"She stares at it longingly until she hears a voice calling her name"
October 12, 2021 6:17 AM   Subscribe

"[Y]ou’re basically crapping yourself constantly and you lose 5 pounds" “Noom claims that if you can just change your thoughts, you’ll be able to resist the urge to eat certain foods. But that doesn’t acknowledge how human biology works. We are not supposed to try to override our hunger drive. That’s the major nuance that Noom is missing.” (CW: eating disorders)

When diets involve obvious punishment, we question their validity. Very few people do a grapefruit diet or a Master Cleanse without thinking “This is miserable.” But when dieting is presented as a way to understand yourself better, we forget to ask questions. We forget to ask whether losing weight will make us happier or healthier. We forget to wonder whether restriction makes us vulnerable to binge eating or to needing dangerous levels of restriction, as Aidan experienced. And we forget that we’re paying someone to tell us we’re not good enough in the body we have now.
posted by mecran01 (94 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
 
“Simply believe!” the app tells me.

Uh huh.
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:47 AM on October 12 [2 favorites]


I'm embarrassed because I was ready to subscribe. It sounds so good on paper--group support, cognitive behavioral therapy, real science!
posted by mecran01 at 6:50 AM on October 12 [6 favorites]


I lost a bunch of weight on Noom, which I promptly gained back, so I suppose it works in the sense that any diet will work. I was miserable, but as the article shows, I was able to balance that out long enough to get some weight lost. Plus there was exercise and step logging, which I used to push things up to between 1400 and 1500 calories instead of the initial 1200.

But, again, as it says, hunger is not some self-defeating cognitive trap; it's hunger. The program doesn't distinguish between the impulse to have a bit of candy for something sweet and your body asking you for what it needs not to faint. It was written in the same cheerful, condescending way ("elephant," c'mon man) that other diet instructions have been since they left the province of serious, slightly cracked doctors in the 19th century and entered that of women in the 20th. So when I was sick of it, I was done. I hate that tone just so bad, I cannot tell you, and it enters into everything, including group support, where people either ape it or measure themselves earnestly against it.

Still, all in all, I've eaten worse shit sandwiches from the diet industry. At least I was eating something.
posted by Countess Elena at 6:59 AM on October 12 [25 favorites]


It's weird how this kind of thing works because even after reading the article there's a tiny portion of my brain saying "...but it works, right?"
posted by simmering octagon at 7:02 AM on October 12 [24 favorites]


I feel that way every time I read about weight loss, including eating disorders. It's a sickness in the air.

To the extent that it works, the trick is the gamification, and you can do that for free with MyFitnessPal.
posted by Countess Elena at 7:08 AM on October 12 [9 favorites]


Ugh, I hate to say it: but the ads on my IG account almost had me sign up. (Like, I have gotten as far as the website while I'm in the US visiting my mom.)

I am at a plateau with my weight, and I don't really want to lose a large amount, just that stubborn 5-7 pounds nearly everyone frets about. But things like this are so stressful, so dependent on making you feel bad if you don't try hard enough*, that I end up unhappy so I don't. I have enough mental health issues with adding a new one, thanks.

*I do use Lose It!, but I do it to log food, not calories. I know, I know: po-tay-to, po-tah-to.
posted by Kitteh at 7:10 AM on October 12 [2 favorites]


I think I signed up for a trial account with Noom, but ran into the same frustrating problem I've ever had with any food/calorie tracker app or program - they assume that I'm eating prepackaged meals or meals from chain restaurants or brand-name food products instead of cooking my own stuff. Like, if I had a salad at Chipotle for lunch or a DiGiorno personal frozen pizza, or made tacos using an Ortega brand "taco meal kit", I'd just type that in and it would pull up all the calorie and nutritional information right there.

But since I was making my own egg salad sandwich or Tuscan tuna-bean salad on greens, or making corn chowder with a roast chicken leg or a spiced couscous salad with chick peas and chorizo for dinner, suddenly I had to manually enter every last detail ("how many cups of couscous? what was the exact weight of the chorizo? exactly how many chick peas? what was the length of the chicken leg in centimeters? how much salt did you use? how much paprika? what was the species of the tuna?....") for the site to be able to calculate any information for me, and it just got way frustrating because dammit, I downloaded an app so I wouldn't have to look this stuff up... and I would get frustrated and quit.

I think this says something about the assumptions that Noom and other "calorie-counting" or "diet" apps or programs make about their client base.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:19 AM on October 12 [71 favorites]


Eh, as I like to point out to folks getting into strength training that I occasionally interact with, you can't really accurately track calories* so like everything else, it's just a model to help our understanding. All models are wrong, some models are useful.

So if tracking food but not calories works to help you achieve your goals that model is working well enough to be useful to you so it's good enough!

I started off tracking every calorie. Once I got a handle on that and started to lose weight I just tracked the stuff that changed day to day (I ate the same thing for breakfast and lunch every day). These days I just track my bodyweight and BF%. I don't even really track intake any more. Most days it's so consistent that I can just eat "a little more" or "a little less" and that's as close as I need to track it. As long as that keeps working, I'll stick with it. If it stops, I'll start tracking with more detail/accuracy.
posted by VTX at 7:25 AM on October 12 [9 favorites]


A friend used and really enjoyed this system and yeah, they had a VERY slick instagram ad game. When they started, they would have, like, an image of a stick-thin woman doing aerial silks and I could very easily be like LOL whatever that's not for me.

Then, the ads shifted to showing someone who was much closer to my actual appearance, modeling what looked like a moderate, achievable sort of change--just a little more muscular, a little leaner, nothing dramatic. Insidious! And naturally I wonder whether the Insta algorithm was showing them all of the accounts I follow and telling them that the 90lb acrobat was not going to resonate with me.

At the time I was in an unhappy relationship and just an overall Bad Life Place. They appealed because I wasn't trying to lose weight, particularly, I just wanted to stop feeling like crap and being tired all the time, and I wanted to work out more/more effectively. And the thing with Noom was, it's not "Weight Loss," right?

Ultimately, then, when I signed in and the first question on their site was "how much weight do you want to lose and how fast," I got ridiculously angry and I didn't sign up. Fuck 'em!
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 7:42 AM on October 12 [17 favorites]


Slightly tangential, but I so object to the offering of throw-away lines like:
But Noom’s list of “red foods” includes some health food staples, like peanut butter, chia seeds, almonds, full-fat yogurt, cheese, and olive oil.

Yeah, no. There are a lot of problems with the "accepted fact" framing of this list, but in particular, suggesting that any kind of dairy is a health food, let alone a health food staple, is terrible and not remotely accepted fact (though it once was). While it's true we mostly shouldn't label foods as good or bad, dairy is bad. (Try quitting or cutting back for one month. An experiment!)
Ok, back to your Noom thread, wherein we remind ourselves that restrictive eating is not sustainable.
posted by Glinn at 7:45 AM on October 12 [3 favorites]


While it's true we mostly shouldn't label foods as good or bad, dairy is bad.

Your take is absolutely no more reliable than some diet app’s.
posted by sock poppet at 7:51 AM on October 12 [136 favorites]


Two of my best friends signed up for Noom. One lost about 30 lbs (her goal), the other has lost about 75 lbs and is still going. Both think it's amazing and I'm really happy for them! It doesn't sound like there's a whole lot of innovation to it - food tracking (some calorie counting), exercise, etc. There is a built-in support group and coach aspect.

I tried it with a free trial from one of them. I was completely put off by the whole "just believe!" and "you can do it if you just try!!" stuff. I pushed past that and then was frustrated with the tiny, tiny food database. I do most of my own cooking and the Noom recipe builder was not good. I actually used My Fitness Pal to calculate my food stuff and then put it into Noom, which took forever. The kicker was the personal coach. I started receiving messages from her and almost immediately suspected that she was...not a real person. Her responses seemed cut-and-paste and I felt like I was talking to an algorithm. I responded a few times but just couldn't do it. My trial was over and I was done!

I do look at my two friends who are super happy with Noom and I'm kind of jealous. I'm sure that Noom has been a useful tool, but honestly I think their success is more due to them being ready and able to tackle their goals head-on. So, as with anything that requires human inputs, YMMV.
posted by Gray Duck at 7:53 AM on October 12 [3 favorites]


(Try quitting or cutting back for one month. An experiment!)

[surveys the 9 different cheese varieties currently in the kitchen]

Well I guess my love of science has its limits after all.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 7:53 AM on October 12 [85 favorites]


But, again, as it says, hunger is not some self-defeating cognitive trap; it's hunger.

What if I'm not eating because I'm hungry?
posted by biffa at 7:56 AM on October 12 [4 favorites]


My spouse used Noom with pretty good results, only stopping for unrelated health reasons that made dieting not advisable. The step logging seemed critical to ultimately getting to a reasonable calorie goal, though I don't think actually meeting the goal was as big of a deal as the effort around meal planning -- ultimately, I think the biggest long-term impact of the program was getting a better handle on what a "reasonable" portion size for a lot of foods actually is.
posted by AndrewInDC at 8:08 AM on October 12 [1 favorite]


I tried Noom, and I did indeed lose weight. And, I promptly put the weight back on when I quit. My short take: the app's weight tracking, food tracking, and step tracking are helpful -- and these parts are free on their app, even if you haven't subscribed. (Though, they probably aren't anything different than myriad other free diet apps.) The features of the subscription (daily lessons, "coaching," and the group chats) all wore thin for me very quickly. The lessons were interesting at first, but grating over time, especially in tone. At least half of the coaching seemed to be done by AI bots. The group chats were exactly as you find in any diet message board on any platform. So, it worked for a few months for me, but in the end, it felt like any other diet system that left me thinking way too much about food. Then again, I'm quite cynical about the whole diet world. I'm still about 20 lbs over my healthy weight, but I'm not convinced that the mental health tradeoffs are worth what it takes to drop the pounds.
posted by hessie at 8:09 AM on October 12 [1 favorite]


I tried it briefly but am not a cheery person and cheeriness puts me on edge. It came to feel like being pestered constantly and stressed me out.

