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Living Beyond the Scale: Embracing Non-Scale Measures of Progress

Updated: Apr 16

Diet culture has us fixated on that one number we see on the scale.  If that number is going down, that means weight loss and success… right!? Not necessarily.  In fact, there is actually a growing recognition that when talking about wellness, true progress extends far beyond what the scale is telling us.  Furthermore, there are limitations to using the scale as your main measure of progress.  Not only can it seriously affect motivation towards sustainable, long-term change, the scale doesn’t really give us the complete picture to begin with.


When wellness success is defined by the number on the scale, it’s easy to overlook the big picture of a wellness transformation.  Shifts in body composition, water retention, and hormone levels often lead to fluctuations in weight that don’t necessarily reflect changes in fat mass.  Furthermore, weight loss is not always linear! Metabolic adaptations, changes in physical activity, and modifying our dietary habits can all contribute to positive internal changes, even when the scale doesn’t move.  So when we allow the scale to dictate our progress it can easily prevent us from appreciating other important aspects of our wellness journey.


Enter the wonderful world of non-scale measures of progress (a.k.a. quality of life measures) - where victories are measured not just in pounds lost, but with other measures of positive change that represent true wellness on all levels.


Shifting focus from the scale to other measures of progress allows us to consider other aspects of health, fitness, and wellness.  This well-rounded perspective then influences a positive mindset and fuels motivation.  Furthermore, when we celebrate these victories we gain a confidence boost which helps to reinforce healthy habits, propelling us forward on our wellness journey.


There are so many non-scale measures of progress to focus on that can reflect improvements in overall health and well-being.  While weight loss can certainly be one aspect to focus on, it shouldn’t be the only focus.  Non-scale measures help to show the full picture by capturing changes in energy levels, mood, strength, endurance, body composition, and more.  Note that non-scale measures of progress should be individually based depending on what you find motivating and important.  These markers provide a well-rounded view of progress and are essential for gauging success beyond the scale.


Non-scale measures of progress can range from physical changes like clothing fit and muscle definition to performance improvements such as increased workout intensity or a faster running pace.  Lifestyle changes, such as improved sleep quality and reduced stress levels, can also serve as impactful indicators of progress.  The key is to recognize and celebrate your victories, no matter how small they may seem!


Celebrating non-scale victories is essential for maintaining motivation and momentum.  Try treating yourself to a non-food reward or just simply sharing your achievements with loved ones.  The bottom line is that each celebration reinforces progress and positive behavior.  Embracing the journey and acknowledging achievements along the way is so important!


While focusing on non-scale measures of progress has numerous benefits, it’s not without challenges.  Likely there will always be that pressure to prioritize weight loss as your main measure of progress, but finding a supportive community and revisiting your personal goals regularly can help you to stay motivated and focused on holistic well-being rather than just the scale.  It’s time to shift the narrative and embrace non-scale measures of progress too!  By recognizing and celebrating the positive changes experienced along your wellness journey, it will help to create a healthier relationship with yourself beyond finding justification in the number on the scale.


If you’re feeling stumped on what other measures of progress to focus on, here are some great examples of non-scale measures of progress to help get you started!


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