Tuesday, September 11, 2007

There and Back Again, Part 3

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

As April drew to an end, I stayed on at Kimkins. I never pressed Kimmer about the banning, because I already knew I would not like anything she might say, and she never mentioned it. (In fact, our communication tended to be brief and to the point, because I already knew I did not want to be Heidi's friend.) Though I remained, I never trusted things quite like before, and it weighed heavily on me. Still, with the Kimkins issue of Woman's World magazine set to debut in early June, and the site getting revamped, I had plenty to do, so I just threw myself into the task at hand. It was a welcome diversion.

As these things tend to do, the site launched late, and the magazine came out early. The site had its good features, but was quite buggy and not as functional as the previous one. Boot Camp was revised and made even stricter (for the third time), some other plan details were changed, and two new ill-advised plans (the shake option and the vegetarian option) were sprung on us. Existing members were disgruntled at the changes, and still trying to figure out how to make profiles and avatars and signatures, when the magazine hit mailboxes. The magazine response was mind-blowingly astounding, far exceeding anybody's wildest imaginings. We jumped from less than 4000 members to around 40,000 in a matter of weeks. Literally thousands of new members were joining daily. Someone would post "New here today and looking for a buddy" and by day's end, there would be a buddy group with a hundred newbies in it. Sometimes the forums would be mobbed with 100 posts a minute, with questions filling up the pages and falling off to page 2 or page 3 before anyone could even see and answer it. New members would run from thread to thread posting a long string of frantic questions in random threads, and, not knowing how to navigate back to that thread, would go somewhere else and post them again. (Hi, I am new and need to lose 167 lbs. Could someone explain the diet. It says 20 carbs - whats a carb, and is that per meal or per day? Does that include the salads and vegetables, or are they extra? What about fruit, and can I have low-fat milk, and how do I get those pictures and other cute things by my name like you all have? I hope this works.) It felt like a stampede.

Earlier members had come in at a pace of a few a week, or a few a day at most, and usually came from other diet boards and low-carb sites. At the very least, they had been computer-savvy enough to have had looked online for a diet. These new members had seen a magazine cover in the check-out line, had been galvanized by the photos, captions, and promises, and had taken a $60 chance that this would be the answer they were seeking. The magazine claimed "Better than gastric bypass!" and many who now joined were desperate to lose 100 to 200 lbs. or more, as their last hope before surgery. Some had never dieted, and most had never done a low-carb plan before. Quite a few had never been online before, certainly not on a forum, and had no idea of the basics of low-carb dieting or of forum protocol. They were simply overwhelmed.

Kimmer wasn't posting on the board at all, most of the old members had understandably retreated to their journals and challenge groups, and I was the only moderator at the time, fitting it in around my store schedule at first. Even with me on the site 16 - 20 hr. days, it was impossible to keep up with answering posts and PMs and working on site structure and management, so we quickly recruited some more moderators and helpers, almost all volunteers as far as I know. Still there were relatively few of us who had been around a while, with thousands of new members online at any given moment in the forums and in chat, so it became the blind leading the blind. It was extremely frustrating for everyone.

I was running sleep-deprived, dozing off at the computer, until my rear end was calloused and my mouse arm hurt, trying to meet the massive needs all around me. I would sometimes put my head on my desk and cry. We just couldn't keep up in the forums, and we could only poke into chat once in a while. Soon, the mantra became 'Read the lists. Stick to the lists. If it's not on the lists, don't eat it' because there was no time for real mentoring. However, since the plans were vague and self-contradictory, they were open to a range of interpretations. As I would email Kimmer with my reports and concerns, I began to be more and more disillusioned, as I felt like we were working at cross-purposes. I was pressing for simple things that would serve the members and moderators, while she was all about sales and marketing. So, I just plowed ahead, doing the best I could with the forums, and not really stopping or stepping back to think about it.

