She told us she was “Kimmer” ,
A petite 118 lb. young lady,
who claimed to have lost 198 lbs. in 11 months,
on her own diet, Kimkins.
When her picture appeared in the Woman’s World magazine,
she went by the name of Kim Drake.
The private investigator confirmed that she was actually Heidi Diaz
and she didn’t look like any of those other “after” pictures she used.
At the deposition, she confirms that she lied.
Would YOU take diet advice from this woman?
Down the Rabbit Hole: Kimkins
A morbidly obese diet guru teaches others to starve effectively.
“That’s the thing about a Train Wreck. You just can’t look away.”
—Kimmer discussing the number of page views of the “Ask Kimmer” thread
“I… lost 30 pounds in about two months – which I thought was fantastic. And then, I couldn’t lose any more. Like many others, I kept dragging my calories down to the point where I’d eat nothing but a plain chicken breast for dinner and break down crying the next morning since my scale wouldn’t budge. My hair started to thin out, dizziness was commonplace, but thankfully my husband convinced me to go back to high protein/high fat (I’ve had problems with EDs in my teens and early 20s – I’m 30 now).
At first glance, the diet seemed fantastic (especially with all of those supposed success stories) – even though I found Kimmer’s before and after pics more than suspect. I spent the early years of my career as a TV news reporter, and despite my own instincts – and the glaring evidence telling me otherwise – I chose to ignore them out of my own desperation to lose weight. And now I’ve severely compromised my health as a result.”
–Lily, from “Kimkins Survivors”, an online weblog dedicated to stories of people who followed Kimkins.
Lily is not unlike others who suffer from extremely low-calorie eating plans, which offer a feeling of control in a sometimes chaotic world in return for the rewards of weight loss, sometimes to varying degrees of sacrifices to health.
One such weight loss plan taking the Internet by storm is known as the Kimkins Diet, a phenomenon born within an online weight loss forum to a poster known only as Kimmer, a woman who claimed a phenomenal loss of 198 pounds in only 11 months. Kimkins later made its mark when it was featured in the June, 2006 Woman’s World Magazine as its cover story, featuring a woman named Christin, who later renounced Kimkins, and who came forward with her own harrowing stories of malnutrition and health problems due to following this unyieldingly rigid and austere diet.
History of Kimkins
“If I had to do it all over again, I would definitely water fast the first 100 lbs off. Unless you’ve tried it, you can’t imagine the freedom fasting gives you … and the euphoria is almost addictive”
A popular online diet community like lowcarbfriends.com brings many people together, most with a shared goal and designs on weight loss and gaining health. A haven for the listless and the lonely, as well as the socially outgoing, bulletin boards tend to be a melting pot for many personalities. One such personality was that of a woman who was later identified as Heidi Diaz, but who called herself “Kimmer”.
Claiming an almost 200-pound loss in 11 months (she stated that she started her final weight loss attempt in 2001, at the age of 43), she gave often conflicting information regarding the method of loss, coupled with time line of losses and maintenance. The plan was called “Kimkins”, a mixture of her handle (Kimmer) with the extremely popular low-carbohydrate diet known as Atkins. Unlike Atkins, however, Kimmer supported very low calorie eating and extremely small amounts fat, giving people advice as she did one particular poster named “Mrs Evans” who asked if eating 900 calories a day was safe: “Look at people with gastric bypass surgery (400-500 calories), Stillmans (600-750 calories) or the water fasters (0 calories) … all lose 1 pound a day or more.” These low numbers would continue to be preached to people over the following months as she gained a following which perplexed as many people as the supposedly fast losses.
Combined with very low caloric intakes, fasting was often supported as an option for incredibly fast losses. Kimmer, herself, told others of her amazing successes fasting for weeks at a time, and encouraged others to follow her example.
“The fastest weight loss will be at the lowest calories and lowest carbs so:
In Kimmer’s own words, “I have done many 10-15 day, a couple 30 day and one 48 day water fast.” Statements follow such as these, “You are losing every day that you’re at 0 calories. Your body has no choice but to tap body fat for the calories that it needs to run.”
