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Name: Johara

Age: N/A

Ornish Site: Hawaii Pacific Health – Straub Medical Center

Health Challenges: Family history of heart disease and diabetes, hypertension, diabetes

Greatest Motivation: Visualizing myself chasing my daughter around the house and being free of medications keeps me motivated to stay on that healthy path. With those goals in mind, I’m confident that I’ll never go back to my old lifestyle.

Her Story: For quite some time, I was in denial about my health. I had hypertension and diabetes, but I thought that I could manage those conditions by myself. My doctor threatened to put me on insulin and advised me to change my diet and start exercising, but I just didn’t have the motivation. Around that same time, I noticed that it was becoming more and more difficult to hold my 4 -year old daughter – and I was no longer able to catch her when she ran around. I had heard about the Ornish Lifestyle Medicine program (Intensive Cardiac Rehabilitation) from multiple people, but still, I delayed enrolling in the program. “Then my supervisor told me about the program as well, and I could no longer avoid it – the Ornish Lifestyle Medicine program kept coming back to me. I knew it was a sign and finally decided to enroll to get the help I needed with managing my lifestyle. I wanted to live longer so that I could see my children fulfill their dreams and have families of their own.

Now, I eat better, try different foods, exercise, and make time to prepare meals.

Prior to starting the program, I was concerned about social support and time management, specifically related to exercise and preparing meals. I’m happy to say that those concerns immediately vanished when I met the clinical team and my fellow cohort participants at Straub Medical Center. All of us were in the same boat and we were there to support each other. The Straub team provided us with so many resources to remain committed to the lifestyle. Now, I eat better, try different foods, make time to prepare meals, and build time into my day for exercise. I sneak in a quick walk around the block while I wait for the bus, and during work hours, I find every opportunity I can to add extra steps to my day. I’m happy to say that I reach 10,000 steps a day regularly! I’ve learned to find ways to make the time for my health. Looking back, getting started with the program was the only hard part.

My family was the number one reason why I joined the Ornish Lifestyle Medicine program, so I’m proud to say that my family has also embraced the program’s lifestyle changes. My husband has been very supportive; he has started exercising 3-4 times per week and has lost some weight. Our active lifestyle has also impacted my mother and father in law – they’ve started walking regularly to increase their amount of exercise. Adopting a healthier lifestyle has allowed us to set a good example and pass along healthy habits to our children.

Since participating in the Ornish Lifestyle Medicine program, my A1c has decreased from 7.8 down to 6.8, my blood pressure is normal, and I have reduced or even eliminated some of the medications that I was taking. But the one benefit I wasn’t expecting is budgetary; because I have eliminated fast food from my diet and am now bringing lunch to work, I am saving money – and I’m excited to say that I have used that money to buy new clothes! Originally, I was hanging on to my baggy clothes, worried that I would go back to my old lifestyle. But then I asked myself “why would I want to go back?” After I realized that I was only going to allow myself to move forward, rather than regress backwards, I donated my old clothes to charity and haven’t looked back.

“Most of my family and friends would describe me as a strong woman, but I’d really describe myself as someone who would do everything for my loved ones – and participating in Ornish Lifestyle Medicine allows me to do that. If I hadn’t participated in the Ornish Lifestyle Medicine Program, my life would be so different – I would still be living the same unhealthy lifestyle, getting worse, increasing my medication dosages, and beginning an insulin regimen. But I’m happy to say that I’m on the right path now and follow a lifestyle focused on exercise, healthy foods, de-stressing, and a positive social support system.

Visualizing myself chasing my daughter around the house and being free of medications keeps me motivated to stay on that healthy path. With those goals in mind, I’m confident that I’ll never go back to my old lifestyle.

 

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