Before COVID-19 I’d got my head into a place where I was coping with life, perimenopause and my diet. Sadly, any control I thought I had went out of the window and in the past 12 months I’ve packed on a bit of extra chub.
OK, so many of us have self-medicated through the past 12 months with takeaways, booze and some rather unhealthy snacks, kidding ourselves that lock-down calories don’t count. But with gyms and swimming pools closed, I’ve spent the winter in lounge wear and sat on my arse.
As restrictions lift and the likelihood that I’ll be back in the office looming ever closer, I thought I’d better try on the work clothes that are gathering dust at the back of the wardrobe. It wasn’t pretty. Then I tried on my jeans … got them half-way up my thighs and thought, shit.
Hormones got the better of me, so of course the situation rapidly accelerated to tearful and emotional. I was hating myself once again for letting even more weight creep on than ever before. I was blaming my husband for being a feeder, the weather, COVID, Boris Johnson, perimenopause and the whole world spreading germs when really it’s nobody’s fault but my own.
I was feeling really sorry for myself and flicking through rubbish on my phone when an email landed in my mailbox from Noom. A while back I’d considered joining and completed their questionnaire, but never signed up. The email was offering me a considerable discount and caught me at the perfect time. So I thought sod it – what did I have to lose?
People who don’t struggle with their weight are often unsympathetic to those of us who register in the hefty zone on the bathroom scales. I get that – we all tend to display that reaction to something we aren’t familiar with. Even us chubbers will wonder why we are happy to part with our hard-earned cash and have someone tell us to eat less and move more. But surely, if it was that easy, then we wouldn’t have overweight people or an industry that revolves around weight loss.
I’ve parted with plenty of cash to the weight loss experts over the years – hypnotherapy CDs, Weight Watchers (twice), Shapes (do they even exist any more?), Slimming World (twice), and My Fitness Pal. I’m quite happy to keep food logs, weigh portions and plan meals to stick to a plan. But after some success I would plateau, lose interest, quit and the weight (and then some) would slowly creep back on.
I was warned that perimenopause could impact on my ability to lose weight. I scoffed at that – laughed even. But they were right and I’m finding it harder than ever before to shift the extra pounds I’m carrying. So that’s where Noom not only caught me at a good time, but also promised me I could still eat what I wanted and lose weight. Too good to be true? Another faddy and unsustainable diet? There was only one way to find out.
After signing up and installing the app I was expecting a flurry of emails and notifications pushing me into action. Surprisingly that didn’t happen. I was left to my own devices to get my ahead around it – I’d made a huge step to a new me and apparently that was enough for one day. But it prompted me to step on the scales – something I hadn’t done for nearly a year. The start was slow, manageable and very friendly.
I’ve carefully avoided those bathroom scales, blocking their sniggers from the corner of the room as I wobbled past. I didn’t need them telling me something I already knew – my jeans had beaten them to it. I stripped off, removing all jewelry and even exhaled as I stepped on (that helps, right?). Convinced they were wrong, I picked them up, shook them about, put them back down on a kinder part of the bathroom floor and tried again. It was no use, the verdict was in. I was a heffer.
The shocking weight was keyed into the Noom app and then I waited for a pop-up alert bollocking me. In reality, the app took the logged weight with not even a murmur. And it continues to to accept my weight on a daily basis with no judgement whatsoever. No praise for a loss. No comments of disapproval for a gain. Just a daily graph plotting my progress.
It might surprise you to discover that Noom encourage you to log your weight everyday. I raised an eyebrow and it wasn’t until week 3 that it made sense. I’m never quite sure when my period will arrive these days and it’s all based on a best guess. Noom has taught me already that my weight can fluctuate massively over the period of a month and that I should not look at my progress through a microscope – it’s all about ‘Your Big Picture’.
Noom, you see, is not a ‘diet’. Instead it focuses on helping you to make better decisions using something called CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy). Now don’t stop reading here – if you knew me you’d know I’m the last person that would even contemplate signing up for ‘behavioral therapy’, dismissing it as namby-pamby nonsense.
There is lots of chatter online about Noom, lots of positive stories – enough for me to show interest. They claim to have helped 1.5 million people to lose weight and to ‘break your self-sabotaging behaviors and develop balanced relationships with food and yourself that last’.
I’ve been assigned a Goal Specialist who chats with me via the app and helps me set goals, answers my questions offering advice and gives me encouragement. Each day you also receive courses helping you to identify where you go wrong with your dietary choices and of course helping you to create new and better habits. And the question most people ask me is ‘what are you allowed to eat?’. The answer is simple: anything. Yes, there are recipes and ideas for meals and snacks. But you are free to eat whatever you want, including pizza, crisps, chocolate and wine. Boom! My kind of diet!
Now I’m not sure how they are doing their Noom-magic with me, but it must be the CBT thing working, because I’m making subtle changes every day. I’ve swapped the majority of my wine for gin without any arm twisting or tantrums. I’m perfectly happy to nibble on two biscuits rather than four, 100g of pasta really is enough, I’m eating fruit nearly every day (it used to be bought with the best intentions and then rot in the fruit bowl) and my evening snacks have been replaced with air-popped popcorn.
So here I am at 3 weeks in with better fitting shoes, my watch strap on a tighter notch and between 10 and 15lbs lighter. I’ll keep you posted with how I get on as it’s still early days. Noom even tell you about the phases you go through and what to expect – I’m still in my ‘honeymoon phase’ but will slump at some point and that’s when I’ll lean on my Goal Coach and test how good she really is. It’s working, I’m shrinking and more importantly I don’t feel like I’m missing out.
Maybe I won’t need to buy bigger work clothes after all and can instead look forward to buying a whole new wardrobe of outfits in a smaller size. Wish me luck!