If Only I Had Known: My Top Weight Loss Journey Tips for Long-Term Success

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Embarking on a weight loss journey can be challenging, but with the right tips and strategies, you can achieve sustained weight loss, without drugs like Ozempic. I know this because I’ve done it. 

I’m going to share my top tips for long term weight loss success in this post, but first, do you ever wish you could travel back in time and give yourself a little advice?

I do, especially when I think about how much time and energy I wasted doing all the wrong things, or about how many mistakes I made, and how much frustration I could have avoided, had I only known THEN what I know now.

And while there’s a part of me that understands that sometimes we just need to learn things the hard way, I also think there’s something incredibly valuable about sharing those lessons, those mistakes, and those reflections in the hope that someone else can learn from them.

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And maybe, just maybe, your journey will be a little easier as a result.

That’s why in this blog post, as we celebrate our two year anniversary of launching Thinlicious into the world, I thought it would be fun to take a look back and share some of the biggest things I wish I would have known as I was starting my weight loss journey, and also the things our most successful clients wish they would have known as well.

Whether you’re just getting started on your health and weight loss journey, or you’re well on your way, I guarantee this post is going to inspire you, encourage you, and motivate you to make those lasting changes in your own life.

My Journey: From Struggle to Success

For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Ruth Soukup, and I am the founder of Thinlicious and the creator of the Thin Adapted System, as well as the New York Times bestselling author of 7 books.

I’m also a 46 year old woman who struggled for years and years to lose weight and get healthy before finally taking a totally different approach—the same approach that we now guide our clients through at Thinlicious—and lost more than 40 pounds.

And while I’ve easily maintained that weight loss for several years now—which in and of itself feels like a miracle after struggling for so long—the pain and frustration of that years-long struggle is still VERY fresh in my mind.

The frustration of trying one diet after another, the misery of constantly depriving myself and trying to cut calories and eat less and exercise more, the shame of falling off the wagon and gaining all the weight back, again and again.

The only thing I DIDN’T try was Ozempic, but that’s only because it wasn’t a thing then! But believe me, had it been around I probably would have been first in line.

Because honestly, I was so desperate to fix that piece of my life. And it still feels so raw.

If you’re reading this because you too are struggling with this, then you probably know exactly what I’m talking about. The shame. The loss of self esteem.

You start avoiding pictures or even wanting to look in the mirror. You start saying no. You start hiding. It basically starts eroding your confidence and your life.

And on top of that, you just don’t FEEL good. You’re tired all the time. You feel bloated. Your joints hurt.

It’s just this vicious cycle. It’s hard to get motivated to do something about it because you’re just exhausted all the time, but there’s no way to stop feeling exhausted unless you actually change something.

Believe me, I GET it. 

Breaking Free: A New Approach to Long-Term Weight Loss

For me, it wasn’t until I decided to take a totally different approach that things FINALLY turned around. The biggest thing was that I finally stopped looking for a quick fix, another crash diet, and instead decided to do some real research into the science of weight loss, and into why we gain weight in the first place. 

Honestly, what I discovered SHOCKED me because it is SO different than everything we’ve ever been told about what’s healthy and not healthy, and what makes us lose weight and what makes us gain. Because truth is, sustained weight loss strategies focus on (doable!) long-term changes rather than quick fixes.

Because as it turns out, the thing that regulates our weight ISN’T counting calories, it’s hormones. 

As I started to change the way I eat in a way that restored balance to my hormones and reversed insulin resistance and healed my gut, the weight just started to come off.

Without dieting. Without drugs. And without making myself miserable.

I lost 40 pounds in six months, and for the first time EVER I didn’t just gain it all right back. I’ve easily maintained that weight loss for years now.

And let me tell you friends, after struggling with this for SO LONG, it felt—and still does feel—like FREEDOM.

It’s why I’m SO freaking passionate about this work. It’s why I started Thinlicious and this blog. Because I can’t help but want to share it, and to help other women find that same freedom.

