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Name: Malissa H.

Age: 56

Location: CAMC

Health Challenge: Obesity, Risk factors for heart disease, Pre-diabetic.

Greatest Motivation: Today I can walk up the stairs without breathing heavily, I can get up off the floor easily, and I can even out-walk people who are half my age.

Her Story: The Ornish Lifestyle Medicine Program (Intensive Cardiac Rehabilitation) is a lifestyle program that has dramatically changed my health and overall outlook for the better. When I first started the program, I had two goals; I wanted to manage my cholesterol and lose the weight that I need to lose to feel better.

“The program also helped me in one way that was entirely unexpected; it saved my husband’s life.”

Just over a year later, I have accomplished those goals. First, I have lost 58 pounds on the program, so I’ve gone from obese to normal—I basically lost a third of my entire body weight. Today I can walk up the stairs without breathing heavily, I can get up off the floor easily, and I can even out-walk people who are half my age. My cholesterol has also gone down to the point that I’ve been able stop taking my statin medication. I was on statin for 21 years and it’s really been great to get off of it. Overall, my physical health has definitely improved.

The program has not just affected my physical health, however, it’s affected my outlook and the way I deal with stress. I have a very stressful job. When you’re an auditor, you aren’t really anybody’s best friend. But the program has taught me many different techniques to help me cope with the less enjoyable aspects of my work. It has been very helpful. The stress management component has also helped me get to know myself better today than ever before. You know how people always want to look ten years younger on the outside? Well, the program has helped me to feel ten years younger on the inside. I feel more energetic, more motivated, and more able to do things that I thought I couldn’t do anymore.

It’s been a great journey. I’m generally a happy person, but it shows even more today than it did before. The program also helped me in one way that was entirely unexpected; it saved my husband’s life. Inspired by my success, my husband wanted to join my exercise program to improve his own wellbeing, and to do so he was required to take a stress test. His stress test showed that he had a heart condition that was previously undiagnosed, and this discovery basically saved his life. Without the program, we never would have found out about the condition.

Today, my husband also follows the Dean Ornish program, and since I first joined, he has lost 40 pounds and really enjoyed his experience. It was an unbelievable stroke of luck. These days our favorite thing to do is travel, and we want to be able to walk around and truly experience all of the places that we go. When we traveled before joining the Ornish program, we found that we weren’t able to keep up with the all of the walking that we had to do; we just didn’t have the requisite wellbeing to fully enjoy the trip. Having experienced the program, however, things have changed. We’re hoping to go to Jerusalem soon, and we know that we’ll be more than ready for the walking this time around. Overall, we want to be active and keep up, whether it’s with travel or with any other aspect of our lives, and the program has really allowed us to do that.

I would urge anyone who is considering joining the program to go for it. It doesn’t only change your physical health and your numbers; it changes the quality of your life. And it does so because it’s more than just a dietary or nutrition program—it’s an overall well-being program. It puts your mind and body in sync with one another, which improves your mental attitude and your well-being. That’s what makes the program so sustainable and successful. Take it from me; without the program, I would have far more health issues, I wouldn’t know my inner-self as well as I do, and I wouldn’t be as able to do the things that I love. So give the program a shot, let it do for you what it has done for me.

Contributed by

Adam Farina
Contributor

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