I first started writing Living Well Spending Less almost 12 years ago, in July 2010.
At the time, I was a 32-year-old stay-at-home mom of two toddlers and spent most of my time trying to keep up with the housework, chasing my kids around, and caring for my 82-year-old mother-in-law, who had moved in with us a few months earlier.
My youngest daughter Annie, was only a year old and refused to eat anything but breastmilk. She wouldn’t take a bottle, which meant I could never be apart from her for more than a few hours. She also woke up every night crying inconsolably from about 2am to 5am until she was 18 months old.
My husband and I, both sleep-deprived and running on fumes, started fighting a lot, mostly about money, and especially about my almost-daily trips to Target, which literally felt like my only escape.
Needless to say, I was stressed and miserable, and exhausted.
It was sheer survival mode.
Looking back, it was pretty much the last time in my life I can remember not worrying about my weight.
Because as I started writing this blog and first began creating better home systems for my life, then eventually turned this hobby into a full-time job and a full-fledged business, I somehow shifted out of SAHM survival mode, and into building-a-business focus mode.
And my weight started creeping up.
At first, I tried not to panic as my clothes got tighter, and that number on the scale kept getting higher. I told myself it wasn’t that bad, especially since I was so tall, and looked for creative ways to hide my body with jackets and Spanx and long tunics and bright, bold color necklaces.
But the older I got, the harder it got to keep a handle on it.
And then I’d have those moments where I couldn’t stand it anymore.
I’d scour the internet or find yet another new diet book on Amazon, and I was always sure that this next one was going to be the thing that worked for me.
It often felt like no matter how hard I tried—and no matter how much success I was seeing in the other areas of my life—I couldn’t seem to get a handle on my weight.
And I was so frustrated.
Because as much as I tried to pretend like those extra pounds didn’t bother me, they did.
I was embarrassed by all those size XL tops hanging in my closet. I avoided looking in the mirror or having photos taken, or letting my husband see me naked. I dreaded running into people I hadn’t seen in a while. I refused to wear a swimsuit in public.
Not only that, and especially after I turned 40, I secretly started to fear that maybe my best days were behind me. Maybe I was already too old. Maybe I’d never again feel cute and skinny. Maybe there really was nothing I could do.
It felt like I had tried everything.
Green smoothies. Juice cleanses. Cabbage soup. Weight Watchers. Noom. The F-Factor. BistroMD. Sunbasket. An app that pairs you up with a personal coach who was supposed to hold you accountable by having you send photos of everything you eat (I ended up ghosting her).
I hired a personal trainer and worked out 3 days a week.
I started running.
I’m embarrassed to admit that I even paid thousands of dollars for CoolSculpting at the local medispa, hoping maybe I could freeze off the extra fat.
With every new attempt I’d lose a few pounds—sometimes even 10 or 15 pounds—but then I’d get busy or have to go on yet another work trip, or have some sort of party or event or gathering to attend, or we’d go out to eat for the umpteenth time that week, and I’d struggle to stay on track.
Or worse yet, I’d get so hungry that I couldn’t focus, and I’d just give up.
Because the truth is, like most women I know, I’ve got a lot going on.
I thought toddlers were busy, but teenagers are a whole new level of crazy.
Life never stops.
And for me, that was exactly the problem.
I just didn’t have time to be hungry all the time.
So I’d go back to pretending the extra weight didn’t bother me.
My turning point happened when a neighbor shared a photo they had taken of me on the Fourth of July.
It was the heaviest I had ever been.
I was officially “overweight” according to my BMI. I weighed more than I did at 9 months pregnant. Even worse, at least for my own ego, I weighed more than my husband. And he is not really a skinny guy.
I didn’t even recognize myself.
And I was so embarrassed. Mortified, really. How had I let myself get to this point?
That was the moment I realized something needed to give.
But after having tried and failed SO many times to lose weight, I also knew I’d have to figure out a solution that would actually work for MY busy life.
I was done with dieting.
I needed to be able to eat out multiple times a week. I needed to be able to socialize. I needed something flexible and easy. I needed to be able to make food that my whole family would happily eat. I needed my teenage daughters to see me eating, not starving myself.
And I could never, ever be hungry.
So I did what I do best—I started digging into the research and looking for a better solution.
Because although it never really occurred to me before this, my superpower, the thing that I am really good at, is taking topics that can be really confusing to people—taking huge amounts of research and data and case studies and experimentations—and distilling all that information down into a simple, easy to understand, easy-to-follow system that just works.
Because when I really think about it, that’s literally what my entire business has been built upon. Here at Living Well Spending Less, I started by making extreme couponing feel easy & accessible to people—breaking it down into a simple, step-by-step process. I did that too with the Living Well Planner®—taking essentially everything that’s ever been written or taught about time management and productivity, and turning it into a tool that actually makes it simple. And then at Elite Blog Academy®, I distilled the process of starting an online business down to an easy-to-follow formula that we call the Customer Superhero Path.