Lately I'm coming to feel that unless I want to get weight loss surgery, being much thinner than I am is a doomed enterprise. I am trying to accept this and thinking about doing some weight training with a focus on just being stronger, no dieting or weight loss goals.

And that would be fine except that it also seems likely to mean I am going to stay single from here on out. Reports from the dating front by other straight fat women are extremely discouraging.
posted by emjaybee at 8:15 AM on October 12 [13 favorites]


I came to the conclusion that Noom was toxic after I heard an ad for them on David Tennant Does a Podcast With. Read by David Tennant. If you're telling me that David Tennant needs to lose weight, you can go pound sand.
posted by The Ardship of Cambry at 8:16 AM on October 12 [8 favorites]


“They put you on 1,200 calories a day and tell you to eat mostly vegetables,” Sarah MacDonald, a 31-year-old swimming coach in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, who began using Noom in 2014. “So, you’re basically shitting yourself constantly and you lose 5 pounds in the first two weeks.”

OK I do have to admit that it catches me off guard how frequently I hear from people that they can't/don't eat vegetables because it makes them shit themselves? That's...that's not how it's supposed to work, my dudes...you gotta go see a doctor about that.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 8:16 AM on October 12 [42 favorites]


(Try quitting or cutting back for one month. An experiment!)

Everyone is different. I did the Atkin's diet for a month, following the instructions to the letter. It claimed I'd lose weight at a certain rate, my carb cravings would go away, I'd feel so much better, etc. etc.

It was as if I had done nothing, except I lost maybe a pound or two over that month. My cravings were no different. I felt neither better nor worse. Yet other people have said it worked wonders.

The problem is, by definition, a "diet" means that you are going to lose weight, which means, by definition, that you take in fewer calories than your body requires. Which means, by definition, that you will be hungry. There's no getting around that. And yet there's a billion dollar industry devoted to convincing you that this is not the case. We humans are so gullible.
posted by Melismata at 8:17 AM on October 12 [6 favorites]


OK I do have to admit that it catches me off guard how frequently I hear from people that they can't/don't eat vegetables because it makes them shit themselves? That's...that's not how it's supposed to work, my dudes...you gotta go see a doctor about that.

If they usually have little to no fiber in their diet, and all of a sudden they're eating a ton of vegetables, then yeah, it can have that effect. You have to kind of ease into it.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:28 AM on October 12 [10 favorites]


I know nothing about Noom, but this piece seems to be more an attack on the concept of dieting in general rather than anything specific to Noom. Which, sure, that's an article you can write — and there is lots of valid criticism to make. But all the hand wringing about "dangerous" caloric restriction and overriding our hunger drive (yes, dieting is essentially starving yourself a little) and losing five pounds in the first two weeks (this is called water weight, it's a well known thing), and eating too many vegetables, makes it hard to take this seriously.
posted by ssg at 8:31 AM on October 12 [9 favorites]


I find it kind of fascinating that there is one brief mention at the beginning of this article about how Noom "launched in 2008 as a scrappy exercise-tracking and calorie-counting app" and yet there is next to no mention of exercise anywhere else in the story. Just dieting.

And, like, maybe it's different when you are well into Clinically Obese territory, I've never been anywhere near there, but my experience sure is that "burning more calories" results in a lot more weight loss and general fitness than "starving yourself", and that I do a lot better at losing weight when I "change my thoughts" so that exercise is a thing I do regularly and kind of enjoy.
posted by egypturnash at 8:33 AM on October 12 [4 favorites]


A tangent about using calorie tracking apps when you cook your own food: I estimate. If I've made a stew, I try to find something in the list which contains more or less the same main ingredients (e.g. chicken + cream + mushrooms or pork + cabbage or bacon + beans). I try to get the high-calorie components right, but I don't count every vegetable (because vegetables are mostly small change). Is this perfectly accurate? No. Is it good enough? Seems to be.

I also often eat the same thing many times in a row (or at least alternate between a limited selection of things), so I try to assemble a portion that's the same size every time. Then I just copy and paste a bunch of previous entries, and maybe edit one item that varies or is hard to measure up-front. If I know that I'm going to eat 6 sausages or 6 tortillas, I'll weigh all 6 and take the average, and use that every time instead of tracking the individual mass of each sausage. This is how I use the app about 90% of the time.

Scale tricks: sometimes it's easier to zero the scale with a full container on top, and measure how much of the contents you removed. And sometimes you can figure out how much the contents of a container weigh by zeroing the scale using an identical empty container.

(Paradoxically I've had a much better experience using Cronometer, which has a much smaller but more carefully curated food database, than I had with apps which have much larger databases because they allow data entry by users. This is because most users don't understand how units work and/or can't do basic maths, so those databases rapidly fill up with garbage, so you can't actually trust any of the data, which defeats the object of looking it up in a database. I've seen competing entries for the same item which are orders of magnitude apart! Now I may have a smaller selection, and I may pick something which is a bad match, but at least I know that I'm going to get values that make some kind of sense.)
posted by confluency at 8:36 AM on October 12 [3 favorites]


If they usually have little to no fiber in their diet, and all of a sudden they're eating a ton of vegetables, then yeah, it can have that effect. You have to kind of ease into it.

I think that's the part that is so wild to me. I tend to think that I eat like a toddler who was given a credit card (see 9 cheeses, above), but I nonetheless eat probably 2-3 cups of fruits and vegetables per day. So when I find out that someone has literally eaten so few fruits or vegetables in their day-to-day that their body can no longer tolerate any of them it is like the abyss opens up. We are so, so, so bad at living.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 8:38 AM on October 12 [25 favorites]


It would be a better world if everyone had to shit themselves once a week, anyway.
posted by thelonius at 8:43 AM on October 12 [4 favorites]


(Also I want to emphasize that when I say we're bad at living, I'm not blaming the people whose access to or education about nutrition is lacking. I am more talking about just how many layers of systems and people have failed someone, when eating a salad throws their entire gut biome into chaos.)
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 8:46 AM on October 12 [5 favorites]


Confluency - I've found an even easier way to do things is to simply not use any of the calorie/meal apps at all.

(I kid, I kid.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:02 AM on October 12 [2 favorites]


What if I'm not eating because I'm hungry?

If you're an adult eating 1200 calories a day and (a) otherwise healthy and (b) not popping pills, you're going to be hungry most of the time.

I pretty much operate on the presumption that any company trying to sell weight loss to me is not an entity I want to invite into my life.
posted by praemunire at 9:17 AM on October 12 [13 favorites]


But Noom’s list of “red foods” includes some health food staples, like peanut butter, chia seeds, almonds, full-fat yogurt, cheese, and olive oil.

So just for explanation for those not familiar with the model: Noom classifies foods as green, yellow, or red, based mainly on caloric density (calories per serving / grams or mL). A large part of the program is getting people to think about focusing on foods with lower caloric density that will make you feel fuller, longer. (Grapes vs raisins are a frequent example in the program.)

For solid foods, green are foods with CD < 1.0, yellow 1.0 - 2.4, and red 2.4 or higher.

Beverages, soups, sauces, spreads: Green < 0.4, yellow 0.4 - 0.5, red 0.5 or higher.

Exceptions are made for non-fat dairy (green), low fat dairy (yellow) and full fat dairy (red). Alcoholic beverages are at least yellow. And whole wheat or whole grain foods are bumped down a color.

I don't know if the recommendations are the same for everyone, but in my case, it recommends I eat about 45% of my calories in yellow foods, 25% in red, and the rest in green.

I'm two months into the program this week, and down about 28 lbs. It's not rocket science - it's food tracking, exercise tracking, mindfulness, and volumetrics. But unlike past efforts - WW, or rolling my own on MFP - this actually has me thinking differently about what I eat, not simply thinking about foods that I can or cannot eat. I'm also going to bed every night feeling full, and still losing weight in the process.

I think most of us - regardless of health level, or weight, or anything else - would benefit from rethinking our relationship with food, and what we eat, and how we consume it. I've appreciated Noom because it's teaching me to do that. It won't be right for others, and that's okay, too.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 9:26 AM on October 12 [11 favorites]


But, again, as it says, hunger is not some self-defeating cognitive trap; it's hunger.

It is for me, a binge eater whose body sends out false hunger signals all day long. But an app or typical dieting plan can't help me with that - only therapy (real therapy, not digitized CBT) and self-compassion bring me relief.
posted by Stoof at 9:28 AM on October 12 [6 favorites]


So I lost 25 pounds using Noom this spring, and have kept it off so far. My read on this is that both the pro and anti views are trying to make Noom into more of a thing than it is.

Noom is very straightforward about the model of dieting it uses, which is this: you lose weight when you expend more calories than you consume, and you will do this by tracking your calories and trying to keep your daily intake below a certain amount. This will be easier for you to do if you eat foods that make your stomach physically full while not containing too many calories. (The underlying assumption is that your basal rate of calorie expenditure is relatively constant on a weeks-to-months timescale. I have done a lot of reading that suggests calories don't really work like this, but for me, it seems to work!)

