In 2008, after 35 years of the Standard American Diet, a sedentary lifestyle, and two pregnancies, I found myself obese, exhibiting a whole laundry list of Metabolic Disorder symptoms, and hurtling madly down a path toward chronic illness and an early, preventable death. Realizing that I was my daughters’ primary female role model, I decided to clean up my act and model a healthy lifestyle, in the hopes that they’d be spared the future of obesity and illness that was my reality. With the simple act of trying to set a good example though, something amazing and unexpected happened. I healed myself and profoundly changed my body.
After decades of diets, yo-yoing weight, and thousands of dollars spent on weight loss gimmicks, I decided to stop trying to lose weight and instead focus on eating an appropriate amount of mostly whole foods, to achieve HEALTH, not weight loss. Instead of punishing myself for dietary indiscretions by spending hours running on the treadmill, interspersed with years of absolute inactivity, I started finding activities I enjoyed, and simply spending more time on my feet and less time on my ass. What happened amazed me: I discovered I actually ENJOYED moving, physical exertion felt GOOD when my body was properly fueled, and most of all, my body was capable of SO MUCH MORE than I’d ever imagined. As the months went by, I gradually lost weight (ultimately 80 pounds), gained strength, saw symptoms of disease diminish and eventually disappear.
I’ve since added an ACE Personal Trainer certification, and an ACE Health Coach certification to my Massage Therapist and Health Educator credentials. I work with amazing clients from all walks of life at the Downtown Oakland Y, and run online coaching programs with my coaching partner Sean Flanagan. I don’t subscribe to a specific dietary dogma and encourage my clients to explore the vast world of food and movement without drinking the ‘kool-aid’ of any specific lifestyle philosophy. Every body is different and each of us must find what works best for our own unique ethics, goals and chemistry. More detail about my own philosophy here.
You can learn more about my collaborative coaching programs here, if you’re interested in learning more. Thanks for stopping by!
i found you on pinterest and fell in love with your story. i have been a runner my entire life and i have always focused on being healthy, but now approaching 41, i know there are many ways i could fine tune my body. thank-you for the inspiration, it was just what i needed.
I’m glad you found me too, and that you’re finding helpful stuff here! Welcome!
Just got introduced to your site by a cool chick in the Fierce Fit Fearless FB group that I belong to – I totally love your site and your philosophies and outlook on EVERYTHING. Even though I work out hard and train intensely, my body is having a hard time digesting all the animal proteins that I was trying to feed it. I am so relieved to see another female that works out hard that does not eat 5 lbs of steak and chicken every 3 hours! I love eating less meat but was worried that my training would suffer – thank you for showing me how that is totally not true! You have an amazing energy and I’m very grateful to have found your site.
My friend introduced me to your site. Love it! I have lost 110 lbs so far (still have more to go) from running and training for my first 10K. Thank you for your honest approach espeically regarding the loose skin. Looking forward to reading the rest of your site!
You look great! I was curious how tall you are? I struggle with what weight looks like. I am 5-8 165, looking to drop, I always wanted to be 145 but maybe the number isn’t the solution.
I LOVE your blog heading….”Eat real food. Move around a lot. Lift heavy things. And skip the kool-aid” (-: Awesome! I love crossfit, but as a dietitian I can’t get on board with the paleo diets elimination of whole grains and beans. I liked your discussion on how you came to find a healthy eating that works for you. I enjoyed reading your blog and identified with many parts. Very motivational, great job.
I’m a 21-year-old female who’s interested in exercising and fitness – oh, and healthy diet, and I’m a lacto-ovo-vegetarian. May I ask you 2 questions?
(1) The first one is regarding your personal experiences of weight loss. What methods have you used to lose weight? By “methods,” I’m referring to exercising (including equipments), diet moderation, commercial weight-loss products (drinks, pills, powders), diet or fitness supplement (protein powders), massaging machines (which do not require physical activities but claim to help weight loss), medications, surgeries, etc.
