Flexible vs. Brittle Frameworks

I’ve recently fallen prey to setting goals and working towards behavior change within brittle frameworks. Watch this week’s vlog to learn how brittle frameworks are likely sabotaging you—and what the solution is.

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  1. Mary Willcox

    I find it helpful to view SPT blogs from the past, before I joined BLE. Two comments came to mind, one a potential subject for a vlog and two, a very funny laugh.
    1. After the 7 minute mark, Susan speaks about being consistent with her blog since she was beholding to us. It’s an interesting concept to hold ourselves more accountable to others than ourselves. She did not resume exercising M, W, F nor did she restart meditation. I remember she discusses reasons to commit our food plan in a module of video either in 14DC or BC (I’m on BLE Day 73). Why is it that we have difficulty being beholding to ourselves.
    2. I laughed outlaid on the topic of how inconvenient it is to find a heroin dealer. ( My clean date is 5/25/1897). I haven’t been “inconvenienced” in a good many days.
    I am a 100% black or white person and found it helpful to have the analogy of brick v wood building construction with respect to hang a. brittle or flexible frame for BLE..

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  2. Monica

    Susan you are amazing ! You explained this flexibel vs brittle goals so clearly. Thanks sooo much, that was so helpful to me !

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  3. Helen Church

    Hi Susan, I am delighted that you posted this Vlog just in the nick of time! I’m new to BLE, and to date have done well, but a weekend at a friend’s (where ironically I was on track the entire time) meant that when I returned home I felt displaced and my BLE went very awry. I can see, thanks to your clear, concise explanation, that I make all my goals (BLE included), incredibly brittle. This stiff adherence to goals or face abject failure has affected so many things in my life. I have been sabotaged by my desire to be perfect as opposed to being human. And do you know what? My new outlook will follow the 80/20 rule, in all matters, as it would be a fantastic improvement on the reverse, which is how I have been living previously: 100% achievement for only 20% of the time. So thank you, yet again your lovely thoughtful vlogs have picked me up and dusted me down. 😘

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  4. Bethany

    Thank you so much Susan!! This helps me so very much!

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  5. Veronica

    Thanks for this message Susan. I’m relatively new to BLE. Day 28, already lost 8+ pounds. But just started 14DC 4 days ago. Prior to 14DC, I was doing what I called “finding my bright lines”. Having my own history of yoyo dieting, I wanted to gently scoot into the program. Here is what is working for me now: I honor the 4 basic bright lines, love ’em. No flour. No sugar. Three meals. Measured quantities. But I DON’t 100% honor a couple of the other suggestions. For instance, the No BLTs, for me, is a very good guideline to keep me from eating between meals. BUT, I am a gardener and have lots of fresh raspberries, strawberries, and mulberries in my yard. One of the joys and benefits of picking those stickery things is that I get to taste an absolutely fresh off the vine berry from time to time. Hence, I allow myself A FEW in-the-moment berries on picking days. It doesn’t lead me into a binge. I’m keeping the no BLT guideline flexible rather than brittle. The other one is coffee. Yes, I do intend to lower my coffee consumption and the milk I put into it. But (same as No Exercise) I think it’s too significant for me to add that to my willpower list. I allow myself one cup of coffee with 2 oz of milk about midway between breakfast and lunch, in addition to the one cup that I had with breakfast. My plan is to wean myself down to one cup per day once I feel more settled into the BLE program. Thanks for your support of flexibility.

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  6. SharonTG

    I’ve just started BLEating 3 days ago. I’m loving it so far. I’m reading everyone’s comments
    on line to learn more and to stay motivated. I read all the comments on Flexible and Brittle
    Frameworks and had 2 favorites. #1 The thing about the palm tree bending to the ground
    in a hurricane, but then staying rooted, and bending back up. Because of it’s flexibillity, it didn’t
    get uprooted. That was sooo good. I tend to be all or none because of my perfectionism. So,
    this is going to help me. #2 One of the repliers talked about how people were watching her
    to see if she was going to keep it off. She wants to be an example to people around her who
    are watching to show them BLE does work. And she wants to stick to her brightlines (keep
    her lines bright) for her own health and happiness! This support is what Iv’e been missing.
    Let’s all keep our palm trees rooted!!

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  7. Deborah Harper

    Susan that’s a resounding WOW! from me. This is one of your best rants ever, I was glued, and I immediately shared it.

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  8. Leanne Mollins

    Love this vlog. Maintenance is around the corner and I’ve been very rigid to get myself here. I had this nagging feeling that this rigidity is not sustainable.. .this vlog is the answer to my prayers. Going to set up some flexible goals around eating outside of my kitchen.

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  9. Mercedes (from Argentina)

    Hi Susan! Your voice inspires me. Your tone, your gestures, your words, your passion, your open air vulnerability help me so much. Thanks to you, last year I achieved what I had been looking for for ages: I lost 16 pounds. Today, after buying the book, hardcopy and kindle, after following the 14 day program, I can´t go back. I start every single day with a firm resolution, and I fail, and fail, and fail. Flexible, brittle, nothing works. I´m desperate. There’s a key factor I don´t have, and it´s the support group. I know what I have to do but I don’t do it. I´m desperate.

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  10. Jane Griffith

    That has always been a major problem for me. I was either on a diet or not. As soon as I screwed up that was it, done. Try again in a few months. I vowed with this program it would be different.
    With this program I decided to be more flexible from the start. I strive for Bright Lines in all areas but when I have to change things up a bit I say that’s life. Life isn’t perfect. Gee, neither are we.
    Another thing I decided right from the start was not to incorporate all of this right away. My history is if I add too much at once I fall apart and completely blow it. This time I am doing what I can with a bit of pushing myself but going slowly on adding too much at once. It is working for me very well this way. I am processing everything I have done and letting it before natural before adding something else.
    I have made the no flour and sugar as do not cross ever. I usually write down the next day but sometimes that doesn’t work out. I am being flexible with spiritual readings, meditation and other extras.
    Not being perfect makes me continue without strife, anxiety and beating myself up.i am on day 38 of boot camp , I have lost 16 lbs I think that’s wonderful!

