Tuesday, September 11, 2007

There and Back Again, Part 1

We don't see things as they are. We see things as we are.
~ Anais Nin

I said I would write up a brief short account of my Kimkins history, but I guess I can't write a short anything, so I will have to break this into parts. I have put this off, trying to even know where to get started. This may be more cathartic for myself than helpful to others, but I have to get it out, somehow.

In spring 2006, I was at my highest weight and lowest point in life, following a serious illness, heartbreaking family crisis, loss of a family business, unexpected cross-country move, and deep financial distress. Extended bed rest, immobility, steroids, stress and grief had taken their toll. I was morbidly obese, debilitated, and desperately depressed. I had almost reached the place of giving up and expecting to die young from obesity, and honestly I wasn't all that sad about the thought. However, life is so . . . persistent, and hope springs eternal, so I went looking for one more reason to believe and try again. That is when I came upon Low Carb Friends, and the Ask Kimmer thread that occupied center stage there.

Suddenly, it seemed people were really losing weight on Kimkins even if other things weren't working for them. I already knew cutting carbs was good for me from previous efforts at low-carb dieting, and reducing calories just made sense to me for people who were stuck or metabolically resistant to losing. I believe that, at the time, the stated guidelines for Kimkins there were less than 20 grams of carbohydrate (mostly from salads and vegetables), at least 70 - 90 grams of protein, and just enough fat to make menus work. Well, I already knew the under 20 carbs part, and that seemed like a good minimum on protein for a short, small-framed, sedentary middle-aged woman (me), and eating only reasonable amounts of fat instead of excessive amounts (which is how I had interpreted Atkins at the time) just seemed pretty fine and normal to me. So I tried it that way --- and it worked! I started losing weight, and feeling great, and having hope again. I simply cannot overstate how very good that felt! It was like getting my life back again! I was so extremely grateful.

I didn't much care for Kimmer's style, but her plan was working great for me. So, I quickly hooked up with some great people on a Camp Kimkins thread at LCF, who were pretty much doing Kimkins like I was --- 3 meals, maybe snacks, cheese in recipes but not as a snack, reasonable butter or oil in cooking, etc. To my mind, this was basically, Atkins without regular bacon for breakfast or cream cheese on pork rinds for a snack or whipped cream confections for dessert. I switched from cream to Half & Half in my coffee, gave up low-carb specialty products, and saw the scale move nicely enough. So, I did that, and hung out with my new online friends, whose support gave me encouragement to keep on going.

I hadn't been there long when suddenly Kimmer wasn't there and everything seemed weird and our posts started getting edited and deleted for mentioning her name. I got upset, and posted something like, "Hey! They're messing with our posts!" I got in trouble for that there, and my posts were moderated to smithereens, and my privileges got taken away. I found out Kimmer had her own site, joined up there, and my Camp Kimkins buddies came over soon, too, so we picked up where we had left off.

At first, it was like the golden age of Camelot. Everyone was nice and friendly and happy and losing well, and all seemed calm and bright. We had our own cozy corner, and were getting along beautifully, feeling good, having fun, and doing well. After all, we had initially come from a previous low-carb diet board, and most people knew something about low-carbing with Atkins, and brought that with them as a background and a basis. People generally did not cut things to the levels I saw later. In the various challenges and buddy groups and journals where people hung out, things were generally sane and healthy and happy. Friendships were knit, pounds were lost, and lives were regained. It could hardly have been better . . . almost.

Looking back, I can see things more clearly, but, at some level, I saw it then, too, I guess. In fact, I exchanged a few puzzled emails and PMs about this back then. In truth, it seemed like the less Kimmer posted, the happier most of the board was, and the saner the eating was. The best places were the places she never went, like the challenges and journals. She pretty much only visited the main lobby (called Q & A then, and Kimkins Cafe now) and even then, mostly the Ask Kimmer thread there, unless something else caught her attention. She was posting much less on her site than she had at LCF, often wouldn't post for days, and, honestly, that was fine with most of us, because sometimes we would just cringe when she would say things that were 'off'. So, a core group of members would just post away, have fun, and keep things going fine. The members made it a lovely place. To our minds, Kimmer was an almost non-existent non-issue. At least, that is how it was for me, and others can express their own opinions.

If there were health problems then, I didn't see it. Many people would have the usual few days of 'Induction Flu', and then move on to feel well and lose well. (I never even had that to speak of, because I started with Atkins, and slowly drew back on fat and calories, vs. jumping right in.) That is not to guarantee there were no problems like we have heard of recently, but I was not aware of anything out of the ordinary for low-carb dieters, if it was happening. After all, we were mostly still viewing Kimmer's guidelines through the lens of Atkins.

