Posted in Omada

Omada – Week 4

Health is complicated.

It would be lovely if there were a formula for health we could be taught and memorize and apply every day. But, every day is different. Every body is different. Every life has a different set of tools. Every life has a different set of challenges. And those tools and challenges are not constant. Life is fluid. Health, also, is fluid.

I’m nearly 49 years old. I should know by now that health is complicated, that nutrition and exercise are wrapped up in history and emotions, that most of us have lead-weight-backpacks of shame and insecurities regarding food, sleep, work, activity, and worth. I really should know that there is no magic formula for this part of life.

And yet…

And yet, I started the Omada program thinking “this’ll be it!” It’s different than the rest.

  • It’s 4 months long.
  • It’s a personal coach.
  • It’s a small group of people cheering each other on.
  • It’s not a formula for drastic change; it’s noticing patterns and shifting them toward healthier ones.

Turns out all those things are true about Omada…and it’s still not the magic formula.

Because there isn’t one, I suppose.

Here are some bummer things about Omada: (Promise you’ll read this list only if you read the list below it! That’s only fair.)

  • My group disappeared. There were 20 of us on the “roll sheet” at the beginning. It appears some of them never really checked in on the first day at all, so then we were down to maybe a dozen. Then, within the first week, it seemed we were down to 4 or 5 of us who ever posted a question – or answered a question others posted. I had hoped we would be a group of folks cheering each other on, offering ideas we’ve tried, links to helpful resources. That didn’t happen. And that’s a bummer.
  • Some of the data doesn’t add up on the Omada page. On the weigh-in page, it’ll tell me that I’m 52% of the way to my goal of weight loss, when simple math tells me I’m not that far along. Actually, I WAS that far along, then I gained some weight back. Seems weird that something that simple shouldn’t be up-to-date every day…especially because it’s a program that’s data driven, focusing on patterns and such. Inaccurate data is a bummer.
  • I was hoping the coach and the lessons would be helping me take a look at patterns: what time of day I tend to snack…or WHY I tend to snack…or what kinds of snacks I tend to reach for. But, that hasn’t happened. There is no section for recording how you feel when you are eating…or even to record something like, “I really wanted a big piece of chocolate cake and a huge glass of milk when I was at the birthday party, but instead I had a couple of Hershey’s kisses from the bowl on the table. So, while I’m recording that I ate chocolate, it’s actually a big win for me as far as making choices goes.” Those feelings and choices matter, but there is no way for the coach to know that about you…so there is no way for her (mine is a woman) to know she could cheer you on for eating Hershey’s kisses that day. That’s a bummer.
  • Most of the lessons and articles shared are not news. We who have joined Omada have likely read and read and read articles about:
    • food substitution (Eat This, Not That!),
    • managing cravings (Check in without yourself about why you are eating. Are you bored? Write a letter or call a friend instead of reaching for potato chips.),
    • not all carbs are bad (Fresh fruits and veggies count as carbs, but they are not the same as Wonder Bread.)

    These articles are not a bummer. They are good stuff, but I thought since Omada billed itself as helping us examine patterns and taking small steps toward healthier ones, I thought I might learn something more about human nature and choice-making and motivation and such. So, whether that’s fair or not, it’s a bit of a bummer.

Here are some great things about Omada: (You promised you’d read this list, too!)

