Shelli Johnson

Founder of Start Where You Are Weight Loss

Shelli Johnson is the Founder and CEO of Start Where You Are Weight Loss, a program that allows you to eat what you want, lose weight, and keep it off.

At her heaviest, Shelli weighed 304 pounds and wore a size 26. She used to be a chronic dieter who also suffered from compulsive overeating and bulimia. Now, she weighs around 130 pounds and wears a size 2. She lost the weight naturally and has maintained that loss for 8 years and counting. She has freed herself from diets and dieting forever. She has also been free of all eating disorders for the past decade.

Start Where You Are Weight Loss teaches you in easy to understand steps the process Shelli went through to lose the weight and keep it off while eating what she wants. Shelli teaches you why you’re using food in a way it was never intended and how to fix that. You’ll discover what works best for you and your body so you can honor your own preferences. You’ll also master how to create a lifestyle that is true to what matters deeply to you so you can become the person you envision yourself to be.

Shelli knows the emotional and physical pain of morbid obesity firsthand and is passionate about teaching women how to transform their bodies and their lives. She has been featured in multiple media outlets, including People Magazine, People TV, NPR, and FOX TV.

Shelli Johnson is a weight-loss expert and coach, speaker, award-winning writer, and bestselling author. For more information, visit: or

Where did the idea for Start Where You Are Weight Loss come from?

I was standing in front of the refrigerator one day, deciding whether or not I was going to binge. I had already lost 100 pounds. But I still had so far to go to reach my goal of wearing a size 6. I wanted to ease my frustration and shame over the fact that I wasn’t where I wanted to be right at that moment.

Then I got the call (as an insistent voice in my head) to write a book and teach others in easy-to-understand steps how they could eat what they want, lose weight, and keep it off.

The book is called “Start Where You Are Weight Loss” because I realized I needed to stop wishing I was somewhere in the past or in the future and instead to just start right where I was. That idea has now grown from a book into a website, YouTube channel, and coaching business.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

I usually wake up around 6 AM and start writing fiction. That’s a necessity for me because it’s my passion and brings me joy. About 8 AM, I start working on my publishing and weight-loss coaching businesses. Those are also passions because I’m serving others by giving them hope and helping them change their bodies and their lives. I’m usually done for the day around 5 PM and I do my best to respect my need for some downtime.

One of the best ways I’ve found to be productive is to practice self-care. I found myself getting burned out not too long ago, and it was because I was doing far too many work things and not enough self-care activities. The burnout caused my productivity to plummet because I had little energy or desire to work on much of anything. So now self-care is a priority in my day, which means taking breaks and honoring my own needs during the work day.

Part of practicing self-care has been to automate as much of my business as I can. I’ve also started delegating tasks to others that don’t need to be done specifically by me, especially those things that are not my strengths. That investment in getting help has both freed up my time and lowered my stress level, which in turn has made me a lot more productive at tasks I enjoy doing.

How do you bring ideas to life?

1. I start out long-hand usually. I just let myself write without judgment, jotting down anything that comes up. Most of the time, one idea will spark others and so I just keep writing, letting the ideas flow onto the page. It’s usually when I’m doing something completely unrelated that the ideas will connect, and I get a better picture of how they work together.
2. I figure out what the big picture is: what I ultimately want the idea to look like when it’s finished.
3. WIth that vision in mind, I write down all the big steps I think I need to take to get there.
4. I figure out which steps I can do and which ones I’m going to need help with.
5. Then I take that list of big steps I can do and break it down into smaller steps until they feel doable and easy and don’t scare me.
6. Then I take the first step and keep going.
7. I always remind myself that it doesn’t matter how slowly I go as long as I don’t stop. That keeps me moving until I finish.

What’s one trend that excites you?