When things got crazy, Kimmer almost immediately increased my pay to $600 a month in exchange for my reducing my store hours, plus a few 'good week' bonuses unexpectedly thrown in. It went to $1000 a month in mid-June for dropping the store altogether, and finally to $2000 a month in July, with additional projects expected now that the site had calmed down. She commissioned me to research the best way to start an online nutritional store, which I did. Heidi was to loan me $20,000 interest free, no payments for 6 months, payable over 5 years after that. I was to own and operate it, with part as Kimkins Kitchen, and part as our own venture, and Heidi would promote Kimkins Kitchen in the newsletter and website like she did Kimmerware, in exchange for a cut. My husband and I drew up a prospective product list, contacted and selected suppliers (prominent among them Netrition, incidentally), opened business accounts, and purchased domain names, business licenses, and DBAs. We were ready to pull the trigger on what might have been a good future . . . and we just couldn't. Too many things began troubling me. By August I was glad to call it a loss and walk away with $1000 severance, just to be free. Altogether, in gifts and compensation, I made $8090, plus a $50 Amazon gift certificate from my time at Kimkins.

What went wrong? Many things! Another incident in the end of June had sounded a warning in my soul, and I couldn't shake it. It may or may not be a big deal to others, but I am sure it was a terrible offense to those involved, and it was a waving red flag to me. In fact, out of everything, I am most ashamed of myself over this next part.

As I said, I was busy at first just trying to keep up, and viewing this as something I had always done for the members, and could now be paid to do so I could be home with my family more. I thought if I just got through the turbulence of the magazine spike, things could go back like they were before. Then someone posted a question in the Q & A, with two different after pictures of 'Kimmer', asking if it was the same person. I panicked and overreacted. Remembering that Kimmer had already banned two people for asking something similar, and worrying about our 'happy home' at Kimkins, and feeling a certain obligation to Kimmer now that I was taking her money, I plunged in and gave the same answer Kimmer had given to Christin and me when we had asked her about it, and I said it in a most condescending and sarcastic manner. I had an immediate sick feeling in the pit of my stomach, wanting to 'protect' Kimkins from unpleasantness, but suddenly somehow just 'knowing' that I had unwittingly lied for Kimmer, and behaved quite badly doing it. I had been mean and nasty to someone, to squelch debate. I felt heartsick, and wondered what I had gotten myself into and what I was becoming. I emailed Kimmer, told her about the thread, and told her that I had been unfair and unkind to the member in response to a fair and innocent question, and was going to humbly apologize for the mess I made of it as soon as I got back from a medical appointment. Kimmer said fine - but when I got home, I found an email saying she had gotten mad and moved their thread and told off the ladies in question. After that, everything was harder, because my heart was not in it like before.

So, katinsac, wherever you are, I ask your forgiveness for my rude response to your good question. You were right to ask, and I was wrong to answer as I did. I am sorry!

If banning Amy and Kiki had been Strike 1, this was Strike 2.

22 comments:

JenninME said...

You're my hero, Becky!

Cutie said...

wow, so glad to see you didn't go through with the nutritional store...that would have made things stickier to get out of when leaving kimkins.

good call!

Julie said...

You made the right call on the nutritional store. I'm glad you went with your instincts on that.

I'm so impressed with how open you are being. Thank you so much!

Kat said...

This is Katinsac

Becky...you're the best! I'm so glad you got out when you did. No, Kimmer didn't ban us at the time...but after this she might ban me.

It was an innocent question as our group was one of those who started June 4th after the WW article. Some of us knew about low carbing and some had never done it. As others, several of us bonded immediately in a thread there and were very supportive of each other.

When I asked my "innocent" question, I don't think I was as put off from your response as I was from Kimmer's e-mail to myself and another poster in our group.

Right away we both knew she had read our PMs. She also "misunderstood" our PMs and said some pretty nasty things about us and me specifically.

Being the "smart" ladies we are...we immediately moved to another site where we could "talk" without the fear of someone reading our PMs, etc.

We all came to the conclusion that something was not right in Denmark! To get such a reaction to such an innocent question was wrong.

We are all happy and are all loosing our weight in a safe and healthy way.

