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Name:  Allan

Age:  71

Ornish Site:  Chambers Wellness Center 

Health Challenges:  Hypertension, Congestive Heart Failure.

Greatest Motivation:  The nutrition plan and the group support has been the most favorable aspects to me personally.  As far as my personal outlook, everything has improved, and this has encouraged me to continue with the program.

His Story:  I’ve had health challenges all my life.  A family doctor diagnosed me with hypertension when I was a child.  I was always on the chubby side, so these challenges have followed me throughout my life.  I’ve been under a cardiologist’s care for about sixteen years, and he describes my condition as congestive heart failure.

I never enjoyed exercising prior to joining the Ornish program

My cardiologist has me on a lot of medications for lowering blood pressure and diuretics for removing fluid.  You name it, he’s had me on it.  I’ve always had a concern about the medications’ side effects.  I’ve always wanted to see if it’s possible to either reduce the dosage or remove a medication from my list of what I take.

I’ve never felt that bad.  I wasn’t suffering in any physical way that I thought it was preventing me from doing something.  I did know that if I lost weight it might help and that a lot of my bad heart health, lung capacity, knees and other joints all probably stemmed from being overweight.  I also had a touch of self-inflicted depression because I was dissatisfied with my condition.  I just knew I needed to find a way to improve.

I learned about Ornish’s Lifestyle Medicine through an e-newsletter of a nearby hospital that I subscribe to.  It was there that I read an announcement that the Chambers Wellness Center was offering Ornish’s 9 week program. Dr. Ornish’s claim that his program could reverse my heart disease intrigued me.  It sounded potentially to be the answer to my prayer and a possibility to get off all my medications.

I started the program this past April and since then I’ve been fortunately able to lose close to 50 pounds.  I stuck to the plant-based diet faithfully.  I’ve yet to eat meat, poultry or fish.  It’s become second nature to me now, especially adding nuts and seeds to my daily regime.

I have more energy now.  I used to have problems with edema buildup in the lower extremities and after losing weight that is not as bad an issue.  I also feel more inclined to exercise.  I never enjoyed it prior to joining the Ornish program.  I’m doing yoga, swimming and doing machines like the treadmill.

I also find myself going out and doing more activities.  The program has really encouraged me in that area, and gave me reasons to socialize more.  I’ve been meeting total strangers and making friends ever since the end of the 9 week program.

During the program, I really felt a close synergy with the other people in my cohort and I really looked forward to seeing them and interacting with them each session.  I made my best effort to continue that on the virtual meetings, and I still see two of them in person.  We go either to lunch or dinner whenever we can.  We talk almost daily on the phone as well.

I also joined an art class at a nearby art school.  I haven’t taken formal painting or drawing classes in over fifty years.  All summer long I belonged to a community pool, where I swam and met new people of a like age.  As long as the sun shined,  I met with the same people everyday.  After the pool closed for the season on Labor Day, I took my swimming indoors by joining a Jewish Community Center.   I frequently go there now for my exercise, but it also offers a lot of social opportunities.  The main area where I’ve grown is in activities that take me outside the house.  I don’t feel as depressed anymore.

The nutrition plan and the group support has been the most favorable elements to me personally.  As far as my personal outlook, everything has improved, and this has encouraged me to continue with the program even more.  Recently, my cardiologist allowed me to eliminate the Hydrochlorothiazide 25mg tablet that I used to take 1 per day.  There’s no turning back.  There would be no reason to go back to eating poorly.  That’s the bottom line.

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