Beyond the Scale: Finding Other Measures of Success to Nurture Long-Term Sustainable Change


The first month of the New Year is over now, and you’re probably checking in with how successful you’ve been with that New Year’s resolution you set for yourself. Of course, this should be a time of joy and excitement: We’re still fresh into a brand new year with so much to look forward to stretched out ahead of us.

But if your resolution had anything to do with health – you most likely set the goal of eating healthier foods, cutting out junk food, going to the gym more often, all tied to an outcome of losing that extra weight you gained over the holidays – or over the course of time. You might find yourself disappointed when you check the metrics that you set up for yourself.

The truth is, for many of us, that resolution has already been pushed to the side. Finding the time to cook those healthier foods and get to the gym at the end of a long day was just too difficult, and so another year’s resolution went down the drain.

By now, you might be asking yourself, why is change so hard? And more specifically, why is it so hard when it comes to health?

Why Sustainable Change is Hard

Well, one reason is that we often make plans for change that aren’t sustainable. If we’ve never set foot in a gym before, or know that we absolutely hate running, planning to work out every single morning or training for a marathon makes no sense. Of course, we’ll find it overwhelming and challenging to stick to that!

But beyond that, simply put, we’re often looking in all the wrong places to measure our success.

What does this mean, exactly? If your resolution this year was to lose weight in an effort to improve your health, for example, you probably relied on the scale to tell you how well you were doing. If the number dropped, that was a victory; if it went up, that was a failure. But relying only on the scale to measure health can get us into trouble.

We often fail to consider the other factors at play that influence that number on the scale – and we forget to take into account that our weight naturally fluctuates on a daily basis for a number of reasons. We gain or lose fluid regularly due to our hormone levels, carbohydrate, or sodium intake, even how much fluid we drink. It doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with fat loss or gain.

And yet, it’s really not the number on the scale that’s the problem. It’s our reaction to the number that dictates what we do next. If the scale fails to reflect a number we expect or desire, we can spiral into negative self-talk and we lose our motivation. And if the scale continues to reflect a number we don’t want to see, we eventually abandon the goals we set for ourselves.

But here’s a secret: The scale isn’t the end all, be all – nor should it be.

We often step on the scale because of this belief that a lower number equals improved health. But that’s rarely the case. In truth, improved health comes from changing the way we treat ourselves. And treating ourselves better cannot be measured on a scale. If fact, we have no control over the scale, only the behaviors we choose to engage in, day in and day out. Our routine. Our habits.

You Won’t Find Scales Here

If you’ve been to Green Mountain at Fox Run or have been following us on social media and reading our blog posts, you know that we do things differently here. We teach women how to make sustainable change when it comes to eating, moving, and self-care. We encourage women to look at many different measurements (even those that have nothing to do with the size or shape of our bodies) when it comes to gauging success. Because we know that how we feel in our bodies is a much more important measurement than any number can tell us.

We teach women to shift their perspective and broaden their definition of success, especially because we know that results are a huge motivator for continued success. If we’re constantly feeling defeated while engaging in new behaviors, the likelihood of us following through on that commitment decreases. By broadening how we measure success, we’re more likely to see ourselves achieving our goals and continue engaging in these new behaviors.

So instead of measuring that New Year’s resolution by stepping on the scale, maybe you measure it by how you feel in your body.

Do you have more energy, for example? Are you able to move around more easily? Are you sleeping better? Have your stress levels decreased?

We believe that the scale cannot tell you how close you are to reaching your goals. Instead, we know how important it is to pay attention to how we treat ourselves. By shifting our perspective on how we look at success, we’re able to acknowledge the many changes a healthy lifestyle brings to our bodies, minds, and lives – and we are better able to recognize the progress we’ve made and stay motivated.

When we adopt this perspective, we discover that over time, health is less about weight and more about finding joy and happiness in everyday moments. Because joy and happiness aren’t achieved when the bathroom scale hits a magic number. It happens when we begin to take care of ourselves through a sustainable approach and focus on living fulfilling lives.

So we’ve got some ideas. Not just a handful. No. We’ve got 41 ways for you to measure success for long-term change that have nothing to do with stepping on a scale.