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  11. Sandra Edwards

    In Africa at the Leaky institute, I observed a lecture about the study of the teeth of our ancient ancestors indicating what they ate. Those who were flexible with their diet survived. Those who were rigid
    did not. Flexibility has always been a hallmark
    of the successful part of human evolution.
    Sandra Edwards

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  12. Huda

    Soooooo… what’s wrong with setting a goal that I would do bright line eating 90% of the time? 🙂 If I even get that, I’d be lucky, considering that I was only able to do it 30% of the time in a year, and even that 30% is generous to qualify as BLE. I’m also 95% vegan due to dairy that maybe present in a favorite sugar or flour things I eat sometimes. Having experienced BLE for over a year, I now agree with the food addiction therapists that say not to set myself up for an all or nothing type diet. No sugar no flour has the word “no” in there. So that’s either 100% or 0%. Right there, that’s a problem for me, despite originally believing wholeheartedly that it was a great goal to go for. I can see where it would be more peaceful to say I’ll shoot for 90% or even 80% for that matter. It may sacrifice quick results, but it bring realism and sanity to think this way for me. It brings happiness and freedom and sooner or later even thin (proven by my past 75 lb weight loss, in a flexible way of eating that includes sugar/flour now and then). I know full well that 100% vs 0% of the no sugar/no flour has brought in binge eating to the equation and a 10 lb weight gain! I’m a 10 on susceptibility scale. And I know to that you would say, then I more than anyone has to to do no sugar/no flour, not some sugar/some flour. But, I think, for me it means, that I’m even more behooved to have the flexible approach in order to avoid binges.

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  13. Jude

    This is very helpful for me. I’ve been in 2 boot camps and the 14 day challenge and keep falling off hard. About to just give up until this VLOG. So I’m setting myself some flexible goals to get started again. Progress not perfection is my goal. I can say this caused much angst in Harkening House for several people. If the keeping your lines at 100% works for you, do it. I see this as Permission to be Human not as permission to cheat. Thanks Susan–And by the way you didn’t just make this up. Joel Fuhrman/Eat To Livealso says shoot for at least 90% on “The 90 percent rules allows you some leeway for imperfection ….”

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    1. Mercedes (from Argentina)

      Don´t give up! Just don´t! Please don´t! 🙂

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  14. Jules

    THANK YOU, Susan, for that extra special vlog. I have been so tormented with the feelings of guilt and shame because of the few times I went outside my bright lines. I thought I was weak and pathetic because so many have never broken their bright lines. Now, I feel incredibly relieved. A major weight has been lifted and now I am confident I can continue on this journey until forever. Thank you again for this message.

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  15. Pamela Cole

    I’ve been wrestling with this idea since I heard you talk about it at the Family Reunion. While I totally see the value of flexibility in some of the habits I am trying to build around exercise, meditation and social support, I am absolutely certain that I need Bright Lines in areas of addiction. The challenge is that I have had denial about whether something is an addiction or not. For example, I have had Bright Lines, Zero Tolerance, “No Matter What” for drugs and alcohol for over 40 years which has definitely saved my life! I have had a Bright Line, Zero Tolerance, “No Matter What” on tobacco products for 30 years because I’m addict who can’t have one without reactivating the addiction. I have had Bright Lines, Zero Tolerance, “No Matter What” for flour, sugar and quantities since 2009 (after 15 years of opening a door I closed on flour and sugar in 1975 and desperately wrestling with food addiction). What might be a place of flexibility is how I eat that committed, weighed and measured, boundaried food throughout a particular day. That flexibility allows me to ‘meet life on life’s terms’ better.

    All of this discussion around flexible guidelines is dangerous in the mind of “a rationalizing addict”. I have spent my whole adult life in 12 Step meeting rooms where I’ve listened to the stories of how people ‘went back out’ in their addiction and I know how cunning and baffling addiction is and how many disguises it has. I have also deceived myself with behaviors that I rationalized as being okay that I eventually had to admit were not okay in recovery. What is necessary for me to stay safe is ‘rigorous honesty’ which means I have to be doing a ‘daily review’ of some kind, (EAP, Permission to Be Human, Nightly Checklist, etc.) and I need to have at least one person that I am accountable to (around behavior, food, lifestyle, recovery) and hopefully a group where I can share openly what is going on with me and learn from their experience. And I want that group and buddy to share the same commitment to Bright Lines that I have otherwise I feel I’m back out in the rationalizing, justifying world who voice can get very loud, saying “Surely after all this time you could have just one….bite, drink, toke, hit, puff”. If the day comes that I have no defense to that voice then I am lost.

    Susan, thank you for your willingness (as always) to risking being controversial in the service of a Higher Truth. If we can practice love and tolerance of others, I think can find our way through this journey around what needs to be tight and what can be loose. Thank you for showing up in this way.

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  16. KAJ

    I am not comfortable with this vlog. I believe it opens the door for the Saboteur to come in and do great damage. I will stick to my brightlines. If I scheduled in a cheat day, my addiction would ignite. Moderation doesn’t work for me. Give the addiction an inch and it will take a mile.

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  17. Toni S

    Another great blog Susan – thank you!

    However, in one aspect you are wrong. Dead wrong! You said that as the reluctant ‘hero’ of BLE, you can’t gain weight and that makes an absolute for you that doesn’t necessarily apply to us. Wrong! 🙂 I have told everyone (I mean EVERYONE in my life) that I do Bright Line Eating. I see myself as an advocate for this lifestyle and movement in my community and ‘tribe’ and if I were to lose weight or ‘fail’ – I would be reflecting negatively on Bright Line Eating. I feel strongly that I have a debt to BLE for changing my life for the better and answering my prayers and I would never EVER want to negatively portray the movement. This keeps me sticking to the program more faithfully in much the same way that you do – because of your status as the ‘face of BLE’. We are all the ‘face of BLE’ in our own environments and many of us carry a similar burden. xxx

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  18. Jennifer Walters

    Thanks Susan! I myself decided not to beat myself up if I switch one protein or vegetable for another. If I realize I need to eat something before it goes bad then I do. If I’m within the guidelines I feel great with it! And if I can’t get all the veggies down me I just stop. I don’t eat anything else. I hope this way of being will be successful. I love BLE. I love my meals and love the way this eating makes me feel!

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  19. Eve Ross

    Susan, a wonderful post and a wonderful way to think about the issue. Thank you for sharing your insights…I have been doing BLE for a long time now (no idea when I started 3-4 years?) and this is the approach I’ve come to …but for me its clothing. When a particular pair of shorts gets tight that is my ” I’m going back on my Bright Lines hardcore” so that I don’t slip further. But, as we all know, life does happen sometimes and I love your framing it as “flexible vs brittle frameworks and how to use them to our advantage…” and NOT JUST ABOUT EATING!!!!