Noom then provides three tools to help you:
  • An app for tracking calorie intake, exercise, and weight. I found this really useful and still use it to this day (which you can do for free).
  • A bunch of (automated) classes that tries to use psychology to teach you to eat fewer calories. These were helpful at the beginning for me -- in particular they helped me adjust my habits and avoid snacking out of boredom, which is a big challenge for me -- but got progressively less useful and more self-help-y over time.
  • An accountability group and a coach to keep you on track. I found this basically useless for me.
One thing that I think is super important is treating these tools as things that you can use, or not, rather than a Magic Formula For Changing Your Life.

For instance. I am seeing a lot of people saying things like, "Noom was telling me to eat 1200 calories, which made me feel terrible." Noom has settings in the app to adjust your base calorie target (which they tell you about in the classes) -- pick one that works for you. The way they pick the initial targets is super dumb, AFAICT it's "1400 for men, 1200 for women", and they're not transparent about this at all.

Or: Noom tells you how many red, yellow, and green foods to target on a given day. But I find this a bit silly because these categories don't compose well -- broccoli is green, oil is red, broccoli sauteed in oil is...something, depends how much oil you use I guess? So I just totally ignored the red/yellow/green thing and just targeted a calorie level, bearing in mind some of the tips Noom gave to make filling meals with fewer calories.

Or: Noom really wants you to post in your accountability group during the classes. I just...didn't!

Ultimately, for me, I learned a lot about what and how I eat by counting my calories, which changed how I eat and how I cook for the better, and Noom's tools were instrumental for this. I still weigh myself every morning and still count my calories when I notice my weight trending up. But I 100% don't think this will work for everyone, and, again, I didn't follow all of Noom's advice in order to do this. But the tools can be useful!
posted by goingonit at 9:28 AM on October 12 [6 favorites]


I gotta say this is a poorly researched and written take down of Noom. The criticisms were more of diets and dieting as a whole and not of Noom specifically. Also, eating a lot of vegetables is generally a Good Thing, and if you have uncontrollable diarrhea as a result, that is likely A Problem.

I was on Noom for a few months and lost a good chunk of weight before I unsubscribed. I have managed to keep the weight off but rate of loss has slowed down significantly. If the writer had done a modicum of research, they may have written about:

- widely variable pricing for the same program, ranging from $60 to $8 /month depending on how the subscriber signs up
- poor app quality, wide variance between android and ios platforms, with the latter being of materially higher quality. Buggy.
- internally inconsistent food db, with the same foods labeled red, yellow, and green under different names
- poor ux: the app urges you to take a screenshot of lessons and your own reflections instead of having a proper way to review these after the fact. Unintuitive and difficult to use controls in food entry.
- widely variable quality in readings
- wide variation in coaching quality
- poor content related to exercise

They did hit on the fact (but did not really dig into it) that the calorie budget is usually unreasonably low, which does encourage users to exercise more to up their budget, which to be fair, is an important part of sustaining weight loss.

Where the program does succeed is:
- teaching users to be mindful of caloric density and portion size
- teaching users to be more aware of how their mental state affects their caloric intake
- teaching users of the changes their bodies go through as they lose weight
- teaching users to accept setbacks gracefully and keep going
- teaching users how to plan for things like vacations and special occasions

Overall I would recommend the program to anyone who is looking to lose weight and has the money to spend. The overall approach is called volumetrics or volume eating and was not invented by Noom; if you are willing to do the research and put in the structure yourself, you can learn the same approach by googling those terms and looking up the associated books and web sites. What you would be losing out on is some of the mindfulness-based content.
posted by sid at 9:31 AM on October 12 [5 favorites]


I invested in a certified fitness trainer/nutrition coach two months ago. The first thing she did was re-educate me about calories and metabolism. 1200 calories is too low for an adult to get all their nutrients. Even 1400 is too low. For years I had thought I was judiciously eating healthily by keeping my calorie count as low as possible without fainting "because I'm so short and endomorphic." My coach is the same height I am, was once overweight, and eats about 2000-2500 calories per day because she has increased her metabolic rate through building muscle and handling hormonal stress. She works with women all over the world. AFAIK, no one in her program is seeing their scale weight decrease, but we are all building muscle and increasing our caloric expenditure. She's been through the starving-to-be-skinny thing herself too, and is adamant that her clients get all their nutrients and don't overdo the workouts. She doesn't even recommend cardio as it catabolizes muscle. We're all on a 3 or 4-day weightlifting schedule individualized for each person. If you would have told me a year ago that I, at 54 and 5 feet tall, could eat more than 1800 calories a day and look toned without exercising 24-7, I would have laughed in your face. I'm never hungry anymore and there's room for the occasional treat and I'm not obsessed with food or afraid of it anymore. And I look stronger, and most importantly I love being strong and feeling healthy and energetic. My coach is also all about accepting your own body build even if you don't look like a supermodel and the process of working with her has helped my body dysmorphia more than 20 years of therapy. The ideas that Noom and other diet apps promote are toxic and dangerous and I am not surprised that Noom gave Aidan an eating disorder. I've come to believe diet culture itself is an eating disorder, and there's so much misinformation out there that's keeping people miserable and unhealthy. Unfortunately, I've come across coaches who are the same way. Science has proven over and over that a person's weight is so much more complex than "calories in, calories out." And of course, those who promote severe calorie restriction as their main way of raking in the bucks can count on return customers because it never works.
posted by Beethoven's Sith at 10:04 AM on October 12 [49 favorites]


I will say, their advertising is *relentless*. In a moment of "eh, why not" I tried their survey thing & didn't follow through (because I'm getting better at holding to a rule of giving anything material like that an overnight wait at the least), and since then it's been a barrage of "Free for 7 days! Wait, 80% off! Wait, this trainer person is sad you didn't join! How about 60% off, time-limited?"

I understand how the calorically-dense sausage is made, but boy is it off-putting to see.
Thanks for the FPP & comments, it's really helped clarify "no, there's no secret sauce there, I can go back to my general understanding of weight loss & the difficulties therein".

It'd be nice if all this didn't still manage to have its hooks in my brain, but that's what a whole industry & societal pressure will do.
posted by CrystalDave at 10:21 AM on October 12 [6 favorites]


I kinda swore to myself after the past few diet threads that I'd stay off the topic a while--there's only so many times you can say the same opinion, right?--except omg, the whole idea of folding crappy old CBT into a diet app makes my skin crawl. I just can't express this thought strongly enough, that just because CBT is an easily-marketable commodity with its one-size-fits-all approach to mental illness, and just because it seems to work better than some of absolutely abysmal therapy techniques out there, it is somehow good and effective just blows my fucking mind.

Your conscious mind is not the part of you that is inspiring the hunger. All this is happening at a level down below your thoughts, down below where there can be any conscious "cognitive distortions" can be thought through. There's no worksheet, no clickable web form, no app, that's going to touch that part of your brain. The whole problem with dieting (and therapy!) is we have no idea what touches the unconscious (other than, say, horrible trauma...that seems to do a pretty good job).

So adding a CBT approach to a diet app is just...marketing. It doesn't get down to the root of things. The idea of making it even cheaper by using AI to 'talk' to you is so illustrative of the problem with this approach.

And that's not to take anything away from the folks who have used the app successfully! That's great news, because dieting is pretty fucking bleak and we take our successes where we find them. But the quicker we leave this era of pretty apps cashing in while pretending to know our inner minds, the happier I'll be.
posted by mittens at 10:24 AM on October 12 [13 favorites]


The idea of making it even cheaper by using AI to 'talk' to you is so illustrative of the problem with this approach.

FWIW there's no AI in Noom. There are live coaches, some of whom are so reliant on canned responses that they seem like bots.
posted by sid at 10:31 AM on October 12 [3 favorites]


For anyone looking to track food in a way that is pretty different from Noom or Myfitnesspal or whatever - can I recommend ate?

