Yer So Negative, Kaleo

Like most of you reading, I am a human being. I have moods. Sometimes my mood is upbeat and optimistic. Other times I get discouraged by the things I see going on around me in the health and fitness world.

Lately I’ve been in the latter mood. You’ve probably noticed if you follow me on facebook. Some of you have even commented on it. A few have told me outright that it’s not ok (lol) and that I should go back to my ‘normal’ self.

This is my normal self – a self that has different moods at different times.

The fitness and health industry is really depressing right now. I don’t like it. I am ashamed to be a member of it. Stunning cases of plagiarism are swept under the rug. Fitness celebrities who lie about their qualifications aren’t held accountable. Genius marketers who use fear and pseudoscience to drive their followers to buy the products they sell are glorified on TV and in magazines. Quacks who lie and misrepresent science on TV can be called out by CONGRESS but still their show gets high ratings and advertisers flock to get air-time. Bullshit abounds, and BOY does it sell.

Professionals who base their recommendations on evidence are called ‘too pro-science’.

Too pro-science? As opposed to what? What in the everloving hell…?

I see the industry careening backward. Away from science, away from evidence, away from reality. I get emails regularly from marketers who want to affiliate with me to promote their detoxes and cleanses, their fat burning supplements, their miracle diet books, their guides to avoiding ‘toxins’. I don’t want to be associated with those things, but apparently those are the things the public wants!

The truth is, all these ridiculous things distract from the things that really do work. A balanced diet, regular exercise, adequate sleep. People get so spun out on raging against toxins and looking for evil corporations to blame their problems on that they forget the basics.

People forget that small simple changes can have a profound effect – not just on our bodies but on our world. We don’t need to rage. Raging just fuels the marketing machine (can you believe [Evil Corporation] is trying to kill you by putting [scary sounding chemical] in your food' Buy this other thing that I’m selling instead!). Raging makes us hate people who make different choices than we do. Raging distracts us from what really matters. We need to live our lives, move forward, make consistent statements with our dollars and our votes. Small statements every day. Small actions every day, like walking instead of driving, that over time compound into massive transformations in our bodies and in our lives and in our world.

Raging and extremes don’t make me happy. Seeing them everywhere in the fitness industry doesn’t make me happy. And so, I’ve been cross lately. So it goes, in life. We have moods. This is mine right now. I’m not going to apologize for it, because I’m not doing anything wrong. I’m being human.

I’m sure my mood will change eventually. Then I’ll be back to my ‘normal’ self. :) A heartfelt thanks to those of you who understand the ebbs and flows of life and stick with me through them. Ain’t being human grand?


The One Without a Title

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Here are a few things people have said about, and directly to, me over the last couple years that I’ve been blogging here.

There are a lot more. I couldn’t put them all because the words would have completely covered me up and you wouldn’t have been able to see who was in the picture.

Which is sort of what those words are designed to do.

Cover you up. Hide you. Make you invisible. Make you not exist.

No one benefits from the status quo. No one. Not even people who appear to conform to a cultural ideal of beauty. There is always a way that they are wrong. A way they are undeserving. A way to silence and dismiss them. No one wins. Ever.

The vast majority of these comments were made by other women. We will NEVER, EVER make any progress past this point if we keep fighting each other.

We are all in this together.






The REAL issue is that virtually everyone is eating more than they think.

I have a lot of colleagues who know the truth – that virtually everyone eats more than they think they do – but have decided that the best way to deal with it is to tell people to eat 1200 calories, knowing they will ACTUALLY eat more like 2000.

Because almost everyone who’s ever had their actual calorie intake compared with their reported intake, by actual SCIENTISTS, has been shown to underestimate how much they’re eating – some people by as much as 300%. In this study, participants under-reported their intake by 47%. This Danish study of over 300 people showed virtually everyone, in every demographic, under-reporting calories. This one shows participants under-reporting by up to 300%! That means some people who think they are eating 1000 calories a day are actually eating more like 3000. Even Registered Dieticians under-report their intake!

Calorie under-reporting isn’t a moral failure, it is normal. Almost everyone does it. It doesn’t make a person weak or dumb or lazy. It just is the way it is.

