Thursday, October 11, 2007

Kimkins: The Perfect Storm, Part 4

What happens when a deceitful, disordered person promotes effective but defective diet plans which then grow into a dynamic but dysfunctional business?

That confluence forms the perfect recipe for disaster.

The ingredients?
The person, Kimmer/Heidi Diaz
The professional practices of Kimkins
The plans of Kimkins
The plan behind the plans at Kimkins
The people of Kimkins

Now, a look at what has been dubbed the plan behind the plan.

One of the accusations most often leveled against Kimkins concerns what has been dubbed 'the plan behind the plan'. This charge concerns the persistent and well-documented tendency of Kimmer/Heidi Diaz to continually push for very low and even lower and even still lower calories, to promote daily laxative use, and to overlook eating-disordered behavior, all in an effort to see those numbers on the scale move virtually every day.

This was apparently Kimmer's modus operandi at Low Carb Friends (LCF) for years, where the original 'Ask Kimmer' thread is preserved. The trend continued and became even more extreme at the Kimkins site, since Kimmer was essentially unopposed there. In fact, Kimmer's own repeated pronouncements would be perfectly compatible with a pro-anorexia support site rather than any safe and reputable diet support site. Kimmer/Heidi regularly set the standard at 500 - 600 calories per day, and ALWAYS recommended cutting calories deeper when someone was stalled or even simply losing more slowly than desired. This is irrefutable, as many of us can easily document. By doing this, Kimmer formed the culture which inevitably continues to influence Kimkins, no matter what changes those in charge may pretend or promise.

The plans as written are still VLCD, and the 'plan behind the plan' still permeates the culture. In fact, that is the only way that Kimkins can brand itself with its unique selling proposition of "No faster diet. None." The latest ploy is to suggest (*wink, wink*) that everyone get enough healthy fats and a full allowance of vegetables, at least 800 calories daily with cycles of higher calories, plus daily water consumption and daily exercise, plus a full complement of targeted nutritional supplements. With all that, Kimkins wouldn't be Kimkins anymore --- it would be Atkins! And it could no longer promise big losses much faster than the standard 1 -2 lbs. a week that Kimmer has ridiculed so much.

So, is there real evidence of 'the plan behind the plan'? Oh, plenty!!

Did the dieters who developed health problems really 'take it to the extreme' all on their own, against Kimmer's wishes? No way!!

Here are just a few excerpts, out of dozens and dozens of potential examples, with screen shots to back them up:

~~~One member wrote of regularly going almost all day before eating eating anything, and usually taking in 400 - 600 calories a day.

Kimmer replied, "(Name), do what feels right to do. . . . Many of us have to overcome "forcing" ourselves to eat or ignoring when we're "supposed" to eat. Work at it!"

~~~A Kimkins member posted that she was eating less than 500 calories a day, more like 300 calories, but wasn't hungry. She asked if that was enough calories, and if there was no truth to the 'starvation' theory.

Kimmer replied that the body runs fine on stored body fat for all its calories, and gave the equation of exactly how many calories an obese person is carrying with them before they need more fuel. She said, "Want more proof low calories are OK? What about people who have gastric bypass surgery and the very goal of surgery is for them to limit their daily calories to 500! They lose just fine. Any complications are a result of the surgery or pre-existing health conditions brought on by obesity." (Note: this is not correct!) Then, she goes even further and recommends the poster consider long-term fasting, saying Dr. Furhman supervises patients who fast for several months at a time.

~~~ Another member posted that she had eaten 546 calories, and was not hungry, but wondered if she should eat more?

Kimmer replied, "I'm begging you, please don't eat if you're not hungry! We've all got to work on the 'I should' tapes in our head."

~~~One member reported episodes of dizziness and racing heartbeats, and asked if it could be caused by not eating much food. A couple of other members reported similar episodes, which in both cases they related to very low calories and said the episodes went away when they ate more.

Kimmer replied, "I disagree about not taking in enough calories. Water fasters take in 0 calories and their hearts are fine. So long as you have sufficient body fat, there's no problem. You're thin, but not overly so. By all means I'd snack on lean protein and be sure you're getting in the RDA of 60 grams, but it takes very little chicken/beef/eggs to do that."

