Thursday, March 9, 2017

Why You Should Celebrate Non-Scale Victories

For two weeks in February, I experienced gains on the scale.  Now, let me say that I was fully expecting each one.  The first gain was during my birthday week, a week in which I partook in several indulgences: 

And let me go on record as saying that I don't regret a single thing I ate that week. 

The second was after I had been out of town for three days attending a conference.  For anyone who has ever attended an out of town conference, you know how you're at the mercy of eating what's available near the conference center or near your hotel.  Despite having brought fruit and snacks from home, eating my routine protein bar for breakfast each day, trying to make the best choices I could, and walking 20 miles that week, I still had a gain.  Needless to say, even though I was expecting the gains, I was still a bit bummed.  

Back in January, I experienced a weight loss plateau.  No matter what I did, no matter how diligent I was in counting my calories, no matter how devout I was in exercising, the scale absolutely would not budge.  Although I knew a plateau was inevitable, it was still incredibly frustrating because I felt like all my efforts were in vain.

When you're losing weight, moments like these have the potential to completely derail you and thwart all the progress you've made.  I'll admit, during those weeks when the scale wouldn't budge, I was tempted to say, "Screw it!  Why bother?"  But, thankful, I didn't.  Do you what kept me motivated through those weeks of no movement and during those weeks when I had gains? 

Non-scale victories.

If you're unfamiliar with the term, non-scale victory (NSV) is a term that was popularized by Weight Watchers.  It is  any positive evidence that illustrates the changes that have occurred during one's weight loss journey that  has absolutely nothing to do with the number on the scale.  A non-scale victory could be being able to walk up several flights steps without getting winded or getting your blood pressure and/or cholesterol levels in the healthy range.  It could be something as simple as making healthier food choices or fitting more comfortably into a movie theater seat (which actually happened to me last fall). There are infinite possibilities when it comes to NSVs.  Here are three four of my most recent:

1) When I Completely "Exhausted" One Belt and Could Once Again Wear an Old Favorite

On January 16, the scale didn't budge, but three days before, when putting on my belt, I discovered that using the last hole, the hole I had been using for around 6 weeks, no longer tightened the belt as much as I needed in order to hold up my already loose fitting jeans.  

When I started losing weight in August of last year, I was using the first/loosest hole.  Over the course of 5 1/2 months, I had gone through all the holes, thus rendering the belt useless.  On the same day, I was finally able to wear my old, once favorite belt, a belt that I used to love, but hadn't worn in at least 7-8 years when my waistline outgrew it. 

2) When I Discovered That None of My Shorts Fit Anymore

Two weeks ago, temperatures here in Kentucky got up into the 70s and 80s. Wanting to take advantage of the unseasonably warm temperatures, I decided to pack some shorts for the conference I was attending.  I pulled out the storage container where I keep my shorts and pulled out a pair that I had worn last summer to try them on.  After buttoning and zipping them up, they literally fell off my hips.  I repeated this process 9 more times with the remaining shorts and got the same outcome.  This happened during one of the weeks in which I experienced a gain.

3) When I Tried on a Pair of Shorts in a Size That I Haven't Worn in Over a Decade

Due to owning zero shorts that fit, I recently found myself in a dressing room at Eddie Bauer and Old Navy.  Thinking proactively, I took three sizes of each pair of shorts that I wanted to try on - the size I estimated I might be able to wear as well the size above and below it.  When I realized that I had comfortably buttoned and zipped up the pair in the size that I haven't worn in over a decade, I actually got misty-eyed.  The gain I experienced that week was much easier to take because of that dressing room moment.

4) When My Blood Pressure Got in the Normal Range Without the Assistance of BP Medication

Yesterday, during a visit to the doctor to get tested for the flu, which can back positive, the nurse practitioner took all my routine vitals including my blood pressure.  For the first time since 2010, it came back within the normal range without the aid of blood pressure medication.

Non-scale victories are important because they give you other measures of success.  When you are trying to lose weight, it is unreasonable to believe that you will never experience an occasional gain.  Life happens and sometimes it is reflected on the scale.  The same thing goes for plateaus - they are inevitable.  If you are solely basing  your weight loss success on the number on the scale, you may be in for some disappointment because the scale may not always work in your favor.  

That's why it's important to remember that the numbers on the scale don't tell the whole story.  The scale won't tell you about the two sizes you've dropped in jeans or about the increased energy you have or the fact that you no longer have to take high blood pressure medication.  The scale only tells you the numerical value of our planet's gravitation pull on your body.  That is all.

In an perfect world, a weight loss journey would be in a straight line from point A to point B.  We'd start and we'd lose weight every week in a steady and consistent manner.  But, we don't live in a perfect world.  Here in the real world we have dinners out, celebrations, drinks with friends, baby showers, Christmas goodies, Thanksgiving dinner, and Super Bowl parties.  Real world weight loss journeys involve many twists and turns as well as hills and valleys.  

When you have a gain or hit a plateau and feel disheartened, keep the faith. Think of a non-scale victory that you've experienced that emphasizes the progress you've made.  It will be tempting to give up and allow yourself to fall off the wagon.  Don't.  Stay the course and   remember - you are more than the number on the scale and your success is more than the number of pounds you have lost.


Do you have non-scale victory you would like to share?  If you do, feel free to comment below.

As always, thanks for stopping by!  Have a wonderful Thursday!

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  1. What a great motivating post.

  2. NSVs are what i went by when i was on my weight loss journey since i never looked at the scale.

  3. Great post. You asked me how much weight I've lost, and I'm sitting somewhere at 15 pounds less than I was in November. Sitting is the key word because I haven't moved from that for a few weeks. But, I'm okay with it.
    Any "victory" that is bettering your health (like getting your blood pressure in check) is something that definitely should be celebrated.
    You know what else should be celebrated? Birthdays. And, I too celebrate with yummy food and no guilt.

    1. Thanks, Erin! Congratulations on your weight loss! I'm thoroughly trying to do this differently this go around, so that's why I'm trying to always look beyond the scale and look at the big picture instead.

  4. No truer things can be said about weight loss and you said it perfectly. I have been on a weight yo-yo all my life and I have been through what you are going through now. Congrats on the blood pressure it is always a big victory to get off meds. Good job I am so proud of your progress we are all on your side on this quest.


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