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Posted on Mar 8, 2012 in Weigh Ins, Weight Loss | 18 comments

NSVs (Weigh-in)

NSV, in the weight-loss world, is an acronym that stands for “non-scale victory”. This is a term that I was not familiar with prior to starting this li’l ol’ blog here, but is something that I have come to appreciate more and more as my journey has gone on. See, in the beginning, it is ALL about the numbers. When you’re significantly overweight, and make an honest effort to start turning your health around, the weight starts to come off so quickly that it’s all you can do not to scream your losses from the rooftop (or in my case, proclaim them to the entire internet. Which is what I did do. Heh.) But as your progress slows, and it gets harder and harder to shed each full pound, you have to start looking to other things to validate your journey. And if you don’t have measures besides the scale to mark your progress (because yes, you ARE making progress!), it will break you. And believe, it is already all too easy to give up.

scale destroyer

My first NSVs all had to do with clothing. After all, aside from the digits on the scale, the number on the tag at the back of your jeans is probably the one that holds the most weight, right? (Pun intended.) Even when my weight loss for the month would only add up to a few pounds in total, I might have been able to jump down a dress size that month, or had to have my bra size remeasured. Of course, these kinds of number-centric victories have a shelf-life too. There are only so many sizes you can drop before things slow down, just like the scale does. So while I still thoroughly enjoy being able to pull items off the rack that don’t have an “X” on their size label, since getting down to a size 12/L, things haven’t really budged too much in that department (thankfully they haven’t gone in the other direction either though!). Still, it’s a (slightly bittersweet) victory in and of itself just to be able to bag up the clothing that no longer fits and haul it off to Goodwill!

donate clothing

So as someone who has only been able to validate my health progress by way of numbers, imagine my surprise to realize that I’m actually starting to put stock in non-numerical measures. Things that are actually more related to my — gasp! — fitness, than my weight or clothing size. Things like being able to walk up the three flights of stairs from the parking garage at work without gasping for air anymore. And being able to successfully complete a full cycle of 40-lb chest presses without dropping the barbell into my throat, or sets of walking lunges without falling over. And at the risk of sounding even more superficial than I normally do, I consider self-esteem boosters like catching a guy checking you out as definite NSVs. After all, the Gretchen of Old never used to get that kind of attention, so why not consider it a mark of weight loss success? Numbers are still important, of course. They are a literal measure of progress. But they are not the be-all and end-all of weight loss, and they are certainly not the sole determination of my success.

And with all of that said, let’s take a look at how I measured up (ha!) this week, shall we?

Starting Weight: 246 lbs
Last Weigh-in: 190.1 lbs
This Weigh-in: 190.0 lbs
Difference: -0.1 lbs

See, now this is a perfect example of a weigh-in that I probably should be frustrated at. I mean, seriously? 0.1? Not even allowing me to (re)see a number that starts with a 1-8? Shockingly, I am not upset by this. I’m starting to learn that my body’s pattern is not to drop weight super consistently every single week, and now that I’ve accepted that, only the gains really get to me. I’m really starting to come around to the idea that maintaining for a week or two, in my opinion, is not a bad thing. My overall goal is still weight loss, after all, and after the past 60 — now 56 — pounds lost, I’ve really come around to that. Hopefully that doesn’t sound like justification or an excuse. I honestly don’t mean it that way! I’m just trying to keep that positive attitude going. After all, as I’ve been saying, it’s that negativity and single-minded focus on the numbers on the scale that led to my weight loss downfall over and over in past attempts. It’s only this time, when I’ve started trying to see beyond my actual weight, that I’ve been able to keep going (counter-intuitive, isn’t it?). Through months of plateaus, through more than my fair share of dips in motivation, through all my wishy-washy, ho-hum weigh-ins, I am still fighting the good fight — and am armed to the teeth with NSVs to help me out along the way. 🙂

What’s your favorite kind of NSV? Clothing-related? Fitness-related? Self-esteem-related?


  1. I LOVE NSVs! Clothes are definitely a great way to make sure things are moving in the right direction. When I go to the mall, I get a thrill fitting into a smaller size. I sometimes pick up my original size just for good measure and try it on to see the difference.

  2. For me, its the walking up the stairs and staying in my dress size. Also there’s this feeling in my stomach area that let’s me know when I’m eating right. Most people call it bloating (or not bloating if everything is going right). I call it the “you are eating too much cheese and bread alarm”.

  3. Congrats on the NSV and realizing that even a .1 is something in the world of trying to improve each week. Your vantage point is getting healthier and healthier and your mood is even better. With this outlook, you’ll be invincible! I know you’ll see 18- next week!!

