Total Health Online was pleased to catch up with inside-out transformation expert, award-winning author and syndicated radio host Kat James who graces this month’s cover.
Twip: Kat, first let me congratulate you on your recent Silver Nautilus Award for the re-release of your classic bestseller, The Truth About Beauty, and for your nationally syndicated radio show, The Kat James Show, now in your second year and just expanded to satellite XM. and on the recent published success stories from your Total Transformation® Programs in the natural health media. Now that you’ve expanded your own reach and honed your Total Transformation Programs for another few years, how has your work evolved?
Kat: As you might guess, the unconventional truths behind my own transformation, book, and programs have stood firm amidst growing scientific validation. But much has evolved as far as how I deliver the program experience. Observing peoples’ short- and long-term results up close, in a dawn-to-dusk format, month after month and year after year — particularly because I’m a full-time attendee of each of my own programs — is a rare privilege and an incredible learning process. No two programs are ever quite the same. The variety of people and issues that cross my path between the five-day programs and my phone and Internet-based TelePrograms is vast, and how each person experiences the biochemical, emotional, and physical transformation is slightly different. Yet, there are truths that apply to almost everyone. For example, just about everyone loses all cravings by day three of my low-impact eating program and many begin to experience facial changes. What I learn from each person about social programming, biochemical impulses, and even logistical influences as they relate to health and beauty self-sabotage, continually expands the “repertoire” of strategies that have made each program increasingly effective — not to mention tastier and more fun to experience — with each new session.
I’ve evolved the array of personal care products and the high-end natural color cosmetics used during the makeover and photo shoot, as new and better products are created. I constantly research products for my health and beauty columns, book and website updates. Products have to meet the criterion I developed long ago as a celebrity makeup artist and beauty expert. The benefit of this ongoing research with high standards for performance is passed on to the chalet program attendees, who are able to try a wider variety of products during those five days than they might otherwise be able to try in years. This saves them money and experimentation in the long run, and also gives them better results.
Unfortunately, the health of the average person has declined over the years which has prompted me to make adjustments in my approach which is specific to metabolically-challenged individuals. For example, certain fruits seemed to have increasing blood sugar impact on the average person more so than they did, say, five years ago, thus I’ve adjusted accordingly. Learning about hormones, insulin and leptin from Dr. Ron Rosedale (the worlds’ foremost expert on the subject), immediately when people are metabolically compromised, some foods that didn’t spike an individual’s blood sugar before, could become apt to do so if they become metabolically compromised, or insulin resistant. In response, I found a way to continually upgrade or limit those borderline blood sugar-spiking foods with lower impact replacements that satisfy the same craving (even though that craving is usually non-existent within the first weeks of the program).
Though this has made my program technically more strict, in terms of blood sugar impact, than it was a couple of years ago (I’ve removed many fruits, for example); it actually feels less strict, because of the creative food replacements I’ve developed to fill the flavor void of the foods I’ve removed. For example, I now use cherry flavoring and “smart sweeteners” to marinate tart cranberries for a cherries-only-better flavor experience with zero impact on blood sugar, which doesn’t interfere with the critical biochemical goals (to eliminate cravings and restore a fat-burning state) of my program. I’ve even changed the order and time of day in which certain things are eaten to speed up the flip over to the cravings-free, slump-free energy state my program typically delivers.
Consequently I’ve evolved and tweaked the execution of my low-impact (referring to impact on blood sugar) approach in response to a decade of up-close observation of the successes and stumbles of real people doing the program. The changes I’ve made have sometimes been controversial. For example, removing certain fruits has been questioned by many people. However the results have been immediate, improving the success of the program on all fronts — from skin firmness and color to weight loss, and moods. Recent research has come out about fruit, fruit juice consumption and the fructose contribution to uric acid buildup in diabetics. The researcher documented weight loss when fruit juices and even some fruits were restricted, just as I have seen in my programs for almost a year now.
Twip: I know you call yourself a foodie and thus pay unusual attention to the tastes of your food because of your history of food obsession. Can you tell us more about how this affects your program evolution?
Kat: The first few days of my program are a critical time not only for me to deprogram the “gotta suffer for beauty” mentality, but also succeed in removing cravings biochemically. So I humor people and give them everything they want at the outset, in the form of deceivingly healthier versions they’d never believe they aren’t going to pay for. In other words, I create my Total Transformation menus on the spot, based on attendee’s favorite guilty pleasure foods. Little do they know that by eating the versions I create, they will, by the end of the week, no longer crave that food anymore. Here’s where my own history of being a foodie, having had my own eating disorder, and my experience in childhood makes all the difference.
