flat lay photography of three tray of foods

Noom Wellness App and Service – Review


Noom is a wellness app and service that provides insights into nutrition, eating strategies, food choices, and optimizing exercise. There are daily lessons to improve knowledge about food choices and consider environmental stimulus factors that cause people to reach for food. Through a series of questions, the app becomes customized for each user. I used Noom for the 10-day free trial period. Here’s what I discovered.


Noom takes a holistic approach to weight loss and wellbeing and for that reason seems more helpful than programs that focus almost entirely on exercise, or food limiting diets, or food home delivery services, or expensive supplements. The program guides people to avoid extremes and instead focus on attainable and maintainable goals and practices.

New Eating Mindfulness

When Weight Watchers promoted their point system for eating, it allowed people to consider the impact of fiber and foods high in fat along with other factors, rather than just counting calories. Their program promotes a realization that not all calories are the same.

The Noom system emphasizes foods that are filling but low in calories. An example given in the app is a grape compared to a raisin. The grape is considered to be a better choice. Calorie dense foods like nuts are not prohibited, but it’s suggested they be eaten sparingly.

Food tracking is based on a three color system that conveys low, medium, and high density choices. To learn more, read “How are the food colors determined?”

Pay More to Help Others

An interesting part of the initial membership process is the option to pay about $10 to cover the cost of the trial period. There’s even an option to pay about $18 to help cover the cost for people who can’t pay anything.

The reason for the sliding scale isn’t explained, but presumably it is to promote a positive state of mind through the act of generosity and helping others.

If you decide to cancel before the paid subscription kicks in, special offers are available to ensure people don’t drop out only because of financial reasons.

One Problem. Many Causes.

Using Noom offers an insight into the many different factors that can result in people gaining weight and having trouble losing it. For an individual, there may be one or a few primary factors. Everyone is different.

Great for Newcomers

Anyone who is new to weight loss will benefit from learning about tracking food consumption, tracking activity, tracking water intake, and being mindful of things that prompt eating. Learning and applying these habits should be impactful.

People who have had their attention on other things in life may one day notice that a busy work schedule or life disruptions have resulted in 10 or 20 pounds of extra body weight, or more. Noom can help give them some efficient ways to get back to a healthy weight.

Plateau Buster

If someone is already aware of the many “tips and tricks” for tackling weight loss, Noom may not offer too many new insights. The most seasoned weight-loss practitioners will already be familiar with most of what Noom has to offer.

For these people, Noom may help serve as a plateau buster if the a malaise or fatigue has set in after reaching a plateau. Not having ongoing positive feedback through seeing results makes a person less motivated. Noom offers an external motivator to keep you on track through times when there is little or no weight loss despite best practices.

Noom helps a person stay mindful of their weight loss and wellness goals with daily reminders and the engagement of learning exercises.

Room for Improvement

Here are some areas where the Noom system seems to have room for improvement:

  • BARCODE — When using the barcode feature to enter foods, once the food has been identified, the app returns to the barcode camera view which suggests perhaps more foods could be identified and added to the meal, but it doesn’t work. So, it’s an extra step to go back and add more food items.
  • CHANGES — The lengthy survey process presumably customizes the plan. It’s not clear how one might go back and tweak their plan based on some changes in lifestyle or diet preferences. It’s also not clear how a person might go back and review their survey answers later. There should be a way to adjust for life changes or provide adjusted answers.
  • DIET PREFERENCE — During the personalization process, Noom lets the user select a preferred diet based on things like diabetes concern, or desiring low-carb options. Oddly, the system doesn’t let the user choose more than one of these customizations.
  • FOOD TRACKING — For anyone already using a food tracking app like Lose It, the limited abilities of Noom food tracking may feel like a hinderance. You’ll go to scan fairly common foods and the barcode won’t be recognized. Even foods searched by name may not show up. I had a few occasions where serving sizes and calories were way off. If you’re having to enter all the nutritional information manually, it becomes time consuming. With an app like Lose It, a person can focus on calories, or carbs, or protein, or any other factor to guide your eating choices. Lose It lets you easily repeat a meal from a previous day by entering it with a tap. Noom has a clumsy work-round for this which is creating a recipe or dish, but then the details are lost once pasted in as a meal. It’s really better to just have the ability to repeat a meal with a list of items.
  • NOTIFICATION DOT — The main menu is accessible by taping on three lines in the top left corner of the app. On the top line of the menu, there is a red dot on the right side. It’s a bit distracting and seems to suggest there is some new notification or something that needs action. I contacted support about it and nobody seems to know what it’s for or how to make it go away. It looks like a notification alert, but it doesn’t seem to serve a purpose. A similar red dot appears and goes away when new messages are available from support.
  • SUPPORT — The support system seems to be a hybrid of AI-driven automated responses mixed with some human responses. There’s not a personal coach that you get to know by name, but whoever is online in the virtual call center will answer the questions. So, the consistency and quality of support may fluctuate.
  • SWEETS — Noom and many other diet programs emphasize sweets as rewards, and cheat days as a way to keep unhealthy high calorie foods in a person’s diet. Similar to this is the abundance of foods on the market that use Monk Fruit, Stevia, and other artificial sweeteners. For people who seem to have an uncontrollable chemical addiction to sweets, maybe this is helpful. However, there are some people who can slowly reduce their intake of sweets and have a diet that’s naturally low in carbs and low in sweets without it feeling like a sacrifice. There should be some way for the Noom system to choose between continuing with sweets, moving slowly away from sweets, or being fine without sweets.

