Bianca: I have Suzanne Culberg here. Super, super transformation success story. Tell me, Suzanne, you’ve been this quiet achiever in the background. You’ve been on this journey where every time I’ve created a new program you put your hand up, “Yup, I’ll do the Back on Track program, I’ll do the Re-school, I’ll do the Gain Life Mastery. And all of a sudden a couple of years later I found out that you’ve lost to date 58 kilos. I mean, last time I heard you’ve lost 40 kilos – and it just keeps on going up and up. Like you said, it’s like you’ve lost a whole person.
Can you tell me a little bit about where you were before you started your journey with me and where you are now?
Suzanne: Yeah, sure. I met you about two years ago now. It must’ve been almost two years because I just had my son who is about to turn 2. I had a history of dieting on and off since I was 4 years old. My parents put me on my first diet then. I just got to the point where I just couldn’t diet anymore. I was like, “I just can’t do this any longer.”
I found you through Facebook I think. I was trying to remember but I can’t. I think I saw a post of yours and I just liked how you had this mindset approach and I thought, “Well, I’ve tried all these other things and never actually looked at my mindset before.” I looked at what to eat and when to eat, how much to eat – but not why I ate. I thought I’d just watch some of your stuff and it just really resonated with me, so I thought, “I’ll check this chick out.”
I did the Re-school program first and I got a lot of takeaways from it. I liked that you’ve got like these different F approaches to food, physical philosophy. Well, they’re not technically all Fs but you write them in Fs. I couldn’t do the physical side of it all because I had quite a bad back injury which prevented a lot of exercise, which made things difficult. Well, I still have but I could do more now.
I really jumped into that program. I really got a lot from doing the exercises.
Bianca: The mental exercises?
Suzanne: The mental exercises. There’s like journaling exercises, and there’s prompts, and there’s writing a letter to yourself from your future self and then looking back at your past self, there’s like writing to yourself, different sides of when you’re eating. It’s hard to describe. I’ve done a lot of them more than once. I’ve revisited a lot of it.
When I first I did it I didn’t really see… some of the things I didn’t see what the benefit was of doing them initially – but I did them anyway because when I started the program I made the commitment that I’m just going to do everything, like I’m just going to do all except for exercise. But all of it, the kitchen makeover and the adding stuff in, that’s the other thing that I got a lot from.
You don’t talk about a lot of the things I’ve done in the stuff like, “You can’t have this and you can’t have that.” You didn’t have any of that. It was like, “Add this in and add that in. Add this in and then crab the other stuff out.” So I think that’s been a big thing for me.
But yeah, mostly it was the mental side of it and then kind of really sometimes doing the exercise and later something else I would read or think or do will trigger, “Oh, hang on. I’ve done something like that before,” and then I’ll go back and have a look at it again and get that to a whole understanding at a whole new level.
Bianca: That’s amazing. You were telling me before about how you would do some things but you’d fail to do it consistently, or you’d start going through things and just go through the motions. And then it was only when you came back and you’re doing it more presently that you kind of got the full weight of it. You already had this expectation of how it needed to be and how it had to sort of look like, so when you weren’t doing things consistently – journal every single day, didn’t meditate every single day – then you’re like, “I throw my hands up, I’m a failure.”
Did you feel like that feeling, that belief “I’m a failure” was an easy sort of limiting belief that seemed to sabotage your progress through so much of it?
Suzanne: Totally. In the Re-school there’s some meditations to do like morning meditation, night meditation. I did those. And then the journalling, it’s like a daily activity. I initially went a bit crazy with the adding things in. And then I’d find like if I dropped it for a couple of days, I’ll just throw it out like, “No, I can’t do this. I’m a failure.”
Even with the progress things, we didn’t weigh at all, we just did measurements and stuff, like you’d say in the program, “It doesn’t matter. If you’ve lost, good. If you’ve gained, good. If you’ve stayed the same, good. And I was like, “She can’t really think like that.” You know what I mean? It was hard because on this side now I can really get it – but when I was in there I didn’t get it.
Bianca: Because what you really are talking about is an all-or-nothing mindset. You were going, “Yeah, I’ll do all the journaling, I’ll do all the stuff.” And then you’re like, “Shit, I’m not skinny yet. I’m a failure. I’m over it. Stuff this stuff.”
