If you've recently adopted a new healthy lifestyle, you already know about the learning curve required to become part of the crew. From testing out a slew of workout classes to see what sticks, to discovering what veggies satiate your taste buds, the road to vitality and balance is fueled with lessons.
As with anything, though, there is strength in numbers. In addition to your pals, there are many communities online to support your weight-loss goals.
"People love weight loss forums for inspiration, advice or to simply celebrate success. It's natural for people to want to find a community of like-minded people, and when you're on a weight-loss journey, these forums are a great option," says Alex Lewis, a registered dietitian with Baze. "These forums build communities where people are in touch with one another about their diet, physical activity, nutrition and weight."
Sounds great, right? The only caveat: You should be prepared for another educational opportunity, as you try to decipher the lingo used by members. Common abbreviations like GW, SV and others are thrown around in various threads, and may leave you scratching your head. Luckily for you, we have the crash-course guide, straight from the experts.
CW: Current Weight
Weight-loss forums offer a welcoming, accepting destination to share your progress in real-time. When you browse through convos, you'll notice many members sharing their CW, which master trainer, sport nutrition specialist and founder of EAMAYW Jim Frith says describes your current weight.
Though not everyone will step on a scale regularly, for those with specific milestones they want to meet, tracking fluctuations can be helpful. "Weighing ourselves is a form of self-monitoring and it keeps us in tune with whether our weights are fluctuating in the right or wrong direction," he explains. When you first introduce yourself on a forum, this may be part of what you share.
SV: Scale Victory
Let's say on Monday, you were determined to drop 2 pounds that week. You paid attention to each meal, got yourself to the gym, and now, you're about to weigh in.
If you met your goal, you've had an SV, according to Lewis, who deciphers this term as "scale victory." "Scale victories are any victories related to the scale, such as losing a specified amount of weight or getting into a different weight bracket," she explains. "People post about their scale victories to share their success and motivate others."
GW: Goal Weight
Though today, you're at CW, you likely have a GW that keeps you on course. This abbreviation represents "goal weight," Frith says, and it can be used for both short-term and long-term aspirations.
"The most common target set by a dieter is their weight when they were most slender as adults. It's common for dieters to talk about their high school or early 20s weights," he shares.
Regardless of what inspired you to hop back on the bandwagon and shed extra kilos, stating what you're working toward will give others a perspective into your timeline.
Read more: How to Set a Realistic Goal Weight
UGW: Under Goal Weight
You know how the saying goes: Reach for the moon, and you may land among the stars. Or, in this case, you may hit a number lower than you aimed for.
Sometimes, UGW is used in weight-loss forums to describe "under goal weight." Keith-Thomas Ayoob, EdD, RD, FAND, registered dietitian and professor at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, explains that this means a person has overachieved and/or that they may need to stop losing weight.
NSV: Non-Scale Victory
Maybe after months of resisting your hankering for pastries and dragging yourself to the gym, those jeans from college officially fit. Or, after forgoing dairy for a few weeks, your skin is clearing up dramatically.
Though these aren't strictly related to your weight, they are often discussed in forums as NSV, or non-scale victories.
"These victories are a catch-all for any non-scale related victories, such as doing an activity previously unreachable at a higher weight, using an airplane seatbelt without an extender, compliments from others and so on," Lewis says. "These victories can be seemingly huge accomplishments or smaller achievements."
BMI: Body Mass Index
Frith says while BMI — or body mass index — has been used for 100 years, it has major limitations. One of the most obvious is the fact it's solely based on height and weight, which doesn't tell us much about every other factor in our body, from fat, muscle and bone density to skeletal size or age.
Even so, many doctors still make weight-loss recommendations based on BMI, and it's still the scale to determine obesity.
When you see this term used online, it's recommended to know what it means, but also to not use it as doctrine. "More recent studies indicate that a variety of factors other than BMI are better indicators of health or potential longevity," Frith continues. "Striving for a healthy body fat range with good musculature may be a better way to guide yourself than BMI."
Calculate Your Body Fat Percentage
Plug in your sex and body measurements to our online calculator for an estimate of your total body fat percentage.
HW: Highest Weight (the Most You've Ever Weighed)
For those who have gone through a major lifestyle shift that resulted in weight gain, you probably remember the moment when you realized you had to make a change. At this point in time, you were probably at your HW, or the highest amount you ever weighed. This term is typically included in introductions, along with CW and GW.
At first, it seems like a negative figure to share, but it can actually be a good reminder of why you are on a weight-loss journey. "When we gain a lot of weight, our fat cells can multiply, which gives us a propensity to put on weight more easily in the future. Knowing this amount gives us an understanding of what we could easily return to if we fall off the wagon again," Frith says.