Have you enjoyed success in many areas of life, yet haven’t been able to lose all your excess weight and keep it off? That was the riddle of my life. Finally, in 2003, I was taught a method for getting slender and staying slender. Since then, I have been researching the psychology and neuroscience of successful weight-loss maintenance and helping countless others to get Happy, Thin, and Free. But now I’m stepping up my game. I’ve entered my forties, and I have a “BHAG”—a Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal.
The seed for my BHAG was planted decades ago, in the damp soil of desperation and failure. From the age of twelve, I was heavy, and for seventeen years I searched for a solution to my weight problem. I tried one diet and exercise regimen after another, never with any lasting success. My weight just kept climbing. I don’t know which I believed more—that I was doomed to be depressed, obsessed with food, and unhappy with my body forever; or that I would someday, somehow, find a solution that would melt off my excess weight and set me free.
Fortunately, that day did come. On May 21, 2003, I was taken to a 12-step meeting for recovery from food addiction. I diligently followed the roadmap I was given and it worked. The pounds flew off and in a few short months I went from a size 16 to a size 4. From that day forward, I have dedicated my life to helping other desperate food addicts to lose all their excess weight and get Happy, Thin, and Free.
I was born on June 29, 1974 in San Francisco, California. The hippie era was just winding down, and my early years were filled with love and openness, but not much structure. In grade school, I attended Miss Katherine Delmar Burke School and excelled academically. I filled my time with math puzzles, basketball, acting, and Prince music, but deep down I lived for the summers, when I went away to Camp Tawonga just outside of Yosemite Valley. My spirit soared there, as I learned how to backpack, white-water raft, rock climb…and kiss boys.
I was a normal-sized kid (maybe a little chunky), who grew into an overweight teenager. By the age of twelve, I had started to diet, and at the age of fourteen, I found the most effective diet ever—drugs. The next six years were a blur of intoxication, dropping out of high school, and multiple failed attempts to pull it together.
That all changed on August 9th, 1994, just six weeks after my 20th birthday, when I was taken to a 12-step meeting and given the gift of recovery. Through dedication and a whole lot of grace, I remain clean-and-sober to this day.
I earned my BA in Cognitive Science from U.C. Berkeley in 1997, graduating summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa. I delivered the student keynote address at the graduation ceremony.
I received a full scholarship to attend graduate school at the University of Rochester and earned my Master’s in 2001 and my Ph.D. in 2003, both in Brain and Cognitive Sciences.
After earning my doctorate, I completed two years of Post-Doctoral training in Psychology at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia.
My first professorship was a two-year appointment in the Psychology Department at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York.
In 2007, I accepted my final academic position at Monroe Community College, where I ultimately earned tenure and taught for eight years as a professor of psychology. I taught courses in Positive Psychology, Introductory Psychology, Developmental Psychology, and The Psychology of Eating, Body Image, and Wellness.
In 2011, I received the prestigious NISOD Excellence Award, an honor bestowed annually on select professors in the United States for their outstanding contributions and leadership.
In 2015, I helped found the Institute for Sustainable Weight Loss, a nonprofit foundation whose mission is to conduct and disseminate research on the science of effective and sustainable weight loss.
Today I live Happy, Thin, and Free, and, with the creation of Bright Line Eating, I gratefully spend every day sharing the psychology and neuroscience of sustainable weight loss so others can do the same. BLE is dedicated to creating a world in which anyone—anywhere—who is truly ready to lose all their excess weight and keep it off long-term, will have a roadmap that ensures their success.
1. My given name was Ana Fleischman, but I didn’t like it very much, and by the age of eight I had resolved to change it. It took about a year for me to settle on a name that I loved and my mom would accept. By the age of nine, I had legally changed my first and last name to Susan Peirce. Susan from The Chronicles of Narnia, and Peirce because it was the surname of my matrilineage.
2. I’ve been skydiving eleven times. I knew before my very first jump at the age of 22 that I would love it, so I didn’t waste money on a tandem jump. I invested immediately in the Accelerated Freefall training program so I could jump solo, and over the next few months completed those eleven jumps. When I moved to Rochester, NY at the age of 23, I gave up skydiving because of the weather.
