IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

What is a non-scale victory and how can it help you reach your goals?

Non-scale victories shift your focus to accomplishments like increased stamina, better sleep or feeling less pain — signs you're making progress toward a weight-loss goal.

While Melissa Paluch was trying to lose weight and reverse her diabetes, she noticed that weighing herself too often caused her to falter. If her weight went up, she’d consider restricting her food intake. This did not lead to success. To achieve her goals, she began considering non-scale victories to monitor her progress — and it worked. She lost 96 pounds.

“The scale is not always a good indicator of what’s going on,” Leslie Bonci, a nutritionist and owner of Active Eating Advice, tells A non-scale victory helps people recognize gains “mentally and emotionally. It’s such a big deal for making us celebrate those efforts that we’re having and really feel more invested in the process.”

Learn what non-scale victories are and why they work — plus examples of non-scale victories that you can use to track your progress.

To keep track of her weight loss, Melissa Paluch used non-scale victories like going down in pant size.
To keep track of her weight loss, Melissa Paluch used non-scale victories like going down in pant size.Courtesy Melissa Paluch

What are non-scale victories?

Simply put, non-scale victories are ways that people can measure the success of adopting healthier eating and exercise habits that aren’t focused on weight loss.

“Non-scale victories would be looking at outcomes of your behaviors associated with your health,” Sammie Gollup, a dietitian and owner of Anti Diet Mama, tells “Those outcomes have nothing to do with the scale. A lot of times in our society we have this desire to lose weight to be healthier. When in reality all of those health-promoting behaviors — like exercise and eating plants, more fruits and vegetables, sleeping, managing stress — are going to have more of an impact" beyond the scale.

Dietitian Abbey Sharp founder of Abbey’s Kitchen says sometimes she advises clients to ignore their scale completely.

“With the scale you really never get to the full picture,” she tells “Even if your goals are aesthetically driven, I would much rather have people look at, ‘OK have I reached a fitness or physical activity milestone or goal I’ve been really working toward?’”

Why do non-scale victories work?

Focusing on non-scale related goals, such as improved mobility or better sleep, motivates people to continue with their behaviors.

“It’s that sense of accomplishment,” Bonci says. “Because people are seeing some other outcomes as a result of the changes that they’re making is just enormous.”

Sharp says non-scale victories often focuses on living well, which feels rewarding.

“At the end of the day, we’re all trying to live our longest, healthiest, most vital lives,” she says. “Looking at things like our cholesterol levels or blood sugar or blood pressure … can be hugely motivating.”

Gollup agrees and says non-scale victories shift how someone thinks about themselves and their hopes.

“When we are intrinsically motivated … we’re going to be much more likely to continue,” she says. “If we’re just looking for appearance or movement on a scale … it’s much more likely that we are going to quit these behaviors because we think they’re not making an impact.”

What are examples of non-scale victories?

Non-scale victories often work best when someone personalizes them and attaches them to specific thing they hope to accomplish. For example, a person might want to sit on the floor and play with their grandchildren. When people adopt a new pattern of eating and exercise, they might notice non-scale victories, which can include:

  • Being able to lift heavier weights
  • Experiencing an improved mood
  • Reducing or eliminating medications
  • Sleeping better
  • Being able to cross one’s legs
  • Walking longer distances
  • Having better concentration
  • Walking at a faster pace
  • Not needing a seatbelt extender on a flight
  • Feeling more energized
  • No longer breathing heavily going up stairs
  • Lowering blood pressure or cholesterol
  • Lowering A1C levels
  • Drinking more water
  • Having regular or healthier bowel movements
  • Feeling lighter in one’s body
  • Noticing a different body composition
  • Feeling fewer aches and pains
  • No longer experiencing heartburn or acid reflux
  • Being able to ride an amusement park ride
  • Enjoying a wider variety of foods
  • Having stamina to play with children
  • Being able to get on and off the floor with ease
  • No longer feeling ‘hangry’
  • Better immune health, such as catching fewer colds
  • Finding yourself less consumed with thoughts about food
  • Enjoying exercise
  • Improved balance

“Energy is number one, especially with my clients because I work with moms that have a lot of demands on them,” Gollup says. “The next one I would say is improved digestion so having regular bowel movements, not having any stomach upset.”

Often people feel happy when their clothes fit differently, or they can fit into a smaller size. But Gollup urges caution with that victory.

“The way our clothes fit five or 10 years ago is going to really be different than it is today, and the goal isn’t to go fit into clothes you used to wear,” she says. “The goal is to wear things that make you feel comfortable and that fit on your body.”

Bonci says she encourages clients to consider “how they feel in their skin” when thinking about non-scale victories.

“These types of things have nothing to do with the number on the scale,” she says. “It could. But it has everything to do with quality of life.”