Did you hop on the scale today, and it did not go in the direction you hoped to see?
Well, I am glad you are here reading this because this means you are ready to shift your focus away from the number on the scale and focus on non-scale victories!
We will explore what exactly non-scale victories are and why they may be more beneficial for your health journey than the number on a scale.
Then I will provide you with a list of non-scale victories so you can start to measure success without needing to rely upon the number on the scale.
Finally, I will share a few non-scale victories that some of my clients have shared. The last one may surprise you, so stay tuned.
What are non-scale victories?
Non-scale victories are successes that are unrelated to the number on a scale. These victories focus on progress, personal growth, and other forms of self-improvement outside of tracking your scaled weight.
Why are non-scaled victories important?
Non-scaled victories are important because it helps you find success in your health and weight loss journey beyond the number on a scale.
Having the ability to be successful is one of the main drivers of motivation.
According to the study, Perspectives into the experience of successful, substantial long-term weight-loss maintenance. A systematic review of 15 studies which included 294 people of all different backgrounds.
“Weight fluctuations and everyday stressors also consistently decreased motivation. Participants felt that being unable to maintain their weight loss negatively impacted their self-esteem, sometimes leading to secret eating and binge eating.” (1)
Ways to measure success that does not include a scale
There are countless ways to measure success that does not include a scale, ranging from other bodily measurements like lab values to the feeling of being at a socially acceptable body size/shape.
Let’s discuss some of these “non-scale victories” in more detail.
List of non-scale victories.
This list of non-scale victories includes success in nutrition, behavior, self-esteem, and other physical measurements.
While some may apply to you, others may not. It is important to remember that this is your health journey, and you get to define your success.
Clothes fit better
The way you dress is an expression of you and your style, so it makes sense that feeling comfortable and confident in your clothing would be considered a non-scale victory.
The foods you eat can have a direct effect on the health of your skin. Eating a nourishing, well-balanced diet often leads to a noticeable improvement in the texture and tone of your skin. Your body is constructed from the foods that you consume.
For example, exposure to the sun and other free radicals are well known to cause damage. The consumption of foods high in antioxidants combats the damaging effects of free radicals. (2)
Therefore a huge non-scale victory would be having clear, glowing skin! This means that although the scale may not have gone in your direction, you are clearly treating your body respectfully.
Improved Blood Pressure
Research has shown that many lifestyle factors contribute to increased blood pressure. These include, but are not limited to, smoking, alcohol consumption, high sodium intake, and carrying more body fat. (3)
Making small changes in your lifestyle can lead to significant improvements in your blood pressure readings. For example, limiting sodium intake, increasing physical activity, eating a well-balanced diet, and reducing stress levels are all beneficial in lowering blood pressure.
If your blood pressure readings have improved over time, this is an NSV (non-scale victory) to be celebrated!
Strength is another way to measure progress outside of the scale. Training with weights or performing bodyweight exercises such as push-ups, pull-ups, planks, and squats will improve strength.
My question is, did you add weight to your exercise recently, or maybe you were able to 15 reps this week, which is ten more reps than you did last month? – That’s a huge non-scale victory!
You are sleeping through the night.
Sleeping through the night can be challenging for many people, especially if they have poor behaviors like drinking alcohol, lack of physical activity, and lack of routine.
If you sleep like a baby regularly, you can count that as a non-scale victory because you are doing the right things to nurture your body.
You have more energy.
When you make good nutrition, exercise, and healthy lifestyle choices, your body will thank you with a noticeable boost in energy levels. This is another non-scale victory that is often overlooked.
Let’s say you begin with eating more balanced meals – this helps give you the motivation to work out, and before long your sleep improves too. You’ve now reached the point where healthier habits lead to boosted energy levels throughout your day!
Your blood sugar and A1c have improved.
Your blood sugar levels go up and down depending on the kind of food you choose to eat, while your Hemoglobin A1C reflects a three-month average of those same circulating sugars. (4)
In addition to your food choices, physical activity will also play a major role in managing your blood sugar.
While you may not have seen the scale budge this week, if your blood sugar and A1C levels have dropped, you are making progress. This is an excellent NSV that should be celebrated!
