Automaticity and Self-Care

Right now, I’m in a cabin in the middle of nowhere in upstate New York on a writer’s retreat where I’m putting the finishing touches on the manuscript for the third Bright Line Eating book, Rezoom. While I’ve been secluded here, settling into different sleeping patterns and letting go of my usual morning routine, I’ve noticed the changes in habits are starting to wear on me. Watch the Vlog to hear my thoughts about it.


  1. Mary H

    Dear Shari, After reading your post…sounds like your symptoms are those with fibromyalgia.
    I was diagnosed after 10 years from going to doctor to doctor, finally a woman doctor took
    the time to run additional tests and I was finally given a name. 50 years later, I know the
    nature of the “beast.” Please check out
    real life with fibromyalgia. This is the website I like. There are others.
    When the weather changes, barometric pressure goes down, I know my body will
    ache, pain in legs, no energy. When sun comes out, pressure is up I will start to feel
    better and get some work done. I hope this will help you to do some research. Take care
    …hope is within reach. Sending love to you.

    Reply ·
    1. Shari

      Thanks for the thought, but I don’t even come close to the symptoms, severity, or frequency of fibromyalgia. I’m glad you’ve found a diagnosis and some hope for living well with it!

      I’m finding the freedom in my brain that I’ve been seeking. Like SPT teaches us, those old patterns run deep…it will take some patience and time to build new ones!

      Reply ·
  2. Shari

    Thank you for this post! I have been trying to identify what exactly is going on with me when I’m tired and off-schedule. While I may sleep in sometimes, and go about my morning routine, that can be a gift. However, it presents itself differently when I’m simply going with the flow because my brain talks me into downshifting and I don’t realize it until the day gets away from me and I have NO capacity to make good choices. It’s a cycle that I’ve battled for YEARS…I suppose I need to be patient while I learn how to reroute this.

    This vlog gives me hope…the morning routine is more powerful than I thought it was, and I want to look at it that way. It IS more than self-care and smart discipline…it is the gateway to automaticity that leads to freedom.

    Reply ·
  3. Mary H

    I realize this off topic but I want to extend my deep “Thanks” . I have searched and searched but cannot find the person
    who recommended the book Rehabilitate, Rewire, Recover Anorexia recovery for the determined adult by
    Tabitha Farrar. I ordered the book …thick book 556 pages…I am on page 192. She explains recovery process
    and how necessary it is to eat. Thank you Susan for stressing the 3 meals a day, but I, too, can only eat 2 meals a day
    and a snack at dinner. I realize now my brain works a little differently than the “overweight” and have calmness
    about that. Thank you for being available to me and helping me….because after all I do have a food disorder.
    Different side of the coin but nonetheless a food disorder.

    Reply ·
  4. Nancy W. Goss

    My self care habits serve me well.

    Reply ·
  5. Rose Bonn

    OK, I know this is not relevant, and in no way takes away from your awesome content … but YOUR HAIR IS AWESOME!!!

    Reply ·
    1. Stacy Steck

      I was thinking the same thing! 😉

      Reply ·
    2. Martha

      My thoughts exactly! I love the thoughts but the hair is on point too.

      Reply ·
  6. Jean

    I think you are so awesome. I have been watching your videos and so appreciate your authenticity. Thank you for sharing your experiences and struggles to help us each day to move toward some peace with food. I agree that food can be a beast or the addiction is a beast… regardless your knowledge and expressing it on paper and verbally is just what so many of us need!
    You need to give yourself a huge hug…. for all that you are doing! You are making a difference in this big world!
    God bless you on your journey♥️

    Reply ·
    1. Bright Line Eating

      Thank you for your kindness, Jean. Hugs and high fives! <3

      Reply ·
  7. Garda

    Hello, what is Bright Lines’ stance on this idea of not eating until noon and just havingtwo meals per day. It is a tupe of fasting eating lifestyle proposed by Drs. Mercola and Permutter.

