At the end of night one at Kat James’ transformation “treehouse” in the Blue Ridge Mountains, I rushed to email my husband, my sister in Arlington, my cousin in Springfield, my mom in Waynesboro, and my friends in Raleigh, Santa Barbara, and Cincinnati. It was only the first night, but already WAY more than I expected. And I’d expected a lot—taking five days away from family including three days away from work, and driving six hours from Myrtle Beach is a big deal for anyone these days. But Total Transformation could be called “Total Experience,” “Mountain Top Playhouse” or “I Wish All My Friends Were Here.” The experience was so rich I could hardly describe it. “Total” truly is the best word. And the effort to get there was totally worth it.
Betty Isenhour who has been following Kat’s program for eight years after it reversed her Wegner’s disease (a horrid inflammatory disease) spoke to us the first night. She said, “People always find Kat when they need her.” That phrase stuck with me and perfectly describes my own experience. I had been in Asheville, NC in late September, attending the Body, Mind, Spirit Expo. As I was walking by various booths, I saw a tall beautiful poster describing Salba. I paused by the booth trying to find out more about Salba and a guy named James offered me a sample of the small, “omega-3-packed” seeds and explained how they can be used in all sorts of ways to enhance foods and your overall health. As I munched the sample, I overheard Kat James talking to a man about how to change his body from being a sugar-burner to a being a fat-burner and how quickly that can actually be accomplished. I was struck by Kat’s intensity, her story, and her knowledge of exotic foods like Salba and coconut flour, and supplements. Her bestselling book, The Truth About Beauty, upon first flip-through, seemed surprisingly in-depth, for a “beauty book.” But some of her food principles—particularly her passion for eating a lot of fats (and not just olive oil or the omega-3s from fish or salba, but organic butter and grass-fed meats)—seemed a stretch to me. But then I looked at her again and listened more. This slender, energetic, former vegetarian with sparkling eyes and the most gorgeous skin ever seemed living proof of what she was describing! Even if I hadn’t seen the diseased being she once was, she had my ear.
The third time I circled by the Salba booth, James asked me to fill out a form for a chance at winning Kat’s Total Transformation Program to be held in Black Mountain, NC in a chalet in the Blue Ridge Mountains that overlooks 22,000 acres, courtesy of Core Naturals, the Salba company. “I never win anything,” I said as I filled out the form. Several weeks later, I got a phone call from Kat herself telling me I’d won a Total Transformation® Program, which started on Halloween night. Halloween night? So it began…
At Kat’s Transformation Treehouse, whether you think you like to cook or not, you WILL cook (in truth, you can choose). Everyone joyfully participated—chopping, whirring, whisking, stirring, mixing—all the while sampling amazing tastes we were all sure would put pounds on us by the end of the program. We listening to Kat’s cooking tips, engaging questions—and predictions—for us, all rolled into an on-going conversation. The kitchen was filled with fragrant smells. We played show tunes or theme songs from old TV shows or jazzy stuff… whatever fit with what we were cooking. Sometimes, we danced around the kitchen clutching our wooden spoons or whatever we were nibbling. You had to be there to understand the degree of abandon we shared by only the second day, surrounded by the amazing view and free of the portion control you’d expect from a program promising to transform you. We drank detox elixirs (made uncommonly tasty) every morning and eagerly sampled every new food (or superfood, like Salba) we could find room for. Kat’s goal, she said, was for us to experience as many tastes and products as possible. With a facial here or a little reflexology there, we were content to oblige. We even had a Halloween Party and gathered around a fire pit under the stars to sip Kat’s hot mulled cranberry cider recipe (non-alcoholic and much better than sweet apple cider) and munch on delicious grass-fed filet mignon (from U.S. Wellness Meats, the NY Times’ pick for grass-fed steaks), wild caught Alaskan salmon, and savory creamed cauliflower soup that we“winged” on the spot. Yum.
