Non scale victories! What are they and why are they important in a clients weight loss and wellness journey?
When people try to lose weight, the first thing they do is step on a scale. As nutrition coaches we know that as much as stepping on the scale can be a motivator for our clients to stick to their nutrition and lifestyle plan, it can also lead to a poor outlook and feelings of deflation when clients don’t like what they see. Raise your hand if you have experienced a client check in gone bad after the Inbody machine reads 2% higher body fat than last month.
Feel this with me… the room gets silent. Internally you as the coach are thinking of anything and everything you can possibly say to help this person through this moment. You are also wondering yourself, what did they eat, how is this possible, their checkins were fabulous and they stuck to their habit tracking and plate method the whole month.
Well sometimes there is no explanation as to why the scale doesn’t move. Sometimes we retain water, other times we eat 6 slices of pizza, 5 ding dongs and 6 beers, but we are too afraid to let our nutrition coach down so we keep the secret.
If the goal is big fat loss, eventually we need that number to move. However, when you look at a weight loss journey, there are ebbs and flows in the way a person loses weight. It’s never linear downward. Because of this, non scale victories are important markers to recognize and in this article we discuss our favorite non scale victories.
What Are Non Scale Victories & Why Are They Important?
Non scale victories aka. NSVs encompass any non-weight related successes achieved during a weight loss journey. They provide tangible evidence that all the hard work is paying off – even if the number on the scale hasn’t budged yet.
Celebrating non scale victories with your clients is an invaluable way to help them stay motivated and help them recognize progress that may otherwise go unnoticed because it’s not showing up as weight loss progress. In fact, I think having the “non scale victory” discussion during the initial consult is a great idea.
When discussing weight loss success or body fat percentage loss goals with your clients, make sure to bring up the fact that sometimes the Inbody doesn’t move. And, in addition to the scale, we will also look for other ways to measure progress. At Healthy Steps Nutrition we focus a lot on a holistic approach to weight loss and wellness. Our goal with doing this is to help a client understand that weight loss and living a healthy lifestyle starts with habits that often times have nothing to do with food.
As clients begin to learn this approach, and start to practice the habits necessary to lose weight, the focus turns away from the number on the scale and more towards repeating the habits that will eventually help reduce their weight. Before you know it, that scale number begins to go down. In the process the client has developed some habits that will lend to not only losing weight now, but to also keep it off longterm allowing them to live a much healthier life.
Non Scale Victory Examples Every Client Should Celebrate!
This list isn’t all encompassing, I’m sure we are missing a few. Sometimes NSV’s can be very personal and a milestone to one person isn’t the same as it is to another. By getting to know your client and building a relationship with them through your monthly checkins, you will be able to help them recognizing these little wins that may be experienced by others too, or specific to their journey.
1. Clothes fit differently & belts tighten a notch or two
Clothes fitting differently is one of the first things clients will say they notice. In the beginning it’s small changes, however as time goes on – clothes actually become loose. We’ve had clients have to tighten their belt two notches before even seeing the scale move a pound!
2. Skin begins to clear up
When the body is unhappy for whatever reason, oftentimes our skin begins to look dull, get dry or even form acne. Many of our clients have noticed that these things clear up and they begin to “shine” after just a couple weeks of eating healthier food.
Working out & exercise is becoming easier in the gym
Movements like a pull up, pushups and even cardio exercises begin to feel “easier” than in the past for clients. Many people who were very close to running an entire mile without stopping have been able to complete one just a couple weeks in to their nutrition journey.
Cravings start to go away
When getting in the habit of eating regular meals that are balanced with proteins, carbs and fats your body actually feels satiated after you eat. Fiber helps you feel full and so does protein. Cravings happen less often because clients actually feel full.
People begin to recognize changes are happening
Many of our nutrition clients have people they know recognize they are “doing something different,” and that they look really good. Some are bashful and don’t like the recognition. We tell them to embrace the fact despite the scale not moving as much as they would like, their efforts are not going unnoticed.
Progress pictures & tape measure show big changes
The primary reason we have our clients take progress pictures and do tape measurement is because these things will show progress before the scale will. When comparing a time lapse of pictures, one of the most prominent changes is in muscle tone. Tricep definition becomes apparent, there is a definite change in the abdomen, the outline of back muscles begin to appear, and cellulite in ladies is less apparent.
We have had clients lose 2 inches around their waist without losing a pound. If it weren’t for a side by side picture comparison – they would have been deflated and quit.