    Reply ·
    1. Marti

      Before I read Susan’s book (quite a few times!) and before I started Bootcamp on 10 October 2017, I have cut out the sugar and flour quite a few times, because I figured out that I am a very serious carbohydrate addict. But that was not enough. Every time I quit the sugar and flour I lost weight, but before long I started eating sugar and flour again, and the weight came right back. When I started doing BLE it was the very first time in my life that I only had 3 meals a day, and weighed and measured my food. I used to be a binge eater and grazing cow, and therefore I found it VERY difficult to eat only 3 times a day, and weigh and measure my food. But I persevered. It took me about 4 months to create this new habit. Then I discovered Dr Jason Fung. He is a Canadian nephrologist who wrote “The Obesity Code”, “The Diabetes Code”, “The Complete Guide to Fasting”, “Life in the Fasting Lane”, and “The Cancer Code”, and he uses low carb eating and fasting to reverse his patients’ diabetes and many other health problems. After reading his first 3 books I decided to try fasting. I divided my allocated food into only 2 meals per day – because it fitted in better with my work situation. And I discovered this: the earlier I eat in the morning, the more often I want to put food in my mouth during that day. Although I managed to get into the habit of only 3 meals a day with BLE, and although I avoided sugar and flour, I still sometimes had these urges to binge and graze (on the right food). But if I eat my first meal between 10h00 and 11h00 and my last meal between 15h00 and 16h00, I do NOT get hungry, AND I have all the health benefits of a long overnight fast, and I can control my urges to binge and graze (on the right food) much better. Because I am a 10++++ on the Susceptibility Scale, and because I am a very serious carbohydrate addict, as well as a binge eater and grazing cow, I NEVER thought that I would ever be able to do fasting and eat only twice a day. I have absolutely NO desire to fast for days on end – I simply wanted to try fasting to control my urges to binge and graze – and it worked! Long ago Susan did a vlog on Kathryn Hansen’s book, “Brain Over Binge”. This book helped me to analyse my weight problem. And I discovered that my weight problem consists of 3 components: (a) My very serious carbohydrate addiction (sugar, flour and starch are my drugs of choice), (b) My binge eating disorder and grazing cow behaviour (although I have never purged by means of a finger in the throat or laxatives or exercise, I definitely had binge eating disorder and I wanted to eat all day long – because I am an emotional eater who has used food as a crutch and comfort since childhood), and (c) My hormones (blood tests showed that my insulin was too high although my blood sugar was still normal , and my estrogen and progesterone were non-existent because I am way past menopause). I realised that I had to address all 3 components to PERMANENTLY AND FOREVER lose the weight and KEEP IT OFF. And this is exactly what BLE also does. I avoid sugar and flour to control (a). I eat portions in only 2 meals a day with a long overnight fast to control (b). I do all 4 bright lines to control (c). And fasting is now so part of my life that it has made my life so much easier. Because I only eat twice a day I concentrate on OTHER activities and spend as little time as possible in the kitchen. I now eat to live, and I no longer live to eat. In the evenings I prepare my food in portions for the next day, put it in the top half of the fridge, eat only 2 meals the next day, and keep all other food in the bottom half of the fridge and in the freezer. I do not crucify myself if I cannot stick to exact times for meals when work prevents me to do so – I simply eat when I can, and get on with other things to do. Some days I am so busy working that I eat my first meal of the day only after 12h00, and then I do feel hungry. But hunger is NOT an emergency, as Susan has taught us over and over! I have lost about 20 kg (44 lbs) and I have managed to keep my weight stable for more than a year now. I no longer get cravings for NMFs and NMDs because I have banned them out of my house and don’t eat them. My taste buds have changed. I now get cravings for salad! And fasting helps me to control my urges to binge and graze (on the right food). Please note: I can binge and graze on ANY food – simply because I am a food addict. Obviously I used to binge and graze on NMFs and NMDs, but I can also binge and graze on salad and broccoli and cauliflower and other vegetables and cheese and meat and fish and eggs. But fasting was the last piece of the puzzle for me. It has taught me to only eat twice a day with a nice long overnight fasting period. Fasting helped me to adapt my bright lines to keep the weight off!

