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Finding Noom


I was on Weight Watchers for more than a year, and I did really well with it early on, but at a certain point I couldn’t make any more progress. I still stayed with it for another six months, though, asking for more help and trying different strategies, until I eventually gave in to the ubiquitous ads for the Noom app and switched allegiances.

On Weight Watchers there are zero point foods that you can eat in unlimited quantities; that’s what made the diet so easy to follow for so long. Whenever I was hungry, even if I’d run out of points for the day (foods are given point values instead of calorie counts on WW), I could just eat any of the zero point foods, and there were tons of them. But in the end, those zero point foods were the problem. I was eating too much.


“What does ‘too much food’ mean?”

Noom is, basically, a calorie counting program in the form of an app. There are daily lessons in psychology, and creating small goals to change your eating habits for the long term, but the overall intention of the program is to help you stay within your assigned calorie limit. You are assigned to a virtual group, with a group coach, where you’re supposed to discuss the daily lessons and assignments and any insights that come up along the way. Then there’s a goal specialist who tries to help you come up with your own particular goal for each week – something suggested by the daily lessons, or the group, or just whatever you’ve been struggling with, like emotional eating or peer pressure or planning meals.

I wasn’t sure about the program at first, so I kept my Weight Watchers account, and as soon as I started counting calories again, the hunger returned. Hunger is a dangerous feeling for me, because I’ve dealt with anorexic tendencies more than once in my life. On the one hand, I want to eat everything in sight to fill the empty space, and on the other hand, I feel righteous and pure for feeling the hunger and not giving in to it. There’s a strange high that comes from extended starvation, but in my experience that high leads to severe health consequences, and big weight gain when you inevitably start to eat again. I can’t risk going through that again, so I have to be careful. But I survived that first week on Noom, without too much drama, so I decided to stick with it and put Weight Watchers aside for a while.

I’d love it if Noom could help me make more progress on my underlying eating disorder issues, because while being on Weight Watchers allowed me to lose weight, it didn’t require me to confront my thought distortions around food or body image. Noom, if it’s going to work, is going to have to address my food panic, and internal arguments over what I do and do not deserve, and so much more, hopefully in a very gradual and manageable way, so that I don’t feel overwhelmed.


“I’m already overwhelmed.”

I already wish there were more interaction with the goal specialist on Noom, because what I really need is the one-on-one help. I have my own real-life therapist, but food and weight issues have never been her strength. She understands the issues intellectually, but not personally, and not with huge amounts of compassion. It would be like going to my brother for help with math – he’d just do the problem for me, speed through the solution, and then look at me like I’m speaking Swahili when I say I still don’t understand. How could you not understand? It’s simple!

            The thing is, I like to overeat. I liked the big bowls of yogurt, or soup, or sliced peaches with fat-free whipped cream I was eating on Weight Watchers. I would make a pot of vegetable soup, or turkey chili, filled with mostly zero point foods, so that I could eat as much as I wanted and never have to worry about serving sizes. I ate so many canned peaches that I developed a low grade allergy to them, but they were a zero point food so it still took me months to stop eating them!


“Mmm, more peaches.”

Big portions give me the sense that there will always be enough, and I’ve always worried about not having enough: whether it was food, or love, or money, or time. I’m obsessive about making sure that I have more pens and notebooks and toner and printer paper than I need, and I like to go to Costco for huge bottles of vitamins and a year’s worth of paper towels, just in case. I get nervous when I’m reading the last pages of a novel, and have no new novel on deck, because, who knows? The library might be closed, or they may not have a book I want I read! And I panic in May when the official TV season ends, even though they’ve learned to stagger their start and end dates a bit so there will be shows to watch over the summer (never enough though!).

I’m really not a fan of finding out that everything I want to accomplish in life requires me to confront myself and work through my limitations, because some of my limitations are really intransigent. It would be like expecting Cricket, at age twelve, to overcome her fear of bath time. Are you insane?! Water is terrifying!


“Water is terrifying!”

            But, here I go, down the calorie-counting path again, hoping to find fewer monsters hiding behind the shrubbery this time. Wish me luck!



If you haven’t had a chance yet, please check out my Amazon page and consider ordering the Kindle or Paperback version (or both!) of Yeshiva Girl. And if you feel called to write a review of the book on Amazon, or anywhere else, I’d be honored.