What I was sometimes aware of, though, were some women (five or so) I thought showed symptoms of eating disorders. I had seen that sort of thing at the other low-carb board, too, and though it concerned me, I did not know what I could do about it. When I would see potential warning signs, I would sometimes post, or otherwise PM the person with my concerns. I brought up situations to Kimmer several times, asking her to address things. I gradually noticed that some of the ones I was most concerned with were almost something like 'Kimmer's pets', who hung out in the Q & A, mostly in the Ask Kimmer thread, and seemed more devoted to her ideas. I didn't get it or realize all the implications, having not had anorexia or bulimia myself, but I just knew something was off, and I did not understand why Kimmer didn't see it and warn them instead of giving them gold stars.

Another nagging element to me was the SNATT thing. I never had it, thank God --- but then, I had eleven pregnancies and never a day of morning sickness, so I had no reference point for that. I was glad for the idea of diminished appetite, but mine never went completely away, which was fine with me. The people I hung out with would have at most a few days of feeling a little 'icky' like a flu bug, but then be fine. Every now and then, though, there would be someone who would get truly nauseated, and not be able to eat. One girl still haunts me a little. She was one I worried about, but she was a Kimmer fan, true blue.

My other concern was the 'moving target' nature of the plans. I also emailed Kimmer about this many times, asking her to spell things out with clear explanations, and then stick to it, but she would say it was simple enough as written. People would post to the Ask Kimmer thread, saying they were doing the plan and not cheating, but not losing as promised. They would be correct; they were within published guidelines, but were not losing as promised. Then she would tell them that if they REALLY wanted to lose, they would need to cut this and cut that - well below published allowances. I would think, "Who can eat like that?" Yet, people would often come back to her and praise her profusely for helping them, and actually take her advice.

Some of us worked hard to create a supportive, positive place, and to really address members' needs. That atmosphere spread throughout the site, and as new members gradually joined, they were mentored along by the members. Most people got connected with a group of friends, and many seldom ventured out into the other parts of the site. Most people never spoke to Kimmer, even in posts, let alone PMs or emails. In a real sense, for most people, Kimmer herself was very peripheral to the site, and apart from her input, it was a wonderful place to be.

I was an early member, instrumental in bringing people over from LCF, and in shaping the board in some ways, as were many others. I posted a lot, and was nice to people, which saved Kimmer a lot of bother. Sometime last year (and I can't find any record of when that was, but it might have been October, though I could be wrong) Kimmer asked me to be a volunteer moderator, which she said was essentially what I had been doing, except that I would now have a few extra buttons on my screen that would let me delete duplicate posts (we had a big problem with that for a while), move misplaced posts, set stickies, and lock threads. I said sure, no problem, if it will help. I was the only moderator, as the site was not too large, and we really had no squabbles or insults or anything to deal with. I literally never had to step in to intervene in anything or to delete anything considered 'offensive'. People simply weren't harsh or insulting to one another. It was a special time.

When I think of Kimkins --- well, when I thought of Kimkins --- that time, that atmosphere was what the name meant to me. I fought for it, hung on to it, thought really long and hard and agonizingly before leaving it.

But, leave I eventually did, because it is no more and never can be again anything like those 'glory days'. The magic is gone.

To those who remain, because you are still holding out hope that this will all go away and things can go back like they were, may I say, I deeply, truly do understand. It was something special at one time, and worth fighting for!

But, those times are over and gone. They are never coming back. It's over.

Kimkins is finished, whether it continues operation for a while longer or not.

I am sorry for our loss. Our loss. I lost a lot, too, maybe more than most.

I haven't done this to Kimkins. LCF hasn't done this to Kimkins. No one else has done this to Kimkins. Make no mistake. Kimmer did this to Kimkins. She has poisoned her own well. The sweetness is gone, and it is ruined.

Please, friends, leave. Leave now. It's OK. You'll be fine! There are lots of other low-carb and diet sites where you can recapture what was good, without the bitter taint.

You'll find lots of friends when you do.

16 comments:

Lee said...

Hi Becky,
The joy and enthusiasm have been gone for a while now and I want it back. So far I haven't found it in other low carb forums. I'll keep searching but I don't think I'll ever find the kind of warm feeling I had in my early days at Kimkins.

Lee

Cutie said...

ok, this is "off topic" but...

i have to tell you that even though this is a serious post, this line: "...but I guess I can't write a short anything..." was "laugh out loud" funny!!! how i've missed your long winded ways ;)

*HUGS*
so proud of you for steppin' up!

Becky said...

Lee - I miss it, too, buddy!
Really miss it.

Come see me here: http://www.lowcarbdiscussion.com/

I am settling in there now and getting comfortable with LOTS of familiar faces. Lots of good people you know and trust.

Come on over!

Becky said...

