Rise app reviewThis is not the review you’re looking for.

I know what you want. You want me to say, “I started using this app and I lost 10 pounds!” I’m sorry, I can’t give that to you, because that would be insane. I’ll tell you why …

A couple months ago I was offered the chance to try Rise for a free, a dieting app that, “provides members 24/7 guidance (and shaming if needed!) from a registered dietitian coach. Members track their eating and drinking tendencies by uploading photos through the easy-to-use app.” This sounded like fun and not much work, so I agreed to try it out.

(PS. I got you a discount code. Scroll down to get it. xo)

The first step after downloading the Rise app to my phone was to fill out my profile. I put in my current weight, which was 115 pounds. At least, that was what I weighed in July, when I last stepped on the scale. At the moment, my scale was buried in a bin somewhere in my new apartment. But 115 was about where my weight had hovered for the past year, so sure.

What was my target weight? I put in 110. At 110, I would be pretty content. It also asked for my maximum weight: 138, which is what I weighed right out of college.

It asked my about my dietary restrictions/allergies. Hmmm, well I try (and fail) to avoid bread or other grains, dairy, and red meat. Diets I’ve tried before: juice cleanse (pretty successful), Paleo Diet (more in theory than practice), and an online calorie counter (not successful. There is nothing motivating or inspirational about trying to tot up the calories from a drunken binge the night before. Hmmm, how many calories does half an Oreo pack have?). What they didn’t have as diet options but I would have put: Reading Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food, loving myself, eating locally and seasonally, ditching running for yoga and spinning, cutting soda out completely, avoiding processed food, giving myself permission to enjoy food, dancing whenever I go out, putting all my uneaten food on my boyfriend’s plate when I feel full, going to Burning Man for a week and eating about 400 calories a day because of the extreme, dry heat, and–finally–moving into a sixth floor walkup.

It asked me what kind of guidance I wanted. Kick my ass, please. It also asked for lifestyle factors, like how many times a week I consume sugary drinks like soda or juice (if you count cold-pressed juices, several), alcohol (several), exercise (several is stretching it), home cooking (once or twice a week), and grocery shopping (Whole Foods or specialty/health food stores, farmer’s market, CSA, bodegas.) There was room for additional notes, but I figured I had shared enough.

Within a day I was hooked up with Amelia, a super-friendly dietician from Chicago. Her profile seemed just right for me. “I believe in eating whole foods, limiting sugar, consuming lean proteins, and including a wide variety of fruit and vegetables. Eating well doesn’t mean sacrificing all my favorite foods. Indulging in moderation and regular exercise allows me to enjoy food and maintain a healthy weight at the same time. I strive to be mindful of my eating and consume what my body needs for energy and not emotional support. I don’t promote fad diets, but I do encourage making small, sustainable changes that will last a lifetime.” < I like this lady.

I started on October 30th by uploading a picture of my breakfast: Peace All Natural Hearty Raisin Bran with Califa farms almond milk, plus some Tropicana orange juice. Amelia approved my meal with a little green check mark, and left me an encouraging note about the amount of fiber and protein in my cereal. But she thought I should ditch the sugary OJ, and suggested Trop 50 as an alternative. I responded explaining that I was craving some OJ and since my boyfriend was swinging by the bagel place, I asked him to get me some and this is what they had.

For lunch I decided to impress, so I cooked up some couscous with apples, cranberries, walnuts, olive oil, pepper, agave, and Himalayan pink sea salt. Amelia did not take the bait on the fancy salt, but she commended me on adding walnuts for protein. For dinner I uploaded a picture of my sushi roll with brown rice, a glass of wine, and a package of Justin’s peanut butter cups. Amelia praised me for getting protein in with the salmon, and said it was cool if I had the peanut butter cups and wine because I had been so good the rest of the day.

Here is where I ran into my first snag. Rise gives you predesignated spaces within which you can upload your food: breakfast, mid-morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack, and dinner. But it neglects to give you a space for after dinner. Which, if you are a human, you know is the most insidiously effective time to pack on pounds. Throughout my time on Rise, I would be awesome during the day, with little digital cheers from Amelia. But on a few nights a week, I would finish half the bottle of wine, go out all night and consume four beers plus a couple empanadas, or raid the pantry. I mean, at maybe 500 calories at most, these midnight snacks were nothing compared to my college days. But they weren’t insignificant either.

Still, it was fun having my dietician social media friend around. She wasn’t exactly kicking my ass as I requested–maybe perky tips are what passes for mean in the Midwest–but she did suggest several times that I up my vegetable intake, and perhaps going ten hours without any real food besides some vegan macaron snacks wasn’t the best idea. (I’m busy, yo.) She wasn’t as impressed as I hoped about the fact that my muffins were locally made and my fried pork chop raised antibiotic-free, but it did make it harder for her to figure out the nutritional content of my meals when my jam and granola were made by itty bitty local companies. “I can’t find the nutrition facts for that brand, but …” was a common refrain.

I was a couple weeks in when the next snag showed up. I unpacked my scale, stepped on, and watched the numbers blink and settle on 109. 109 pounds! When had I lost that six pounds? Maybe I was just losing muscle? This required an enormous recalibration of life expectations. I am at my ideal weight. I no longer want to “lose a few pounds.” I am happy with myself. No matter how much weight I lose, I will still have thighs. I need to switch from high-impact cardio to weight lifting. (Amelia suggested I focus on building muscle.)

At that point I started to lose steam. Taking pictures of my food and uploading it was becoming a drag, especially since I no longer had a goal to work toward. I couldn’t bring myself to take a picture of meals in public because I didn’t want to be that girl, so I would just type out a vague description of what I had ordered. I consumed a pint of organic chocolate ice cream within two days, and Amelia never saw any evidence of it. Finally, after a month of being on Rise, I told Amelia the truth: that I had been secretly trying her out for possible review on my blog, and that I would stop taking up her valuable time. She wished me well and we parted ways, like a black belt from her sensei.

So you can see why I can’t give you the review you want. If I had lost 10 pounds using the app, I would be close to malnourished. I just didn’t need the Rise app. But I can tell you this: I wish I had access to this app in college or right out of it, when I still thought I could trick my body into losing weight by consuming diet foods or going on a crazy crash diet. Amelia’s smart and kind advice would have been the thing I needed after I bought a whole Halloween bag of Reese’s peanut butter cups and consumed them in an emotional haze, or when I was heating up pitiful diet microwave meals for dinner, then pouring myself two bowls of cereal a couple hours later. Instead of breaking my spirit by uploading the calorie counts of several slices of pizza and eight beers into my online food diary, I could have shared this information with Amelia, and she could have coached me through my rough spot with a little compassion and wisdom that I did not yet possess for myself.

Since those dark days in college, I’ve read several books on food and nutrition, kept up with the latest studies, and gotten myself to a healthy emotional space in regards to food. So I just don’t need Rise. But if you feel lost and adrift, can’t afford to pick up a diet coach just for you, and enjoy Instagram, Rise might be the tool you need to get healthy again.

Rise offers its services at a variety of price points depending on how much time you pay for at once: 

  • Weekly subscription = $15/ week 
  • Monthly subscription = $12/ week 
  • Trimonthly subscription = $10/ week 

I asked and they gave! Rise is offering EcoCult readers one week free + 20% off your first payment with code ECOCULT. Just make sure to sign up via the website so you can use the code.