Water fasting aside, other information was making its way into the threads which also caused concern for posters who believed that health shouldn’t make a person sick. The term “SNATT”, which means “Semi-Nauseous All The Time” was a coined term which made its way into Kimkins vernacular. Seen as a boon due to the natural appetite suppressant of feeling ill, it was another tool in an arsenal bent on promotion of eating fewer calories to lose weight more quickly.
According to Kimmer, SNATT “is the feeling many have in what I term ‘real’ ketosis (as opposed to the fake ‘stick’ kind with no weight loss).” In short, if there was no nausea, there had to follow that real weight loss was taking place. Challenge groups sprang up with “SNATT” in the title, humorous asides about feeling ill constantly as a side effect of Kimkins, while seeing who could eat less and lose weight more quickly.
The lack of food being brought into the system tends to cause problems with the digestive tract, including, but not limited to, the ability to eliminate solid waste properly. A given solution for this has been regular use of Epsom salts (recommended daily in some circumstances), taken to alleviate the problem. Milk of Magnesia was also given as a quick fix to any problems with not being able to use the bathroom.
Milk of Thistle soon became a favorite discussion item. “I would encourage everyone to look into milk thistle or even sugar free Citrucel. They may be taken daily for long term use.”
Finally, she came around full-circle and recommended that laxatives can be taken daily, giving more credence to her belief that laxatives are meant for daily use rather than allowing the body to eliminate wastes on its own timetable. “Low carb is also low fiber so we have the option of taking extra fiber (sugar free Citrucel or Benefiber) with plenty of fluids or an “active” laxative like Ex-lax, Epsom salts or something similar. They work in different ways, some bulking, some water attracting and others. I’m cheap so I would use the Epsom salts. Make a batch according to the directions on the box and keep it in the fridge. It tastes horrible so use Crystal Light or diet soda instead of water when you mix. Personally, I’d drink 4 oz every night, but check on the timing according to how your body reacts. The point is to keep waste moving, as unpleasant as it is to think about.”
One member who showed a stall was met with this statement: “2) Have you used Epsom salts or laxatives recently?”
She followed up with a post which contains only this line: “Reminder to everybody as to whether Epsom salts or other laxative is necessary? We want to keep things moooooving, so to speak.”
Regarding laxative use in general, Kimmer intimated that traditional knowledge of medicine could be old hat: “Traditional advice is that laxatives are not for daily use because the digestive system will depend on them, but I’ve read new info (don’t have a source) which says that’s old science. The opinion was that it was more important to keep waste moving. We’re talking the stated dose, not mass quantities or laxative abuse.”
What Kimmer failed to realize is that daily use of a laxative could, in fact, lead to laxative abuse.
Still, when at least one member mentioned this very-real concern, Kimmer’s dismissive tone could be read here: “very good point about laxative abuse. We aren’t interested in going there, but we are interested in maximum speedy weight loss. I think laxatives used per instructions are safe and far better than constipation where the body reabsorbs some of the toxins and waste that are accumulated. Do you think the staining of the colon is from the laxatives themselves or compaction of the fecal matter or bouts of poor eating and then relying on laxatives to maintain weight?”
In other words, maximum and speedy weight loss, coupled with questionable scientific commentary regarding toxin absorption seemed to override any concerns Miss Diaz had regarding people abusing a substance such as laxatives.
And such problems were only the beginning.
Promises the world, even when it’s spinning out of control
“The strongest motivator I know is fast weight loss. If I were losing 1-2 lbs a week I’d be ripping into an Entemann’s box.”
Guarantees of insanely fast weight losses didn’t form from thin air at Kimkins.com. Even in her former days doling out information to desperate dieters at lowcarbfriends.com, claims of almost ridiculously high amounts of weight loss were given with a seeming wave of the hand and numbers as unlikely as they sound.
One member elicited this response when asking whether or not they could attain losses of 85 pounds in a relatively short period of time: “Of course 85 lbs in 5 months! This isn’t Weight Watchers. But, you have to make an honest commitment to lean protein and salad type veggies. I read about people doing Kimkins and they’re eating all kinds of high calorie stuff that isn’t going to help with fast weight loss. You’ll lose 15-20 pounds on Induction, then at least 3-5 lbs a week after that.”