Bloodwork is improved
One of the best compliments I have received as a nutrition coach is when a client saw me after her doctors visit and the doctor told her to thank me for changing her life. Talk about tears of joy. Her blood work had improved drastically just after 3 weeks in our program. This is a change worth celebrating!
Energy levels increase
This may seem like a small thing, however in our minds its huge. The more tired you are the less you want to go out and do things. The less you go out and do things the more depressed and overweight you become due to emotional eating and lack of movement. So when clients begin to see increased energy because of some new healthy eating habits – we are ecstatic.
Evidence is suggesting that a lack of certain vitamins can effect your quality of sleep. As clients begin to add in more whole foods and take away fast food, they start to get the micronutrients they need through their food. More sleep and better sleep quality results.
Mental health improvements
Lots of people in this world say they want to do a certain thing. Tons of them don’t take action. Taking action requires a commitment to yourself and most people struggle with commitment of any kind because they are scared of the unknown variables.
Clients that actually take action and are true to themselves during this process begin to feel an improved outlook on their life. They have a goal, they started this “nutrition thing”, they are sticking to it despite its challenges, and they are finally proud of themselves. More confidence and mental stability arise from them taking action.
Exercise and an active lifestyle become a priority
Your clients will begin to feel more energy as they get more sleep & practice better eating habits. Regular exercise becomes a priority.
Many clients start off as nutrition clients only. Despite the fact most nutrition coaches have gyms they are present in, a lot of clients are not exposed to exercise prior to this. It’s something they want to start, but never had the confidence to try. We have found that due to the increased energy levels and improvements in mental health, exercise is not only something clients want to try; but it begins to become a priority.
Unique Non Scale Victories Some Clients Can Relate To
1. Being able to fly without asking for the seatbelt extender
One of our HSN Mentoring Clients, CrossFit Brighton, helped one of their members loose 100lbs. A big win for this client occurred when he got on a plane and didn’t struggle to put the seatbelt on. Because he had lost so much weight since the last time he flew, the normal seat belt fit him. Amazing!
Listen and be inspired by Brent Bidwell’s story.
2. Marriage improvements
Some of our clients credit us for saving their marriage! Intimacy with their partner has increased because of their improved confidence and overall better outlook on themselves.
3. Donating clothes
A client of mine sent me a message one day and it said, “I’m taking note of this moment; It just struck me that I’ve lost 50lbs as I’m driving to donate 3/4 of my wardrobe because it no longer fits – thank you for helping me.”
4. Food Label Awareness & kids noticing new habits
Food label reading is something many clients don’t do when first starting out. Part of our job as coaches is to teach them how to do this. A client of ours took pause one day in the grocery store when her kid said, “Mom – how much sugar does that have in it?” She picked up the jar and read the label. The awareness and recognition this brought to how far she has come on her journey to improving her overall health made her more confident than ever. Additionally the fact her kid was aware that Mom was watching added sugar was a bonus!
Our hope for nutrition coaches after reading this article is that they become inspired by the fact that non scale victories are important. They help our clients “keep going” when the overall number isn’t moving on the scale. Sometimes, even as the leader, we get fixated on that end goal and we fail to recognize other milestones in a clients journey. Bringing ourselves back to this space of looking outward is important.
All this being said, don’t take away the importance of fat percentage biometrics going down when needed. If a client is going for 3 or more months without a movement on the Inbody with no good explanation, it may be time to contact a healthcare provider.
However – a reminder that ebbs and flows in weight loss is completely normal, and setting your clients up for success by discussing this in the beginning and preparing them for the recognition of these small wins that should be labeled as a huge victory is extremely important.
Frequently Asked Questions?
What are some realistic weight loss goals?
A .5 – 1.5# weight loss goal per week in the beginning of a clients journey is acceptable. Most of our clients are losing between 1.5-3.5 lbs per month depending on their beginning stats and length of time in the program.
What Should I Do My Nutrition Clients Are Eating Healthy But Are Not Losing Weight?
Ebbs and flows in weight loss is normal. See the above graph. That being said, if your client is going a significant time, (3 or more months), without losing body fat when they need to, and in their mind they are being doing everything right, it’s time for them to consult a doctor.
Many biological things can cause weight loss to be stalled including the simple lack of sleep. But, getting some blood work done and discussing this with their doctor is the next step.
How can I maintain my weight without scales?
People often get into a bad habit of constantly weighing themselves. This can lead to bad relationships with food and a poor mental outlook on life if the scale isn’t moving in the direction they want it to. There is nothing wrong with getting rid of the scale!
Weight can be monitored if necessary by how well the clothes are fitting and by taking monthly progress pictures.