And that’s also why in TODAY’s blog post, as we celebrate two huge milestones—the one year anniversary of our podcast, and the two year anniversary of launching Thinlicious, I want to take that story one step further and share honestly with you some of the things that I know now, looking back, probably would have made things a whole lot easier for me.

Not only that, but I want to share some of the insights my clients have shared with me as well—the things THEY wished they could back and tell themselves as they were just getting started.

Because, as one of my favorite clients once said, sometimes you just don’t know until you know, ya know?”

My hope is that this blog post will both encourage and empower you to either KEEP GOING, if you’ve already started your health journey, or to actually GET STARTED if you’re still sitting on the sidelines.

Here are the six things I wish I knew at the start:

1. Sustained weight loss takes time (and it’s not a straight line.)

Honestly, that’s probably the first thing I wish I would’ve been more cognizant of—that sustained weight loss takes TIME. And not only that, it doesn’t happen in a straight line. There will be days when you are up a little bit, and days where you are down, and that’s totally normal. What you’re looking for is a line that trends downward over time.

And that’s why you really have to look at it as a JOURNEY or a LIFESTYLE, not as a diet.

Because I don’t know about you, but I’m definitely an instant gratification kind of person. My team has this ongoing joke that by the time I ask them for something, I already wanted it yesterday. But it’s true. I hate waiting. I want to take action and do the things and see results. Right now.

That’s literally the approach I had always taken to dieting and trying to lose weight. I would find the latest fad diet lose-weight-quick approach, and I would go all in on cutting calories and starving myself and drinking all the water and working out, all with the thought that I could just quickly shed the extra pounds and move on. And sometimes I’d lose five or ten pounds, always by making myself totally miserable, and then finally I couldn’t take it anymore so I’d go right back to eating all the things and gain it all right back.

But when I finally hit my breaking point and realized that approach wasn’t working, and that I needed to make a LIFESTYLE change, not just try another fad diet, I still struggled with not being very patient. And honestly, I know I’m not the only one who struggles with this because I often hear it from our clients.

Because even though in HINDSIGHT losing 40 pounds in 6 months sounds like it happened relatively fast—and it did—in the moment, in the day to day, it didn’t FEEL like it was happening fast. It felt painfully, excruciatingly, frustratingly SLOW.

What happened for me, which is pretty normal for our clients as well, is that I had some initial fast success, where I lost the first 10 pounds or so pretty quickly. It just sort of dropped off in the first two weeks. And I was like, YES this is awesome. I’ll be skinny in no time!

But then my progress slowed waaaaaay down.

And I know now that those first ten pounds were basically WATER WEIGHT. And not that water weight isn’t real weight or doesn’t count—it does. Trust me, losing 10 pounds of anything feels great! But water weight comes and goes. It fluctuates. It can depend on your cycle and even what you’re eating. Carbohydrates literally make you retain water, so when you stop eating them, the water flushes right out of you. And that’s awesome. But for most of us that have more than 10 pounds to lose, that’s not enough.

Because then you gotta start burning through all that excess fat. And that’s where the frustration starts to happen, because fat comes off a LOT slower than water. That doesn’t mean it’s not working. It just means you have to be more patient.

Honestly, I think sometimes that fast water weight loss can almost be a detriment because it sets you up for disappointment later on when the fat loss is more slow and steady. But I think if I had been more aware of the slowdown, and also to not focus so much on the day to day, but the results over an extended period of time, I would have had fewer moments of frustration.

So that’s the first thing—SUSTAINED weight loss takes time, and it doesn’t happen in a straight line. Don’t expect the scale to move every single day.

2. You’ll Probably Get Angry

The next thing I wish I would have known is how angry I would feel when I finally started to learn the TRUTH about what actually allows us to lose weight and keep it off, as I came to grips with the fact that we’ve all been LIED TO for YEARS by basically EVERYONE. The weight loss industry. The government. Our doctors. The media. By Big Food and Big Pharma.