My passion for cooking and amazing tastes is a major factor that sets my approach apart from others, even beyond the uniqueness of my low-impact dietary principles. The low-impact recipes I have developed over the years have reached new levels of inspiration. For example, I had gone years without baked goods (even the whole grain ones were too high-glycemic to allow for my program’s full benefit). Then around 2004, I was one of the first to incorporate coconut flour into my program (coconut flour is far less glycemic than most whole grain options). However, finding that it still could spike the blood sugar of metabolically challenged people, or people with cravings issues if they ate a little too much, I’ve since replaced most of my coconut flour recipes with even better-tasting seed-based (sounds like it would be very “rustic” in texture, but we’re talking fluffy and light) cakes and breads, with no grain or flour at all. This has been major news for my program followers and for the gluten-free crowd, who, in my view, eat WAY too many carbs!
For example, my Oatmeal Scotchies Upgrade actually has no flour, sugar or blood sugar-raising oatmeal, but rather, incorporates Salba or chia, and tastes even better than the original to most people. My brand new Nestle’s Crunch imposter is that same texture you remember, while causing none of the depressing consequences. I’ve even recently perfected Belgian waffles in the waffle-maker without flour and maple topping without sugar. Both of these taste amazingly close to what you’d get at a waffle house. Far better than the old whole grain or coconut flour health waffles.
So, in addition to what I learn about people each time, these culinary breakthroughs make each new program better than the last.
Twip: Wow, I’m sure you’re making some mouths water, including my own! I know your first Total Transformation Recipe Collection and 6-Day Jumpstart Menu are included in the re-release edition of The Truth About Beauty. But how can people access these new “Dead-Ringer” recipes?
Kat: The “Dead Ringer” collection, along with dozens of new recipes is in my Total Transformation Member Library, which was once only available to Total Transformation alumni. Last year I made available a member-supported annual subscription option to the Member Library, accessible to readers of my free, weekly “Kat James Newsletter,” which often answers subscriber questions and which people can sign up for HERE.http://www.informedbeauty.com/listform.shtml I keep my recipes available to the newsletter readers because, while my low-impact dietary approach typically has incredible health, weight, and beauty effects, It is easy to do it incorrectly. It’s not something you do half-way, or half-informed, if you want to lose weight, for example. Reading my book (which can be ordered at www.InformedBeauty.com) first and reinforcing the faith in and theory behind the recipes with my newsletter are critical steps not to be skipped.
Twip: I know it is important to you to keep abreast of current research. The Truth About Beauty’s new edition contains more medical references than your original edition. I have seen quite a bit of science regarding ultra-low-glycemic approaches in general and it seems that there is a renaissance happening for renewed acceptance of its benefits. Can you explain your low-impact dietary approach?
Kat: My challenge, after my own transformation, was not in identifying what really worked (I’d done that), but in convincing others — especially because I wasn’t a doctor. There’s been a steady flow of new studies that support the ultra-low-glycemic aspect of my overall program (see my explanation of the distinctions of my low-impact principles, below) and call the standard low-fat approaches into question. Several of those are outlined in my newer book. The negative effects of low-fat diets (especially on mood and fertility) have come into focus. Some population studies show good health patterns in persons who eat low-fat, for reasons I attribute to the inherent nature of population studies, which are not generally adequately controllable to eliminate misleading conclusions.
But at the end of the day, it was my own journey of having nearly killed myself (literally) with the help of all of the low-fat (and non-fat), and even whole grain diets, with fleeting weight loss benefit — and zero elimination of the insane, drug-like relationship I had with food — that prompted me to venture outside my comfort zone and ultimately question my once-sacred low-fat allegiance. In fact, intrepid trial and error spanning years, convinced me to gradually phase out my beloved grains completely, almost fifteen years ago, before I’d ever read anything negative about them. And my resulting reversal of near-fatal liver disease and physical transformation was beyond my imagining.
See Kat’s before and after photos and read more about her story At: http://www.informedbeauty.com/meetkat05_10.shtml
Twip: What distinguishes your low-impact dietary approach from typical low-glycemic or low-carb diets?
Kat: There are major distinctions between diets like Atkins, and what I developed through trial and error that led to my low-impact guidelines. I never set out to create or emulate a low-carb diet. Such diets discount the influence of food choices, quality, combinations, forms, and even order of consumption. And they discount the critical role of strategic nutrient strategies to address your most major health challenges all at once. Most importantly, they count carbs. My approach is self-calibrated by feel, and honed for each person’s personal threshold at which their own blood sugar levels are spiked, which differs from individual to individual. The skill that people learn at my Total Transformation programs is to develop the ability to tell when this spike threshold has been crossed.