I have lost about 20 pounds by exercising and eating healthy foods, but I’m not sure if I’m the only real human being I know that has lost weight by these natural methods or not. When I first saw the changes in your physical appearances, I was amazed and impressed, so I started to look at your websites to read more about your stories.
I’ve seen pictures of real people on advertisements of weight-loss products, but I’m not amazed; I only admire people who use realistic and healthy methods to lose weight, so could you tell me more about yourself?
(2) After I have lost 20 pounds, I still have these… seemingly “congenital” abdominal fats that still remain. I had a bulgy abdomen since I was little, even when I was 5 feet and 80 pounds, so I had always thought that I was fat. Until I was “really” fat from binging and became almost 140 pounds…
Anyway… '? I want to burn off those abdominal fats first before I work on toning the muscles, because I don’t want to result in a bulgy mass of abdominal muscle. I want to look flat from lateral view. Could you give me some advice on what I can work on?
The resources I have: NO membership of any fitness club, since I don’t work, and my mom’s income can only focus on “needed” expenses – well, needs to sustain life but not emotion, because my mind dies if I haven’t exercised for a few days. However, I can use the fitness center at my college for free, but during the summertime, I can use it for barely an hour, since I have a summer class, which is what qualify me (current student) to use the gym. In addition, I have to transfer buses to arrive at my college campus. By the time my second bus arrives on campus, I have only one hour left until the gym closes. (The gym at my college is not open for consecutive hours, and it’s not free for all the time period when it opens.)
I don’t have any lifting or cardio equipments at home, although I’ve wished that I had a treadmill. Sometimes I lift my heavy bookbag to work on my upper arm, since I think it’s possibly the same principles that make biceps curls work. '?
Thank you very, very much. I’d appreciate your response. Thank you, again.
I love your blog and philosophy, which is very similar to mine! There is so much misinformation on diet and lifestyle out there and yet it is simpler than people think!
adamBATTAGLIA Posted on whit, your pictures are ublnbievaele. sure, i’m really jealous but also REALLY JEALOUS. congrats on what seems to be a successful trip so far. can’t wait to see the show.
I’m doing the paleo thing and my aunt, who’s a vegetarian, asked me to help her figure out a way of eating that would help her get healthy without violating her ethics. I’m going to send her to your site. You look awesome, and super healthy!
Hi, I just came upon your site through some article about the Olympic people and not wanting to look like them or something, haha.
Anyways I think you’re just amazing and after I’m done with this comment I’m going to read your “getting started” post and find out how to..well “get started” Lol.
I currently need to lose like 110lbs or more (or just 110 and make up the difference with muscle), I lost 50lbs last year but gained back half of that because of holidays, and then I got lazy… Not my proudest moment since I was feeling so happy to be back in my pre-pregnancy pants and then I messed it up and gave up my newly found fgood habits for my SO’s re-found bad-habits. (He’s one of those skinny people that eats crap and stays skinny) It’s funny that since I fell off the wagon I feel like I used to 10x faster than I felt better from eating healthy. Recently I’m working on cutting gluten out of my diet because it makes me moody and makes my stomach cramp up after like 5 minutes.
Anyways, the Olympics have really gotten my motivation to kick in, mainly because most of the people competing this year are around my age and you get those “what could have been” moments in your head, but at least it’s gotten me interesting in changing back to what I was working on creating last year.
I think one of the biggest inspirations I get from you is that you were the same size as me like 4 years ago, and after 1 year you were already at “goal” before toning (from what I get from you progression pic). I would love to be 170 in a year. Or even just LOOK 170 haha (my body holds weight pretty well, but yours seems to as well).
Anyways, thank you for creating this site, I bet you’re helping tons of people.
