Ornish Living: Feel better, love better


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In order to jump start healthy habits in the New Year, we often find ourselves forcing change by setting into motion large, sweeping resolutions. From the get-go, this can feel disheartening because it implies that we are innately broken and need to be fixed. Strong-arming ourselves into big changes too quickly can result in physical and emotional fatigue and discouragement. What comes next seems inevitable… slipping back into the old habits. Before we hardly have a chance to begin, we are feeling disempowered and defeated. Continuing to initiate change at this juncture feels almost impossible.

We are worthy of sustainable choices that contribute to healing our bodies, calming our minds, and revitalizing our relationships

Motivation for Change Requires Inspiration

Inspiration is defined as, “the drawing in of breath; infusion; a stimulating, creative effect.” Our goals for renewed health in the New Year will require that we first generate and internalize a deep breath of our innate worth. We deserve to feel better. We deserve to be unburdened of habits that do not promote our well-being. We deserve to undo the effects of past, unhealthy choices. We deserve all of the love and support available in order to grow into health and happiness.

In my many cherished years of facilitating the support element of the Dr. Dean Ornish Program for Reversing Heart Disease, I have observed what I refer to as “the thaw.” As my participants embrace the lifestyle changes in all 4 elements of the program, the old habits systematically begin to melt away. It’s what Dr. Ornish refers to as “Undoing it.” What results is the opposite of deprivation. It is abundant on every level.

Healing Nutrients

The plant based eating plan is not only chock full of healing nutrients, but the recipes are deliciousness and plentiful, resulting in feelings of enjoyment and satiety.


The moderate exercise component is doable and encouraging for both non-exercisers and seasoned exercisers. Starting a consistent exercise regime will give you more energy and uncover renewed vitality.

Stress Management

The Reversal program participants begin to affectionately refer to the stress management element of the program as their personal “spa time!” Once they experience the immediate and lasting benefits of calming the mind and body, they feel motivated to practice daily. As they learn how to let go of stress, it results in a spacious flexibility of body, mind and spirit. Tensions ease. Smiles return. Fuses get longer.

Love and Support

And last, but not least, our participants refer to our group support sessions as the “glue” that holds all of their newly found habits in harmony. Session by session, broken hearts become whole once again as they learn how to open to the sanctuary of emotional intimacy. Communicating feelings from the heart, they learn that vulnerability is not a liability. In fact, it proves to be just the opposite. Non-judgment and empathy become their relationship healing tools of change, creating safety and connection. New friendships are formed. Past relationships are healed. A deep sense of self-compassion is uncovered.

In his book, The Spectrum, Dr. Ornish explains why he believes that his evidence-based, scientific research has helped countless individuals who have embraced his program: “…because it’s based on pleasure, not pain; abundance, not deprivation; science, not myth; freedom and power, not restriction and manipulation…Sacrifice is not sustainable. Love is.”

We are worthy of sustainable choices that contribute to healing our bodies, calming our minds, and revitalizing our relationships. We don’t need to be fixed. We deserve to be loved. As we welcome a New Year filled with this promise, it is the perfect time to step out of past choices of deprivation and into present choices, filled with compassion, abundance, and healing.

Are you at risk for or do you have heart disease? Did you know that the simple choices you make each day could empower you to UnDo/Reverse your heart disease in the New Year?

Contributed by

Mimi O' Connor
Group Support Specialist

Hearts linked, together we heal…

Better Health Begins With You...

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