Once you develop the ability to tell when this spike threshold has been crossed, you have the makings of a tool that will dramatically transform your quality of life, your relationship with food, and what you see in the mirror.
Many other important nutrients contributed to saving my life, literally, by reversing my “incurable” liver disease, correcting the brain chemistry imbalance that locked in my craziness with food, healing a disfiguring skin disorder and other autoimmune disorders, and finally, transforming my appearance beyond recognition. I had my own constellation of health issues. My program supports the consequential six or seven core issues that have the most dramatic impact on health and beauty, such as inner ecology and cellular resensitization. Of course I don’t diagnose, prescribe, or treat. People ultimately develop their own regimens with the help of great information and a transformed relationship with food. But the outcome of this support speaks for itself in the stunning transformations of so many real people.
Kat in her kitchen at Mountain Chalet with the attendees at a Total Transformation Program.
Twip: We know that the success of your program was not a fluke. Kat, for years, your program has had incredible success stories covered in the natural health media. What caught our eyes most recently was a story that was published this summer about a chaplain, Janet Hunter, as part of your new annual “Kat’s Biggest Gainers” contest.
We like the concept of your “Biggest (health) Gainers” because as you say, it is more constructive to lose weight as a result of gaining health via informed nutrition strategy, than to lose weight at any cost, via struggle and self-deprivation. You also explain that “mere calorie restriction and weight loss can’t hold a candle to nutrient indulgence and health gain.” We couldn’t agree more.
Kat: Janet had a heart attack in July 2009. One month after beginning your Total Transformation TeleProgram in November 2009 (after all of her doctors’ efforts had failed to cure her periocarditis, or inflammation of the heart) she was given a clean bill of health by her doctor. Not only was all of her blood work back to normal, but by this past March 2010, the woman was barely recognizable (see above!). We understand you have an inspiring video of Janet at your mountain chalet program, talking about all of the things she experienced, including meeting yet another live success story, Claire, who also shares her story in the video.
Twip: Could you share that video here with our readers?
Kat: I would be honored to. Here are some links, first to Janet’s story: http://www.informedbeauty.com/redo_you.shtml Here’s the video of Janet at my Total Transformation Mountain chalet program: http://www.totaltransformation.com/janet_hunter_tot_trans_vid.mov
Twip: Kat, not only did your book gain the endorsements of renowned Drs. Joe Mercola and Ron Rosedale (foremost expert on the hormone leptin), but the above success stories and jaw-dropping photos are now the norm. Janet’s doctor wrote a note saying Janet achieved in your program what she had not been able to achieve with them. This must be wonderful validation of what you have developed. It must have been a long road for you from makeup artist to respected health author and transformation expert. Do you see mainstream doctors opening their minds to your type of approach anytime soon?
Kat: Yes, at least in their knowledge, if not in their practice. You and I know about the constraints doctors are under not to use natural healing officially in their practices. But at this moment, at least half a dozen doctors who treat patients who have undergone my program, are reading about, adjusting, and simply curious about the stunning results they’ve seen in their patients. One man who attended a program last year had his overall body inflammation immediately reduced to the point that his ring fell off and he stopped snoring within a couple of weeks. His doctor actually told him to have me call her. She is planning on attending the program herself. Another woman who just had her second child, whom I featured on my radio show (access previews at www.TheKatJamesShow.com) has wowed her gynecologist with the difference in her second pregnancy in everything from ease of labor, to moods, to loss of pregnancy weight, to health of the child. This gynecologist is now reading The Truth About Beauty. One of Janet’s Biggest Gainer’s Contestants, Jennifer Cillo was told by her doctor she no longer had metabolic disease and that her rate of increased adrenal function was unusual. The list goes on. And the number of nutritionists who attend for both personal and professional inspiration is increasing.
Twip: I’d say the greatest distinction of all is your own example. You have always relied on word of mouth and your own living example to grow your audience. That says a lot and it seems to be paying off for you. Not all books and program developers can rely on that. I understand that your re-release came as a result of that continued grass-roots effect. Another distinction I have observed in your work over the years is that you live what you preach. You are an example of how following your principles can stop the clock for so many.