The only downside is that I can educate the hell out of myself through your blog, but when it comes to working out I’m limited by being too poor for a gym and being in Arizona, it sucks to go outside no matter what time of year it is (but especially now when it’s 110-120). I also live on a second story so I can’t workout inside unless I want to be evicted. Next year I hope to have a house in nice cool Washington state. But maybe until then I can talk hubby into a gym membership.
i’d like to know your height. I have been told that height determines so much about your intake vs output and you look amazing. I am baffled as to how you eat 3000 calories a day and maintain that figure…
Your amazingly grounded perspective has made such an impact on my life. I have suffered from anorexia for 9 years and been hospitalised numerous times as a result. I love to train and eat clean but have a tendancy to become obsessive and excessive with the so called ‘healthy’ messages in society and despite my best attempts at recovery I seem to always fall prey to those damaging messages we are bombarded with each day. Many times I have ended up as a ticking time bomb being warned that my organs were likely to give up at any moment but I just didnt know how to do anything else and everywhere I looked I was told to eat less, move more, be strong and use willpower (load of crap!)
Your blog is the best thing I have come across (and I have paid $400 for a half hour psych session with the best psych’s in the country before so that is saying a lot!) It taps into my logical mind and reassures me that there is an option to eat food, train hard and still be healthy (rather than living like the walking dead). You have become such a grounding force in my recovery and have shown me what healthy can really mean rather than what all the trashy magazines try to sell us.
After so many years of depriving my body and ending up with bone density issues, depression, reporductive problems etc I am finally finding it such a miracle to be following a healthy meal plan of 2000-2500 cals per day and the only thing that convinces me to keep going with it is your blogs. Your blog is so different to other ‘health’ blogs as you dont promote weight loss, restriction, or excessive ANYTHING! Its about living your best life in a healthy and balanced way. Please keep spreading the love and keeping it so real. You are changing lives in such an amazing way xx
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You’re a living image of the saying “your body is your temple.” Proud of your progress.
Thank you Zamaro! It was nice of you to take the time to post this today. '?
Hi! I have just recently found your blog and I am usually not one to comment, but I have to tell you, you are now my favourite person in the whole blogworld '?
Well im a 26 year old mother of 2 and ive always been a overweight person since i can remember. Im 5″4 and about 250lbs.. And im looking to change my health style. Maybe lose some weight but dont know how to start.
You are awesome!! I’m a CC member (so keep track of my calories) and am also a relatively active member of the forum posts. I see SO MANY WOMEN trying out fad diets, paleo, no carb, juice (that one makes me scream every time) and all sorts of trash. I try to comment on as many as I can but sometimes I get so frustrated because of all the misinformation about diet and exercise but also about how “skinny” is the be all and end all for young women. It is so refreshing to see a whole blog devoted to being healthy, happy, un-restricted, and super hot and buff. Whoever said you looked like a lesbian was lying but if you were a lesbian you’d be super hot! Way to go, I’m bookmarking you right now.
Kaleo…if i wanted to contact you, asking on opinion on a health issue i am facing and see what your thoughts are about how i should proceed…how do i email you?
Very concerned follower of yours,
wow, that’s a pretty remarkable transformation. I’ve never had any extra pounds, and I can’t imagine managing to lose that many pounds. that must be some serious dedication you’ve got! '?
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I am a guy, but I have really enjoyed reading some of your posts since I found this site last week.
Keep up the good work and thanks for sharing.
I couldn’t find your email do you think you could shoot me an email I have a question about your blog.
I think you look like a lesbian. In your slimmed down weight you have very broad shoulders with narrow hipbones. You are built like a man. You also have short hair. You also have that weird circle tattoo on you stomach. Are you secretly a lesbian? Am I right?
Lol, deux. John… you’re joking, right?
Sounds like John has a healthy and fulfilling life. ::cough sarcasm cough::
What a joke! Glad you don’t respond to bullsh*t like that.
Wouldn’t mind it one bit if she was. '?
Omg…she’s married and has children. She just has a more masculine physique…nothing wrong with that at all…..and she can probably lift more than you, buddy.
What does a lesbian look like?
Are you the alternative?
Yes! She made this blog just to post all about her lesbian-ness and make the world get circle tattoos!
On that note, I just scheduled a circle tattoo appointment…lol!
Oh and short hair? She’s totally taking away from the shampoo and conditioner companies! She’s crazy! and we should all run away in fear! '?