As I said above, many of my colleagues, knowing this, think that telling people to eat less than they really need is the way to go. I disagree. I think teaching people to be HONEST and ACCURATE is far more important and empowering.

I never made any real or lasting progress until I was honest with myself. Until I wrote down everything I ate and all the exercise I did, and didn’t lie to myself about how much it was. Until I acknowledged that I was eating upwards of 4k calories a day on a typical day, and all that ‘activity’ I told myself I did was really mostly sitting in my chair at my computer. Being honest with myself was the hardest thing I ever did. And it was also the most empowering, because it allowed me to make REAL change to my behavior.

Until I could identify and change my actual behavior, I was stuck in the endless cycle of dieting and regain. Being unaware of what I was really doing to myself was THE problem. Awareness and honesty was the solution.

I believe that most people are capable of being honest with themselves. It’s fucking HARD, but it’s possible. And it’s important. And it’s empowering, because you no longer think of yourself as a victim of biology. You take back the power. You take responsibility for making your own decisions. And making a decision to STOP dieting is every bit as valid a decision as deciding to keep trying to lose weight. It is your body, it is your decision, and you have the power to change it. Or not. Being honest with yourself gives you that power.

I do not believe that coddling people’s unawareness is the way to go. I do not believe that giving people misinformation (your body only needs 1200 calories) because you think they can’t handle the real information (you’re probably eating more than you think) is fair or respectful. I think that compassionate honesty is the most important thing we can do for ourselves (and for those of us in the wellness industry, our clients).

‘You are normal. And you are capable. And I will help you. Lets do this thing.’

Read James Krieger’s post on this subject over at Weightology. And check out my friend Joshua Kern’s post over on Go Maleo. Marion Nestle wrote a good one too.

The reason people freak out about how much I eat is not because 3000 calories a day is so extraordinary for someone my height and weight and activity level. The reason people freak out is because almost everyone else under-reports their intake, so they think they are eating less than me but not achieving the same results. I am the one tracking accurately (see my last blog post for evidence that 3k cals a day is a perfectly appropriate intake for me). The reason people freak out is because I’m one of the very few people who actually tracks my intake accurately, so it looks like I’m the anomaly. I’m not.




Are we REALLY, with this BS again?

Some people just REALLY don’t want to believe I eat 3000 calories a day. Most of the people who accuse me of lying fall into one of two categories: low-carbers or misogynists. Frequently both, as the two seem to overlap with laughable regularity.

The most recent example is one well known douchebro who, upon reading my recent facebook post about how much I eat, declared: “So she eats more than an average male who outweighs her? Bullshit.

Do you even Mifflin St. Jour, bro? Also, I maintain a higher amount of lean mass than the average man my height and weight. I know this is an emasculating concept for men who base their own self worth as a man on how much muscle they have. Sorry bro.

The Mifflin St Jour equation has been shown in studies to be the most accurate predictor of Resting Metabolic Rate of all the most commonly used equations. It’s also the equation I was taught to use in my Personal Training and Health Coaching certification courses. When I run my numbers through the Mifflin St Jour equation, it gives me an estimate of between 2800 and 3200 calories to maintain my current weight, depending on a couple variables. Here, I’ll show you, using an online calculator that bases it’s estimates on the Mifflin St Jour equation*.

When I program in my height, weight, activity level (although I don’t exercise excessively, I do have a a physically demanding job – I’m a massage therapist and personal trainer) and gender, it gives me an estimate of over 2800 to maintain:

Screen Shot 2014-09-05 at 6.41.20 AMBut remember, I have a higher than average amount of lean mass – in fact, at sub-20% body fat I have more lean mass than the average man my height and weight (the average American male is 28% body fat, sorry bro). In fact, at roughly 140 pounds of lean mass, I have as much lean body mass as an average American man of 195 pounds. So when I switch the gender, causing the calculator to factor in a higher level of lean mass (a more accurate amount of lean mass for me), I get an estimate of almost 3200. See?

Screen Shot 2014-09-05 at 6.45.51 AMSo yes. I eat as much (if not more) than an average man who outweighs me. Because I’m MOAR MUSCULAR than an average man who outweighs me. And because I’m, you know, not as sedentary as an average man who outweighs me.