When the original poster reported doing fine after adding more food in the morning before work, Kimmer replied, "I'm glad you felt better after chicken & cheese, but since neither has any carbs to speak of (and it takes 24-48 hours to synthesize protein), it didn't have an affect on your blood sugar or deficiency."

~~~One member reported that she was trying to keep her calories up to 400, but had only managed that once. She reported days of from 188 to 443 calories, with protein intakes as low 17 grams and fat as low as 7 grams.

Kimmer's response? "Did I tell ya or did I tell ya? It would happen! Don't panic about low calories. . . . Bottom line, as long as you have sufficient body fat you don't need to eat calories -- you're carrying them with you."

Wow! Is she claiming that people who are overweight don't even need calories at all?

When my own weight loss slowed to a crawl on Boot Camp, part of Kimmer's response was, "Someone can "eat clean" and still be too high in calories, even if they're low by other diet standards. Certainly no one would think 900 calories a day is "high", [Note: I was NOT eating that much] but it's 3 times as much as someone doing the Egg White Challenge at 300 calories a day. Weight loss will be different. Don't forget people who dabble in days of fasting, too."

When we original admins confronted Kimmer with our concerns, her response about low calories was, "I don't believe in starvation mode. I cannot and will not say anything about minimum calories. A grilled chicken breast and a 1 cup USDA serving of mixed greens is 200 calories. It just is. Adding fats or starches isn't "healthier" to up the calories."

Wow! As if 500 calories wasn't low enough, was her REAL intention 200 calories all along? (Notice how she dragged in starches when no one had said anything about that.)

As for some people at Kimkins dismissing or casting doubt on the health issues of former Kimkins dieters by saying 'no one really knows' how they ate, or that they 'took it too far' all on their own - not true! Until recently, most of the people there made their food journals public, and many posted to the Daily Menu thread, where very low calories were the norm and the goal. Kimmer herself posted to the menu thread for a good while, and reviewed many journals, always favoring lower calories.

Christin wrote an excellent blog entry on this very point: Used or Abused?

In response, I posted a comment excerpted here:
It is beyond belief that anyone would honestly say you abused the plan. You EPITOMIZED the plan. You were Kimmer's star pupil, her protege, her chosen cover girl. Kimmer checked and approved your FitDay more than once, and always suggested even more cuts to lower things. You were the one Kimmer asked to cover the 'Ask Kimmer' thread for her. You were the one Kimmer selected to run the Kimkins 'Loser Line' Chats. You were the one whose "FAQ: How I Did It" thread was pinned up at the top of the main forum for all to see and follow, with Kimmer's full support and blessing. You and your 300 calorie egg-white days were the example she threw in my face when I complained that the diet wasn't working as promised. You are STILL the one whose weight loss story is on the front page of the site, to sell memberships!

In fact, Kimmer's comment on Christin's FAQ thread was, "Brava, girl!"

What about the allegations of Kimmer recommending daily laxative use for weight loss?

"How about just doing a 25% dosage for a couple of days? Well, actually every day to compensate for the lack of veggie fiber . . . . I predict you'll absolutely have a "whoosh", LOL."

"If anybody is doing MoM
[Note: Milk of Magnesia], it needs to be a daily thing since Kimkins is low in fiber. If you take MoM and get "action", then stop taking MoM, everything will begin backing up again and the scale will show a fake gain.

Are we going to be laxative addicts? No. Once you're close to goal and begin adding back good higher fiber carbs (not Twinkies!), things will move on their own. Or maybe not? The market is chock full of laxatives and not everyone who's buying them is doing low carb so there must be a serious constipation problem out there!

A reminder for dosage is take the maximum dose the first (and maybe second) night, then a 25% or 50% dose every night thereafter."

I could give so many more examples of Kimmer actively encouraging extremely low calories, fasting for weight loss, daily laxative use, and of her being either oblivious or accepting of eating-disordered behavior. Personally, I have come to believe that is how she once lost some weight, though that approach left her unable to reach goal and maintain it, as she claimed. I believe she herself is extreme and disordered in her eating, and that will always eventually come through in any eating plan or diet site she is part of --- and she is still in charge of Kimkins, have no doubt.

Whether recommending and supporting members in attempts to fast off 100 lbs., or to eat nothing but egg whites or nothing but fish for months at a time, she was and is the driving force of 'the plan behind the plan' that created the Kimkins culture.

When I first read these types of things, I thought I must have been misunderstanding --- that Kimmer could not possibly mean what it seemed like she was saying. I thought maybe she just lacked social or communication skills. After a while, as I began to realize how extreme her views really are, I tried to mitigate and buffer them as best I could with a more reasonable and balanced approach.

At times, though, I still felt myself being sucked into the vortex of ever-lower calories for continuing losses. Even as an intelligent middle-aged woman, I sometimes caught myself toying with the flitting idea of a few days of fasting or a dose of laxative tea, just to see the scale reach a magic number. It frightened me.