I think this is great and love that you don’t beat around the bush. Inspiring…short hair, circles and all.
I haven’t been able to track it down…and I’m wondering, how tall are you? I’m 5’8″ and currently struggling with the fact that I need to be heavier than 130…I just love that you’re 160-170 and look so amazing.
I just wanted to thank you for posting your workouts on this website. I’ve been doing a different one every day – and I absolutely love the way they are challenging me! I especially love the 100 deadlifts and 100 kettlebell swings workout. I’ve relied on several of your YouTube videos in order to get my form down, so I appreciate you taking the time to film them. Your positive posts and positive attitude towards food has helped me to feel really good about myself and my shape. You’re wonderful. Keep up the great work!
Thank you Amy!!
Just purchased the lifting manual. Can’t download '?
Is this the email address you used? I’ll look into it.
Update: I looked into it, the issue is that you paid with an echeck so the download won’t be enabled until it clears. Hang tight! '?
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Just been clued in to your website by someone with whom I had a conversation today about nutrition and my health goals and what I said could very well have been VERBATIM what you wrote about yourself before you started making a change. Now, I want the other half of that story, too!!
I just came across your blog and I’m so happy I could cry! I’ve spent the past 2 months following a strict paleo diet (not to lose weight, but to “improve my overall health”). Even though I eat all day, I’ve lost 8lbs (since I started at 5’10 and 135lbs, I didn’t exactly have any to lose); I know I’m not getting enough calories, but I’ve been too “scared” to cheat and add any carb&calorie dense foods and as a result I’m always tired, cranky, and my menstrual cycles are coming every 2 weeks! (not to mention eating so strictly is putting a nice dent in my wallet!) I keep chalking this up to being my “adjustment phase” and that even though I’m not seeing my desired results now (in fact I probably feel worse), things will get better. After reading your list of “disordered eating” symptoms, I was shocked to see myself in that category, letting food and my anxiety of eating the “right or wrong” things control my every thought. I love food and I feel like for the past 2 months I’ve been so worried about “following the rules” that I haven’t been able to properly enjoy it.
I just wanted to say thank you for showing me that you can be strong, beautiful, and healthy without letting food define who you are.. and being able to enjoy food without feeling guilty about every decision you make. Maybe I’ll actually have some rice with my stir-fry tonight '?
I love your perspective and will be reading more here (came in via the Scarlett Johansson link, as seen on Facebook). Just thought I’d point out a typo in the second-to-last paragraph on this page: “I've since added a Personal Trainer certification, and a Nutrition and Weight Management Coach **cetificatio** to my'”
Thanks for the heads up!
Came here because of the Scarlett Johansson article too. I agree with you. And you were hot back when you were chubby, and even hotter now that you are fit! Congratulations!
Thank you! '?
Hi! I just read your post “I’m Calling for a New Paradigm” and remembered this other blog post I’d read regarding fitness memes: http://reembody.me/2013/09/10/the-6-most-shockingly-irresponsible-fitspiration-photos/
With all of the irresponsible media out there regarding fitness and body image, I’m thankful that people like you exist to counteract it, even with one blog post at a time.
I like the freeing attitude here about eating, but unfortunately I’m turned off by the negative, sarcastic, aggressive, and ‘This diet is clearly stupid’ attitude about the Paleo lifestyle. Which, honestly, has upped the quality of life for my wife and I exponentially. We don’t follow any gurus. We don’t foam at the mouth when someone mentions phthalates. We just follow the basic tenants of no grains, beans, and little dairy, 90% of the time. But, I feel totally unwelcome here.
Yes, in general people who have a strong emotional attachment to a specific dietary ideology have a negative initial reaction to my blog. Not just paleos, but vegans and low carbers and clean eaters, etc. I’ve had many people contact me to let me know that they hated me when they first found me!
I hope you’re able to find a blog more to your liking.
I love you! You are right on.
I found your blog the other day while searching for bench press weights for women(you commented on some forum) and I’m very inspired after reading your journey.