  4. Oh I love this post! My NSV are probably just my clothes fitting. I have a pair of jeans that used to be BAGGY, like note cute babby, that I can barely squeeze my toosh into now. However, after losing 4 pounds (15 more to my goal!) I’m noticing that they are fitting a little better. That’s a win to me

  5. My NSVs include building endurance and not overeating. For example, completing a workout that I use to think was extremely difficult and now I can do all the cardio and the strength training instead of stopping or doing the low impact version of the workout.

    I am one of the girls who try not to focus on the “numbers” because it really triggers overeating whether to celebrate a major loss or to comfort me when I’ve gained or stay the same. I now put more emphasis on NSVs because those fitness, clothes, and self-esteem related victories really matter and hold much more substance than a number on the scale.

  6. For me- it’s the way certain jeans fit and also how good (or bad) I feel going on a run. I’m glad you’re maintaining a positive attitude and remembering that getting fit is more than merely pounds… it’s inches, it’s endurance, and it’s the change in how you feel doing things that you did before, or couldn’t do before 🙂

  7. I like you am happy as long as it is not a gain. My favorite NSV is knowing my fitness related. I love knowing my health is improving.

  8. I’ve turned around and started focussing on fitness numbers instead of scale numbers. I think it’s been really good for me.
    While I used to feel accomplishment if I lost weight, that sense of pride pales in comparison to what I felt when I, say, ran a marathon or squatted 185lbs.
    Yeah my pants are a bit tighter and those tight shirts aren’t as flattering, but I can accomplish some serious fitness goals and I’m proud of that.

    Things I’m still working on:
    -squatting 2 wheels (ie. 225lbs)
    -100 push-ups

  9. I’ll be completely honest- I’d love to see anything below a “certain” number on the scale. My lowest weight as an adult was in the 140s, and I remember what a victory it was to go the doctor and NOT have to tell them to move the slider up to the 150 mark first. I can’t seem to get under that 150 mark again for the life of me- and I’d be fine with that I guess- as long as my “thin” clothes fit comfortably again. For me, that is what matters most- feeling good in my clothes, whether I’m 160 or 140- the number doesn’t hold as much weight (ha- no pun intended).
    I love your list of “NSVs.”

  10. I am still scale-obsessed. It’s sad. I have quit weighing myself and am trying to measure by clothes because ED will creep up if I keep obsessing over the number.

    My favorite non-scale victory was shaving 20 minutes off my half marathon time. And then I got curious and weighed myself, and I was 10 lbs heavier than the previous half I ran.

    If I was weighing myself throughout training, I would have been thinking how slow I was going to be and wouldn’t have ran as fast. Experiencing that NOW because I’m at that same weight. Ugh.

  11. I prefer NSVs myself because the scale can be so fickle.

    My favorite is clothes related when I lose a few pounds and things just fit better. I really love when I’m able to clean out my closet of clothes that don’t fit because they are too big.

    My second favorite is seeing muscle tone. As a person who’s had some squishiness all her life seeing tone is exciting. Even if it isn’t noticed by others it’s noticed by me.

  12. I’ve never been one to weigh myself much (until I moved in with you, that is… I just stopped writing this to go weigh myself, and yikes!) so my only real indications of weight fluctuations have come from how my clothes fit. And while it’s always exciting to get back in a pair of jeans or a dress you haven’t worn in a while, I think my favorite NSV is more how I feel. This may sound strange, but when I’m really in shape, I can feel my muscles engaged all the time. Even when I’m walking, I’ll feel my abs working, feel myself standing up straighter, and I guess just feel stronger all around!

    • That is such a good point. I remember loving the feeling of muscles and strength as I went about my day, when I was at my peak fitness a year ago. I had forgotten until I read your comment! I feel so much more inspired to work out now!

  13. there are no “NSV’s” in my world 🙂 no matter what weight, you’re a healthy weight, Gretchen because you’re headed in a positive life direction! 🙂 keep that head up!

  14. My NSV’s usually come in the form of actually realizing how much I’ve lost in some way. I catch myself in the mirror and I actually see the weight loss, or someone who otherwise would not have mentioned anything goes out of their way. Plus, it’s great to pull those jeans out of the back of my closet on a whim, and have them fit!

  15. My NSV’s are generally running/racing related. But I have to say that I was nervous when I pulled out a pair of shorts yesterday, and they still fit after the brutal Colorado winter we’ve been having! 🙂

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