But what you were just articulating then is trying to detach this outer expression of seeing a number on the scale and then being able to give yourself a gold star and say, “Yes, I’ve been a good girl.”
Because it’s that emotional up and down, high and low, all-or-nothing that actually creates yo-yo dieting itself – and it’s what makes us have the expression of the excess weight that we don’t anymore.
How did you get to the perspective that you are now? What sort of milestones or insights allowed you to overcome that all-or-nothing, extremist, food is good or bad? How did you get to where you are now?
Suzanne: A lot of work.
Bianca: I want to impress upon that just quickly. It is a lot of work – but what I feel like you have done is that it’s not work like you got to do 6 hours and train 6 days a week. It’s not work like that. It’s like you have just been such a standout student because you’ve always been willing to learn and look at it.
Whereas I think sometimes people get paralyzed with that belief “I’m a failure” and they believe it to be true. Or they get lost in the shadow thoughts and the round and round thoughts – and then they just give up, and they just get frightened. But you have always pushed through that. And that I feel like is what the work has been, that you’ve been willing to look at that thought “Am I really a failure?” and overcome that.
How would you help other people who perhaps have had that same thought or perhaps are still paralyzed for the fact that they’re not doing it perfectly or they’re not doing something strictly?
Suzanne: My actual real turning point was because my back injury was so bad, I had to go and see a neurosurgeon and they were talking about spinal fusion surgery. That’s still a potential. He said to me, “Look, I can do it now, or you can try and lose weight and you might not need it anymore. But if you lose weight it’s easier because there’s less of you, so you can get to the spine easier.”
And I like that he wasn’t like, “You have to go and lose this weight.” He wasn’t negative towards me – but it kind of got me home and I got to thinking about it. And I thought, “Well, how have I got here? Whats’ happened?” And it wasn’t like I needed to go and do a crash diet and I needed to get a lot of weight off. It was like, “Well, if I keep living the way I’ve been living, where am I going to end up?”
Because I’ve been doing programs and exercises and stuff – but I’m not doing them consistently. I guess I really woke up to that perfectionism there, that I was either doing everything all the time or I was doing nothing at all. And neither of them made me happy.
I was losing weight and the scales were going down every week – but that didn’t make me happy. I was eating food all the time because I was just coping with my life by eating. That didn’t make me happy. So it was kind of like, “Well, what will make me happy? What kind of things do I want to do and how can I bring in what I’ve already done to achieve that?”
Now, the meditations that we did… If I want to do them, I do. If I don’t want to do them, I don’t. I don’t make it mean anything if I don’t meditate. If I want to eat chocolate, I do. If I don’t want to eat chocolate, I don’t. I don’t make it mean that I’m a bad person because I smashed a block.
And then I don’t actually weigh myself all that often. You said in the beginning you don’t really know how much weight I’ve lost. I didn’t really tell anyone because I didn’t really weigh myself.
You say in your thing not to weigh yourself because you don’t want to measure yourself by the scales. And you do, you wake up, you get on there and you’re like, “The scales are going to dictate how I’m going to feel this morning.” And it’s ridiculous – but when you’re in it you can’t see it because you get controlled by that.
When you’re outside it and you see, you’re like, “Well, that’s dumb. How do I want to feel today? I’m going to let a mechanical object tell me how I’m going to feel.”
Bianca: I love that so much because one of the obstacles that I actually have with Love Your Body Lean Re-School loving graduates is that there are so many amazing benefits that you get on all different parts of your life, not the least of which, some people don’t lose any weight but they don’t care about it, some people lose a bunch of weight and they don’t care about it.
And it’s kind of like the secret to it, is that they get this level of peace of happiness and self-acceptance because they finally stopped letting the scales dictate whether or not it’s good or bad.
But it’s so funny because the the girl that you were when you first came into my programs would just think you were tripping saying, “I don’t care.” But she would be so amazed going, “What did you do? What diet did you do? How did you lose 58 kilos? Oh my god, I need to eat what you’re doing. I’m going to tape my mouth shut.” Like she just so wouldn’t get it.