  • My coach is incredibly patient, kind, and encouraging. I wrote her a long letter about a frustration I was having with the program – and some of the ways I was managing my health that were not showing up on the way we track things in Omada – and she was supportive of my choices and asked if there were any other ways she could support me. She just works within this system/app/website, so for all I know, she would manage things differently if she ran the place! Having an understanding and encouraging coach is a great thing! (Thanks, Omada!)
  • Some of the lessons have had a brand new idea for me to chew on. So, I have to assume that they have had the same for others. Just because I’ve read the Eat This, Not That kind of articles one million times doesn’t mean that everyone has…or they may have read it before but needed to read it again.
    • Just yesterday, in the “Managing Cravings” article we read, they suggested planning some indulgences on the regular. Maybe every Wednesday, you have your favorite meatball sub for lunch with your friends. Maybe Thursday night Must See TV on your sofa includes a bowl of ice cream. Making a decision ahead of time that you will indulge weekly means not having to feel guilty when you are actually enjoying the food and experience. I have never thought of that before. I’m going to try it. And now, I’m enjoying deciding what it will be, when it will be, with whom it will be. Savory or sweet? Alone on my sofa or out with friends? Here’s a very workable new pattern that may just form in my nutritional life. (Thanks, Omada!)
    • I’ve read articles about the Mason Jar Salads many times. I’ve watched YouTube videos about it, too. I own mason jars. I like salads. I really like menus that include the prep/mess on one day…and food for the week. For some reason, when I read the Omada article about Mason Jar Salads and clicked the link to the videos, it meant something to me this time. I made three salads. Ate them over the next four days. They were fresh and fantastic (not the avocado – yes! I tossed it in lemon juice, first!). I’ve done that for the last three weeks. Am I establishing a new pattern? (Thanks, Omada!)

So, here’s the bottom line for me regarding Omada:

  1. My church has partnered with this company to try to help us be healthier. I intend to honor that by seeing this through, and frankly, I’m happy to offer them feedback about this thing for which they have surely paid plenty of dollars to offer it to thousands of us.
  2. If this free program can offer me small bites of new information about nutrition, exercise, sleep, and stress, then I’m in. I will set aside my longing to have everything make sense in a lovely and easy to digest chart with some clean bullet points (see format of this blog post), and I’ll take the little scraps of insight I find here at Omada. I’ll stitch them to the other scraps I’ve gathered along the way and create the quilt of Jennifer’s Health. It is not one-size-fits-all, and it is a bit crazy with no discernable formula. But, that’s really all we’ve got, now, isn’t it?
  3. The Omada program attends to four major areas of health: nutrition, activity, sleep, and stress. We began with nutrition. And it may be the one area I’ve spent the most time reading about (and feeling shame about) and practicing and failing in my lifetime. And even in this realm, I’ve learned some things. So, what might Omada have in store for me regarding activity, sleep, and stress? Even if there are just a few things from each area of health that I bring forward with me after the 4 months – this is a huge win for this 49 year old who really wants to manage her own health from here on out…rather than just keep floating along not managing it, shocked at her arthritis and high triglycerides and that the doctor wants her to take a statin for cholesterol. So, I’m looking forward to what comes next.
  4. I think there’s a lesson in humility here in the Omada program. I tend to think I know everything, and I’m right about stuff. So, when something doesn’t look or feel familiar, I can easily dismiss it. And I’ve done plenty of that in the last month. Then I take stock of things I’ve learned about myself, and I see I might just not have known everything before the program. Go figure.

I wish you the sweetest of peace as you attend to your health. I pray you are gentle with you as you examine the reasons and ways you nourish yourself. I hope the tenderness you offer others is also something on which you can draw for your own beautiful self.

Posted in Omada

Omada Week 1

I should remember this:

When I’m frustrated by something, being really judge-y about it, I’m probably learning something important.

But, I don’t remember it. I just get frustrated and judge-y, absolutely sure I know better, or at least that I know something is wrong or dumb. And then that familiar feeling starts creeping in, that thing where humility starts to hover nearby, but I ignore it in order to stay judge-y. Maybe mostly, so I can stay “right.” I love being right.

I was excited to start the Omada program on Sunday. I had logged in and created my profile, but that’s all the website/app would let me do until it was unlocked for me on Sunday. On Sunday, I’d get to start diving into all the tools and exciting things on the website. I received my scale that sends them the data wirelessly, and I had weighed myself each day leading up to Sunday …because they told me to.

I am a good student. I have always been a good student. If you tell me you have something to teach me, and there are assignments and group work and goals and such, I’M ALL IN. I think that’s why I managed my way through a couple of Whole30s last year. It’s an assignment. Someone sat down and decided what I should do, made me a list I can follow. A puzzle to solve. I’m good at those.

