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Turning White: My Story; Getting Healthy Through Happy Living

Aired January 7, 2008 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, a black reporter turns white as TV viewers witness his transformation. News man Lee Thomas goes public with a painful secret that he can no longer hide.
And change of a different kind -- be your healthiest and happiest ever, with the best in the self- help business at your side. Tony Robbins happen, Dr. Dean Ornish, Dr. Sanjay Gupta are your personal trainers.

Tonight -- it's a new year, now a new you.


We begin tonight with an extraordinary story. He's Lee Thomas, the Emmy award-winning anchor and entertainment reporter for WJBK in Detroit. He suffers from -- I guess you'd call it a disease -- from vitiligo.

He's got a new book out called "Turning White: A Memoir of Change." The you see its cover.

What is vitiligo?

LEE THOMAS, DETROIT ANCHOR, SKIN STARTED TURNING WHITE 15 YEARS AGO: It's a pigment disorder or disease where your body actually starts to attack the pigment cells in your skin. And it's beyond turning white. You actually are void of color. Simply titled, the book was "Turning White". But it's void of color. I'm pigmentless in parts of my skin, For lighter skinned people, it's not as noticeable. But for darker skinned people, it's very noticeable.

KING: So it can happen to Caucasians?

THOMAS: It can happen to anyone at any age -- usually between 25 and 45. But I've seen people as young as three, six, seven who have the disease.

KING: Male and female?

THOMAS: Male and female, yes.


During the first break, Lee is going to take some wipes here and...

THOMAS: Yes. KING: ...he is -- his makeup now -- this is kind of odd. He's being made up to look like he really looks in real life. In other words, this is him. He is a black individual.

THOMAS: Right.

KING: When he does the wipes, we'll see how have -- well, I'll tell you what -- he wasn't always like this.

Let's take a look at the what Lee goes through on a typical day at the station.



THOMAS: All right. So what I usually do is I come in and I have to put, you know, put the stuff on and prepare. And I have two different kinds of makeup that I use -- Blam (ph) and Pow (ph). So I usually start with this. I'm almost out.

The transformation begins. The reason I started using two different colors is because men's beards are usually darker -- especially African-American men. Their beards are -- it's usually darker. So it looks more natural that way. I have to do my ears. You can definitely see them on camera.

So, Larry, this is it. I have finished putting on all my makeup and I think I have gotten everything.

Done for the day.


KING: Now we'll have him take it off at the first break and reverse it now.

Is it weird to make yourself up to look like you really are?

THOMAS: No. At this point, I'm very comfortable putting on the makeup. And it's really for other people, because I know with people -- when they see me without makeup, it's hard for them to pay attention to what I'm saying. A lot of times they're staring at my ear or my neck or are not really paying attention to my words. And when you're on camera and when you're on television or on the news, like what I do, I have a great time being there, but I know it's all about the information and not about me. So I try to do as much as I can to focus on the information and not myself.

KING: Lee, is there anything dangerous in this in that -- for example, supposing you lived a whole life made up?

THOMAS: No. No. The vitiligo takes your pigment away. And the thing that happens from that is that it's not contagious. It's not life-threatening. But I can get a bad sunburn, which is brand new for me... KING: Oh, really?

THOMAS: ...because as an African-American, I never had to deal with a sunburn Larry. So the first time I got sunburned was on my arm, and I didn't know what it was. I had to ask somebody what -- what's going on -- my arm is red and it itches. So...

KING: Put your hands up toward the camera.

THOMAS: Sure. Sure.

KING: So...

THOMAS: Where can you guys get that?

KING: Let's get the full camera on, OK, guys, OK, guys?


KING: Do away with the mirror.


THOMAS: There we go.

KING: They're crazy with mirrors.

THOMAS: Yes. You can see the contrast. Yes. I'll put both of them up. There you go. So you can see, it's completely gone at this point. You can see a little bit of pigment starting right in some of these areas. You can see on my wrists -- that's where the pigment starts to come back and...

KING: Does it come back?

THOMAS: Well, it's possible. You know, I know the possibility is there. I've talked to people who have regained pigment. And 80 percent of the people that have this disease respond to treatment in some fashion. And I have responded to treatment before. But as soon as I stopped the treatment -- and it was standing in a light booth after putting cream on my body -- as soon as I stopped, within weeks, it started to fade again.

KING: What did you notice first?

THOMAS: I first got it on my scalp. And then, ironically, I got it on my left hand. I had a few spots on the back of my head. You can see almost through my hairline...

KING: Yes, I can see it.

THOMAS: ...that you can see the pigment is gone.

KING: Sure.

THOMAS: Spots on my scalp both sides. And then on my left hand. So when, you know, when the famous gloved one put on his glove, he has vitiligo, as well. I understand why, because I got it on my left hand and I started to wear one glove when I would do a report.