Becky, you WERE the real life behind Kimmer and it is too bad it turned out the way it did. You were very supportive and everyone knew you were only trying to help. I do not hold it against you.

I have been lurking on the LCF thread from day one and am so happy so many people have seen the "light" and am looking forward to the downfall of the Kimpire! I just feel sorry for the current follwers who still have no clue.

Keep up the good work here and hopefully, more will see the light and be saved.

Love and Support to you always.

Becky said...

Jenn - No hero here, I'm afraid. Had I been, I'd have handled myself much better throughout, I think, and been gone much sooner.

But you're sweet to say so anyway. Thanks.

Becky said...

Cutie - Thanks! I am so glad we avoided that entanglement, at least.

(Sheds some light on a few things that happened earlier, too, doesn't it?)

Kelly said...

Becky - I know it's cliche to say that hindsight is 20/20, but I certainly think that we grow and learn when we really look back on something and see what it is we could have done differently, so for that reason, and because it seems to be cathartic for you, I'm glad to see you posting so much of the "behind the scenes" from your perspective. I hope that you have really forgiven yourself though. I worry that you are harboring a tremendous amount of guilt, and it just isn't deserved. As a member, it was clear that you were the one from an admin standpoint "running" the site, you were EVERYWHERE, but it was also clear as daylight that you BELIEVED in what you were doing. Your heart was in the right place; You weren't there for Kimmer, you were there for us, the members, wanting to see us succeed. Sure, you were hopeful that this could lead to a successful, profitable venture for yourself, and there is NOTHING wrong with that. You were deceived, like we all were, and yes you became increasingly suspicious of Kimmer herself, but it seems that you thought you could seperate that from the good work you were doing. You are NOT to blame here, and I hope you accept my apology for a comment that I posted somewhere, that I believe you saw, accusing you of "just disappearing" on us and only making "vague" comments as to why. I was confused by the departure and searching for answers, but I shouldn't have been so quick to judge. Clearly you needed time to think and assess what to do, and I was not patient. The outstanding content of your character has really shone through. Glad to see you at Jimmy's place. Hope to "run into" you there more often. - soon2bslim

Becky said...

Julie - I have been very torn about sharing so openly. I normally do not like gossip at all, and kept things to myself because of that.

Then, I realized that so many had been lied to so openly and brazenly, while the truth was hidden and denied.

So, it seemed like time to reverse that, to drag things into the light of day for an honest evaluation.

My view may not be the only or most accurate view, but it is mine, and I am the only one who can share it, so I put it out there for what it is worth.

Becky said...

Kat - Oh, thank you! My heart just jumped when I saw your name, and I am grateful for your gracious forgiveness and understanding.It really relieves me of a burden. I so appreciate it.

You are a smart and kind person, and I'm glad you and your friends are together and doing well.

Becky said...

Kelly - So much of what you said is true. Yes I believed, yes I was deceived, and yes, when i startd having doubts, I told myself maybe Kimmer as a person was not essential to the rest of what was happening. That was a poor choice and a foolish compromise.

The money and business possibility came in later, and it only muddied the waters. It ended up feeling like a trap, and no amount of money is worth that feeling.

Unfortunately I am a little slow on the uptake sometimes, and not usually good at quick decisions. I dragged things out too long.

Anyway, thank you for your expression of support. I'll see you at the forum!

Sue said...

With the huge influx of new members it was very apparent that a lot of them had no experience with low-carbing so as a experienced low-carber and older member of the site it was very hard to watch the new members eating such low-calories and low-fat without making a comment or encouraging more calories. These kind of comments were seen as negative and rocking the boat. This must have been hard for you Becky especially since your idea of healthy was quite different to Kimmer's. I remember the vegetarian thread where they were attempting a boot camp and the calories were so low - I was horrified. I remember you did step in and make a comment to up the calories.

Terry said...

