OK, I watched Susan Peirce Thompson's weekly vlog yesterday (on her website): in which she spoke about the first of the three "keys" to life-long weight-loss success. And offered a link for a 2 hour live-streamed presentation last evening between 8 and 10 pm to describe the other two. Which I couldn't resist watching since MAINtenance is the main thing, right?
And there's the replay link above (which may or may not work??) above.
The Three Keys?
1. An effective program. And yes, for SPT that's Bright Line Eating, BLE. BLE meaning: no sugar, no flour; 3 meals a day only, without any snacking between meals: and weighing and measuring all foods to ensure eating the right quantities. There's more (of course there's more): but those are the Bright Lines (unbreakable "rules"). Moderation doesn't work, she reminds us, because of the "will power gap": we can't sustain will power so we need rules that are firm, strong, clear.
2. Social support. We can't do if alone, we need to be part of a community. Although community alone won't work without #1, the effective program. (Spark offers lots of "community": but lots of people still don't lose weight . . . ). SPT describes her previous involvement in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA); then Overeaters Anonymous (OA), then in Food Addicts (FA): all 12 step programs. Plus 20 odd years of therapy. She says what's key in community is shifting identity: from "I can't eat that, I'm on a diet (temporary) " to "I don't eat that (ever). This is who I am." A person who doesn't eat sugar/flour . . . so there's never any choice. It's Not My Food. Identity shift happens and is maintained in community, in belonging.
3. Doing the Inner Work. Yup, when you stop using food as a crutch, "things come up". Social support is not enough: she advocates therapy. Because: if you're not stuffing down emotion with food, self-medicating with food, addicted to food as a means to deal with stress and boredom and anger and celebration and everything: you need a new solution. Such as actually dealing with the problem(s), whatever they are. SPT describes her own personality as "challenging": the kind of person who wants what she wants when she wants it, a demanding perfectionist, scratchy and abrasive with no friends, essentially alone because she never learned how to get along with people. She used up all the air in the room. As a university student, she annoyed other students in her classes by dominating class discussions and asking too many questions and taking all the attention. And, she says, we cannot sustain a life free from food addiction without "doing the work".
OK then: so far so good. And then a pretty hard sales pitch for boot camp (That's $1,000 give or take). And a further pretty hard sales pitch for the "First Annual BLE Family Reunion": to be held April 14th through 17th on Paradise Island resort off San Diego, which she says will be an occasion for "epigenetic change" at a cellular level: turning off the genes that contribute to food addiction, beginning to "do the work", shifting DNA by "all being together". And that too will cost $1,000 give or take: for all the sessions and all the foods for the 3 days (but not of course hotel room or air fare . . . ). "Come be with me . . . " was the repeated invitation.
She tells us she's quit her job as a professor. She tells us BLE is just about breaking even, not making her rich: she has a staff of 23 people and she pays them salaries and benefits and contributes to their retirement savings. She tells us she will lose $50,000 on the First Annual BLE Family Reunion. She tells us she's writing a book which will be published about a year from now and that will be a low-cost point of entry into BLE for people who can't afford her programs, and maybe can't even afford a computer or internet . . .
Good enough. She is generous with her information. She is entitled to make a living.
And although I don't accept the inflexibility of BLE as the "only program" I do agree that moderation doesn't work well but "automatism" about habits (with few exceptions) is important to maintenance.
I do think social support is important. But not enough.
And I do believe that quite often there are underlying psychological reasons for food addiction. Which do surface when self-medication with food ceases. And unmasks them. Although up to now I think it's fair to say SPT been focusing on biological reasons, where an individual fits on her "susceptibility" scale for food addiction between 1 and 10, the need for highly susceptible individuals to replenish leptin by reducing sugar and flour . . .
But having said all that . . . there's something about the BLE cult that makes me moderately uneasy. Something scratchy, abrasive, insistent?
As in so much of life: we can take what we need, with gratitude. And leave the rest. Beck reminds us: when we're full or even before, we can leave the rest on our plates.