A Host of Health Hullabaloo

June begins Month #6 of 2019’s getting our s*** together New Year.

I wish I had better news for you, but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

Getting our s*** together took a back seat to getting my physical health — and associated sanity — back on track.

I think I went to see a doctor once a week for two months. It was exhausting.

My biggest scare happened the last week of April, when a large, painful lump appeared protruding at the base of my throat.

Two doctor’s appointments, three vials of blood and a sonogram later, and we discovered fluid-filled nodules on my thyroid. Words like “cyst,” “cancer” and “biopsy” were flung about by my primary care physician and the radiology tech.

Eep.

Thankfully, the nodules deflated on their own before my scheduled ENT appointment. The ENT decided that — since they’d shrunk and he saw no solid masses in my sonogram — I didn’t have to have a biopsy.

Hallelujah.

Fluid-filled nodules rarely become solid masses, and solid masses rarely become cancer. However, the ENT said that if the nodules constantly flare and cause constant pain, he’d recommend REMOVING MY THYROID.

No.

I’m keeping that sucker. Stand down, cysts. Stand. Down.

Turns out, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis runs in my family. Another chronic something to add to the chronic list of chronic nonsense in my new normal. (An update on the chronic back pain to come.)

I just sighed heavily.

Filters

Still rocking accident grams.

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Finances

I don’t even know what a retirement account is anymore.

Fitness

Considering I hurt myself doing the most minuscule of movements, I’m giving up on this one. I’m going to sleep in, read books in the evening and enjoy my rolls. I weigh 140 pounds of no-longer-gives-a.

Food

Here’s a win.

No more takeout two or three nights a week. My husband and I cook dinner at home nearly every night. At least four nights a week. Another night is leftovers. Two other nights consist of what a Junior League friend of mine coined as “Snack Dinner” where we fend for ourselves (aka sandwiches).

Here’s an ongoing loss.

My toddler eats six things. “Cackers,” yogurt, Annie’s bunny-shaped macaroni and cheese (Not any other kind of macaroni and cheese. Don’t come at him with some tractor-shaped crap. Only bunnies.), peanut butter sandwiches, “nanas” and toddler pouches.

I see toddlers eating salad on Instagram.

How?

How do you do it?

If you approach my toddler with anything other than those six things, he loses it. We prepare a plethora of different types of food for breakfast, lunch and dinner — and my kid won’t eat any of it.

He doesn’t even eat chicken nuggets.

CHICKEN NUGGETS!

My baby-food baby used to eat soft carrots, mushy peas, blueberries and oatmeal. No more. Last week, I made him a colorful fruit salad of watermelon, blueberries and strawberries for dinner. It was practically dessert. Straight up trash, according to him.

Actual dessert? He’ll eat that. “Coocoos” (cookies), cake, ice cream, chocolate. Loves it.

I guess that’s seven things. I’ll let you know if he deems it necessary to ever eat eight things.

I ate canned beets as a child. They were terrible. But I ate them. Because I was fed them, and you don’t not eat at grandma’s house.

Jeez. This kid.

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Enjoying chocolate “coocoos.”

BABR: January Update

January was the single. longest. month. ever. Yesterday was January 74. My New Year’s Resolutions for finances, fitness, food and house should be complete since it’s already 2020.

What happened during the longest month ever?

My son played with penguins at the Sedgwick County Zoo. So friggin cute.

Fetched a stick. With his mouth. Because that’s what the dog does.

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And turned 2. He’s playing with the packing paper in his birthday present from Kiwi&Co. The actual present was trash as far as he was concerned.

New Year’s Update: Filters

I open Instagram Stories on accident a lot. Fun filters FTW.

New Year’s Update: Finances

False start. Planning to hot wire this car in February. (Side note: Got the actual car fixed, so we have at least SOME of our s*** together already.)

New Year’s Update: Fitness 

Like every red-blooded American woman in January, I said 2019 is going to be THE YEAR I get back into shape.

Yeeaaaahhhh. Right.

