Recently I had the opportunity to interview one of my favorite Health and Wellness role models on Facebook. Amber of Go Kaleo chatted with me about her philosophies on today’s diet world, how to be a role model for kids, and what she’d feed the Primal Guru, Mark Sisson, if he stopped by for dinner.
Whole to Healthy: How did you come up with the name Go Kaleo?
Go Kaleo: Kaleo is a combination of kale and paleo. Kale because I eat mostly plants, paleo because eating real, whole, locally produced foods is a central part of my philosophy. Kaleo is also Greek for 'the voice' or 'the calling' which I think is sort of apropos, and a little grandiose.
W2H: So, you do eat mostly plants...do you ever eat any animal products?
GK: The only animal product I eat regularly is pastured eggs from a local farm co-op.
W2H: At one point, while you were following a Paleo diet, you were convinced that grains were bad for you. What are your thoughts on them now?
GK: I think some people have sensitivities to them and for those people a grain free diet can be very helpful. I also think they are a dense source of calories, so for people trying to lose weight, limiting them can be helpful. But they can be very delicious, and many cultures have traditions that revolve around grain based foods. If a person enjoys grain based foods, and doesn't have sensitivities, there's no reason to completely avoid them. And if a person is underweight they can be a great source of calories to help pack on needed weight and they're energy dense.
W2H: You actually lost weight while consuming a lot of grains. Can you explain how this was possible?
GK: I lost weight on an eating plan that included grains because I burned more calories than I consumed.
W2H: Describe that moment when you went from no grains, to "Hmmm, maybe I can eat grains, even if others can't."
GK: It was when I did the 4 week MyPlate diet experiment. I was eating 9 servings of grain a day and my energy was fantastic, especially my endurance during workouts. And I REALLY like sourdough bread and oatmeal, so it was nice to be able to reintegrate them into my diet without guilt.
W2H: Mark Sisson comes to dinner….what would you serve him and what would you talk about?
GK: I'd serve him a giant salad and some roasted root vegetables. We'd talk about our very similar workout philosophies. And I'd ask him to take his shirt off.
W2H: Bahaha! With your husband’s permission, of course.
W2H: You are brutally honest when it comes to your opinions on diet. Your path was a long one though, how did you make that first step to becoming the confident self-proclaimed badass that you are today?
GK: The first step to becoming the badass I am today was committing to keeping an open mind. I think that's the only way to truly learn.
W2H: Your before pictures look so much different than you do today. Do you feel like you’re finally comfortable in your own skin? What do you think when you look back at those pictures?
GK: I am finally comfortable in my own skin! And it's not because my shape has changed, it's because my internal dialogue has changed. I feel sad for all the life I missed out on because I spent so much time hating my body.
W2H: How old were you when you finally started feeling good about your body? Or at least about the direction it was taking?
GK: I was 35. It really was sort of a light bulb moment, I had an epiphany that I was my daughters' primary female role model and I was doing a craptastic job at it. In that moment I realized I needed to love my body just the way it was and that that was the only way I was going to get healthier. And from that moment on I've valued and appreciated my body. Our culture makes us captive to self-hate. We're hobbled by it as human beings and we cannot realize out full potential because we're stuck in this self-destructive mindset.
W2H: Do you think you have finally reached that goal of being a good role model for your daughters? What, if anything, would you have done differently if they had been boys?
GK: I do think I am a MUCH better role model now than I was, although I'm still not perfect. But part of what I want to model for them is that it's ok not to be perfect. If they’d been boys I don't think I would have done anything different, because I would have been modeling a healthy female mindset, a mindset that I'd have hoped they would look for in a potential partner (assuming they chose a female partner).
W2H: You recently lost some fans because of a controversial post on Facebook. How does that make you feel?
GK: A little bummed that they're stuck somewhere that allows them to be hurt and offended by something a stranger on the internet says.
W2H: Does it make you want to do more controversial posts, or less? Or maybe it doesn't affect your posts at all?
GK: I would say it doesn't affect my posts. I'm not trying to sell anything or please anyone. I just say things that I need to say, and that I think others need to hear.
W2H: I don't know how you do it. I personally get super bummed when someone disagrees with a post of mine, and it takes me some time to approach it calmly with an open mind. What is your first reaction when someone challenges one of your points?
GK: My first reaction is to think critically about what they are saying and the point they're trying to make. Sometimes they're just trying to get a rise out of me, and it's pretty hard to do that. If that's the case I usually ignore the post. If they have a valuable contribution to the discussion, I'm all ears. I like to explore different aspects of issues.
W2H: Sometimes it is hard to distinguish, don't you think?
GK: I think I've gotten pretty good at recognizing general douchebaggery.
W2H: True, you have been doing this much longer than me. I still have a lot to learn!
GK: Part of it is not being emotionally invested in what others think of me and that is a really hard place to come to
W2H: Totally! If only good nutrition could also shed the “worrying about what others think” baggage along with the fat!
GK: <laughing> Seriously.
W2H: What advice do you have for someone who has many differing guru’s opinions and diet advice in their head and aren’t quite sure how to proceed?
GK: Listen to your own body.
W2H: Is there a trick to doing that, which you have found?
GK: Keeping a diet log has really helped me. I can see patterns: weight loss/gain, general sense of well being, etc.
W2H: Do you have a health/fitness role model?
GK: I have several. Diana Nyad is a big one. Jack LaLanne. Lynn Cox.
W2H: What is your favorite health food?
GK: Dark chocolate. Followed closely by avocado and sweet potatoes.
W2H: What? No kale?
GK: Ha! Kale and other greens are favorites as well.
GK: Ha! Kale and other greens are favorites as well.
W2H: Do you have a weakness for any “junk” food? If so, what is it?
GK: Yeah, Reese's peanut butter cups.
W2H: Mmm, great. Now I’m craving those.
GK: I know. Me too.
W2H: What does "whole to healthy" mean to you?
GK: Once you're able to see the 'big picture', or how all the aspects of your life work together, it's then you are able to begin to pursue true health. We are not a collection of independent organs and functions. Our bodies are intricate systems, and we exist within a larger system. All parts of those systems need to work together for true health to manifest.
W2H: Love that answer.
W2H: What's your favorite kitchen gadget or appliance?
GK: My Vitamix, hands down.
W2H: Agreed. I adore mine! What do you tend to use it for most?
GK: I use it for green smoothies every day. It’s also great for soups, sauces and nut butters!
W2H: Any other paradigms we should watch for you to break anytime soon?
GK: I've got a blog post on childhood obesity brewing in my head. And another one on exercise and insulin resistance. No ETA for either though.
W2H: What are your thoughts on the blood type diet?
Gk: I'm as skeptical of the blood type diet as I am any other fad diet. That said, I do very well on the diet the book says I should do well on. (She is an AB+ blood type)
W2H: Have you been following the diet study I'm doing?
GK: Yes, it's awesome!
W2H: I'll be doing the raw portion soon...any suggestions on what will help me get through 30 days?
GK: Hemp seeds and avocado!
W2H: I think I can handle that. ;)
Thanks to Amber for her time spent with me! She is an outspoken, well rounded, educated advocate for the whole foods way of eating. Her mantra is, “Eat real food. Move around a lot. Lift heavy things. And skip the kool-aid.” If you would like to be inspired and learn more about her approach to health and fitness, please follow her blog, facebook page and tweets. You’ll be glad you did!