What are Non-Scale Victories (aka NSVs)?
Non-scale victories, simply put, are accomplishments that have ZILCH to do with the numbers that you see on your scale. When it comes to fitness, all too often we equate fitness progress with declining weight. But you’re more than just a number, and fitness is more than a number too. It’s all about looking better, feeling better, being active more often, and eating junk less often. And those numbers staring at you on the scale? They don’t tell the full story… not even close!
Whenever I see a prospective personal training client for an initial consultation, I always ask them to think about non-scale victories they’d like to achieve. Some good examples: wearing a two piece bathing suit for the first time and feeling comfortable, playing with your kids in the yard without getting worn out, going down a dress/pants size, being able to run a mile without stopping, going a week without cheating on your diet, etc. They’re the little things, day in and day out, that show the results of your hard work… no scale required!
Why are Non-Scale Victories Important?
Anyone who has tried to lose weight knows one thing for a fact: results don’t happen overnight! Experts advise losing roughly 1-2 lbs per week on average to ensure your safety, so the idea that you’re going to lose 10, 20, 30 lbs in a month is just ludicrous (although this, unfortunately, doesn’t stop many from within the fitness industry from promising such results!). It takes months for people to see significants physical results; that’s just the cold hard truth of fitness. That extra weight didn’t get there overnight, and it’s not going to come off overnight either!
This is the exact reason why the majority of those who set out to lose weight fail. They’re working hard, they’re eating right, they’re changing their lifestyles— then, boom, at the end of the week they step on the scale and they see a measly 1 lb dropped. Or maybe they’ve hit a plateau in their weight loss, and they see no change at all on the scale. It can be incredibly disheartening and frustrating, and it makes people feel like they should just give up altogether. “Hey, I’m doing all of this hard work, and I’m barely seeing any weight come off— why should I even bother?!”
Non-scale victories to the rescue! This is precisely WHEN and WHY non-scale victories are so crucial. Think of it this way: it’s a long distance between you and your ultimate goal, and non-scale victories help bridge the gap to get you there. You can’t do it all in one bounding leap, but you can use non-scale victories as stepping stones along the way! This is why non-scale victories differentiate successes from failures.
Who Should Set Non-Scale Victories?
Everyone should set non-scale victories! Well, that is, of course, if you want to succeed you should. The fact is, people who celebrate non-scale victories are more likely to stick to their long-term plan and, thus, succeed in their long-term goal. Some people are naturally adept at recognizing non-scale victories, but others need to make more of an effort to see these victories. For these people, it’s especially critical to preemptively set non-scale victories.
At the start of any fitness journey, you should think not just about how much weight you want to lose, but you should also think about what you want your body to DO. How do you want to function, feel, think, look, work? Then come up with concrete, tangible, realistic ways you might see this as you progress. Want to have more energy? Set a non-scale victory of going a day without feeling that afternoon crash. Want to feel more confident? Set a non-scale victory of wearing shorts in the summer without feeling self-conscious.
If, at any time throughout your fitness journey, you’re feeling discouraged with your progress, that’s when you need a non-scale victory reality check! At those times, it’s especially important to sit down, think about where you started at, recognize how far you’ve come, and pat yourself on the back for all of those non-scale victories you’ve seen along the way— some maybe you set for yourself, and others maybe you didn’t see coming (a coworker saying you look like you’ve lost weight, your kid being able to put their arms around you, etc.). Recognize the non-scale victories you’ve seen so that you can put that number on the scale into true perspective!
Ways to Celebrate Non-Scale Victories:
PUT DOWN THE CAKE!
Don’t reward good behaviors with bad behaviors. End of story! Instead, find ways to reward yourself that positively reinforce your newfound dedication to fitness. Lost a dress/pants size? Reward yourself with a couple of new outfits. Went a week without cheating on your diet? Treat yourself to a yoga class pass. Ran your first 5k without stopping once? Invest in some new workout duds. Whatever way you choose to reward yourself, make sure it’s one that keeps you on track towards your ultimate goal— instead of backtracking you into old bad habits that may derail you!