Noom Alternatives

If Noom doesn’t work for your situation, an alternative would be to use Lose It or a similar food tracking app. Another good option is FitBit for tracking food, exercise, and sleep. The Apple Watch does a good job of tracking exercises, sleep, and meditation, but lacks the food tracking feature.

Unique to Noom are the personalized insights into an individual’s behavior and body needs. An alternative would be to get some good books on diet, exercise, wellness, and the psychology of eating. Commit to reading a certain amount each day and keep a journal of notes about what you read.

Since Noom is free to try, and might work for you, it’s worth checking out. At a minimum, it will be a learning experience. The initial option to feel good about donating money probably does work for most people.

Greg Johnson – Personal Update 201610


Personal Update 201610 | 31 October 2016 | Monday


I hope you’re doing well. Thanks for taking a moment to read my latest update.


I’m getting closer to reaching my various wellness goals. This month I lifted over 93,000 pounds cumulatively and walked over 228,000 steps climbing 451 floors. Today my blood sugar was at 100, and my blood pressure remains at about 120/80 while resting. I’ve been spending more time on my bike and enjoying nature hikes with Makur. So, the benefits are showing.


We recently upgraded our phones from the 2-year-old iPhone 6 Plus to the iPhone 7 Plus. With the new camera features in the iPhone 7 Plus, I’m getting a renewed interest in taking photos and sharing them. Mostly I share them through Instagram and Facebook, but I hope to return to sharing my ‘photos of the week’ as I did in the past.

I wrote an article about buying the right camera where you can see some of my recent photos with explanations about which camera was used to take the picture and why. Be sure to check that out.


I’m continuing with my pursuit of public interest work and service projects. One area of interest is architecture and urban planning. In that regard, I’ve been producing regular podcast audio conversations with City Councilman Rockne Cole of Iowa City through my IowaCityArchitecture.com organization. You can find the podcasts at SoundCloud.com/IowaCityArchitecture.


Many thanks to all of you who keep in touch and provide support for the work I do.

~ Greg


Want More News? For additional news and updates you can subscribe to the Resources For Life Newsletter by sending an email to resourcesforlifenews-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

Origins. For those of you who are new to these monthly personal updates, they began about 16 years ago out of a desire to share from my personal life about topics of lifeways (faith), health, career, finances, relationships, effective living, and activism. This is based on the life map presented on the Resources For Life website.

Greg Johnson – Personal Update 201609


Personal Update 201609 | 29 September 2016 | Thursday


I hope you’re doing well. Thanks for taking a moment to read my latest update.


My consulting business continues to expand. I’m gaining new clients and still working with some who I’ve served for decades. These days I’m mostly providing tech support and also offering website development consulting and services. Over the past two weeks I’ve been working on two fairly large website redesign projects that I’m excited about. I continue to enjoy working as an authorized Apple repair technician part time.


As we head into fall, the weather is more conducive to enjoyable bike riding and walking so I’m enjoying getting out more as well as continuing with my strength training program at the gym. For years I’ve been using a spreadsheet in my iPhone to track my weight lifting. It helps me keep track of my progress. I use the Apple Numbers program, along with the integrated form feature for data entry and drop-down options. This makes it easy to quickly enter strength exercises.