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  20. Susanna

    Thank you so much for vlog
    Progress not perfection
    The rigid food plan has always been a mixed blessing for me when I failed I have felt no way to get back
    Thanks I am figuring out my bright line food plan percentage
    This vlog has really helped me a lot
    Xoxo susanna

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  21. Charleen Morency

    As always excellent vlog! I sometimes feel that you are talking just to me. You are so spot on with what I am thinking. This definitely is your calling. Thank you for showing up and shining for us!

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  22. Nicole

    I LOVED this vlog, I’m new to Brightline eating but my biggest issue with it was the 100% perfectionism it held. We are not robots and living a life of never breaking these lines felt impossible to me where as I love the idea of 90-95%, that works so much better in my mind. Yes, I agree that I still need the boundaries of never eating out of bright lines for more than one meal or one day which is a great way to stay on track. THANK you so much for this Susan, it makes it feel much more achievable to me, I’m only on day 4 but my headache from lack of sugar was only mild on day 1 & 2 and I’ve already dropped 3 pounds and shift .5% of my body fat which I found amazing as I’ve worked out much harder whilst following a strict meal plan in the past and only moved .5% body fat in an entire MONTH, not 3 days!!! I’m loving that I found your book 😀
    With loads of LOVE and BIG gratitude,
    Thank you, Susan!!!

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  23. Abigail

    I love this vlog. I am not well, and before attempting to start the BLE program, I wasn’t sure I could do it. Some days just getting out of bed to go to the bathroom and to take care of my little constant companion and angel, Suki (Yorkshire Terrier) is all I can do. Too weak, too sick, too depressed…. etc. I have a debilitating illness that is getting worse and may never recover from a heart breaking divorce that I will never understand. Because my ex is an attorney and I was too sick to deal with everything, I finally just said, write up whatever you want and I will sign it. I can’t fight anymore. So, though I am not married, we still own the house together and have many joint accounts etc. Within the last few years I have lost two horses, a wonderful kitty, my little Yorkie is my constant companion and is 10.5 years old. I manage my own finances, my ex-husbands finances and our joint finances and it is all just too much.
    When my psychologist suggested the BLE book (she knows I am a stress eater and has seen me from a size 4 to a size 22 (in Plus size) I immediately downloaded it on Audible and ordered a hard copy from Amazon. As soon as I finished, I immediately stopped all sugar and flour, stopped eating my 2-3 a.m. eating. Told my ex to go through the pantry and refrigerator and take anything that was not permissible on BLE home to his rental house, if it wasn’t gone in a couple of days, it was going in the garbage. I eat some fruit (an apple or pear) during the day and I cook and eat my own dinner every night. (no more lasagne, eggplant parmesan, pizza, or whatever else gloppy food he used to bring home) I bake a sweet potato every couple of days and eat a little of that.
    I fall back on some of my old quick macrobiotic meals, lots of onions, mushrooms, green vegges and a carrot, etc. – sometimes some quinoa or brown rice in moderate portions.
    I log my weight and my measurements regularly and I have bought the journals, but it was all so overwhelming. So, I do what I can. I signed up for bootcamp. The support and the reminders are great. I stick to MY plan because I have signed up with hundreds of others who are doing their best to do the BLE program and I want to keep my commitment to doing the best I can until I can do better. I participate, I encourage others, celebrate their victories, encourage them to reZoom.
    I started this process at 215 lbs. if I had not started it, I am certain that I would be closer to 225 – 230, because that was the trend. I had given up on my size 16 jean and bought cotton knit pants with an elastic waist because I knew I was not going to lose weight and who knows how fat I was going to get.
    Now, I wear those pants to go for my acupuncture treatments because they are comfortable. My jeans fit me again and I weigh 199. I still have at least 75 lbs to lose. But, I am taking it one day at a time.
    So, the idea of flexible / brittle is lovely because that is what I have had to do. I made a choice. The BLE book was based on sound science, it made sense to me and I go back to it regularly. I do what I can and when I can do more, I will. Thank you for creating a vlog that validated, for me, what I was doing was okay. It is working. I can move more easily, just having lost 15 pounds. I still have a hard time looking at myself in the mirror, but I don’t think about it. I stick to the bright lines that I can and will add more when I get healthier.
    Also, your recommendation of going to the doctor and getting checked out, telling my doctor what I was doing, was really good. I don’t like to do it, but I was already pre-diabetic, blood pressure was getting too high, lipids, Oy! I had only been doing my version of BLE for a couple of weeks by the time I got in for my blood work and though I weighed more than the last time I had been in, I had already started losing weight and my blood pressure was good, my lipids are going down, my sugar is going down. And, because I had a serious talk with her about where I am at, how I was feeling and that I was going to drastically change my eating, she ordered some other tests that showed I had food allergies that I would not have known about. I also have an appointment for some follow-up at Mayo Clinic.
    There is concern that my advanced, chronic Lyme Disease is now moving into the stage that mimics MS, I am taking an integrative approach and my acupuncturist says she can help with that.
    It isn’t all about losing weight. Sometimes when we get so far past the size in which we feel like ourselves and life beats us up and we are ready to give up. A little light, a new message, can help us get up off the mat one more time and see if we can regain, not just our right-sized body, but our physical and mental health.
    So, again, thank you for this vlog. It gave me the validation and permission to do what I can, until I can do more. And thank you for writing the Bright Line Eating book, I suspect it will help many people who are stuck in more ways than just the outward appearance of an overweight body.

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  24. Lesley

    Oh dear Susan, you are a god send! You speak to me …and I HEAR you. This vlog in particular hit my ‘bull’s eye’. Thank you so very much !!!

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  25. Lorraine

    I am really unhappy with this vlog, Susan. This is a different approach from the one I learnt on the Homestudy Bootcamp July 2016. I embraced BLE because it was so different . I liked the strictness, and structure. How does this work with automaticity?

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  26. Deborah Mann

    Susan , if you haven’t read “Change Anything: The New Science of Personal Success” I think you would really enjoy it. The first time I watched your videos detailing what the bright lines were I thought you must have at least been exposed to this “Change Anything” framework. The two pair wonderfully together. I would love to hear your take on it if you ever get around to reading it.