KING: Does Michael Jackson refer to himself as having vitiligo?

THOMAS: He does. He said it to Oprah Winfrey. He said it to Martin Bashir, a British journalist. He does have vitiligo. And I could not imagine -- there's only a few hundred thousand people that watch me in Detroit. But being the most famous person on the planet and having this disease -- when you look one way on an album cover, but when you're at home, you look like the cover of my book there -- it must have been tough to deal with, to have hundreds of millions of people looking at you and having to keep that secret.

KING: Was it scary the first time you -- like you looked at the scalp at first?

THOMAS: When it got on my face I completely freaked out. I thought I was going to lose my job and my job is my livelihood. I worked my way through college to be able to do what I love. I love television. It's much respect to be sitting across from you, by the way, my man I mean...

KING: Oh, thank you.

THOMAS: But I worked my way through college and paid for it myself to get there, Larry. And when my face started changing, I really thought it was the end. And I had to take a walk. I was walking -- working in New York at the time. I had to walk down to the park and just clear my head and, you know, regain a perspective on life, because I really thought that things were over.

KING: When you go on an airplane, are you made up or do you...

THOMAS: No. When I'm traveling, I don't...

KING: Are you stared at?

THOMAS: All the time. I was getting gas the other day and you know how you can see through the pump when you're pumping gas?

A lady on the other side stopped and she goes, "What's wrong with you?"

And I go, "Besides the gas prices, I'm good. (LAUGHTER) Nothing's wrong with me."

But it took me a while to get there. They were times before when I would be on an elevator and someone scooted away from me and tried not to make eye contact with me because they didn't know what it was. And, you know, it's ignorance. It's not mean or malicious ignorance, it's just -- they don't know what it is. And, hopefully, you know, with the book and with what I'm doing, people will know. Because it all started with a kid. A kid called me and asked me to tell my story so that people would treat him differently. I told him yes. And I've been telling the story ever since -- on television, in book form. But I did not know...

KING: I'm glad you did.

THOMAS: many people didn't know about this disease.

KING: Lee Thomas.

When we come back, we'll see Lee's transformation. You will witness what he lives with every day without his mask of makeup. He's starting already. The real Lee Thomas next.


THOMAS: Over the years, I've interviewed most of the stars in the Hollywood sky, so to speak.

What do you do to make guys feel comfortable?

It's, you know, I guess that's something you have to think about.

HALLE BERRY, ACTRESS: I didn't know I made them so uncomfortable.

THOMAS: So you give them the chin ups and the lady's ahhhhh!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's just a little chin up. You know, you saw it. It was the behind the neck.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You saw that, right?

Yes, the behind the neck. That's the man joints right there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're very pretty.

Would you dance with me?

THOMAS: They say that's my time. That's your Fox beat (ph).

I'm Lee Thomas.




KING: We're back on LARRY KING LIVE.

The book is "Turning White: A Memoir Of Change". The author is Lee Thomas -- the Emmy Award winning anchor from WJBK in Detroit. He has now put on the wipes and put the wipes on his face and ears and neck. And this is how he looks.

When this started you didn't tell your employers, right?

How did you hide it, with makeup?

THOMAS: Initially, yes, I covered it with makeup. But it was not -- it wasn't this bad. In the book, you see a progression. And it started off with small, little spots that were easier to cover. But as it progressed, I, you know, was put in the position to have to do something. I could keep trying to hide it -- and it was difficult to hide on my hands -- or I could say look, this is what's happening. I don't know what's going to happen. But as I continue to deal with this, I might want to stop being on TV at some point.

And I took that to my boss. And she -- they've been nothing but supportive at my job in Detroit.

KING: They want you to stay on?

THOMAS: They said whatever you decide is fine with them. We're behind you 110 percent. And they've been great at WJBK from day one. And they've definitely said we want you to stay, but it -- whatever you feel comfortable doing is what we want you to do.

KING: How about the family?

THOMAS: My family, it's like they don't even see it and I love them for that.

KING: Who is in the family?

THOMAS: I have two sisters, three brothers, a bunch of nieces and nephews. I'm not married yet. I have a girlfriend and she's the same way.

KING: Is she black or white?

THOMAS: She's a black woman, yes. She's a black woman. And she has nothing but love for me. She actually -- I actually text her before the show to say hey, they want me to take my makeup off, what do you think?

She says, "I love you without the makeup, but do what you feel comfortable doing."

So she actually prefers me without the makeup on and hey, I love her for that.

KING: Are your parents still living?

THOMAS: My mother has passed. My father is still alive.

KING: How does he deal with it?

THOMAS: You know, he's a -- he's a military man and to be honest with you, he and I don't talk about it that much. When I do get opportunities to see him...