This past month, I’ve lifted over 94,000 pounds, and since I started going back to the gym regularly in April, I’ve lifted over 1 million pounds. This total is calculated by adding up each weight lifted by the number of times it was lifted. I’m looking forward to increasing how much I lift each month.

Here’s an example of what the entry system looks like.


Here’s a quick review of how it works:

  • Entry. Touch Entry to see the above screen that lets you enter information using a form-like presentation.
  • Sheet. Touch Sheet to view a spreadsheet presentation of the data.
  • Total Entries. The number above ‘815 of 815’ is a count of the total entries in the database.
  • Date / Time. The full date and time are shown above. To enter this information each time, you simply touch the time and press the ‘Now’ button to enter the current date and time, or enter any other date and time you wish.
  • Activity. This is a drop-down menu of the type of exercise you’re doing. You can easily add items to this list in the Sheet view, by selecting the column, choosing format, and selecting the Drop-Down option. This saves a lot of time because you don’t need to type each activity repeatedly.
  • Weight. This is the amount of weight lifted.
  • Reps. This is how many times you’ve lifted the weight.
  • Sets. This number represents how many times, if any, that  you repeat this activity in a given workout session.
  • Total. This number is the total amount lifted which is equal to (weight) x (reps) x (sets).
  • Location. This is the gym or location where you did the exercise. This can be relevant if one gym has a different weight machine that requires a slightly different adjustment for the weight. For example, a chest press machine at one gym may be set at 200 pounds but to get the same resistance at another gym you might set it to 180. It depends on how the belts and pulleys are configured. Knowing the location and weight from last time can help determine what weight you should lift the next time.
  • Notes. This is a field for entering additional notes.

I’m using similar spreadsheets for tracking my weight, car mileage, and other data. What I like about the system is that it’s easy to setup and customize depending on the need, and it’s built on Apple’s own Numbers spreadsheet software that works on all iPhone, iPad, iPod, and desktop computers, as well as on the web at iCloud.com using their cloud apps. The form entry feature only works in the iOS version.


Many thanks to all of you who keep in touch and provide support for the work I do.

~ Greg


Want More News? For additional news and updates you can subscribe to the Resources For Life Newsletter by sending an email to resourcesforlifenews-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

Origins. For those of you who are new to these monthly personal updates, they began about 16 years ago out of a desire to share from my personal life about topics of lifeways (faith), health, career, finances, relationships, effective living, and activism. This is based on the life map presented on the Resources For Life website.

DIY Glucose Stress Test Results

Amazing! Just did a DIY glucose stress test with 47 grams of highly bioavailable liquid caffeinated sugar (one bottle of Starbucks Mocha Coconut Frappuccino) and two Dark Chocolate Kind Bars (32 grams of carbs). Over 100 grams of carbs in the past few hours. Glucose levels barely increased. This indicates healthy glucose control and proper insulin response. Learn more http://wp.me/p4ilax-h8


Open-Source, Public Domain, Open Access, Collaborative, Universal Design Wellness Protocol

I’m excited to be developing an open-source, public domain, open access, collaborative, universal design wellness protocol to simultaneously address various health issues such as high blood sugar, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and obesity. The glucose numbers you see below of 87 and 88 were over 300 about 7 weeks ago. Over the same time period, I’ve lost about 14 pounds. Blood pressure, once at 141 over 90 is now down to 118 over 79. More astonishing results to be posted in the weeks to come. Thanks to everyone who has contributed to the project so far. You can read my latest post online at http://wp.me/p4ilax-h8


Breakthrough in Regulating Glucose: How I reduced my blood sugar from 329 to 88


To the best of my knowledge, much of what you’re about to read has not been published or discussed anywhere. It’s based on my own personal research and experiences. I’m about to describe some serious failings in how we currently approach regulation of glucose levels and management of diabetes.


This article is not meant to diagnose, treat, or cure. Contact your healthcare provider before making any significant changes to your exercise or diet. Everybody is different. What works for one person, may not work for another. The story below is from my own personal experience and interactions with doctors and isn’t intended to provide any conclusive statements about all doctors or the healthcare industry as a whole. These are general observations. Please be sure to read the important advisory at the conclusion of this article.

