Janet Hunter from Texas! After suffering a heart attack a year ago, this Better Nutrition reader transformed her health and body by changing the way she eats.
When we introduced our Redo YOU! Biggest Gainers contestants in January, we made a bold assertion: that nutrition alone has the power to transform people dramatically. To test this out, we had 10 readers work with author and transformation expert Kat James to see who could make the biggest gains in their health over a six-month period. Up for grabs was a Five-Day Total Transformation retreat with James in Lake Lure, N.C., among other perks. While all 10 contestants gained health, Janet Hunter from Texas stood out from the crowd with her dramatic physical turnaround. Read her inspiring story and discover why she won our 2010 Redo YOU! Makeover Contest and became Kat James's Biggest Gainer. We think you'll agree that nutrition is the ultimate transformational tool.
BN: Congratulations! Kat James picked you out of nearly 600 entries to compete with nine others to be her Biggest Gainer and the subject of the cover story for this issue of Better Nutrition. What motivated you to enter our Redo YOU! Biggest Gainers Contest?
Janet: I was desperate to get my health back so I could care for myself and also care for my 22-year-old quadriplegic son. Before starting Kat's Total Transformation program, I didn't have the strength to even lift my son. I also had debilitating fatigue ever since having a heart attack a year ago. My last physical before starting this contest was not good. My doctor wanted to start me on prescription medications for osteoporosis and high cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure. He gave me the option to correct all that I could through diet and exercise.
BN: Did you find it easy to follow James's nutritional program, which involves, among other things, avoiding caffeine, artificial sweeteners, and eating mostly low- and no-carb foods?
Janet: I never questioned Kat's program. I simply did everything she told me to do on the weekly conference calls. I made Kat's recipes and took the supplements that she suggested for me. I was a bit worried because the contest began just as the holiday season was shifting into high gear (right before Thanksgiving, in fact). Part of me dreaded starting a diet during such a hectic time. I also worked long hours as a chaplain.
BN: You followed the program to the letter and stood out with your consistency. You even reduced your night-shift work to help improve your sleep quality. How difficult was the program for you? What challenges did you face?
Janet: I have never knowingly cheated on the diet. I knew God had sent Kat and this contest to me, so I did not compromise in any way. In fact, I started declining overtime at work so I could get the sleep I needed to lose weight and improve my health. I learned that my lack of sleep over the years had been slowly killing me, and I never realized it. According to Kat, the diet and supplement regimen are all the more important if you are working long hours or are under a lot of stress.
The part of the program that was unexpectedly easy for me was cutting sugar out of my diet. After the first week, I didn't have any cravings for sugar. I was able to cook my family's favorite foods and not be tempted (having my own sugar-free chocolates and other treats helped too). The best part is the total satisfaction and peace I feel within my body. I have never in my life been so in tune with my body.
But I can't say it was always easy. I made time on the weekends to make meals ahead of time and freeze them in individual portions. I never wanted to be without something healthy to eat and I knew from Kat that skipping meals was a no-no. It was certainly worth every extra effort. I feel better than I have in many years, and I'm down eight dress sizes (from a size 22 to a 14) and getting compliments every day. I've chosen not to weigh myself, so I'm not sure how many pounds I've lost.
BN: Do you think you have turned your health around for good? Does sticking with the plan require a lot of willpower?
Janet: I know I have turned my health around for good. I never want to go back to the awful way I used to feel. I have failed at every diet I've tried because of deprivation, cravings, and fatigue. This was the program that worked. I am in no way struggling to maintain the program. Without cravings and with the recipes Kat has helped me customize for my life, it's easy to continue. I don't need willpower on this plan at all. I just need to continue to plan ahead.
Head to Toe: Janet's Rundown of Health Resolutions
Almost a year ago, Janet Hunter suffered a heart attack in addition to dealing with numerous other health complaints. To illustrate her amazing health improvements, all of which are a direct result of following Kat James's nutritional program and taking supplements, we created this list of Janet's health transformations.
- Dizziness is gone. Janet had Ménière's disease, which can cause debilitating dizziness.
- No more weekly headaches. Hunter says she used to have two to three headaches per week, until she started following James's program.
- No more numbness in face.
- No more neck pain. Hunter adds that the skin on her neckline is now smoother and looks much younger than it did before starting the Redo YOU! program.
- Medical tests show complete reversal of osteopenia in middle and lower back. Hip pain is also gone.
- No more charley horses in legs.
- Reduced arthritis pain and carpal tunnel pain in hands.
- Muscle pain is gone. "Lifting my 100-lb. son from bed to wheelchair is no longer nearly impossible," says Hunter. "I have more strength than I've had in years."
- Belly fat is reduced. "I took 3 inches off my waist, 2 inches from my hips, and 1.5 inches off each of my legs and arms-that's 11 inches total," says Hunter.
- No more inflammation around the heart. "My chest pain went away the first week of this program," says Hunter. "My doctor had tried for five months to make this happen, to no avail."
- No lost work from allergies and the flu last winter. "It used to be two or three times a year with days of flu symptoms, then weeks of coughing," says Hunter.
- No more shortness of breath upon exertion.
- Sleep apnea gone and snoring reduced.
- Bloating, gas, and stomachaches gone. "I think Dr. Ohhira's 12 PLUS Probiotics really helped with this," says Hunter.
- Renewed energy and mental focus.
- Nightly wakings to empty my bladder have ceased. "I now sleep through the night," says Hunter, who thought getting up to urinate at night was related to her bladder. "According to Kat, this is a sign that the adrenal glands are weak and need strengthening."
- Reduced hot flashes.
- Eight dress sizes have fallen off.
- Rough skin and brown spots disappearing.
- Triglyceride levels and blood pressure have been reduced; bone density has increased.
Janet's "life-saving" make-ahead lunches
Living primarily out of her car between visits to the dying for up to 17 hours a day literally almost killed chaplain Janet. To lock in a more healthful routine, Kat urged Janet to set aside a weekly "make-ahead day" to prepare some of her suggested meals in advance. Here's a list of Janet's favorite lunches and snacks:
- Kat's "Impossible" Flourless Griddle Cakes (see recipe below). You can make endless variations with this basic recipe. Try wrapping the waffles around grilled chicken, avocado, lettuce, and tomatoes.
- Cheese. Try Heini's raw yogurt cheese (available at many health food stores).
- Kale "chips." (Season kale with lemon and your favorite spices and bake in
- Portobello mushroom "pizza."
- Hard-boiled eggs.
- Grilled grass-fed meat or free-range poultry with sautéed mushrooms.
- Kat's Turkey-Tomato-Fennel Sauce over Hemp Seed.
- Sugar-free chocolates. (Make with melted unsweetened baking chocolate, stevia, xylitol, coconut oil, and vanilla; pour over walnuts, coconut, or unsweetened dried cranberries.)
- Any crustless quiche.
- Kat's Orange-Hazelnut Cheesecake.
- Janet's Mexican Casserole, Kat James-style (use thin slices of boiled jicama as
the tortillas and layer with chiles, cheese, and sautéed onions and bell peppers).
- Kat's soda "upgrades," featuring natural flavorings, a touch of nonbitter stevia (such as NuNaturals stevia to taste), and seltzer or sparkling water.
NOTE: To learn more about Kat James, get a copy of The Truth About Beauty, and to sign up for her newsletter, visit informedbeauty.com.