KING: Is he ashamed? THOMAS: No. No. He's very proud of everything that I've done and he wants me to be happy in my life. And when I see him, it's part of a bigger conversation. My whole family is like that -- especially since my mother passed. You know, my mom passing was the hardest thing I ever had to deal with in my life, Larry. So having this -- it's not contagious, it's not life-threatening. I still have my life and, you know, she's a part of me and I'm here to be the best man that I can be. So I'm happy just to have life.

KING: What's the toughest part of this?

THOMAS: The toughest part is small children, to me -- not because they're children and not because of me. It's because I don't want to scare them. I want them to not be afraid. And usually -- I've had small kids react very badly to seeing my face. And I thought I scared small children at one point. And it had me in the house for two weeks.

But another small child brought me out of it. She thought she knew what it was and walked up and touched my face and said you've got a boo-boo, you know?

So it really -- and not because of me, because I've become very comfortable with it. I always think it's easier for other people. You're on this side.

Was it easier interviewing me with or without the makeup?

I looked like a different guest after the break.

KING: The same to me. You're an interesting subject. It's a fascinating thing to have happen. You try to, as and interviewer, put yourself in the --


KING: the seat of the guest. In other words, I don't know how I would react.

THOMAS: Man, I'm taking notes just being across from you, Larry.

KING: Oh...

THOMAS: You're a good man.

KING: We have an e-mail from Janet in Yellow Springs, Ohio: "Can the loss of skin pigment be triggered by skin affected fungal infection?"

THOMAS: I have heard that. A worker with one of the big three was talking about working in the tire plant and he thought that that's what triggered it for him. I'm not a doctor, I'm a guy who was vitiligo. But I have had heard that as one of theories.

But once again, like I said, it's one of those -- like an autoimmune disorder like rheumatoid arthritis. They don't know what the cause is. There is no cure and I definitely am far from being a doctor. I'm just a reporter. But that is one of theories that I've heard.

KING: Why did you go public?

THOMAS: A young man called and -- kids do that. People who have vitiligo saw it on my hands when my hands were two-toned. They saw it and they would call me and say, do you have vitiligo and what are you doing to deal with it and how do you stay on the air and is it on your face?

And I would offer -- especially to children -- to come to the station and to meet me and to talk to me. And if there was some way they could gain strength or anything from my story, I was there to offer it for them.

So I talked to a kid on the phone for 45 minutes. And he said, would you do a story on yourself without makeup on? And I said, why? He said, maybe if you do the story, people will treat me differently. And he told me about another kid that was eight who wears a mask to go outside and play.

And, you know, that just touched my heart. And I -- without a doubt, I said, yes. It would be easy for me to tell people -- show people what I look like.

I was in my own little nightmare, I thought. You know, I'm dealing with -- everybody has the thing that they're dealing with in their life and I thought mine was, you know, just something that I had to deal with. And when the kid brought me out of that and said, you know, maybe I can educate people from the small television platform that I have, it really hit me hard. And I said, sure.

And so I told the story on television and got thousands of letters. And I've written the book and I'm telling the story again. Part of the proceeds from the book go to a support group -- a foundation that I started. It supports the support group for the emotional part of patients with vitiligo (INAUDIBLE)...

KING: That's the Turning White Foundation?

THOMAS: The Turning White Foundation, yes. So, it's crazy that I can come across the screen and actually tangibly help people by simply telling my story. But as journalists, isn't that what we're in it for?

KING: Yes.

THOMAS: That's what we do.

KING: The Web site is turningwhite -- one word -- .com. Turning white -- one word -- .com. Turningwhite -- one word -- .com, if you want more information and to help out in some ways -- a supportive measure.

By the way, tomorrow night, election night in New Hampshire. We'll be on following it all at midnight Eastern.

Bob Woodward returns as our special analyst. And there'll be a host of guests. That's tomorrow night.

Back with more of Lee Thomas on this edition of Larry King live.

Don't go away.


THOMAS: The reactions I get from other people, man, are varied. Some people act like they don't even see it. Other people cannot stop staring. Some people stop in their tracks with their mouths wide open staring. I mean adults. We're talking about adults. Kids don't count. Kids do all of that. They stop and go wow! Look at that guy!




THOMAS: The transformation begins. I have two different kinds of color for my face. I do really simply because I really don't like a lot of makeup. So, Larry, this is it. I've finished putting on all my makeup and I think I have gotten everything.


KING: We're back.

The book is "Turning White."

The guest is Lee Thomas of Detroit.

You do your own makeup, huh?

THOMAS: Yes, I do. It takes me about 15 or 20 minutes. I've got it down to a science at this point, you know?

I don't like wearing a lot of makeup, but that's just par for the course.

KING: You write about diet in your book.

THOMAS: Um-hmm.

KING: There's no diet connection with this, is there?

