The “What-the-Hell” Effect

If you struggle with food, you may have noticed it seems like you’re either on your plan or off your plan and there’s very little middle ground. This is due to what psychologists call the “What-the-Hell” Effect. Learn more in this week’s video blog.

Permission to be Human Action Plan
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  1. Tamara

    I really appreciate the analogy you used in comparing BLE to vegetarianism as a mindset – vs the having perception of a diet. This changes the psychology entirely, and along with it, it changes one’s steadfastness for lifetime sustainability.

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  2. Denise

    Could you redirect us to this file for the right to be human action plan? Thanks!

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  3. Joia

    Thank you soo much for this content! This was life changing for me and my program. Enough with the stressing about “counting days of perfection”, my goal now is to focus on what I do each and every time I slip.

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  4. Willa

    Hi Susan,
    I have a question about sugar. Does no sugar in BLE refer to just processed sugars or does it also include honey? And what about small amounts like in a tablespoon of steak sauce? Or does the answer to these questions depend on a person’s susceptibility score?

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  5. Brynda

    BRILLIANT! Thank you.

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  6. Teresa Parker

    I was so thrilled to listen to the hell effect blog. Gratefully you described what I’ve been experiencing with frustration and feelings of depression. These words made a difference! Along with the 4 S’s’ S’s speed, self love, social support, write about the sabotage. Thank you to help me.. not to give up.. Teresa

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  7. Joe

    In scientific terms Are the old neural pathways always there? Or do,they eventually die,away? In behavioral terms i,guess it,would,be the same as relapse like,having,an,alcoholic, take the first drink,after 20 years and then he’s an alcoholic again? I guess,what I want,to know,is,does,your susceptibility ever change or,once you’re susceptible,to like sugar and have it you’re back,to square one?

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  8. Marianne Marsh

    I have had hundreds of What-The-Hell days. And the day after each of them, I felt really bad about myself. When I finally realized that I was (am) a food addict, and started a program of Bright Line Eating, I have had ZERO What-The-Hell days and, for the most part, I feel good about myself! Thank you, Susan, for telling us that this terminology is actually used in the scientific community!

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  9. Dr. Erica Goodstone


    I saw you in Jeff Walker’s video and after watching today’s VLog I can fully understand why you have done so well in your marketing. You are definitely filling a void in our current society that emphasizes quick fixes and 4 or 5 quick steps to…. There is no quick and easy formula. It takes, as you have said, awareness, social support and self-examination. And you added the factor of speed. If you don’t catch those moments and do something quickly, the What the Hell effect will easily take over.

    I have created a 30 Day Love Challenge and your video has given me, excuse the pun, much food for thought about how to approach my videos to introduce the course. It is a powerful course – and – so many people don’t want to and don’t think they have to spend the time to learn what it takes to create love, how they need to shift their thinking, what they can do didfferently and what they need to understand about themselves and about others.

    Thank you for a wonderful video.


    Dr. Erica

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  10. Julia Carol

    Susan, you give out such FABULOUS information and you teach it in such a clear way… THANK YOU once again for shining the light on this very important and painful issue!

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  11. Roberta Joiner

    What a great vlog, Susan! This is so timely for me as I have emerged from recent trials in my BLE journey. I love the four “s”s and will implement them the next time I am challenged, as well as the permission to be human action plan. Thank you for your ongoing dedication to this cause and to our recovery and happiness.

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  12. Ida

    Excellent post, Susan! I’m learning so much from you as to how to think differently about eating. You address underlying issues and provide new ways of thinking that I never see in books or articles from others. Thanks!!

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  13. Sal

    This is brilliant advice, expressed perfectly, and can be applied to so many other areas of self improvement. Thank you!

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  14. Cynthia Ferguson

    This post must have been meant just for me since I totally broke my Bright Lines Saturday and Sunday after 7 great months. Although I forgot all about the permission to be human action plan, I have been doing basically that. I posted to the BLE community on Monday, got some support, stayed away from the problem food, committed my food, kept my food journal, and I am resuming. I have had two totally great BLE days and plan to continue. The binge simply made me feel ill and emotionally violated. I love the way I feel when I honor my Bright Lines so continuing is the only option. Thanks for a wonderful vlog! Sometimes being human just sucks!

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  15. Linden Morris Delrio

    A huge BINGO with this one Susan!!! These are the things that work!!! YES!

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  16. Eric Schantz

    WOW!!! Thank you Susan. This is timely!! As I approach my final goal-weight in the next few weeks, I will most definitely be mindful of that “V” in my journey. You have words of wisdom, as always 🙂

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  17. Charlene Earl

    Loved this excellent vlog post, Susan! I can definitely become that “what the hell” person and it’s something I have to be conscious of all the time. Thanks for your suggestions on what we can do to stay on point.

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  18. Jan Deutsch

    Susan, thank you for this wonderful Vlog. It is so packed with info I couldn’t write it down fast enough. I will listen over and over I’m sure. The explanation of identifying as a person who doesn’t eat sugar/flour rather than ” I can’t ” is so important to understand. “When you become aware you become responsible” – I’m writing that in my EAP. Thank you for sharing the 4 ways to recover from a break. Such depth to your whole program. Love you, Jan

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  19. Cheryl

    Hello Susan,

    You are very masterful in your presentations and your concepts. The personal experience with the wisdom is crucial to each of your viewers. Thanks for your great work!

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  20. Diane


    I was interested whether you address newly post menopausal women. Losing or maintaining my weight has always been challenging, but I have gained about 12 to 15 pounds and feel stuck. I have been told that my estrogen is “in the basement” and that I could probably make incredible effots and not get much/any results. I am talking with my doctor about hormone therapy, but a little sheepish about what the heck I am going to feel like if I take them ….but I am very clear about how I feel when I haven’t taken them!

    I have been told it gets better, but right now, weight gain is one of the ugliest parts of being older. I don’t eat that “bad” at all and I move regularly, just not always as exercise. You should see the patio I built!

    I would love to hear your comments. Thanks.

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  21. Donnella

    So helpful. Thanks, Susan.

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  22. Barb Conte

    This vlog was SO good and so important for people to hear. Boy, am I a “what the hell” person! Things are either black or they’re white. And I’m scared to death of falling off the rails and never getting back on again. Your suggestions are awesome and I loved your analogy of the vegetarian who may eat meat, who doesn’t say “what the hell”. Thank you for this, and for sharing all of the wisdom you’ve gained living the Bright Lines!
    Love, love, love,

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  23. Karl Devenport

    Just my opinion: 2 more buttons, please….

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    1. Stefi

      Really Karl?? This is a wonderful post & there is NOTHING wrong with Susan’s outfit!!!

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      1. Lynda Hahn

        A most timely wonderful Vlog. Every suggestion taken in. Thanks and love to you.

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    2. Carrie

      Did you EVEN LISTEN to the content??

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    3. Sal

      Sometimes it’s better to keep your opinion to yourself. If you cannot say something nice (and on topic) than maybe you should be quiet, and keep your thoughts to yourself.

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