Weight loss – Should we be focusing on the scales only?
When trying to lose weight, many people measure their success by the numbers on the scales, and although this is a quick and easy way to see change, it’s not always the most helpful, and may not be highlighting other benefits that are happening.
Here at Achieve, we look at the bigger picture, and focus on the many benefits losing weight can have, rather than just what the scales say. We feel it’s vital to celebrate the non-scale victories, after all, there are many benefits to weight loss that the scales don’t reflect.
Losing weight can be difficult at times. Stepping on the scales to find that you’ve gained weight after what you thought was a healthy week can be really demoralising, and no one would blame you for feeling like throwing in the towel.
These ups and downs are natural in any weight loss journey. We’re not machines, so it’s highly unlikely that you’ll continue see a lower number on the scales every single week over a long period of time, even with the best will and effort in the world. That’s why we encourage people to visualise the long-term benefits, rather than short term changes.
When we start dieting, or wanting to lose weight, it can be tempting to jump on the scales weekly, or even daily to measure progress. But this might not be accurate, or helpful. Our body weight can fluctuate, due to factors such as fluid intake, bowel movements and a women’s menstrual cycle. The time of day that you weigh yourself will also have an effort on the result. If you are motivated by the number on the scales, try to weigh yourself no more than once a week, and aim to do it at the same time each week.
Along with changes in our body weight, there are other benefits that can come from adopting a healthy lifestyle and it’s important to recognise those non-scale victories.
What’s a non-scale victory?
In the same way that you might celebrate seeing a lower number on the scales, celebrating a non-scale victory (NSV) means celebrating something to do with your weight loss that happens off the scales just as much as what happens on the scales.
This can be different for everyone. You might celebrate that your clothes fit better than they used to, that you’re not feeling as out of breath when climbing stairs, or that you have more energy.
You should feel good about every improvement to your health you notice, not just whether the scales are kind to you from one week to the next. Making a positive change to your health can be difficult, and you should celebrate your efforts!
How does it help us?
If you’re thinking the concept of NSVs is nice but ineffective, think again. Noticing and celebrating your non-scale victories will help to boost your motivation, will make you feel good and help you to focus on your body and your improving health.
If you notice that your skin looks clearer because you’ve been drinking more water and eating a healthier diet, that’s a huge victory. And if you’re pleased about it, you'll feel like you want to keep it up, so you’ll be more likely to keep choosing healthy options.
NSVs can also help you to fixate less on the number on the scales. A weight loss journey is about so much more than just what the scales say, so taking note of the other healthy changes you’re experiencing will help to give you a more balanced way of tracking your progress.
Grab a notepad, or start a new note on your phone, and write down every positive change you notice. As well as recognising your hard work, you’ll also be able to read them back when you’re struggling as a reminder of how far you’ve come.
Examples of non-scale victories
· clothes fitting better
· sleeping better
· having more energy
· you’ve lost inches
· you’re able to keep up withplaying with your kids
· you’re able to exercise longer
· your skin looks better
· your pain has reduced
· your blood pressure has improved
· you’re hitting your 5 a daytarget
· you’re saving money on takeaways
The take home message
Using the scales is just one way to measure your weight loss success, however focusing on the scales only might mean that you are missing many other benefits. Measuring the success of your weight loss efforts on the scales only can be helpful, and if succeeding, can be motivating. However, there any many reasons why the scales may not be reflecting your effort, which is why it’s important to focus on NSV. Weight loss is just one benefit from eating better and becoming more active, so try to enjoy this change and focus on the bigger picture.