Honestly it STILL makes me super angry, whenever I think about it.

Because when I think about all that pain and frustration and YEARS of struggling that didn’t actually have to happen, and then when I see the statistics about the current obesity crisis in this country, and the fact that 80% of the population is obese and that 85% of people have some form of insulin resistance, and that 90% of us have some form of leaky gut syndrome and that all of that has led to SO many health issues in this country—Type 2 diabetes and heart disease and cancer and autoimmune conditions and depression—and SO MUCH, if not ALL OF IT, is completely preventable.

But no one is talking about it. Big Food & Big Pharma are making WAY TOO MUCH MONEY off of keeping the entire population fat and sick, and they’ve paid off the media and the government and even taken control of the medical schools in this country, so that basically all of the information we’re getting is complete bullshit.

Because the solution is actually SO simple and so powerful and so effective, and yet NO ONE—none of these people who are SUPPOSED to be protecting us and fighting for us are actually doing any of that. Instead they’re lying to us.

Telling us things like “eat less and exercise more” and “calories in and calories out” and to cut back on fat and eat more plant-based processed garbage and to just take more medication to mask all the symptoms but not actually fix the real underlying problem.

So yeah, it gets me pretty pissed off. And when you start to see it—really see it—you probably will be too.

That’s exactly what one of my clients, Anna Barton, shared with me. She said:

“I tell people to prepare to feel INCREDIBLY ANGRY, and then DO something about it. I wish that my parents, my doctors, my Home Ec. teacher – ANY OF THEM – knew better.

What in the actual world was I doing, eating crappy food, feeling crappy, and looking FORWARD to Junior Mints at the movies… washed down by a ginormous coke? Looking forward to Friday night pizzas, or the gargantuan blueberry or double-chocolate Costco muffins… 

All while I was struggling with fertility issues, FIBROIDS throughout my uterus… hemorrhaging for over two weeks every month… and was told that a hysterectomy was the only way to solve it. My hormones were out of whack from forced menopause and from INSULIN RESISTANCE, I was drenched in the most uncomfortable way from hot flashes.

But the make-me-angry kicker—ALL of that was all PREVENTABLE… and no one, up until Ruth and Dr. Edie, ever told me. I would never have guessed it on my own. I didn’t know to even WONDER about it. I owe Ruth my life, and my husband’s life. Am I at my ideal weight? No. Not YET. Will I be? Abso-stinking-lutely.”

And Anna definitely wasn’t alone—so many of my clients shared similar feelings of how surprised they were at the level of anger they felt at finally realizing that nearly all of their health and weight struggles were preventable, had they only known the truth.

So that’s the second thing to prepare yourself for—just how angry it may make you.

3. Document the Beginning of Your Journey (Even When You Don’t Really Want To)

The third thing I wish I could go back and tell myself—and something many of my clients shared with me as well—is to actually take the time to DOCUMENT the beginning of your journey, and to establish a baseline of where you’re starting from.

And this is a hard thing to do, because when you’re not happy with your weight or your health or the way you look, you don’t really want to think about how bad you actually feel right now. You certainly don’t want to take any photos. You might be avoiding the scale. And you might even be avoiding the doctor because you’re scared to find out just how bad things have really gotten.

I personally wish I had done a better job of taking an actual “BEFORE” picture on the day I started, and also a better job of taking progress photos along the way.

The one thing I did do was get regular body scans at the gym, and it’s actually SO cool to be able to go back and look at all of those and see the transformation taking place over time.

One of my clients, Laura Collis, said this: “If I was starting my health journey again, I would test, test, test to get a baseline on everything – a full blood panel, hormones and I would do genetic testing. I think it would have been so helpful to better know some of the other challenges I needed to pay attention to and monitor beyond weight. I also think it would have been an added motivator to stay on track during those times when life got in the way.”