I joined Title Boxing Club in 2018 to slough off pesky baby weight — which came back like a flood when I stopped breastfeeding, rude. High energy. Hitting. Kicking. Skipping… burpees. Sweat rolling down my face and pooling on the mat. Exhilarating.

I’ve never been a fan of cardio, but I loved. boxing. And it was so good for my back.

Until it started acting up again. Until I got busy. Until I couldn’t swing 5:15 a.m. classes because I was so damn tired and in too much pain.

My goal for 2019 isn’t to get back into shape. I want to be pain-free. Fitness is absolutely a part of my road to recovery — I just have to find the right fitness.

I’m testing some options.

Kundalini yoga, which blends chanting, meditation and breath work with familiar yoga poses. The theory behind it is a little hocus pocus, but it’s the only yoga I can do. Most of the work can be done lying down or in a position that doesn’t challenge my back. Think bridge pose or holding a lunge for a long time and “breathing through the eyes.” Whatever, it’s nice.

Thirty-minute fitness classes at work on Tuesdays and Thursdays (which I’ve been proscribed from this week by my physical therapist because they’re hurting me), blending a dash of cardio with strength training and core. Combine these with Popsugar’s Active app workouts, and I’ve got 15-30 minutes scheduled every day.

My physical therapy stretches and abdominal work. The stretches relieve inflammation in my nerves, and the ab work teaches my transverse muscles — the deep abs that got all stretched and destroyed during pregnancy — to activate when I move. After 10 reps, my core is exhausted, but it’s not a workout.

I did pretty well with my fitness resolution for about two-and-a-half weeks. Now, I’m faltering.

False start? More like a stall. Hey, the Jeep needs new tires, too.

New Year’s Update: Food

I lost six pounds between Thanksgiving and my son’s birthday using Noom — counting calories, daily weigh-ins, little challenges. But I was over it. I cancelled that membership (theme?) and gained four pounds back just three weeks later.

Hey, when it’s Christmas break, and you have all the time in the world to plan your meals, go grocery shopping and prep smoothies — well, you’re for sure going to keep that up when you go back to work.

Ha, no.

Fitbit is free, so I’m going to try to use it like Noom — even though it’s not as good, and I don’t really want to.

New Year’s Update: House

It’s been vacuumed.

New Year’s Update: Time

January was 74 days long, and I still don’t have a second of time until 10 p.m. when I write blogs and don’t shower.

 

Noom Weight Loss App: A Review

noom weight loss app review header

I signed up for a 14-day trial, and then paid for a two-month subscription of Noom, in November 2018. My eight-week program was scheduled to end Jan. 17, 2019, so I cancelled it.

Let’s Rory Gilmore this, and look at Noom’s pros and cons.

Pro: Counting calories worked (for me), and Noom’s system was really good. 

Turns out, calculating how many calories the foods I choose to consume contain prevents me from over-over indulging, reduces my portion size and makes me question whether or not I really need a bowl of ice cream after dinner.

Who knew?

Counting calories helped me lose weight — even if I didn’t stay within the cheetah-fast weight loss of 1,200 calories a day. (They also have rabbit-fast and tortoise-fast, which is a misnomer.)

I’ve tried to “food journal” in the past. Pen and paper, habit trackers, Fitbit — all were pretty terrible because I had to look up how many calories were in a thing and write it down or enter it in. Even Fitbit’s food tracker didn’t have basic stuff (when I tried it, to be fair). For example, Fitbit knows how many calories are in a McDonald’s Big Mac. I don’t need to know that because I’m not going to eat a McDonald’s Big Mac. Hork. I was eating homemade tomato soup with four main ingredients.

Prior to Noom, to count calories, I had to do math.

No.

Noom made it SO easy to put together custom dishes, calculate calories and enter meals. They did all the math.

The only thing I had to Google was how many calories were in an “IPA beer” because no way was it as high as they said.

I was right.

Con: Counting calories is still a time-consuming effort no matter how easy Noom made it. 

Noom promised I could spend 10 minutes a day using the app and lose weight — not counting the time needed to meal plan, prep, cook homemade meals and work out.

Here’s the thing.

I don’t have 10 minutes a day. Don’t believe me? Right now, I chose to write this blog — I know — instead of showering.

