Who are you?
I’m Amber, the real person behind my blog, gokaleo.com. I was a pretty typical 30-something mom who took stock of her life and realized I was setting a really poor example for my young daughters, so decided to make some lifestyle changes. That was 4 years ago. I’ve lost a bunch of weight, got in shape, started a blog and made some career changes in that time.
I’m a personal trainer and lifestyle and weight management coach by trade, now, and also a blogger and facebook ‘fitness personality’. I’m sort of in awe of the response I’ve gotten, and how wide my readership has become. I certainly never expected anything like this!
What makes you radical?
Good question! You could probably ask 100 of my readers and get 100 different answers, but deep down I think it boils down to: I like myself just exactly the way I am. I’m completely happy with my body just as nature made it. I don’t think our culture wants any of us to be happy with ourselves, ever. When we’re happy with ourselves we stop buying useless crap, and start thinking critically about cultural values and expectations. No one gets rich off people who think critically.
Describe your own personal journey with your body image, health and/or fitness?
I was a lifelong dieter. I tried everything, lost a little weight, gained it back. You know the story. I was the weight-loss industry’s wet dream. By age 35 I was 230 pounds and starting to experience symptoms of metabolic dysfunction. I had an epiphanic moment one morning as I was lamenting the lack of truly healthy female role models in popular culture for my young daughters. I was suddenly struck with the obvious truth: I was their female role model, and I was doing a really crappy job of it. I wanted them to grow up to be strong, healthy women who treated themselves with kindness and respect. And I was none of those things. So I sat myself down and thought about the kind of life I wanted to model for them. I saw that I needed to make some big changes in my behaviors and my habits, and I made a plan. The first thing I changed was the way I talked to myself, having finally made the realization that the way I talk to myself is the way my girls will learn to talk to themselves. Instead of trying to berate myself into new behaviors, I told myself I was valuable and worthy of being treated kindly. I deserved to eat healthy food and have a healthy, strong body. I started small, but I was consistent, and I kept moving forward. It’s really amazing how small habits add up to huge changes over time.
What are your philosophies on food & eating?
I read about, and tried, pretty much every ‘diet’ and nutrition philosophy out there. There’s so much conflicting info and dogma that after awhile I got really frustrated with trying to figure out what the ‘ideal’ diet was. So I looked at what all the successful people and programs had in common, and it was: eating lots of vegetables, minimizing processed food, and getting regular exercise. So I based my own ‘diet’ on those things, along with some more personal values I hold (like using as few resources as possible to meet my needs, and eating foods that I truly enjoy) and came up with a way of eating that I feel really good about and that supports my health and my goals. When I coach other people, I encourage them to think about those things too, and create their own unique eating plan that reflects their own personal tastes, values and goals. I’m not in the business of telling people what to eat, or giving people a list of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ foods, and in fact I think that dividing foods into ‘good’ and ‘bad’ categories can lead to disordered eating behaviors.
What are your philosophies on fitness?
Very simply, find something you enjoy and keep doing it. Our bodies are built to move, and when we stop moving they stop functioning properly. Moving is as essential to good health as proper nutrition, sleep and sunlight. Without it we get sick and die! Our culture seems to think of exercise as a lifestyle ‘option’, but it’s really a requirement, for true health to manifest. I love weight lifting, it makes me feel grounded and powerful and confident, so it’s the foundation of my fitness routine. And I think it’s really beneficial for women as we age, as it helps preserve lean mass, bone density and metabolic function. But it’s important to enjoy what you do, because that’s what will keep you engaged, so I encourage my clients to keep trying new things until they find something that really clicks, even if it’s not weight lifting. Just keep moving, that’s the key.
What do you have to say about self-love & acceptance?
What message do you want to communicate most to other women?
There is nothing wrong with you. You are normal and perfect, just as you are, and you deserve to be treated with kindness and respect. Since you can’t change anyone else’s behavior, change your own. Treat yourself the way you deserve to be treated, and the people around you will follow your lead. Those who don’t aren’t worth your precious time.
What else do you have to say/share?
All things are possible through consistency and patience. There really is no magic pill, or workout routine, or diet, or macronutrient ratio. Make good habits and keep moving forward. Those day-to-day habits are what will change your body, your health and your life. So keep your focus there, on your habits. There will be bad days, and bad weeks, even bad months. It’s ok! Be patient, and kind to yourself, and keep moving forward.
It's women like Amber that are changing the world. She knows that happiness and health come from embracing all that you are, instead of desperatly needing to change it. Keep up the amazing work Amber!