I think we are about the same age(I turned 40 last September) and I swear I had that same sleeveless shirt and hairstyle in highschool(that first “then” photo up there). I just recently started my journey to a healthy body and lifestyle. As of last April I have went from 232 lbs(highest non pregnant weight) down to 162lbs. I’ve never been a thin girl and was about 155lbs before the kids came. I’ve never been in shape, didn’t play sports, and never ever ran. I am now working out at the gym 3 days a week and easily doing 5k a day running(the running only started last June). I know now at 40 I am in better physical shape than I was at 30 or even 20. I still want to lose another 20lbs but right now I’m concentrating on toning and muscle building. My biggest problem is my excess skin. Did you have a problem with this and if so, how did you address it? I forgot to mention, that I have 7 children, ages 20 to 3 and the last three births were csections(so I’m really trying to build back my stomach muscles). Actually, the only place with the flabby skin is my stomach, the rest is shrinking back rather nicely.
That’s probably more than you wanted to read(or think about, some strangers flabby tummy!), so I’ll stop now '? Congrats on your success, you look fabulous and I’m sure more importantly… you feel fabulous.
Hi. I’m not sure if you can help me but I purchased the bundle a few minutes ago and I am guessing that I put in my email address wrong. I did not get a confirmation. I don’t use my gmail account often and I think I added a “j” in the address. Is there anything I can do to correct it?
Hi Sital, what’s the email address connected to your paypal account? I can find the transaction that way.
Needless to say, I was a little slow on discovering the amazingness of your blog. I think I found it through the dark alleys of the Paleo underground, where people who haven’t experienced shining success huddle in secluded corners to figure out if there’s something better out there…
I am so thrilled I found your site. Even though I have been Paleo with varying degrees of strictness for going on six years now, I love the humorous jabs (because many of them are so true!) Paleo worked great for me two times in my life: when I first started, and when I went to boot camp (I’m in the Navy). Both times, I wasn’t huge into the meat-eating thing, although previous brief forays into vegetarian and vegan eating led to weight gain and injuries. When I did calorie-counting diets, I always found myself subbing out a few servings of grains so I could have a little more meat, about two 3oz. servings a day. So the first time I went Paleo, I ate raw fruit bowls for breakfast, salads for lunch, and some meat with lots of veggies for dinner, and a frozen banana for dessert. It worked because you can only eat so many veggies before you’re stuffed — I was in an enormous calorie deficit. The problem was that I didn’t need to lose weight! I was already underweight as it was!
Like I said, the other time it worked was when I was at boot camp. You got one meat and one cooked veggie at each meal, or if you chose not to eat the meat, you got two cooked veggies. After that, you could fill up on all the packets of oatmeal, bread, raw salad, and apple and bananas your tray could fill. The table had mayonnaise, peanut butter, and Sunbutter. If the meat was cheesed or breaded, I didn’t eat it, or I picked it off and sometimes ended up with two bites of meat. So I scarfed down on at least one apple and one banana per meal, and often three or more single-serve containers of Sunbutter per meal. When the dessert cart came by, I celebrated the cups of oranges — those were like gold compared to the cups of diced melon. I “knew” with that kind of calorie surplus, I was going to “get fat,” but I also knew my body didn’t need the stress of dieting along with the stress of boot camp, so I made sure I pushed myself as hard as possible when we worked out. We also walked EVERYWHERE and sat cross-legged on the floor. Sitting in a chair was a rare luxury.
I also have battled cystic acne all my life, ever since I began the vestiges of puberty at age 10. In spite of hormonal birth control, Retin-A, and finally a round of Accutane, which put it all in control for several years, by the time I went to basic, about a year-and-a-half into my Paleo diet, I was dealing with some of the worst acne of my life. My mom was actually freaked out that I was going to have horrendous skin when I came out because I wasn’t allowed any cleansing products. They gave me a “prescription” for Cetaphil, and all the girls in my division were jealous that I got a face wash!