Promises of sustained weight loss of more than 2 pounds a week are not only dangerous but in direct violation of FTC guidelines which outline diet scams.
One member recounts that she lost 6 pounds in a week. Undeterred, Kimkins uses the moment to passively attack non-Kimkins plans. “That’s really good for anyone, LOL! Some non-Kimkins people would love to lose 6 lbs in a month!”
To one morbidly obese poster she very confidently chose these words: “You’re in the 300 lb range so I would anticipate 8-11 lbs a week. You might consider MoM [milk of magnesia], Epsom salt or other laxative either full strength 2-3 times a week or a reduced amount daily.”
Encourages eating very low caloric amounts
“0 calories is 0 calories, by any method. I don’t think it’s unhealthy, isn’t that what water fasting is?”
The lower the calories the better seemed to be the ever-increasing mantra to Kimmer and her followers. Why? Because, according to Kimmer, the “metabolism is a thing that can’t be broken”, and weight loss is a calorie game. As she suggested that eating 600 calories will continue to net more than 1-2 pound losses per week until near goal, she stated to one member, “Please don’t buy into the “minimum calorie” thing. You’re just making your life harder if you do.”
To a 50-year old grandmother, she joked, “Let’s see — difficult work schedule, walking 4 miles, cleaning house, less sleep, 50 years old, chasing a granddaughter and losing well … all on only 800 calories a day? What happen to our dear friend, Starvation Mode?” The winking emoticon used afterwards was to further seal that eating 800 calories a day is safe for anyone, including someone who was able to engage in physical activity.
“If your calories are low you’re losing every day.”
One member showed frustration at a weight loss stall while eating only 700-800 calories per day. Kimmer’s suggestion? To cut calories even more. She says, “cut back a bit on the chickie (calories) and add the “up to” 2 cups of salad and you’ll probably surpass your goal.”
One person who was stalled provided her menu for Kimmer’s consideration:
“Kimmer….On M/E..for me…my meals are pretty much like this:
Breakfast: 2 hardboiled eggs.
Lunch : 2 hardboiled eggs or sliced chicken
Dinner: chicken or eggs.
I know its very boring…but thats what I’m doing to get to goal.”
Kimmer responded: “You’re close to goal and more ‘cutting’ may be necessary.”
Seemingly flustered, the poster countered:
So are you saying that I’m eating too many calories???
Breakfast less than 200..
Lunch…less than 200
Dinner…?? I don’t measure..but from the past Fitday its been less than 400 calories..
Maybe I should just start exercising to make for the decrease calories…I can’t really imagine eating less than I am now. My metabolism must be shot if I can’t move the scale at this amount of calories.”
Time and again, posters like ‘starstar’ registered in on the thread with very low caloric numbers. “cals at only 547” was half of a very short reply. Time and again, on page 55 particularly, one will note that she places great emphasis on remaining around 450 calories for the day, trying to prove that Dr Atkins’ induction menu should be low-calorie, and then changing someone’s fitday.com menu in an effort to bring that person in at under 450 calories for the day.
This mentality is the kind which breeds a dangerously cavalier attitude in people who should be looking for safe weight loss, and not merely starving themselves. Rather than re-evaluate that maybe the plan is, in fact, broken, desperate dieters actually considered adding exercise to a regime that she even claimed as less than 400 calories per day, with absolutely no concerns from Kimmer.
In fact, when people adjusted for exercise by adding calories back in, Kimmer would say (as an example), “Exercise won’t slow you down so long as you don’t eat to compensate for the calories you burned … some people do that. Do not add calories.”
On what weight loss plan has it ever been said that exercise is a pejorative concerning weight loss?
Why not slower, more stable weight loss? According to Kimmer, “I don’t begrudge people who lose slowly, I just don’t see the valor in taking forever and a day to do something that can be done in a few months.”
But at what cost to health?
The personality behind Kimkins
“The one thing that does surprise me in reading those posts, is that people actually believe what they’re writing. Rather odd.”
