After five rounds of Whole30 in the past 2.5 years, I’ve learned a lot about what matters most in regards to the food I put in my mouth. Admittedly, a large part of my initial Whole30 served the purpose of losing weight. Let me be VERY clear that our weight loss goals are not bad reasons to begin a journey to real food. They are valid and important reasons to start this journey. However, after many months of embracing this way of eating, I know now that the other benefits of eating real food are too numerous to count. The absolute best NSV for me was improved mental health. Whole30 asks you to leave the scale behind for your 30-day reset. No weighing or measuring throughout that phase so that you can focus on all the other ways you’re changing your life with real food. In the Whole30 world we like to call these Non-Scale Victories, or NSVs.
We throw that term around like confetti throughout a round of Whole30. You can find a comprehensive list of NSVs on the Whole30 website and in a few of the Whole30 books. Here are my five personal favorite NSVs after five rounds of Whole30 under my belt.
- Improved Sleep: This is one that I noticed most in my fourth Whole30. Even in a stressful post-adoption, I was sleeping soundly and waking without that morning drag. I was not hitting the snooze button. I’m now looking for ways to get more sleep because I see the potential for sleep to do for me what it’s meant to do: restore and rejuvenate.
- Improved Cognitive Function: This is a favorite because when I was eating other foods-namely junky convenience foods- I encountered brain fog and wasn’t able to write as effectively. I also tend to zone out in situations when I need to pay close attention, needing to ask people to repeat what they’ve just said and generally struggling to process things and respond quickly. This is something that would naturally happen in the evenings when you’re ready for bed and just SPENT from the day, but it was an all-day thing for me. During Whole30 I experience clarity of mind and the ability to focus. I also tend to get more done for this reason and remain more motivated in general.
- Clearer skin: I have had skin issues since puberty. There was a time when I thought it was simply a curse of genetics, a fate I now laugh at. Every time I’ve done a Whole30 I’ve seen clearer skin, which I especially notice during a certain few days of the month when I tend to break out on normal months. During the most recent Whole30 I noticed that my skin was a little different during my period, but NOTHING like what I’ve experienced for most of my life. No real blemishes, no excessive oil, no breakouts on my body, which happens during that time for me. I also have committed to a very simple, clean skincare routine that helps as well, but I know that the inside-out work is what’s most important.
- More Energy: This is undoubtedly linked to the better sleep and improved cognitive function, but it deserves it’s own celebration because holy shmoly, the energy is amazing. Whole30ers talk a lot about Tiger Blood- that feeling of sustained energy and all the NSVs, but energy is always on the list. This extra energy is shown in my interactions with my kids at the end of a long workday- I’m more playful, more willing to say “yes” to the idea of taking a family walk after dinner, and a lot more motivated to get the daily evening tasks taken care of. Before, my usual would’ve been to do the bare minimum at the end of a long day. I still have days like that, Lord knows. But they are the exception rather than the rule.
- Other Health Goals Emerge: With the newfound energy I have often begun new health-related endeavors in a addition to my new eating habits. Most notably, I started training for a half-marathon after my first Whole30. I look back and still can’t believe that at that point in my journey I decided to take it on, but I did. Today I’m finishing my fifth round and considering starting to run again simply because I feel good enough to do so.
The list of NSVs is gaining new additions all the time. Just like I can’t do the work for you, I can’t predict what real food could do for you. You might experience none of these and a handful of things I only dream about! These are just the biggies for me. What I am confident of is the power that real food possesses to help you change your life for the better. Non Scale Victories are simply a way to measure success and progress in your journey to Food Freedom.