We had the good fortune of connecting with Kavalya Fletcher and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kavalya, what principle do you value most?
Access To Education & Empowerment As someone who was over 60 lbs overweight, my unhealthy eating habits were primarily connected to emotional eating and cultural associations with food. In a minority context, it didn’t help that access to nutrition and fitness education was/still is practically nonexistent. I wish I could say that is it just about the availability of the information, but it’s really about understanding the information at a level in which you can apply it. Not focusing simply on “what to do”, but “why”. Knowing “why” you do something is sometimes more important than the thing itself. Understanding “why” can alone answer a deluge of peripheral questions that will arise, and inform making the best choices for your health. Nutrition and fitness is not a one-size fit all proposition, and the information that mainstream/universal knowledge circulates is just that – blanket statements, quick fixes, and unrealistic expectations. It’s important to me that I customize a plan for my clients, make it very individual, explain “why” and empower them to advocate for their health with confidence.
Empathy & Self-Acceptance
In 2006, I was introduced to the bodybuilding community when a figure team’s head coach approached me while working out at a local gym. He told me that I had a great shape and a unique look and asked if I’d be interested in training with him. He showed me some pictures of his female competitors and I immediately thought it was such a stretch for my body to look anything like the women on his team in such a short period of time. Nevertheless, my interest was peaked; not enough to sign up, but enough to start training like a maniac in the gym. After months of little results, I realized that bodybuilding was the sport of eating/dieting, not of weight training. And we all know that weight training is not the hardest part. I knew I had to significantly shift my focus to my diet if I wanted to see results. Fast forward to 2016, I was training for my first bodybuilding competition with a coach that was a professional female bodybuilder. Eight weeks out from my first competition, my attention got diverted when I started dating a pastor (my now husband). I had to choose between being dined (but not wined), staying out late, traveling, experiencing the excitement of a new manfriend, AND 6 well-calculated/portioned meal-prepped meals, two-a day workouts, and early bedtimes for the rest and repair of my ever-growing muscles. Hmmm? Decisions, decisions. Plus, there was that little detail about dawning my bare derriere in dental floss on a stage. I intuitively knew that that was not going to be the most appropriate route for my budding relationship with a religious leader’s modesty code. So needless to say, I chose love.
It wasn’t all for naught, because in that 10 years of building my body I became a certified personal trainer and learned a lot from my coaches and gymrat friends about fitness. My personal takeaway though was that the bodybuilding community primarily operates on an elitist, exclusive, superiority frequency that shames and judges those that aren’t playing at the same level or in the same league. A world where success is determined solely by outcomes (a certain physique) more than effort. The level of calorie restriction, macro counting, and exercise has to be so tremendously extreme, consistent, and precise that it consumes your entire life. I witnessed many soul deaths from folks that were told they “didn’t measure up.” Those that were overweight and made the attempt to lose weight the “broscience” way, it faired nearly impossible to sustain.
What was neither known nor shared back then was that excess body weight is about a hormonal imbalance not a caloric imbalance. To counteract the body’s cascade of hormones and dysregulation, it takes more than “calories in minus calories out”. That misleading calculation coupled with the notion that your effectiveness is only proportionate to the amount you suffer (from exercise and overtraining) is not very encouraging, inspiring, or effective. A weight loss philosophy that sets the vast majority of folks up for failure, but what they are told is that they didn’t try hard enough or weren’t disciplined enough. Never mind the primary factors at play: our biology, chemistry, physics, physiology.
The fitness industry’s strategy is to show you the fit 1%, tell you how simple it is, and shame you when you don’t succeed. Their system isn’t setup for you to succeed. Their system is set up for you to be helplessly, desperately, and perpetually IN THE SYSTEM. Always needing help. If you meet your goals, will you need all of the pills, potions, and personal training? Of course not. I no longer wanted to be a part of perpetuating that problem anymore, so I became a certified Primal Health Coach, and leaned away from being a “trainer.”