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  27. Lydia

    It’s like you’re reading my mind about what’s challenging me at the present moment. Always appropriate, always inspiring. This will be my goal and my mantra this week. R flexible . Thankyou Susan.

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  28. Nicola Algar

    Fantastic blog Susan, so true in all areas of life and something to add to the toolbox with goals and standards. Brilliant.
    Thank you.

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  29. Fiona - UK

    Thanks Susan for a very timely blog. Because I have been struggling all week due to my monthly cycle / hormones for the first time since starting BLE I thought I would break it and fail. This was frightening and I did not know what to do. Making flexible rules that incentivise getting back on track was a gap of ‘what ifs ‘ that needed filling. A great save, and peace returns without the ‘all or nothing’ pressure in which my 15 mins of willpower battery empties. Well thought out and explained – thanks again.

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  30. Margaret

    Excellent blog. I love the idea of flexible not brittle. I love your blogs Susan. I love bright line eating and your honesty about everything. Thank you.

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  31. Sonia

    Loved it thanks – We are only human after all!

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  32. Caroline

    Yep! I called it the…ALL OR NOTHING problem of my weight loss and/or exercise bombs in life.
    There was a time I felt that, that propelled me , and for the most part It did…until the other side of that imbalance played out!

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  33. Joanne

    Susan, I SO love your blogs! Thank you! When you have a moment (hard for you I know!) please look at Carol Dweck’s research/book “Mindset: The Psychology of Success.” It will totally jibe with what you’ve been thinking re: flexible/brittle parameters. Love you loads! ❤️

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  34. Julie

    So good. Helps a lot. Thank you.

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  35. Mary

    Dear Susan, When I ordered your book which I love, I was to get the 14 day challenge . But I fell and had some issues and I had to fly to Texas for my granddaughter,s high school graduation and now I am in New York for her brother,s Military college graduation this weekend and the 24th. A family wedding in Ct. I am overwhelmed with guilt..I am the 91 year old that has been an inspiration to all I meet because of my commitment to exercise, pickleball, bible study, book club, cads, etc. these past 3 weeks I have blown it. Was the 14 day challenge on email? I don,t remember getting it.. I won’t be heading home until July..I am determined to loose these ugly lbs and get my body in shape and it will refresh my state of mind because I do have a young face, not to many wrinkles and a young thinking mind..thank you for all your wisdom..you are an amazing lady….find time for those precious girls, they grow up too fast.

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  36. Tracy

    Thank you for this! I can see that I need to build a little more flexibility into my goals, that way if/when I fall off the wagon, I will be incentivized to rezoom quickly.

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  37. MJD

    As I’ve read through the book or watched vlogs, one of the thoughts that’s crossed my mind more than once is — that won’t work for me. I’m not that perfect. (And I’m a perfectionist.). I couldn’t write everyday in a 5 year journal. Telling me I have to do anything every every day is usual met with rebellion. More than once I’ve completely scrapped projects because I didn’t do it perfectly. You now, I’m going to start a diet, only to get wrapped up in my day, and one mistake brings progress to a crushing halt.

    I wondered how you were going to get around this one. Congratulations on starting the process.

    It’s sort of a higher standard Paretto’s Principle, no? 20% of the effort yields 80% of the results, which has made me think about minimum effective dose a lot while I’m reading through the material. I feel better when I don’t have sugar or grains. I’ve been that way since I was a kid. If I don’t have sugar in the morning, I’m probably not going to have it at the end of the day. If I do have sugar in the morning, I can almost guarantee that I will eat whatever’s around as much as is around until I go to sleep. Sleep’s a reset — of cognitive functioning and willpower, I suspect.

    I gained a lot of weight when I started traveling. For a while I could take off what I put on, then the trips got closer together. The weight came on quickly. It’s been a double whammy because I have food sensitiviites. Nightshades in particular. Traveling is hard, not being able to have nightshades and grains and sugar has felt impossible. I’m getting better at it, though.

    I choose my battles well. I make the best choices I can in the moment. I enjoy the endulgences. I eat them as mindfully as possible and I pay just as much attention to their after effects.

    I use neuroplasticity to my advantage. I’m at the point where when I go to my Whole Foods, there are no endulgences in my cart when I’m done. In fact, when I’m home, it almost feels blasphemous to eat sugar.

    Great vlog. Keep up the good work!

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  38. Joann Entrekin

    I am disappointed with this vlog topic today.
    What happened to striving to be perfect?
    Permission to being human and rezooming?
    Committing your food and eating only that?
    By building in “cheat days” this has made BLE like other diet plans out there that fail.
    The brain will not heal and you will be going through another detox every time you slip.

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    1. Carolyn

      Excellent comments, although we appear to be in the minority. I share in your disappointment Joanne!
      We addicts look for every reason to ‘modify’ our BLE and now, we have permission to get ourselves into trouble. I remain somewhat confused by this vlog.

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    2. Katarina

      I feel the same. This won’t work. Especially for those who need it the most.

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    3. Holly Jean

      I feel the same too – this vlog instantly started major doubts swirling in my head, and I’m too early in the program to let that happen (18 days in). I had to process these ideas in a way that didn’t undermine my resolve to keep to the bright lines, treat my food choices and journal with integrity.

      I understand the concept of not throwing the baby out with the bathwater, so to speak, when you mess up in life, but right now I need to focus on being the best I can be! I don’t know whether to bring this up in my facebook house or not. I am shaken, but not dislodged.

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    4. Sheena

      Just because some people feel like they need the flexible framework, doesn’t mean it will work for you. If the thought of cheat days stresses you don’t do cheat days.

      If you listen to many of Susan’s VLOGs you will notice that she is committed to keeping the sugar and flour bright lines shiny bright, and she finds the only eat at meal times fairly easy to keep, but the quantities have been flexible for her, and sometimes she finds she got too flexible and she needs permission to be human and rezoom because of it.

      I’m only using the book and tomorrow marks week 5 and I’ve kept my bright lines, but where I have had to be flexible is in the meal timing, so I set a flexible framework for that. On Sunday (except fast Sunday) I only eat brunch and dinner and I split my lunch between the two. I was trying to eat a little earlier on Saturdays because I wake up so ridiculously early the rest of the week, but with this week I’m planning to do the brunch and dinner only, if it works and I don’t start sliding then I have a flexible framework I can live with, while keeping the rest of my bright lines bright.