It's a "mindful eating" app - basically, when you eat something, you take a quick photo of your meals and indicate whether it's "on track" or "off track" (you define what that means for you). 20 minutes after you eat, it sends you a notification to fill out a little survey where you indicate why you were eating, how you feel after eating it, etc. The app itself doesn't give you any moralistic judgments on your food - in fact, other than the picture or any notes you make, it has zero idea what you even ate - but it does give you a framework for tracking that for yourself. I use it on and off and I find it helpful for addressing the behaviors I want to change (e.g. more veggies, more fiber, less processed food, less snacking when I'm not even hungry) and getting feedback on how that food is making me feel without getting obsessive about it.
posted by mosst at 10:31 AM on October 12 [12 favorites]


(And I should add - I definitely don't think that that app, or food tracking at all, is for everyone! Far from it! I only offer it as a humble suggestion for folks who may be looking for such a thing, perhaps as an alternative to traditional diet-monitoring tools, already.)
posted by mosst at 10:42 AM on October 12 [4 favorites]


Signing up for a trial at Noom:

-Hey there! Thanks for clicking on that ad for a free 14 day trial. Let us tell you about our less than $1 for 7 days trial.
-We care about you and your goals! Let's dig in. Here are some gentle probing questions that treat you with respect and curiosity.
-Thanks! We're going to come up with a plan that is special for YOU, friend!
-You're gonna need to give us your email to see that, though. Cool?
-We made a nice chart of how well this can go! It's gonna go so great!
-More questions, these ones are less about getting to know you and more about priming your mindset.
-Aw man, that chart is looking DOPE!
-[Building plan]
-More questions it feels like we already covered or that are more about other purchases than your health. But hey: sunken costs, right? YOU'RE IN TOO DEEP NOW.
-Do you wanna buy a fancy scale? Like, it's SUPER COOL. Trust us, you need this.
-We know you're here for a free $1 trial and you already bought a scale, but like how much would you spend?
-More lifestyle questions. Breadcrumbing you in, like it or not.
-Progress bar to make it feel like you're getting close!!!!
-Here
-Comes
-Your
-Plan
-LOOK AT THIS CHART AGAIN!
-WE GUARANTEE IT!
-Hey, I know we said this was less than $1 to try, but we have to pay our employees like $18.37 to do this. You can still have your trial for less than $1, if you're like a piece of shit or whatever, but maybe you should give us $18.37.
-DOPE, THANKS
-OK, your 7 day plan (which we will show you later) is $18.37
-I realize you haven't seen it yet, but do you want to buy a whole year of this mystery plan? We'll give you a discount. (Weirdly: it lines up with what you said you could afford!)
-Give us your credit card.
-You wanna make sure you eat right for this, right? That's the whole point. That's another $120.
-Dope, thanks.
-Gonna exercise? You'll need some help with that right? That's another $120.
-Hey, you're gonna exercise right? You'll need some advice. That's another $120.
-What even is your plan if it didn't have meal guidance or exercise advice? Did you see how fucking dope that chart was or not, pal?
-Cool, so your balance is like $500.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:43 AM on October 12 [39 favorites]


1200 calories is too low for an adult to get all their nutrients. Even 1400 is too low.

I see this a lot, but where is the evidence for this claim? As far as I know, it's entirely possible to get enough nutrients from 1200 calories of food. You definitely will not get enough if you take a typical American diet and halve it, but I don't think that's what anyone is suggesting.
posted by ssg at 11:01 AM on October 12 [3 favorites]


I would compare the process of filling out the questionnaire for a Noom plan to breezily discussing your ideal vacation with a staff member at a hotel near a beach in Mexico, only to realize this is not "pre-lunch apps and cocktails" it's a fucking timeshare meeting. It starts off so chill, so respectful, then digs in, digs in further, tries to activate your sunken cost fears, then turns full-on greasy market-y bullshit at the end in a way that makes you feel foolish and ashamed of yourself for not having smelt it coming.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:02 AM on October 12 [18 favorites]


DirtyOldTown, this is not just Noom. Or diet plans either for that matter.
posted by Melismata at 11:03 AM on October 12


The problem that I seem to have with any diet is that the Mindfulness phase--in which I seem to be losing weight primarily because I'm paying attention to what I eat--is inevitably followed by the Gaming the System phase.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:12 AM on October 12 [16 favorites]


I went to noom.com to try to learn more. I can't get any information without filling out a survey first. The "Learn More" button literally links to the survey/sales funnel rather than to any information. I thought maybe DirtyOldTown was exaggerating about their greasiness but nope, it feels sketchy.
posted by mrgoldenbrown at 11:27 AM on October 12 [5 favorites]


I signed up a couple of months ago but immediately canceled the same day.

I lost significant weight in my 20s, stuck to 1200 calories a day for months on end, fell asleep hungry. It's work, and it's real. It's a hugely emotional thing. A lot of it depends on suffering and motivation, sure. But a lot more depends on circumstance -- at the time, I was single, healthy, living alone, had a stress-free barely 9-5 job at a failing dotcom, with funds and access to nutritious food and a safe city to walk miles in. That's not a typical alignment of the stars. Noom can't replicate circumstance.

DirtyOldTown's example of the program content is pretty consistent with the whole tone of Noom. I got two videos in on day one and it felt so chirpy and patronizing. Maybe the developers of the program are overdoing it to make up for the fact that so few of us have the optimal circumstances to be successful. But to take a process that's so personal, to acknowledge an issue so wrought with stigma, and then address it with a kind of casual condescension from the getgo... There was no way it was going to work for me. I'm glad it works for others.

I can say that the customer service was really good and I was given a full refund.
posted by mochapickle at 11:30 AM on October 12 [6 favorites]


You want to talk coming on too strong? Noom is the e-biz equivalent of the boy you agree to go to a midnight movie with during your a.m. English class who shows up at your dorm after lunch with three poems he has written for you.

(While the wording is obviously full of snark and jokes, I absolutely promise that the beats and steps in my bulleted list above are spot-on accurate.)
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:39 AM on October 12 [11 favorites]


If anything, I left out a bunch of creepy shit, like the number of times they say some variation of "Your answers are SO GOOD! We think you're gonna do better than other people. We just made your chart show even better, faster weight loss, because that's how cool you seem!"

Also, like mochapickle, the initial experience was so over the top creepy, I immediately asked for a refund. The customer service staff seemed accustomed to this and cheerfully returned the charges.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:51 AM on October 12 [13 favorites]


I will say, their advertising is *relentless*.

I'll say, I saw an ad for them within about 0.5seconds of leaving this thread earlier today.
posted by biffa at 12:41 PM on October 12 [3 favorites]


I tried it and learned that I am not a dieter. I just got extremely annoyed and didn’t lose weight. When I went back to eating what I want while also trying to save money on groceries, I lost weight. Apparently my desire retire early surpasses my desire to overeat.
posted by HotToddy at 12:58 PM on October 12 [2 favorites]


I find it interesting no one mentioned how Aiden, the first person in the story, is transgender (use of they pronoun). I wanted to know how going through a gender transition affects dieting and weight loss, something I am clueless about. Does it make you more susceptible to diet rhetoric? The fact Aiden also had to get breast surgery (lumpectomy) while transitioning had to have had an affect as well.
posted by greatalleycat at 2:08 PM on October 12 [1 favorite]


The only time I've ever seen ads for Noom was during a thru-hike this last summer. Maybe it was because I was talking about calories and [pack] weight? Though I was trying to maximize calories, so maybe I was the wrong target. Anyway, if you ever want to lose weight while going on a diet where you drastically *increase* your calories, give long distance hiking a try! (Just kidding, that's maybe not a good reason to do it. Generally people gain the weight back at the end, and it doesn't improve eating habits. On the other hand, a few weeks in, I had an interesting mental flip where I stopped seeing calories as the enemy, which may have permanently improved my relationship to food)

Re: exercise, I thought there were studies that showed that moderate exercise didn't keep weight off, in the long term? For me exercise is about fitness, yes, but more importantly, if I exercise regularly I feel better about whatever size I am.
posted by surlyben at 2:16 PM on October 12 [4 favorites]


What if I'm not eating because I'm hungry?

I think that's one of the points the article is trying to make, although maybe not very strongly.

From somewhere in the middle:

"What sets Noom apart from every other food tracking app and calorie-counting diet is its use of psychology. Or its frequent invoking of psychology, at any rate. In a recent ad called “Miranda’s Mind,” a woman is enjoying herself in a crowded restaurant until a bowl of pasta arrives. She stares at it longingly until she hears a voice calling her name and is transported inside her own brain. “This is where we learn how to eat!” a slicker, pantsuit-wearing Miranda tells pasta-craving Miranda. “And Noom knows that weight loss starts right here — using psychology.”

Specifically, the app talks a lot about cognitive behavioral therapy. CBT, as it’s commonly known, is a technique used by psychologists to improve patients’ mental well-being by changing their behaviors, which in turn help them modify negative or intrusive thought patterns. Noom presents its version of CBT in daily lessons that users are supposed to read and incorporate into their goal-setting work; many of those lessons revolve around the message that your body’s hunger signals are the “intrusive thoughts” you need to reframe or ignore."

So, y'know, Noom at least strongly suggests that this is A Thing that their program addresses, which makes it all the more disturbing when it turns out that Noom is mostly just another food tracking/calorie counting app.
posted by soundguy99 at 3:14 PM on October 12 [2 favorites]


dairy is bad. (Try quitting or cutting back for one month.

This process is so irresistible:

1. I did X.
2. Y happened.
3. X definitely caused Y. I tried it more than once!
4. Someone on the internet agrees!
5. Doubtless X always causes Y for everyone in all circumstances.
6. "Do you X? Lots of people studying this stuff and saying contradictory things about a complicated subject, but one thing we know is X causes Y. Everyone should at least try that."
posted by straight at 3:24 PM on October 12 [24 favorites]


The article irritated me because obviously Noom is a diet app, I mean, until a couple of days ago I thought they sold internet pillows, but then I failed to fast forward through an ad. The problem with Noom is the same problem all diets have and how is this news? I would be much more interested in a takedown of BetterHelp because they seem shady, I don't know anyone who has had a good experience with them, and their ads are on every podcast with a large female audience.

Okay, so Noom does straight up lie and say "stop dieting" like they're not a diet, but so does every diet out there now, everything is wellness, and even back in the day my aunt fed me Herbalife saying it wasn't a diet. "It's not a diet, it's better than a diet because diets don't work." Are there any Noom users who think that all of that calorie counting and movement tracking is somehow not a diet? Maybe a young person who has never tried to lose weight before?