Your triglycerides are improving.
Like blood sugar, triglyceride levels can be improved through healthy eating habits, regular physical activity, and reduced alcohol consumption.
If your triglyceride levels have gone down, that is a major non-scale victory! Celebrate
You are noticing changes in your progress pictures
Progress pictures are a great way to track your progress without the scale. You can compare you before and after photos every week to see the physical changes.
Maybe you notice that your waistline has become smaller, or you are noticing increased definition in your legs and arms. Regardless of the changes, progress pictures are a great way to track your non-scale victories.
You are never getting to the point of being hungry
Eating at regular intervals and ensuring that each meal and snacks have a balance of nutrients will help ensure that you are never overly hungry.
Having to go too many hours without food can lead to feelings of overwhelming hunger, which can lead to binge eating.
If you can find balance in your meal planning and avoid extreme hunger, that can be a major non-scale victory.
You are eating out less (& Saving Money)
Eating out is not only expensive, but it also puts you at risk of consuming higher calorie and higher saturated fat meals. (7)
When you cook for yourself in the comfort of your home, on the other hand, you can control exactly what ingredients are included and how much food is consumed – all while saving money!
If you can reduce the number of times you eat out, that is a non-scale victory.
You have built self-confidence.
Self-confidence is the trust that you build in yourself. When you follow through with the goals that you set, it reinforces the belief that you can do anything.
Each time you complete something difficult for you to do, you can take pride in your accomplishment, and that builds self-confidence.
If you have built self-confidence, this is a major non-scale victory that should be celebrated!
Your mood is improving.
There is no question that when you get a good night’s sleep, eat nourishing foods, and move your body regularly, your mood is likely to improve.
Sometimes the scale might stay the same from week to week, but if your mood improves, that is a non-scale victory to be celebrated!
You have made some new friends
Having a sense of belonging and friendship is important to health and happiness. Having supportive and encouraging friends can help motivate you to reach your goals. (1)
If you have made new friends who support your health and fitness journey, that is a non-scale victory to be celebrated!
You are losing inches
Your weight represents hundreds of factors, including bone density, muscle mass, organ size, water, and body fat. So your weight did not necessarily represent how much fat you might have lost.
If you notice that your clothes fit differently or your waist circumference has gone down, you have lost some inches, which is a non-scale victory!
You have become a sense of encouragement.
A great representation of the is becoming a sponsor within the 12-step program. When you can pass on what has worked for you, it can help others in their journey.
This is not about being a martyr, but rather, when you teach others, you are reinforcing these behaviors within yourself.
If you have become a sense of encouragement for others, that is a non-scale victory to be celebrated!
You have developed healthy habits.
The easy path is not to plan your meals, not do a workout, and not take care of yourself.
However, if you can make these healthy habits a part of your daily life, you have developed a system for doing the hard thing.
The ability to say “I did that” is not only a non-scale victory, but it is something to be proud of!
You regularly go for walks.
Doing a physical activity like regularly going for walks is an independent health marker.
Doing something physical can help regulate your mood, stay connected with your environment and improve your overall well-being.
If you are regularly going for walks, that is a non-scale victory that is going to improve your health!
If you want to set up a steps challenge for yourself, your family, or your office, I have made a 30-day steps challenge.
You are proud of your body.
No one has a choice regarding the physical being that your soul resides in. It is the hand you got dealt. However, you do have a choice when it comes to your mindset.
Your body is your biggest asset, and when you appreciate all that it does, then that is a victory that should be celebrated!
Your outlook has changed.
Being grateful and having the mindset that you are the person that does the healthy thing is the foundation of a healthy lifestyle.
When you start to appreciate the changes in your life, that is a non-scale victory!
You are tracking and monitoring your health.
Tracking and monitoring your health markers can be one of the most powerful tools for changing your behaviors. (1) This can look like measuring blood sugar, tracking your macros, and taking your blood pressure.
All these monitoring techniques take effort, and changing your lifestyle to improve each is even harder.
For this reason, if you have tracked and monitored your health markers, that is a non-scale victory to pat yourself on the back for.