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  39. Josephine

    Thanks Susan. This info lifts the guilt I felt when
    Blurring lines a bit. Like idea if setting boundary
    So you don’t go down a slippery slope.

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  40. Susan in California

    Susan, I agree completely. Several years ago I decided to quit beating myself up over impossible goals: I am not perfect, so my performance in certain areas will be less than perfect. That’s okay. Yes, there are lines one never crosses (alcohol, drugs, murder, thievery, etc.) BUT the expectation of perfection simply sets one up to fail. Again.

    You hit another one out of the park. Thanks!

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  41. Cathy Ditmore-Watson

    Just so you know now that I have lost 57lbs I have family and friends watching to see if this lasts and many asking questions and I find myself motivated to keep my lines bright because they need me to be an example as much as I need me to for my health and happiness… I am not a “figurehead” but I am an example that is being a motivational help to others… there are times that this in turn keeps my lines bright and makes me zoom quickly back if my lines blur… I do thank you for your support and encouragement as I travel this journey…

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  42. Leslie

    I have had friends who have quit smoking cold-turkey, because they were planning on getting pregnant. Neither has ever smoked again. Finding that one solid reason to stick to bright lines, can really make a difference, especially if it impacts someone else. I have found that when I get off track with food, I find a way to enjoy the day on which I got off track and then remain positive for the following day when I get back on track. There’s no point in beating yourself up about something that is going to be in the past in 24 hours. We have that control over our lives.

    Love your blogs Susan! Thanks again!

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  43. Dolores

    Your flexible approach really takes the pressure off me because I also have perfectionist tendencies and really get down on myself when I am not able to stick to my lines 100% perfectly. In fact, because I feel like I have failed it makes it really hard for me to restart because I don’t trust myself to be perfect.
    Allowing for some flexibility and preplanning for family events makes it easier for me to stay close to the lines, although not perfect, whereas not allowing flexibility just ends up in me throwing in the towel and going for it. This approach will allow me to pick up again and keep going confidently and without guilt or shame.
    Thank you, Susan.
    By the way, I love your dress, it’s so flattering on you.

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  44. Michelle S New


    Reply ·
  45. Aron

    The difference between your core reason for staying on bright line eating is because you won’t be useful to server if you fail. But these suggestions you gave don’t give us a ‘why’ to stay on bright line eating. I think it will be much more impactful to suggest a bunch of ‘whys’ rather than negotiating so much on the limits themselves.

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  46. Flor

    What I got from this blog is that on some aspects of my food I have to have bright lines and fit other aspects, I can be flexible, have some level of tolerance. I had already come to the conclusion that I need a bright line with flour, but not so much with sugar. This also ties in with the susceptibility scale, I feel impotent over flour, yet it’s what is really killing my body. But, other foods don’t score high on susceptibility with me. Example, I can eat ice cream or even binge on ice cream, but only once in whenever. However, once in the arms of flour, there is no end, no stopping; it’s my 10 on the susceptibility scale.

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  47. Marsha Sheehan

    Hi Susan, I enjoyed todays blog. I have been on Braight Line Eating plan for 8 weeks But really bored with dinner suggestions. Can you share any recipes that incorporate the suggestions for protein, veggies and salad. I truly enjoy breakfast choices and usually stick to a plant base plan for lunch. Thank you,

    Reply ·
  48. Karen

    I have almost always used a slightly more flexible approach to my bright lines. I used the four questions when making exceptions, and it has worked well for me. It is interesting, because when people ask me how I lost the weight, I tell them, but also tell them I have not been perfect, but more like 90-95% with the bright lines. I have milk in my coffee daily and don’t count it. Tried it without during the first part of boot camp and just could not do it. I occasionally have a handful of almonds if I am getting really hungry and will not be able to take the time eat a meal for a while. I do this maybe once or twice a week. Since the Oct 2016 boot camp I am down 65 pounds and within 3-5 pounds of my goal weight. I have been less successful with things like exercise and meditation, so this gives me a new approach to that as well. I may have lost the weight faster if I had more brittle lines, but I don’t think I would have stuck with it, without creating my own flexibility and making it work for me. Also it is not about weight as much as about health. Six months in to the program all my blood work returned to normal healthy levels. My doctor tried to talk me out of going ” cold turkey” on sugar and flour, when I told her what I was planning on doing. She recommended ” moderation.” But she was amazed at the results. More importantly this is a lifestyle I can mostly live with, but occasional exceptions are real life. As long as they are not escalating, I am ok with that.

    Reply ·
    1. Teresa

      Thanks for your examples, Karen. I’m gearing up to start my 14 days on Monday, and I’ve been doing a lot of self-talk to understand how to make this a plan I can live with for the long term.

      The things you said that I find especially helpful are:

      “Occasional exceptions are real life. As long as they are not escalating, I am ok with that.”

      “Also it is not about weight as much as about health. Six months in to the program all my blood work returned to normal healthy levels.”

      “I may have lost the weight faster if I had more brittle lines, but I don’t think I would have stuck with it, without creating my own flexibility and making it work for me.”

      Thank you.

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  49. Leslie

    excited to see this continue to unfold, Susan! I’m also a weight loss coach so I GET that super strong knowing that you can’t get fat so you can serve your people…so interesting!! and I’m really happy you’re acknowledging more the importance of being in integrity with what you’re committing to doing (making the flexible goal of doing something perfectly 95% of the time, for example) versus the brittle goal that’s just not always realistic and can lead to breakdown and feelings of failure.

    thank you for this topic.

    PS I’m the Leslie from the book launch party in NYC that acknowledged you for your integrity and honesty and science!

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  50. Clausene

    Susan, interesting vlog today. In education we call this a growth
    mindset vs. a closed mindset. Growth would mean growing and adapting and adjusting. A closed mind set insists on the status .

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  51. Margaret Churchley

    Thanks Susan that really helped. I can stop feeling guilty when I cheat. I have found if I go straight back to the food plan the 2lbs I put on tends to fall off really quickly. I started on 18 May with a target of 5lbs to lose. I have lost 3lbs so far. It is a long slow process but I’m definitely on a downward trend. Who knows once I reach my target I may go for another few pounds! My reward is being able to get back into a couple of my favourite dresses. Thank you – nothing else has worked for me. I can now walk past a plate of biscuits without being tempted even though I am a 7 on the susceptibility scale.

