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Importance of Non-Scale Victories (NSV) to Your WLS Journey

August 15, 2016

When trying to live a healthier lifestyle the first thing most individuals going through the process think about is the number on the scale. It can be easy to define oneself by the number glaring back at them and feel one of two emotions; excitement that the direction of the dial turned to the left or shame because it went to the right.

What is a Non-­Scale Victory (NSV)? It is a health benefit or achievement that has absolutely nothing to do with the scale.

How many times have you weighed yourself, week after week and your weight may not have gone in the direction you wanted it to? It is so easy to feel negative and question yourself as to why you are going through this process in the first place. These feelings can sabotage the hard work you’ve put into your process and the progress you have made thus far.

On many occasions, I've thought to myself, "If I didn’t lose this week, what is one cookie?" Before I knew it, I’ve ditched my cookies and cream protein shake for an entire sleeve of double stuffed Oreos, telling myself that,"They will make me happier than being healthy ever would." The next time you ever feel like I did, my best advice is, “Step away from the Oreos and no one gets hurt.” Let’s discuss some of the NSV’s and celebrate how far you’ve come!

7 of My Favorite Non-Scale Victories

1. Most or All of Your Co-Morbidities Have Vanished

High blood pressure...Nope. Sleep apnea...I sleep like a baby! Diabetes...Not anymore! Many of us were taking pill after pill to fight various aspects of our pre­-surgery lifestyle. It was almost a game to remember what every pill in our daily regimen was for. Now, we trade our prescribed high blood pressure or cholesterol medication for Iron and calcium supplements!

2. You Feel Visible Again

It is hard to believe the bigger I felt, the less I felt seen. Many of us feel the same way. I have discussed with friends that they now feel acknowledged and relevant. Doors are opened for them, salespeople offer assistance, and wait staff would come back for additional refills. Many of us have a reason to be outgoing again and to be the center of attention, because for so long we were silenced by the weight of our weight. You are no longer the one taking the photos and feel confident in allowing someone to snap the shot for once!

3. You Have Energy

How many of you give “children” as your reason to lose weight or being able to exercise? Now that you have lost excess weight, you are able to run around with your children, go farther at the gym, can go the extra mile and feel better knowing that you don’t have that additional weight on your joints. You are not winded by walking across the parking lot. You also haven’t had five cups of jet fuel(unless you really love your coffee) just to get you through the afternoon. (Taking those B vitamins helps too). Pull/Push ups are possible, taking the stairs doesn’t make your knees hurt just thinking about it, and going “Beast­ Mode” is second nature!

4. Plus Size/Big and Tall Section - No more!

Going from size +30’s, down to 20’s to the teens to...oh my gosh, the single digits? I have many friends who cried in their dressing room because they are now the smallest they’ve ever been. Your jeans (without spandex or stretchy material) are loose fitting OUT OF THE DRYER. Some of you have even had the accidental mishap of having your pants fall off. My best advice is to find a clothing exchange, where you can help others along their journey and swap/exchange your gently used clothes and get some “new to you” clothes as well!

4. Confined Spaces

Ugh, that seat belt extender or having to purchase an extra seat on a plane. Not being able to fit into a booth or having to strategically map out a way to get to the other side of the room in a setting where everyone is already seated. Now, you can move through crowded spaces with ease without having to turn to the side and suck it in. Hearing the ‘click” from the amusement park ride is also an amazing feeling!

5. Measurements

Keep track of body measurements because you may very well be losing inches, while the scale is not moving!

6. Compliments

To this day, it is hard for me to accept a compliment. I still see myself at my heaviest, even though I have lost 200 pounds in my WLS journey. Learn to see what others see, and say THANK YOU! Learn to compliment yourself whenever you can. We are our biggest critics so self/positive affirmations go a long way. Body shaming starts from within. Allow yourself to see the positive, and tell yourself what you like and LOVE about your body!

7. Educate and Empower

I have teetered back and forth between needing support and giving it. Allow yourself to be someone's inspiration. You will not only be making a positive impact for yourself but for someone else as well. Learn all you can by going to support groups (whether online or in person)! Share your successes and struggles! Celebrate the struggles as much as the successes. Struggles make us stronger and help us learn how to forge through whatever seems to be keeping us from moving forward.

I can admit that I was a slave to my scale for a better part of 4 years when I had my Lap-Band, I was obsessed and would often sabotage myself if the scale didn’t move in the direction that I wanted it to. Now that I have been revised to the RNY Gastric Bypass procedure, I only weigh myself when going into a doctor’s office. Weight loss is not, and will never be, as fast as we want it to, so we must celebrate every aspect of this journey whether a hill or a valley. There are so many emotions involved with changing everything about your lifestyle because if it were easy, everyone would do it.

We must be cognizant of the emotional and physical process we are putting ourselves through. When stepping on the scale, we often forget that it didn’t take us overnight to gain the weight, so what makes us think it will fall off within that same timeframe? We plateau, sometimes more than you care to admit, we will have a “cheat” snack/meal/day etc., we gain muscle, retain water, we will socialize with friends and try to test your body’s boundaries and experience weight regain. There are a slew of things that can occur so this is anything but a joyride. This is why it is important to step off that scale and celebrate your Non-­Scale Victories.

Lauren's NSVMy Personal Experience with NSVs

I know all too well how the number on the scale can diminish one's ability to stay confident about their personal WLS journey. Being obese most of my life, I found it hard to not focus solely on the scale because I felt that is all that mattered! Once I took a step back and realized the bigger picture, I realized that my journey consisted of many contributing components summed up to my overall health and well-being. I threw out my scale and started focusing on the many NSVs that accompany my WLS! I'm happier, healthier and eager to discover what more I can accomplish now that the excess weight is gone. I'm thrilled to share that I now manage and play in a women’s recreational soccer league and can keep up with my 8-month-old daughter.

Pictured, is one of my favorite NSV accomplishments! Being an avid hockey fan, I am now able to ice skate with my husband, who has played hockey most of his life. Before WLS, it was difficult (downright impossible) to successfully be on skates for more than 10 minutes because of the pain in my lower extremities. Now, 200 pounds lighter, I am able to enjoy this pastime with my family.

Remember: The scale is not the only measure of success! What are some Non-Scale Victories you’ve experienced?



Lauren Sanchez had Lap-Band in 2008 and a revision to RNY in 2014 due to irreversible dilation of the upper pouch. She has since lost a total of 200 pounds and has committed herself to a new path. This new road included a revision, but it also includes a commitment to follow-up appointments, counseling, attending local support groups and participating in online bariatric communities. Lauren lives in Southern California and enjoys spending time with her family.