You have found physical activities that you enjoy
At the end of the day, movement is medicine.
Doing something physical does not have to be about losing weight; it can also be about enjoying yourself and finding something physical activity that you genuinely enjoy.
If you have found activities you like to do, that is a non-scale victory!
You have a better understanding of nutrition.
When you can understand the nutrition of different food and make educated decisions about what is going into your body, that is a great non-scale victory.
Your cravings for high-calorie and low-nutrient-dense foods have been reduced.
The highly processed foods that we rely on during times of stress or turn to in times of celebration are designed to be highly palatable (addictive).
But if you have found better ways to cope with emotions and cravings for these foods have reduced, that is a great non-scale victory.
You quit drinking alcohol.
Drinking booze is often seen as a reward for working hard or relaxing after a stressful day.
However, the truth is that alcohol can have a detrimental effect on your health, and if you have made an effort to cut down or quit drinking, that is a non-scale victory.
You prioritize taking time for yourself.
Being a “people pleaser” or sacrificing your health and wellness for your job might help you get ahead in the short term, but in the long run, it can have a detrimental effect on your mental and physical health.
If you can create boundaries between work and personal time and prioritize taking the time to practice self-care, that is a non-scale victory.
You have made changes to your environment.
Our environment can have a significant impact on our behavior and health.
If you have made changes to your home or workspace to make them healthier, from having pre-cut fruits and veggies to snack on to adding plants into your office space, that is a non-scale victory.
You are eating more vegetables.
A balanced diet full of fruits and vegetables can set you up for better long-term health.
If you change your diet by increasing your intake of fruits and vegetables, that is a non-scale victory.
You are meeting your protein goal.
Eating enough protein plays a critical role in a healthy, balanced diet. That said, most of us are not eating enough lean protein sources.
If you have made an effort to increase your intake of lean proteins and meet your daily protein goal, that is a non-scale victory.
You recognize the importance of setting boundaries (client NSV)
When it comes to health and wellness, setting boundaries is one of the most important things you can do.
If you have made an effort to set boundaries with yourself, your family, and your friends, you have set a standard with not only yourself but you have set a standard with those that are around you.
Boundary setting has proven to be my client’s most powerful non-scale victory.
You are keeping a journal (client NSV)
Journaling offers an opportunity to reflect and document your thoughts, feelings, and habits to understand yourself on a deeper level.
It also serves as a way to track your progress and measure any changes you make concerning health and wellness.
For some of my clients, keeping a journal has been one of their most potent non-scale victories.
You have a greater appreciation for your body and what it can do (client NSV)
When it comes to health and wellness, body positivity is becoming increasingly important.
For some of my clients, developing a greater appreciation for what their body can do for them has changed their perspective on health and wellness and has been one of their most critical non-scale victories.
You are now setting realistic goals that you work towards every day (client NSV)
Instead of simply saying I want to lose weight, you have now shifted your focus to set short-term and long-term goals that you can actively work towards.
For some of my clients, identifying a health checklist of what they want to achieve each day go and working towards their goals has been their most crucial non-scale victory.
Although the scale may not have moved in the direction you were hoping for, there are hundreds of other non-scale victories that you can still celebrate.
Non-scale victories are just as important, if not more important than the scale, and should be celebrated for the progress and effort that you have put in.
Remember, it’s not about the number on the scale but rather about the lifestyle changes you have made to reach your health and wellness goals. Celebrate the small wins and keep going!
To close us out, I understand how hard it can be to stay motivated when you feel like things are not going your way. I help people like yourself lose weight and get strong. Reach out to me if you are looking for help.
Remember: this post is for informational purposes only and may not be the best fit for you and your personal situation. It shall not be construed as medical advice. The information and education provided here is not intended or implied to supplement or replace professional medical treatment, advice, and/or diagnosis. Always check with your own physician or medical professional before trying or implementing any information read here.
Noah Quezada is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist located in Denver, Colorado. Over the course of more than a decade, he has gained extensive experience in helping clients manage their weight through in-person sessions. Noah is also the 2023 President of the Colorado Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.