What is it: Noom, an app touted as “Weight Watchers for Millennials” that’s part meal-planning, part fitness-tracker and 100% motivational life coach.
Who tried it: Michele Corriston, PEOPLE Staff Editor
As I leave my mid-20s behind, there’s one thing I know for certain: the sky-high metabolism that allowed me to eat french fries every day as a teenager before slipping into size-24 jeans is gone. Like, long gone. And ever since I stopped playing sports in high school, I’ve lacked the motivation to stick to any sort of regimented exercise routine for more than a few weeks. “Diet” is a foreign word. And to look and feel as good as I’d like, my laissez faire (read: lazy) attitude about health isn’t cutting it anymore.
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My sister’s getting married this summer, so I figured there’s no better time to shed a few pounds and learn to be an adult. Enter Noom, an app that doesn’t just count calories: It aims to teach users about the psychological factors of weight loss and why, when my roommate asks if I want in on a Pinkberry delivery at 10 p.m. on a Wednesday, my heart is saying no but my body’s saying let’s go.
Noom’s interface is fairly simple: Every day, you’re presented with a list of tasks to complete, starting with logging your meals, weight, and exercise hours (it also automatically tracks your step count). Then, there are different blurbs about nutrition, fitness and even sleep that you’re prompted to read, often quizzed briefly after. Most importantly, the app asks you to rate your motivation on a scale of 1-5. And the tone is completely casual, breaking down scientific studies into a conversational soundbite.
But you’re also working with actual humans: You’re connected with a personal coach who you can exchange messages with anytime as well as a group chat where fellow users share their triumphs, frustrations and questions. When I was heading to a “friendsgiving” party, I asked the group how to avoid gorging myself, and they offered helpful tips like keeping a glass of water in hand, socializing away from the buffet and even eating a healthy snack before leaving. And the personal coaches actively check in and ask you to set “SMART” (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-oriented) goals: eating breakfast every day, for example, or working out five times a a week. My coach, Monica, really made me examine the root of my desire. “Why do you want to lose 10 lbs by July?” she asked. “What will you gain by doing that?”
The hardest part is logging your meals down to every minuscule ingredient — but it’s also the most educational. Noom separates foods into three categories ranked by caloric density, or how rich they are in water: green (fruits, vegetables, whole grains), yellow (lean meats, starches, eggs, yogurt) and red (red meats, desserts, and everything I told dear in life, aka pizza and burgers).
You’re given a limit for each subgroup, but the point is that it’s okay to mess up, and you don’t have to starve yourself to lose weight. Craving a cookie? Have it! That’s your “red” food for the day, so try a salad for lunch. Plus, the app includes recipes, if you’re a hapless cook like myself. The key is that Noom is not a “diet” — it’s “a way of life,” and no food is off-limits, so long as it’s balanced out.
Did I drop down three pants sizes? No, but I’m down a couple pounds, after a few months, I learned so much about what being healthy means, and the program steadily ramped up my exercise minimum. If you’re a complete newbie to self-care who needs that extra push to get organized and keep yourself accountable, Noom is the program for you.