I was ready for Omada to have various tools like calorie calculators or places to track my water intake, my exercise, my sleep, my stress, my choosing a small piece of dark chocolate instead of piece of chocolate cake. I was ready for a goal tracker, a countdown…anything that shows progress and feels like an assignment.

Sunday came, and the website opened!

I weighed myself (check!).

I read the profile of each of my cohort members (check!).

I read the assigned article (check!).

I wrote a response to the article in the group-chat section (check!).

I clicked around and saw where to record my physical activity and how to sync my Google Fit step counter to the Omada app. (check!).

I started charting my meals in the app….wait, what?!…this app isn’t like the ones I’ve used before. It’s super lame. You just type in what you ate. There are no calories listed, no fat grams, no salt, no carbs. You just type in anything you want. So, like, just type “pizza” if you want. Lame.

Then, when you have typed in your list of things you ate for that meal, two questions pop up:

Would you say this meal was small, medium, or large?

Would you say this meal was mostly unhealthful, somewhat healthful, or mostly healthful?

That’s it. Lame.

For three or four days I dutifully inputted my meals and snacks, answered the questions about size and quality of the meals/snacks, and felt wholly underwhelmed with the program.

Then, a couple days ago, I had some chocolate midmorning. I typed in “1 ounce dark chocolate”, selected “small” for the size of snack, and selected “mostly unhealthful”
as my judgment of the snack. Of course, I thought, dark chocolate is healthier than milk chocolate, so should I select “somewhat healthful”
instead? But, I left it as it was.

Sometime mid-afternoon, I had 5 or 6 bites of coconut cake and a small glass of 1% milk. So, I went back to the snacks input thingy and added the cake and the milk. In the other apps I’ve used, you record each snack separately, but Omada has just one place to put all your snacks for each day. When I added the coconut cake and milk to the dark chocolate, it asked me those questions again:

Would you say this meal was small, medium, or large?

Would you say this meal was mostly unhealthful, somewhat healthful, or mostly healthful?

Okay, so now I’m picturing a plate with a small piece of cake and some squares of dark chocolate on it – with a small glass of milk next to it. What size is this snack? It’s not small anymore, so I guess it’s medium. And it definitely doesn’t get a change from the “mostly unhealthful”
I gave it earlier.

In the evening, while I watched TV, I had some goldfish crackers and an Izzy fruit soda. (Izzies are my I-want-a-soda-but-I-shouldn’t-have-one drink. They are carbonated fruit juice. They are 90 calories, not 150. They weigh me down with less guilt than Pepsi does.)

When I pictured a plate with some squares of dark chocolate, a small piece of cake, a pile of goldfish crackers…and a glass of milk next to a can of Izzy, well it was definitely a large snack and it was mostly unhealthful
(thanks 1% milk for showing up with your calcium and a bit of protein).

So, Omada, with its lame-o meal recording app had me wondering all day long about my snacking habits. It had me shifting my understanding of snacking and how they add up. This is not news whatsoever. Every diet/exercise program has some kind of lesson in it about how “even small snacks add up in the end!” But, I had not thought it through in this way until this week…when someone asked me to put them all in the same place, rather than recording each one separately. Helping me to imagine sitting down to all of them at one time, rather than grazing on them throughout the day.

The Omada folks have said in every email or blurb or video they’ve provided me that this is not a weight-loss program. It is different. It’s about examining habits. Data. Patterns.

That’s what drew me in. I don’t have a lot of weight to lose. It’s really not about the long game of how to lose 100 pounds. For me, it’s the long game of not losing the same 10-15 over and over and over. Living healthier. Longer.

It’s 16 weeks long. A third of a year. Long enough to track some trends and examine some habits and wonder differently about food, health, activity, stress, sleep, etc. So, why I expected it to look and feel like other things I’ve experienced, I don’t know.

I guess I just like to be right. And when I do things I’ve done before, my odds are better.