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The Leptin Factor: How 66-Year-Old Denise Broke the Low-Carb and Keto Barriers for a New Body and Life

In its 25th official year, Kat James’ pioneering, leptin-focused, Total Transformation® Program (based on her own health recovery in 1990), has had tremendous impact, not only on my own health-span, and that of my staff, but on thousands around the world, including several USWM customers, from “coincidental” cancer and cognitive turnarounds, to all manner of aging in reverse. Today, we feature customer, Denise’s multi-faceted journey back to health, which began last fall. Another inspiring testament to the power of James’ original, yet evolving protocol, paired with top-notch raw materials (USWM has provided strategic grass-fed foods for Total Transformation® since 2002!).

Meet Denise Gullickson

Denise Gullickson, 66: “I’d seen several people’s major physical changes from it at my health club, and was aware of Kat’s own former thyroid, liver, food, weight, and other issues, much like mine, but put off trying her program until September of 2022, when elevated triglycerides, a fatty liver diagnosis, scary foot numbness (neuropathy!), increasing arthritic, thickening knuckles, and especially a painful, persistant hamstring injury requiring muscle relaxants, and an overall sense of “falling apart” began to affect my spirit. I had many other issues I never thought would be affected, like bad skin, snoring, and my thyroid, for which I was told I’d be on medication “forever” (two decades and counting). The sad thing is, I was, for a long time, mostly motivated by weight loss. But what came out of this experience has given me a single focus that took care of it all.

I started Kat’s regimen under my doctor’s supervision, both online, then in person. It was overwhelming at first. The retraining of what my body wanted—and even when, how, and why it wanted it—was very counter-intuitive and required far more details of make-or-break consequence than any other dietary guidelines I’d ever followed, including keto. Little things, like how much something was cooked, the order and composition of a meal, or a supplement or tincture additive, could make or break the “leptin mechanism” that affects every system, so this wasn’t something I could “dabble” in, half-way. I also learned that the body goes back to burning sugar and storing fat if it”s not done carefully, in which case, eating fat-rich food could be counter-productive. It made me realize why most keto and “low-carbers” like I was, ultimately hit a wall, or get into the “cortisol trap,” which I learned true leptin sensitivity (not achievable by garden-variety low-carb or keto) resolves.

After gathering the suggested tools to address weaning off coffee and other “baddies,” initial yeast and fluid loss… strengthening my fat digestion, etc., I eventually took the leap into cutting out all food and drink that could “cause a hormonal response.” Not just sugar spikes, but even too much protein could do this, I learned. And you can’t just jump into this. It had to be gradual. Within a few days of doing it right (I needed several food log troubleshootings with Kat, to get that point), I literally the predicted purge of water weight, where my husband Dave and I saw a pronounced difference in my face, neck, arms, belly, and hips, all in one morning. My hamstring pain and general aches seemed to have “left the building” along with the fluid, again, almost overnight. I stopped my Meloxicam that week, losing about a pound a day, without any craving, for the next twelve days. Then another 20 over the next month or so, making a few deal-breaking mistakes along the way, which Kat identified with continued coaching sessions. Interestingly, those mistakes were not from “cheating” or craving, like in the past. Miraculously, I had no cravings!

Symptoms Reversed

In addition to all of the changes I’ve listed, below, I also started to have the opposite of my former hypo-thyroid symptoms (i.e., sluggishness, thinning hair, and inability to lose weight)…. instead, symptoms of active and even over-active thyroid (my medication was suddenly too much), including much less hair in the drain and fast weight loss. But an ocassional racing heart concerned me, which I did not at first connect with my thyroid. After increasing electrolytes and hydration helped only a bit, Kat encouraged me to call my endocrinologist, who already knew I might need an adjustment. Amazingly, it was halting my levothyroxine (thyroid hormone med) that ended those racing heart episodes in my case. I learned that leptin’s immune- and cortisol-regulating functions nearly always impact the thyroid.

Here’s my best list of everything else that happened in the following weeks (things are still happening almost a year later):

  • My constant sugar and salt cravings have remained virtually non-existent. No circling back to the refrigerator all day. I’m completely satisfied after eating. Planning is key, but willpower is no longer a “thing.” I savor my food, rather than inhale it, which is new for me.
  • My energy and moods are way better. I’m far more happy and stable. Dave says if I slip up, he knows because I’m grumpy again! LOL.
  • My appearance and body have changed so much that my son saw me on FB and commented that “mom has ankles again!” LOL. My face and body are much thinner. Even my belly fat, which I know had to do with cortisol issues that were also affecting my thyroid, has melted off for the first time and stayed off this year. The research on leptin and cortisol blew me away and has really kept me focused that mechanism. My friend apologized for gushing when she saw me, saying “Not that you weren’t beautiful before.!!” LOL.
  • My arthritic finger nodules are no longer painful and all but gone, except part of the nodule on the one finger that was the worst.
  • My liver enzyme tests are now normal. No more fatty liver diagnosis. The pressure I felt on my liver is gone!
  • My triglycerides are down 200 points and HDL went up 50 points, to where I now have perfect cholesterol ratios.
  • The neuropathy numbness in my left food is gone. My curling toes are almost normal.
  • My snoring and restless leg stopped. Dave says I don’t snore anymore. And with no more restless legs and ankles, sleep is much deeper now. I’m much “lighter” and clear-headed in the morning now.
  • The aches and pains are gone. Not only the hamstring pain, but the usual soreness the day after exercise is gone. I take the stairs easier and can walk much further without discomfort. In fact, I was never a hiker (intimidated by hikers!) and now I’ve just hiked eight miles last week and was not even sore the next day!
  • Constipation I had is no longer an issue.
  • My skin is totally different. I’ve always had bad skin. Now the large pores are smaller. Small bumps are gone. No more blackheads. I have also noticed the ingrown hair on the back of my thighs is gone. skin tags gone. Sun spots on my hand are lighter in color.
  • My nail biting has stopped! I now love painting my nails!!
  • My hearing improvements were the big surprise. I have hearing loss and tinnitus and wear hearing aids. I didn’t really realize until another online participant mentioned her tinnitus was gone and hearing was better. I noticed the same thing! This is a huge bonus!!

After nine incredible months, I’m not only proud of myself and grateful to have found the only thing that has done all this for me, but Dave and also my son, are proud and grateful too, and support me logistically, saying they prefer the new, happier, healthier, energetic me!! And it’s starting to rub off on the both of them!

Join Kat James’ Total Transformation® Program, July 28th-August 2nd, in Kalispell, MT

Kat James Montana Retreat, Total Transformation program

Learn more at, or email, or call 877-54-TOTAL to book.