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Name: John F.

Age: 71 -Years old

Location: The Heart Health Center

Health Challenges: Four heart attacks, TIA, Atrial Fibrillation

Great Motivation: I feel healthier, and I’m able to do more things than I could a few months ago. That’s how I knew I wanted to stick with this program. My motivation is quality of life. It’s a simplistic goal, but I’ve suffered a lot of pain with my back, and my father struggled through his last ten years, so I want to avoid that as I get older. I’ve also gotten to the point where I sometimes ask, “how much time do I have left?” and I don’t know the answer, but I do know that I want to make the best use of my time. 

His Story:  I injured my back a long time ago in the army, and all of the health issues that I’ve had since then seem to have stemmed from there. The back injury has caused me a lot of pain over the years, which has kept me from exercising and, in part, led to my smoking. From there, the negative effects of the injury have snowballed; I’ve had four heart attacks—at ages 42, 49, 53, and 59—a mini-stroke, and several bouts of a-fib. Between the heart attacks, I tried different programs in the hopes of improving my health, but nothing stuck. Finally, in 2015, my cardiologist (to whom I owe my life) recommended the Ornish Lifestyle Medicine Program (Intensive Cardiac Rehabilitation) to me. I jumped at the opportunity, and since then, everything has gelled together perfectly.

The program appealed to me immediately because I could see that it would help me deal with the actual, underlying causes of my heart disease—because it seemed like the program was not just a diet, but an entirely new lifestyle. Those were my hopes, at least, and now that I’ve graduated from the program, I can confirm that it has more than fulfilled my expectations. I’ve lost over 30 pounds and I have far more energy than I did before. It’s been a godsend, really—not just for me, but for everyone in my cohort.

“The Ornish program appealed to me because it would help me deal with the underlying causes of my heart disease”

The weight loss has been tremendous for me. Gaining weight is something that kind of sneaks up on you; you simply have a donut here and there, and stop at Walgreens from time to time to grab a candy bar, and then, all of a sudden, there’s the weight. But even though you don’t realize when you’re putting on weight, you certainly realize when you’re losing it; my back feels better, I feel healthier, and I’m able to do more things than I could a few months ago. That’s how I knew I wanted to stick with this program.

All of the program’s components—nutrition, stress management, exercise, and group support—are vital to turning your health around, but the teamwork that this program brings about is what sets it apart from other programs that I’ve tried. For whatever reason, I wasn’t self-motivated when I was in previous programs or when doctors told me to make lifestyle changes. But with The Heart Health Center’s Ornish Lifestyle Medicine Program, there’s teamwork among the cohort, among the referring physicians, and among the clinicians, and that’s exactly the type of structure and discipline that I needed to make comprehensive lifestyle changes.

The teamwork and support has extended outside of the program as well. My wife has been absolutely wonderful about supporting me every step of the way. She’s lost weight like I have, and she keeps a close eye on any fats that come across our table—they don’t stay there for very long. The rest of my family has been supportive as well, whether they realize it or not. We snuck some Ornish-friendly pasta to my grandchildren the other day, for example, and they just gobbled it up. That worked out really well. They’re still none the wiser.

Today, I’m focused on getting back to some of the things that I’m passionate about. I’ve got a recumbent trike that we used to ride all the time, and now that I have more energy, I feel much better about riding it around the subdivision. Another thing that I do to keep myself out of trouble is work with communities to establish bike trails so people can get out and exercise more. That’s a satisfying thing for me because I live right on a trail, and today, I can see that more and more people are getting together with their friends and families to ride a bike. Those things weren’t done ten, fifteen, twenty years ago, and they’re really rewarding to see.

Moving forward, my motivation is quality of life. It’s a simplistic goal, but I’ve suffered a lot of pain with my back, and my father struggled through his last ten years, so I want to avoid that as I get older. I’ve also gotten to the point where I sometimes ask, “how much time do I have left?” and I don’t know the answer, but I do know that I want to make the best use of my time, however much I happen to have left—and I truly believe that the Ornish Lifestyle Medicine Program will help me do that.

Ultimately, I missed out on a lot of things because of heart disease, but I’m on a path now where I won’t be missing out on things any more. I’d recommend the Ornish Lifestyle Medicine Program to anyone.

 

 

 

 

Contributed by

Adam Farina
Contributor

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