We all agreed that any hesitation we’d had to come to Total Transformation had been because we knew it would require the “conversion” of kitchen and personal care regimens. But Kat was right about it not being so much about willpower anymore (that part was over as soon as our cravings were gone) as it would be about logistics and stocking up. And I can’t think of a greater motivation than the results I was feeling right there by about day three: deeper sleep, calmed skin, no more cravings for sweets or breads, flatter abdomen, calmer mood. All of this while eating only whole fat foods, grass-fed meats and cheeses and vegetables, (no sugar, starch, caffeine, or alcohol). Incredible. We even ate cheesecake for breakfast once! Another time, we made Kat’s yummy ‘tapioca’ pudding recipe with Salba and whole cream. Mind you, Kat guided us through a concurrent non-dairy menu for one of the attendees, including a coconut-milk-based, sugar-free ice cream in a Vita-Mix. One night we made almond cookies dipped in pine nuts and dark chocolate. Another we had hot cocoa before bed (considered blaspheme to most diets!). We still lost weight. In fact, three of my “treehouse sisters” got together in Durham, NC the weekend after the program. Two had lost 2lbs. and one had lost seven. I had lost three. That’s a lot for me, as I have little to lose. Incredible!!
After meals, we’d gather by the fire to partake in Kat’s insights and feedback on our questions regarding nutrition, skin and personal care. She also gave us invaluable straight talk about our relationships with food, which she knows a thing or two about (her story, which is told in her book, is even more compelling coming from her). Kat had invited two Total Transformation graduates, Betty Isenhour and Debbie Harwood, to join us and to tell their stories. Each had a great story to tell but most importantly, these women had sparkling eyes and fabulous skin, just like Kat’s! As the week wore on, we kept expecting them to “break character” and say, “Oh you know, I don’t always eat this way at home.” But they didn’t. After five days with Kat, Betty, and Debbie eating and cooking alongside you, you realize they really do LIVE this way. Then you think to yourself ‘and why not? It’s actually more indulgent and decadent than how I’ve been eating!’
By week’s end, we’d all had one-on-one time with Kat to talk about personal barriers and turn our notes into a personalized game-plan. During the week, we took a trip to Hot Springs, NC for a soak in mineral water hot tubs and a trip to the NC Botanical Gardens. We made amazing food to take with us, like Kat’s “No-Spike Kitchen Sink Bars” and, spinach and Portobello mushroom quiche that was so mouthwatering, that I can still see and taste it! The bars were made with nut flours, berries, and seeds (especially Salba, which made them more nutritious and lower-glycemic, and also binded them together much like eggs). Everything tasted sinful, but we all noticed we were eating less, less bloated, and no longer craving anything by about day three.
At the end of the week, Kat’s expertise as a celebrity make-up artist shines when she does a makeover with each Total Transformation participant. The results were dazzling. Everyone watched and learned as she demonstrated pro techniques to achieve age-defying effects with a minimal amount of product. Then she turned us over to the photograher, to capture our new found “glowing-ness.” Even the photographer did the program with us as she shot it, and the images she caught all week will be a memory album of new friends and a truly transforming experience I will never forget. "
My first night home, I delighted my family with my best facsimile of Kat’s Thai Chicken stir-fry with Salba from the program. I have not even needed to make desserts because there is no craving. UPDATE, 11/16/08: My 11-year-old son has been joining me in the kitchen throwing in spices and having the best time creating new dishes. This is a new dimension of quality time for us. Also, today I took some blue jeans out of the closet that I haven't worn in a long time because they were shrunk in the dryer! But I forgot they’d been shrunk and I put them on anyway and--surprise!-- they fit so well! The thing that is changing is the flatness of my belly. It's not all 'wobbly' anymore. I don't need to drop a lot of weight, but the shift in how my body feels and my skin getting tighter is wonderful. My energy is constant all day. No dips. I've almost stopped thinking about coffee and only want a few sips if I have it.
I am already working on my friends and especially my mom, to attend the program. I want them to feel this! They have some issues that were really helped in the other attendees, that are much more serious than mine. My heartfelt thanks to Kat and everyone else for making my Total Transformation® experience truly “total.” And thanks to Salba for making it possible!!!!
Myrtle Beach, SC
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