The video above is the original “Postcard from Yellowstone” video, posted for the first time on Facebook on September 6, 2018. Since that time, the video has over 5 million views across social media. More notably, the message has shaped the culture and success rate of the Eat Like a Bear community (a community that tracks its success in 100+ pound cases).
This post is part of the back story of the video, particularly the detail of the recreation of the family vacation photo.
The Origin of the Viral Video
In the spring and summer of 2018 I set out on an adventure with my family, through the Pacific Northwest in the spring with the whole family, and then a cross-country road trip with my sons, flying into Philadelphia to pick up a new-to-us Ford Explorer and driving it back to California. It was my big goal that season to hike 100 miles to celebrate losing 100 pounds.
I called it “The Century Hike,” way back in 2018, long before I had any idea of what was to come here at Eat Like a Bear.
First, I actually lost 140 pounds, weighing in at 30 pounds below my lowest weight ever as an adult.
Second, success like that is naturally viral and gets noticed.
My cousin had adopted my diet simply by asking a few questions and watching me eat at a cheap Chinese buffet in Delano, CA. He’s now below his high school graduation weight. My aunt (his mom) is more trim than I have seen her.
Fellow school moms are more trim and off diabetes medications. People in my actual, real life were jumping in and having success!
As I prepared for the Century Hike, I was energetically working on my old website, updating its long-neglected foraging and herb content. I live in the Giant Sequoia National Monument and am a prolific grower of herbs and an avid forager. Foraging is simply hunting for edible plants in wild places, such as wild miner’s lettuce to use in salads. At 140 pounds down, I could get out and forage much more easily and I was ready to forage.
I did some LIVE videos on my Facebook page in May and told people about my weight loss.
I was actually trying to improve my weight loss message — trying to get my doctor to adopt it, in fact. The Facebook videos were a great way to learn to convince my doctor a bit better.
I took off on a trip to the Pacific Northwest, logged in some Century Hike miles.
I didn’t hit the LIVE videos again until early July. It was then that I discovered that people who watched the videos in May had implemented the diet.
Two ladies were down 40+ pounds and, more importantly, they reported that they had hope for the first time in years.
“Whoa! I’ll start a Facebook group so we can keep in touch.”
And then: “Whoa! The group has 500 people!” (That was the first day.)
The timeline of much of this is in the Eat Like a Bear origin story. (Find the story here, CLICK!)
The Cross-Country Road Trip
In late July, we flew to Philadelphia to buy my brother-in-laws Ford Explorer. My sons and I were itching for an excuse for a cross-country trip anyway, and grabbing a car was surely a great way to do so.
By the time we left for Philadelphia, our Eat Like a Bear! community was approaching 3,000 members.
We took the long way back to California via Michigan (it was a Ford-themed trip after all, and a family car bought initially in the Ford Friends and Family Program).
We visited Aunt Diane on the way home and hung out on Lake Michigan.
(A hat tip to Uncle Bill, while we’re at it. Bill spent his career with Ford, including as an executive in the small trucks division. He spent a good bit of his energy trying to educate my husband’s wayward branch of the family not to buy foreign cars. It’s an interesting detail in this whole story, because it’s not clear we’d be here to tell this Yellowstone/Eat Like a Bear! story if it were not for the unexpected little character in the story called “the Ford Explorer“.)
In a LIVE video moment on Lake Michigan, I jumped in a kayak announcing “I couldn’t fit in one of these last year and I want you to see how much your life can change!”
Of course, I crashed it at least twice, but that’s another story…
We drove north out of Michigan, through Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, right past the 45th parallel sign north of Traverse City, just a few miles from Aunt Diane’s place.
We drove through Wisconsin and the Dakotas, catching the color of the Sturgis Bike Rally.
We landed at the 45th Parallel sign on the northern edge of Yellowstone National Park.
My boys had found some “before” pictures from August of 2017 when we traveled home from viewing the total solar eclipse in Wyoming and my friend Heather suggested we try to recreate them. I had been in so few photos that the whole idea seemed foreign, but it was a whole new life, so what the heck.
As for the “before” photos: we took them on August 24, 2017, one week before I would launch the diet that changed my life. I had already lost 20 pounds to qualify for bariatric surgery, that I would no longer need nor qualify for.
In that “before” photo I weighed 260 pounds.
As we drove through Yellowstone in August 2018, we recreated those 2017 photos and, in a rare moment in history, I was speechless. In fact, I was speechless for about three weeks. (My speechlessness continues a bit to this day.)
As I was deep in the emotions of that photo recreation and driving that Ford Explorer home to California, I stopped at a thrift store in Utah and encountered a fellow thrift shopper who looked just like I did the year before.
I encountered my “before” self in a Utah thrift store just 36 hours after recreating the family vacation photo. As she waited for her daughter to shop, sitting and browsing the feed on her phone, I wondered what I would say to her if I could pop into that feed.
I drove home deep in thought. I wrote about my speechlessness on Instagram in the run-up to posting a video message about the photo. I described myself as “pacing the floor” and “wearing out the carpet” in the days before posting the video I now call “A Postcard From Yellowstone.”
It was a message made for one person: A stranger in a Utah thrift store.
A Postcard from Yellowstone has been viewed on Facebook millions of times and has brought thousands of members to the Eat Like A Bear! community.
The Seminal Message of A Postcard from Yellowstone
The message of the video itself shaped the culture and success rate of our community, helping people step boldly into a major life transformation.
It turns out that the Yellowstone video message has some key elements that continue to drive the success of the community:
- An unmistakable message of “Yes, you can!”
- A strong “start this minute” call to action.
- A new weight loss tool to try (or to try in a slightly different way).
Perhaps more uniquely (and a message that doctors and weight loss professionals have not yet delivered): A deep respect and compassion for people starting at a high weight.
(For people just finding Eat Like a Bear, the first step is to watch the video A Postcard from Yellowstone. The Three-Day Challenge is the go-to getting started tool (CLICK!). It is free via email and makes no secret of what we do here.)
Success is Infectious
The real success of A Postcard from Yellowstone is that the underlying approach to weight loss works powerfully well and the community has thousands of “walking billboards” across the planet.
In fact, Eat Like a Bear appears to be the first weight loss platform in history to track its success in 100+ pound weight loss cases (our “Century Bears” as we call them). We track them here (CLICK!)
The approach of the Three-Day Challenge is simple and combines many of the things we’ve been told to do all of these years. It combines them in a highly strategic way, shining a light on the path, but also strongly encouraging personal adaptation.