Spurred by her own transformation, James decided to get the word out about whole foods, supplements and pure beauty products. She provides tips and articles on her website, InformedBeauty.com, private consultations, frequent seminars, magazine and TV interviews and the Total Transformation Cruise, a Caribbean trip hosted by James that includes a menu designed to taste good and “put an end to cravings and weight gain,” herbal nightcaps, and all-natural “Oscar caliber” makeovers.
Years of research have gone into The Truth about Beauty, which she wanted to be like a personal consultation, complete with “all of the inspiration, practical strategies, informational resources, doctors, diet counselors and beauty tips never provided to me, which I believe are crucial to practical success at transforming oneself.”
She wanted the book, like her seminars, to appeal to the “converted,” such as Life Extension readers, who are already very concerned and knowledgeable about their health. But she also wanted to appeal to those who are as cynical as she used to be, through the “motivator they’re accustomed to,” beauty. At her seminars, she throws out a few celebrity names and reminds people, “I didn’t look this way ten years ago—that’s when they get their pencils out.” She adds, “I was forced by a crisis to look at these health problems and address them one by one. When you fix them in a real way, nutritionally and with supplements, and with your lifestyle, reducing stress and being active, you start to see something that is so much better than what you could ever achieve when you look at a magazine cover and try to emulate that from the outside.”
To achieve the kind of transformation she had or simply improve your looks via health, James suggests that people stop depriving themselves and eat as much “real and fresh” food as they want. “I cleared out my cupboards after I overcame my eating disorder and it was all of this stuff that never goes bad,” she says. “It was rice cakes, melba toast, fat-free instant soup, fat-free shake mixes and sugar-free hot cocoa. Those things had been recommended to me by professionals many, many times. Even professionals had bought into what the food industry had masterminded and got the government to back up. And that’s mind-blowing. That gets me.”
Now she indulges in “lots of good, inflammation-inhibiting fats.” At a recent meal at Quintessence, a raw foods restaurant in New York’s East Village, she was chowing down on nuts, avocado and coconut cream—foods that would have sent her fat-phobic self running. “My palate has evolved,” she says. “My eyes will roll up into my head when I sip some of this unsweetened coconut juice out of a raw coconut. That wouldn’t have happened before and that’s why in my book I made an effort to say ‘start right where you are.’ She says a flourless sprouted Manna bread with raw almond butter is “what cake with frosting used to be to me.”
James also touts dark greens (with an oil-like walnut to enhance absorption of vitamin K), dark berries, plain yogurt and other cultured or fermented foods that balance the gut and boost the immune system. “Eggs are also great,” she says. “I am so tired of hearing people order those useless egg-white omelets.” She adds: “The biggest revelation you come to on the road to evolving your palate is that the most ‘decadent’ foods are also the very best for you. Give me real organic cream and butter, real, dark, sugar-free chocolate—not some hydrogenated piece of technology.”
Many of the beverage and food recommendations James suggests in her book, consultations and seminars focus on what she calls “upgrades” rather than “second-rate substitutions.” Her book has numerous charts suggesting replacing coffee with Teechino (an herbal, caffeine-free coffee substitute), sodas with spritzers, regular milk with soy milk or organic cow’s milk, margarine with extra virgin olive oil, conventionally raised meat and poultry with organic free-range meat and poultry, processed cheese with natural or organic cheese, and so forth. “Look at what you do with the most frequency,” she says. “If you drink this unhealthy beverage all the time, the more you drink it the more effect you are going to have when you upgrade that one thing with something you love the taste of. And I don’t ask anyone to fool themselves or continue having something they don’t like.”
Though James is not a proponent of deprivation, she suggests people steer clear of certain types of food. “The two top foods that age us in my opinion are sugar and hydrogenated fat.” She recommends low-glycemic foods that stabilize blood sugar, particularly for sugar and carb addicts.
In addition to suggesting food upgrades, James is a big proponent of supplements. “If you ignore your chemistry, you can’t just diet and expect it to change,” she says. “You have to restore your nutrient levels. You need major, therapeutic doses of supplements. I believe this is why so many people needlessly have an unhealthy relationship with food because they are depleted and their bodies are screaming for true nourishment. They are stuffing a full belly but they are malnourished.”
At the very least, she recommends that everyone take a high-potency, quality broad-spectrum multivitamin and mineral supplement with herbs and the best phytonutrients. She also recommends Life Extension Mix. In addition to these basics, she suggests that everyone tailor a supplement regimen to his or her own needs. She says she’s learned a great deal about effective ways to use supplements from Life Extension Foundation. “I have lots of different supplements that I take but we are not static beings and our needs shift according to our current challenges,” she adds. “The more informed you are, the better able you are to customize what you take each day to your needs.”
For anti-aging, James says some of the most compelling available science points to taking carnosine and alpha-lipoic acid and acetyl-l-carnitine. “I take Chronoforte, which contains all of those, along with herbs like turmeric and milk thistle—the latter of which helped me escape a lifetime on awful immunosuppressant drugs, by regenerating my liver cells and helping to reverse my non-viral form of hepatitis (along with alpha-lipoic acid and EFAs),” she says.
She also says people should avoid using harsh products and solvents on the skin and stay away from “the sand, zap and peel approach to wrinkles.” Right now she’s excited by marine extracts, which she says can ionize tissue and stimulate cell regeneration. “Transdermal catalysts and growth factors are also an important part of the current advances,” she adds.
Of course, you probably won’t read about some of the remedies James talks about in your local paper. She recalls being in the offices of one of the top morning TV shows: “They said, ‘Oh, we love your story, but can you just not talk about supplements?’”
This mainstream rejection of alternative therapies is why self education is so important to her. “Stop looking at what you put on or in your body as something your doctor has you taking or your trainer, facialist or dermatologist has you doing,” she says. “You are with yourself all day long. You have to become your own expert. You have to know that the information is there and that it’s not as hard as you think to get informed about these things in a relatively short period of time. If you have a specific issue, you could know more about a real way out of your problem than your doctor in an afternoon. It is sad but true.”
That’s why she recommends that people log onto the LEF website and read the magazine. “I think Bill Faloon’s editorials have made me bolder in this book,” she says. “We can’t expect to be informed by just watching the six o’clock news.” It’s also why she’s hitting the road in support of her book. She has seminars planned throughout the country this fall where she’ll be spreading her message: “Beauty is not a frivolous pursuit. It’s a birthright.”