People are turning away from traditional dieting and searching for more sustainable weight-loss methods. That excites me because dieting doesn’t work long-term (I know that because I spent over 20 years dieting) and restrictive dieting only exacerbates disordered eating and unhealthy relationships with food.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I’ve started looking at my whole business like an experiment, figuring out what works for me and what doesn’t. I’ve also given myself permission to grow slowly. That does two things: 1. it takes the pressure off, and 2. It makes it easier for me to recover when I make mistakes. I do my best not to let my mistakes derail me because I know that mistakes are inevitable but defeat is optional.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Trust your intuition every single time. Yes: Every. Single. Time. It will never steer you wrong. The only times you’ll ever really get in trouble in your life is when you fly in the face of what your intuition is telling you to do.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

Weight loss is not about food and what you eat or don’t eat. It’s also not about exercise, nutrient-counting, expensive products/interventions, or most of what traditional dieting espouses. Instead, it’s what you think about food and its role in your life. Once you change your mindset, weight loss really is simple and easy.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

I mentioned this before, but I’m saying it again because it’s that important: self-care. It’s very easy to feel overwhelmed when you’re an entrepreneur, especially if you’re solo and doing much, if not all, of your business tasks on your own.

I make self-care a priority now and even schedule it on my calendar so that I take excellent care of myself and don’t make excuses not to (like I’m too busy). It’s also very difficult to be my best for my clients and meet their needs when I’m not doing my best for myself and meeting my own needs. Self-care is a priority in both my personal and professional life now.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Know your strong reason why and decide, right now (even before you start), what you’re going to do when the temptation to quit comes. That temptation will come; it’s not a matter of if but of when. And if you’re not ready with a solid reason as to why what you’re doing deeply matters to you when that temptation comes, then you’ll get derailed and you’ll likely quit.

Knowing my reason why has also made decision making a lot easier. It really helped me focus as to what matters to me and in which direction I want to be going. So if something comes up and it doesn’t align with my reason why, then it’s a no. In the same way, if it does align or at least intrigues me that it might, then it’s a yes. In that way, my reason why keeps me focused so I can continue to grow.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

Well, I’ve stopped believing in failure. Now I believe in either success or learning. So one thing that didn’t work well was a book launch I did a while back. So I took a look at what didn’t work at all and what could’ve been better. I learned from it so the next time I launch a book, I’ll come at it from a wiser perspective.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

A blog/website dedicated to living by listening to your intuition. I really believe much of the struggle and frustration in people’s lives is caused by not listening to their own intuition.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

I got a 90-minute massage. It helped me: 1. relax so I could think more clearly, 2. take excellent care of myself and put myself on the top of my to-do list, and 3. trust myself more because I promised myself I would prioritize my own health and well-being then I followed through on that promise.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

Scrivener writing software. It’s an excellent tool for all kinds of writing because it lets you keep all your work, thoughts, research, notes, etc. organized in one file. I use it for mostly for writing books. I’ve become a much more efficient writer because of it.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Start Where You Are Weight Loss” by Shelli Johnson because it will teach you how to eat what you want, lose weight, and keep it off with compassion and no-nonsense advice.

You’ll learn why you’re using food in a way it was never intended and how to fix that. You’ll discover what works best for you and your body so you can honor your own preferences. You’ll master how to create a lifestyle that is true to what matters deeply to you so you can become the person you envision yourself to be.

Many readers have said the strategies within it apply not only to weight loss but also to many other aspects of their lives as well.

What is your favorite quote?

The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.
-Pablo Picasso

I love that quote because all of us were born with a kernel of a gift inside us and it’s our job during our lifetime to discover that kernel, nurture it, help it grow, and share it with the world.

Key Learnings:

• “Start Where You Are Weight Loss” a book by Shelli Johnson will teach you how to eat what you want, lose weight, and keep it off with compassion and no-nonsense advice.
• Look at your business and your life like an experiment, which will take the pressure off and help you recover from your mistakes (which in turn helps you grow).
• Trust your intuition every single time. It will never steer your wrong.
• Make self-care a priority in both your personal and professional life to keep yourself healthy and motivated to move forward.
• Know your strong reason why and decide, right now, what you’re going to do when the temptation to quit comes.