      Reply ·
      1. Liz

        Marti, thank you for this. I’ve wanted to incorporate fasting into my BLE journey and you have shown me a workable way to do that. I am assuming that you divide the food requirements for the day and split them between the two meals.

        Reply ·
        1. Marti

          Yes, I split the allocated food for the day between 2 meals. When I started BLE and eventually mastered the 3 meals a day, and I started the 2 meals a day, I had a bigger gap between the 2 meals. But gradually I shortened the time period between the 2 meals – to enable me to have a 16 to 18 hour overnight fast with all the wonderful benefits of fasting.
          I repeat: I do NOT want to do extended fasts for days on end – simply because I do NOT want to think about food. I no longer want food to rule my life. I LOVE the FREEDOM from food just too much!!! When my work keeps me so busy that I do not have time to eat, it has happened that I have fasted for 22 to 24 hours. But then I become very hungry, and all I can think about is food. I know very well that the hunger will pass if I fast for more than 72 hours, but I do NOT want to go there. Food must be a non-issue in my life . If I can control my food intake and my fasting without becoming hungry, food will stay a non-issue in my life, and I can then also control my binge eating and grazing and emotional eating. I have taught myself to concentrate on OTHER things than food. I now eat to live, and I no longer live to eat.
          The other reason I decided to try fasting was to cure my insulin resistance. I had no idea that my insulin was way too high, because I have never had high blood sugar. But with a fasting insulin count of 12.4 I was actually prediabetic, and I did not know it!!! Normal fasting insulin should be as close as possible to 2, and some experts say it should not be higher than 5. But for some unknown reason doctors do NOT test insulin regularly – they only test blood sugar. After I discovered that my insulin was too high, I persuaded my very obese sister to have her insulin tested too. Hers was 22,4, but her blood sugar still tested normal. Her insulin resistance was much worse than mine! It can take YEARS for a person with insulin resistance to develop full blown diabetes with high blood sugar. My sister and I simply have very good genes, and that is the reason why we have not yet developed full blown diabetes with high blood sugar. My sister is 10 years younger than me, and I am now 63. I discovered my too high insulin in September 2018, but I have not had it tested again. I want to have my fasting insulin tested again this year.
          We all know that insulin is THE fat storage hormone, and subcutaneous belly fat and visceral fat in and around your organs are the markers for insulin resistance and too high insulin. The higher, and the more often, you spike your insulin with the food you put in your mouth, the worse the insulin resistance becomes – until your poor pancreas eventually suffers from beta cell burnout, and can no longer produce enough insulin to keep your blood sugar normal, and that is when you all of a sudden develop full blown Type 2 diabetes with high blood sugar. And that is why meals (2 or 3 per day) reduce insulin. Unfortunately we were told for many years that we must do 5 to 6 smaller meals per day. This is so wrong!!! Every time you put food in your mouth you spike your insulin. And the higher, and the more often, you spike your insulin, the more fat is stored on your body.
          After I read Dr Richard Bernstein’s “Diabetes Solution”, I decided that I NEVER want to develop full blown diabetes, and then I bought a meter to test my own blood sugar and ketone levels. What an eye opener!!! Now I can SEE with my own eyes how the food I put in my mouth affects my blood sugar and ketone levels. Dr Richard Bernstein is a remarkable man of 86. He was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of 12, and followed the diet recommended by the ADA = American Diabetes Association. He became an engineer, but his health deteriorated so fast that he decided to find his own dietary solution for his Type 1 diabetes. He was the first person in this world who started to test his own blood sugar levels at home to find out which foods have the worst effect on his blood sugar levels. When he discovered that a low carb diet is the answer to control blood sugar levels for both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, nobody wanted to listen to him, because the “conventional wisdom” (which was never true) was that a diabetic (and everybody else) should eat more carbs than (healthy) fat to prevent heart disease. Because nobody would listen to him, Dr Bernstein quit his job as an engineer and studied medicine. He became a doctor at the age of 47 – so that he could publish his findings and start his own clinic to help diabetics and obese people. He says he would have been dead long ago if he continued with the ADA’s dietary guidelines. Dr Bernstein is living proof that a Type 1 diabetic can still be healthy at the age of 86 by following a low carb diet with controlled meals and controlled portions, and taking the minimum medications. Google him! What an eye-opener!
          Dr Jason Fung also treats both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetics with a low carb diet. But Dr Fung took it further by adding serious extended fasting UNDER MEDICAL SUPERVISION . Obviously both types of diabetics CANNOT do fasting without medical supervision for adapting their medication. And obviously Type 1 diabetics cannot fast for such long periods as Type 2 diabetics.
          Both doctors repeat over and over again that ANY change in a diabetic’s diet MUST be supervised closely by a knowledgeable doctor.
          I battled with my weight problem for more than 27 years. It is such a relief to have finally found the solution that works for me! Apart from enjoying my new body, the FREEDOM from food controlling my life is the just absolutely WONDERFUL!!!
          People’s bodies differ. After lots of experimentation I discovered what works for me: my 4 bright lines combined with a long overnight fast. NEVER give up. Do continue your own experimentation until you discover what works for you!