Measurements of Success for Long-Term Sustainable Change

  1. I am a better role model for my children and others.
  2. I’ve stopped comparing myself to others (or not as much as I used to).
  3. I am not sitting “on the sidelines” anymore. I can #BeHerNow.
  4. I give myself permission to eat what I want – so my relationship to food has improved!
  5. I have discovered I don’t want some things as much as I thought I did, reconnecting to my body’s internal wisdom
  6. My moods have improved.
  7. I more often say “yes!” to a walk and “no!” to negative self-talk.
  8. I’m off of my medication.
  9. I don’t have back/knee/hip/foot pain anymore.
  10. I can tie my shoes without difficulty.
  11. I planted flowers in my yard.
  12. I sleep like a baby.
  13. I feel better in my clothes.
  14. My energy is more consistent throughout the day.
  15. I make time for a healthy breakfast because it makes me feel good – and I’ve tried some new recipes, to boot!
  16. I ride my bike to work.
  17. I joined the tennis club.
  18. My blood pressure is normal!
  19. I buy new sneakers because my others are worn out.
  20. I eat vegetables from my own garden.
  21. I can walk 18 holes.
  22. I stopped overeating at night and no longer wake with heartburn.
  23. I eat my favorite ice cream without overeating it.
  24. My blood sugar numbers are much better.
  25. I say “No thank you, I prefer to walk” and mean it.
  26. I enjoy being with myself.
  27. I treat myself to a massage when it’s not a special occasion.
  28. I buy clothes that fit, not a size I want to fit.
  29. I play outside with my kids.
  30. I give myself time to think about what I really want.
  31. I appreciate my body more and more every day – and I’m more comfortable catching my reflection in the mirror.
  32. I no longer avoid seeing friends and acquaintances.
  33. I now look at what I’m doing instead of what I’m not doing.
  34. I try new foods now and mostly like them.
  35. I feel more outgoing and confident in my body.
  36. I have tried things I thought I would never do – travel, skiing, hiking.
  37. I no longer fight my body, my weight, and my shape.
  38. I am able to ask others for what I need.
  39. I laugh more.
  40. My anxiety has improved.
  41. I am stronger.

And that’s just a start! There a dozen more ways to measure our health and happiness that don’t rely on numbers that cause us stress.

The point is: When we make choices to change our lives because we think that we’ll benefit from those changes, there are many ways that the positivity that comes from that reverberates throughout our lives. The domino effect is palpable – we just need to take a moment to reflect on how our lives are shifting for the better.

When sticking to tired old measurements that carry a lot of baggage, we can find ourselves more disappointed than proud. And that’s not what goals are for!

So as we enter February, don’t put the New Year behind you quite yet. Maybe instead, reframe your resolution, adding in a metric that’s more meaningful than a number on a scale and that points to your improved quality of life.

What’s your favorite way to measure your success?


2 responses to “Beyond the Scale: Finding Other Measures of Success to Nurture Long-Term Sustainable Change”

  1. Ro says:

    Fabulous article! So often articles about weight talk about being kinder to and more accepting of ourselves. But rarely do they give examples of how to make that happen. And really, if I knew how to take care of myself that well, would I be in this pickle? Your 41 ideas gave me a lot to think about.

    • Lesley says:

      Hi Ro, I’m so happy to hear you loved the article. Being kinder and more accepting of ourselves is so important, yet so hard to do when we don’t have any idea of how to do it. I’m glad our examples can help you out!

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About the Author

Lesley Wayler, MSW

As a Master of Social Work, Lesley Wayler is passionate about helping individuals struggling with disordered eating and body image. She is the granddaughter of our founder Thelma Wayler and has been fortunate enough to grow up with the philosophies taught at Green Mountain at Fox Run. Before pursuing her Master of Social Work from the University of Southern California, Lesley received a Bachelors of Arts in media communications from Austin College in 2011. She works to combat weight stigma and wants to learn about and contribute to furthering the treatment of binge eating to help individuals suffering from the disorder. She has extensive training in mindfulness, including workshops in mindful eating, self-compassion and stress management.

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