And, y’all, I smell.

Bad.

My workday is billable. Eight hours of which I account for every minute.

My hometime is hectic. Sixteen hours where I account for every minute of whatever my toddler’s trying to destroy/trying to jump off/trying to eat. Hometime, of course, includes cleaning, cooking, living, wifing and (not)eight hours of sleep. Throw in the 15 minutes I spend “getting ready” for my day, and I couldn’t spare 10 minutes to learn a lesson and track my meals in Noom.

I mean, I did, but by Week 7, I was OVER it.

Pro: No food was off-limits. I could eat anything I wanted.

As long as I didn’t exceed my calorie goal, I was golden.

Let’s be honest, I was rarely golden. Often bronzed.

Noom encouraged me to eat Green foods — fresh fruits and vegetables and other non-calorie-dense foods — but it didn’t ask me to stop eating foods it classified as Yellow and Red. The system was easy to understand and work within.

Plus, it does all the math for you.

Con: Some foods were surprisingly considered Yellow or Red. 

Chia seeds are stupid healthy. Harvard says so. They’re the richest plant source of omega-3 fatty acids — those are the good ones — and a complete protein. Plus, when you mix them in a smoothie, it makes the smoothie creamier and thicker without adding dairy.

This is a win-win for me.

Except, chia seeds are a Red food. TF, right? Upon further examination, all nuts and seeds are considered red foods because they’re calorie-dense. (Calorie dense foods pack a lot of calories in a little package, so you feel less full after eating them.) My Red food ratio was always over because I put two tablespoons of chia seeds in my morning smoothie.

It definitely wasn’t because of that “IPA beer”…

Pro: Noom focused on food but didn’t forget about all the other s*** that helps with weight loss. 

Exercise. Hormones. Sleep. Science.

Counting calories and making better food choices are the foundation of the Noom weight loss app. After laying that foundation, Noom introduced a slew of other building blocks to help with weight loss.

Calories in = weight gain. Calories out = weight loss. It’s all about the ratios, and Noom added half the calories you lost in a workout to your total daily calorie intake.

The app has an entire week on the hormones working when you’re hungry, digesting and storing or burning calories — and why. (Hands down, my favorite week. What do I remember from high school biology? “The mitochondrion is the powerhouse of the cell.”)

They also covered sleep, but I’m a mom, so hahahahahahahahahahaha.

Ha.

Con: I can’t remember all this s***. 

I used up all of my study potential in college, and then I killed a number of brain cells — specifically memory cells — in the process of creating and birthing a life.

I’m dumb now.

Ask me what Noom said about sleep.

Hahahahahahahahahahahaha.

Ha.

Pro: Coaches and support groups work for some people…

Having a coach and support team might help you change your lifestyle and lose weight. I’m sure there’s research on this — not that I could find it. A Google search turned up several results on how to become or find a weight loss coach. Not quite what I was after.

Weight Watchers works for some people, so it’s a whole thing. I don’t know.

Con: …but not for me. 

Motivational support groups and high-energy health instructors are… not my thing. Thinking positive thoughts does not make me more positive. Writing down the people and things I’m grateful for doesn’t improve my mood. I’m still grateful for them, but that concept just doesn’t work for me.

I think it’s called visualization, and I’m going to need a fiction book to make that work.

Plus, at the end of a long day, there’s still dinner to make and a toddler to entertain and laundry to (not)do. I would ignore notifications from my Goal Specialist for daaaaaays. I cleared out notifications from the group every time I saw one.

It was just another minute in a day I didn’t have.

Final Thoughts

If you like counting calories, tracking your every pound and talking to strangers on the internet, Noom will totally work for you. Granting you don’t also have a health issue being monitored by a medical professional. I’m not a medical professional. Don’t listen to me.

Caveat: You have to follow the rules at least a little bit.

I “followed” the rules for seven weeks and lost almost six pounds. My starting weight was 146.4. My final weight was 140.8.

Did I meet my ultimate goal? (Be pain-free, for those who don’t remember.) No, I did not.

But that’s another novel.