And that’s what I find is such a funny thing. It’s kind of hard to pull people back into that mindset because you’ve shed your weight and you’ve spread your wings – and it doesn’t even feel like this conversation that’s relevant anymore or, “Oh, by the way, I’ve lost 58 kilos.” Even if you’ve lost 5 kilos they’re just like, “Oh yeah, who cares?”
Whereas, when you’re on a diet you’re talking about “Oh, I’ve lost 3 kilos this week but I only lost 3 kilos.” Like it’s never ever enough because you can’t diet yourself away from a thought that it’s never ever enough. There’s so many times that I helped people with personal training and they’d say, “My goal is 75 kilos.” I’d get them to 75 kilos and they’d go, “Huh, I didn’t realize 75 kilos still looked like that.” Because you’re still you, there’s just another number on the scale that says something different.
Suzanne: Yes, and I find that a lot too. Like if I’m around people now, a lot of the time they don’t recognize me, which is funny. I would be like, “Hello.” And they have this blank look.
Bianca: You just look different.
Suzanne: But as soon as I do they’d start going, “What are you eating? What are you drinking? How are you exercising?” All these sorts of stuff. And I’m like, “Well, no.” And it’s not being deliberately evasive or whatever – but I haven’t really done all those things.
I remember listening to the interviews in the Re-school because part of it there’s interviews that you’ve done with other people. I suppose part of me felt all these people are just crackers – and part of me had a hope that what they were saying and what you were saying was true.
Initially I tried to force that. I’ll be like, “Okay, well, I’m just going to do all these things.” And then I just kind of let it happen naturally and that’s when momentum really started to build, when I just stopped trying so hard. And it sounds really counterintuitive. If I was me listening to this two years ago, I’d be like, “Oh gosh, she’s crackers.”
Bianca: So true. Because what you resist persists. And even when I was learning this work I was like, “All right, I’m going to love myself, I’m going to love myself. Come on, love myself thin.” It doesn’t matter what words you’re saying, it’s about the vibration, it’s about your energy – and it’s about the level of peace and acceptance. And if you can’t accept where you are right now, there’s no way you’re ever going to be able to do…
One of the first modules is all about “chill baby chill” because everyone freaks out that I’m not giving them a meal plan. “What? You’re not going to tell me what to eat?” I’m like, “Why would I be so naive and arrogant to think that I could dictate to you what your body wants or what you like to eat?”
You were saying before that that freedom to eat whatever you want is kind of a bit alarming at first. Tell me what your experience was like with that.
Suzanne: When I first did the Re-school I kind of did it like a diet even though it wasn’t. I wasn’t used to that, so I was like, “I’m not going to have this and I’m not going to have that.” I cut out a lot of stuff. I introduced stuff but I cut off a lot of stuff. And I did really well.
When it was kind of over, it kind of felt like a diet because I’ve made it the way. It wasn’t. That’s how I’ve done it. Then I was really like, “No, stuff this. When I say I’m not going to diet I really mean it, so I’m just going to eat whatever I want.” And I gave myself full reign to do that. And initially I did.
I think for probably at least a month I ate whatever I wanted, like if I wanted a cookie dough, I ate cookie dough. But after that 3 days of cookie dough, it doesn’t taste very nice and it’s got a horrible consistency and you feel yucky. Even going to the movies. I could never not go to the movies and not have chocolate and a popcorn and all that sort of stuff.
Have you ever actually tasted movie popcorn, like actually sat with it? You’re only eating it because you’re watching the screen. It actually tastes pretty feral. I just got to the point where I was like, “Actually checking my body, what do I want to eat? Oh, I want a salad.” I hated salad. I always eat it under sufferance. And now when I go to places I actually order a salad because I actually like it. It tastes nice and I like how it feels.
Bianca: It’s so awesome because you are really articulating the process of what happens when you love your body lean. But it’s not something that you can automatically tell somebody. You can’t cheat your way to the top, It’s like going up a building. You’ve got to deal with the crap on Level 1, you’ve got to deal with the crap on level 2.
You might be able to scale the outside of the building and get all the way up to the top – but you’re not going to be safe. Your vibration isn’t going to support you up there and you’ll fall all the way back to the bottom.
