Celebrate non-scale victories

In short: They're proof that stepping on the scale isn't the only way to gauge your weight-loss efforts.
Published 7 November 2020 | Updated 15 July 2024

Over and over, research from nutrition and behaviour change science shows that regular weight tracking is one of the most robust predictors of weight loss and maintenance. That’s why we encourage members to weigh themselves consistently.

However, on any given day, the scale does not reflect the totality of our behaviours. Our weight has normal variability that doesn’t perfectly line up with how we’re eating, moving, sleeping, etc. If we rely solely on the number on the scale to tell us “how we’re doing,” we’re at risk to over or under correct our habits. And ultimately, we can lose confidence in the process.

That’s where Non-Scale Victories (NSVs)—the benefits we receive that extend beyond the number on the scale—come in. When we find non-scale ways to measure our progress, it helps us look at the totality of our efforts and recognise successes that the scale might not show. When we notice the small changes we’re making and when we truly value the progress happening off the scale, we get positive reinforcement—and that can provide momentum that moves us forward.

What does NSV mean?

If you've seen the abbreviation "NSV" on Instagram or Connect, or heard a WeightWatchers member use the term in a Workshop, you've probably wondered what it meant. The letters stand for "non-scale victories," the small, everyday indicators that mark your progress.

Try thinking of it this way: The NSVs are what your hard work is really about. And as for the numbers on the scale? They're the added bonus. Sure, keeping track of weight loss is an important part of a weight loss program. But also acknowledging your progress in other areas can help you be more positive.

For example, here are some non-scale victories that are well worth celebrating:

  • It's easier to walk up stairs and play with your kids.
  • You have more energy.
  • You feel more positive and better about yourself.
  • You're noticing that you eat more vegetables and drink more water.
  • Your clothes fit better.

It's important to recognise changes, even if they feel minor in the moment. You'll realise that you're progressing in behaviours, attitudes, skills, and choices that will last you a lifetime at a healthy weight.

14 non-scale victories worth celebrating on your weight loss journey

1. Your confidence is soaring

When you make a choice to improve your health by losing weight, there’s a ripple effect that can improve your confidence, too. “This journey has taught me that I don’t have to hide. I don’t have to feel embarrassed. I can wear crop tops—and even if I didn’t lose a single kilo, I would still think that,” says WeightWatchers member Shannon M.

Other program members agree: “I have noticed that I do not have as many negative thoughts about myself. I am happier and more confident overall, because I know that I am on the right track,” says Victoria K.

2. Your skin looks great

All the healthy choices you’ve been making to stay on track—drinking water, eating more fruits and veggies, exercising—can help your skin look and feel better, too. “I’ve been drinking more water and already notice that my skin is clearer and not as dry,” says WeightWatchers member Jenni C.

3. Your health is improving

Better eating habits, regular exercise, and weight loss can improve several health markers, including BMI, blood pressure, and blood sugar, which might help further motivate you to keep it up.

4. You’re breathing easier

One small study showed breathing becomes more efficient as you lose weight, so it’s a marker of success when you no longer feel out of breath during everyday activities or when briefly pushing yourself, like when you have to jog a few steps to catch the bus.

5. You have fewer aches and pains

Extra body weight puts more pressure on your joints, which explains why you might notice fewer aches and pains as you progress on your weight loss journey.

6. Your workouts feel easier

Starting a new exercise routine can sometimes feel hard, like force-yourself-to-tie-your-shoes hard and then drag-yourself-to-the-door hard. But that day when you suddenly notice your workout feels easier makes it all worth it. Pat yourself on the back and ramp up the intensity—it’s time for a new challenge!

7. You’re sleeping better

You may have heard not getting enough sleep can stall weight loss, but did you know there’s an opposite effect? Losing weight, according to one study, can improve the quality of your sleep.

8. You’ve got healthier habits

Opting to cook at home instead of ordering take-out. Going for a walk after dinner rather than sitting in front of the TV. Getting a glass of water on round two at happy hour. Calling a friend to de-stress. Regularly making healthy choices is a non-scale victory, for sure.

9. You have more energy

Having the energy to fully participate in life is both a benefit of weight loss. “I’m no longer the mum on the sidelines. I am the mum in the game, being able to stay active and keep up with my son,” says WeightWatchers member Stef D.

10. You’re making moves—literally

When you achieve the NSV of having more energy, you move more. “I have the energy and motivation to break up long stretches of sitting with online workout videos,” says WeightWatchers member Angie W. And you encourage others to get up, too. “I now love being active with my family. I’d even choose an outdoor activity over going out to dinner, which is a huge shift for me!” says WeightWatchers member Andrea S.

11. You’re doing things you never thought possible

Trying new recipes, travelling more, improving your health opens you up to lots of new experiences and opportunities—and that’s something to get excited about. “I was never able to run, even when I was a kid. If I ran half a block, I’d get a stomach ache,” says WeightWatchers member Beatriz F. “Now I can get up to 10km and I feel amazing. For the first time in my life, I’m training for a marathon!” she says.

12. You’re making powerful mental shifts

As you rack up new healthy habits, you might notice your outlook is improving, too. “I’m able to shift my perspective from ‘there’s so much I need to do to reach my goals’ to ‘focus on today.’ For example, I tracked my Points within 24 hours—that’s major! Learning how to exist in the present helps me to stay consistent more than anything else,” says WeightWatchers member Jessie D.

13. You’re eating healthy foods—and loving them, too

Okay, canned beans may never appear on anyone's list of favourite foods, but finding delicious ways to eat more fresh produce, wholegrains, and lean meats is definitely on the non-scale victories list. “I’m eating more vegetables now than ever before. I love spinach, turnips, cabbage—and I’ve noticed that eating more of these makes me feel so much better,” says WeightWatchers member Zackory K.

14. Your clothes fit better

Whether it’s slipping into a pair of pants you haven’t worn in years, or buying something a size down, feeling good in your clothes can be a huge motivator. “I tried on a dress in my usual size but it turned out to be three sizes too big! I had to ask for a smaller one. In this moment, I felt happy and proud of myself for how far I’ve come,” says WeightWatchers member Jacqueline S.

Celebrate your non-scale victories

It’s easy to become hyper-focused on weight—it’s a significant number measuring progress toward your goal, but it’s not the only milestone on your journey. Non-scale victories are wins worth cheering about, too.

“They might seem like intangibles, but being more active with your kids, longer walks with the dog, taking the stairs without getting winded, the healthy choice becoming the easier choice—these are all signs that the program is working for you,” says New York City-based certified strength and conditioning coach Christi Smith, MS, CSCS. And when you take a moment to savour your success, you’re much more likely to stick with the healthy habits that got you there—whether it’s showing up on the scale or not.