Non-scale victory, commonly known as NSV, is a term tossed around the weight loss surgery community. Members of our community use this term to signify a notable accomplishment other than a lower reading on the dial of the scale. They are definitely the better measurements of success after weight loss surgery. Too often bariatric patients over emphasize the loss of pounds. Unfortunately, those pounds that fall away don’t tell the real story of a person’s journey to a healthier life.
Early on after my surgery I celebrated many of these NSVs. Some were pretty predictable like not having to shop in the big boy’s department at Macy’s or having a co-worker notice my weight loss. Others were more personal like not having to take my diabetes meds or learning to swim. I suspect that I am similar to most bariatric patients in that as my post-op years passed by the NSVs became less frequent.
As I settled into a comfortable life, I just stopped recognizing NSVs. I have had numerous notable achievements in my life over the past few years. I became an avid cyclist completing several endurance rides. My weight has remained consistent for over two years; something many weight loss surgery patients struggle in achieving. I have settled into a happy place: happy with my weight; happy with my home and work life; and happy with my outlook for the future.
I would like to say that at three years’ post-op that I stopped obsessing with the scale. The truth is that I continue to weigh myself daily. I need to kick the fear that my weight will come back. What is interesting is that I am eager to celebrate a scale victory but lackadaisical about celebrating a NSV. There is no doubt that I associate unhappiness and failure with gaining back my weight.
This past week I had an awakening of my awareness of NSVs. Sometimes it takes looking back on an ordinary event to realize that it was indeed a NSV. My NSV came at a primary care physician’s office visit. For the past thirty years I have had a quarterly office visit to monitor my cardiac heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and weight. Since my weight loss surgery, I have seen these health issues whittle away.
At this particular office visit, my doctor informed me that for the past two years all of my blood tests and health tests have been at a normal level. My diabetes is gone and my health is dramatically improved. He finished the visit by informing me that I only need to come in for a semi-annual office visit from now on. As I drove home I realized that going from a quarterly visit to a semi-annual office visit was quite a NSV.
That single NSV got me thinking that we are never too far out of weight loss surgery to celebrate a NSV. Life throws challenges at us in our everyday lives. Meeting these challenges and celebrating victory are NSVs. Another notable thing I have learned is that a NSV is not necessarily achieving something stellar. It can be maintaining where you are; a healthy weight, a happy life, an active life, and a positive attitude. In these cases, maintaining where you are speaks a lot of how well you have transformed your life after weight loss surgery. You are truly never too old to celebrate a NSV!