woman holding scale and thinking

What is a Non-Scale Victory? A non-scale victory is a health improvement that results from a life change that may go unnoticed if you’re only focused on the number on the scale as a measure of your success. A body weight scale shows one number which is only a snapshot of your weight at any given moment. While it is something to be aware of, it is not the only thing that matters when it comes to your weight loss journey. There are many different ways to see progress as your health is improving that should also be celebrated to reinforce positive behavior changes that you have been making, and to keep you motivated to continue. 

Body weight naturally fluctuates day to day based on many different factors such as hydration status, bowel movements, fluid retention from salt consumed, amount of sleep, or menstrual cycles. Just because your weight increased by 1 pound from yesterday to today, doesn’t mean you gained an entire pound of fat overnight. It is not necessary to weigh yourself every single day, as it can cause a hyper fixation on the scale which can lead to negative emotions or over restriction. Losing weight after bariatric surgery looks different for everyone, and it is not a directly linear downward slope. There will be periods of time where the weight loss will happen quickly, and times where it slows down or stalls. What is more important to pay attention to is trends over time, week to week, month to month as well as non-scale victories!

5 Non-Scale Victories to focus on:

  1. Your clothes are feeling loose or fitting more comfortably

    If your clothes are feeling less tight and more comfortable, or you can use a different notch on your belt loop, your hard work is paying off! You may be losing inches even if the scale isn’t moving much which means your body composition is likely improving, especially if you have been strength training. 

  2. You have more energy and/or you’re sleeping better

    When you eat more nutritious food and less high fat/high sugar foods, it can certainly affect your energy levels in a positive way! Food is supposed to give our bodies energy, not make it feel like you want to take a nap after eating. Perhaps you’re not snacking late at night any more, which will improve your sleep as well. If you have sleep apnea, not needing to use a CPAP machine any more is a huge non-scale victory and quality of life improvement!  

  3. You can do more physically without as much difficulty

    Losing weight reduces the stress on the joints in the body that are weight bearing like the knees and lower back. You may not be in as much pain as you were before, which is an amazing thing! Less pain will allow you to do more physical activity to stay healthy and reach your weight loss goals. You may also notice you are not out of breath as quickly as before, or you are able to walk further or at a faster pace. 

  4. Your bloodwork has improved

    This is another reason why it’s important to follow up with your health care providers regularly after surgery. Checking things like blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, and vitamin levels are all markers of health status that will likely improve with the recommended lifestyle changes for surgery, thus lowering your risk for developing diseases. You may even get the green light from your doctor that you no longer have to take as many (or any!) medications to manage health issues. 

  5. You feel more confident in your own skin

    Being able to do things you want to do without letting the weight hold you back is an incredibly important part of overall wellbeing. Often improvements to our physical health lead to improvements to our mental health as well! Examples of this are things like no longer avoiding having your picture being taken, not thinking negative thoughts about your body/appearance, or not having a fear of trying something new because of your weight. 

Many people have a health goal of losing weight, and it is fine to measure your weight on a scale, but don’t forget to pay attention to all the other signs that you are having success and your health is improving! When you notice and celebrate all your victories, you’re more likely to stay motivated in a long-term journey towards a healthier life. Give yourself credit for all the hard work you have put in to achieve these improvements and keep going! 

Carley Salas MS, RDN, CDN
By Carley Salas MS, RDN, CDN
Bariatric Dietitian Educator

Carley Salas, MS, RDN, CDN is Garnet Health Medical Center’s Bariatric Dietitian Educator. She received her Bachelor’s and Master of Science Degrees in Nutrition and Dietetics from the State University of New York College at Oneonta. She is a Certified Dietitian-Nutritionist, holds an Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Certificate of Training in Adult Weight Management, and is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND). Carley is passionate about nutrition and helping others reach their health and wellness goals through individualized counseling and nutrition education. Carley can be reached at (845) 333-2830 or

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