3. I used to own a motorcycle, but I’m a very multi-tasking, distracted driver, so it’s probably good that I only owned it for less than a year. I loved it, though. It was a Yamaha Virago, black with lots of chrome, the closest-looking bike to a Harley that was small enough for me to manage and learn on. When I moved to Rochester, NY at the age of 23, I semi-reluctantly sold the bike to pay for the move. Skydiving and motorcycle riding, gone in one fell swoop.
4. I’m a chronic off-again-on-again exerciser, and in my dreams I’m consistently fit and lean…but it’s never happened. Not yet at least. I’m thin, but not lean or fit. I frequently reflect on how my body is a manifestation of my mind. I think about what would happen if Madonna’s mind were suddenly put in my body. She would wake up, feel the softness of her new legs, abdomen, and arms, and think, “Oh, no way, this won’t do.” In six months of intense working out, she’d be back to 12% body fat.
5. I wanted three boys and I got three girls. I wanted boys because my husband is an amazing man, and I want there to be more men like him in the world. When we saw the girl-parts of BOTH twins on the ultrasound, David and I were so stunned we darn near couldn’t speak for the rest of the day. All three of our girls are total girlie-girls, too—not a tomboy in the bunch. Now, upon further reflection, I’m so glad I have three girls because I love to talk deeply about life and stay close and connected and I think I have a better shot at that with three girls.
6. I’m a total night owl who has trained herself to be a morning person. Left to my own devices, I stay awake until 4 a.m. and sleep into the afternoon. That was my pattern into my twenties. When I started eating only three meals a day, my entire circadian rhythm changed. These days, when I’m on my game, I go to bed at 9 p.m. and wake up at 5 a.m. I’m much happier as a morning person.
7. I travel with a teddy bear. His name is Wraucetur (pronounced “Roster”), and he’s been on literally hundreds of trips with me—around the world many times over. My grandma Polly bought him for me in a department store when I was about six years old. That day in the car, my mom and grandma had been discussing the idea that English spelling is so weird you could just as easily spell fish “ghoti:” “gh” as in “tough,” “o” as in “women,” and “ti” as in “nation.” I was on fire with it and spelled Wraucetur accordingly.
8. I went to Paris by myself when I was 20 years old, just a week or two after getting clean-and-sober. The one thing I was most excited to see was the view of Paris at night from the top of the Eiffel Tower. I saved that special experience for the last night of my trip. That evening at dinner a local Parisian man told me the Eiffel Tower was closed, that it wasn’t open that late at night, and that I’d missed it. He invited me out with him instead, which I declined. But I believed him about the Eiffel Tower, and didn’t go. Turns out he was lying. Early the next morning, on the way to the airport, I had the cab driver drive by the base of the Eiffel Tower and take pictures of me standing beneath it. I wasn’t at the top, but I was there, and I felt triumphant.
9. I’ve tried to learn to play acoustic guitar over and over throughout my life, and have never gotten any traction with it. I can play four chords, but it takes about ten seconds for me to get my fingers arranged in the right position for each one, so I can’t actually play a song. In my head I’m a rock star, but in reality…not so much.
10. If a magic genie appeared and granted me one gift or ability, I would choose to have a brain that was fully rested and restored after three hours of sleep. I wouldn’t want to be restored on no sleep because I think not needing to sleep at all when everyone else does would feel isolating. But I’d love to be able to be BOTH a night owl and a morning person. Truly, being able to stay up until past midnight and wake up at 4 a.m. each day sounds like my idea of heaven. I’m cheering on the scientists who are working on ways to decrease the amount of sleep we need!
As a professor of neuroscience and psychology with a powerful personal history, Susan Peirce Thompson's Bright Line Eating paradigm is very comprehensive and potent—it includes a number of unique-to-BLE ideas and arranges the many pieces that are fundamental to my success with food.
Have I said how much I love Bright Line Eating? How much I owe to Susan? How she's saved this senior’s life?! I haven't? Well guess what? Bless you. And bless all of your wonderful people. Xxxxxxxxx
Thank you Susan. You have brought me peace and hope.
Thank you Susan for changing my life for the better! My husband is extremely happy because I'm Happy, Thin, and Free!
Susan Peirce Thompson has created this program like no other. You can succeed because it works.