Most Glucose Readings are Inaccurate

People interested in tracking their blood glucose levels, who have experimented a bit, know that two readings taken at the same time can sometimes be as much 30 points apart. That’s a huge difference. It’s usually because of errors in how the testing is done. However, if you get two readings that are very similar, there’s a likelihood that the average of those two is close to accurate. It may take as many as three readings to know you have an accurate number.

At a cost of up to $1.40 per test strip, most people check their glucose once per day, in the morning, and get only one (probably inaccurate) data point for a 24-hour period. They are left not knowing if their blood glucose increases during the day, or if the morning reading is the highest level for the day.

Having an accurate reading at night and in the morning can help identify conditions such as “The Dawn Phenomenon” and “The Somogyi Effect.” (source)

With only a single morning reading, there’s no awareness about the actual glucose impact of different foods eaten, and no knowledge of how different exercises during the day impact blood sugar levels.

Despite the life saving insight that even just two samples per day could provide, for some reason, insurance companies only pay for one test strip per day.

Glucose Testing Made Financially Accessible

Recently CVS Pharmacy began selling their brand of glucose test strips for $22 per box of 100 strips retail price rather than $140 per box of 100 (what some of the insurance-preferred brand name test strip manufacturers charge). This has really shaken up the industry, and has people asking about the ethics of marking up essential healthcare products to make a 400% increase in profit when people’s lives are at risk.

Now, anyone with $22 can buy a box of 100 test strips and map out what’s causing their diabetes (or high glucose levels), then take corrective action to cure it. Companies trying to sell test strips at inflated prices are undoubtedly upset about this development.

Since I first started investigating and researching this, prices on glucose meter test strips have dropped substantially. Below are listings on Amazon from companies trying to drop their inventory at distressed price reductions of up to 82% off the previous retail price. Click any image for a larger gallery view.

Test Strip Price Reduction
Test Strip Price Reduction
Test Strip Price Reduction
Test Strip Price Reduction

What the Healthcare Industry Tells You

Ask just about any doctor about glucose testing, and they will try to convince you that you don’t need to pay attention to your glucose levels during the day “because the numbers fluctuate so much and are meaningless.”

Yet, anyone actually testing their own glucose levels will quickly learn how their body responds to various kinds of foods and exercises, and the impact of a sedentary lifestyle becomes measurable.

Positive results of varying degrees can be seen in a matter of hours, days, and weeks. Some exercises have a greater impact than others. Depending on the carbs, sugars, glycemic index, and your own unique metabolic processes, different foods will impact your glucose levels differently.

All of this can be learned by strategically performing your own glucose testing.

Clinical Research for $1 Per Day

We’re talking about in-home clinical research that’s about as complicated as an elementary school science project and costs about 45 cents to $1 per day, and it could save lives. Yet, even with the recent 85% drop in cost (for the CVS test strips), insurance companies refuse to pay for it and most doctor’s don’t suggest it.

The fact is that most people are on their own with regard to predictive and preventative care. Even if you go to an integrative medicine doctor, most insurance companies won’t cover exploratory procedures and preventative treatments.

So, in the case of blood sugar management, if you’re wanting to test frequently, you’ll probably need to pay with your own money to get a glucose tester and test strips, because in some cases insurance companies will only cover the cost of brand name testers, and even then they only cover one test strip per day.

It’s up to each individual to clinically study and learn about their own health conditions to develop a personalized wellness regime. This doesn’t mean that you give up on medical care entirely. It means that you dig deeper to learn more about yourself.

Any health plan should be done in collaboration with an practitioner of integrative medicine, and it’s good to continue with a traditional doctor for whatever minimal care is offered by the insurance companies.

Danger! Call your doctor immediately!

About a month ago, my glucose levels were reaching over 300 as you can see in the reading below.


The standard medical advisory for readings this high is: “Danger. Call your doctor immediately.” (Source: University of Washington)

I was alarmed. I knew I had to do something. So, I did, and below you can see the results before and after about 30 days later.



I should share some of the background leading up to my high glucose reading. By the way, when I saw the reading above of over 300, I didn’t call my doctor immediately.* Here’s why…

For many years I’ve been periodically testing my blood sugar levels. Year after year, they were normal.