Kimmer, an enigmatic and ‘larger than life’ self- made heroine of the weight loss world was quickly amassing fans and followers across one of the largest diet support boards on the Internet. Threads were devoted to her success, and challenged heralded further success, as posters either lost weight due to restrictive caloric intakes or fasting, or gave up due to the stringency of the weight loss plan itself.
It didn’t matter, since there were always new and hopeful people wanting to lose weight. Kimmer seemed ready, and always with a smile. People, however, were not welcome to question her. Statements like, “Listen Kelly, if I said you’ll lose your appetite, you’ll lose your appetite,” were meant to brush people off in lieu of less difficult questions.
Her statements generally were intimating that her advice was only for those who wanted success. While she told some people that her planned favorite Chinese meal only resulted in minor water weight gain due to sodium, she would verbally punish others who might plan for a single serving of pure cocoa as a spice. When questions might be asked about healthy levels of fats, she would reply with statements similar to these, most likely designed to convince others that she was right: “Keep in mind my advice is only for very rapid weight loss. There are many plans that are low calorie and 1-2 lbs a week weight loss.”
Rapid weight loss. Health so long as there was bodily fat to feed from, and no danger of malnutrition. However, when asked to post an example of her maintenance plan, she responded, “I don’t like to post my maintenance menu because it’s boring.” A long post followed with supposed proof that she knew what she was talking about. “Like 318 to 158 in only 7 months. I just say ‘pass’ and stay size 4.”
At the same time, on the same thread, she seems to forget she was a size 4. “but I like wearing size 6 jeans so it’s a small price to pay.”
When asked about why she didn’t post pictures of her phenomenal weight losses, she was able to avoid peoples’ questions with dismissive statements about being “Shy”.
More efforts to shut down people asking for evidence can be seen in this renouncement of a fellow poster who asked for proof that her questionable advice had, in fact, netted the results she claimed. “My dearest KajunDC is demanding photos of me so I can prove that I’m not emaciated, drawn and dessicated, LOL! I have to take a new photo to renew my driver’s license next week. I hope I’m not in such poor shape that small children run screaming to their mothers. I wonder why he wants so badly to see me? Why does he think I’d be a visceral skeleton with pulsating arteries? Hmmm, must be a chiropractor thing.” Laughing and dismissing people while leveling jabs at them (“must be a chiropractor thing”) was often used.
She is impatient with those who have difficulties with weight loss, commenting in such a way as to say, “We love people who lose fabulously!” and generally ignoring or chastising those who find they might stall out or experience difficulty. One such member who tried to debate the efficacy and safety of Kimkins for its constant showing of caloric number at or below 500 calories was met with this from Kimmer: “I don’t want arguing or nastiness on this thread. My plan doesn’t work for you and that’s fine. Good luck with whatever you decide to do.” The dismissive attitude is finally punctuated with her patented “royal we” finish. “I can’t do your reading for you. We wish you luck.”
People who dared to ever question her or her methods were usually made to be the collective ‘bad guys’ in later statements. Rather than people who questioned rational points, they were made to be the mob, and her to be the heroine of the day, welcoming praise and adoration from those who took her word for it that she was unfairly chastised. Suddenly, someone who might consider that calorie totals were too low would be forevermore part of a convenient and faceless mob in statements like the following: “Oops, I don’t write very well sometimes (or in the opinions of others, most of the time, LOL).” Another statement meant to victimize her and put her in a martyr status: “thanks for your kind words. It’s OK, I’ve survived worse. The naysayers mean well … well, that’s the theory I operate under anywho!”
Nonsequitur comments were also often used in an effort to lash out at those who disagreed with her methodologies and questionable advice regarding damaged metabolism and starvation levels of calories. One such comment was made to a member who said nothing whatsoever about metabolism or caloric intakes, but who, instead, mentioned that her pants were loose. In return, Kimmer’s red herring was evident, the strawman fallacy apparent, especially when coupled with an emoticon meant to obviously show the following comment as sarcastic and to jab at the skeptics: “Sorry to hear about your “ruined” metabolism.”
