Health is not about the weight you lose, but about the life you gain.
– Author Unknown
It had been more than three years since Bob flew on a plane. He used to drive to the Midwest to visit his relatives every year in September, but this year he was going to fly. He seemed anxious as he discussed the things that could go wrong and focused on the possibility of the airline losing his luggage. It happened to him before, so it wasn’t an imaginary concern. Although he expressed ambivalence about flying, the airline tickets were already purchased. Done deal.
In our first group session after his trip, Bob shared a pleasant surprise. When he first settled into his seat on the plane, he didn’t have to suffer the embarrassment of asking the flight attendant for a seatbelt extender. The seatbelt fit – for the first time in years. And despite the fact that Bob seemed to be on a “summer plateau,” as measured by his bathroom scale, he was pleased that he was down almost 40 pounds after six months of coaching sessions. Although his weight was stable, he was losing inches and notched his belt to prove it. This was a non-scale victory (NSV) worth celebrating.
Remember that your bathroom scale only gives you a linear snapshot of where you are at a moment in time. It’s the sum total of your hair, skin, bones, muscle, fat, water, and waste. According to the CDC, your waistline may be a more accurate predictor of developing obesity-related conditions if you are:
- A man whose waist circumference is more than 40-inches
- A non-pregnant woman whose waist circumference is more than 35-inches
A decrease in your waist circumference can indicate a loss of harmful visceral fat in your abdomen. As you exercise and lose inches, your body composition may shift to gaining muscle and core strength.
Another group member, Karen, described a new dress that she wore to a recent event as “outside my normal comfort zone.” The dress revealed her bare midriff. “My core was showing,” she smiled. “Things fit differently.” Her friends noticed and asked, “What are you doing? You look fantastic!” After shedding 50 pounds, Karen increased her physical activity with more stretching, walking, and functional weight training. She was more enthusiastic about her fitness transformation and purchased a stationary bike to reward herself.
It requires courage for women who have battled weight gain for most of their adult lives to take the risk of wearing certain clothes in public for the first time. Bariatric Community Consultant Sheri Arcuria, who lost 160 pounds post-surgery, lists her favorite clothing NSVs: “Wearing shorts in public for the first time, wearing a single digit pant size for the first time, wearing a bathing suit in public for the first time, and wearing a sports bra in public for the first time!”
NSVs — non-scale victories — are the tangible rewards of your weight transformation. These are some of the improvements you may experience as you make progress on your metabolic health journey:
- More energy
- Better sleep
- Increased muscle mass
- Better mobility
- Less joint pain
- Improved social life
- Better mood
- Renewed confidence
As for my personal weight transformation, I have experienced all of the above, especially increased physical strength and stamina. It’s fun to shop in my closet, fitting into clothes I haven’t worn in years. I’m enjoying life so much more without 80 pounds of extra baggage.
The intrinsic gains of metabolic health bring vitality to all dimensions of our lives. And we don’t have to look for the next meal to be the main source of pleasure in our day. There is so much more to love about NSVs. Celebrate your non-scale victories!
♥ Susan L. Ward
Integrative Nutrition Health Coach