12 Feb

When I was losing weight a few years ago, I was very active on the Weight Watchers message boards, through which I learned about a great motivational tool. Most people track the progress of their weight loss efforts by their bathroom scale–whether or not the number on that scale goes up or down. But, that’s not a good way of tracking progress at all. In fact, if that is the only gauge of your success, you’re probably going to eventually undermine your efforts.

Losing a lot of weight in a healthy way takes a long time. It sucks, as we would all love to get the excess weight off yesterday, but that’s the reality. And, you can spend weeks, even months, doing everything right–exercising, journaling your food intake, eating healthy foods, but when you get on the scale, the number has not moved. Or, maybe it even moved in the wrong direction. I speak from experience here. Lots of experience here.

When that happens, if you have no other way to track your progress, you’re most likely going to get frustrated and lose your motivation because you’re going to believe that your efforts weren’t working. I can’t tell you how many times I walked into a Weight Watcher meeting feeling awesome, knowing that I had a great week, but when I got on the scale and wasn’t happy with the number it showed me, that awesome feeling was completely replaced by frustration. I let that number on the scale rule me and my emotions.

Through the Weight Watcher message boards, I became aware of the fact that the scale lies. Seriously.

Not all positive body changes are visible on the scale, especially not changes in muscle density. The exercise that you’ll do in any comprehensive weight loss program will help you build muscle and gain a firmer, stronger overall physique. However, because muscle is heavy and dense, you might not see a drop on the scale when you gain muscle. You might even see the scale numbers rise as you get healthier and stronger! Having more muscle and less fat is a huge part of what will make you look skinny, but your scale could never show you how much muscle you’ve built. (From The Scale Skinny Better Ways To Measure Weight)

So, you need to find other ways to measure your progress. You can take your measurements, or you can go by the way your clothes fit.

My favorite way of doing this is by tracking NSVs. Basically, whenever you do something positive, or whenever something positive happens, that is a result of your lifestyle change (notice I didn’t say dieting) it’s called a “Non-Scale Victory” or NSV. Examples could be going up 3 flights of stairs without getting winded, being able to fit in an airplane seat without a seatbelt extender, being able to cross your legs, choosing the grilled chicken over the fried, fitting into a smaller size….I’m sure you get the picture.

The reason I’m writing this post is I need to remind myself of all this. Last week I got on the scale and it showed a gain. I was pretty mad about it and for about a day and a half I took that anger out on food–I ate anything and everything that I could. But, I know I can’t continue doing that if I’m going to be successful in this weight loss journey. So, I’m back to noting my NSVs. I’m probably not going to blog about each and every one, tho. When you start paying attention, you see quite a lot of them! 🙂

But, I had one last night that I’m especially proud of. One of my biggest weaknesses is eating out. I know what I should order when I eat out. But, I usually cave and end up ordering things covered in cheese, or deep fried, or otherwise swimming in calories. Whenever I am successful at being “good” at a restaurant, I’ve usually had to work at it. I’ll look the menu up online beforehand, see what my options are, then decide before we go what I’m ordering. Then, on the way there, I visualize myself ordering and eating the “good” food. It really takes a lot of work! But, if I end up eating out on the fly, I almost always just order whatever looks yummy to me.

Last night, my husband and I were running errands after work and it got to be pretty late, and we were hungry and didn’t want to wait to get home and cook to eat. So, we decided to eat out. My husband was craving a burger, so we went to Texas Roadhouse. I have to admit that I really love their burgers, too. And, the yeast rolls with cinnamon butter. And the fried onion blossoms. When we were heading there, I was already planning on having all of that.

But, when the waiter took our orders, I actually asked for grilled shrimp, steamed veggies, and a plain baked sweet potato. And, I ate only half of it! I did allow myself one roll and some of the fried onion blossom, but nowhere near the amount I used to eat. I walked out of there feeling satisfied, but not stuffed, like usual. And, I had a yummy lunch for today!

I’m very proud of myself 🙂


Posted by on February 12, 2009 in Health


2 responses to “NSVs

  1. Drew

    February 12, 2009 at 9:37 pm

    Nice post! I wish the scale would be removed entirely as a metric for weight loss/healthiness. A much better metric is progress during workouts and food choices throughout the day.

    In “Super Size Me” Morgan Sperlock actually loses weight half way through the movie, which health scientists attributed to loss of muscle density due to inactivity. He lost weight and gained muscle. He looked worse and weighed less.

  2. allisoncooke

    February 12, 2009 at 10:00 pm

    Thanks, Jenny! This was a nice reminder for me as well. Actually heading to WW in a few minutes. Last week I was up .2 and really not sure what this week will be. I just need to remember that I have to keep trying and it’s never going to be magic!



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