Keto and the Scale
Keto victories are most often measured by the whirling numbers on the scale. All early adopters of keto have been there, watching as the numbers vacillate, trying to find their center to tell you your true weight while you suck in, holding back breath, hoping, somehow, that it helps the scale settle on the smaller number. The game dieters play with the scale can feel like a round of Russian roulette: watching a part of yourself sink when the tumble doesn’t come up in your favor. And how many of us ketoers have eaten that one extra helping knowing, as it slides between our teeth, that it will likely show on the scale in the morning?
There is actually a psychological fear, Gravitophobia, that means “fear of the bathroom scale.”
The deals we make with our scale always seem to give way to the house edge and excuses: “that’s mostly water weight” or “I only step on the scale on Fridays,” or “I need a new scale, this one is stuck.” It’s laughable that we put some much into our relationships with our scales and get so little back, at least in the early goings of keto.
So instead of putting up with the scale’s taunts and flights of fancy, look for your victories within yourself and out in the real world as you live your new keto life.
Non-scale victories, often shortened to NSV in keto communities, are the victories we notice about our new keto selves that have nothing to do with the scale. Non-scale victory is the ability to do something you couldn’t do before keto helped change your life. In early keto, after the whoosh weight comes off, the pounds may stall, but that doesn’t mean keto isn’t working or that you’re not losing fat. Your weight fluctuates based on a bunch of factors: water retention, bowel retention, hormones, recent meals, etc. (1). But non-scale victories are noticeable if you’re looking for them. Pay attention to the fit of your clothes. Look for emerging muscles or lines in your trimming physique. Notice and be thankful for your renewed ability to bend, stretch, and move with less strain (2). These are the real, physical keto benefits of the non-scale victories.
The Importance of the NSV
Most ketoers’ first non-scale victory is compliment, a kind word from someone who’s noticed a change when even the ketoer them self may not have noticed one yet. It doesn’t seem like much at first, but that one little comment has the power to keep you from cheating (3). The reason NSVs are as important as the actual numbers dropping on the scale is that they keep you going and give you the resolve not to crumble when faced with a table full of sweets or breads. It’s these little, extra victories that help you realize that a brownie looks delicious but it can’t possibly give you the rush of people noticing your hard work and commending you on it.
From there, the NSVs begin to fuel themselves, the more victories you have the more you want, and in this case it’s okay to be greedy. Collect as many non-scale victories as you can, because they will keep you on the path with positivity and sense of accomplishment. When your skin clears and gains a supple glow (4) it will give you resolve and suddenly your next victory comes when you have tons more energy (5), which leads to an elevation in mood (6), which makes it easier to stay with keto. The non-scale victories self-perpetuate but you have to notice them and be grateful that your hard work and dedication is what made them happen.
Confessions of the Non-Scale Victory
We love it at niKETO when people share their success stories with us. Here is a list of our favorite NSVs from ketoers who managed to stay strong and look for the less conventional signs that their keto journey was working for them.
“At first it felt weird when I got into my truck and my belly didn’t scrape against my steering wheel. Adjusting my belly off the wheel was just the way I had to do it for so long, not having to lift my gut in my truck felt like writing with my left hand for a while.”
“I have to say, my favorite NSV that I noticed was when we got on a plane for vacation and I could buckle my seat belt without having to ask the flight attendant for one of those awful extenders. Victory for not being embarrassed in front of a whole plane of people anymore!”
“It sounds so stupid to say it now, but I used to have a thing my kids got me to help me get my socks on. The first NSV I noticed was I could bend over and put my own socks on again. Then and there I knew I would stick to keto.”
“Lifters know, the bulking/cutting cycle can suck. Putting on muscle means putting on fat. Cutting means trying to lose the fat without losing a lot of the muscle you just earned in bulk phase. I used keto for my last cut and by the time I got the winter layer off, I noticed I’d retained a bunch more muscle than usual. My NSV was kind of an accident but now keto is my go-to for cuts.”
“I work at Disneyland and felt so uncomfortable on most rides that I’d tell people I don’t ride any rides because I’m just tired of them. But that was never true, I love them and don’t get tired of them. As soon as keto slimmed my stomach and thighs, I NSVed myself on all the rides every chance I got!”
“I wasn’t able to cross my legs for 2 years. I would avoid dresses and wore pants to work every day. Until one day, about 3 months into keto, out of old habit I guess, I sat back and crossed my legs without thinking about it and it was comfortable again. I was so focused on being able to cross them again that I completely lost track of what was being said in the meeting.”
“Ketogenic [keto diet] made it so I didn’t have to take so many medications any more. I cut way down on insulin, I stopped the blood pressure pills, and I didn’t need the Lasix any more. Aside from not having to shovel all that into my mouth every single day, I save a few hundred dollars a month not having to buy them and not having to waste my time going to pick them up."
Use these ketoers’ NSV stories as inspiration to find your own real world success. The more non-scale victories you notice changing your life for the better, the more likely you are to stick with the keto lifestyle that got you there. Keep track of your non-scale victories, use your weight loss journal or you can keep track of them in the notes portion of your nutrition tracker app of choice.
Allow your growing list of NSVs to push you in new directions and avenues to get the absolute most out of your keto journey: use your new found energy to start a work out plan, take your raised confidence to work with you and allow it to help push your professional life forward, bring your new, happier mood to the people in your life and create a more positive environment to be in for everyone. The benefits are many and self-perpetuating, they will grow off of each other and create a whole life improvement beyond just a loss of extra pounds. This is why keto is more than just a diet, it’s a journey that helps improve your life.
So keep your eyes open for your NSVs and you’ll soon be reaping the rewards of keto that most people don’t even realize are part of the keto lifestyle.
Or follow us on Instagram to see for yourself the results keto can have!
(1) Management, I. of M. (US) S. on M. W. (2004). Factors that influence body weight. National Academies Press (US). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK221834/.
(2) Chang, C.-K., Borer, K., & Lin, P.-J. (2017). Low-carbohydrate-high-fat diet: can it help exercise performance? Journal of Human Kinetics, 56, 81–92. https://doi.org/10.1515/hukin-2017-0025.
(3) Sugawara, S. K., Tanaka, S., Okazaki, S., Watanabe, K., & Sadato, N. (2012). Social rewards enhance offline improvements in motor skill. PLOS ONE, 7(11), e48174. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0048174.
(4) Boelsma, E., Hendriks, H. F., & Roza, L. (2001). Nutritional skin care: health effects of micronutrients and fatty acids. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 73(5), 853–864. https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/73.5.853.
(5) White, H., & Venkatesh, B. (2011). Clinical review: ketones and brain injury. Critical Care (London, England), 15(2), 219. https://doi.org/10.1186/cc10020.
(6) Bostock, E. C. S., Kirkby, K. C., & Taylor, B. V. M. (2017). The current status of the ketogenic diet in psychiatry. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 8. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2017.00043.