If you’ve been conditioned to place value on the scale, it’s not the only way to measure your progress—in fact, even if you have a smart biometric scale, it still isn’t telling you everything about your success. You can learn much more about your progress by bringing awareness to the other ways your body or mindset is changing. This is why on Weigh in Wednesday at Found, your coach will ask you other questions about your weekly experience to help you find various ways to see progress other than the scale. Many of us easily obsess over the number on the scale. It’s an “easy” measurement to track our progress, although it’s not the only measurement.
There are many factors that can cause weight to fluctuate, and weight loss on the scale is neither consistent nor linear, and it isn’t always a useful marker of progress. There are numerous things that can influence daily or weekly body weight. For example, hydration levels, elevated stress levels, hormone fluctuations, poor sleep quality, and inflammation from a heavy or intense workout all contribute to weight fluctuation.
A Non-Scale Victory is a simple something outside of your weight that shows you’re making progress. They provide value and motivation to move forward in your journey. It’s another tool outside of stepping on the scale that demonstrates how hard you’re working. Sometimes they’re significant health milestones, like getting high blood pressure into a normal range or losing enough weight to relieve back pain. But, they don’t have to be “big” things. An NSV could be something like fitting into those pants you hadn’t been able to months ago or needing a smaller shirt at the store. It could even be giving away the leftover Halloween candy to your coworkers or going for celery and hummus instead of chips and dip. It doesn’t have to be something major to celebrate—even though it may feel like it’s not that big of a deal, it’s the little events like these that mean the most. NSVs are other measurements that are the results of the hard work you’re putting in. These qualitative factors won’t always show up on the scale. They are felt, experienced, or seen. You want to celebrate your small victories and use them to fuel your action moving forward.
NSVs are important because they motivate us to keep going when we don’t see the scale going down, and they’re equally as important. In a 2020 bariatric medicine study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania, researchers measured motivators in those candidates leading up to their bariatric surgery, and discovered that NSVs are equally as important as family support and personal goals. One participant in the study reported, “‘Non-scale victories are my favorite kind—today I sat with my legs crossed during class! Such a small, yet important non-scale victory.’” Other NSVs like noticing your tastes changing—fruits tasting like dessert or loving veggies on the side—can all be indicators that you’re making progress on your weight care journey.
Once you reach your goal, NSVs help you maintain and stick with the lifestyle change. They’re motivation to keep going and enjoy things like being able to move in yoga much easier, having a clearer mind to enjoy walks, or being able to easily pick up your 2-year-old. And even though these NSVs may go unnoticed, it’s important to point them out in your day-to-day life. It’s difficult to remember how far you’ve come when you plateau or don’t see a difference, so keeping these in mind will support you in your journey and keep you thinking Hey! I did that—go me!
Reflect on your experience to gain insight into what has changed in your journey. Some of the ways to keep track of your progress is by writing down your NSVs in the Found app or sharing them with your coach. If you want to use the scale in conjunction with tracking your NSVs, you may want to weigh yourself daily (first thing in the morning, before eating or drinking anything, after using the restroom) to take the weekly average. What you’re looking for when it comes to the scale is a gradual downward trend of your average weight over a few weeks or months. If you use this appraoch, don’t worry about the day-to-day because this isn’t a reflection of your overall progress. Instead, you’re collecting both qualitative (thoughts/feelings, NSVs) and quantitative (numbers) data. Both of these types of data points provide so much value and a bigger picture of health.
Having realistic expectations is important. Change takes time, patience, discipline, and consistency. Focus on your journey, not the destination. Lasting progress comes through reflection, awareness, and habit changes which in turn provide changes in weight. As long as you are consistent, you will get where you want to go.
Have you checked in with your coach today? Take some time to log your non-scale victories in the Found app, or text your coach so they can celebrate with you. Or if you’ve hit some roadblocks, reach out so they can give you some additional support.