THOMAS: You know, no, there is no direct diet connection. But I've found that with having a healthier diet, it not only makes it feel better, but I would hope that at some point your body would correct itself. But there's no direct link to -- to diet.

KING: What advice do you give to others who have this?

THOMAS: Who have vitiligo?

You know, I've met a lot of people who lock themselves in their house because they have this disease.


THOMAS: And that -- that hurts me.

KING: They don't like to be stared at.

THOMAS: They don't want to be stared at. They don't want to -- it's more than that, man. You get -- you get some real tough comments. People say rude things, you know?

And I understand that. But don't let any of that take your life away from you. I mean, you have just as much right to be out in the sunshine and enjoying the grass, in the park or in the mall, as much as anyone else does. And if people can take any example from my story, it's that if I can be an African-American -- a black man turning white on television and still have my job, then there really isn't any obstacle you can't go around, go over or just put it on your back and carry it with you, but just keep going.

KING: In society where the playing field hasn't been level, obviously, do you ever wish you could go all white?

THOMAS: No. I'm an African-American man and I'm very...

KING: I mean but that's...

THOMAS: ...I'm very proud of it.

KING: would think...

THOMAS: If -- hey, is it going to help my taxes or maybe my boss is going to give me a raise?

I don't know. I know what it's like to be a black man and I'm very proud of that. And if every pigment cell in my body were to go, I would still be an African-American man.

KING: Sure.

THOMAS: So, no. Unless it helps with my taxes or something, I'm good.

KING: How have celebrities dealt with you?

You've interviewed quite a few.

THOMAS: Um-hmm. You know, some of them -- Dustin Hoffman, we sat and had a conversation about -- he thought it was a burn. And we're sitting there, we had a great...

KING: People will think that, right?

THOMAS: Yes. A lot of people think it's a burn. And we had a great conversation. But 98 percent of the celebrities I interview are great. Will Smith gave me some of the best advice that I've ever had on life.

KING: Great.

THOMAS: Just a -- just a positive guy.

KING: Yes?

THOMAS: And, you know, they all -- across the board -- have treated me the same no matter what. Just a small percentage of them -- and no one has ever said anything flippant or malicious in any way. But I do see some people react.

KING: Do you want to leave Detroit and go to a bigger market?

THOMAS: You know what?

Like the cars in the United States, I was really made in Detroit. And I grew up as a broadcaster in Detroit. I'm not saying I wouldn't take that golden job if it came along, because I would love it just as much as any other broadcaster would. But it has definitely become my home. I'm very proud of Detroit. And, you know, a lot of times people look at Detroit funny, like they look at me funny. But we're still working hard. We're still strong and we're still here. So I so much am in tune with Detroit that it would have to be a good job to get me away from there.

KING: Some people, in their lives, have used great adversity as a plus.

THOMAS: Um-hmm.

KING: Any plus to this?

THOMAS: You know, I really believe, Larry -- and I hate to sound cheesy, but I believe that this disease -- and I may have gotten there another way -- I'm not sure. But this disease has made me the man I've always wanted to be.

KING: How?

THOMAS: I'm more compassionate. I'm more understanding. It's put me in a position to clearly define who I am, beyond what people see when I'm on television -- with or without makeup in the street. It's turned me into the man I've always wanted to be.

And, also, it's given me an opportunity to help people. That's why part of the proceeds from the book go to the foundations that I started. Rarely do we get a chance to go on the other side of camera and help people. This is one of those opportunities. And I'm trying to do as much as I can for people who really are in hiding and can't speak for themselves, and for people who don't have vitiligo, who have an obstacle they're trying to get over. If I can do it half white/half black and I can do it, there really isn't anything you can't overcome.

KING: There's a major support group called The Turning White Foundation. And you can go to them -- That's one word. The book is "Turning White: A Memoir of Change."

The author is Lee Thomas. Great meeting you, man.

THOMAS: Awesome to meet you, too, Larry.

This is cool.

KING: It's been my pleasure.

THOMAS: All right.

KING: By the way, if you head to our Web site -- -- you can read a special commentary by tonight's guest, Lee Thomas. And while you're there, download our current pod cast, Jack Hanna. He's got animals from all seven continents.

Two great items at one great Web address --

When we come back, we're going to get healthy. Dr. Dean Ornish, Tony Robbins, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

And later, Oprah's chef, Art Smith. We'll tell you how to keep those New Year's resolutions.

Don't go away.


KING: Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE. There's a terrific new book out by Dr. Dean Ornish, who is known the world over. The book is "The Spectrum." It's a scientifically proven program to feel better, live longer, lose weight, and gain health, with recipes by the famed chef Art Smith. There you see it's cover. It's published by Valentine.

It's author is Dr. Dean Ornish. He joins us, along with Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Dr. Gupta is in Sarasota, Florida, CNN's chief medical correspondent. And the famed Tony Robbins, the authority on peak performance and leadership, negotiator, international best-selling author himself, and, of course, award-winning motivational speaker. What prompted this your sixth book, Dean?