Honestly, this article made me mildly interested in trying Noom, like a spite download, but I leave work every day wanting to cry, so I really don't have any energy or mental space for diet lessons from an AI right now.
posted by betweenthebars at 3:26 PM on October 12 [4 favorites]


I am here for the internet diet pillows btw.
posted by mittens at 3:46 PM on October 12 [2 favorites]


Re: exercise, I thought there were studies that showed that moderate exercise didn't keep weight off, in the long term?

Weight loss maintenance data in the long term is grim along all kinds of methods. If I recall correctly (at work, can't do a deep dive) it is less that exercise can't promote or aid in weight loss, it's just that for the most part, people do not exercise sufficiently, or with sufficient intensity, to balance out all of the other factors at work--in particular, the increased hunger that follows high activity levels.

Purely personally I find that I cannot maintain my current weight without regular, serious exercise. My armchair theory is that my eating/hunger set-point happens to be roughly at, or sometimes juuuuust above, what my body "needs"? So it doesn't take HEROIC, professional amounts of exercise to keep in one place--but it's still many hours per week, and still an amount that many people in my life find far too burdensome. I am merely lucky to have a metabolism that works this way. It certainly isn't due to anything I did or anything I could offer to another individual as advice.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 4:13 PM on October 12 [3 favorites]


>> From somewhere in the middle: "What sets Noom apart from every other food tracking app and calorie-counting diet is its use of psychology. Or its frequent invoking of psychology, at any rate. In a recent ad called “Miranda’s Mind,” a woman is enjoying herself in a crowded restaurant until a bowl of pasta arrives. She stares at it longingly until she hears a voice calling her name and is transported inside her own brain. “This is where we learn how to eat!” a slicker, pantsuit-wearing Miranda tells pasta-craving Miranda. “And Noom knows that weight loss starts right here — using psychology.” [...] many of those lessons revolve around the message that your body’s hunger signals are the “intrusive thoughts” you need to reframe or ignore."

> So, y'know, Noom at least strongly suggests that this is A Thing that their program addresses, which makes it all the more disturbing when it turns out that Noom is mostly just another food tracking/calorie counting app.


This is a frustrating criticism from the article. The Noom lessons on eating out with groups in restaurants isn't at all about ignoring hunger signals, or that your hunger signals are intrusive thoughts that you need to reframe or ignore. It's the exact opposite: The lessons in that section are about listening to your own hunger signals, deciding what you want to order based on your hunger, not the thoughts and suggestions from others you are eating with, not eating a sharable app just because someone else wanted to order it, etc. It's intuitive eating at its core.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 5:25 PM on October 12 [2 favorites]


I got served a bunch of these ads a year or two back, and I had probably the same reaction everyone else did: a momentary thought of "huh, looks like CBT-inspired calorie-tracking... wonder if it's any good."

Then I thought about it for a second, and realized that this app is the intersecting part of the Venn diagram between perky young Silicon Valley product managers pushing manic color schemes and gamification, engineers convinced they can reduce a millenia-old problem to a simple data model, and people who have Some Interesting Ideas About What's Wrong With Fat People, and I noped out of there so fast I nearly sprained a thumb.
posted by Mayor West at 8:05 PM on October 12 [5 favorites]


My cardiologist recommended Noom after I had a heart attack, said it was one of very few ways he had seen people successfully change eating habits. Didn't really work for me but most of the criticisms in this article are pretty inane; It's not "hunger" that's pushing people to eat potato chips instead of baked potatoes, and lots of perfectly normal behaviors are taken to extremes by people with mental illnesses and become unhealthy - that doesn't mean the act of tracking food is causing eating disorders.
posted by bashing rocks together at 10:05 PM on October 12 [2 favorites]


I'm looking for a diet that works for GERD and psoriasis, and acts like FODMAP, so I can get rid of my unpredictable bowel responses AND lose weight. I don't think there's anything out there, and certainly nothing to help with my pitiful executive function.
posted by b33j at 1:49 AM on October 13 [1 favorite]


While it's true we mostly shouldn't label foods as good or bad, dairy is bad.

Everything is bad for somebody. Dairy's always been fine for me.

As for losing weight via psychology: that's what I'm currently in the process of doing, and so far it's working. Then again, I've only been at it for two months and pretty much anything will work for that long.

I have yet to find out whether what I'm doing now is something I can sustain for the rest of my life. So far it's looking promising; then again, everything I've ever tried before has looked promising two months in.

For what it's worth, the rules I'm currently working with are these:

1. Every day I'm either in free phase (body mass presumed to be heading up) or controlled phase (body mass presumed to be heading down).

2. In free phase, every day is an eating day. On eating days, there are no restrictions whatsoever: I just eat as much as I want, of whatever I want, whenever I want. In controlled phase, some days are eating days but most are fasting days. Fasting days are hardcore: the only thing I consume on fasting days is water and maybe a vitamin C pill if I remember.

3. First thing every day, right after rising and going to the toilet, is standing naked on the scales.

4. If yesterday was free phase, then if the number on the scales is below the current ceiling then I stay in free phase today. Otherwise I switch to controlled phase and today is a fasting day.

5. If yesterday was controlled phase, then if the number on the scales is above the current floor then I stay in controlled phase, and today is an eating day if and only if the previous three days have been fasting days. If the number on the scales is at or below floor then I switch to free phase, today is an eating day, the floor ratchets down by 1kg, and a new ceiling is set 3kg above the new floor.

I kicked the whole thing off in mid-August with a 7-day water fast from a starting body mass of 166kg. Today is the first day of a free phase, with a starting body mass of 147.9kg being just below yesterday's floor of 148; so I'm currently heading up toward a ceiling of 150 and the next floor will be 147.

Assuming I can indeed stick this out, then once the ceiling has dropped to 95kg I will stop ratcheting down the floor when switching from controlled phase to free phase; the rest of the process will remain the same, which will hopefully get me to the lifelong body mass control I've been chasing for the last fifty years.

The pure psychology aspect comes in on fasting days, where I've been concentrating on just sitting with the sensations that go along with my body telling me that it's running on empty and teaching myself to be OK with those instead of automatically classifying them as a form of suffering. And the reason I'm still optimistic about the chances of this scheme remaining indefinitely sustainable is that this appears to be working. I'm actually getting used to the pangs and the third-day taste of starving mouth, the regular three-day fasts are becoming just a Thing That Is, and I'm pretty sure I am capable of just living this way if that's what it's going to take to get and stay lean again.

It's certainly a shitload easier than obsessively counting and cataloguing and logging every little thing that goes in my mouth, and the floor/ceiling ratchet is way easier to keep track of than my previous attempts at imposing closed-loop control via spreadsheets and charting. It should also be more robust in the face of socially-obligated eating days that fall inside controlled phase, which is how the previous closed-loop attempt went west.

The lessons in that section are about listening to your own hunger signals, deciding what you want to order based on your hunger, not the thoughts and suggestions from others you are eating with, not eating a sharable app just because someone else wanted to order it, etc. It's intuitive eating at its core.

If there's one thing I can be absolutely sure of after nearly sixty years of tending inexorably toward morbid obesity, it is this: intuitive eating does not work for those of us whose hormonal appetite control mechanisms are dysregulated, and suggesting that all we need to do is learn how to read our own hunger signals properly is ignorant, rude and cruel.

With the aid of sibutramine (now discontinued) I have experienced what it is like to be a person for whom intuitive eating is completely satisfactory. It's fucking wonderful, and in the fullness of time I will certainly be experimenting with semaglutide to see if I can get the same thing going at lower risk. But until then, people who suggest to me that all I need to do is "learn to recognize when I'm actually, genuinely hungry" will be politely invited to fuck the fuck right the fuck off until they've fucking found a fucking clue.
posted by flabdablet at 2:15 AM on October 13 [3 favorites]


wanted to know how going through a gender transition affects dieting and weight loss, something I am clueless about.

Trans people have very high rates of eating disorders -- I don't remember the statics I've seen quoted in the past but according to the article at https://www.verywellmind.com/eating-disorders-in-transgender-people-4582520:
[Trans people] experienced these symptoms at even higher rates than heterosexual cisgender women, who are often thought to be the population most affected by eating disorders. In one study, the prevalence of self-reported eating disorders among transgender individuals was 7.4%.
Without getting into personal details, I'm trans and this is in line with my experience.
posted by an octopus IRL at 5:20 AM on October 13 [3 favorites]


The lessons in that section are about listening to your own hunger signals, deciding what you want to order based on your hunger, not the thoughts and suggestions from others you are eating with, not eating a sharable app just because someone else wanted to order it, etc. It's intuitive eating at its core.

If there's one thing I can be absolutely sure of after nearly sixty years of tending inexorably toward morbid obesity, it is this: intuitive eating does not work for those of us whose hormonal appetite control mechanisms are dysregulated, and suggesting that all we need to do is learn how to read our own hunger signals properly is ignorant, rude and cruel.


(I do not think the poster was suggesting that intuitive eating is a universal solution or even a recommended one, they were only noting that the Noom content/directions are much closer to an intuitive eating plan than a hunger-signal override plan)
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 6:29 AM on October 13 [2 favorites]


Correct.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 6:37 AM on October 13 [1 favorite]


“They put you on 1,200 calories a day and tell you to eat mostly vegetables,” Sarah MacDonald, a 31-year-old swimming coach in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, who began using Noom in 2014. “So, you’re basically shitting yourself constantly and you lose 5 pounds in the first two weeks.”

