ASHLAND – During COVID-19 shutdowns in the spring of 2020, Rebecca and Scott Parillo—like millions of others—found themselves falling into a funk as they adjusted to a drastically different daily routine. Instead of succumbing to the challenges of this new normal, the married couple began looking for ways to motivate themselves to lose weight and meet fitness goals.
Although Rebecca Parillo had successfully used the Weight Watchers program on and off for about 20 years, she felt it was time to try a new approach. A steroid had resulted in unexpected weight gain, and she was unhappy about it but unmotivated by a too-familiar program.
When a couple of her friends suggested the Noom program, she decided to give it a try. She was motivated by a new approach as well as financial accountability—wanting to get her money’s worth—and the cost of Noom was around $1 each day, which she found reasonable.
“I lost a pound and a half a week. So when you're seeing a half a pound lost every couple days, for me that's a huge motivator that this is working,” Rebecca Parillo said.
The Noom program, with a mission to help “people everywhere lead healthier lives through behavior change,” worked extremely well for Rebecca Parillo. Over the course of her four-month commitment, she lost the steroid weight, about 20 pounds, and felt empowered to continue losing weight with the knowledge she had gained.
Noom app users track meals, water intake and daily weight. They receive analyses of their health habits and are given interactive courses customized to address psychological triggers. Each user is assigned a goal specialist for one-on-one coaching on specific goals. With over 50 million users, participants report high rates of success.
“I have a better understanding, so as I gain a little weight at the holidays or whatever, I know exactly what to do to lose it,” Rebecca Parillo said. “I really feel educated now about what works for me and what my challenges and triggers are. I have this confidence of being successful versus, ‘Oh, I just blew it. I'm defeated.’ I feel much more in control.”
Emotional eating is one of Rebecca Parillo’s biggest triggers, and with COVID-19, she noted there were plenty of reasons to fall into this pattern. The Noom program helped her to not only figure out what her triggers were but offered lots of strategies to work through them.
Another source of motivation for Rebecca Parillo was observing her husband’s achievement of his own fitness goals. He lost 35 pounds during the same time.
But unlike his wife, Scott Parillo has never been motivated by weight loss programs. A “bad” day on a program results in total discouragement, and he has found he abandons it altogether. Instead, he decided to try something new—simply tracking his habits and weight in a small notebook.
He tracked eight to 10 daily habits, including physical exercises like pushups, pull-ups and running and mental exercises like reading and drawing.
“I give myself smiley faces or frowny faces for how I eat, so I'm not beating myself up,” Scott Parillo said. “It was less of trying to count calories ... and more of just trying to build habits.”
Starting out, Scott Parillo wanted to eventually be able to do 100 pushups every day, run a mile or two and achieve a single pull-up. He started slow, with 20 minutes of walking and 10 minutes of running, to build up to his goal.
A moment of delight came when he achieved his first pull-up. “I jumped for joy when I was able to get my chin above the bar,” he said.
Observation without harsh judgment was key for Scott Parillo’s achievement of fitness goals. It began to feel like a game, with the mystery taken out of stepping on the scale. His weight was something he could control, and he learned how to through observing the way eating and exercise habits impacted his weight over time.
Within a few months, Scott Parillo had lost 35 pounds, which he maintained by continuing to track his habits. He has gained a few pounds back since the weather changed and he is running less, but he continues to use his notebook and is confident he can get back to his goal weight when he starts running again.
Now, the Parillos are enjoying feeling empowered to thrive in their improved physical and mental health together. They report feeling more energetic and confident after building health habits to promote long-term health.
“Before COVID, I’d go out to eat or on coffee dates with friends,” Rebecca Parillo said. “Now it’s walking dates.”