Making complicated stuff feel SIMPLE is kinda what I do.
But it never actually occurred to me to apply it to my own weight loss and to my own journey to getting healthy. At least until I got so frustrated from literally trying every other thing out there that I had to try to find a better way.
And although I didn’t know it at the time, that’s really when Thinlicious™ was born.
I dug into the research and developed a whole new way of eating.
Within 6 months, I lost 40 pounds and completely transformed my body.
Not only that, I was never hungry. I ate out all the time. I continued to socialize every weekend. I got to eat delicious food. My kids never saw me dieting. And I never felt deprived.
So what exactly did I change?
1. I stopped dieting and instead developed a new way of eating that is based on metabolic science, not restricting calories. I read dozens of books and did a TON of research and learned that so much of what we’ve been taught for the past 50 years about how to lose weight is just plain wrong.
We’ve been told that weight loss is all about “calories in & calories out,” that you should avoid fat, and that if you’re overweight it’s probably because you don’t exercise enough, or you eat too much or don’t have enough willpower. But none of that is actually true. And what’s more, when you eat the right things, weight loss actually can become almost effortless.
2. I cut out sugar, refined carbohydrates, and any artificial sweeteners that spike your blood sugar, such as aspartame, saccharin, or sucralose. Insulin is what causes your body to store fat, and when your blood sugar spikes, your body releases more insulin. Cutting out sugar, carbs, and those “bad” artificial sweeteners keeps your blood sugar stable, which allows your body to burn more fat.
Most of us assume that diet sodas and other “diet” drinks are okay because they contain zero calories, but if they have the wrong types of sweeteners (which most do) they could actually be a big part of the problem. This was shocking to me!
3. I eat LOTS of protein and plenty of healthy fat. I actually started eating meat after being a vegetarian/pescatarian for 28 years because I was having a hard time getting enough protein without the use of soy products, which I wanted to avoid. Now I eat allllll the meats—beef, chicken, pork—and quite a lot of it!
I also eat lots of healthy fats, including avocado oil, olive oil, butter, MCT oil, and full-fat dairy products. Most of us (especially those of us who grew up in the ’80s & ’90s) have been conditioned to avoid fat as much as possible, but as it turns out, fat is actually what makes you feel full and satisfied, while protein provides tons of energy.
And in case you’re wondering—I also eat plenty of non-starchy vegetables, especially spinach, broccoli, green beans, bell peppers, cauliflower & salads, as well as low-sugar fruits such as strawberries, blueberries & raspberries.
4. I don’t count calories. I eat when I’m hungry, and eat until I feel full. As a mom to two impressionable teenage girls, one of the most important things to me was to be able to just eat normally and not ever let them see me restricting or dieting. I eat A LOT, and I eat the most delicious food! I just make sure to eat the right things.
The great thing about eating this way is that my whole family will happily eat the food I cook for myself because it’s not “diet” food. It’s delicious.
5. I worked on my mindset. Believe it or not, this was by far the most important piece and definitely the key to my success. I stopped viewing the process of getting healthy & losing weight as a “temporary” thing that I had to endure.
Because I see this as a permanent lifestyle change, not a diet, I refuse to let myself feel deprived. This is just the way I eat now. And I love it SO much! I get to eat delicious food and as much of it as I want.
Seriously, what more could I want?
I’ve finally discovered a way of eating that I know I can stick with forever because it’s everything I need—super easy, super flexible, completely satiating, and absolutely delicious.
It’s FREEDOM from diet tyranny, and it’s amazing!
It’s a way of eating—and —that has completely changed my life, so much so that I knew I had to share it.
Because I KNOW I’m not alone.
I talk to women every day who are just like me, and probably a lot like you too—high achievers who feel like this is the one piece of your life you just can’t seem to get a handle on.
And yet, your life is far too busy for complicated diets that don’t actually work. You tend to live on the go, which means constantly eating out. And being hungry simply isn’t an option, because it causes you to lose focus on all the other things you need to get done.
What you really want is a new way of eating that gets real results. Not a diet, but a lifestyle—a way of eating that’s so simple and so delicious, you could easily eat that way forever.
That’s exactly what Thinlicious is all about.
It’s based on the idea that getting healthy should taste and feel good, and my goal is to help women over 40—women who are a lot like me—finally be able to take control of your health with a simple, flexible system for losing weight that actually works.
If you’re interested in finding out more, I encourage you to download our free Flip the Switch guide, which helps explain why it feels like your metabolism is no longer working (and what you can actually do to fix it).
Or, if you’re really ready to jump in, get started right away with our 28-Day Metabolism Reset!
In the meantime, if you have any questions please feel free to reach out either via email at [email protected] or via Instagram at @ruthsoukup.
Thanks for letting me share my story!
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