Becky,
I am conflicted here because I am a Kimkins memeber and didnt work for her.I understand why you,Christin and Deni needed to leave. But I get upset when people make comments abut the fall of Kimkins. Not for Kimmers sake, but for those of us who are smart enough to follow the plan in a healthy way, not to the extremes a few have and the support that the members have for each other. I have looked at some of the other sites and not seen as much 'pleasantness' as the members (not Kimmer) have for one another.Maybe I am wrong, I don't know. I feel like I paid for a plan that works and I got it and met so many great people. I don't care who Kimmer really is. Working for her I would feel differently perhaps.

theTRUTH said...

terry,
Of course you have to come to the decision on your own. But of course you can always follow the plan and either bring old friends with you or make new friends IF you decide to leave or WHEN kimkins is gone. There are other, just as supportive, and less corrupt places to hang out online. Many many of us are finding acceptance and friends at http://www.lowcarbdiscussion.com, and I am positive Jimmy would welcome you with open arms. Becky and Deni, and Christin are there too. So when the time is right for you, think about saying hello. While you stay at kimkins, please do so with your eyes wide open though, as I am doing. Soon enough, with the TRUTH in the back of your mind, the place loses its shine, and you start to see the paint peeling off the walls, and you just can;t escape the shadow of the man behind the curtain. I feel my days there too are numbered, but it is so hard to say goodbye, to leave your friends and your challenges. It is a personal decision for sure, but there are other places for you too, as I said. Good luck to you.

LJ said...

Becky, being a mod on any forum is tough sometimes and we've all had our blowups, over-reactions, and regrets. I'm glad you're forgiving yourself and moving on. <3

To Terry - IMO, modified "healthy" Kimkins is just the same regular old low carb that so many other people do! Kimmer's plan only had any credibility because of her alleged success, which has now been demonstrated to be false. I hope you (plural) either regroup at another forum or start your own. Heidi doesn't deserve to be at the helm.

Kat said...

Thanks Becky...and I second what Kelly said!

Etheral Kim said...

Hi Becky!

I am a member (for now) of Kimkins. I chatted with you before on the forums and always valued your input, advice, support and care. You were Kimkins and it would not have made it to where it is without you.
I am so sorry you went through all you did and are still going through it. Please don't feel any guilt for staying or leaving. You had our best interests at heart and put all of us before yourself. We all miss you as do we miss Christin, and Deni dearly.

I am struggling with this as well. I know Kimmer is a Fraud. I feel duped and betrayed and let down. My hair is falling out as Christin's was. I have revamped the diet. The only reason I do not abandon it all together is because I can not bear the thought of leaving my friends. Though if Kimmer reads this and is able to find out who I am, I will probably be banned as well.
I stay for my friends and the support there. But I feel like If I don't leave I am not doing the right thing. I am torn and don't knwo what to do. I just wanted you to know I understand where you were torn. It is so hard to leave a place and people that have become family.
I wish you all the best and can not wait to see you post your tips for altering the diet and follwing it healthfully.

Many warm wishes for you and your family!

Neon said...

Becky, I admire your courage and strength in writing about your experience. I've read Kimkins threads on various fitness forums in the past, and just want to say "thank you" for your honesty and courage.

Karen said...

"I plunged in and gave the same answer Kimmer had given to Christin and me when we had asked her about it,"

Hi Becky,

First of all, your blog is great. Thank you so much for opening up and giving us the truth of what went on behind the scenes. You are very brave and I admire you very much for what you are doing.
Second, regarding your comment above, which I took from Part 3....can you tell us what Kimmer's answer was to you and Christin when you asked about the discrepancy in the pictures? The picture in Woman's World was so different from the infamous "red dress" picture, that I am just curious as to how she explained it.

Thanks much for what you are doing and for any input you have on this question.
Hugs!
Karen

Mayberryfan said...

Becky,

Thank you for having the courage to speak out! I never really interacted with K, and it took me a while to put the pieces together also. I'm just wondering if you have suffered any of the health problems others have due to being on the Kimkins program? I didn't "tweak" at all my first 3 months, but have become scared because I've been researching! I've begun making my own tweaks in hopes of avoiding damage to my thyroid, or other things. Again, thank you for speaking out!