And that’s what diet mindset does. It allows you to achieve this level of almost puritanical arrogance where you’re like, “I only eat organic and I never eat this.” It’s like you set yourself up for failure.
This has been another feedback that I’ve heard from people. They go, “I think I’m just going through the checklist to tick things off. I just like ticking the tick boxes.”
Suzanne: Yeah, you don’t actually do it. You just want to put a mark on the box and feel like you’ve done it.
Bianca: Women love ticking checklists but not realizing that the whole purpose is… Essentially, the Re-school was me… My skills in coaching and teaching have far evolved from that – but my first purpose was I just needed to babysit people through this process of, “If you just do the kind of things often enough and just be a bit kinder to yourself and do it over a longer period of time, you will start feeling better about yourself internally and it will start showing on the outside.”
A lot of those tasks are just to try to distract you and make you go, “Hey, stop! Yoo-hoo! Settle down. Calm down.”
I think you were saying that you’re like, “How is this even going to help me lose weight?” Was that what was going through your mind at the start?
Suzanne: Yeah. I think the very first module or one of the first ones is that brick exercise – and that tripped me for ages because I just didn’t want to do it. And then I did do it but I didn’t really do it. I was just like, “Oh, I want a tick in the box so…” I suppose for me, because I was in that perfectionistic right-wrong mindset, a lot of these exercises, because there’s no right answer, I didn’t really do them. I was like, Well, what am I going to learn from this? Who’s going to mark it? Who’s going to tell me that what I’ve written down is correct? There’s no point in doing this. I don’t get a grade.”
Bianca: That’s amazing. “If no one’s going to tell me I’m right, how will I have an external validation? How will I feel good about myself if nobody else tells me I’m good, if I don’t get a tick?”
Suzanne: Yeah, I really resisted this mindset stuff because I thought, “What’s the point of doing this? It’s an open-ended question, there’s no right answer, so why write anything?”
Bianca: If i can’t be perfect, I’ll be terrible.
Suzanne: Yeah. I suppose even with the mindset stuff, it kind of leaded …. I think in all my years of dieting, whatI was looking for is to be fixed. I just wanted to eat and then not feel shitty, or not feel triggered to want to go and eat, like I was looking for the fix for that. And it wasn’t until I realized that there is no fix for that.
It still happens. Something can happen. I get frustrated with my kids, somebody’s late, something’s broken – and my go-to is to want to eat. That’s how I deal with things. That doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with me – and it doesn’t mean that I have to go and eat.
Now it’s like I don’t get stuck. I can kind of step back from it. A lot of the mindset stuff has made realize to sit back and kind of look at it and go, “Well, isn’t that interesting? My kid’s thrown his dinner on the floor, so now I want to go and eat chocolate.” Just to step back and look at it from the outside and not judge it or not get stuck in it, and not think that just because I still feel like that as a default thing sometimes that I’m not ever going to be healthy.
Bianca: Absolutely. That’s amazing. Now that you have lost 58 kilos and it’s kind of like, whatever, 40 kilos, 50 kilos, 58 kilos, I think a big sticking point for so many people is that they cannot imagine what life would be like if they didn’t have a weight loss goal anymore, if they actually got to that. And that’s part of the reason it pushes against them so much.
For you now, being at this new platform, I know you’ve got some new exciting things happening. Tell me… Where do you spend this big chunk of energy, and thought space, and heart space that was dedicated to having this horrendous tortuous relationship and with food and yourself? Now that you’ve stepped away from that, what do you fill your life with? What’s become possible for you now?
Suzanne: Yeah, actually, that’s a really good thing because you don’t really realize how all-consuming that is. And I think that is a scary thing because if you’ve been dieting your whole life, which I had, you don’t know a life outside of that, so you don’t make any other plans. And it’s kind of like when you’re watching the scales don’t go down every week. Because I’ve lost a lot of weight before, this is not my first really big weight loss.
Maintenance is hard because you’re not seeing anything anymore. If you’re weighing yourself all the time and your weight’s the same then it’s not like you want to gain it back, but it’s like, “What do I do now?” And if you haven’t addressed your mindset, you don’t have anything to do because you’ve just been wanting to be here. And then you get there and you don’t feel any different because you’re still the same person you were when you were heavy. You don’t magically lose all this weight and go, “My life’s perfect. It’s like, “It’s still my life.”
