Last week my holiday prep post focussed on tickets, information and immersing myself in learning German and about the places we're off to. I've spoken about getting bike-ready with a few days in Norfolk clocking up some bike miles in readiness for our 224km cycling holiday, but what I didn't mention was something that started much earlier and that was a healthy eating plan.
After a good Christmas, some hibernating in January followed by a sedentary February I knew I wanted to eat more healthily and shift a few kilograms in the process, so when I saw Michelle from Bod for Tea was offering bloggers a chance to try Noom Pro it was just the opportunity I was looking for, so I quickly signed up and downloaded the app.
I'm an iPhone girl and some behind the scenes jiggery-pokery was needed to get my account working for the group of bloggers I was joining, but this was done smoothly and I was quickly setting targets and logging the food I ate. That's always a shock isn't it, in those first few days when you want immediate results to discover just how many calories you're eating?
As well as logging your meals, the app suggests articles for you to read and sets you challenges - all of which are optional, I mean the "try a new vegetable" one wasn't for me. I know what vegetables I like and eat a relatively wide range and I'm still scarred from that kohlrabi that appeared once in my veg box many years ago... Even writing that has made me shudder.
But back to the app. The basic premise is to eat more "green" foods and to limit your "red" foods.
That makes sense and I quickly learnt what was green:
- a cup of tea (result!)
- lots and lots of vegetables
- salads (sans dressing of course)
- tomato-based pasta sauces
And what wasn't:
- sourdough bread, pasta, rice, potatoes (amber)
- avocados, scrambled eggs (amber)
- red wine (amber - double yay!)
- cheese (red)
- butter, cakes, fried food (red)
And while often my days would start well they quickly deteriorated towards the red. Adding vegetables to our evening meals has been a good way to redress the balance but for me my problem meal is lunch. Often I'd just grab some more bread, toast it and have some cheese - nothing green there!
So that's one place where I've worked to improve what I'm eating. Hummus has been a godsend - and it's easy to knock up in a food processor too, and tastes so much better than the supermarket varieties, trust me. And with the warmer weather (err - where's that gone?) my NutriBullet was once again becoming my friend.
Logging food you eat regularly is easy too as by swiping you can add it quickly, and as someone who's an avid lister (for almost everything) this really worked for me. Of course if you choose not to include everything it isn't going to work, but that's part of the commitment you've made to yourself isn't it?
Like many of the fitness and healthy eating apps Noom Pro allocates a daily budget of calories. I thought this might be my undoing as I'm not one for knowing the calories in everything. In fact I know the calories in almost nothing.
But as with most apps it's cleverer than me and has calories programmed in. You can also add food using the easy units too - which is great as I think MOH would have thought I'd lost it if I started weighing food like scrambled eggs!
This is also great if your approach to cooking can be like mine and often it's "a bit of this and that" which sometimes is the only way to go. You can add the foods you create as a custom dish, so if you cooked them again or made some for the freezer it's already stored in the app.
There is a recipe section in the app, but I haven't used this - I've got enough recipe inspiration already without throwing something else into the mix!
As well as recording your weight loss with weekly weigh ins, there's also space to "Do more" and record your activities. So all that cycling has found its way into here too - and on the days I've cycled or done a Pilates class then my calorie budget increases. Now that's encouragement...
The other part of Noom Pro I liked was being part of a group. That worked as we all started using the app at a similar time so were learning together and could ask questions, we could also see how many meals each other had logged that day so there was a small element of peer pressure to keep going.
So did it work?
Well I guess that's what you really want to know...
Yes it has, in the three months or so that I've been using Noom Pro I've lost almost four kilograms. So about a kilo a month, which I'm happy with and feeling much better for.
And while that might not sound a lot - and it probably doesn't qualify me as slimmer of the year - remember a bag of sugar weighs 1kg (or 2.2 lb if you prefer it in old money) and I now weigh almost four bags of sugar less by making some relatively small changes to my diet, which I think is pretty good.
Yes of course there's been days where I haven't logged the food I've eaten, and days where I've ignored it altogether but that's because sometimes life just gets in the way - and that's fine. I still plan to use Noom Pro and I still plan to eat more healthily too, and I think that's a good plan to have.
What I learnt:
- Lunch is my weak meal of the day. It's often only for me and all too easy to grab something quickly, but with some forethought and planning it doesn't have to be that way. While cheese is nice, it shouldn't really be my "go to" food (sobs!)
- It's easier than I thought to eat more vegetables. As many mums will already know, you can pack veggies into all sorts of stews, casseroles and one-pots and get a health boost at the same time. And adding a salad on the side is another easy way to eat some greenery.
- Slow is ok. I'm definitely one who wants instant results, but as I plan to carry on what I've started slow is definitely ok here
What I liked:
- The green-amber-red approach - it was a simple and effective way to retrain my eating habits.
- Easy logging of foods I ate regularly - just a swipe and it was logged.
- Easy units for logging foods - especially as I'm not a calorie nerd and often take the "a bit of this and that" approach to cooking.
- Red wine was amber - my approach was to make small changes to my diet, and my diet includes red wine. It was refreshing that I didn't feel like I was being told off for having a glass or two.
- The support and camaraderie the Noom Group gave.
Where it could improve:
- As a planner and a lister, I'd like to be able to enter my meals in advance so I can make sure the combinations I'm planning aren't going to blow my budget
- As a multi-devicer, I'd like to be able to seamlessly use my iPhone and my iPad to enter that day's meals depending where I was or which was closest to me.
- Include more UK supermarket foods and meals to make the easy logging even more accurate.
Have you used an app to encourage healthy eating? Did it work for you and help you make changes to your diet and lifestyle?
Disclosure: I received access to Noom Pro free of charge as part of a blogger trial, but all words and opinions are my own.