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Name: Santa C.

Ornish Site: Hawaii Pacific Health – Straub Medical Center

Health Challenges: Overweight

Greatest Motivation: I don’t want to disappoint the children, and I want to be able to continue to bring presents and joy to everybody.

This holiday season, Santa Claus is slimming down, and he’s doing it with help from the Ornish Lifestyle Medicine program currently offered at Straub Medical Center.

Delivering all those presents is stressful. Ornish Lifestyle Medicine is teaching us to relax

“Santa approached us a few months ago because he was worried about his heart health,” says Raylene Nolan, RN, BSN, director of Ornish Lifestyle Medicine at Straub.

“After our physicians did a physical checkup, we invited Santa to join our nine-week program,” Nolan says. “He’s been our star student so far – he’s already gone down 25 pounds and is on the last notch of the size small Santa belt!”

Related Video playUndo With Ornish: Santa

In the exclusive interview below, Santa shares what he’s learned during his time in the program and what he hopes to gain from the experience.

How did you first hear about Ornish Lifestyle Medicine at Straub?
Up at the North Pole, there are a lot of little elves running around, and one of them had heard of all the wonderful things about the Ornish Lifestyle Medicine program. One little elf said, “Santa, your tummy is getting so big! You must be getting some high blood pressure!” And he suggested I give them a call. And so I did, and I’m so glad that I’m here!

But you’re Santa, the big man in red! Aren’t you afraid that losing your signature tummy will put you out of a job?
Children love Santa Claus, and I love the children! My belly is going down so I can live a very long time. I don’t want to disappoint the children, and I want to be able to continue to bring presents and joy to everybody. But the tummy is going down.

Speaking of jobs, you have a very stressful one. How has Ornish Lifestyle Medicine helped you learn techniques to manage daily stressors?
Delivering all those presents in one night is very stressful, and so is making all the presents all year long! But the program is teaching us how to relax. We lie down on the floor, we practice our breathing techniques, and it really calms the soul. It’s been a great help, and I’m really happy to be here.

What about the diet? Have you been able to find any yummy recipes on the program?
I was worried about the diet, because I eat a lot of cookies and milk and, when Mrs. Claus isn’t looking, hot chocolate! That’s my favorite. But there are some wonderful recipes. There’s Holiday Nog, there are some wonderful cookies, chocolate pudding for all my sweets – the food is just wonderful!

santa 2

Physical activity also is a big component of Ornish Lifestyle Medicine. What sorts of exercises have you been doing?

Other than chasing Rudolph all over the place, I’ve been on the rowing machine. The rowing machine is a lot like the sleigh, because I’m sitting down, I’m moving my arms and I’m hanging on.That rowing machine is great. It really gets the heart beat going, and it’s really helping me to lose the ol’ Santa tummy.

Has the group support from other program participants been helpful?
I’ve met a lot of wonderful people who are keeping me on track. We encourage each other, we make sure we stick to the diet as best we can, they are encouraging with sharing the things they know. It’s become, in a short time, like another ohana (family). It’s wonderful.

Have Mrs. Claus, Rudolph and the elves been supportive of your commitment to the program?
I really appreciate all of the things that Mrs. Claus and the elves have done. They’ve hidden away my secret goodies, but, actually, I don’t even miss them anymore, because the food they have in the program is wonderful! I was totally surprised!! How can Santa Claus get along without those chocolate chip cookies and a tall glass of cow’s milk? But now, we have oat milk – who’s ever heard of oat milk?! But I was surprised, it’s just wonderful!

Why do you want to teach boys and girls the importance of a healthy lifestyle?
Well, because I feel so much better! I’m lighter on my feet going up and down all those chimneys – it’s so much easier when you’re not so round! The same is true for children. When children are fit and healthy, they can run fast, jump high and play ball – it’s the way to go!

Anything else you’d like to add?
I would only want to say to all the people in Hawaii and throughout the world, Happy Holidays!


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