In the fall of 2013, I’d started using a protein drink mix called Muscle Milk. I created a video about the experience. The protein drink does what it promises. It produces amazing levels of energy and strength. However, in the process, it seemed to raise cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels.**

However, I didn’t realize what was going on with my health, until several weeks into using the product and I had my annual physical. The doctor immediately declared me to be a diabetic, wanted to put me on high blood pressure medication, and was alarmed about my cholesterol levels. I was really surprised since I’d not previously had trouble with my blood sugar being high. Yet, it was close to 140 according to the lab work. That’s the highest I’d ever seen it.

I explained that I’d been using a nutritional supplement that I suspected had skewed the lab results. I asked if we could wait on the high blood pressure medicine. The doctor reluctantly agreed to wait on the high blood pressure medicine, but insisted that I take Metformin to help regulate my blood sugar.

I thought to myself, “What could go wrong?”

Well, here’s what went wrong.

I started taking the Metformin prescription and noticed my blood sugar levels were increasing. Every few days the numbers were higher. Soon my blood sugar levels were up to 180, then 220, then one day they reached 285 while on the Metformin. “This is crazy,” I thought.

I immediately stopped taking Metformin, and did some online research. I read that “patients taking metformin can also experience high blood sugar.” (source) I’m glad I’d been checking my blood sugar regularly rather than once per day in the morning. Otherwise I might have been unaware of the danger I was in.

For me this was just another disappointing experience where I was trying to play by the rules, and doing what the doctor had ordered, and my condition became worse.

It took me months to bring my blood sugar levels back down. Without much provocation at all, they’d be back up again. The extreme reaction I was having to foods high in sugars and carbs was alarming, but it allowed me to have a very sensitive measurement tool to evaluate a lot of different foods.

Using my own body as a research lab, I tested various foods and exercises to learn more about their impact on glucose levels. By February 2015, the testing was over. It had to be. Eating a typical American diet was resulting in blood sugar levels of over 300.

I gathered all my research from the past year of testing, and put it all to work. The result was a return to normal levels in about 30 days.

I’m going to publish more details about my findings in the coming weeks.

To learn more, read the health section of my March 2015 news update.


Below is an video I discovered on 26 March 2015 (after writing the article above) that seems to confirm some of my own findings. In the video, Dr. Attia states, “I dream of the day when our patients can shed their excess pounds and cure themselves of insulin resistance because as medical professionals we’ve shed our excess mental baggage and cured ourselves of new idea resistance sufficiently to go back to our original ideals. Open minds. The courage to throw out yesterday’s ideas when they don’t appear to be working, and the understanding that scientific truth isn’t final but constantly evolving. Staying true to that path will be better for our patients, and better for science. If obesity is nothing more than a proxy for metabolic illness, what good does it do us to punish those with the proxy.”

Video Description: “As a young surgeon, Peter Attia felt contempt for a patient with diabetes. She was overweight, he thought, and thus responsible for the fact that she needed a foot amputation. But years later, Attia received an unpleasant medical surprise that led him to wonder: is our understanding of diabetes right? Could the precursors to diabetes cause obesity, and not the other way around? A look at how assumptions may be leading us to wage the wrong medical war.”


*Advisory. In the experience I described above, I didn’t call my doctor immediately because it was the doctor’s previous advice (I believe) that put me in the situation I was in. I knew I had practices that could bring my blood sugar down. So, I implemented those. I’d read of people with blood sugar levels of 400, 500, or higher who were alive to write about it. There were varying opinions about the significance of a reading over 300. For anyone else in the same situation, I’d suggest that you do call your doctor if your blood sugar is elevated. Also, don’t stop medication simply as a result of reading this article, and don’t ‘experiment’ with foods to the point that they hinder your health. My experience was that the recommended glucose medication made things worse. That’s not necessarily the case with all prescriptions. It’s an exception.

**Disclaimer. The document describes the impact of Muscle Milk as a personal experience and not necessarily as a broad statement about the product and how it might impact a majority of people.

Document History

  • 6 Apr 2023 — Document formatted to use the WordPress block layout standards.
  • 14 Mar 2015 — Document originally posted online.

SuperShrinkMe.com Wellness and Weight Loss Website


I recently remodeled my SuperShrinkMe.com Wellness and Weight Loss website.

I’ve not been as active with the weight loss challenge in recent months, but am returning to the program this month.

To follow along, you can subscribe on the website or Like the Super Shrink Me Facebook page.

I’ll be sharing my approach to wellness and weight loss along with articles about cooking, food preparation, exercise, and new health tracking technologies. It’s everything I’ve learned about wellness and weight loss over about 30 years.

~ Greg