Science says 3000 calories a day is a perfectly reasonable and appropriate amount of food for my height, weight and activity level. #ScienceBro


I chose this calculator for this blog post because it’s based specifically on the Mifflin St. Jour equation, not because I think it’s better than the other calculators I’ve linked to on my blog. :)



When a Person with Visible Abs Says Visible Abs are Meaningless

I HATE fitspo images of headless female torsos. So why did I use a picture of my headless torso for this blog post? Because ti gets people's attention. And when you get someone's attention, they click. And when they click, they read. And when they read, ideas take root. And change begins.

I HATE fitspo images of headless female torsos. They are dehumanizing and objectifying. So why did I use a picture of my headless torso for this blog post? Because it gets peoples’ attention. And when you get someone’s attention, they click. And when they click, they read. And when they read, ideas take root. And change begins.

prag ma tism

noun \ prag-m - ti-z m\

: a reasonable and logical way of doing things or of thinking about problems that is based on dealing with specific situations instead of on ideas and theories


On a fundamental level, I approach problems from a practical standpoint. What is the shortest and most efficient route to a solution?

A few years ago, I recognized that there is a problem with our fitness and diet culture. It is mired in disorder. It’s central tenet is that diet and fitness are a means to an aesthetic ideal. Quality of life, health and self esteem are not primary, and rarely even secondary foci. This is wrong. But it is the culture in which my children are growing up. I need to change it.

Another thing I recognized early on is that my appearance afforded me an opportunity to reach more people. This is a frustrating reality for me. I want people to focus on things other than appearance, but my appearance is often the reason people notice and pay attention to me. My appearance affords me a platform I may not otherwise have, but I want to use that platform to promote a non-appearance-based message.

Rather than focus on the frustrating dichotomy, I decided to use it. This is pragmatism.

Some people like my message but really don’t like that I am the one spreading it. They don’t like that I promote self-acceptance but have a socially sanctioned body type. They don’t like that I say visible abs are meaningless, but I have visible abs. They think that I am a hypocrite when I say ‘love yourself’ after I changed my appearance through weight loss. They get mad that my statements about the uselessness of BMI standards went viral, when others who have been saying it for years have gone unnoticed (in fairness, I’ve been saying it for years too).

You know something? I don’t really like it either. I would like these ideas and the people speaking so eloquently about them to get more mainstream media attention. I don’t like that it takes a culturally approved appearance to get these ideas recognized. But, I recognize that this is the reality we live in right now.

My pragmatic world view says: if this is what it takes to get these concepts out there into mainstream consciousness, then I will work with that. And when I get noticed, I will promote others who have been saying these things. And slowly, over time, we will see the tide begin to turn. I see it happening already. These ideas ARE taking root. And as they spread, more and more voices will be heard. And that is a good thing. Change is the goal.

So I am the one with visible abs saying visible abs are bullshit. I am the fit-looking person saying you don’t have to look fit to be healthy or valuable. I am the one who lost weight saying your weight does NOT determine your worth. That is the role I play in this culture shift. I am ok with that, because reality. Getting from where we are to where we want to be is gonna take a lot of creativity, open-mindedness and compassion.

And I know some people are still not going to like me, and call me arrogant and hypocritical. I’m going to keep fighting for the world my daughters are growing up in, though. Because THEY are the reason I do what I do, they are my motivation. They deserve a world in which their appearance doesn’t define their worth. And I see the practical utility of my appearance. It is a tool, and I will use it.

Dumb study is dumb

This post isn’t even going to be long. This post is just to point out the stupidity of this recent study that’s been getting lots of play in diet circles.

According to headlines, LOW CARB DIETS ARE BETTER FOR WEIGHT LOSS THAN LOW FAT DIETS! Stop the presses. We’ve solved the eternal mystery.


I looked at the full study. Clear as day, right there in the tables: the Low-Carb group was eating fewer calories than the low fat group. 150 calories less a day, on average. A 150 calorie deficit a day would produce a weight loss of about 15 pounds over a year.

People who ate fewer calories lost more weight?




How did this study even get published?


I didn’t feel this study deserved much blog attention. But Dr. David L Katz and James Fell have given it a more thorough thrashing.

Forget weight setpoint. What’s your sanity setpoint?

