Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In


Natural Living

The Biggest Gainer

Learn why calorie restriction and weight loss can't hold a candle to nutrient indulgence and health gain.

Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.

The Side Effect of Gaining Health? Weight Loss

I have not binged or struggled with food or weight for roughly 20 years. My weight loss of 40 pounds was not a goal, but rather merely a side effect of the health I had regained on several biochemical fronts. I later learned from Ron Rosedale, MD, widely considered the foremost expert on insulin and the lesser hormone leptin, that by evolving toward a very low-glycemic, high-fat (not just high-protein) diet, I had resensitized my cells to the hormones insulin and leptin, which turn off severe food cravings. Mind you, my transformation required no self-deprivation or struggle. The nutrient-rich, relatively high-fat, “low-impact” dietary approach I have honed for myself, featuring exotic, little-known replacements for typical high-glycemic starch foods and sugar are what finally gave me total peace with food-something I never imagined possible. And though I’ve eaten to my heart’s content every day for the 20 years since I changed my diet, I have not felt my size four jeans tighten, or even been compelled to step on the scale or deny myself delicious foods. -Kat James

I’m devoting this month’s column to one of the “biggest gainers” I’ve come across in recent years. The biochemical recovery behind her happy ending is exactly the kind that could revolutionize your own life-whether you are obese, thin, or in-between.

The impulse to deny ourselves what we crave is a part of almost everyone’s daily life. It’s part of “being good,” right? But there is an alternative to relying on willpower. In fact, you can indulge and nourish your way out of the very biochemical conundrum that causes constant temptation. Sound like a recipe for weight gain disaster? Find out why it’s not.

Kim’s Journey from Restriction to Indulgence
In the January 2009 issue of Better Nutrition, Kim from Kemah, Tex., read our Redo YOU! makeover story about a mother and two daughters who overcame their negative issues with food at my program. Just a few months later, she found herself at my Five-Day Total Transformation mountain retreat in North Carolina (courtesy of Sunshine Botanicals skin care) not in the name of weight loss, but in the name of health. That was new for Kim. After 40 years of food and weight-gain phobia, and the resulting fear of fat and weight gain, it was surreal for Kim to embark on a new life-long goal to deeply nourish her body.

Kim was a fat “restrictor” and exercised constantly. Eating actual full meals and copious amounts of fat after decades of restriction was scary for her, to say the least. Here is her account:

“I possibly consumed more fat in my week at the program than I have actually swallowed in the past few years … and slept deeper, felt calmer, and have felt better in that first week than I have ever felt as an adult. First I needed to believe, or I never would have eaten what was put in front of me. I needed a living example of someone who eats far more fat as an adult than she did as a teenager, yet lost weight and found peace with food in the process. That fear of weight gain after eating all this amazing fat disappeared. Now, I know the biochemical reasons why restricting fat is not the answer. All my life, I was taught that good-tasting foods made you fat. It is almost too much to imagine that you can have total satiety while eating sugar-free ice cream, avocados, grass-fed cheeses and meats, and even sugar-free cheesecake . But it has been two months and my body feels amazing and my clothes are loose. My face is much less drawn and my skin is feeling incredibly different.

I hate mirrors. Well, when I went to the ladies room at the airport (after Kat’s program) and with the usual dread looked into the mirror, I actually liked what I saw. After eating so indulgently all week, I was amazed at how smooth and de-puffed my skin looked. And my clothes fit the same, and even better in the abdomen. The other revelation happened after I arrived in Charlotte and was waiting for my plane. I was quite hungry, which is unusual because I was so used to starving myself. I pulled out a sugar-free pumpkin pie I had packed from Kat’s program, and as I ate, I realized I was eating like a normal person. I felt alive and normal for the first time.

Each day I wake up to a new kind of real hunger that is actually completely resolved each time I eat the right things (all the things I never let myself eat before). If I can be at total peace after 40 years of food obsession, there is hope for anyone reading this.”

[Editor’s note]Click here for Part II of this article, with more “biggest gainer” stories, as well as Kat’s story of health gain after years of seeking mere weight loss. Kat will also outline the concepts she’s honed over the past two decades for achieving natural slimness and peace with food-these mindsets fly in the face of what most people think of as mantras for getting slim or fit. One of the biggest gainers of all could be you! Please see p. 6 for entry details about our Redo YOU! contest featuring Kat’s Total Transformation program.