OK I do have to admit that it catches me off guard how frequently I hear from people that they can't/don't eat vegetables because it makes them shit themselves? That's...that's not how it's supposed to work, my dudes...you gotta go see a doctor about that.
So it's very weird to come to the blue and see a pull quote from someone you know (tangentially from a completely different realm); like running into your dentist in a foreign airport. That being said (and I can't speak for Sarah specifically here) eating a calorically restricted diet with significant changes from what you're used to with (checking the math - it seems to work out) a much higher fibre content than your gut is used to receiving... yeah more than a few people are going to have several days of unusual movements.
posted by mce at 8:55 AM on October 13 [2 favorites]


they were only noting that the Noom content/directions are much closer to an intuitive eating plan than a hunger-signal override plan

If you really are eating 1200 calories a day (is that right?), then you are going to be overriding hunger signals, quite a bit.
posted by praemunire at 9:15 AM on October 13 [1 favorite]


dairy is bad. (Try quitting or cutting back for one month)

I'm (hilariously) lactose intolerant and have been since birth.

I have the same problems with weight and eating and exercise that everyone else I know does. Cutting out dairy for literally my entire life has done nothing.
posted by goddess_eris at 10:01 AM on October 13 [7 favorites]


If you really are eating 1200 calories a day (is that right?), then you are going to be overriding hunger signals, quite a bit.

I mean, look, I think noom is monstrous crap and diet culture needs to be nuked from orbit, I'm not saying this shit WORKS or is GOOD. Noom's content presents itself as an intuitive eating plan. Maybe it's lying! It probably is at best just...not very good at what it purports to do. Certainly no people here are suggesting that it's obviously the one true solution for every person.

I was merely trying to clear up what looked like a misread that caused flabdablet quite a bit of hurt and offense.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 10:03 AM on October 13 [3 favorites]


I just a minute ago had a sudden epiphany when it came to diet/food tracker/calorie tracker/yaddayaddayadda apps - and how they are similar in a certain respect to the wild variety of to-do-list apps and task manager apps and suchlike.

NB: None of what I am about to say is meant as a critique of the apps themselves; for every app that is out there, there are those for whom it is exactly and precisely what they need, and it for some reason unlocks whatever key in their brain or overcomes whatever obstacle in their thinking that has hindered them in the past, and they are all-in on it. And I say that's perfect and wonderful.

I'm thinking, however, of the tendency that many of us tend to have to expect that the app will do everything, and....it won't. I had a habit of bouncing from one app to another, from one task management system to another and from one list-keeping system to another, in search of the one magic bullet method that would finally get me all sorted out and organized and efficient as all fuck. But in all cases, for a long time, I would overlook (either because of laziness or self-delusion or what have you) the fact that for any of these systems to actually work, I would have to do the legwork of entering data into that system, so as to customize it to me. Without my actually setting up the calendar or checking my Remember The Milk app every day, the app couldn't really do what it was designed to do in the first place. And even on paper - I browsed so many sites for setting up a bullet journal, and have even bought some bullet-journal supplies, in the hopes that "this will be the magic system for organizing me" - but to no avail, because I didn't build in the personal habit to set things up properly and check things regularly. And I noticed that the method for keeping me sorted and managed is just the same old simple to-do list I have in a notebook buried in the bottom of my bag, and simply moving it to the TOP of my bag so it's at the forefront of my attention was all I needed to do. (Okay, I also renamed it my list of things "to SMITE" instead of things to do, after another SM acquaintance shared that that's what she did and I fell in love.)

I thought about this in connection with Noom and other apps because - if you look under the hood of all the task-manager apps and such, they are just to-do lists with different cosmetic bells and whistles. Some of those cosmetic differences do fit in exactly 100% perfectly with some people's brainmeat in such a way that it motivates them to regularly use them, but not everyone; and even here, it's not the app itself, it is the person regularly USING it that makes the difference. Expecting that "oh, but THIS app is pink instead of green, that will fix everything" is folly.

And similarly, I think a lot of the calorie tracker/food tracker/etc. apps are the same way; if you look under the hood, they are just ways to keep track of how much exercise you've done and how many calories you've eaten; and a person will lose weight only when the calories used exceeds the calorie intake. Using app A as opposed to app B will not alter that fact - but a lot of us seem to BELIEVE that it will, and we flit from one app to the next in search of whatever magic bullet will fix everything.

But none of these apps will work without our actually doing our own work. If there's an app that has prompted you in a positive way, then that's awesome; but the app alone isn't doing the work, it is simply motivating you and supporting you in a way that you find helpful, and you are doing the bulk of the work, not the app. Without doing the bulk of the work, you end up simply bored or frustrated by an app and you end up not using it.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:43 AM on October 13 [8 favorites]


If you really are eating 1200 calories a day (is that right?)

I'm sure someone has that, but personally, I've got a base range of 1400 - 1800 calories, and I have it set to lose the max (2lbs/week).
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 11:40 AM on October 13


I am 100,000% with you EmpressCallipygos. I've lost a lot of weight and kept it off. When people ask me how they usually get a little disappointed when I very bluntly tell them I'm basically just hungry all the time. But I'm very quick to tell them that I just tried a lot of different stuff until I hit on the combination of things that worked for me.

It's like you've got a particularly shaped nail. There are a couple of different kinds of hammers you can use but you don't really know which one will work that you can use day after day. You need the tool that will fit you and the job and be sustainable.

But you do still need to swing that hammer.

Exercise is good too but I think everyone should do some, any exercise that they'll stick with regardless of their weight loss goals. In particular I think any kind of strength or resistance training (strongman, crossfit, powerlifting, olympic lifting, yoga, hypertrophy/bodybuilder, etc. etc.) is the best bang for your buck in terms of time and effort to benefits. Even just taking a solid walk every day is great.

Dieting and the culture around it are so screwy that I think we should separate diet from exercise. Be fat and healthy or skinny and healthy but be healthy.
posted by VTX at 12:05 PM on October 13 [5 favorites]


what looked like a misread that caused flabdablet quite a bit of hurt and offense

To be perfectly clear, the hurt and offence is lifelong and totally attributable to marketing-uber-alles wankers like Noom, not to folks who explain whatever it is that this week's round of marketing-uber-alles wankers are flogging.

None of what I wrote above was intended to include NotMyselfRightNow in the blast radius, and if it's done so I apologize.
posted by flabdablet at 6:22 PM on October 13 [2 favorites]


they usually get a little disappointed when I very bluntly tell them I'm basically just hungry all the time.

For those of us whose bodies will tolerate fasting (which is by no means all bodies) it's possible to do it by being very hungry some of the time. Personally I find that to be less of a grind than being a little bit hungry all of the time.

The thing to keep in mind, for anybody who presumes to advise a morbidly obese person what they "should" or "could" be doing to keep their body mass under control, is that the person living with morbid obesity is the expert in living with morbid obesity and more than likely has already tried schemes essentially equivalent to whatever plan is being "kindly" suggested, and will more than likely have seen every one of them succeed for a while and then fail, quite probably numerous times each.

It takes decades of trial and failure for most people to get a handle on this shit if we're going to do it at all. Simply presenting as fat is not an indication that multiple attempts to get lean are not ongoing, and any tacit assumption that it is - as I said above - is ignorant, rude and cruel.

It's been my experience that this particular kind of ignorance, rudeness and cruelty most often comes from people who have not spent much if any time living with morbid obesity, and that doctors are second only to marketing types in its casual infliction.

Be fat and healthy or skinny and healthy but be healthy.

Heartily endorsed, with the caveats that living morbidly obese will generally raise blood pressure compared to living lean, all other things being equal; and it can also make extra exercise bring on spinal and other joint damage at rates that put quite tight limits on how much and what kinds of exercise can be sustained. Again, in my experience this is something that those who have not lived with years of morbid obesity tend toward blithe ignorance about.
posted by flabdablet at 6:48 PM on October 13 [3 favorites]


in all cases, for a long time, I would overlook (either because of laziness or self-delusion or what have you) the fact that for any of these systems to actually work, I would have to do the legwork of entering data into that system, so as to customize it to me. Without my actually setting up the calendar or checking my Remember The Milk app every day, the app couldn't really do what it was designed to do in the first place.

Eggzackly. Prosthetic aids like apps can be capable tools, but a tool that's not used is a useless tool.

I noticed that the method for keeping me sorted and managed is just the same old simple to-do list I have in a notebook buried in the bottom of my bag, and simply moving it to the TOP of my bag so it's at the forefront of my attention was all I needed to do. (Okay, I also renamed it my list of things "to SMITE" instead of things to do, after another SM acquaintance shared that that's what she did and I fell in love.)

My personal kink is stripping back all my life-maintenance processes to the barest minimum because I count laziness as the highest virtue, from which it follows that the most desirable app for me is no app. Paper and pencil can be an astonishingly capable technology when creatively applied, and pencils last a lot longer than batteries do and cost less besides.
posted by flabdablet at 7:05 PM on October 13 [1 favorite]


Prosthetic aids like apps can be capable tools, but a tool that's not used is a useless tool.

Yes, this - and, I think there's also a bit of a wishful expectation that simply having the tool will somehow be enough, and that the tool is somehow smart enough to step in and lead you into action. Kind of like you're expecting that once a week your vacuum cleaner will pop out of your closet all on its own and magically fly to your hand, and all you have to do is turn it on and hang on and it will zoom around on its own path, with you tagging along just to untangle cords if necessary, and then it will turn itself off and roll itself back to the closet. Granted, this is kind of what a Roomba can do, but even there you have to be the one to turn it on instead of it just turning on all by itself.

