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Name: George

Ornish Site: ‘Ekahi Health System

Health Challenges: Family history of heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol

Greatest Motivation: My doctor has been blown out of the water by my results – I put a smile on his face every time I see him. Since completing the program, I have lost 25 pounds and 3 inches off of my waist, and reduced my blood pressure and cholesterol considerably. My doctor is also planning to discontinue my medications if I maintain my progress – that’s a goal I never thought I would achieve.

I started experiencing health issues about 15 years ago, but since I was still in my early 40s at the time, I didn’t really take it seriously. I could still exercise, so I thought my health issues would eventually go away. But I continued to feel poorly, so eventually, I finally went to visit my doctor and learned that I had very high blood pressure. I was prescribed medication to help, but it actually made me feel worse rather than better – I became dizzy and started getting headaches. During another visit with my doctor, I learned that I had high cholesterol and was prescribed additional medication. Two months later, I learned that my triglycerides were high – and guess what, another medication was prescribed. Then, at the next visit, I was told that I was overweight; the bad news just kept piling on. I lost hope in trying to manage my health.

I’ve been able to restore my life and feel healthy again

Eventually, I stopped going to the doctor for my regular check-ups. Food became my comfort and my weight climbed to 300 pounds – the highest it had ever been. When I did decide to visit my doctor again, he put me on what he called a “high risk” list. He started talking to me about heart disease and diabetes and recommended Ornish Lifestyle Medicine. (Intensive Cardiac Rehabilitation) Right away I thought, “Oh no, here I go again.” I had tried other programs in the past – three, to be exact – but none had given me the help and support I needed. The other programs focused solely on my diet and I experienced zero results.

Because of my past experiences, I was skeptical about Ornish Lifestyle Medicine even after my doctor’s referral. But I talked to my wife about the program and she encouraged me to give it a try, so I took her advice and scheduled an appointment to meet with the Ekahi Ornish team. As the team explained the comprehensive program in more detail, I became amazed that a program like this existed. I learned that the program wasn’t just about lectures – I would be provided hands-on training, direction, and individualized education. I knew then that enrolling was the right decision.

I embraced the program that day and have learned so much since then! Each program element has taught me something different: group support taught me how to be aware of my feelings and showed me how ignoring my feelings affects my health; stress management helped me quiet my thoughts and give my mind a rest; and nutrition taught me to be aware of what I put in my body. The program elements are completely coordinated so that participants achieve success.

Today, if it weren’t for Ornish Lifestyle Medicine, I would have had a heart attack by now, I would probably weigh 400 pounds, and I would still be making poor lifestyle choices. I definitely would not be friends with my doctor. But instead, my doctor has been blown out of the water by my results – I put a smile on his face every time I see him. Since completing the program, I have lost 25 pounds and 3 inches off of my waist, and reduced my blood pressure and cholesterol considerably. My doctor is also planning to discontinue my medications if I maintain my progress – that’s a goal I never thought I would achieve.

Simply put, I feel better. I’ve been able to restore my life and feel healthy again. My wife and the rest of my family are amazed at the changes they’ve seen in my health. Now, I can be active again with my grandchildren – I can go surfing, go to the park, and play soccer with them. The average life span in my family is 62, but with the program, I’m optimistic that I’ll exceed that. I’m also the first person in my family to experience this program, and I’m hopeful that others will be inspired to make the same changes in their lifestyle that I have.

I encourage others to be open-minded about the program and to really consider their health when thinking about enrolling – without our health, we have nothing. Health is an aspect of our lives that we can manage, so to anyone who is thinking about Ornish Lifestyle Medicine, I’d say, “be good to yourself and take advantage of it.”

Overall, the program has moved me to my soul. I’m thankful that my insurance provides coverage for it, but I was disappointed to learn that not everyone is as fortunate. I believe that every person who qualifies for Ornish Lifestyle Medicine should have the opportunity to participate. As a result, I’ve started a non-profit organization Ka Pana O Ka Pu’uwai (The Beat of the Heart) with the goal to fund participants that can’t afford the program. That’s how much the program has impacted my life.

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