And Kathy Buseman added, “My one thing would be to take the before picture as eventually you won’t remember what you really looked and felt like!”

And it’s actually true. The thing I realized in my own journey, and that so many of my clients have said too, is that you don’t even realize how BAD you felt until you start to feel better, and then you wish you had done a better job of actually documenting how you felt.

And that’s actually why now in our program, we start with Phase Zero—the Prepare Phase. Because obviously it’s good to prepare to begin—you have to learn a little about the program and how it works, and get the right food and supplies and all of that—but we also guide you through a process of documenting your beginning, with a detailed health assessment that asks a lot of questions about how you feel right now, in all different areas of your life. And then we revisit that assessment in each phase of our program so you can see how you’ve improved.

We also give you recommendations for starting bloodwork and STRONGLY encourage you to TAKE THE PICTURE, even if you never want to look at it again.

But that’s definitely the third thing I wish I would have known—just how important it actually is to document your beginning.

4. Perfection doesn’t matter nearly as much as consistency.

The next thing I wish I would have known—and maybe this is more of a mindset, or just my own personality thing—but it is that PERFECTION doesn’t matter NEARLY as much as consistency.

And I know this has been a HUGE aha moment for so many of my clients too.

Because like I mentioned earlier, when it comes to diets, I’m the kind of person who likes to go all in and super gung-ho and do all the things, and I tend to go a little bit overboard and then I get overwhelmed and I lose my focus and motivation and then I give up. I want to be PERFECT, but I can only maintain that for a few days at best.

What I’ve realized in hindsight—and what I wish I would have learned a LOT earlier—is that consistency is SO much more important than doing everything perfectly 100% of the time, and checking off every box. (And that’s hard, because I like to check off boxes.)

You’ve also got to be able to live your life. And so now my motto is this: Big goals NEVER happen all at once. They are only the result of small steps taken consistently over time.

What I started to do was give myself permission to NOT be perfect, but instead to make the best possible choices in any given situation. That meant that sometimes we’d go out to eat or hang out with friends, and my macros would be a little off. But instead of letting that derail me, as it would have in the past, I praised myself for making the best choice in that situation.

Because over time, those small choices add up to a lot of big results.

And honestly, I see this a lot in our program. There are a lot of people with perfectionist tendencies who get stressed when they don’t know an exact serving size or find themselves in a situation they can’t totally control. So it’s almost like they go off the rails. And I get it, because at one point I was the same way.

But the clients who have seen the MOST success over the past two years are the ones who have learned this exact lesson—that perfection doesn’t win the race, consistency does. Consistency over perfection is key in your weight loss journey.

So that’s the fourth thing.

5. It’s not really about weight loss. It’s about FREEDOM.

The fifth thing I wish I understood earlier is that even though my initial goal was really just to lose weight, and that’s the main thing I was focused on, this journey isn’t REALLY about weight loss.

It’s about freedom.

I don’t even really think I realized how NOT free I was when I started, or how stuck I was in old patterns and paradigms. I didn’t realize just how BAD I felt, both physically and emotionally, or how much I was a slave to food addictions, or how I was stuck in a shame spiral, or how I just didn’t even have enough energy to make it through the day.

But when you transform your health and actually HEAL your body, it is LIFE CHANGING.

It opens up a whole new part of you that you didn’t even know existed.

It’s SO empowering. All of the sudden you have SO much energy but not just that, your whole MINDSET has changed. You realize you can do anything. And you actually FEEL GOOD enough to do anything.

This is definitely something I’ve heard from my clients over and over again.

