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Name: Sid Schenning

Age: 67 Years old

Location: Beebe Healthcare

Health Challenges: 4 stents, arterial bypass, overweight, high blood pressure and high cholesterol

Greatest Motivation: Since joining the Ornish Lifestyle Medicine Program 11 weeks ago, I’ve lost 35 pounds—I haven’t been this light in over 40 years. Even more impressively, after just four weeks on the program, my cholesterol dropped by 79mg/dl, my triglycerides dropped by more than 50%, and my resting heart rate dropped by 25 bpm. now, I go to the gym every day and still have energy to play softball, Pickle Ball, and do the other things that I want to do. It’s great.

His Story: In 2006, I felt some chest pain when I was on the way to the gym with my wife, and next thing I knew, I was in the hospital with 3 stents and a (seemingly) lifelong sentence of medication prescriptions. I took the whole experience very seriously and immediately set my mind to recovering; I lost weight, started exercising on a daily basis, and took my medications as instructed—so I thought everything was under control. But in 2011, I had an arterial bypass surgery in my left leg, and in 2015, I had a stent put into my right leg because of plaque buildup. Those surgeries made it clear that—despite my best efforts—everything was not under control as I’d hoped. My medications were taking care of the symptoms of my heart disease, but not dealing with the causes of it. I was disappointed. I thought I was getting better, but I wasn’t. I had to make a change.

“Since joining the Ornish Lifestyle Medicine program 11 weeks ago, I’ve lost 35 pounds—I haven’t been this light in over 40 years.”

So, when my doctor told me about the Ornish Lifestyle Medicine Program shortly after my most recent surgery, I enrolled right away. There were three months before the program started, however, so I decided to get ahead by reading Dr. Ornish’s book Reversing Heart Disease. As soon as I finished reading the book, I knew that I’d made the right decision when I enrolled in the program. I often think of the plaque in my arteries as a smoldering fire, and Reversing Heart Disease showed me that—for most of my life—my lifestyle choices had been adding fuel to that fire; I was born healthy but my diet and lifestyle made me unhealthy. But now, I hoped, the program was going to give me the education to make healthier choices—choices that would help me live longer rather than adding to my problems.

Luckily for me, it turned out to do just that. Since joining the program 11 weeks ago, I’ve lost 35 pounds—I haven’t been this light in over 40 years. Even more impressively, after just  four weeks on the program, my cholesterol dropped by 79mg/dl, my triglycerides dropped by more than 50%, and my resting heart rate dropped by 25 bpm. All of those improvements have given me so much more energy than I had before the program. I’ve always been active, but it was hard to do as much as I would’ve liked to when I was carrying 30 or 40 extra pounds. I always tell people to imagine working out with four 10-pound sacks of potatoes on their backs—that’s how I felt. But now, I go to the gym every day and still have energy to play softball, Pickle Ball, and do the other things that I want to do. It’s great.

The weight loss in particular has meant a lot to me. I feel so much better in my clothes, and I’m able to wear things that I wasn’t able to wear before the program. In fact, just the other day I was out with some friends and one of them commented that “this is the first time I’ve seen you with a watch and rings on.” She was right—it was the first time they’d fit me in years. Honestly, whether I’m at the beach or going out with friends, I feel so much more comfortable, and that makes me feel good about myself.

Each of the program’s four components—group support, nutrition, stress management, and exercise—has helped me get to where I am today, but I’d like to specifically touch on group support. Over the course of 9 weeks, our group transitioned from being complete strangers to considering each other good friends, and after graduating, we even created an alumni community so we could continue to see each other. But the group support was also helpful to me in another, less traditional way—as a barometer for my progress. At the beginning of each group support session, we were asked to reflect on how we were feeling that day, and early in the program, the answers that popped into my head were usually something along the lines of “upset.” But by the end of the program, my words were “satisfied,” or “amazed,” or “pleased”—I just felt so much better. As much as anything else, that evolution showed just me how far I’d come.

Today, when I look at my life, I realize that I can take one of two paths; first, I could go back down the road which leads me to unhealthy eating and the emergency room, or second, I could go down what I like to call the “Ornish Highway,” which leads to a longer and healthier life. My choice is easy—I’ll follow the program forever. I have a wonderful daughter and a 12-year-old granddaughter who I want to enjoy for many years to come, and I know the program will help me do that. Plus, my wife and I have been married for 47 years, and I’m not sure if we can make it another 47, but we’re certainly going to try. Overall, I want to continue my activities of biking, hiking, working out daily, Old Tymers Softball, PickleBall and relaxing on the beach, all of which makes me feel young again—and I owe that to the Ornish Lifestyle Medicine Program. I hope someday to meet Dr. Ornish and thank him; he, the great people at Beebe Healthcare, and everyone else involved in the program have changed my life.

Contributed by

Adam Farina
Contributor

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