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Name: Julie

Age: 67 years old

Ornish Location: Ekahi Health System

Health Challenges: Risk factors for heart disease

Greatest Motivation: The program’s exercise component taught me how to work out, showed me which machines to use and how to use them, and gave me the confidence to not worry about all of the “buff, young people” that populated the gym in my imagination. After the official program ended in December, I signed up for the YMCA and have been taking classes regularly ever since. I’m really happy about that.

Her Story: My Ornish story began about 6 months ago. I’ve never had heart disease, but at the time, I was struggling with high cholesterol and beginning to put myself at risk for some serious complications down the road. I was taking medication for it, but—because of the side effects and because I simply don’t like medications—I’d been wrestling with my internist for months, trying to get him to replace my medication with a more natural treatment. Finally, he told me about the Ornish Lifestyle Medicine Program (Intensive Cardiac Rehabilitation) at Ekahi and gave me the push I needed to sign up. Looking back, I’m so grateful that he did.

I thank my doctor every time I see him for getting me into the Ornish Lifestyle Medicine Program—it’s really changed my life

Today, I’m proud to say that I’m no longer taking cholesterol medication and I’ve lost a remarkable amount of weight—both of which really mean a lot to me. I’ve been trying to lose weight for years, so it was honestly surprising that I was not only able to lose weight, but actually keep it off too. I thank my doctor every time I see him for getting me into the Ornish Lifestyle Medicine Program—it’s really changed my life.

One of the biggest non-medical changes for me has been that, for the first time in my life, I’ve been going to the gym. I was always intimidated by gyms; for years, I’d think about going—but then I’d picture all of these buff, young people working out and just skip the gym entirely. Plus the machines always seemed so daunting. But the program’s exercise component changed all of that. It taught me how to work out, showed me which machines to use and how to use them, and gave me the confidence to not worry about all of the “buff, young people” that populated the gym in my imagination. After the official program ended in December, I signed up for the YMCA and have been taking classes regularly ever since. I’m really happy about that.

Each of the program’s four elements (nutrition, exercise, stress management, and group support) played a role in getting me to where I am today, but much like the exercise, the group support element stands out in my mind as being particularly impactful. Only four of the people in my cohort knew each other coming into the program, but over the course of nine weeks we became very close. During our group support sessions, we’d talk about our successes, our lives, and our struggles—and there definitely were struggles, but we overcame them together. Every one of us lost weight, every one of us felt better, every one of us made a new group of friends. That’s what makes the program so sustainable; it’s built on love and caring among the cohort and among the amazing staff at ‘Ekahi. Their effort and encouragement guaranteed that this program would be easy to follow, and it was.

Personally, my biggest challenge at the beginning of the program was that I struggled to take time to pay attention to myself. For years, I’ve been very busy coordinating my church’s Edler Care Ministry and spending time with family members, so my own personal needs always fell by the wayside. I used to actually feel guilty whenever I took time to do something for myself. But this program showed me that—in order to continue caring for my family and providing for others—I first need to focus on my health. Today, I feel good, both emotionally and physically, so I know that I’m doing the right thing. The guilt is gone.

Lastly, to anyone who is thinking of enrolling in the Ornish Lifestyle Medicine Program, I’d say try it—you will be amazed. The program really works and you’ll see tangible, medical results quickly. Plus, it will help you bring your motivations to life; for me, it’s all about my grandchildren. I have two of them now and I just adore them. I want more of them, I want to see them grow up, and I want to be a big part of their lives for a long time to come. With the Ornish Lifestyle Medicine Program, I’m confident that I’ll be able to do that. That means everything to me, and I know that if other people try the program, then it can do something similar for them, too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Contributed by

Adam Farina
Contributor

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