          Reply ·
          1. Jodi tallmon

            Love this. So encouraging.

    2. Bright Line Eating

      Hi, Garda!

      Intermittent fasting is not, in principle, out of alignment with what we do in Bright Line Eating and some Bright Liners have found they prefer to have 2 meals per day. The Bright Line is “meals,” not necessarily “3 meals.” <3

      Reply ·
  8. S subbaraju

    Please requsted sir madam I am from India at Tamilnadu Chennai educational institutions knowledge thanks

    Reply ·
  9. Jodi tallmon

    Thank you for saying that food addiction is a Beast! Somehow, it was a relief to hear you say how big an enemy it really is.

    Reply ·
  10. Mona T. Paschke

    How wonderful the “Bright Line: brings out the brightness in followers.
    An addition to one’s aura. moT

    Reply ·
  11. Stefi

    SOOO resonated with me. 👍👍👍Thank you Susan 😊🥰👊

    Reply ·
  12. Mona T. Paschke

    Seems you need to occasionally retreat
    without a project to do but just to sleep
    and week in what ever way the retreat
    treats you.
    How lucky you are to be able to go
    back to a structured routine with
    family and work obligations that
    keep you in the best daily day

    Reply ·
  13. Susan M S Goldstein

    I’m in BLE since Jan . 4, 2020 and loving it. Prior to that I had reached what I thought was my goal weight in OA which is now 24 years ago. I did BLE for 3 years on my own after hearing you speak at the book signing of your first book at the JCC of Manhattan.

    This community really speaks to me. I’ve learned that although MMG and GG are not formats I particularly enjoy, I love the one to one and MP connections and particularly love the Reboot Rezoom course which I only took to address my still somewhat addictive brain.

    The amazing thing is I just licked (no pun intended) my BLT habit. It’s virtually gone! And in this past year I’ve released about 15 lbs that were not even part of my dreams and am maintaining it since last May.

    Writing and committing my foods snd my AM and PM habit stacks make all the difference.

    A new one I’ve added is accumulating index cards of mantras that speak to me from AC, recorded calls, MP, and on and on. Just visual reminders around the kitchen that I change from day it week to week, as I desire!

    I am free!

    Reply ·
  14. Mary Rose

    I don’t understand this message. It’s about automaticity and self-care, but what’s wrong with sleeping in late and getting 9 hours of sleep and still doing all the things in your morning habit stack? So what if it’s noon when you get up? Call it your “when I wake up” habit stack. If you stay up late, you still get in all the hours you would anyway. In my opinion, self-care is about supporting your unique needs. If you have to change your schedule sometimes, why not simply adjust instead of letting all the habits disappear until you get back to your “normal” routine?

