Inspiring Health


The phoenix: With all its plumes and promise, this mythological motivator reminds us that, however latent, we each possess the potential for renewal and rebirth. Last year, Hilton Head Island painter and Realtor Louanne LaRoche channeled her own inner phoenix and lost more than 160 pounds—without weight loss surgery. Her story serves as an inspiration for people struggling with their weight and their relationship with food.


“I was never a normal weight,” LaRoche said, emphasizing the word “normal.” “I tried lots of different diets and food plans over the years. Some worked well, but only for a bit. I knew I needed something more to achieve and maintain my goals.”

That something ended up being Bright Line Eating, “a scientifically grounded program that teaches you a simple process for getting your brain on board so you can finally live happy, thin, and free,” according to the company website.

“Thank goodness for the internet,” she said with a laugh. “I was up late trying to be inspired by weight loss photos. I listened to the videos. It seemed perfectly matched to my needs.”

Though friends of LaRoche would describe her as “generous of spirit,” “an extremely talented artist” and “a beautiful soul,” LaRoche might not always have agreed with them — especially before she lost the weight.

LaRoche1“I was always thinking I was the problem,” she said, “and with that brought feelings of guilt, insecurity, shame, depression, and a need to overcompensate in other, sometimes unhealthy, ways. I would wake up and go to bed hating myself.”

Over time, LaRoche developed Type 2 diabetes and several major digestive problems. In January 2016, she knew it was time to make a change.

It wasn’t an easy sell, though.

“I just wasn’t willing, and it was expensive,” LaRoche said. So she let some time pass, until suddenly it seemed like the stars had aligned. “I had stayed in touched with one of the women I knew from an in-house food treatment program. I ended up talking to her and she said she was doing this program.”

So LaRoche decided to take the plunge — even though she knew it wouldn’t be easy.

“The hardest part was taking the first step,” LaRoche said, but once she finally did she said she experienced instant changes in her mental and physical well-being. “Within a week, my digestion was better and I’m now off my diabetes medication, my blood work is terrific, and my cholesterol great. I also feel so much better. No more self-loathing.”

The program LaRoche follows promotes a flour- and sugar-free diet, emphasizing portion control and well-balanced nutrition alongside community chat forums and live and pre-recorded educational materials. She talks to a weight loss counselor every morning on the phone.

“Connecting with other people [who are on a weight loss journey] helps me,” she said, adding that she enjoys sharing her story with people who want to loose weight and encouraging them.

“This is how I am of service. And it reminds me how far I’ve come,” LaRoche said.

The program doesn’t require her to count calories, but she weighs and measures her food. She also keeps a food diary and meditates.

“I find a lot of freedom in the weighing and measuring, because I know I will eat what will nourish me but still allow me to lose weight,” LaRoche said.

The counselors she works with recommend that participants keep doing any exercise they regularly do, but not to increase their exercise levels while they are in the first phase of the program.

“Your body is so stressed losing weight that to get all crazy about exercise is not going to help and probably will sabotage your efforts,” she said.

LaRoche is still in the weight loss phase of the program and wants to lose about 40 more pounds. She’s 5-foot 6 inches tall and now weighs 192. When she started, she weighed 352 pounds.

For people thinking about taking charge of their weight and/or food addictions, LaRoche’s advice is sincere and succinct: “Take your head out of the sand. Get rigorously honest and ask loved ones or friends to be honest with you. Give yourself the opportunity to be the gift that hopefully you believe you are.”

Becca Edwards is a wellness professional, freelance writer, and owner of b.e.WELL+b.e.CREATIVE (



Here is a sample meal plan following guidelines LaRoche used:

BREAKFAST: 6 ounces of fruit, 1 ounce of grains, 4 ounces of protein

• Example meal: 6 ounces of berries, 1 ounce of oatmeal, and 2 eggs

LUNCH: 6 ounces of fruit, 4 ounces of protein, 6 ounces of vegetables, 1 fat 

• Example meal: 6 ounces of pineapple, 4 ounces of plain yogurt, 6 ounces of cauliflower and 1 ounce of jalapeño pimento cheese

DINNER: 14 ounces of vegetables, 4-6 ounces of protein, 1 fat

• Example meal: 6 ounces of asparagus, 8 ounces of grilled vegetables with 1 ounce of yogurt dressing, and 4 ounces of salmon