Weight setpoint is a topic that comes up in diet/fitness/health circles quite often. If your body has a natural weight setpoint that it defends, is there a point in trying to change your weight? Will you end up back at your setpoint no matter what you do?

There is no question that calorie balance is the ultimate determinant of weight. Every metabolic ward study ever conducted confirms this. While different kinds of calories and different conditions can affect how many calories you consume and burn, in the end that balance is what determines your weight. Lyle McDonald wrote an excellent piece on this, so I will simply link to his rather than reinvent the wheel (although I’ve discussed this myself, here and here).

Additionally, there is ample evidence that roughly 20% of dieters are able to reduce their weight and maintain the loss long term. This review looked at several studies on the subject of long-term weight loss maintenance as well as the members of the National Weight Control Registry. If some people DO lose weight and keep it off, there is more to this setpoint theory than meets the eye.

What’s your Sanity Setpoint?

There are a few common behaviors that tie the people who are successful at maintaining weight loss together. I don’t think the specifics of those behaviors are really what is important (they are: reduced calorie and fat intake, regular exercise and eating breakfast daily – I know lots of people who’ve successfully lost weight and kept it off who don’t do all of those things). I think what is really important is that they all made permanent changes to their behavior.

I propose that it is their new behaviors, and not their new weight, that is the real setpoint.

Rather than focusing on a goal weight, or weight at all, perhaps it would be better to focus on goal behaviors. This is something I have talked about numerous times before (here, here, here, here). Systematically change your behavior, and over time your new behaviors will change your body.

So what is your sanity setpoint? It’s the level of behavior change that you can sustain comfortably, indefinitely. Perhaps exercising for 90 minutes a day six days a week and eating 1500 calories a day of chicken breast and broccoli (behaviors that will support a low goal weight, depending on numerous factors) is too extreme for you to maintain long term. Perhaps a more moderate approach, that is more sustainable, but that will support a slightly higher weight, is more realistic. Your sanity setpoint is the range of behaviors that you can incorporate into your lifestyle consistently and remain sane and happy.

For me, the behaviors that I am able to maintain consistently, and without undue stress, support a weight of between 165 and 170 pounds. I can, and have, gotten lower than this in scale weight, but I could not sustain it without making some serious quality of life sacrifices. The costs to my mental and physical health outweighed the positive effects of staying at that weight (most of which were social, not health-related).

All of our behaviors are shaped by the complicated interplay of cost and reward we experience. Focus on creating behaviors for which the rewards outweigh the costs, so that you set yourself up to maintain those behaviors long term.

Change your behavior and your body will follow.



The Most Reasonable Coaching Program Ever

People have asked me for coaching many times over the last few years, and I’ve made a couple attempts at putting together coaching services. Nothing ever quite clicked though, as I hate marketing, and my schedule is hectic with kids and work – although I had a desire, I just didn’t have the bandwidth to put together a program and make the behind-the-scenes machinery work.

About a year ago, Sean Flanagan approached me about putting together a collaborative coaching program – he has the organization to run the business part of things. It took us months to put together a coaching format we both felt good about, and we’ve been beta-testing it for five months now with four small coaching groups. It’s given us time to iron out the kinks and refine the program. Big shout out to our early clients who’ve helped us get this thing up and running effectively!!!

Anyway. We wanted to provide a coaching program that was different, and that reflected our values. Our program:

Is NOT FAST. Our methods produce gradual, habit-based, SUSTAINABLE behavior change that will produce physical change over a scale of months and years. We are more concerned with where you’ll be 5 years from now than what you look like in 12 weeks.

Is NOT EASY. We provide you an initial structure, but expect you to take on more and more responsibility for your diet and exercise as the program progresses. You will be prompted to think for yourself, pay attention to cues from your body, and ultimately do the work of implementing new behaviors, long term.

Is NOT REVOLUTIONARY. Our program is based on principles of health, fitness and nutrition that have been firmly established over decades of peer reviewed research. You won’t find any magic supplements, foods or techniques. We’ve gone back to the basics we’ve known for decades. Those basics are called basics for a reason – they work.

Is NOT EXCITING. This program is actually sort of boring. We focus on balance, moderation and long term habits. We are the tortoise.