Yeshiva Girl is about a Jewish teenager on Long Island, named Izzy. Her father has been accused of inappropriate sexual behavior with one of his students, which he denies, but Izzy implicitly believes it’s true. Izzy’s father then sends her to a co-ed Orthodox yeshiva for tenth grade, out of the blue, as if she’s the one who needs to be fixed. Izzy, in pain and looking for people she can trust, finds that religious people are much more complicated than she had expected. Some, like her father, may use religion as a place to hide, but others search for and find comfort, and community, and even enlightenment. The question is, what will Izzy find?


YG with Cricket

“Well, what?!”

About rachelmankowitz

I am a fiction writer, a writing coach, and an obsessive chronicler of my dogs' lives.

92 responses »

  1. Good luck, Rachel!

  2. ramblingsofaperforatedmind

    Good luck!

  3. While I can sympathize with some of your eating issues, I have two words for you wrt the paragraph beginning “Big Portions”: “Kindle” and “streaming.” Although I fully understand the library panic (especially before a long holiday weekend), my consolation is that I have enough unread books on my Kindle to last me several lifetimes. Almost all of them were free. (The Complete Works of Anthony Trollope alone should see me out.) Many library books can be checked out as e-books, too. As for streaming, we have subscriptions to Hulu and Netflix and an Amazon Prime account that provides Prime Video. There’s always something to watch, and much of it is far superior to broadcast TV (lots of good British series, for example). Just saying.

  4. Navigating emotional and trigger connections to food is hard. Weight watchers did work for me and I’ve kept the weight off for 10 years but it’s wearing off. I’m that much older, too, of course, and with Lily’s injuries more sedentary than ever. Hoping you crack through the challenges of food connections. Steel yourself to the deprivation aspect, that may help.

  5. I wish you the best of luck with the eating struggle. I can understand it is not easy. Our daughter suffered a very serious phase of anorexia and we almost lost her. She went into treatment and got through it. She is healthy now but she is always aware it is a lifetime thing. So although not the same as you I do know that eating disorders can be very difficult.

  6. I struggle with trying to maintain smaller portion sizes. I love grazing and nibbling on things. I could chew all day on seeds, nuts, and dried fruit. It’s a trap. I wish you success.

  7. I have to admit I have an addiction to Costco chocolate covered raisins and chocolate covered almonds. They are my kryptonite; my crack cocaine. My fitness plan involves insane levels of cardio and weights should I be seduced by those products. An hour of aggressive stairmaster and I’ll have atoned but I know I will fall again.

  8. When I was in college and my early 20s I had an eating disorder in which I alternated bingeing and starving. I overcame it by developing a strict routine in which I rewarded myself with 3 cookies each night at bedtime if I had been a “good girl” all day. Those cookies became so important to me that I never fell into those destructive patterns again. That was over 50 years ago, but I still save dessert for bedtime. And t hat’s no longer cookies, but whatever everyone else had at dinner. I am so addicted to this routine that family and friends all expect me to wrap up a doggie bag for myself.
    The moral of this long reply, at least in my case is that there is no such thing as someone with a former eating disorder. Like alcoholics, we are always recovering – never cured.

  9. I hope Noom can work for you and that the goal specialist can find a way to help you to overcome your food anxieties. Don’t be afraid to ask them questions, questions and more questions. I think service to you is part of the package.

  10. Good luck Rachel ! Sigh, weight is a lifelong struggle to me . . .

  11. The sure fire way to lose the pounds is to restrict yourself to my peeps’ cooking only.

  12. My second wife struggled with dieting for years. She tried Weight Watchers, but also ate too many ‘free’ foods to see any progress. She switched to ‘Slimming World’ in 1990, with its alternate ‘red day/green day’ system. That worked dramatically, and she lost 110 pounds in under a year.
    But as soon as she was happier with her weight, she started to ‘slip back’ into occasionally eating ‘treats’. Two years later, and she was heavier than when she started. I used to try to tell her to just be happy in her size, but social pressure to be slimmer was overwhelming.
    Best wishes, Pete.