I’ve offered my clients not only an alternative weight loss approach (a primal lifestyle with a ketogenic style of eating, stress management, sleep-enhancement, and movement), but also incorporating the psychological (cognitive and behavioral) aspect of body transformation. One that is not framed in hating your body so much that you want to change it, but instead of loving yourself so much that you want a more healthy experience for your body. I don’t body shame, nor do I advocate lifestyles that aren’t congruent with the best possible expression of your health. I practice and encourage radical acceptance of where we are in our journey AND what caused you to be there. No judgement. No shame. Just empathy.
Empathy is about relating to one another; placing yourself in their shoes. Empathy is a valuable resource. It is the engine that powers all the best in us. It is the current that connects us to each other’s sorrows, pain, feelings. We just have to hold the space for it. There is a place for it in the weight loss conversation – it is not just about diet and exercise. We have to consider the forces that drive us to eat poorly and not exercise. Empathy is the precursor to mobilizing us towards our wants and goals. There is a saying in the bodybuilding community: “Excuses don’t get results.” While that is true, I say: “Excuses don’t get results, but empathy does.”
Education, empowerment, empathy, and self-acceptance are principles I value, as they will allow us to outlast or overcome a multitude of obstacles in our journey to wellth.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
My personal health coaching business was built off of the premise that success is not just about inspiring others, it is about informing others. What sets me apart is that I educate my clients, explaining “why” instead of just barking “what”. We do one-on-one, face-to-face (video) sessions, assessing patterns, history, behaviors, to customize a plan. I listen more than I speak, and I collaborate with each client on what they are willing and capable of doing. My business grew faster than I had planned for. I didn’t have a counterpart to divide and conquer the work, so I quickly reached burnout. It has not been easy. People bring their “baggage” to the table which makes it impossible for a coach to talk about fitness and nutrition in isolation. “Baggage” drives eating and movement habits, so it was a package deal that I needed far more emotional bandwidth to withstand. 1) I learned that you don’t have to have everything figured out before you start the business. There are some things you will only learn through doing business. There are many things you can change as you learn.
2) I learned that I needed to create boundaries with clients – not making their problems my own, but instead practicing empathy.
3) I learned not to coach people that I would have a dual-relationship with (i.e., friends, family. etc.).
4) I learned that we don’t have chemistry with everybody and that it is ok to not take on clients if it is not a fit.
5) I learned that I was a safe space for many and I needed to find a safe space for myself.
What I want the world to know about my journey is that my season of being 60lbs overweight happened to be the impetus for how I would serve others. The problem you have is the one that you are purposed to solve. Temple Wellth is the baby I birthed after a long pregnancy of trying to get the health and wellness of my temple (mind, body, and soul) back. Who knew a message would come out of such a mess!
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Brigantine Porstide Pier for the views and their seafood cobb salad. Hotel Caesar’s in TJ for the original Caesar salad.
Puerto Nuevo for lobster in baja.
Bo-Beau Kitchen for crispy brussel sprouts.
Pizza Nova in Pt. Loma for the prawns and prosciutto fettucine (extra sauce!)
Mt. Soledad for views of La Jolla.
Caroline’s in La Jolla to take in the views and a bite.
Cabrillo National Monument for the panoramic views.
Balboa Park for museums.
Mission Beach for beach time.
Seaport Village and Embarcadero to cop a squat.
Black’s Beach for tanline-less sunbathing. (Back before I was married!)
Casa de Pico in La Mesa for best Mexico food. (It used to be in Old Town and was an all-time favorite.)
Adalberto’s on 25th and Market Street (get the super nachos) or El Real on Euclid and Imperial (get the carne asada quesadilla) for best taco shops.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’d like to shoutout my loving husband, Terrell Fletcher, former running back for the San Diego Chargers, pastor, author, motivational speaker, and community leader. He inspires me to squeeze out every gift I have and share it with the world, as he has so-wonderfully modeled. Even more than that, he encourages me, believes in me, and cheers for me.
Cean Orrett (Cean One Studios)