Footloose and Sugar-Free
September 2018 Issue
by Mary Hope Roseneau
Photography by Christian Lee
Louanne LaRoche met with me at a coffee shop in Bluffton less than 24 hours after her return from a trip to Belize. No jet lag for her; she was rested, relaxed, and serene. We ordered coffee and she told me her story.
Louanne is a successful artist, collector, art consultant, and former gallery owner. She is married and has a son who is studying for his Masters’ degree at Carnegie Mellon University.
Having lived in Belize 17 years ago, Louanne’s recent trip with her family was a homecoming of sorts, and included a visit with friends and hiking up steep Mayan ruins in very hot, humid weather—a joyful experience for Louanne, and one she couldn’t have imagined in her wildest dreams just a few years ago.
Over the past two years, Louanne has lost almost 170 pounds, and she is in a new phase of her life. But, she is quick to explain, “It’s not really about the numbers on the scale. It’s about being healthy and being in your right size body. It’s about being at peace with food, knowing what’s best to consume, and following four simple rules: No flour, no sugar, weigh and measure everything, and only eat at three regular meal times.”
Sounds simple, right?
According to Louanne, “It’s only simple once you have decided to surrender to the program and do what needs to be done to re-program your brain.”
Louanne remembers that even as a child she used food to self-soothe and self-medicate. She is a tall woman, and says she felt very self-conscious growing up, as she was always the biggest, as well as the heaviest, girl in class. Her self-image did not improve during her high school years as her weight soared past 200 pounds.
The artist hit what she calls “rock bottom” in 1989 with the convergence of three very stressful events. The first was Hurricane Hugo. The second was her father’s death; and the third was being stuck in traffic on the San Francisco Bridge during the infamous Bay Area Earthquake. Louanne says she gave up and gained 150 pounds that year. She married at 39 and had her son at age 40, but her weight was still a problem. Health issues were starting; diabetes, serious acid reflux, thyroid cancer–and, of course, depression.
She tried every diet that came along, and even spent six weeks in a health facility that did manage to get her off sugar and flour. Louanne realized during her stay those two foods were poison to her body. She describes their affect as “highjacking your brain” and says there is much research currently being done on this issue. But still, back on her own, she couldn’t keep away from them, and without a community, without others who understood what she was experiencing, she eventually put the weight back on.
About two years ago, while online looking for before and after photographs of people who had lost 100 pounds or more, Louanne discovered the website for Bright Line Eating. As both a visual artist and a struggling dieter, weight loss transformation depictions have always fascinated Louanne—she was intrigued by the photos and personal stories on the company’s website. When she discovered a friend was enrolled in the program, Louanne was curious enough to sign up for a six-week online boot camp.
Somehow this program clicked for Louanne, and over the past two years, the weight she’d carried—both physical and psychological—all her life has melted away. She is also completely off the medications she had been taking for diabetes, acid reflux, and depression. Her doctor’s assessment: “You’re a fluke!” Her beautiful visage now expresses just how successful she feels inside. She was always a success professionally, but now Louanne is the person, “I always felt I should be.”
Meditation and deep breathing exercises help as well. “Nothing needs to be forced, but it’s important to be able to focus and be in the moment rather than being distracted by or about food. The term ‘joy of automaticity’ expresses the release of worrying about what you just ate, what you are going to eat next, and so on. Exercise is not even a requirement until your new food habits are automatic, because that’s a source of stress for most overweight individuals; just one more thing to feel guilty about,” she said.
By the end of our interview, I was dying to know what the new Louanne now eats in an average day. A lifelong dieter myself, I wanted a Xerox copy of her diet I could take home with me, but according to Louanne, the Bright Line Eating philosophy is much more than diet. Her brain, mind, and spirit, she says, have undergone a complete change about food, and what she eats is not a magic formula.
Still, she indulged me and shared the basic day’s outline. Breakfast: Fruit, unprocessed grain, protein or dairy. Lunch: Fruit, protein, vegetables, and small amount of fat, such as oil for salad dressing. Dinner: protein, fat, vegetables. Sounds simple, right? But food is meticulously measured, and eaten at three regular meals a day, with no snacks in between. All of the food is carefully chosen, insuring that it’s whole, non-processed, and natural. Because these whole and natural foods are more slowly assimilated by the body, Louanne explained, one doesn’t get hungry—or hangry—between meals.
Louanne laughed when I told her the Pink Magazine September theme is #AnAppleADay. “I probably do eat one every day!” she said. “The only thing I binge on now is Netflix!”
Louanne’s art graced the May 2012 covers
of Pink and Paisley Magazines
Louanne is happy to discuss her metamorphosis with anyone who is interested. She is particularly empathetic with women who have more than 100 pounds to lose, and is moderator of an online discussion group.