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Name: Allaine R.

Age: 52

Ornish Site: Hawaii Pacific Health – Straub Medical Center

Health Challenges: Family history of heart disease and diabetes, hypertension, diabetes, enlarged heart.

Greatest Motivation: I’m excited to say that now I can run for 30 minutes! I was also able to go on a hike with my daughter in Colorado – between the elevation and activity level, that’s definitely not something I would have been able to do before the program.

Name: Fred R.

Age: 50

Ornish Site: Hawaii Pacific Health – Straub Medical Center

Health Challenges: Hypertension, high cholesterol.

Greatest Motivation: I’ve lost 25 pounds – I’m at a weight I haven’t seen since high school! And the weight loss has allowed me to regularly run 2 miles again! I’ve also had to buy a new belt and new pants; I shop for size medium shirts instead of size large. My friends keep asking what I’m doing because I look and feel so good.

Their Story:

Allaine – Between January and May of 2016, I visited the emergency room a total of 6 times because of my declining health. I had an ejection fraction of 25%-30% and was having trouble with simple day-to-day tasks like brushing my teeth and getting dressed because I was so short of breath. I was on a total of 12 medications, none of which proved to be effective to my needs. As my health continued to deteriorate, my physician advised that n implant of a defibrillator was imminent. Knowing that I needed immediate change in my life, I sought a second opinion. This is where I was introduced to Ornish Lifestyle Medicine. (Intensive Cardiac Rehabilitation)

After every emergency room visit, I would ask myself, “What can I do? How can I help my wife?”

I had heard about Ornish Lifestyle Medicine from friends prior to visiting my doctor. As an individual who has battled health issues for the majority of my adult life, I’ve experienced my fair share of “dieting” but to no avail. I knew this program was different because it provided me with the right components of a healthy lifestyle – exercise, stress management, nutrition – but it gave me the group support I needed to make this necessary change sustainable.

Fred – I was in despair over Allaine’s health. After every emergency room visit, I would ask myself, “What can I do? How can I help my wife?” Feeling hopeless and out of options, we were presented the opportunity to take part in the Ornish Lifestyle Medicine program. With a history of medical issues myself, Allaine and I decided from that point on, we needed to keep ourselves accountable and make our heath a priority.

At the start of the program, I was most concerned about the nutrition element. I am the primary cook in our family, and for most of our lives, we’d pretty much followed the motto ‘live to eat’ instead of ‘eat to live.’ During the second week of the program, I became frustrated with learning a new way to cook – but luckily I wasn’t alone; I had our registered dietician as a resource, along with the other cohort members. I quickly learned how versatile a plant-based diet could be. There’s so much variety that I was actually able to become more creative with my cooking than I’d been before.

Allaine – Before starting the program, my energy level was very low. As a result, I would stay at home a lot. I had trouble walking from my garage to the front door without becoming short of breath. When I began the program, I started by walking for 2 minutes and thought I was going to collapse. I was in extremely poor condition. I’m excited to say that now I can run for 30 minutes! I was also able to go on a hike with my daughter in Colorado – between the elevation and activity level, that’s definitely not something I would have been able to do before the program. Our family is stunned by our progress. It’s comforting to know that this change has brought a sense of relief to our family.

Fred – I’ve also benefited from the fitness element of the program. I used to enjoy running but had stopped before the program due to back pain from being overweight. But so far on the program, I’ve lost 25 pounds – I’m at a weight I haven’t seen since high school! And the weight loss has allowed me to regularly run 2 miles again! I’ve also had to buy a new belt and new pants; I shop for size medium shirts instead of size large. My friends keep asking what I’m doing because I look and feel so good. I was also able to reduce my cholesterol and blood pressure. All of those positive results have sustained or even improved after finishing the program.

I no longer need to have a defibrillator implanted!

Allaine – In addition to Fred’s weight loss, I’ve lost almost 30 pounds, which has helped to build my confidence and self-esteem. But my most exciting outcome from participating in the program is that I no longer need to have a defibrillator implanted! An updated echocardiogram showed that my ejection fraction improved to 35-40%. That proof helped me overcome any remaining self-doubt I had about sticking with the program. I also was able to reduce my medications from a dozen down to four – I eliminated or reduced heart, diabetes, asthma, and digestion medications. My primary care physician was shocked. Follow-up blood work also revealed a reduction of my A1C from 9.5 down to 7.5, along with lowered cholesterol and blood pressure.

The support from the group we participated with has also continued. The group provides accountability. I was so sad when we graduated because I wouldn’t be seeing the rest of the cohort every week. Having participated with Fred also helps with my day-to-day accountability – he’s my rock. Now people watch us as a couple because they are amazed by our success. We are living proof that with a little faith and an awesome support system, victory is possible.

 

Contributed by

Adam Farina
Contributor

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