Knowledgeable about everything and refusing to be questioned, Kimmer places herself time and again in a position of power over those around her, claiming to know better than concerned family and friends of dieters. Statements such as, “Ask your friends to kindly mind their own business!” and “Of course you lost 14 lbs in 2 weeks, what else did you expect?” are meant to assert her control over others and to reiterate time and again that she is to be listened to, and not questioned. Statements such as “I can’t do your reading for you” are incredibly terse commentaries which abuse a member for not agreeing with her tenacious claims.
In an ongoing effort to make those who disagreed her with her seem mentally incompetent, she would begin phrases with, “I’m not a rocket scientist, but…” or, in an effort to be knowledgeable beyond normal comprehension would predict vaguenesses which would, in one form or another come into being. “Watch for the posts in a few weeks. It’s like clockwork.” Should someone have a concern, she would taunt them by talking around them and to others with comments such as this: “People need a place to vent and far be it from me to contribute to their high blood pressure by repressing them [winking emoticon inserted afterward].”
Also, too, in the negative peer pressure is her speaking of herself in a plural fashion in an effort to appeal to a poster and to berate them or punish them for what she sees as their weaknesses. “I’m sorry it didn’t work out for you, but as I’ve said many times, rapid weight loss isn’t for everyone. Food addiction is a hard habit to break. We all wish you the very best!”
In this varying quiver of commentaries meant to hurt people, belittle them or to merely shut them down were suggestions that people were bingers and had no self control and dismissing them from ‘her’ discussion thread. “I do appreciate that you have a binge eating disorder. Have you checked the Emotional Well Being forum for support? There are several others on this site who are/were in the same boat.”
Finally, here is one final quote which shows that her way is the only way, or there is no way at all. “I hope you won’t think I’m a total snot for saying this, but please don’t “modify” Kimkins. Just call your plan Atkins instead. I don’t want Kimkins associated with bacon and over use of butter/salad dressing (1 T butter on 1 cup broccoli, 3 T salad dressing on 2 cups lettuce). Other people claiming to do Kimkins are having pasta, cereal and I don’t know what all.
I know that was horrible of me to write. Kimkins is about super weight loss, not what you get with Atkins.”
The irony here is that Kimkins is derived from Atkins.
Any discussions she doesn’t want on the thread are asked to leave. When some members starting discussing hormonal issues, Kimmer complained. “I don’t want to be a party pooper, but it would help me if the TTC ladies could start a different thread? I work on other projects and come back here when I get an email notification of a new post. I stop my work, come here and then find its not about Kimkins or KE. Sorry to be a bummer.” Another poster was told, “I don’t want a debate on this thread. There’s 10 others going on where we can carry out your argument. But in a nutshell, why do we have to prove anything to the naysayers?”
Finally, people who aren’t losing enough quickly enough are handled as though it is their fault for not being even more strict with their dietary intakes. In the case of one member, “I only consume about 600-900 calories a day and am losing at a rate of 1-2 pounds a … It’s just not fast enough.” To this, Kimmer responds, “The thing with weight loss is that it can go very quickly, if a person wants it to.”
What does this mean? Is 600-900 calories too many per day? Is a person weak for not cutting further because they otherwise just don’t ‘want it enough’? Should someone like this have their own thread? Their own forum? Their own website?
Fool me once, shame on you…
Everything we do in life is a choice. Other people influence us, but at the end of the day, we made our choices … good or bad.
“For me, the ability to lose 160 lbs in 7 months meant way more to me than pork rinds and cheese ever would but that’s me.”
Now we know that Heidi Diaz never lost the weight she had claimed while giving advice at her home low-carb board. Statements like this which were meant to be inspirational really sheds a sad shadow on someone so needing attention that she could make statements such as these to one quizzical dieter: “Jennifer, you will be nothing short of totally, absolutely and completely amazed at how fast you will lose. Do you believe in dreaming? I do. Get busy dreaming of a size 8 life. What will you do? What will you wear? Feel yourself sitting in a theater seat without bruises on your hips the next day (oops, drawing on personal experience)…. No, not a godsend, just someone who has been in your shoes. Everyone’s shoes. I know the frustration. I know the bruises from movie theater seats. I know picking slip-on shoes because you can’t bend over to tie laces. I know avoiding folding chairs while camping. I know.” Note, she says she “knows”. This could be a slip, but it seems that with what has been shown, she was talking in the current tense. This may have been one of the few honest statements she made on the “Ask Kimmer” thread, whether intended or not.
