Career: Director of Mechanical Design for commercial, religious, medical, projects as well as major resort properties in Hawaii and abroad.
I chose to come to ‘Ekahi Ornish Lifestyle Medicine on the advice of my physician – she called me a “ticking time bomb” for a heart attack! And I knew I had all the symptoms. My cholesterol was over 280, my blood pressure and triglycerides were off the charts, and I had stage 3 chronic kidney disease. I was no stranger to heart attacks – my brother had passed away at 72, my father at 66, and my mom had passed away too – all heart attacks. When I started the program, I had no idea what to expect.
But my results were dramatic. When my new physician saw my stats, the first comment out of his mouth was “people aren’t going to need us doctors anymore”. I said we will – but you’ll be writing prescriptions for a healthier diet and regular exercise! For 35 years, I struggled with high cholesterol – now I’m not on any statins. My kidney function returned to normal, and my physician took me off all my blood pressure medication – except for one that’s now at half the dosage it was before. I’m back to my college weight, and I’m wearing what I wore 47 years ago when I first came to the University of Hawaii from India. My realtor daughter was absolutely shocked when her 71 year old dad said find me a lot – I’m ready to build again.
I’ve become a role model for my family, my neighbors, and my friends. I’ve taken on an active role as an instructor teaching others about the benefits of regular stress management and a plant-based diet. In fact, this week I’m hosting a 10 minute presentation with my wife’s group of educators!
And initially, I struggled a bit with the program too. The nutrition part is tough because it’s not just changing what you eat – it’s changing how you dine with friends, how you cook meals at home. And while I’d known about the benefits of yoga and meditation, I never made the effort to do either of those things regularly. But when you come from a situation where your doctor is calling you a “ticking time bomb” and saying things like “I don’t even know how you’re alive” – and then you see a sudden reversal where you’re driving around town in sports mode, blasting music like you did when you were young – that motivation is enough.
And it’s had other impacts on my life. In the beginning, I couldn’t touch my toes, let alone my knees. I had to sit down while showering and wash my feet with a brush. I’ve become a calmer person too – I’m no longer easily disturbed, be it good or bad news. I’m able to tolerate people who I once found obnoxious, and I’m sweet and charming to them now.
Today, I’m proud to say that I continue to live the Ornish lifestyle as faithfully as possible. I eat a plant-based diet, and I even have one room in my house that’s dedicated to yoga and meditation. It’s a beautiful room that overlooks a wonderful golf course, and I get a great high from my daily yoga and meditation. But you know what? When I come to the Alumni Program and practice stress management with ‘Ekahi instructors, I get an even higher high. There is a real benefit to doing these things in a group. I try to come as often as I can.
My advice to others considering the program? It changed my life! But be the best darn student – an A student – and follow the program faithfully – because it does work.