I think people sometimes try these apps out as a way of hoping to yield the agency and effort to something outside themselves, to spare themselves the need to do it themselves.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:31 AM on October 14 [1 favorite]


I think people sometimes try these apps out as a way of hoping to yield the agency and effort to something outside themselves, to spare themselves the need to do it themselves.

Yes--there was a MeFi discussion on procrastination or To-Do apps some time back (can't find it now somehow) and ultimately it came down to, most of the stuff we are putting off, we put off because we just plain do not want to do it. Like at all, ever. People very much hope the app will, if not actually do the thing for them, somehow magically turn it into a thing they want to do.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 7:57 AM on October 14 [4 favorites]


As someone who lost a load of weight around 2001-ish, I have to say tools like MyFitnessPal do make calorie counting a lot easier. Most packaged items you can just scan the barcode. Pre-made stuff you can just look up. Even with homemade items once you've put it in once you can just add it again.

Also you don't need to be super-accurate, just within a few hundred calories on average every day. I'll sometimes just put in whatever "homemade lasagne" comes up as, it's good enough in the long run.

Many people who've never counted calories tend to overestimate how much of the problem comes from "too-big portions at main meals at home" when in practice it's liquid calories, snacks and meals out that are more often the problem. I'm in the middle of my healthy weight range so as an experiment I had a "normal night out" but tracked everything. Got through 4,580 calories that day. Just a beer every half hour or so and a takeaway on the way home easily add up. It's stuff like that that's the problem rather than grating a bit too much parmesan over your pasta at home.

Noom sounds pretty bad though. Don't overload your brain. Either count calories or do intuitive eating or low-carb or switch to low-energy-density foods or do intermittent fasting: whatever works for you. But trying multiple strategies at once will drive you nuts.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 8:02 AM on October 14


Also I saw this good article on eating disorders lately: The Six Seductions of Anorexia:
1. Anorexia as anaesthetic: Making everything else matter less.

For many people this may be the key to how anorexia takes and keeps hold. If you’re hungry almost all the time; if you rarely think about anything but food, exercise, and your body; if your emotions are dampened down to a uniform depression – then the rest of the universe dwindles in the periphery. And because the universe is vast, incomprehensible, and meaningless, this can mean everything. Anorexia offers one solution to the ancient human question of how to bear the extent of the world’s horror and cruelty and idiocy. Some sufferers describe it as retreating into a numb and protective ‘bubble’, or erecting a ‘screen’, or inserting a delay, between you and reality (Eli, 2018). Others speak of it explicitly as an anaesthetic...

The anaesthetising happens through the neat dual mechanism of

1. not eating enough (which brings first the distraction of hunger, then when extended long enough the change of normal hunger into something either more euphoric or just more gnawing) and

2. constantly thinking about or performing rituals around food, exercise, and the body (which leaves no room for anything else).
If your diet is taking up too much of your mental energy, I think that's a warning sign that you could be on the path to an eating disorder.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 8:09 AM on October 14 [6 favorites]


Just came across this on Stat...

"Noom, the popular weight loss company that recently raised $540 million, is taking its first big step toward becoming a diversified digital health company with behavioral health offering Noom Mood. The company enters a crowded space that includes wellness apps and FDA-cleared digital therapeutics as well as teletherapy services. Noom has opted to go the unregulated route with its $149, 16-week curriculum based on cognitive behavioral therapy paired with daily mood logging and text-based coaching. Though Noom’s no stranger to CBT, there remain many open questions about how well such treatment translates to software — and whether some companies are playing it fast and loose with the regulations as they ride the wave of investor enthusiasm."

I can't read the entire article because it's on Stat+
posted by kathrynm at 5:28 PM on October 14


I think people sometimes try these apps out as a way of hoping to yield the agency and effort to something outside themselves, to spare themselves the need to do it themselves.

Which makes perfect sense, given that the lifelong need to keep on doing it ourselves, day after day after day after relentless inexorable grinding soul crushing day, always seems so stupidly unfair.

If your diet is taking up too much of your mental energy, I think that's a warning sign that you could be on the path to an eating disorder.

Either that or you're having the universally recommended daily experience of one whose body inclines, if left to its own devices, toward morbid obesity.
posted by flabdablet at 6:03 PM on October 14 [1 favorite]


ultimately it came down to, most of the stuff we are putting off, we put off because we just plain do not want to do it. Like at all, ever.

Yep. And there is quite a large class of stuff for which the reason we just plain do not want to do it, like at all, ever, is because we've done it many times before and we're completely familiar with what doing it costs us.
posted by flabdablet at 6:15 PM on October 14


I just came here to say that I tried Noom for 3 months and it worked a bit but seemed to be less effective when the shiny newness of it wore off and I lost motivation. Same story for the husband. He lost 30 and I lost 10. What really made a difference for me was getting my lifelong ADD treated. I’ve beat myself up over my lack of willpower and self disciple and have been so mean to my inner child because why do I always give in to my desire for sugary snacks which drove my blood sugar up and keep the weight on?! But as soon as I got on Adderall and was able to experience what it must be like to be neurotypical and have some damn impulse control it was like a lightbulb went off. I realized I’m not a failure inherently. My lifelong inability to resist is a lot less about moral failings and a lot more about brain chemistry. I cried the first few days I was on my meds and (1) had less hunger cravings and (2) found it so much easier to redirect myself and say no to unhealthy sugar binging.

Which is all to say that while it’s generally true that smarter choices and more exercise and less eating leads to weight loss, everyone’s ability to accomplish that varies. Some might need just some nutrition info and they are off and running. Others need some group support and daily cbt. Others might need medication or extensive therapy to tackle underlying issues that are leading to behaviors that block healthier eating.
posted by TestamentToGrace at 9:53 PM on October 14 [1 favorite]


flabdablet, I really feel for you. I went through a fairly major weight loss myself around 2001: didn't weigh myself at my heaviest but started losing weight when I was measured for a suit that had a 42'' waist, ended up at 32''. I know how frustrating it is when everyone around you either thinks you're lazy and not bothering when you're working so hard. Or wants you to drop everything and do their own bullshit diet routine that helped them lose 10 pounds one time and is totally irrelevant to you.

But from reading about your current plan, I really am worried for you and whether you're heading down the path towards an eating disorder. Daily fluctuations in weight are generally due to water weight rather than fat gain or loss. You're switching between a complete water fast and eating "as much as I want, of whatever I want, whenever I want" on a daily basis depending on what the scale said that morning. But daily weight changes are almost random. You also seem to be using fasts to achieve emotional and mental states quite like those described in that anorexia article. This is scary stuff.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 2:53 AM on October 15


I'm sure your concern comes from a good place, for which I thank you, but would also respectfully remind you that
  • I have been living in here for nearly 60 years at this point, which makes me the local expert.
  • About five of those have been spent properly lean after dropping from 150kg to 95kg in the 1990s, and those were hands down the most physically enjoyable years of my life.
  • I am in no way pursuing bodily "perfection". When I'm lean I like the saggy floppy bits where the full fat pads used to be. Big fan of loose, flexible clothing, same goes for skin, and stretchmarks are badges of honour.
  • This is by no means my first rodeo with fasting, and is in fact much less extreme than some of my previously successful goes around with it.
  • To the extent that hunger does manage to become an all-consuming concern that insulates or isolates me from the random, wild and deeply beautiful world in which I live, I bitterly resent its doing so. This is in fact the exact rationale for my strong preference for plans that let me spend as much time as possible not needing to worry about what or how much I'm eating.
There's a body of opinion that holds that those of us who tend to run to fat simply have genetics ill-adapted to an environment where tasty food is plentiful and always readily available. All I'm really doing, from my body's point of view, is simulating that not being the case: for up to three days at a time, my imaginary nomadic band is moving through territory where there simply isn't anything to eat. Too bad, so sad.

I suspect that you might also have it in your mind that "as much as I want, of whatever I want, whenever I want" describes some kind of Grande Bouffe scenario, or that running a deliberate feast/famine pattern might bring on refeeding syndrome, but you need have no concern on either score. Turns out that after a three day fast, what I want more than anything in the world for the first couple of eating days turns out to be mostly cole slaw.

Your point about randomness in daily body mass being mostly due to variations in water retention is of course correct. However, the essence of this plan is closed-loop control over bodymass via regular measurement and regulation of total food intake, and the loop hysteresis built in by the 3kg difference between the floor and ceiling limits that trigger the free and controlled phases is more than enough to swamp water retention effects..

All that the variability in water weight can do is alter the precise timing of the onset of the next free or controlled phase, and given that this is a scheme that I fully intend to keep using over a time scale of decades rather than days, that doesn't matter in the slightest.

What does matter is my overall state of health, and given that the plan seems to be resulting in a very marked increase in both the amount and variety of vegetables I'm eating because they're what appeals, along with the compensatory reductions in highly-processed food that goes along with that, I can't see how it's going to do me anything but good.
posted by flabdablet at 5:25 AM on October 15 [1 favorite]


That read like the first third of an article. I hate how online magazines obviously get to word count by cutting from the end. It's a lazy editing technique and completely unneccessary.
posted by Ardnamurchan at 5:38 AM on October 15


Lately I'm coming to feel that unless I want to get weight loss surgery, being much thinner than I am is a doomed enterprise.

I have so been in that place. More times than I can count. Largely on the strength of being fully aware of the published research that purports to show that bariatric surgery is the only proven method for losing weight and keeping it off "long term".