  13. Weaving Simplicity

    Thank you for sharing, Rachel. I’ve battled with my weight for years – including all of the body shaming that has accompanied it. I wish you the very best, as this is a very challenging area. Especially that our emotions and past experiences are definitely involved. Hugs to Cricket and Ellie. 😊 ❤

  14. Rachel, many of us know your weight struggles from personal experience. Those who don’t struggle have no understanding that food is an addiction, just like drugs and alcohol. One of my biggest problems with losing weight has been that I like very few vegetables in “raw” form. This includes carrots, celery, tomatoes and all of the ‘healthy’ things to put on a salad. I tolerate lettuce now and then, but only if I can disguise it with cheese and meats and croutons!

    I took some time over the past year to pay attention to when I felt physically hungry versus when I felt emotionally hungry versus when my taste buds craved a taste. It has taken me a year to lose 20 pounds, but those are 20 pounds I won’t regain.

    Also, I want to say that I appreciate your vulnerability in sharing your struggles with us. Each and every one of your posts makes me admire you more (I often think about wanting to interview you and then introduce you on my blog). Keep up working on yourself!

  15. Good luck, Rachel! Food can be such a struggle.

  16. I do wish you good luck with Noom and your search for a healthy well-balanced food life.
    It’s not easy, said someone who has dropped out of more weight loss programs than you went to summer camps.

  17. Good luck, it’s a challenge!

  18. I haven’t read all the responses, so maybe someone will have said what I want to say. If you have the time, find a support group in your area that deals with food issues. Your general practice doctor can refer you to reduce cost and so forth and some are free (Overeaters Anonymous for example). It’s a safe place to talk about issues such as you mention, the overeating, the eating for comfort in times of stress and your relationship with food overall.

    I know what I’m talking about. I’ve deal with food ‘problems’ for years due to trauma from being in foster care and their ideas of what portion size and amount the fosters got. I’ve hidden food, hoarded it, I’m addicted to it. I binge (I’m not bulimic and thank God daily for my horror of throwing up, because if that hadn’t bothered me more, I might have become bulimic.)

    I’ve gone to quite a few group therapy settings where the emphasis is on food and how to over come issues that one might have. I have a healthier relationship these days than I ever have, but I still don’t ‘eat right’ and my doctors are concerned because apparently I don’t eat enough.

    I wish you the best. O.A. is a good place to start, but for myself I wasn’t ready to make the changes that were suggested.

  19. Food seems to be the answer to so many of our problems. And have you noticed that all celebrations and even get togethers center around food? (I’m sure you have. ) I hope you find the right “food ” counselor.

  20. It surely seems like a no-win situation. I hate the truth that if I eat as much as I want I will weigh more than is healthy. There is no way around that hard as I have tried to find one.

  21. Good luck with Noom. My husband is on it and it is really making him more aware of his portion sizes. He is beginning to recognize when he has had enough and thinking of his stomach more than his taste buds’ habits. He’s lost 35 pounds and I am beginning to consider joining it myself.

  22. Oh how I feel for you Rachel! WW was no good for me, and I tried loads of diets over the years, eventually screwing my system up so much it didn’t matter if I ate salad or doughnuts, the weight went on, and on, and on.
    I haven’t heard of Noom, but if it’s working for you, that’s great!
    I signed back on with SW on May 6th and have lost a stone and a half since May 1st when I was weighed for my diabetic check. I am almost back to where I was when I stopped going in August 2017.
    I’ve tried all the tricks, smaller portions, smaller plates, loads of veg, loads of fruit, but you get to a stage when you must have that forbidden piece of cheesecake or bar of chocolate.
    I try to shop and cook sensibly, but at the moment, food is just so damn boring, I’d kill for a burger. I’ve been a bit lax this week, and have weigh in tomorrow, so expect another ‘sock gain’ as I call it.
    The good news is I am five stone lighter than I was when I was made redundant in 2001 so I keep looking at pictures of Fattest Me and it helps to keep my fingers out of the biscuit tin.
    Stick with it, think positive, and you’ll get results. Good luck!

    • Thank you! My biggest frustration is when the scale zooms around independent of what I’m eating. It could lead to violence against inanimate objects.

      • Ha! I know that feeling too Rachel. You wonder if the Invisible Man is behind you on the scales.
        I discovered that too many salads make me retain water and eating grapes, kiwis, bananas and cherries although under the fruit umbrella are not as good for me as blackberries, blackcurrants, raspberries, blueberries, peaches, apples, oranges or nectarines. It’s a balancing act and we are all so different with foods that work and more that don’t. I stick occasional recipe ideas in my blog (and some funny cartoons about scales which hopefully make you smile) though I;m no expert and it’s just something that has worked for me. Don’t despair. Suddenly everything will fall into place and the pounds will begin to come off. Best to lose one or two a week and it stay off than five or six and a month later you’ve put on eight.

