program, though they do now offer meal and workout plans for an additional fee over their base cost.
It isn’t for me. BUT that doesn’t mean its bad.
Why Noom isn’t a Good Fit for Me
There are two big reasons and two small reasons; read more to see why.
Big: Trying Hard to be Cute/Fun
Gameification is a great strategy to engage users in use of tools and technology through introducing, “fun,”
elements. I know this to be true: I work in technology and implement tools with these elements. However, it doesn’t appeal to or resonate with me, personally. I love games but hate gameified tools (for my own use). I want my fun where my fun lives and my productivity and accountability stuff where it lives. It just felt too cutesy and pandering to me; I don’t like it when cutesy, cartoony nonsense finds its way into software-as-a-service, but that seems to be the thing to do lately. ?
Big: Hey! Listen!
Notifications are helpful when trying to establish a routine, but they aren’t a good fit for me. I have enough discipline to log my meals, snacks, and exercise without incessant app notifications. I’m also not always consuming meals or snacks at the same time, so putting a timer around it just annoys me. For me, instead of, “Oh, sweet, there’s this helpful reminder to keep me on track,” it’s more like, “I don’t have time for this right now,” or, “I already did that,” and then something to acknowledge or dismiss.
Small but Mighty
MyFitnessPal just has a better food and nutrition database. There, I said it. And unless you’re shelling out for premium, well… there isn’t a fee to use it. Their site suggests that, as of February 2019, they had the most robust food database according to some rating or another, but that wasn’t reflected in my experience. Furthermore, the user experience of logging meals was just more laborious.
Small but Tedious
Having daily things to check, read, or do can help with engagement. But I didn’t find their strategies engaging; when there were boxes to check, daily articles to read, quizzes to take, and so forth it just took this full time STEM professional and student into overdrive and I couldn’t summon the bothers to give.
Don’t let my gruff attitude dissuade you if you’ve been considering it. Noom might be a good fit for you if you align with any of these sentiments:
- Keeping track of your nutrition is important to you but feels like a chore
- You need to reframe your mindset and relationship with diet (as in the things you eat, not like Atkins/Keto/etc) and exercise to be more positive and less penal
- You struggle to stay engaged with platforms that require more independent motivation (MyFitnessPal)
- A support system/community would be helpful but is hard to find (they do really nice work with this) – especially now with CoVid-19. Noom’s employees and other users are very kind from what I’ve seen
- You don’t have an existing foundation of nutritional knowledge to help you make better choices
- Goal and milestone setting is not second nature to you
- You have realistic expectations – there is no quick-fix, you need to stay motivated and dedicated. If you do, you can lose up to 1-2lbs/week if that is part of your goal.
I’ll be straight with you: Noom is expensive. As of writing this post, if you try it for a month after a 14 day $0.50 trial period, its $59 a month. It costs more than gym memberships do in many areas and it isn’t a fitness or meal prep or menu planning program; it’s an accountability program.
If you commit to a year it runs $199. I don’t think most users would benefit from a year, frankly. I think committing for a quarter would be plenty, but that comes to $129 at current rates and still more of an expense than I personally find worth it. My valuation is heavily colored by my preferences to not be harangued, however; if this style works for you, it may be worthwhile. You can learn more about their pricing here.
The Bottom Line
Although Noom ended up not being for me, I appreciate its value for some individuals. To me, it felt a bit too much like a micromanaging boss when I am a low-oversight-necessary resource. And as a control freak, I don’t want an app dictating what I do or when I do it.
As such, I think their asking price is too steep for what it is. If it was about half the price, I’d say it is worth it. That said, it is challenging to put a price on your health, and you may see that as virtually nothing.