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Welcome to Ornish Living

Ornish LivingWe’ve created Ornish Living to empower you with the resources and support that you need to experience lifestyle medicine to the fullest. For more than 36 years, Dean Ornish, MD has directed a series of scientific research studies showing, for the first time, that the progression of even severe coronary heart disease – as well as other chronic conditions such as Type 2 diabetes and early-stage prostate cancer – can be slowed, stopped, and even reversed by making comprehensive lifestyle changes. Medicare is now covering the Ornish Program, which is the first time that Medicare has covered a program of comprehensive lifestyle changes.

Ornish Living is for anyone who is interested in leading a healthful lifestyle. We’ve found that when you make healthy choices, you feel better quickly, and feeling better is what makes these choices more sustainable.

On Ornish Living, you’ll find weekly articles from our certified clinical team members representing each of four equally weighted pillars of the program: Nutrition, Fitness, Stress Management, and Love and Support.

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Editorial Team

Dean Ornish, MD.

Program Founder

Dean Ornish, M.D., is the founder and president of the non-profit Preventive Medicine Research Institute and Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. For over 36 years, Dr. Ornish has directed clinical research demonstrating, for the first time, that comprehensive lifestyle changes may begin to reverse even severe coronary heart disease, without drugs or surgery. Recently, Medicare agreed to provide coverage for this program, the first time that Medicare has covered a program of comprehensive lifestyle changes. He directed the first randomized controlled trial demonstrating that comprehensive lifestyle changes may slow, stop or reverse the progression of early-stage prostate cancer. His current research showed that comprehensive lifestyle changes affect gene expression, “turning on” disease-preventing genes and “turning off” genes that promote cancer and heart disease, as well as the first study showing that these lifestyle changes may begin to reverse aging by lengthening telomeres, the ends of our chromosomes which control aging (in collaboration with Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn, awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine). He is the author of six books, all national bestsellers, including: Dr. Dean Ornish's Program for Reversing Heart Disease; Eat More, Weigh Less; Love & Survival; and his most recent book, The Spectrum.

Rachel Lehmann-Haupt

Editorial Director

Rachel is a writer, editor and media strategist with a particular emphasis on content that humanizes health, science and technology. After graduating from the University of California’s Graduate School of Journalism, she went on to work as a writer and editor at top magazine brands such as Wired and Primedia’s Folio magazine. Her journalism has appeared in The New York Times, Newsweek, and Business Week. She is the owner of StoryMade, a storytelling studio that creates new media content solutions for businesses. Previously, she was a founding editor and multimedia producer for TED Books, designing TED talk content for tablets computers. For the Ornish Lifestyle Programs, Rachel directs editorial for Ornish Living, as well as overall social strategy for the Ornish brand and the narrative structure and content across the 18-session product housed within Empower.

Ornish Living Contributors

Carra Richling

Registered Dietitian

Carra is a registered dietitian and certified health and lifestyle coach with a comprehensive background and over 25 years of experience in health and wellness. She has worked as a dietitian with the Dean Ornish Program for Reversing Heart Disease since 1997, guiding participants to create positive, sustainable lifestyle changes. She has a passion for empowering others to eat well and make healthy lifestyle choices that promote optimal health and well-being.

Phil Hardesty

Exercise Physiologist

Phil has been an exercise physiologist for the past 20 years working in cardiac rehab, education and diagnostics. He has worked as an exercise physiologist with the Ornish Program for the past 15 years. His professional passion is to help people recover from the physical and emotional trauma of a heart event and to provide them with knowledge and experience to live a healthier life.

Mimi O' Connor

Group Support Specialist

Mimi is a licensed psychotherapist, licensed behavioral health specialist, nationally certified counselor, and professional seminar leader specializing in Attitudinal Healing. She has worked for over 25 years in the field of health and wellness. As a Group Support Element Specialist, Mimi has facilitated thousands of group sessions and presented hundreds of lectures for the Dr. Dean Ornish Program. She considers it a profound privilege to experience the deep impact, both personally and professionally, of her ongoing work with the program.

Susi Amendola

Stress Management Specialist

Susi has been a stress management specialist and yoga therapist with the Ornish hospital programs since 1993. She feels that it is a great joy and privilege to be able to support participants in their journey to health and happiness. She is also the founder and director of the Omaha Yoga & Bodywork Center in Omaha NE, where she teaches daily classes, direct programs, manages a mind/body clinic, and trains yoga teachers.

Dennis Malone

Ornish Chef

Dennis has been a professional chef for 40 years and has enjoyed working with Dr. Ornish for over 20 years. He’s passionate about foods that both sustain life, and are delicious and artful. Dennis loves helping others to transform their relationships with food by becoming more conscious and caring with what, how, and most profoundly, why, they eat. He uses his clinical skills to coach others in ending emotional eating. Dennis has been the Chef/Owner of two well-loved restaurants and he has taught many people how to improve their cooking skills.

Ben Brown, MD

Medical Director, Ornish Lifestyle Medicine

Ben Brown is a physician and an Associate Clinical Professor at UCSF's Santa Rosa’s Family Medicine Residency. He has more than 20 years of clinical experience and has worked as a small town doctor in Point Reyes, CA, served as a chief medical officer in Santa Rosa, CA and started a non-profit to help refugees along the Thai-Burma border. His work with Dr. Ornish and The Dr. Dean Ornish Ornish Program for Reversing Heart Disease started in 1995. Since then, he's witnessed so many medical miracles with this program and is thrilled to be supporting you in transforming your life.

Bob Avenson

Senior Faculty - Group Support

Robert Avenson, PhD, is a licensed California Clinical Psychologist and a California Qualified Medical Evaluator. He began working with Dr. Ornish in 1994 as a group facilitator. From 1999-2012, Bob served as the national director of psychological services on Dr. Ornish’s Preventive Medicine Research Institute (PMRI) team that trained hospital staff to implement the Ornish Program for Reversing Heart Disease through Highmark Blue Cross of Pennsylvania. He was the psychologist and group support facilitator for the two Ornish prostate cancer research studies run jointly by PMRI and the University of California Medical School: The Prostate Cancer Lifestyle Trial, and The Gene Expression Modulation by Intervention Through Nutrition and Lifestyle Study. Bob is a Past President and Board Member Emeritus of The Northern California Society of Clinical Hypnosis and is certified in biofeedback. He was a professor at Alliant University, where he taught Cognitive Behavioral Psychology and the Advanced Clinical Seminar, and he has lectured at the University of California, Berkeley and at Stanford University. If you don’t see Bob at work, he is likely out enjoying a hike somewhere in the boundless beauty of California with his delightful family. Bob currently contracts with Healthways, a Sharecare company, as a Senior Trainer Faculty- Group Support Facilitator with Ornish Lifestyle Medicine.