This program is NOT FOR EVERYONE. If you want a ‘stage-ready body’, it’s not for you. If you view health and weight loss as a competition, it’s not for you. If you have a medical condition that requires Medical Nutrition Therapy, it’s not for you. If you have an untreated eating disorder, it’s not for you. And that’s ok! Not everyone has the same goals or needs, and there are lots of programs out there that will work for lots of different people. Our program is for people who want to be supported in learning moderation and establishing balanced, reasoned habits that will support long-term health and weight management.

We don’t even have a flashy name! It’s simply “Healthy Fat Loss and Recomposition’. You can learn more about the specifics (and get on the waiting list for the next group) here.

And that’s all!



Thick and Thin: a Tale of Two Sisters

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Two normal bodies, yet I spent years believing mine was flawed.

That's me and my sister, about 30 years apart. From the very beginning of our lives, we had different body types. She is now, and has always been, thin. I am now, and have always been, thick. We’re very close in height and have the same biological parents, but our body types are different. In the pic on the left, I was a member of Weight Watchers, so my war with my body had already begun. A war that resulted in obesity , obsession with food, obsession with my weight, and deteriorating health by my mid-30's.

When I look at the picture of us as children, I see two healthy bodies. Now. Back then, I saw one 'normal', or 'correct' body and one 'fat' body. I being the fat one. Culture sent me messages daily that my sister's body type was 'right' and my own was wrong. I know now that she was getting similar messages, a sense that she was 'too skinny', but then, I thought she was lucky and I was jealous. And I lashed out at her and teased her about being 'anorexic' (sorry sis), because bringing her down made me feel temporarily better about myself (that's a pretty common behavior for children and people who haven't learned how to manage their emotions maturely. I see it all the time on facebook, from grown adults unfortunately).

I fought my body for 25 years. I tried to force it to be more like my sister's. She was, for a long time, the standard I measured myself against. I compared myself to her (and to women on TV and in magazines), and it made me miserable. And for what? Look at the picture of us. Those are both healthy bodies! They are both 'right'! There is nothing wrong with either of them, so why did I spend 25 years hating myself for being different? When there was nothing wrong? I was just different.

As you can see from the picture on the right, as we grew up our body types remained different. Our adult bodies are as different as our child bodies. I stayed thick, and she stayed thin. Shocker, huh? And both of our bodies are healthy. They are both 'right'. One is not better, they are just different. But deep conditioning dies hard, and even now I can stand next to my sister (and other women who's bodies are small and thin and graceful) and feel awkward and ungraceful and huge. Only now I know that that doesn't make my body 'wrong', and that they probably have insecurities and negative conditioning too. So I'm able to stay at peace with my body, my body that is perfectly fine and healthy just the way it is. These are two different body types, and both are normal and healthy.

Theodore Roosevelt said “Comparison is the thief of joy”, and he was right. Comparing myself to my sister led me to decades of unhappiness, and there was nothing wrong with me to begin with. We must stop this.


10 Signs You May Be a Narcissist

This post was inspired by some of the responses I saw to a Huffington Post article.

1. You’ve told a date that they need to change something about themselves to be attractive to you.

2. You think telling a date they need to change something about themselves to be attractive to you is normal and appropriate behavior.

3. You believe that your date would unquestioningly make the changes you’ve prescribed, because you believe that being attractive to you is a priority to your date.

4. You’ve commented on a picture of someone you’ve never met with instructions on how they need to change themselves to be more attractive to you.

5. You think commenting on a picture of a stranger with instructions on how they need to change themselves to be more attractive to you is normal and appropriate behavior.

6. You believe that the stranger in the picture values your opinion and desires your approval.

7. You believe that your opinion on the appearance of others is the standard, and that it represents popular opinion.

8. You present your opinion as fact: “Muscles on women are ugly”, “Long hair on men is disgusting”, “Blue is the best color”, rather than “I find muscles on women unappealing”, “I don’t find long hair on men attractive”, “Blue is my favorite color”.

9. You’ve contacted a business, restaurant, author, blogger, teacher, public personality or other entitiy to tell them they need to change the way they run their business/restaurant/website/class/etc because it doesn’t work for you the way it is.

10. You’ve complained to and expected a community or group to change in order to serve your individual needs.

Source: Google Search

Source: Google Search