Sure, scale weight can be an indicator that you're losing weight or improving your health. But it only paints part of the picture of what's really going on.
And if you're only focused on that number on the scale, you might become frustrated or upset at your (perceived) lack of results.
That's where non-scale victories can make a huge difference.
Step off the scale and take note of these 10 NSVs that indicate you’re on the right track.
What is a Non-Scale Victory (NSV)?An NSV, or non-scale victory, is a term that refers to small indicators besides your bodyweight measurement on a scale that you should take into account when determining your fitness results.
As you may already know, it's important to not get too hung up on the number on the scale. It only paints a small picture of the actual progress you're making—and if you do get hung up, it can decrease your motivation.
In fact, multiple studies show that weighing yourself daily can actually be a deterrent to weight loss .
The number doesn't take into account so many of the changes your body is likely making when you lose weight, such as adding lean muscle, improving your mental health, or reducing inflammation.
NSVs can help give you different health and weight loss targets to aim for, and keep you on the path to your ideal bodyweight.
Why Celebrating Non-Scale Victories is ImportantHere are some of the benefits of celebrating non-scale victories:
- They help increase motivation
- You're less likely to get frustrated or upset if the number on the scale isn't changing
- They make your weight loss journey more three-dimensional, and your health goals more holistic
- They help you become more aware of what's happening to your body as you improve your overall health
- They can indirectly (but very effectively) impact your weight loss goals
No one ever said you had to focus exclusively on the scale number to lose weight. If you focus on a handful of NSVs, weight loss will likely take care of itself.
10 Ways to Measure Success Without a ScaleDitch the scale and use these 10 NSVs to help you gauge whether your weight loss journey or healthy lifestyle is moving in the direction you want to go.
1. How Your Clothes FitNothing feels better or more motivational than dropping a size on your weight loss journey. Even noticing your pants or shirts fitting slightly differently (e.g., looser around the waist) is worthy of celebration.
Here's why: how your clothes fit is a great way to gauge not just weight loss, but your overall body composition .
Why? Because body composition accounts for all your body's tissues, not just fat tissue. That means lean muscle mass counts, too.
If you're exercising and adding muscle, your clothes are bound to fit differently. That's a great thing to acknowledge!
A great way to document this is to take “before” and “after” photos in the same clothes.
“For the first half of my weight loss journey, I relied solely on the scale. After I started incorporating weight lifting and exercise to my keto lifestyle, I found the number on the scale slowed almost to a complete halt,” said Keto Coach Lauren Berryhill, who manages KetoLogic’s KETO 30 Community. “I continuously took progress photos and body measurements in addition to weighing myself and found that my body was still changing despite the scale staying the same! I’m so glad I looked at others ways to measure my progress otherwise I would have given up a long time ago!”
2. Body MeasurementsThis is worth repeating: the scale doesn't always tell the whole story.
The truth is, it can downright tell lies. For example, you could be losing body fat and gaining muscle simultaneously—yet the number on the scale won't change at all. (Pssst... it’s because muscle weighs more than fat.)
That's why other body measurements besides scale weight can be effective.
Here are some of the popular ones:
- DEXA or InBody composition scans: They're both expensive, but there's no reason to go out and buy one. Call around to gyms in your area or see whether your current gym offers these as part of your membership. You can get a full print out of your body composition!
- Skinfold Calipers: Some people don't like these because the measurements feel invasive, but you can order a cheap pair off Amazon for $15 and do it yourself. Just look online for a video that explains how!
- Tape measure: Men should take measurements of their chest, abs, and thigh. Women should take measurements of their tricep, suprailiac (one inch above your hip bone) and thigh.
3. How You Feel PhysicallyEnergy levels are a key indicator of how your body is adjusting to your nutrition plan. If you're feeling more energy, have less body aches and pains, and an overall increase in vitality, you're on the right path.
Here are some other things to note:
- If you don’t need as much caffeine to feel alert
- How much energy you have during and after exercise
- Overall stamina
- How much sleep you're getting, and the quality of that sleep
4. How You Feel MentallyGauging your emotional well-being is another awesome NSV that can express itself in so many different ways.
- Improved confidence
- Enhanced clarity and focus
- A more stable mood
- Stronger resiliency
- A more positive attitude
- Better relationships
5. Improved Workout PerformanceCompared to your workout performance, scales tell you very little.
- How am I performing during my workouts?
- Am I able to lift more weights?
- Can I walk or run further or faster than before?
- Am I more able to keep up with my kids (or grandkids)?
6. Increased Self-DisciplineHere's another NSV that's tied to your mental health. Actually, we can call this one your mental performance.
Did you know: at least one study found that those who exercise have better levels of self-control and self-discipline .
This is a major benefit to anyone trying to lose weight because better self-discipline can help you:
- Not give into food cravings
- Say no to (or moderate your actions during) social pressures
- Treat yourself occasionally without binging
- Minimize stress or emotional eating
7. Receiving Compliments From OthersFrom time to time, we've all been our own biggest critics.
So if you're looking for an effective non-scale victory, look to your neighbors. Or friends. Or family members—pretty much anyone you see from time to time.
If they're saying that you look good (e.g., that you've lost weight, you look more energized, etc.) take that as a sign that you're on the right path.
Just don't live or die by what your friends say. Getting too tied up in external validation can be harmful in its own way.
Simply allow yourself to enjoy the compliment, acknowledge that it means something good, and get back to practicing the habits that "earned" you that nice comment in the first place.
8. Better Skin HealthA little-known benefit of weight loss and overall lifestyle changes is better skin health.
Believe it or not, the collagen proteins in your skin are more abundant and healthier when you are at a normal healthy weight . This is due to the fact that overweight and obese people typically have high levels of systemic inflammation in their body—a bad thing for skin and overall health.
If you notice acne clearing up, oils going away, or your complexion simply looks a little brighter than before, take that as yet another sign that you're going in the right direction.
9. Improved DigestionA healthier gut is another NSV worth celebrating. This means issues like bloating, indigestion, stomach aches and pains, constipation, and diarrhea are less frequent or gone. Digestive health is a great indication that your healthier diet and lifestyle is paying off.
10. Improved Health MetricsFinally, your next trip to your doctor is a great time to rack up some NSVs.
If you've lost weight since your last check-up, there's a very high chance that your bloodwork has also improved.
Metrics like lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and lower blood sugar are all cause of celebration. If you're a diabetic, being told to use less insulin is also a positive thing.
NSVs are an Important Part of Weight Loss“Weight loss is not always a linear path; there are many ups and downs. Every BODY is different so you cannot compare your weight loss journey to that of others,” said Registered Dietitian Molly Devine. “I encourage my clients to think of weight loss as a positive side effect from making healthy lifestyle changes, not the only end goal. Establishing good dietary habits sets the foundation for lifelong success and should always be the primary focus.”
With a plethora of options at your disposal, we hope you feel empowered to let go of the scale for a while and focus on the other areas of your health and weight loss journey that you may have forgotten about.
Remember, the scale's ability to tell you what's happening is very limited. So let these non-scale victories motivate you and push you to become a better, healthier version of yourself going forward!