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Ever since I wrote my first review of Noom, readers have emailed me privately to ask additional questions. Lately, the emails seem to have a theme: Have I kept off the weight since losing 20 pounds last year?
The short answer is yes, I have kept those 20 pounds off, even throughout the hot mess of 2020. And, in an attempt to take some control over a chaotic year, I volunteered to try it again in the fall. So I started Noom again at the beginning of October, mostly out of curiosity to see what people experience when they return. The 12 additional pounds I’ve lost is an added bonus. (To do the full math, that means I’ve lost a total of 32 pounds since beginning Noom in September 2019.)
What is Noom?
Noom is an app-based weight-loss program that uses lessons that rely on cognitive behavioral therapy techniques to help users follow a lower-calorie diet. The app itself is composed of a few basic features like weight tracking and food logging and a few upgraded features like a personal coach you can message directly, daily lessons that help reframe your thinking on food, and a group chat with fellow participants (which they refer to as “#NoomNerds”).
If you’re looking for a detailed overview of Noom, please click over to the original Noom review I wrote last year. There you’ll find a more comprehensive guide of the actual program. But if you’re wondering what happens after you go through the Noom program—and what it’s like if you return after a break—keep reading.
What’s it like to go back on Noom?
There were very few discernible differences between using Noom for the first time and diving back in again. My original weight-loss graph was still there as was the food logging data I added during my first few months. All the custom meals I had added before were still available for me to choose again, and they still had the typos I stupidly made while entering them in the first place. (Please, Noom, let us edit custom meals!)
In addition to the food logging and weight tracking, Noom’s subscription serves up daily lessons, quizzes, and other light reading that are all aimed at helping users make the best choices for their eating habits. Many of the lessons I took the first time popped up again, and that repetitiveness made some smart wisdom seem trite. I did, however, appreciate that a number were obviously adjusted for a post-COVID world. (The daily lessons included fewer mentions about eating out at restaurants, for example.)
Basically, there was nothing new. If you used Noom before, you’ll know everything you’ll get for signing up again. That may come across as a criticism, but it's not meant as one. It also means that, if you were successful using Noom to lose weight before, there's a high likelihood that you'll be successful again.
What it is like to use Noom during the pandemic
For many people, 2020 was a year of lockdowns, social isolation, and quarantine during the COVID-19 pandemic. Turns out, that can be a good combination to help stick to a diet. It’s a lot easier to count calories when you’re making your meal from scratch instead of ordering from a restaurant. And, anyone working remotely from home can attest that it’s a lot easier to control the availability of snacks in your own kitchen than in the office breakroom.
How much does Noom cost when you sign up again?
The main differences between the first time I reviewed Noom and this last go-round was in the pricing structure. One early note here: I couldn’t quite tell if the difference was because they’re offering a different deal to all customers or if they offer different deals to returning ones. Noom does have a page where they list many of the current offerings and prices for each tier, but they do not make this list very well known. It seems that they prefer to share price options with users at the end of the sign-up process.
In 2019 when I first signed up for it, Noom offered a six-month signup for $150 after a two-week free trial. One caveat was that you had to watch the calendar to cancel after six months, otherwise you would get charged again, and you would immediately lose access to the subscriber benefits when you indicated that you wanted to cancel, so you couldn’t cancel early and ride out your time.
When I signed up again in the fall of 2020, my offer was different. I was offered (or “unlocked” in their terms) a free two-week trial (normally $40) and a waived “starter fee” (normally $20). In addition, the paid signup period was reduced from six months to three months for $129 (down from $180, the app claimed). One welcome change was that I could cancel my subscription early and keep access to all the group chat and lessons until my three months were up.
When I tried using a fake email address to sign up as a new user in January 2021, I was offered a six-month subscription for $159 (“down” from $360) and they waived the $20 starter fee. One interesting twist was that, instead of a free trial, Noom gave me four options to pay for the two-week “introductory period.” The options were $0.50, $3, $10, and $18.37. Noom noted in this lineup that the $18.37 figure was the “most popular choice” and the exact cost to “compensate our Noom employees for the trial.”
After I completed my initial program with Noom and before I started up again, I received periodic emails with offers to rejoin. The emails often included an option to rejoin Noom at “$19 per month,” but I did not investigate further to determine that exact pricing plan.
How do you cancel Noom?
I found that canceling Noom was a fairly easy process in early January 2021. About two weeks before my three-month subscription ended, I messaged my support coach saying that I did not want to be charged again. My message seemed to trigger some automatic actions because a chatbot seemed to take over from there. This seems to be a vast improvement from their past practices, which were apparently so frustrating that the CEO of Noom wrote a blog post apologia focused on their cancellation and refund issues in the summer of 2020, For me, once I confirmed that I did not want to re-up for another three months, there was no other pushback or heavy sales tactics. Everything continued as normal until the day after my subscription ran out,
What happens after you cancel Noom?
I learned one of the more surprising tricks about using Noom after I canceled it for the first time: It turns out that Noom is pretty helpful even after you stop paying for it, in several different ways.
For one, the app itself retains much of its usefulness. Once your subscription expires, you can still access and add to the weight tracking and food logging parts of the app and keep track of your daily intake. All of your custom meals are saved and your weight graph continues to show your progress from when you first started the program. After you input your number, an automated message often tries to entice you back onto the paid program, but those messages can easily be tapped away. I logged on to the app the day after my subscription lapsed and was surprised by how much I could still input and how much historical data I could still see. You’re locked out of the group chat, and there are no more lessons to complete, but the key elements are still there.
And, perhaps of more value, those daily messages continue to resonate even though you don’t receive new ones anymore. Yes, they can be simplistic, but Noom works by helping you reframe your thought process around food. Those lessons stick.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.
This article originally appeared on Reviewed: Noom Review: What happens a year after you try the weight-loss app?