'Long-winded ways' indeed! ;)

Yeah, I'm bad about that, I admit.

Used to drive Kimmer crazy!

I've missed you, too!

Stick around. Your name might come up in my next post or two.

clgoody said...

This post makes me want to cry.

"At first, it was like the golden age of Camelot. Everyone was nice and friendly and happy and losing well, and all seemed calm and bright. We had our own cozy corner, and were getting along beautifully, feeling good, having fun, and doing well. After all, we had initially come from a previous low-carb diet board, and most people knew something about low-carbing with Atkins, and brought that with them as a background and a basis. People generally did not cut things to the levels I saw later. In the various challenges and buddy groups and journals where people hung out, things were generally sane and healthy and happy. Friendships were knit, pounds were lost, and lives were regained. It could hardly have been better . ."

"People simply weren't harsh or insulting to one another. It was a special time."

"It was something special at one time, and worth fighting for!"

It's just really, really unfortunate. Camp isn't the same without you...

Jane said...

Once again you impress me with your candor and character. Thank you for making things so clear. I am sorry you lost so much. Hopefully, you gained much from others. You certainly gave a lot.

Becky said...

It makes me want to cry, too!
In fact, I have cried, many times.

But, I am better now.

So, sweetie, come over over to my new campground. Lots of us have put up tents! We even had smores and a singalong just the other night. Fun!

Becky said...

Jane - Thank you.

Yes, I gained a lot from my time at Kimkins, in relationships I still treasure. No matter what happens, I did have that.

Cutie said...

"Stick around. Your name might come up in my next post or two."

oh, i can only imagine! LOL

yeah, i'm stickin'...i'll be like glue to you again, my dearest beckynett! :)

KimPossible said...

Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind;
In the primal sympathy
Which having been must ever be;
In the soothing thoughts that spring
Out of human suffering;
In the faith that looks through death,
In years that bring the philosophic mind.

You've said exactly what I FEEL. You have me in tears. We will move on. Thank you!

Becky said...

Thanks, Amy!

My mom always called me Beckynett. It makes me smile.

Becky said...

The loss of something lovely is worth mourning.

We meant to buy a diet. Instead, we found hope and dreams and care and belonging.

Diets are easy to give up --- after all, we've done it dozens of times.

But dreams . . . dreams die hard.

Elemkay said...

Becky, you've made me feel so much better - sadder, yes, for what we've lost, but better because I know that my feelings and instincts weren't wrong.

I, along with some other members, attempted to help a woman who was clearly suffering from an eating disorder. This woman was unable to go an entire day without binging and purging. In addition, she also constantly complained of unrelenting hunger. I felt in my heart that if she could have a few successful days eating proper low carb (eating lean protein until satisfied) plus lots of support, she could get into ketosis, her hunger would diminish, and she could get beyond the ED. She kept trying to get by with eating some ridiculously small amount of food like 3 hard-boiled eggs for an entire day. I, and others, told her to eat more protein (she was still complaining of being hungry). One day, the scale went up instead of down and she freaked. She went to Kimmer and told her that all of us were telling her to eat more and because of us, she gained weight. You can guess Kimmer's response. EAT LESS. YOU WERE RIGHT. EVERYONE ELSE IS WRONG. Eat less than 3 hard boiled eggs? You've got to be kidding! That right there was the green light for this woman to continue with her eating disorder, secure in the fact that she had Kimmer's blessing.

That did it for me. My own honeymoon was over. I stopped trying to help new people after that.

Maybe I will see you at Jimmy's forum. I'm still afraid of getting "I told you so's" from non-Kimkins members. But I will definitely keep an eye on you here.

Thank you for continuing to live in the truth. Your authenticity is an inspiration for us all.

Deni said...

ElemKay...
I remember that person.. and I tried desperately to try to get her to eat more... and even gave her menus trying to help her UP her calories!!! I remember giving her menus that had like only 500 calories b/c she was afraid to eat MORE... and my 500 calorie menu was suppossed to NOT scare her... I wanted to get her to eat WAY more than that.. but new she wouldn't go for it.. I remember thinking if we could get her up to that point.. that perhaps she would eventually be able to go up even more...

and if I remember correctly... Kimmer came into that thread and "disagreed" with me vocally again.

That was back when i really started to think that I NEEDED to stay around to try to talk some sense into people...


if only I knew then, what I know now. :(

Jimmy Moore said...

Better late than never, Deni! I'm glad you got out when you did. :)

Stevie said...

Becky - Hugs to you sweetie. I am so really really proud of you in every way - your losses, your courage and perseverance in the face of adversity and most of all, I relish and cherish your friendship, being one of the original Camp Kimkins members. :-) Love your blog - I'm glad I'm not missing your self-described "long winded" posts at Camp!!! ;-)