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  52. Irene

    Fabulous vlog. So helpful. You are a rockstar Susan !

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  53. Nita Goldband

    Thanks Susan, Inhave been struggling with how to be perfect in a life where meals out are not avoidable. On my own I decided to split my lunch fruit in two so that when we are out I can order dessert ( fresh fruit) and not have to even think about the “four spoon dessert” that always makes me crazy! I hope that you r thoughts about flexibility extend to this type of decision. In every other way my bright lines a re squeaky clean and my body is releasing weight consistently.

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  54. Jane

    Thank you Susan. I have struggled with profection and control all my life. This makes so much sense! Im on week 7 of my bootcamp and I have learned so much about myself and this journey. Thank you for being so honest and real.

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  55. Camille

    I think there is a certain safety in absolutes, and in a way perfectionism. The price of absolutes is rigidity, and it is interesting to explore the areas where the safety of the rules, much like an abstract proof, and the fallen nature of humanity, reactivity and impulse meet. As a straightedge kid in high school, that identity was really powerful for me. I tend to be attracted towards absolutes like being straightedge, being vegan, and finding these identities safe, almost like putting on a white jacket in a lab setting. I am intrigued by the notion of taking that white jacket off and still staying the course.

    Reply ·
  56. Bridget Hill

    Hmmmmmm, you babe got me thinking now …

    Reply ·
  57. MMarie10

    LOL — I love your top! Where did you get it?

    Reply ·
  58. reidun

    Excellence vs. perfection!

    Reply ·
  59. Caron Harris

    I like this message very much. Thanks for posting it. And p.s., I love the dress! You look smashing!

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  60. Penny Lloyd

    Wow. Just wow. I knew my perfectionism was sabotaging my weight-loss efforts, but I didn’t know why nor did I know how to solve either problem. Thanks for getting in my head, Susan. This was an excellent vlog. Maybe I’ll focus my perfectionism on finding creative ways to fix all my veggies or maybe housework … well, maybe not that. Thank you so much!

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  61. Wendy

    Wow! This one really bothers me. If I could committ to not going off plan 2 days in a row I wouldn’t be an addict! I am in total agreement about flexibility for goals but NOT for addictions. Why would you suggest ways to be flexible for food that would not apply to drugs or alcohol ? And why would you say it was OK to be sloppy with Bright Line Eating because you did not get FAT! Is that how you measure it! Isn’t the term FAT pretty explosive to a food addict . I spent the money for the bootcamp because I really believed you understood this was about addiction not being fat. A lifestyle to live with my disease not a diet.

    Reply ·
    1. Candice

      I think it all boils down to perception. There are some food addicts (me), who because of perfectionist tendencies will struggle to get back on their bright lines when they’ve messed up. This is my current situation. I did well Jan-April, then my fridge started dying and my landlord has been slow to replace it (also went on vacay) so I began to blur my lines. I haven’t been able to get out of the perfectionist cycle since then. But the no more than 2 days in a row option would’ve allowed me to. The idea is to meet people where they are,.. if this would be too difficult, only you know this about yourself and what works best. For me, this idea gives me hope that I can get back on track.

      Reply ·
    2. Carolyn Roberts

      I agree with your thoughts, Wendy. With my food addiction, if I am given an inch, I will take a mile. Flexibility is dynamite to me.

      Reply ·
  62. Karrots

    I’ve been reading your Bright Lines eating at the same time as reading the 12 Week Year and I think you’ve nailed it with your brittle v. Flexible framework, but applying it to 12 week periods instead of the traditional year would make it so much more productive and create urgency and more meaning in daily / hourly choices! I will see my doc and get started next week and let you know how it goes 😉

    Reply ·
  63. Janet

    This message was perfect for me today! So here’s the thing. I have been on board with BLE since April 18, 2017 and have lost 18.5 pounds. I am committed to BLE as a lifestyle, not a diet. I retired from 29 years of teaching one week ago. Over the past month, several different groups have honored my career with events that included food. I knew these were on the horizon and decided ahead on a few things:
    1. I would not snack between meals.
    2. At home or work during normal meal times, I would stick to BLE.
    3. At events, which were each once-in-a-lifetime, I would enjoy special foods with the criteria that I would have one serving of foods outside my plan, if I wanted.
    4. I would not weigh myself until one full week back on bright BLE.
    I feel SO good about the flexibility I set up. I’m proud that I planned ahead and didn’t binge even once. At my events, I was able to eat the special foods people had made as treats for me without feeling guilty or food crazy. I’m excited that today is my first day back to bright lines and it’s going well and, even though I ate some flour and sugar during the special events, cravings have not returned. I know that some of my past failures, especially my most recent one in 2015, failed because of brittle frameworks; that most recent one was externally enforced and SO frustrating. I’m so excited to weigh myself next week in part because my clothes don’t feel tighter and am confident that this IS my lifestyle and NOT a diet. Thank you for all your wisdom, personal commitment to BLE, and your commitment to being human
    and real, not judgemental!

    Reply ·
    1. Teresa

      Loved your planned approach, Janet.

      I’m about to start the 14-Day Plan next week. Already I’ve been thinking about Christmas Eve, which is once a year not once-in-a-lifetime, but our family has foods and traditions that I would rather not buck. You’ve given me a way to think about managing that meal with integrity for my eating plan as well as with respect for my family and our traditions.

      Thank you.

      Reply ·
    2. Flor

      Congratulations on everything.

      Reply ·
  64. Jade

    I thought this was an excellent blog and so helpful. My perfectionism has got me in so much trouble and this is a very interesting way to deal with it.

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  65. Katie

    Love your dress!

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  66. Marlene Sarnat

    It is what has happened this spring, when we have been hiking in Yosemite, and visiting an ill loved one in Oregon. I actually lost weight, but am getting back on track.

