Scale Won’t Budge? 10 Ways to Measure Your Nutrition Client’s Success in Ways You Probably Haven’t Considered

Written by Jennifer Broxterman, MSc, RD

Registered Dietitian, Founder of NutritionRx
Creator of the Two-Brain Coaching Nutrition Coaching Course

We all have different ways of measuring success in various areas of our lives. For the athletes among us, it’s often about measuring personal records, like a 10 pound improvement on our squat.

And while numbers are useful, if it’s your only way of measuring success, you’re going to run into hard emotional times at one stage or another, such as when you (or a client) hits a plateau, which is normal in sports, and also normal when it comes to a weight loss journey. Some of the best athletes in the world—think sprinters or swimmers—who train six days a week might go three years without improving their times. Talk about frustrating and discouraging.

That’s when it becomes useful to consider non-scale victories, or quality versus quantity personal records. 

Disclaimer: This, of course, doesn’t mean you (or a nutrition client) can’t also use more tangible ways to monitor progress, as they’re important, too. From measuring body weight, to taking measurements, to a body composition test, to blood work, to progress photos and athletic PRs, real numbers are helpful for monitoring progress. But they’re not the only way, especially when we consider lifestyle changes.

When it comes to a lifestyle and nutritional change journey, here’s some food for thought to help you see and coach the progress a client is making in a less tangible, more subtle (yet still useful) way:

10 Non-Scale Victories to Celebrate:

  1. Better mood: Start journaling about your mood on a daily, or even weekly, basis. Even though you might be stuck at the same number on the scale, maybe your happiness level has improved considerably.
  2. More veggies: Put a calendar on your fridge and give yourself a sticker, or even just a little checkmark, for each vegetable serving you eat each day. Seeing this number increase can create a huge sense of accomplishment that you’re being accountable.
  3. Better sleep: Now that you go to bed and wake up at generally the same time each day, you’re sleeping through the night and averaging eight hours of sleep a night? That’s a win.
  4. Energy levels: What? That 4 p.m. sugar craving and energy drop isn’t hitting you anymore? Big win!
  5. Better workouts: You feel better during conditioning workouts and are taking less time to recover? That’s almost as good as a 20 pound PR, isn’t it?
  6. Healthier poops: What? You’re no longer constipated and it’s easy to poop each morning? Maybe you’re not at your target weight yet, but that must feel good. 
  7. More confidence: That little tricep muscle is starting to pop out, and your legs have more definition. That’s a big deal.
  8. Less binge eating: You don’t remember the last time you mindlessly ate two rows of cookies that don’t even taste very good? Must feel good.
  9. More cooking: You’re meal prepping once a week and making a homemade meal for dinner five nights a week? Give yourself a little golf clap and pat on the shoulder.
  10. Less pain: That lingering back pain has all but disappeared? What a relief.

While there are dozens of other ways to monitor success, start with tracking a handful of the above and you might just find yourself not just appreciating how much progress you’re making, but actually enjoying the journey.

Interested in improving your nutrition coaching skills, so you can feel more comfortable and confident teaching nutrition to your own clients? Learn more about our motivational interviewing and habits-based Nutrition Coaching Course for nutrition coaches here:

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