Noom 35 Days In

befriend breakfast with noom

I didn’t cancel Noom.

Today marks the beginning of Week 6, the end of the week-long break I took from Nooming for Christmasing… and four-ish pounds lost.

Noom Week 5 End

I started this weight-loss program at 146.4 pounds. During the last 35 days, I have:

  • Weighed myself everyday
  • Switched from no-breakfast (or an Rx bar) to a dairy-free breakfast smoothie every morning because Noom Keystone Habit #1 is to Befriend Breakfast — recipes to follow in a later blog
  • Learned six more Noom Keystone Habits and all the #PsycheTricks and #PracticalTips Noom can shove into a hashtag (Oh, and a ton of other things.)
  • Made conscious decisions about what I ate for lunch — and only went out to eat once while I was at the office!
  • Sometimes gotten my steps in (and blew them out of the water on cleaning day at the office)
  • Entered custom dishes for dinners throughout, which I LOVE doing
  • “Passed” most of my Noom quizzes, except when I was tired and couldn’t remember what friggin’ acronym they decided to use for a term that really didn’t need an acronym

I have not:

  • Eaten the appropriate green-yellow-red ratio — but I have added arugula to nearly everything just so I can say I ate greens
  • Used Noom’s personalized “workout plan” (read: disappointing PDF)
  • Stopped eating salty and sweet treats (Seriously, all month I’ve been surrounded by chocolate. It’s December.)

And I lost four-ish pounds.

In December.

Surrounded by chocolate I didn’t stop myself from eating.

Maybe it works ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Remember: “Abs are made in the kitchen.”

While I’m not a fan of all Noomisms, including the acronyms for everything and hashtag bonanza happening in every daily lesson, their #PsycheTricks and #PracticalTips seem to work for me.

I learned about all-or-nothing thinking (“I’m just going to be in pain anyway, so why bother working out?”), decision fatigue and why weight loss/maintenance is so hard SCIENTIFICALLY for people who have already lost weight.

It’s stupid metabolism’s fault.

In addition, while I understand the purpose of the Goal Specialist — she’s there to help you — and see the value in the Group — you’re not alone, I don’t have time for either of them. Every notification buzzing on my phone throughout the day gets ignored unless it’s work-related — and nearly nothing gets my attention until 8 p.m. after the toddler’s gone to bed and I’ve had a glass of wine cup of tea.

Basically, I want the education and the food-logging functionality — it’s so much better than Fitbit’s — without the added responsibility of connecting with other humans.

I’ve already got so many humans.

If Noom could offer that and drop the price tag a tad, I think it’d be a forever solution to weight loss and maintenance for me.

Noom’s pre-determined goal weight for me is 136.8 pounds. I have no idea where this number came from — and I don’t care. I’ve got six pounds to go and four weeks (I think?) left in my subscription. We’ll see how I do.

Noom 14-Day Trial

An ode to BABR…

Your biceps are flabby.
Your belly rolls are, too.
Abs are made in the kitchen.
Arms are made in the weight room.

One of my Be Pain Free tactics is to lose weight. Why? Less weight > less pressure on my spine > less pain. Super simple. I also want to build a stronger core to protect my spine. (Don’t worry. I’ll always have the rolls. I had a baby. Let’s be serious.)

Of course, you’d think I’d have a 6-pack by now walking around all day with my abdominals flexed in attempt to move pain-free from one position to LITERALLY EVERY OTHER POSITION.

But, no.

I suck at losing weight. I’m much better at eating whatever I want. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ I figure a little help won’t hurt, so I signed up for a 14-day trial of Noom.

Noom is a wellness program (read: weight loss program) designed to help users live healthfully by changing habits (read: losing weight). I’m a tad pessimistic about the “wellness” claims — if that wasn’t obvious. I was annoyed to discover the personalized meal planning and workout parts of the program were add-ons and cost extra.

Necessary parts of the wellness program don’t come with it.

Seems weird for something that costs $50/month.

I also purchased the workout because they were having a Black Friday sale that made it pretty inexpensive. It’s a PDF. That was disappointing.