Anyone at Kimkins who has avoided 'the plan behind the plan' did so in spite of Kimmer, no thanks to her.

The 'plan behind the plan' IS the plan.
The rest was just a front.


HisTreasure said...

As a KK family member observer, THIS is exactly what scared us to death watching Christin eat. Everything she "explained" about the plan sounded ok, but what we saw go into her mouth (even over the holidays) could not have been more than 400 calories a day. It just LOOKED like an eating disorder to outsiders(and she kept telling us that everything was ok, because Kimmer said it was!!!). You were the other influence for her while at KK, and gratefully you provided wisdom and logic. Thank you Becky. I believe this is your most important blog to date.

Lori_Soard said...

Becky, thank you for getting the word out and protecting others from this plan. Keep up the good work.

Brenda said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cathy said...

Becky, I once told you I was no longer losing doing bootcamp and it was YOU who told me to cut calories lower and lower. YOU! And another time I said I wasn't losing very fast and was going to try another plan and again it was YOU who said not to stop doing Kimkins. When will YOU take some responsibility for your own actions, Becky? When? Seems you stood behind the plan behind the plan all along. Was this because you were paid? Where are YOUR ethics? It's time you accept responsibility for your own actions rather than to pass the blame to anyone else. YOUR actions, Becky. Think about what YOU have done.

gracieanne said...

I have to address what Cathy said. You asked Becky to think about what she did. I know that she HAS thought about what she did. I know this because of what she is doing now. It cannot be easy for her to come out and say 'I was wrong', it cannot be easy for her to take the actions she is taking to prevent any more people from being hurt by the Kimkins diet. If she wasn't thinking about what she had done she would still be there backing up Kimmer, or she would have left in her own self interest and just dissappeared. All of that would have been easier than the path she has taken. Becky has never claimed that she never did anything wrong, she has in fact apologized several times for her part in this and she has demonstrated this beyond doubt through her actions. I personally, and I believe many others feel the same, believe that she deserves our forgiveness, and deserves our respect for being brave enough to do the right thing.

Becky said...

Cathy - I don't know your user name at Kimkins, or have any way to check on what I told you there. But I have thought long and hard about what you wrote, and did so actually long before you ever commented here. I knew I was opening myself to attack, but thought it was worth the risk to get the word out.

I understand that you are angry, and I don't blame you at all. I am grievously sorry for my part in Kimkins, for ever being a part of supporting the site. I am sorry for any and all poor advice I ever gave you, and I ask your forgiveness.

I would have liked to post something similar on the Kimkins site, but was not allowed to do so, since Kimmer locked me out and then banned me once she understood that I no longer supported her. I have tried my best to sincerely apologize more than once here on this blog.

I do not believe I ever fully supported 'the plan behind the plan' to the extent that Heidi herself did --- quite the contrary, in fact. Nor did I invent it or sell it based upon fraud. Heidi herself IS responsible for the culture she created by doing that. I, like many others, got caught up in it for a while, because I believed her when she said she had lost the weight safely and maintained her loss, and had helped scores of others to do so. I trusted that she knew what she was talking about, since she was the 'expert'.

When I talked about my own eating and losses, I was told I wasn't doing it 'right, and that is why I lost so much slower than she had. When I asked her how to answer questions members would post, her answers always recommended cutting back, and I would often 'soften' her advice, until eventually I quit asking her altogether. As I saw people stalling out on lower and lower calories, and having side effects, I grew concerned and doubtful.

I addressed my concerns to her personally, more than a few times, and her answers convinced me that she was not what she claimed to be. I ending up realizing I could not support her any longer. I contacted the other original admins, and many more since then, to persuade them to quit. I have worked and continue to work to undo the support I once gave to the Kimkins plans, through this blog and through other means as well. I cannot undo the past, and I do not know what more I could do to take responsibility for my actions.

As for the money, I supported Kimkins originally because I was losing weight on it, and I was thrilled about that. I posted as a member and, later, as a volunteer Moderator for free for a long time. Even when Kimkins began to boom and she began to pay me, it did not fully compensate me for all I did and all the hours I put in. I did it gladly because I wanted to. Now, of course, the money became a huge help to my family, no doubt, and allowed me to quit my other job. But, I walked away from Kimkins when I realized that Kimmer was not what she claimed to be, and when I could no longer believe in what I was doing. I am currently unemployed. so it has hurt us a great deal, financially, for me to do that.

Though I freely admit I behaved foolishly, and ask forgiveness for that, I do believe I have behaved ethically, once I understood the issues. That is all I can do.

Again, I am sorry for my part is supporting Kimmer and Kimkins.

Cutie said...