You’ve heard many admonitions not to focus too hard on the scale when you’re working to lose weight. But how else can you monitor your progress? How do you know your hard work is paying off? How do you know if your diet is working?
Weight loss societies and programs of every ilk recommend attending to other measures of success. Diet warriors call these “non-scale victories” or NSVs for short. What is an NSV? Any event, ability, bit of data, or observance that shows your health and fitness are improving. Anything, that is, except your total weight.
What do NSVs look like for those of us who work at a massive weight loss? They include things like being able to wear our wedding rings again, comfortably picking a dropped pen off of the floor, being able to cross our legs, seeing our knuckles and wrist bones emerge, fitting comfortably in public seating, climbing stairs without getting dizzy, watching body measurements change, jeans sizes drop, dropping medications, recovering easily from colds, less arthritis pain, fewer asthma attacks, lowering blood pressure and resting heart rates, clearer skin, less hair loss, less unwanted hair growth, healthier feet, more comfortable walking, easier shopping, finding clothes that fit — the list goes on and on and looks different for everyone.
But NSVs are also behavioral. It’s a big victory when we comfortably and easily make choices to move more and eat less or eat a better quality of food. It’s a big NSV when we learn to say no to one more responsibility to make time for exercise and healthy eating. It’s a major NSV when you find ways to exercise with friends, family, community. It’s a great big hairy NSV and very good karma when you participate in changes in your community that help everybody eat better and move more.
Your personal NSVs are worth collecting on a list, on a page, in your body log or diet journal. By keeping a list of all the advantages and successes you’ve earned, you have an easy source of motivation for staying on track when doing that gets hard, boring, frustrating, or when the scale is not showing what you wish it would.
Your record of non-scale victories is the truest measure of your hard work and of the many advantages that a healthy diet and regular exercise will bring you. You’ll soon see that a mere scale reading pales considerably next to a normal cholesterol count, healthy blood pressure reading, or lowered heart rate. You may not know that now, but please trust me that 10, 50, 200 lbs. from now, your NSV list will be a great treasure.