Sunday, September 16, 2007

Kimkins survivors

I've been on a few forums lately with a high number of new members that are former Kimkins members.

Now, anyone who's been following the chatter in the low carb community knows that there's a lot of controversy about the Kimkins plans, and that it looks like the whole scam is about to blow wide open. Many members have been banned from the site and have looked for an found other sites to get the support and help they need.

You know....this whole thing turns my stomach and makes me want to cry for the victims.

Here's the story, from what I can gather on the net.

Back several years ago a poster on a forum said she had lost close to 200 pounds in a relatively short period of time. This poster went by the name of Kimmer. Over the course of many postings over many months, Kimmer said she was a woman who lived in California with her son. She also said she had foster children, specifically male teens. Apparently there was also a claim of being on permanent disability and having defaulted on college loans. Apparently there have been several confirmations that this Kimmer is actually a woman named Heidi Diaz, who lives in Corona, CA. (I encourage you to look up and at the evidence and make your own conclusions, but the sources I've seen look pretty convincing)

People on the forum were impressed by Kimmer's before and after pictures and started asking her questions about her plan. Eventually they started asking for advice in following her plan, and she more firmly defined it. Apparently there were several plans. After a while Kimmer was apparently approached by someone who suggested setting up a website of her own where she could post her plans and set up a forum for members. There would be a fee for membership. That fee started around $15 and is currently around $60. The fee was supposed to be for the support forums, a personal page, email, etc. The plans were readily available all over the net! (And there are a few!
I never joined Kimkins as the first time I looked into it I found it was a low fat plan. At that point I just dismissed it as one I wasn't interested in. I did notice there was a lot of chatter on the forums about Kimkins, but never really paid much attention. I noticed more and more ads for Kimkins on all the diet sites....and noticed that even links that looked like they were for different things also lead to the Kimkins site. Women's World did an article about Kimkins and boy did the Internet light up with activity to the Kimkins site as well as various weight loss forums!

While this was going on, there began to be a few in the low carb community that were questioning the wisdom of these plans. There were also bloggers that were trying and openly promoting Kimkins, even some of the lower calorie plans.

Now, generally there are 2 groups that use low carb as a diet, and of course there are subgroups. The first group is mainly interested in weight loss....and the faster the better. The second group is more concerned with the health aspects of low carb while working at loosing weight. Within each group you're going to find differences of opinion on whether calories "count" or not, if high fat or low fat is better, if you should eat high protein or high fat, etc. Personally I am of the health group and believe both fat and protein are good in any amounts (as long as they're as natural as possible) and that carbs should be avoided unless they are veggies, fruit and some dairy. I also believe that calories do count, but low carb calories are generally better tolerated than high carb calories.

So anyway....while Kimmer was building her site and more and more people were joining and talking about the plans on other sites, there started to be seen people who had personally been harmed by the diet or were concerned about things that were being said on the Kimkins site forums. And I guess it was right about here that Jimmy Moore publicly joined Kimkins and began to heavily advertise for the plan. (Jimmy has since quit the plan and publicly apologised to his readers)

Jimmy Moore's enthusiastic approval of Kimkins really upset the low carb community. Jimmy's is a very heavily read site and many of his readers are people looking into low carb. By Jimmy approving the Kimkins plans, he was saying that these plans were low carb and safe. (There is also controversy as to whether these plans are to be considered "low carb" or "low calorie". Personally I say they are "very low calorie" diets that happen to be VERY low in carbohydrates and fats) Jimmy's endorsement upset many in the low carb community, myself included.

Now you are seeing blogs reporting fantastic results of following Kimkins as well as blogs explaining the dangers of a very low calorie diet. There are blogs with before and after pictures and blogs talking about the hair loss, weakness, inability to exercise and even loss of menses related to the effects of the diets. There were blogs praising Kimmer and the Kimkins plans and there were now blogs questioning the very existence of Kimmer, aka Heidi Diaz. The pro-Kimmer postings were definitely being overshadowed by the anti-Kimkins postings.