Noom is not a diet. It doesn’t tell people what they can and cannot eat — or provide a personalized meal plan unless you pay more — but the structure of the program is built around food and users’ psychological triggers to food. #NoomNerdsLovePsychology

They use a lot of hashtags…

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#See.

Noom uses a three-color system to categorize food to help users make better decisions about what they choose to eat.

  • Red foods are non-so-great-for-you foods, such as red meat (delicious), doughnuts (heaven) and ice cream (my favorite).
  • Yellow foods are ok-for-you-in-moderation foods, such as lean meats, eggs and avocados.
  • Green foods are best-for-you food, such as leafy greens (not Romaine), broth-based soups and brown rice.

Green foods also have low caloric density, which means you can eat fewer calories of these foods and still feel full. Foods with high caloric density, such as almonds, have a lot of calories packed into a smaller space.

Almonds aren’t bad for you, but that trick to eat a handful of almonds when you feel the hanger probably doesn’t work because almonds won’t fill you up.

I’m behind this. Eating a handful of almonds is horrible.

The goal is to eat a well-rounded diet of each of these types of foods: 30 percent green, 45 percent yellow and 25 percent red.

Noom_5

How do you figure out if you get your ratios right? You log your food. Yes, Noom requires you to log everything you eat.

So if you hate food journals, Noom is not for you.

They makes it pretty simple, thought. Logging food is as easy as searching for it in their database. If it’s not there, you can add it. The library also has generic food items like “chicken strips,” “rose wine” and “tomato soup.” While you might not be getting the most exact recording, it’s better than not recording.

Here’s what a typical Noom day looks like:

  • Wake up, weigh in. You have to weigh yourself every day.
  • Eat breakfast, log breakfast.
  • Learn a thing. Noom walks users through a habit-changing tactic or food lesson every day.
  • Eat lunch, log lunch.
  • Get your steps in. Noom will be a pedometer through your phone, but it also connects to Fitbit. Handy (and way more accurate)!
  • Do more. You can add exercise, blood pressure and glucose levels through the app.
  • Eat dinner, log dinner.
  • End the day with a quick quiz about what you’ve learned, and then get ready for the next day.

Noom_1

Pretty easy. (Yes, that’s how much I weigh.)

Throughout the week, a Goal Specialist will help users create and meet the SMART goals for their programs. My Ultimate Goal is to Be Pain Free. Surprise, surprise. Noom also asks for an Ultimate Why. Mine is to play with son without pain.

You’ve never not been able to lift your toddler when he wants to snuggle and feel bad about it until chronic back pain.

Henry-November 2018_39

My Goal Specialist is very energetic, and I almost can’t take her seriously.

Other Noom things:

  • Noom piece-meals information to you because they don’t want to overwhelm you, according to them. I asked my Goal Specialist a bunch of question over the weekend that were answered the very next day in the “lesson.” Oops.
  • It has a recipe library with the green-yellow-red ratios prepared for you. Make the food to the instructions, get your ratio.
  • You can also add custom dishes to the library, which I’ve been wanting in a meal planning app. It’s time-consuming, but it works. (It also looks like you ate one calorie of vegetable stock.)
  • You can save daily tips and tricks to your personal library. Say I wanted to be able to refer to something multiple times, but I didn’t want to go hunting for it through the week, I can add it to my library.
  • Supposedly, there’s some sort of Group you get to be a part of to challenge each other and provide support — like Weight Watchers, I guess — but I haven’t seen it yet.

I completed my first week with Noom, and I nearly don’t hate it. Daily weigh-ins don’t bother me. Logging food is a pain, sure. The Goal Specialist is fine. I didn’t lose any weight, and my ratios were red-heavy.

It’s just… wine is a red food. And that makes me very sad.

I promised myself to try harder my second week. They say it right at the start that they can’t make you eat right or work out. Your job.

The closest thing to Noom I’ve ever tried is having a Beachbody coach, which was all sorts of annoying.

So, why Noom?

I saw an ad for it on Instagram, which is also why I own a pair of dress-pant yoga pants.

I will report back on this program… unless I cancel it.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