DR. DEAN ORNISH, "THE SPECTRUM": There's so many misconceptions about how to make sustainable changes in diet and lifestyle. In 30 years of doing this research, we have learned that what really works is not fear and guilt and shame, but joy and pleasure. When you change your diet, when you exercise, when you manage stress better, your brain gets more blood. You think more clearly. You have more energy. Your skin gets more blood. You wrinkle less.

KING: This is the way to do it, happy?

ORNISH: Happy, that's right. Your heart gets more blood. You can reverse heart disease. Even your sexual organs get more blood flow in the same way Viagra works. So joy is sustainable, but fear and guilt really aren't. KING: Dr. Gupta, do you accept the concept?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I think what Dr. Ornish has done here is proven something through some of his own research. I should, as well, that people have sort of intuitively known for some time -- I mean, a lot of this stuff, Larry, makes sense. Obviously, feeling good, having good attitude, all of that is going to have a significant impact on your well being. Diet plays a huge role in that. Dean Ornish, as long as I've known about Dean Ornish, has been talking about this stuff. It's good to see this embodied in a book now with real science behind it.

KING: It says scientifically proven. Do you buy that, Tony?

ANTHONY ROBBINS, PEAK PERFORMANCE COACH: Oh, yes. As a matter of fact, one of the CEOs of one of my companies back in 1990 had a massive heart attack. Dean and I are friends. We weren't in those days. He went on his program. It's been 18 years. His heart -- you can't tell that he's ever had a heart attack. He's highly motivated, as you may guess. He said you imagine what it feels like one day when you're in total control of your life and you're wearing your Armani suit, and ten minutes later you're in pajamas and wondering if you're going to live. He was motivated by that and he continues to work through. But Dr. Dean's program is extraordinary.

KING: So you break it down in categories, feeling better, living longer, losing weight, gaining health.

ORNISH: Well, what we've been able to do is -- our science says, as both Tony and Dr. Gupta says, we can use these very high-tech expensive state of the art measures to prove how powerful these very simple and low tech and low cost interventions can be. People think it has to be a new drug or a new laser to be powerful. We've shown that the simple chases that we make like what we eat, how we respond to stress, how much we exercise can really make a big difference.

But it's not all or nothing. If you go on a diet, you're going to go off the diet. The whole concept of "The Spectrum" is based on the idea that what really matters is your overall way of eating and living. If you indulge yourself one day it doesn't mean you cheated or you failed or all the other very language we use. It's a very bad step from feeling like you ate bad food to feeling like a bad person.

What I've done in this book is to categorize foods from the most helpful to the least helpful. So if you indulge yourself one day, just eat healthier the next. If you're trying to reverse heart disease or major illness, you're going to need to be eating more on the healthier end of the spectrum than if you're just trying to lose a few pounds or get your cholesterol down.

But the medicine of the future is personalized medicine. This shows how you can personalize a way of eating and living that is just right for you.

KING: Sanjay, it's not something you have to fear or find out this is going to be terrible. GUPTA: I think that's exactly the point, Larry. People do talk about diets a lot. You feel like it's like eating your broccoli. No one wants to do it. They know it's good for you. But no one really wants to do it. How do you incorporate it into your way of life in a way that people can do regularly and not feel like they're somehow depriving themselves.

I read the book. I think what's interesting, what he has sort of gotten at here, which I think is so important, is let's not talk about what you're depriving yourself of. Let's talk about what you're adding to your indict or adding to you life, so to speak. So it's very forward-moving, Larry, which I think is very important for everybody.

Regardless, Tony Robbins is the picture of health. I can't see Tony right now. But I've interviewed Tony. I know Tony. He's optimistic. He has a very good attitude. That plays a huge role, probably, in his overall well being. I'm sure of it.

ROBBINS: I want to say something too. I think one of the great things that Dean has done -- and I've talked about this for years, but he's proven it with science and brought it to the forefront -- is so many people live a life of fatalism. Their mindset is I can't do anything about it. Genes now are so in the news. Everybody has a gene for the basis of the disease. Gene expression is affected massively by diet. We have more sensors in the mouth that will stimulate gene expression than almost anywhere else.

KING: When we come back, Oprah's chief chef, Art Smith, will join us. He created recipes for "The Spectrum." They taste good and they're good for you. Don't go away.


KING: We are joined for a few moments from Chicago by Art Smith, the famed chef, contributing editor to "The Oprah Magazine." He's Oprah Winfrey's personal chef and recipient of the 2007 James Beard (ph) Foundation Humanitarian Award. I knew James Beard. That's one of the great awards in cooking. His recipes are included in "The Spectrum." He's the co-owner of Table 52. It takes four weeks to get a reservation.

