Weight loss is, by definition, a numbers game. Your goal is to see the numbers on the scale start inching down and the numbers on a tape measure getting closer.
But, let’s face it, everyone has a bad week and everyone hits a plateau now and then. That’s a critical time when you’re trying to lose weight and get healthy. It’s also when you may be most likely to get discouraged and give up.
To stay motivated, you need a victory, and one that doesn’t depend on numbers: Non-scale victories to the rescue! When the numbers aren’t going your way, pay attention to the other measures of success that you may be overlooking.
These seven non-scale victories are sure to make you feel better about your diet progress:
1. Your clothes feel looser.
Even if you haven’t dropped a dress size, you may be noticing that your jeans are a bit roomy and there’s no embarrassing button gap on your favorite blouse. Possible explanations: Exercise is sculpting your body, even if the scale isn’t budging. Or, your new healthy diet has cut back your bloat and fluid retention that can make your clothes fit like a sausage skin.
2. You can keep up with your kids and grandkids on the playground.
If you’re carrying around fewer pounds, physical activity gets easier. You may find yourself bounding instead of struggling up steps. You may even join the kids on the monkey bars. As far as non-scale victories go, the youngsters will appreciate this one.
3. You’re healthier.
Losing as few as 10 pounds can lower your blood pressure or even prevent high blood pressure, according to the American Heart Association.
If you’ve traded junk food for healthier fare like fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy, you’re certainly on your way. Dropping five to 10 percent of your body weight (10 to 20 pounds if you weigh 200 pounds) can boost heart-healthy HDL cholesterol by five points, lowering your risk of heart disease. It can also lower the number of dangerous blood particles called triglycerides in your body by an average of 40 milligrams per deciliter, while helping you avoid prediabetes and dangerous inflammation. If the numbers on the scale don’t show it yet, have faith that they will soon enough. In the meantime, consider how these other figures might be shifting in your favor.
4. You’ve given up guilt.
Remember how you felt when you went back for seconds at the buffet? Or snuck the kids’ Halloween candy after they went to bed? Guilt is one emotion you can give up when you’re sticking to your weight loss journey. Making healthier choices when it comes to the food you eat will hopefully put this feeling to rest for good. A good diet should incorporate the foods you crave in moderation, while the bulk of your plan involves higher-fiber, nutrient-dense options. This should lower your risk of succumbing to emotional eating, and paying the emotional price.
5. You’re sleeping better.
Research from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine says that being overweight can keep you up—or wake you up—at night. In their study, many of the 77 overweight volunteers reported that they experienced interrupted sleep. While some had daytime tiredness, others even experienced sleep apnea, a condition linked to obesity that interferes with your breathing at night. After going on a diet, the groups all lost an average of 15 pounds and the ones who’d lost the most belly fat gained better Zzzzs at night.
Bonus: Besides feeling refreshed during the day and avoiding the health consequences of sleep apnea—a big risk factor for heart disease—you’re also more likely to lose weight because you’re getting enough sleep. Studies have linked sleep deprivation with weight gain. Fatigue makes you want to eat more and, let’s face it, daytime tiredness can thwart your best intentions to exercise.
6. You’re doing things you never thought you could.
Hey, you just carried two big bags of groceries from the car to the house. You turned down a piece of luscious chocolate cake at your coworker’s office birthday party because you really didn’t want it. You got back up on a bike for the first time since you were 11…. and you not only made it up that hill, you shouted “wheee!” all the way down. You went to a pool party and weren’t self-conscious about your looks. You didn’t avoid the department store mirror the way you used to—and you liked what you saw. Look for the little gifts, some subtle, that your diet has brought you to remind yourself that even if the scale hasn’t changed, you have.
7. You’re making better choices.
You’re sticking to your diet plan and exercising regularly. That means you’ve taken control of your life. In psychology, that’s called “mastery,” and it’s a vital component of being emotionally healthy. Studies have found that people with a sense of mastery generally live healthier lifestyles, have higher self-esteem and feel more prepared when dealing with whatever troubles life sends their way. That’s one more factor that will contribute to your success, and that’s something to celebrate.
And, if you still need help making better choices to ultimately reach your goal weight, Nutrisystem is always here to help. Explore our whole assortment of unique plans, designed to give you the help that works for you.