    Reply ·
    1. Stefi

      Ah, speaking for myself , a night person typically moves to a different beat if “allowed” . And although a night person can be extremely productive it just doesn’t feel the same way with an even flow vs daytime hours on a regular basis . Night people always play catch up with the day world ( especially business hours )

      I believe this is what Susan meant 🙂

      Reply ·
    2. Barbara Juliana Leo

      My suggestion is to read up about Circadian body clocks – and what the human body naturally does. In spite of world trends and schedules which now involves working late for some. The body was created a special way for a reason . 🙂 and that includes sleep habits, eating, etc. xo Juiiana

      Reply ·
  15. Lisa Wold

    Susan, I’ve been following you since the beginning.
    What you said today is spot on, so true, and fabulous!
    For 16 years straight I exercised 6 days a week never failing. My weight was at goal the whole time.
    Then in 2016 I had a series of surgeries that prohibited exercise for at least 6 weeks each time. Over the next two years I had at least 4 surgeries: 2 carpal tunnel surgeries, one broken ankle surgery, and one trigger finger surgery in my right hand. I had been writing (typing including the graphic art) my teaching method a few years before, which caused all but the broken ankle. That was caused by falling on ice while carrying out a huge heavy box to the trash in February. My driveway was slanted.

    Anyway, those surgeries resulted in me getting out of my routine and the automaticity of exercising. Having to sell my rowing machine made me look into alternatives for exercise. Now I have a Peloton, Norditrack tread mill, and a ZAAZ machine. While that’s all well and good, I have yet to get back into my routine. Every time I try, it doesn’t stick for long. It seems that when now that I’m older (63), whenever my emotions are down, my will power goes right down with it.
    I know exactly what you are talking about I’m today’s vlog. I agree wholeheartedly!
    Now somehow I just need to resume. I’m so glad you’re writing a book on it!
    Thanks so much for all your inspiration and dedication!
    Love you!

    Reply ·
    1. Bright Line Eating

      Hi, Lisa!

      Thank you for watching and for your comment. You have had some tremendous struggles with all these surgeries and we admire your tenacity and stick-to-it-iveness. Sending love and strength to you as you rebuild some of your habits. <3

      Reply ·
  16. Barbara Juliana Leo

    WOW…. this hit me Right on the Money. I started Bright Line about two 1/2 years ago. And Relapsed into old habits of eating.
    It was gradual relapsing… and initiated by a new job serving food to the Elderly. And none of this food ever appealed to me in the first place.
    In fact, I was amazed we were serving the type of meals to older folks – I found it to Highly Unhealthy!!! Being part of a Meals on Wheels program,
    it seemed to me to be more of the type of food you might feed someone starving. And while IT might keep a person alive, it certainly wouldn’t contribute
    to their health.
    And add to this… lots of sweet treats. sigh…I gradually went back to old habits of eating a sweet or two, or three. I didn’t have to go out and buy
    them – I HAD them all at Work.

    Before I knew it…6 months go by, and I’m almost at the weight I had before I lost it all. The Job became stressful, and then COVID Hit. Somehow,
    I just never faced up to the fact that I had failed my endeavors. Didn’t even think about trying BLE again until Recently!

    What hit me was that I was beginning to act like a Victim of my circumstances! I was miserable, complaining too much, and not takng care of myself. And when I was at a staff meeting with fellow workers – several began jumping on me about issues they had with Me?! That is how miserable i had become. NOT that their issues were valid, I wasn’t going to make it a Tit for Tat thing. But I just lost track of how I would normally handle stressful situations.

    THAT was when I decided I had enough – and I was going to go back to BLE, Take care of ME, and everyone can do what they please. I’m NOT their Caretaker.
    And I certainly wasn’t Taking Care of me. That’s all I’m going to say. I signed up for the 14day, and my determination is to Make it a Life Change, not just losing weight. THANK YOU for sharing this, Susan! You gave me permission to acknowledge the Failure is human. And Even Winners can lose, sometimes. I’m still a Winner! Who understands the loss was a learning experience that I needed. I’m doing this!

    Reply ·
    1. Bright Line Eating

      Hi, Barbara! Welcome back! We are honored to support you in your journey and happy to have you join us in the 14-Day Challenge. You’ve become aware of some important behaviors and done a lot of work, we can tell. You are definitely still a winner and we are cheering for you on the sidelines! <3

      Reply ·
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