Kat: Thanks. I know there are a lot of health gurus walking their walk out there. Most fitness and raw food educators walk their walk. But the nutritional world is different. I think that both the prevalence of deceivingly addictive health foods, and the little-known biochemical power of even those tempting health foods can get even the informed health educator into trouble. Many health educators now attend my program to overcome this (we’re talking hard addiction in many cases). And that is where I feel some of even those who DO walk their walk too often fall short, in terms of their potential to truly help people like that food-obsessed, metabolically-challenged, hormonally-messed up and fast-degenerating, desperate-to-be-beautiful poster child for the average forty-year-old American woman I had become by the age of nineteen... People who come from this kind of background are the greatest skeptics of all, and they can tell if a person does not walk their talk. In fact it is sometimes only after I tell my personal story that I really have peoples’ attention.
I had to question my addiction to certain health foods! There are so many seemingly healthy things that are STILL killing us softly, like health junk foods addiction (especially for you gluten-free folks who are still having cravings, metabolic, or weight issues), which is what I had during the last five years of my eating disorder. I was totally biochemically enslaved, even by my brown rice and raw food bakery desserts! My eating disorder was already locked-in biochemically, so I was compulsively bingeing on the so-called good stuff!
Whether someone walks the talk, or risks losing popularity by standing by their unpopular health viewpoints (such as my unusual dietary principles, which I’ve seen work for ten years in people for whom all else had failed), defense of Truth — no matter how complicated or unpopular — is very important. Most NITTY-GRITTY Truth is neither simple, nor popular with the powers that be. I remember working for the most famous mainstream health magazine back when I was doing makeup for celebrities. I had just had my recovery from my liver disorder, overcome the eating disorder, dropped ten dress sizes without dieting, and changed my own life forever (no falling back or struggling to maintain for twenty years now). When I dared to explain to an editor at this popular women’s health and fitness magazine how I did this, she avoided talking with me for the rest of the shoot, clearly ruffled by the radicalness of my ideas. That she was that rattled was a sign of her politically correct fat-phobic indoctrination to the long set health agenda aimed at keeping typical drug and food sponsors from getting nervous. Those powers continue to largely dominate and repeat false information in prime-time media (which is why publications like this are not only critical, but life-saving), since it serves the food and sickness industries that sponsor them. Thankfully I have seen a huge shift in peoples’ awareness, perhaps out of necessity. Most importantly, the end of blind trust in conventional medicine — and so is the propagandized suspicion of nutritional supplements. People aren’t buying the scare tactics and headlines anymore. They aren’t trusting the studies sponsored by drug companies anymore.
Twip: Please tell us what your eating disorder, and your total recovery of it through nutrition taught you?
Kat: That it is not in our heads. My addiction to food was so fierce... And I had no idea how similar it was, from a biochemical standpoint, to heroin or alcohol addiction. The quantities I consumed. The drug-like effects, the “white knuckling it” just to keep myself from bingeing. All this is what most people just blame themselves for. People laugh to themselves when I say they won’t crave their favorite junk, or even alcohol after undertaking my program. And then a couple weeks later they are telling a story similar to mine. Looking at the known biochemical aspects of cravings has changed many lives.
Twip: Tell us about your syndicated radio show, The Kat James Show.
Kat: The Kat James Show (www.TheKatJamesShow.com) has a very health-savvy audience. I find the mavericks and pioneers on each subject and don’t ask basic or easy questions or fill time with information people already know. I try each time, to get to the cutting edge. Recent guests have included Dr. Ron Rosedale, world authority on the subject of leptin, Jeffrey Smith, the filmmaker and world authority on genetically modified foods, NY Times bestselling authors Ann Louise GIttleman, Ph.D, CNS and Susanne Somers, Dr. David Brownstein, the go-to-guy on natural thyroid treatments, and Dr. Stephen Cherniske, the foremost educator on DHEA and anti-aging. For impact, and to get people taking action, I often feature real life success stories from my programs on my shows to inspire people, and provide proof there is hope of dramatic transformation for all of us. We’ve included access to one of my most inspiring shows about “Sugar Insanity” from my home page. In it, two former sugar addicts talk about life without cravings and craziness (listen from www.informedbeauty.com).
My show broadcasts live both nationally via XM Satellite Radio, Family Talk 170, as well as to the Greater Seattle area on KKNW 1150 AM and is also heard live on the Internet worldwide, as well as by podcast. If people want more information, or to preview the shows, they can listen to TheKatJamesShow.com.
Twip: How do people find out more about your Total Transformation program?
Kat: Folks who are interested in attending Total Transformation can visit my website (www.informedbeauty.com) for information or sign up for my Free Newsletter. com.
Twip: Thank you so much for catching us up, and for what you do. We look forward to sharing more of your work.