There’s a Reason for That, and There’s a Way to Heal That
For a lot of my life, I haven’t liked my weight. When I’ve surveyed my students and online followers, a majority have told me they too have struggled with their diet and weight for much of their lives, but have never found anything that allowed them to lose the weight and keep it off.
We know that a history of childhood trauma is strongly correlated with higher rates of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, weight-related cancers and more. But why? And even more importantly, how can you heal not only past trauma, but the health and metabolic problems that so often go with it?
I know that some of you have eating disorders, or have suffered from a fat-shaming culture, and I respect that each person is different. If you want to hear my story about food and weight, please continue reading, and remember that this is my experience, for education purposes only, and not medical advice for you!
There are hundreds of experts who promote healing strategies for trauma, and thousands who promote weight loss. The two issues are, in fact, closely intertwined. It’s difficult to maintain a healthy weight when complex CPTSD symptoms overwhelm your life – things like brain and emotional dysregulation, depression and anxiety.
And in my experience, it’s just as hard to re-regulate and calm CPTSD symptoms when overeating the very foods that many of us crave under stress – namely, sugar, flour and highly processed foods that give us a burst of “energy” followed by fatigue, more dysregulation, and insatiable craving and hunger for still more of those foods.
That’s certainly what has triggered my own episodes of weight gain. I know very well how to eat a healthy diet. But in practice, I’ve lacked the power to control my eating, periodically going through 3-6 month “spells” where I was feeling stressed or demoralized, and grazing throughout the day on foods that are sweet, starchy, and seemingly “comforting.” Each time I’d gain another ten pounds, I’d blame it on “stress-eating.” And when I couldn’t take the weight off, I genuinely believed that it was because the conditions of my life were just too anxiety-provoking.
Enter a New Way of Eating
In 2017, I was in living room of a stranger who had organized a group of neighbors to read a book together about a particular weight loss method (I can’t remember the name of that book). We were going around the room, with each person listing all the approaches they’d tried – Weight Watchers, Whole 30, Atkins, Paleo, Keto, South Beach, Intuitive Eating, fasting, and so on… when woman next to me whispered that she was leaving the group because she’d found a book that sounded like it was the REAL solution. It was called Bright Line Eating. I went home that night, found Bright Line Eating online, bought the book and paid to join an 8-week only course. (I didn’t return to the neighborhood group either!)
Over the next five months, I lost 40 pounds, eating abundant, healthy food that did not include sugar, sweeteners or flour of any kind, with limited portion sizes, and without snacks in between meals. It took a lot of focus, but I felt more energetic, happier, more rested, calmer, and (crucial to my CPTSD healing) neurologically more regulated than ever before. My chronic brain fog was gone! Though I was not diabetic or even pre-diabetic before I began the program, blood tests before and after my weight loss showed marked, positive changes on lipid panels, blood glucose, and nutrient levels.
In my daily life, this success inspired me to put myself out there in a way I never had. I developed my fledgling blog “Crappy Childhood Fairy” (the one you’re reading now), and began making videos for the blog that I also posted on YouTube (eventually, the YouTube channel itself far eclipsed the blog). I created my first online course, Healing Childhood PTSD.
With all these good outcomes, I’d like to tell you that my life remained changed forever. But no.
The founder of Bright Line Eating (BLE), Dr. Susan Peirce Thompson, advises students that they may or may not be able to keep the weight off if they quit following this way of eating (there’s a weight loss version, and a maintenance version of the food plan). In my heart I knew better, but it was worth testing the hypothesis that my problem was solved now. Hey, I thought, My life is SO happy and easy now, maybe I can just naturally eat the right amount to maintain my weight.
Quick version of the story: I was wrong. Eating “normally,” I gained, on average, about eight pounds a year, until I’d gotten back to my old, highest-ever weight, plus four more pounds.
And all that eating for comfort was not actually making me comfortable. Stress-eating, I came to understand, was not relieving stress, but generating it.
In fact, my overeating problem was NOT driven by negative emotions or brain fog or stress. My negative emotions, brainfog and stress were CAUSED by what I was eating.
There was a way for me to feel quickly restored (within about two weeks) to that wonderfully high level of energy, focus and productivity I’d experienced in 2017. I can have it any time by simply following the freakin’ plan. (“JFFP” in the BLE community).
And further (this is just my experience) when I follow this food plan, my trauma-related dysregulation is reduced by about 50%.
I s*** you not.
I know this sounds like an infomercial. I rarely recommend anything outside of the healing methods I teach – just a handful of books/resources that have directly empowered my own healing. BLE is one big piece of that.
I’ve been “JFFP” for 35 days at this writing. I’ve lost 11.2 pounds and feel really good. It’s 3:15 in the afternoon as I write this, and I’m not craving sweets like I used to. I slept nearly eight hours last night, for the first time in months.
I’d like to keep going with this, but I know I’m vulnerable. So partly because I think this way of eating could be helpful to many of you who follow me, and partly (selfishly perhaps) because I want a community of mutual support to spring up around me, I’m inviting you to try it too.
If you want to learn more about BLE, Dr. Thompson recently hosted a webinar entitled The Science of Weight Loss Success: The 3 Things People Who KEEP IT OFF are Doing Differently.
Dr. Thompson is a brilliant professor. Her PhD is in brain and cognitive sciences and she’s one of the world’s leading experts in the psychology of eating (she also had a rocky childhood is a recovering addict and alcoholic, which makes her accomplishments especially meaningful in my eyes. She’s a multiple New York Times bestselling author and has helped literally hundreds of thousands of people from over 120 countries to achieve lasting weight loss.
She’s going to be taking a select cohort of people through her program, and at the end of the presentation she’ll share the details with you.
P.S., for those of you who think you’re “too old” to lose weight, Dr. Thompson and her colleagues published another study in June of 2021 showing that people between the ages of 50 and 85 years old who take certain specific actions in their weight loss journey lose weight as quickly as people in their 20s and 30s. Incredible but true. I’ve heard her explain the biochemistry and it’s astonishing, but it makes perfect sense. She’s going to share those details in the webinar as well. Watch the webinar now!
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