How did you get involved with Dr. Ornish?

ART SMITH, OPRAH WINFREY"S PERSONAL CHEF: Well, I love Dr. Dean. He's been at many dinner parties that I've cooked for. When I first met him, I thought OK, is this man going to eat what I cook. Larry, I come from the south. We love all the great southern food, which has lots of fat in it. I've learned a lot working with all the greats. They've taught me so much.

At the restaurant, you know, we make a point to get people to eat their vegetables. You know, like Annie May says, eat your vegetables. Dr. Dean, I really believe in what he is about. There's a lot of people peddling stuff. I really believe that you are what you eat. It really makes a difference in your life when you eat more fruits and vegetables. I've been a friend of his for many years.

KING: But, Art, you created recipes like the 12-layer cake and buttermilk biscuits. I don't imagine they're in the book. They're not in this book.

SMITH: No, they're not the book. But Dean will tell you -- go ahead.

ORNISH: I was going to say, in the book we have recipes you can customize. The whole concept of "The Spectrum" is that you can customize your way of eating based on your needs and genes and preferences. If you're not sick, you don't have to be so austere. You can add different things. You can add more fish or you can add more fat. There are different variations in the recipes that Art has come up with.

KING: Are any of the recipes in the book that you've served to Oprah?

SMITH: Well, what I try to do with Miss Winfrey and my other friend who happens to be winning at the moment is I try to serve a lot of salads and a lot of grilled fish. What we've done is that -- I've been cooking now -- I started my job being chef to Governor Bob Graham, senator. Even in those days, which was a long time ago, I was really focused on doing healthy cooking and so lots of salads.

Soup is a great meal for us. We forget about the health benefits. It's very healthy. It's very digestible. It's probably one of the best vegetarian types of meals that we can have. It's really super. And soup is kind of my middle name. I serve it a lot to all my different clients and people.

KING: Sanjay, are you a health eater?

GUPTA: Yes, I think I am. I eat pretty healthy. I'm not very, very vigilant about every single thing that I eat, to be perfectly honest. A couple of things that I do, that I think is important, I started eating breakfast every day. I know you eat breakfast every day. It is really the most important meal, like mom said and for a couple of reasons. One is that it probably changes your metabolism so that you burn more calories just sitting at rest.

You also tend to eat less during the day if you have a good breakfast. The other thing I try to do Larry -- it's almost kind of fun -- is I try to eat seven different colored foods a day. I'm not talking about jelly beans or candy or anything, but actual foods, fruits and vegetables, like the chef was mentioning. That really makes a big difference. When you're grabbing lunch, even if you're at a buffet or something, trying to add colors makes it fun and you end up with a more healthy meal.

ORNISH: All those colors are because of all the great things that are in these foods. It's not just what you exclude that's harmful, but also what you include that's beneficial.

KING: Are you a health eater? ROBBINS: I am. I used to be militant, frankly. I met my wife and she was acupuncturist, a nutritionist. I thought this was going to be great. We'd have wheat grass every day. We had our first meal, great meal. At the end, she ordered a hot fudge Sunday. I said what's the matter with you. She said, I'm living, you anal bastard. So she balanced me out.

But I think the most important thing of all is your ability to stick through something like this can't just be discipline. It never works. What you really have to be able to is enjoy yourself and you have to be able to manage your own urges. One of the things I focused on, starting ten years ago -- it actually got triggered by me going to a friend's house where the friend's wife was saying my kid won't eat anything. I sat down with him and created this little tool. It's so easy to do.

I'll give you a two-second version of it. I can tell you the website will give them a free download for it. But imagine I say to him look at this piece of cake here. Tell me -- it's a banana cake. He's watching TV. Tell me how much do you want that on a minus ten to a plus ten, minus ten to make you throw up, ten you really want it.

He says to me, a three. I said make it a seven. Play a game with me. Can't make it a seven. Push him a little bit, he goes, well if I start to notice the texture. He says, make it a nine. If you heated it up. Make it a minus one. It took forever. He finally goes, I could notice it's kind of dry. Make it a minus five. He says put bell peppers on it. I said make it a minus nine. He said, I can't make it a minus nine.

I pushed him. He said, if I thought the bananas were kind of black when they made it and they're kind of gooey -- what I do with people, you can increase your urge for something or you can decrease your urge for something.

KING: Best of luck. Get to Chicago. We'll see you at Table 52.

SMITH: Well thank you very much, Larry. Thank you Dean. Thank you Tony. Thank you, Dr. Gupta.

KING: Say hello to Oprah for us.

SMITH: I shall. Thank you, sir.