So I think this time around it’s been different because it’s like, “Well, what do I want to do that makes me happy?” And instead of saying, “I can’t do that because I’m this,” “Well, why don’t I just do that now and then let this take care of itself?”
I’m doing programs and courses that in the past I wouldn’t have done because I’ll be the fattest person there or whatever – and I do a lot of yoga and meditation, like group stuff now. And then it’s not about everybody else. I couldn’t tell you what anyone else is doing because you’re kind of just checking in with yourself.
Even exercising, now that I’m getting back into it, it used to be, “I want to be the fastest and I want to be the best and I want to do the most repetitions and I’ve got my calorie counter and I’ve got my step counter.” I don’t know how many steps I’ve done. I don’t know how many calories I’ve burnt. I don’t know any of that because it doesn’t matter.
Bianca: It can kind of be a beast in itself, having lost 50 kilos before and then doing it from this frenetic energy of like, “I have to do that many gym sessions, I have to count this many steps and I have to count my calories.” And then when you get there you feel like you haven’t vibrationally gone to the place of that person. You’ve gone to the top of the tower but you didn’t get there from one step at a time emotionally.
Now, emotionally compare yourself here to the last time that you lost weight.
Suzanne: Last time it was a real freak out about “I don’t want to gain it back, which…”
Bianca: Which made it happen?
Suzanne: Yeah. And it was all about “What more can I do?” Initially, when you’re not very fit and very large it’s easy to get those calories up in the calorie counter because your heart rate spikes because you’re unfit. But then the fitter you get the more you have to do, and you’re like, “Oh, I have to burn 500 calories. I used to be able to do that in like an hour, and now it would take two hours. It was always more, harder, more.
The encompassing part of the losing weight never went away because I had to do all these things to lose the weight. And then you stop doing all those things and you gain weight. Whereas now it’s kind of more relaxed like, “Do you want to go and try this? Yes.”
Sometimes the thoughts still come back like, “Oh, what if I gain the weight back?” But it’s not always there on your shoulder.
Bianca: You’ve got skills now to recognize that thought doesn’t make you a bad person ,that you can just watch your thoughts and go, “Oh, that’s interesting, isn’t it? It doesn’t have to own me.” It’s super amazing.
What would you say to anybody who is sort of on the fence thinking about joining the Re-school but then kind of thinking, “It sounds too good to be true” , “I need a quick fix” or “That might be all right for Suzanne but it will never ever happen for me.” What would you tell them?
Suzanne: If they’re on the fence and they’re like “Do I want a quick fix or anything?” what I’d say is just to stop and ask yourself: do you actually want lasting change or do you want that validation from the scales, and that couple of kilos, and that kind of feeling really good?
Bianca: You can lose weight. Just don’t eat for 3 days and you’ll lose weight. Do a big poo and you’ll lose weight.
Suzanne: And then you can say, “Well, I think for me the fear is what if I gain weight initially.” So what? When you let go of that kind of “I have to eat like this and I have to follow a diet and I have to do this”, you might gain weight. But then you get to the point. I know I used to think, “Well, it’s easy for her to say.” Well, it is because I’ve done it. And until you’ve actually done it, not kind of done it or not half-assed done it, or not like, “I’m going to go on a binge because I’ve restricted so much.” To actually say, “I’m not going to restrict. I’m just going to do it and let it take the time it takes.”
I joined the Re-school two years ago and 58 kilos even in two years sounds like a long time. Initially I lost and then I gained and then I lost and then I really lost it. It kind of rolled. If you think, “Oh, it’s going to take all this time.” But how long did it take you to gain it? You didn’t gain it in a week or two.
I think sometimes you kind of eat healthy for a week and you get on the scales and you’re like, “Oh, Is that all I lost? I’m not skinny yet,” and then you’re really frustrated. Whereas now it’s just kind of like I know that it will take care of itself because it just does – and I don’t have to worry about what I’m going to eat or when or how much or when I”m going to go to the gym. It’s just mentally a lot more freeing. That’s what I’d say.
