Sunday, April 25, 2021

Giving Noom a Go

 Over the last year, with the pandemic in full effect, it's been difficult to maintain consistency in both diet and exercise. I do have my little workout space set up in the basement, have my little lake to walk around and have lots of little projects to work on. I also upgraded my work desks, both home and at work, to the sit-stand variety. Also, the first thoughts in my head are on exercising when I say to myself, "I need to get into better shape". 

The trouble with those thoughts is they make the eating portion an afterthought. In reality, I'm more than capable of mindlessly grazing in my kitchen at the end of the day. It's a near trancelike state, my brain off while getting my fix on tortilla chips or anything else. I eventually snap out of it, but it is very much like chasing a fix. 

It is a weird, although likely not uncommon, calorie laden meditation/ritual. I feel like I'm fine during most of the day. I try to choose healthy at work, especially when I do my grocery shopping and bring in my meals (Note: often the meals are frozen protein bowls, etc. I know not as wholesome as making my own food, but they get the job done). Mornings are generally healthy as well: some coffee (okay, maybe there's some creamer on occasion), some water, some fruit and some protein typically.

As the day wears on, things become less structured, more discombobulated. Stresses pile up as hunger and fatigue creep in. This happens earlier on the weekends as there isn't the structure of work to take up the majority of the day. My brain needs to be distracted and food is indeed a lovely distraction. I mean that's the whole problem with food: it's delicious!

Thus, I'm willing to admit I could use a little more structure to all things eating. Perhaps even some guidance and education. I know a bit of my bites are not because I'm hungry, they are because I am bored, stressed and even have an ounce of "fear of missing out" or thoughts of being wasteful if I don't indulge.

I know in the past I've gotten to the place where eating is due to caloric necessity and occasional indulging was to sample high quality.  It can feel like I've hit a stride where long term habits feel as though they've lined up with long term goals; truly an excellent accomplished feeling. I'm trying to get back to that place. I can do it because I've done it, but like I'm rusty at some aspects of calculus I could use a primer and a guide.

Enter Noom. Noom is an app that's been rather heavily advertised lately. It totes the use of "psychology" to help lose weight, improve health, etc. After enough pining on it, and stepping on the scale for the first time in a while (surprisingly, I didn't like what I saw! what a shock...not) and the fact that one of my friends was trying it (let's hear it for social encouragement) I decided to give it a go. 

I decided to go all in, paying for Noom up front instead of doing their trial; tapping into my need to not let money go wasted. No modest financial pain, no gain, right? I've also decided to take the approach one of my graduate school professors espoused, be open to learn as though I know nothing (50 points to any of my fellow grad students who can guess the prof, hint: complete the square). 

From the baseline of a lighter wallet and accepted novice I've so far found the app to be easy to wield. I'm one week in and Noom is trying to set a path for success. A literal path through small learning modules, progressing from a beginner to a master. So far the basic approach is to have a system of logging and regular accountability. Daily morning weigh-ins, tracking water intake, logging food and short lessons on goal setting, learning about thought distortions, access to coaching, etc. It's a rather full plate. 

A lot of the Noom program feels derived from recovery-type programs: accept you have things you need to work on, willingness to work on them, belief in higher purpose/power and getting to work on them in a daily, measurable way while cleaning out your emotional closets, working on meditation and getting in 10k steps/day. Thus, I guess the old credo, "it works if you work it" applies.

So far Noom has worked great. My first weigh in was on a Monday morning after a bad weekend for eating, so I started at a high point (or low point, depending on your perspective). The work week went well. However, I did arrive home one evening with some serious brain fix cravings, inducing a little bit of a "what the hell do I do" moment. I decided to sit in my car until I could visualize my culinary evening. Normally, I'd be half a bag of chips in before that happened, but instead I made some lettuce/ham/cheese roll up things and opted to spend most of my evening working on music. That created a positive feeling that trumped (too soon? sorry) the gross feeling from the fix chasing. 

I'm now coming off of my first Nooming weekend. The less structure and more home time has it's challenges. I did overshoot my calorie count by a couple hundred, fortunately in salad and not ice cream, so a little weekend preparation and planning may be in order. 

The main thing I like about Noom is they do encourage progress and not perfection (this is also very recovery-esque). This helps remind me that health is a journey. Sometimes it's not the most fun or comfortable and there are a ton of ups and downs. When the ups outweigh the downs and instruction and begrudging commitment become habit and enthusiasm the journey gets easier. On the journey success can be measured one day, one craving at a time and hopefully goals are arrived nearly by surprise as things get easier.

Enough musing for now. Hopefully, I'll remember to check back in and have some tales from the road.

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