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  67. Katie Lopez

    What a great VLOG…full of wonderful info. I really like the idea of flexible frameworks with the exception of my Four Bright Lines……..there is a little part of me in the back of my head already working around them though. They seem safe and a comfort at first but I wonder if they would be a slippery slope for me. Example…..the maximum of three meals per month where I may break a quantities line… I might start to toy with that the way I do with a “cheat meal”……I only broke my quantities once last month so now I can have five breaks this month etc. I really, really, REALLY love the idea but I don’t know if I could navigate it successfully. I can see how it would be very helpful for vacations and special occasions but I kind of also think that it messes with what my “non-food” idea of what is actually special about these occasions…..relaxing, spending time with friends and family etc……..Clearly I am torn. Thanks so much, Susan for putting this info out there……as it was already on my mind, it’s nice to hear your perspective too. xoxo’s

    Reply ·
    1. Teresa

      Hi Katie Lopez,

      I haven’t started the Bright Lines 14-Day program yet, I’m gearing up for it. So I’m not speaking from BL experience but in my other experience with habits and making something a daily practice, when I allow myself what I call a Day of Grace, it isn’t cumulative. So those unused days wouldn’t roll over into the next month.

      In my terminology, if my flexible framework would be that I can take up to three days of grace per month with quantities, that’s only for the current month. Next month starts clean with, again, up to three days available.

      In practice, I allow myself one Day of Grace per week — and I almost never use it because it’s hard to just have one DoG (as I affectionately call it) and get right back on track. When I have one DoG, I want another one real bad. So I’ve found that it’s much easier just not to take it at all.

      However, knowing that I CAN take it is a huge pressure release. And if I legitimately inadvertently don’t keep my daily commitment, I just chalk it up to a Day of Grace and there’s no self-blame and no guilt.

      The weekly structure works for me because a lot of times I will make a deal with myself that I can take my DoG next week if I still want it then.

      Granted, my experience is not based on eating and I haven’t yet adopted the Bright Line plan so I can’t say how my approach will work with that.

      Reply ·
      1. Katie Lopez

        Hi Teresa,
        Thanks so much for your response. It all sounds so fabulous in theory but my brain would drive me nuts creating work-arounds for my own rules. If I have a break in my BL’s, and I have had several, I do not count that day as a BLE Day in my count. I have never felt the need to start at Day 1 and all of my breaks have been planned but I just have the hanging out there. It would just mess with my head too much.
        Excited for you to start your 14 Day Challenge!! Good luck & reach out to the BLE Community for support.
        Thanks again. –Katie

        Reply ·
  68. Julie

    Thank you Susan, just what I needed to hear, reminded me of what a smart cookie I was in with at a leadership development train the train , at mit, 100 percent of 100 percent is not always goodness. And if you don’t reach your goal, perhaps you need to reflect the goal and rework va. Focusing on the failure to reach it. So with that I’m going to go set some flexible goals 🙂

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  69. Cynthia

    Very, very helpful! Thank you. I’ve been sabotaging myself because life on life’s terms has sucked lately. This gives me hope and to quit beating myself up. Just get back on track! Thanks again.

    Reply ·
  70. Jo Ann

    Great vlog Susan! Being someone that is usually completely all in or not, what you said today was extremely helpfull. Gave me another way to look at things instead of being so hard on myself all the time. You’re awesome!! ❤️

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  71. Donna

    This post was extremely helpful to me – when you describe your perfectionist self and how it can sabotage progress, you describe me as well – I am a “10” who is a perfectionist too – what a combo!. At 55 years old, I can’t tell you the number of times I set myself up for failure with my perfectionist goals. This brittle vs flexible understanding is going to help me so much going forward. Thank you so much, I truly appreciate all that you do to help us be successful on this journey!

    Reply ·
  72. Anne Lane

    Thank you so much for sharing so honestly about your own personal journey. It is so helpful!

    Reply ·
  73. Carol White

    This vlog’s message is arriving at the right time! Thank you! Excellent content and delivery.

    Reply ·
  74. Kathy

    So helpful. I’m always so hard on myself when I screw up with my food and then the food addiction kicks off. I’ve had years of clean abstinence and then made a bad choice which leads me into more bad choices and dishonesty and rationalization until the food gets out of control and I start gaining weight. I think for me the bright line of no sugar or flour is an absolute but the extra volume is a warning sign and something that is part of my humanity. Love there vlogs! Thanks Susan!

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  75. Donna OBrien

    Your vlogs always make me laugh out loud! Thank you! I’ve figured out that my brittle lines are the food I’m willing to eat. The minute I eat something that isn’t on ‘the list’ my entire bright line path falls apart and here comes the sugar (chocolate). So, I have to be more flexible with the grains, veggies, and proteins I’m willing to eat on my Bright Lines voyage so I don’t just sabotage everything. Sadly, I can gain three pounds in one day and then hate myself for a week afterward. I just got my food scale and was showing my teen how much six ounces of vegetables were, we were both amazed! Now to educate the hubby!

    Reply ·

    Doc you’re brilliant. Every single blog touches base with exactly what I struggle with. Amazing. Thank you for sharing your journey and experience

    Reply ·
  77. Ellen

    Extremely helpful. This may be the trick to success…be flexible, do not beat yourself up, have pillars of support in place…be kind to yourself. Thank you.

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  78. Durita

    I left your program because. i found it to be completely inflexible. It sounds like you are on your way to a more real world approach. I completed a bootcamp but asked for a refund because I found the program to be so brittle. Is there a way for me to come back to the tribe without having to go through another bootcamp? I have lost 40 pounds, probably all I want to lose but miss the community and the support I know I would recieve in keeping my weight off.

    Reply ·
    1. Flor

      I say they let you back in. I too have felt it it’s too rigid, until this blog.
      Good luck. I have only done a 14 day challenge twice in a row and lost 15 lbs. This it’s enough for now as I noticed I was getting wrinkly arms and thighs yuck!!!! But I would love to be in the chat community!!!

      Reply ·
    2. Jennifer Gonzalez

      You can still be a part of a community on unofficial facebook pages. Just search Facebook under Bright Line Eating and you’ll find one. I’m not sure how closely they monitor this and I don’t want you to feel left out.

      Reply ·
    3. Katarina

      You have lost 40pounds and asked for a refund? What am I missing here?

      Reply ·
  79. Catherine

    I set good, better, best goals. Example: I will exercise 6 days a week with 85% compliance (good), 90% compliance (better), 95% compliance (best),

    Reply ·
  80. Jo

    Could flexibility be an answer for those who are lower on the susceptibility scale? Lower numbers…more flex?

    Reply ·
    1. Mariah Perkins

      interesting… you may have something there. I think I’ll be trying that for a week. I have a notion what the first flexible goal will be:
      I”ll eat three meals in a row along the Bright Lines before I choose a wee bit of a break for one meal only. If looking forward to that fourth meal starts to dominate my thoughts, then I have lost my freedom. So I will have to be honest.