KING: Let's check in now in Manchester, New Hampshire. Standing by is Anderson Cooper of the New Hampshire elections. "AC 360," what's up?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, Larry, the presidential campaign may be a marathon, but the days since Iowa have been a sprint. The candidates are tired. It's been a remarkable day as we traveled across New Hampshire today. Hillary Clinton got a lot of attention not for her stand on the issues, but when she got emotional answering a question. We'll ask the best political team on television about that. And you'll hear my interview with Governor Mitt Romney. The former governor sounded like he's already looking past New Hampshire when he talked about Barack Obama. It's all at the top of the hour, Larry, on 360.

KING: That's Anderson Cooper, "AC 360" at 10:00 Eastern, 7:00 Pacific. We'll be right back. Don't go away.


KING: We're back with Dr. Dean Ornish and Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Tony Robbins. Dean's book is "The Spectrum," by the way, included in the book is a DVD. It deals with guided meditations featuring Ann Ornish, your wife. What's that about?

ORNISH: She's my favorite yoga teacher in the world. Of course, I'm a little biased, but she actually is. She's the vice president of our non-profit institute. She teaches beautiful guided meditations on how you can really focus and enjoy life more fully. In fact, one of the things that I would like to talk about is how you can meditate on a piece of chocolate, which is my personal favorite.

It's not just what you eat, it's also how you eat. You can go through a bag popcorn during a movie and you had the bag and you don't even taste it. You get all the calories and none of the pleasure. But if you really focus on something while you're eating, even something like dark chocolate, which is my personal favorite, you can get all of the exquisite pleasure and very few of the calories.

Can I take a moment and show you that?

KING: Can we go full screen so that people can see it?

ORNISH: Here's the chocolate. The idea is before you eat it look at it, smell it, involve all your senses, close your eyes. You can enjoy it more fully. Then put it in your mouth.

KING: The whole piece?

ORNISH: The whole piece. But don't swallow it. Just bite into it and let it melt there for a moment. Notice how the flavors change as it hits different parts of your pallet. Then as you swallow it -- you know, it's like harmonics of music. It can be a delicious experience. You just involve it in every way.

KING: This is really good chocolate.

ORNISH: That's the whole idea. If it's really good, you don't need much of it.

KING: Oh, boy. This is really good chocolate. What make is this?

ORNISH: I can't say on TV, but it's one of my favorites.

KING: It's fantastic. ORNISH: Isn't that good?

KING: Makes you feel real loose.

ORNISH: That's the whole idea. That piece of chocolate had maybe 30 calories in it. But it gave you an exquisite amount of pleasure because you ate it mindfully. You ate it while you were paying attention to it.

KING: People can do that with lots of food?

ORNISH: Whatever you eat, as long as you pay attention. Not only just food, whatever you do, when you pay attention to it, you do it better and you enjoy it more fully.

KING: Sanjay, do you think about the food you eat?

GUPTA: I'm going to now. That chocolate sounds pretty good. I can taste it almost from here. I tell you what I try to do. It may be similar. I'm not sure this is exactly the same. But I try to eat slowly, Larry. That's one thing I've really tried to do.

People eat too fast. You know, one thing, just from a physiological standpoint, it takes about 15 minutes for your stomach to send a signal to your brain that your full, 15 minutes. Most people can eat a three-course meal in 15 minutes. By the time the signal gets to their brain, they're stuffed. Just slow down a little bit.

In Japan they also have this great phrase, which I wrote about in my book, called Harahachi Bu (ph). What that means, Larry, is push the plate away when you're 70 percent full. You don't really know when you're 70 percent full. But the point is don't satiate yourself. Just let it sit a little bit and push the plate away.

ORNISH: That's so true. I really love that idea, because it's eating with awareness. By the way, these guided meditations are also available to download on WebMD for free.

KING: You're on WebMD?

ORNISH: I'm on WebMD.

KING: And you've got something for free on yours?

ROBBINS: The urge management tools. I think the piece here is can you get yourself to follow through consistently? You're only going to do it if it's pleasurable. So if they go to, we have a piece there that's this urge management tool.

Also, it's the 7th of January and about 47 percent of the people say they have a resolution. By the 10 days into the month about 80 percent have broken it. So we've got a program called New Year, New Life.

KING: You're all involved in this. We'll go around the robin. Dr. Ornish, there's nothing more important than health. Why do people then think so little of creating better health for themselves.

ORNISH: Because, you know, they think it's a choice of am I going to live longer or is it just going to seem longer? That's not a choice. You can eat foods that are delicious and beautifully presented, as Art Smith has done in the book. You can exercise. People say I don't have time to exercise for an hour a day. So just walk for 10 or 20 minutes a day. You don't have to do it all at once or even all that fast.

If you just mediate for one minute a day, that gives you great benefits. What people need to know is how dynamic these processes are. Your body can begin to heel much more quickly than people had once realized. You genes can begin to change in terms of how they're expressed. You can turn on the good genes and turn off the bad genes. Your brain can grew new neurons. Things that were once thought impossible we're now finding you can do.