Drawing from recent experience, if what we know is true, then is she a sadist, effectively denying others when she had not lost the weight to begin with?
“That’s pretty much how I see it. Unless someone wants to lose slowly (and some do), I don’t see the benefit or glory in losing slowly. Take my situation. I lost quickly, I knew I would. How would I have slowed it down? Eating cream cheese? More meat? Adding carbs? That thinking makes no sense to me.”
One might think that a success as stunning as the one Heidi Diaz supposed enjoyed would be shouted from the proverbial mountaintops. Still, when asked to share her success story, she would render some of the shortest responses to these queries, making statements such as these: “my “story” is on LCF somewhere. Do a search for Kimmer, hospital, Stillman.” It’s almost as though she is attempting to distance herself from the discussion of her personal weight loss. Remorse, perhaps? Guilt? This we still do not know for certain.
What we do know is that assuring people that Diet colas were healthy, that there is no damaging the metabolism, that the use of laxatives was nothing but the norm and that weight loss was meant to be that fast and that there is no such a thing as a lower-caloric shelf are some of the falsehoods sold to people who banked on the fact that a successful person who had followed these tenets was passing on her sage advise to them.
It’s funny, too, how her generosity was so grandiose while fantasizing about spending a windfall when it was suggested members chip in to buy Ms Diaz a computer since hers seemed to be experiencing technical difficulties. She said, “I’m not the type to spend money on myself. My brother is so frustrated because I told him if I ever won the lottery I’d buy a house & car for everyone in the family and then spend the rest opening schools, scholarships and orphanages around the world.” We now know that an enormous sum of money in the half-million dollar range was spent procuring a private residence for Mrs Diaz, which has since been frozen.
“ just a baby bird that’s outgrown the nest”.
On June 8, 2006, the administrator of lowcarbfriends.com issued the following statement:
“Kimmer has informed us that she will not be posting at LCF anymore because she is not happy that her posts – and posts about her way of eating – are being moved from the Main Lobby to this new board.
The Main Lobby is for general weight loss questions and welcoming new people. When topics become larger, we create new boards for them. We fully welcome posts about Kimkins here and hope she decides to return…
Kimmer wrote to me:
I think what bothers me about this is when I asked for a Kimkins forum, I was told there wasn’t enough interest. What that really meant is no one wanted to upset the Anti-Kimmer people who were mad that I even had a pinned thread.
But, now that the naysayers are pushing for Kimmer to be off the Main Board, there is enough interest?
I would ask that you close the “Ask Kimmer” thread. I’m not interested in being swept away.
The Main Lobby can now be for “I cheated again” threads and other hot topics of interest.
I hear she plans on writing an e-book to sell. We wish her well and hope she comes back to visit often.”
Kimmer, apparently frustrated that she didn’t merit her own forum left the board and left behind a couple dozen frustrated people who relied on her words to help them remain in a very low-calorie territory.
“I’ve got half a mind to call 60 Minutes.”
Fortunately, in the wake of the uncovered events since the release of Woman’s World in June of 2007, there have been inquiries made into the weight loss plan known as “Kimkins”. From about.com’s expose into the questionable ethics of the plan to KTLA in Los Angeles and their news team.
A class action lawsuit is currently in place, with investigations forthcoming from various federal and state agencies.
Can justice be served? Is the damage already done? For many who have suffered medically due to the extremely low caloric intakes, the damage has been done. Some damage has been permanent, and other damage has been seemingly temporary. At least five women have since claimed laxative addictions which have been a direct result of advice given by Heidi Diaz, and others have reported blacking out.
As to whether or not justice will be served, this is for the future and the courts to mete out. Can people who never lost weight claim success and lead others down a road they may never themselves had taken? What drives someone to encourage others to follow pseudo-science, dangerously low levels of calories, and take daily dosages of laxatives? Perhaps the greatest mystery of all is why a morbidly obese homemaker would concoct for herself a fantasy that has become a nightmare for so many others.