Celeste

Sharyn said...

Hi Becky,
I've been a member of Kimkins since mid June. I have lost around 38 pounds since I joined. I am one who was caught TOTALLY off guard when everything started to implode there. I had no idea of what was happening behind the scenes and am only just now finding out about some of these things by reading the various blogs.

I have been on the side of the fence that said. "I don't care WHO Kimmer is, or HOW much she weighs....the program works like NOTHING I've ever tried in my life."

NOW, however, I've read enough to be afraid that I may be endangering my health by following Kimkins and frankly, I'm really worried about it. I FEEL better than I've felt in many years and of course LOOK better as a result of the diet. I've thought that if I FELT well, then I must be OK. But perhaps I'm being naive.

Becky,I read ever single word you posted in the "Newbie" forum and was always SO impressed with your knowledge and caring attitude with all the questioners and their concerns. It is obvious that you have a natural gift for dealing with and caring for people. I wish you every success and will continue to monitor your path in hopes of continuing to lose the additional 50 pounds I need to take off. I've signed up for your newsletter and can hardly WAIT for the first one to arrive. There's just SOOOOO much information and mis-information out that that it's REALLY difficult to know who to believe.

Just for the record, I am 60 years old, but since taking off so much weight, I feel like a 30 year old! :D I just need to know if what I'm doing is damaging my health. I eat about 500 calories a day, limit fat to around 19 grams or less, and carb intake is always under 20. I try and keep my protein intake around 90-100 grams a day.

Thank you for your caring attitude and for all the help you are providing for those of us who are just now waking up.....
Sharyn ~aka Spellbound

KajunDC said...

Becky,

Let me start by saying, yes, I am one of, if not the main, LCF Kimkin naysayer from her time at LCF. I always felt something wasn't right with the Kimmer before and after photo, and called her out on it publicly several times.

Also, as a Doctor, I knew from the first time I read her plan just how incredibly dangerous it would be for anyone to do long-term and that weight loss could not be kept off in that fashion long-term. Quick hit results, sure, but definitely not sustainable. And any competent doctor would say the same thing. Not to mention the short and long term ramifications to the metabolism.

You are a hero, by the way. Everything happens for a reason and the reason you did not leave before you did was so you could present the world with the truth of the behind the scenes world of Kimkins.

I knew when I heard Kimmer had set up her own site that this would eventually come to a head. I figured it would take longer than this but with the exposure Cartbabe unfortunately gave Kimmer...

500 calories a day... sheesh. Every day I open the newspaper here I read another story about another WLS patient suffering from severe nutritional deficiencies due to the restricted intake... with many having to get the surgery reversed.

I would not worry about your liablility in all this, from what you describe. You've never met Kimmer face to face or even talked to her on the phone. You moderated a message board. The plan is Kimmer's, the ideas Kimmer's, and the lack of medical supervision and/or research on the diet is Kimmer's fault and Kimmer's problem. She is the one trying to pass herself off as some kind of expert... even though she does not even have a maintenence phase planned out yet!?!?!

Glad to hear you are out... and still passionate about helping others.

Keep the faith.

KajunDC

s_loveless said...

Becky --

I'm a kind-of-current KK member, which means I'm on the "should I stay or should I go" fence. . . I listened to the now-infamous podcasts w/Jimmy, and relistened, as the knot in my stomach tightened. . . something was very, very wrong with the reality at Kimkins.com and the "reality" that was being presented to Jimmy's audience. When things imploded in the forums, I took a month off -- who needs the stress, right?

I came back to find that there had apparently been a complete purge. None of the admins that we all looked to for advice were there; I've found Christin and Deni (obviously, you!), but have yet to find KimATC. There's now a deep, deep paranoia in almost every forum, and I find it hard to offer support for a plan that I couldn't follow the guidelines of. . . even though there are people at Kimkins that I like very much.

Anyway, glad you're out here and doing well; if you have a suggestion for a rational, LC forum (not LCF, left a bad taste in my mouth -- so to speak), please let me know.

Thx!

Sara