KING: Why do you think people don't pay great attention to the most important thing in their life?

ROBBINS: I think it's because eating is emotional for most people, obviously. Most people are stressed. You look around at people today. They live with tremendous anxiety. Their e-mails are coming in. They feel over loaded. They don't feel like they can succeed. They look for an escape. Food is a convenient escape and it works. In order to have real success, you've really got to have an alternative.

There's another thing, failure. You look at somebody, anybody in business life -- I was coaching Chuck Liddell (ph) ten days ago before his fight. He lost his last two fights. If you focus on what you've done in the past, you failed diets, you failed exercise, it's already over. You don't have the certainty. You can't execute.

You can only build on success. And changing that focus and changing those rituals is where the shift really happens.

KING: Dr. Gupta, why do you think we don't pay attention to the most important thing in our life.

GUPTA: I think it's because there's a real feeling of immortality. I think that a lot of young people feel immortal. They don't feel constrained by diseases and illnesses that may affect them later on in life. Until something triggers it in you -- maybe it's the sickness or death of a loved one, maybe it's some sort of life event that suddenly makes you start paying more attention to your body and your health, creating more body awareness, you just may not pay attention.

Larry, this is something we've talked about a lot. I think it translates into our entire society. We are a disease treatment society, not a culture of prevention. We don't prevent diseases. There's far too many people who have preventable diseases out there. It's because of this very issue. We don't pay attention until there's some sort of crisis situation. Don't we see that in so many aspects of our lives. It's true with our health as well. KING: We have quickly a King Cam question. Go.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi. My name is Daniel. I'm from London. I would like to know, is it OK to eat carbohydrates after 6:00?


ROBBINS: Is it OK to eat carbohydrates after 6:00?

KING: Is that some sort of myth?

ORNISH: In general you don't want to eat too late because your body is trying to rest when you're sleeping. If you're given a lot of food, whether it's carbohydrate or anything, it's going to make it work.

I want to build a bit on what Tony and Sanjay said because they're absolutely right.

KING: We've got 30 seconds to the break.

ORNISH: It's not enough to give people information. And fear of dying is not that great of motivator. Most people don't want to think anything bad is going to happen to them so they don't. But joy of living is. When you make these changes, most people find they feel so much better so quickly it reframes the reason for making them. It's much more sustainable.

KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments with Dr. Dean Ornish, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and Anthony Robbins. Tonight, live at midnight Eastern, we'll be back. We've got a special up to the minute report on the first votes from the New Hampshire primary. We'll take you to Dixville Notch, where the presidential candidates have pulled out all the stops. Our remaining moments with our great panel right after this.


KING: We're back. By the way, actress and singer Lindsay Lohan -- struggled with a lot of lifestyle choices last year -- she sent us, directly to us, this message for 2008. It's, "Hey, Larry" -- begins with hey, Larry -- "Happy New Year. One of my resolutions for 2008 is to cut down on smoking. I started back in the recording studio on my third album. To smoke less is one of my top priorities."

I know there are a lot of successful methods -- or maybe not so many successful methods of stopping. We've heard about these anti- smoking lozenges like Ariva (ph). Does anybody know anything about that?

ORNISH: What really matters --

KING: Does it work? ORNISH: Ariva can be helpful. What really matters is to deal not just with the behavior. Everybody who smokes knows it's not good for you. It's on every pack of cigarettes. We have to work at a deeper level. I ask people, why do you smoke or over eat or drink too much or work too hard? They say, Dean, you don't get it. These are very adaptive. One woman said, I have 20 friends in this package of cigarettes and they're always there for me and nobody else is.

ROBBINS: That is one of the most important things. You want to create a lasting change, you have to find somebody who is already successful to be your partner. It's the easiest way. I was on a show -- I won't mention which show -- with a group of ladies. After I was done talking they followed me out. They said you inspired us. We want to make this change.

They said, every time we do this, we make these resolutions and we go and work out together. But after a few days we drop. I said, you're some of the most successful women in the world in this area, but your failure is in the area of your body, to be very direct. You can't go -- what happens is one person says, I'm tired. Let's go to Starbucks and it's over.

Get a partner that's already successful and you'll find yourself succeeding. They're going to get your butt out of bed.

KING: Dr. Gupta, we've run out of time, but thanks for joining us as always.

GUPTA: Thank you.

KING: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Dr. Dean Ornish and Anthony Robins. The Ornish book is "The Spectrum." Check us out at We now have a special King of Politics section. You can also email upcoming guests, download our podcast or send us a video email. We're always on at

Tomorrow night, we'll be live at midnight Eastern, 9:00 Pacific with the latest from New Hampshire. As the -- as the clock strikes 10:00 Eastern that means only one thing, Anderson Cooper.