Believe it or not — we are nearly one month into 2023!
You may be rounding out January by checking on your progress toward your goals, including analyzing the number on the scale or the size tag on your “goal” jeans tucked in the back of your closet.
While these metrics can certainly help determine your progress towards some of the health and fitness goals you may have bounded into the gym or group fitness studio with on January 1, they are certainly not the full picture of your progress and your overall health. And, more than that, they take time and don’t often follow a linear path (that’s life!).
Weight is a snapshot of a day — not your overall health.
Most of us grew up hearing otherwise, but we’re here to tell you: weight isn’t the most accurate picture of health.
While a pound is a pound, it’s not always equal. Muscle is denser than fat. Thus, the number on the scale may not reflect the changes to your body composition.
Beyond that, your body has mechanisms for keeping your weight stable (within 2-10 pounds), so it can be hard to shift the number on the scale significantly in just a month.
What are non scale victories?
If you’re feeling discouraged that you haven’t already hit your 12 month fitness goal on January 31, don’t get down yet. Instead, get mindful and motivated by paying attention to non scale-victories (NSVs).
These metrics and benchmarks can often go unnoticed if you’re focused solely on the scale or pant size, but NSVs are key health improvements that can help you tap into a more comprehensive picture of your overall health, which is multifaceted. And, health is the ultimate goal, right?
If you’re looking for signs that your tireless efforts on the mat, at the weight rack or on the local trail are paying off, here are a few markers that you can pay attention to and celebrate.
1. Energy Levels + Performance Metrics
Have you noticed a boost in your energy outside the initial endorphin spike following a sweat sesh? Perhaps you can walk up the stairs without pausing or haul groceries through the front door without the usual feeling of exhaustion.
These wins may seem trivial at first, but instead, they showcase how functional fitness is positively impacting your daily life. If you want to assess energy in terms of exercise, notice if you are pushing for five seconds longer in a HIIT interval, shaving a few seconds off your mile time or adding an extra push up or squat to your circuit.
2. Sleep Quality
Have you been settling into bed easier without counting sheep for hours? Have you been waking up feeling more rested and ready to take on the day? Research suggests that losing belly fat may positively impact sleep quality, so while you may not visibly see the loss, your body is reaping the reward of deep sleep, which is crucial to your long-term fitness journey.
Deep sleep helps repair muscles, regulates the production of appetite-inducing hormones and modifies your cortisol levels, which are often correlated to inflammation. Peep your Fitbit or Oura Ring to see how your sleep is stacking up month over month.
3. Pain Relief
Have you noticed less joint pain and stiffness both in your workouts and throughout your daily routine? If your weight is slowly decreasing, you may be feeling less joint pain as weight loss can reduce the stress on your weight-bearing joints (think your knees and lower back!).
If daily stretching is on your 2023 habits list, you may also see additional pain relief in sore muscles and some of the areas that ache after a long day of sitting at any desk job. Muscular relief can help you move around easier on the day-to-day and push you in workouts along your fitness journey.
4. Clear Skin
Are you glowing? Have you used fewer acne patches in the last few weeks? It’s not just a rumor: sweat and a plant-forward diet can help your skin shine. While it seems contrary to popular belief, sweating during exercise actually helps your skin detox and remove toxins that can produce acne and clogged pores (just remember to wash your face after the gym!).
Plus, a diet full of fruits and veggies nourishes your skin with all the nutrients it needs to shine. And, if you’re considering long-term health, a diet full of antioxidant-rich foods can help prevent DNA damage from sun exposure. So today’s glow is just the start.
5. Blood Pressure
Has your blood pressure dipped? You may associate blood pressure with the tight-gripping mechanism at the doctor’s office, but it goes deeper. Blood pressure, which is largely impacted by nutrition, exercise and stress, can help indicate if you are at a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.
Whether you use an app like Blood Pressure Companion or ask your doc to read your BP next time you are up for a physical, take a peek at the stat to see how your overall health is looking month to month.
6. Good Mood
Have you been feeling peppier or more resilient? Regular exercise, nourishing foods and good sleep can slash stress levels and improve your mood, which is a victory we will certainly take. And, shameless plug: if you’re looking for other ways to boost your mood, check out our 30 Day Good Mood Challenge.
Shift your focus to non scale victories
Here are two tips to help you shift your focus from the scale to the many other amazing things your fitness journey is doing for you.
Your journal is your new BFF.
All of these NSVs may seem overwhelming, and some may seem subjective to measure. That’s why we recommend taking pen to paper.
Throughout the course of your fitness journey, take daily or weekly notes on the metrics above. Over time, you’ll start to notice subtle shifts, which will build into big changes and big results.
Patience is a virtue.
Amid lots of social media chatter and one-month progress pics flooding Instagram and TikTok, it can be challenging to stay motivated if the numbers aren’t where you expect them to be in a month.
But, celebrate your non scale victories. These mean your body and your mind are changing! And, above all else, keep in mind that your journey is your journey and that you are brave and powerful for your consistency and commitment!