Tiffany Thompson said, “This is it! This is the way to get healthy, lose weight and keep it off. This is the way to live. It works with you instead of having to work around it or suffer the consequences. What I mean by that is if life gets hectic, stressful whatever and you need a break from tracking and weighing in and checking in, that’s ok. If you’ve flipped that switch and just move into maintenance phase every now and then, even for extended periods of time it’s ok. I know because I’m living it. I lost a good chunk of weight and then have been dealing with a lot of stressful things for over a year. I haven’t gained weight. This is the first time in my life I’ve “stopped” a plan I was on and didn’t gain the weight back. When I am ready I move back to phase 2 and continue to lose weight. This has changed my life and my family’s life and I had no idea the reach it would have when I started.”

Sherry Sheehan said, “I had no clue that it was so much more than just keto or that I would learn so much about hormones and gut health or that my mindset would shift so drastically or that my lipid profile would be the best it has been in years. I am so grateful for Thinlicious.”

And Shannon Greer said, “I was very wary about this program when I first started. I had tried so many different programs and none of them stuck for more than a few months. I thought it would be just another “buy our products and eat what we tell you to and you will lose some weight” kind of program. Boy was I wrong! If I could go back and tell myself one thing before I started this journey, I would say “despite ups and downs, this is the most sustainable program and will teach you how to prepare and eat delicious food for the rest of your life. Not to mention the education you will get along the way that will completely change your life!” 

Honestly, it’s hard to even describe the level of freedom you will feel when you finally get a handle on this piece of your life that has likely felt out of control for so long.

But it’s so worth it. So that’s the fifth thing. That it’s not really about weight loss, it’s about freedom.

6. People won’t always get it (or be super supportive.)

The sixth and final thing I wish I would have known when I started was that other people won’t always get it. And they won’t always be super supportive.

And that’s okay.

I had a lot of people tell me that this can’t possibly be healthy, and that I was ruining my health and that I was just going to gain all the weight right back.

I had friends who got weird after I did lose a noticeable amount of weight—almost like they resented it, because they had stayed the same.

I had other friends who flat out told me, “Healthy Ruth isn’t fun Ruth,” mostly because I cut way back on my drinking and was no longer convincing everyone to do Fireball shots during our neighborhood parties. Do you know how much SUGAR is in Fireball? It’s a lot.

But I had a LOT of support from the people that mattered to me. My husband was and is my biggest cheerleader, and hopefully he would say that about me for him. We also have lots of great friends who embraced the Thinlicious lifestyle right along with us, and we now tend to organize our gatherings around food and drinks we can all enjoy.

Knowing what I know now, I would say that finding people who DO get it, and who are cheering you on is SO key for being able to make your changes stick. There is strength in numbers and the support of an awesome community.

That’s honestly why I love our Thinlicious community so much. If you’re already in our TAS program then you know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s AWESOME. Like truly the most incredible, supportive wonderful group of women you will ever find on the Internet.

So even if you’re not finding the support you need from the people around you in real life, for whatever reason, know that you can find it online in a community like ours.

Because truly friend, if you’re serious about wanting to transform your life by transforming your health, if you’re ready to have more energy and get your metabolism working again and dramatically reduce inflammation and reverse your insulin resistance and heal your gut and potentially even get off medication, then I PROMISE there is NO better way to do that than by joining our TAS program.

I know I’m probably a little bit biased here, but it really is everything that I wish I would have had access to YEARS ago, because it would have saved me so much pain and frustration and struggle. It is SUCH an incredible program—just SO comprehensive and jam-packed with both the practical tools you need to succeed AND the in-depth, physician-led education that will help you make permanent changes AND the ongoing support and coaching and accountability that will actually allow you to stay on track. It really is the total package.

If you’re ready to get started, then you can join our program right now by going to Thinlicious.com/program. Or, if you want to find out a little more before committing to the full program, I encourage you to watch our free training. It’s called Healthy, Happy & Free and it will walk you through exactly how our program works and how to get started. You can access that at Thinlicious.com/training. 

If you found this post helpful, share it with someone who might benefit too. Together, we can inspire and support each other on our journeys to better health and freedom!

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