The charges that people are saying about Kimmer and Kimkins?
1. Kimmer is in fact Heidi Diaz, a woman that lives in Corona, California. This woman appears to be morbidly obese. No one knows if she ever lost the weight she claimed to have lost, but even if she did, she apparently was unable to sustain the loss.
2. That Kimmer is posting advice to severely limit the intake of calories to the point of starvation levels.
3. That Kimmer is posting advice to use laxatives on a daily basis.
4. That Kimmer is allowing and even advising at least 1 teenager on her site.
5. That posts on the Kimkins support forum have been edited or deleted. These posts are posts questioning the wisdom of the advice given by Kimmer.
6. That Private Messages have been accessed by the administration staff on the Kimkins site.
7. That members have been banned from the site,, but given no refund and in many cases any explanation.
8. That some of the before and after pictures on the site are fake.
9. That Kimmer accepted money for non-existent foster children as a result of posts about money problems on the site.

To me, there are 2 disturbing things about this whole thing. One is that this woman has been pushing and promoting a very dangerous diet plan without any training in the field. And the other is the way she preyed on a group of people that were vulnerable and, in many cases, desperate.

The plans that many are upset about are the plans that encourage very low calories. Some of these plans are said to have a high of 800 calories!! Fat is restricted as much as possible and vegetables are severely limited. Some argue that these plans are only for short-term use, while others note that there is no time limit stated with the plans and Kimmer is advising people to stay on them for the long-term. Even in the short-term, diets that call for calories as low as these promote should only be undertaken with close medical supervision. I have known several people who have been put on very low calorie diets by their physicians and they were all very closely monitored. They were also told to watch for certain signs of starvation like hair loss and loss of menses.

Kimmer preyed on people, mainly women it seems, who are desperate to loose weight at almost any cost. Some only had a small amount to loose, but desperately wanted to get back to their "goal" weight, and many others had 100 pounds and more to loose. The one thing in common that these people had is that they'd tried other plans and weren't successful....or weren't as successful as they wanted to be. These people were willing to do something dramatic if that something worked....and by all reports, Kimkins did work!

Apparently the support forums on the Kimkins site were great. Many wonderful people posted there and many friendships were formed as a result of belonging to Kimkins. Good thing, as now many of these disillusioned members are finding each other on other sites, including Jimmy Moore's new forum. Many refer to themselves as Kimkins survivors, and survivors they are!! They are now starting to figure out how to eat healthy and loose weight. Many are going to different low carb plans, but are still reluctant to increase their fat or calories too much. They are upset, and rightly so, that not only were they used by Kimmer, but they are also now being used by anti-Kimkins bloggers who are using their words without permission. They are afraid to trust again. The damage done by Kimkins is not only physical.

Luckily there are plenty of support groups on the Internet. I follow several low carb/diet support sites and I'm seeing threads and posts from new members who are former or still current Kimkins members. And the other members on these forums are doing what they can to help. Many of these sites have tools to help track your intake and progress and members that are more than willing to answer questions and provide information and support for those that are asking for it. If you aren't already a member of a support group, I highly recommend joining one. Here are links to some of the favorites on the net:
Active Low Carbers Forum
Jimmy Moore's site
Spark People
Low Carb Friends
My plan:

Protein: minimum 100g/day. Ideal 130+g/day
Carbohydrate: Beginning Jan 1, minimum 15g/day, less than 50g/day. Subtract fiber grams only.
Fat: as desired of the following:
  • Coconut oil (and other tropical oils)
  • Butter
  • olive oil (not for high heat cooking)
  • Nut oils (avoid for high heat cooking)
  • Bacon fat (minimal unless bacon nitrate free)
  • animal fat (fresh)
Total calories: 1200+ per day
Intermittent fasting: 24h Jan 1, 2007, as desired.
Exercise: minimum 3X/week
  • Cardio: walking daily, starting minimum of 20 minutes.
  • Strengthening/toning: Body For Life program
Processed foods: minimal use
Grains: minimal.
Corn, canola, soy and other "industrial" oils: do not use.
HFCS and trans-fats: check all labels and avoid whenever possible.
Artificial sweeteners: minimal use. Mainly use oligofructose (Sweet Perfection brand)

I base my plan primarily from Protein Power Life Plan (2000 edition) with strong influence of Dr Atkins New Diet Revolution (?1992 edition).

Note, this document is in progress, and may be updated at any time.

Updated 9/16/2007

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