Non-Scale Victories–Why the Number On the Scale Isn’t All That Matters
When it comes to health, the first thing you probably think of is what the scale says. The media and medical community put a lot of emphasis on weight, and it can seem like nearly everyone is trying to lose it at some point in their life. We are here to tell you that weight is not all that matters when it comes to health.
Read on to learn more about why focusing on weight alone isn’t the best thing to do and reasons to instead focus on what we like to call “non-scale victories.”
The problem with focusing on weight alone
Weight is just one of many indicators of health. When you go to the doctor, you’ve probably had other markers of your health assessed, such as your blood pressure, lab work, waist circumference, and others. Yet, people most often tend to focus on weight alone to measure progress when working on health goals.
While it is totally okay to desire changes in your weight, placing too much emphasis on the number on the scale can have many downsides.
These may include:
- Overly restrictive and unhealthy eating behaviors that damage your health in the long run
- Disordered eating habits, and sometimes even eating disorders
- Persistent disappointment when the number doesn’t change the way you want it to
- Obsessive behaviors that distract you from everyday life activities such as social gatherings, eating out, etc
- Increased anxiety and, in some cases, depression
- Low self-esteem and body image
- Losing sight of the importance of body composition and not just weight
It is also important to recognize that it is completely normal for your weight to fluctuate as much as 5-6 pounds over the course of any given day. So, weighing yourself too often, and focusing on the number alone can lead to unnecessary stress.
There are many factors that affect the number on the scale, including:
- Time of day
- Whether or not you have urinated and had a bowel movement
- Amount of fluid retention (which can occur from things like drinking alcohol, eating a high sodium diet, and recent travel)
- How much and what you have eaten so far for the day
- How recently you exercised
- Being on your menstrual cycle
- Certain medication usage
- Current or recent illness
What are non-scale victories, and why do they matter?
It is important to recognize and accept that the number on the scale will not always consistently change in the direction you want. Yet this does NOT mean that the efforts you have been putting into your health have been wasted! While weight can be an important marker of health, it is not the whole picture. It is absolutely possible to be overweight yet healthy, or be at a normal weight but be in poor health. There are so many other things to consider.
With that said, we are huge advocates for keeping the focus not on the number on the scale but on what we call “non-scale victories.” These refer to other markers of health that are arguably even more important than how much you weigh. What’s more, keeping the focus on these non-scale victories instead of weight alone can also help you stay motivated to continue on your health goals and efforts for the long term, not just for a short term weight goal.
Examples of non-scale victories are:
- Having your clothes fit you more comfortably
- Improved focus and mental clarity
- More energy
- Less aches and pains in the body
- Sleeping better at night
- Improved ability to cope with stress
- Any physical improvements, such as a gain in strength, being less winded while exercising or going about your normal life, increased endurance, etc
- Improvements in how you view your body
- Improved outlook on life
- Naturally desiring to follow a healthier diet with more fruits and vegetables, more water, and fewer sugar cravings (for example)
There are so many factors that make up good health, and weight is just one of them. The best health goals to focus on are those that are realistic and sustainable for you and that leaves you feeling good about yourself and your life, no matter what the number on the scale reads. If you want support in this area, feel free to reach out to us!