I did a lot of running before I went, because a 1.5 mile run is part of our physical assessment. I worked my tail off to get myself down to an 8-minute mile because I thought that was a “runner’s pace.” I ran my first 1.5 miles in 11:57, which made my goal, and also made me have to train with the boys. In the nine weeks I was there, I shaved a whole minute off my time, and I never knew I was even remotely physically capable of running that fast. I ended up losing a bunch of weight again and got nicknamed “abs.” My mom said my skin was the clearest she had seen in years. I ate like a boss, but more like a Paleo vegetarian boss (who didn’t shy away from eating the sandwich or the cheese or the 100-calorie-pack of cookies if that’s all we had), and aside from clearly needing to gain 5 or 10 pounds, I looked great.
I have been sitting here for three years now trying to figure out what it was in basic that worked so well, and now that I’ve been exploring your blog and trying to free myself from the dogma that has so engulfed my life for too long now, I’m finally starting to wonder if it’s the fruit. My biggest problem with any kind of vegetarian thing is not so much the lack of meat (although I do need animal protein most meals), it’s that I just don’t dig grains. I don’t. I’m not a big fan of beans or lentils, either, unless it’s Indian food or my dad’s homemade lentil or split-pea soups.
To make a long story short, yours is the first blog I’ve come across where I actually think, wow, she looks healthy, as opposed to, oh, she looks like another emaciated veggie. You have me totally rethinking my diet.
Today, I tried going low-carb to try and “lean out” a little bit, but when I saw that my protein was low, I had myself yet another serving of meat. Then I felt like crap. So now I’m curious about my own little N=1 experiment of frooooooooooooooot!
I make it sound like I think you’re a fruitarian. I don’t. But reducing fruit in my life because of carbohydrate curves blah blah blah has been about the worst thing I could have ever done to myself. Oh delicious cherries and peaches and the little plums like my grandma used to grow in her yard, how I’ve missed thee!
Hi Amber, I’m not sure of the best way to contact you so I hope it’s ok posting this here! I love your message and think the ETF group is really amazing. So I bought your Taking Up Space yesterday on Kindle from Amazon.co.uk but unfortunately the text/formatting is all over the place. The words are unevenly spaced, sometimes only 3 words on a line but centrally-aligned so big gaps between them. It’s hard to read! Is there anything that can be done about this please?
Oh man, this seems to be happening lately. I will send you another download. Thanks for letting me know, i think I need to take my book off Amazon! Is this the email you’d like me to use to send another download?
Thanks Amber, yes it’s the right email address.
OK! Done, you should have it now. '?
I can’t believe you exist! I just put it out there on FB that I’d love a personal trainer who supported intuitive/mindful eating over ‘the meal plan’ and was a bit progressive/holistic. And you’re in the bay area! I realize you’re busy busy busy but I am determined to work with you or someone just as fabulous with the same ideals. I’d love your recommendation or info on how to work with you on even a part time basis. I’m in Redwood City so a bit of a drive to Oakland but I’d make it work. I have 50 pounds and a lot of negativity to let go of. And a TON of life to gain. Please email me! Thank you so much for your time. – Danielle
Hi Amber…I get so much out of your posts, both Facebook and Instagram so I need to say “thank you” for keeping it sane! Now I have what I hope is a simple question. In your opinion, what is better to count, calories or fat? I need to lose 20 lbs and I’m trying to keep it in the reasonable range ie exercise and eating more healthy. I ask because I was eating a breakfast sandwich with 230 calories but 12 grams of fat. Made me wonder…thanks for the input!
Fat is totally fine and healthy, total calories are what matter in determining weight. '?
I just love your story. Its why I chose to by your ebook last week but I have not received anything yet. I even checked my junk e-mail.
Michele, I emailed you yesterday about the book! Maybe it got lost in the ether. Can you email me at [email protected] and we’ll get it all sorted out. '?
Just looking for suggestions on where to start. Just turned 35 and I want get off the up and down diet wheel. I want to be healthy for me and teach my 9 year old it is possible. Lost 70 pounds 2 years ago and put it all back on. Any help would be great. suggestions and more.