Bianca: What’s really cool is that you also have been working closely with my mentor, Kylie Ryan, and her program Goddess Body Quest. I suppose because you’ve walked your talk, you’re also looking for that next step to do your NLP certification too with Kylie’s coaching academy. So this has been just a total revolution. All these things, did you ever think this would be possible for you 2 years ago?
Suzanne: No, not at all. As I said, two years ago I listened to all the stuff and part of me really wanted to believe it, and then part of me was like, “These people are crazy.” And then I suppose I let the part of me that wanted to believe it kind of have a voice and then it just kind of got louder and louder as I went along.
Bianca: That’s so amazing. Well, you’re an absolute inspiration to everybody. I just love that it’s happened down the track because you laid those foundations, which is a big part of what we talk about, laying a long, wide foundation so that when you do things you’re just doing it because it’s a lifestyle change.
And the thing about crazy diets is that you’re just doing everything, everything, it doesn’t really stick – and then you fall all the way down and crash down the bottom. Because you took all that pressure off, there’s a whole bunch of hormonal changes and physiological changes that happen. And that’s why it’s so effortless. It’s that easy, effortless weight loss that’s so elusive for so many people – but you totally are proof that it’s possible.
Suzanne: When I realized that I didn’t eat because I was hungry, I ate to avoid feeling my feelings, it was really a big aha. And people can tell you that – but you’ve got to realize it for yourself. And when you do, it’s like a lightbulb goes off and you realize that you’ve read this before or you’ve heard it before but you didn’t understand it. So it’s like a discovery.
And then when you go tell someone like, “I’ll tell you something,” I’ll be really excited. I’m like, You’ll be really excited too.” You wouldn’t be like, “Ugh, Suzanne, I’ve told you that like 50 times before.”
Bianca: Absolutely. What do you feel like were your best takeaways from the Love Your Body Lean Re-school?
Suzanne: Letting it take the time it takes, not forcing it. I’m very perfectionistic. I want to do some of the activities exactly right, and then I’d just do it because it’s part of the program – but I didn’t really do it, if you know what I mean. The first time I did that bricks exercise, I was writing it out, and then when I went back and did it later I was like, “Oh my god, this is so cool!” I got so much from it. So this kind of maybe accepting there’s nothing wrong with you if that exercise isn’t right for you right now – but don’t discount it forever.
Bianca: Wow, that’s massive. Thank so much for your time, Suzanne.
Suzanne: Thank you.
After suffering a fairly serious breakdown I was unable to cope with life in general. My body felt broke, old and frail – I didn’t just feel middle aged, I felt half dead. I hadn’t realised that my body was self destructing and I was doing it to myself, working long hours, too much alcohol, lots of bad food and absolutely no exercise.
After six months of working with Bianca, I no longer need my blood pressure medication, anti depressants and my cholesterol is in a safe zone. I have lost 2 dress sizes and more than 26 kilos. I now have a life outside of our business and can see a happy, healthy future for our family. I hope the person I became never comes back as I like this girl so much better.
I had heard of Bianca through some magazines – it was an investment but I had tried and failed so many times but in six short months, 20 kilos melted off me and it had a massive and unexpected effect on our styling business. While working with Bianca we secured a national gig, increased our prices to a level we previously thought no one would pay, AND we were booked out weeks in advance.
The majority of this 20 kilo weight loss has only been 5% diet and exercise, the rest has been an emotional journey. Bianca confronted me and called me on my BS and challenged some of my most deeply help beliefs about who I am. And the results are undeniable. I haven’t completely quit drinking, I still get to eat chocolate, I’ve had the best year in my business EVER – and perhaps the most important thing is how differently I react to things emotionally.
Who knew that taking it slowly and being kind to yourself could get you the results that yelling at yourself couldn’t.
Before working with Bianca I was super stressed and I thought it was too hard and I didn’t have the time to be slim AND successful. But I was surprised at how easy it was to implement Bianca’s system – I haven’t counted calories and I still pig out on foods I love. It’s been no coincidence to me that as a result of the new clarity of mind I’ve actually doubled my business at the same time I’ve made these changes to my body.