And in fact this is exactly why I first started experimenting with various forms of intermittent fasting. See, I know people who've had bariatric surgery, and all of them have told me the same thing: there's a months-long adjustment period following the surgery where you're forced to learn to eat in a new way on pain of gastric reflux and various other forms of violent digestive misery. So it occurred to me that if I was going to have to endure months of misery adapting to a post-surgery body's altered capabilities anyway, I'd much much rather suffer that misery as and when I choose to take it on than as a result of having had my innards messed about with to give me no other option.

Also, for what it's worth, two of the three people I know who had bariatric surgery thirty years ago dropped less weight than I'd managed to myself via a two year exercise in brute willpower, both got fat again within fifteen years (which is longer than it took me, to be fair) and both have stayed fat since.

So having finally frightened myself with just how much it hurts to heave 166kg around everywhere I go at the age of 59, I'm back on the closed-loop control train because it's what's been best for me before. This time around, the control loop is radically simplified compared to last time, I've added a three day maximum fasting limit, and I have a new, strong and deliberate focus on remaining fully present and aware during the fasting phases rather than seeking distractions from them.

Past experience with intermittent fasting has always involved sporadic episodes of utter misery during the fasting phases. This time around I'm trying to teach myself to identify and catalogue all of the bodily sensations and emotional states associated with digestive tract emptiness and decouple those from the psychological condition of suffering, allowing the raw sensation just to be what it is, acknowledge its presence, and be OK with the knowledge that I will be responding to it but not until the next eating day.

This decoupling of hunger from suffering is a thing that I know for sure that people are capable of doing because it's pretty much exactly what everybody with an anorexic eating disorder has taught themselves to do; in fact many report having gone so far in the acceptance and embrace of hunger that an absence of hunger becomes itself a form of suffering that can become so extreme as to be intolerable.

The reasons I'm not worried about developing my own anorexic eating disorder in the event that I do manage to achieve the skill I'm seeking are that (a) I think my set and setting are healthy and appropriate: I'm doing this to find out whether I can, not as some kind of attempt to assert control over an uncontrollable universe, and I currently have 150kg of scope to unfuck this thing even if it does go off the rails for a while (b) people who love me, and whom I love and whose judgement I trust, are closely involved and will pull me up well before anything bad appears to be happening.

Two months in and early indications are very promising. Write to me in twenty years if you want to know whether it's actually worked.

Meanwhile, if you need support for your own health journey, I recommend getting that from real people rather than money-hungry marketroids peddling subscriptions to over-hyped platitude compilations of dubious lasting worth.
posted by flabdablet at 6:59 AM on October 15


But daily weight changes are almost random.

Having weighed myself three or more times every day for half decade, I can assure that they are not as random as you might think.

I weight myself before I go to bed. When I wake up the next morning and weigh myself after I pee I'll weigh 1-2lbs less than the before-bed weight. I eat and drink about the same stuff (plenty of water and just enough calories to stave off an exertion migraine, the once was enough for me tyvm) every day and then go workout, shower, and weigh myself again and that will be about 2 lbs lower than the morning weigh in. Hopefully each of those will be the same or lower than the day before.

Changes in the amount of calories I consume are harder to follow but they do show up in a couple of ways. Some of it is just the raw mass of the stuff I've consumed, some of it my body retaining more or less water because of what those calories are. Those are usually the more immediate effects and then a few days and over the course of a few days is where I usually see what seems like an actual change in my weight and body composition.

Those changes may or may not actually be the changes I think they are but, frankly, I don't care. Treating as though it is has worked been working for me for years now. I'm in much better shape today at 41 than I was in my 20s and I even managed to get down to the same bodyweight I'm at today for a brief stint back then.

So be careful, understand the risks involved and how to mitigate them, know when to slow down or stop so you can keep your overall health and not just how you feel about bodyweight as the top priority but if fasting for multiple days works for you, it works!

The word of caution I do want to drop is that if you're also engaging in exercise with any intensity, you're going to have a bad time. My experience is specifically with strength training where, as much as it helps me to decouple exercise and diet, nutrition is a VERY important. If you don't give your body the materials and energy it needs to recover from your workouts you're going to have a very hard time making any progress and are much much much more likely to injure yourself.
posted by VTX at 7:31 AM on October 15 [1 favorite]


During my most successful weight control period, the raw brute force one in the Nineties, the exercise plan was as follows: do as much walking as possible from 150kg down to 130kg (and it was nice to feel that becoming increasingly feasible; at 150kg I used to puff and pant after a flat 200m round trip to the lunch bar). Keep up the walking and swim increasing numbers of laps daily from 130kg down to 110kg. Switch from both of those to 5BX plus cycle commuting (15km each way on mostly hilly terrain) at 110kg.

All of that worked well, and got me fit enough to take on a couple of Great Victorian Bike Rides (~100km/day over five days) and a Round the Bay in a Day (~200km) with far more enjoyment than pain.

I intend to follow a loosely similar plan on the current trip back to lean, though since I'll probably be 61 years old instead of 30mumble by the time I get anywhere near 110kg, I'll most likely need something less jarring than 5BX. Ultimately I would like to spend a few months on the road with my cargo bike and a nice tent, starting in the Gippsland summer and following the good weather up the east coast until I get to the Daintree again.

As I get light enough to be more sustainably active, I expect that the body mass control loop will naturally trigger fasting phases rather less frequently; on the road on a pushbike I'd actually be surprised if it triggered one at all. But yes, I am well acquainted with the effects of fasting on recovery from physical work and would certainly not ever try to build and cut at the same time.
posted by flabdablet at 7:57 AM on October 15 [1 favorite]


Well, I hope it works out and the best of luck to you!

I also do the 5BX every day which I started as part of my initial weight loss. It occurred to me lately that the WHO minimum exercise guidelines are for 75 minutes of intense exercise or 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. If you do the 11 minute 5BX every day which I think counts as intense, you'd be doing 77 minutes a week which is almost exactly the WHO minimum. Considering it's supposed to be an obsolete relic of the 1950s, 5BX is surprisingly close.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 8:36 AM on October 15


flabdadlet, just letting you know my MIL's nephrologist is actually Dr. Jason Fung and she lost about 100lbs over 2 years on intermittent fasting, went off insulin and had her kidney numbers rebound, and has kept it off coming up on 5 years now.* I don't recommend diets, because I believe different things work for different people, but since you have shared your journey I wanted to let you know that it really has been such a net good for her.

* She also dumped the family doctor that wouldn't treat her properly "until she lost weight" and lo! properly medicating her conditions also seriously contributed to her ability to meet /lots/ of her goals which happened to include weight loss.
posted by warriorqueen at 12:50 PM on October 15 [6 favorites]


Hearing about 5BX throws me into a huge state of nostalgia. I haven't seen that book since, I dunno, mid high school or something, ages ago. I downloaded a PDF based on flabdablet and TheophileEscargot's comments, and sure enough, the same old pictures, the little guy climbing the stairs, it was all there. I tried it this morning, and didn't do too badly...at...like...the D- level of chart one. I loved this thing so much in school, though, I'm eager to try it again, just to see how high I can get (apparently people my age don't make it off chart 2? Depressing!). I do kind of wish it had been updated a little--that whole bending forward thing, and twisting while bending forward, it's all a bit hard on the disks, and I'd be perfectly happy with something easier on my spine. Maybe I'll look up some replacement exercises. But boy! The excitement, seeing those little charts again!
posted by mittens at 2:51 PM on October 17


Reading all these comments are really powerful. I think we need more and better studies of weight loss methodologies and how they map to different demographics. I suspect the mindset, tools, and techniques necessary to lose weight and sustain it are very different depending on where you're starting from. I was middly obese, now overweight and trending towards the high side of normal, and I had some previous experience with calorie tracking and exercise. I suspect the approach would be different if I started out as a morbidly obese person who has always been sedentary, or converse an overweight former athlete. Other factors are probably occupation, genetics, time available, and ability to market and cook. The 'nudges' necessary to get you into that positive feedback loop for weight loss are likely different for each group.
posted by sid at 8:13 PM on October 17


I would expect them to be different for each person.

Tangentially, people who say "positive feedback loop" when they mean "virtuous circle" raise my engineering hackles. Virtuous and vicious circles are both positive feedback loops: features that tend to make their containing systems spiral into some form of catastrophic failure if left unchecked. Positive feedback is fine and dandy for giving things a kickstart, but I think the virtue of any such circle can only ever be temporary. Well-designed negative feedback is what keeps systems working well over the long term.

I do not want a weight loss regimen that relies on positive feedback because I don't want to end up skidding off the opposite side of the road into an anorexic eating disorder. What I'm aiming for is actually the breaking of a positive feedback loop: the one that goes body fat percentage increases -> exercise becomes more painful -> lifestyle becomes more sedentary -> body fat percentage increases.

Having attacked all three phases of this loop in at various times in my life I'm now thoroughly convinced that for me, regulation of body fat percentage (for which total body mass is, for short to medium term measurement purposes, a reasonable proxy) is the one that can be brought under control at lowest cost in suffering and, as outlined above, I'm using a consciously applied negative feedback loop to do that.

Others' mileage will certainly vary, especially that of the lucky owners of hormonal systems that implement that same negative feedback loop largely or even entirely automatically.
posted by flabdablet at 10:40 PM on October 17 [3 favorites]


« Older The Humble Vegetable   |   Test the limits of ekphrasis Newer »


You are not currently logged in. Log in or create a new account to post comments.