      • It will be posted……………. lol

  23. It’s truly a never-ending battle…you are definitely not alone!

  24. My wife got me on the HCG protocol diet and I lost 55 lbs. It’s a bit different, in that when you lose weight, you are losing the fat. The HCG causes your body to consume the fat you don’t want. But you have to be serious and eat only 700 calories a day for 30 days, then change your eating habits afterwards. We are on a paleo diet now, which helps keep the weight off.


  25. Steven James Humphreys

    I don’t like going hungry, either. I basically eat potatoes, beans, salads and fruit like berries.

    • The fruit and veggies definitely help, but they just don’t taste like triple chocolate cake. Very upsetting.

      • Steven James Humphreys

        Boy, you got that so right! I really don’t know how to get rid of chocolate addiction. I don’t think it will ever go away. I simply go berserk for cake pops!

  26. I haven’t read all the comments either, but as a former fat person – I weighed over 200 lbs, I was fat, don’t try to tell me differently – I know some of your struggle. I use my fitness pal to track calories. It helps – but I will never really know if I fit through a space, or know the feeling of being full. If there’s food in front of me, I will eat it. Unless it’s green peppers, and then you couldn’t pay me to eat them. Blech! I try to fill up the corners with hard boiled egg whites, a peppermint patty – 50 calories in the little ones and chocolate! I also walk, a lot. I don’t know if you can do miles, but if you can walk or do a treadmill, it seriously does help. Wishing you luck on this journey – you can do it! You have a huge support system here, you know.

  27. At about 60, 14 years ago, I became pre-diabetic. It scared the wits out of me. I like having feet, legs, functioning kidneys and a heart that gives me no problems. Even worse was the prospect of my glucose impacting my eyesight. I immediately lost some weight I didn’t need. I have remained on a Mediterranean diet since then. It has worked. Thank God so far I have not tipped the scale into actual diabetes. You might consider more seriously, if you haven’t, the risks, generally, of sugar and too much weight. Yeshiva woman, you are a natural for that Mediterranean diet. It is in your genes. Go for it! Hope the root causes come home to you as well. I faithfully see my shrink twice monthly. God bless your journey.

  28. Keep on with it, its a life goal and Im sure you’ll succeed

  29. I lost a bunch of weight on a diet. Then I became sick and lost even more. The problem is, I still think of myself as overweight even though I see only skin and bones in the mirror. How do you change your body self-image?

  30. Good luck. I think you are brave to post about it!

  31. Менахем Безутешный

    Hi Rachel,

    I struggle with overeating and “emotional eating” for years and understand you very well. Today’s strategy is having a lot of vegetables close to me, mostly cucumbers and gamba (bell pepper?) to eat it every time I feel a need to put something in the mouth. Barely works, but I’m still trying, ain’t give up yet.
    Good luck with your own fight!

    P.S.: The dogs are A-D-O-R-A-B-L-E !!!


  33. Always interesting, never condescending

  34. Eating a lot because it makes you feel like there’s enough… I know this feeling far too well.

    I wish you the best!

  35. Good luck! I tried Noom and it went well, but then was too stingy to pay for it after the trial period started. That‘s when I read about the 5:2 fasting diet and have been successfully doing that for the past 3 months or so!

    • I could never manage fasting, but great that it’s working for you!

      • I also didn‘t believe I could so it, until I read the book by Dr Michael Mosley and tried it for myself! It‘s actually not as hard as it sounds as you can still eat 500kcal on your fast days and you can eat normally on the other days. Also, through fasting you gain power over eating and remove that eating panic!

  36. Loved this, Rachel. I can relate to the eating disorder thing. Though I’ve never been diagnosed with anorexia, I understand the mind games and know I play them, too. I enjoy your writing voice and look forward to reading more of you. Good luck with your memoir. I’m working on mine, too. Wish I could think of something witty to say here, but it’s too close to my bedtime, and I guess I’ve used up my allotment for the day.

  37. Noom gets good reviews so I hope that it helps you get some control on things. Keep slogging away at it, I’m sure you’ll get there


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