      Reply ·
  81. Elaine Loomis Olsen

    Timing is everything and this Vlog arrived perfectly timed. Thank you Susan. I’m out RVing for a few weeks and visiting friends has led to breaking my BLs with some NMF/NMB I like the no two days in a row idea a lot. I’m on Maintenance and certainly want and prefer to keep the BL way of eating and not re gaining weight. I am also looking at new projects waiting for me at home and will be applying this brittle/flexible assessment to each one. I was at the reunion so hearing this a second time has helped me “get it” that much better!

    Reply ·
  82. carol perfect

    Susan, great job explaining! I so relate. .. when I would exercise I would go gung-ho every day and then got bored and quit, instead of being flexible and just doing 2-3 times a week and not feel guilty. Have lost 14 lbs. Since starting Bright Line eating 1 1/2 months ago and that included a 2 week vacation with eating out every day…just think of how much I would have lost had I not eaten out! I have been a sugar-holic for 40+ years…would try cutting out carbs (7up/candy bars, etc) to only lose and gain…BUT with cutting out BOTH the sugar AND flour I have no cravings! This has been mind boggling how easy it has been for me!

    Reply ·
  83. Susan

    Thank you Susan!!! This vlog was super helpful to me this week! I’m trying to combine BLE with eating for my blood type…and trying to adhere to a summer schedule with my kids. Your message was timely for me in many regards. THANK YOU!!

    Reply ·
  84. Sandra

    What happened to just for today and one day at a time and the permission to be human worksheet as the flexible framework. I think my goal still needs to be a bright Line, but just for today. Making goals longer than one day is too much for me. Monthly or yearly tracking is what messes with my head. Don’t even want to consider opening that door of saying it’s ok to not keep any Bright Line a few times a month. I think that would make me crazier. Just me. Love the book. Thank you! ❤️

    Reply ·
  85. Martha Cichelli

    This was a wonderful message. I’ve been there – failing perfect adherence to a habit and then giving it up altogether along with a heavy load of guilt. I’ll think of your message now often and be easier on myself. I do have a zero tolerance attitude about alcohol and a strict attitude about sugar and flour, but I’m going to try a more flexible approach to a new exercise program. Thank you.

    Reply ·
  86. Theresa Cardinell

    Thank you very much. Your timing was perfect as I will be starting the 14 day challenge soon. I ‘m a retired high school teacher so
    I love the differentiation between flexible and brittle..I lived it for years…The “it’s ok to jump back in” if you mess up is critical for me..
    I have a tendency to “beat myself up” when I screw up obtaining a goal…so knowing “up front” , I can jump back in asap gives me the
    empowerment to “stay the course”..dusk myself off and stay positive.

    Thanks for your strength and perseverance:)

    Reply ·
  87. Cathy

    This was so very helpful!! I am on day 10 of the 14 day challenge and surprisingly my sugar and flour cravings have been manageable but I do find myself probably eating larger portions of healthy food when socializing and eating out. This video has given me some great ideas for additional parameters to set around eating out as I am not willing to bring a food scale with me to a restaurant. Love the idea of having squeaky clean bright lines maybe the day before and after eating out. I already know I can’t afford to let sugar or flour creep in because I can’t control those cravings but allowing larger portions for special occasions would work for me. Thanks!!

    Reply ·
  88. Anna Maria

    This is so perfect for me right now. I’m exactly the same way: if something is not perfect, it’s ruined and I have to start again on some significant date – right now it’s July because – new quarter. I see now how I’ve been sabotaging myself with brittle frameworks and I’ll definitely have this in mind when it comes to planning goals from now on.

    Reply ·
  89. Mimi

    Susan, this is brilliant. It is immediately helpful and allows us insights into our own situations. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

    Reply ·
  90. Marlize

    This was extremely helpful. Thank you.

    Reply ·
  91. Marlize

    That was extremely helpful. Thank you

    Reply ·
  92. Betty

    Great “oh so true” reminders. Thanks for being you.

    Reply ·
  93. Dorothé

    Dear Susan,
    Very helpfull! You really reach me more than 95% of all your vlogs!
    Thank you

    Reply ·
    1. Mariah Perkins

      Chuckles. Cute.

      Reply ·
  94. Valerie

    Loved this blog. Makes a lot of sense. Thanks, Susan

    Reply ·
  95. michelle

    Its like the 80/20 or 90/10 thing in life… it applies to this as well. I also love the analogy from Wayne Dyer (or maybe he was quoting the Dalai Lama) about the palm trees you see bend in the hurricane winds to the ground, but because they are FLEXIBLE, they stay rooted and bend back up after the storm. They go with the flow and stay rooted.

    Reply ·
    1. Carmen

      Susan do you think for ble never should always be in the beginning? Does this one sound ok? I never eat sugar or flour more than once per day and no more than 3 days while on vacation.

      Reply ·
  96. AMY

    Sooooo helpful! Loved it. Thank you

    Reply ·
  97. Catriona

    Susan, your vlog today made me think so differently. I am one of those addicts (food) that whenever I broke my bright lines I fell apart, and literally put your book on a shelf, until I could convince myself to start again. You’ve made me realize that my internal saboteur has been ruling my life, and now I know if I build in some flexibility, with quantities, while still sticking to the sugar/flour bright lines, I’ll do so much better. I was always a perfectionist at work and home, and it drove my husband crazy, so since retiring I’ve been trying to be less so, and I think this is partly my issue with not being consistent about losing weight. Thanks Susan, your blogs are always enlightening.

    Reply ·
    1. brenda

      Sorry about replying to Carton’s comment, I didn’t see another way to post… As a fellow traveler on the BLE Train… I too am struggling with Brittle vs Flexible. I did the Feb 2016 BC and joined a MM group. I kept BLE 100% except after the BC I wanted to do research with adding wine. My MM flows were horrified and basically did not support me… so I was booted out and left on my own… to get to the point… My feedback is that the BC should be 100%… brittle, and then incorporate flexibility afterwards in the doing research part of the journey… it will free us to be self-responsible to figure out a way to do this for life… and we could have support groups especially for this purpose… I truly believe that Brittle works best for 8 weeks… as a sure way to understand what it feels like to be CLEAN.]

      Reply ·
      1. Donna

        Good point, Brenda!

        Reply ·
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