January 18, 2012

The Dean Ornish Spectrum program is scientifically proven to make participants feel better, live longer, lose weight and gain health. Based on the best-selling book by Dr. Dean Ornish, this six-week education program is based on making healthy choices related to four key lifestyle components: nutrition, stress management, exercise and social support.

“It is very individualized, and anyone who would like to learn to make healthier choices can participate,” said Kelly Anderson, RN, recruitment specialist and group support facilitator.

Jerry Handley, who has a family history of heart disease, joined the program because he was interested in lowering his cholesterol. “It was above the borderline of 200,” Handley said. “My father and uncle both died of a heart attack, so after reading about the focus of the program on stress management, nutrition, exercise and social support, I thought I would try it.”

The Spectrum is designed to teach people how to incorporate healthy choices into their daily lives. They set their own goals and learn how to keep track of and evaluate their progress.

“Our other program, Ornish Reversal, has set guidelines for people to follow so that they can get specific and significant results, “Anderson said. “In the Spectrum, participants design their own program based on what their own personal goals are. It also includes baseline and exit measurements and lab results.”

Handley said that although there was a specific focus in each week’s meeting, helpful exercises were introduced in each class and there were healthy snacks provided, along with recipes.

“I particularly thought the stress management session was beneficial,” he said. “Also, Susan Poindexter spent a whole class talking about nutrition and how to read food labels, which was great.”

Through Spectrum, Handley was able to lower his cholesterol by about 10 points and lost 10 pounds by reducing his snacks and trying some of the healthier food alternatives mentioned in the class.

The program is a covered benefit of Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of WV and PEIA for eligible members.

“Because I met the health criteria for the program, Highmark of WV covered the cost of the classes,” Handley said. “The only costs I incurred were for the optional books dealing with different aspects of the class that I purchased."

Without insurance coverage, the Spectrum program is priced affordably for anyone who wants to make an investment in their health.

“The total program cost is $267, which includes a participant manual, a strength training and stress management manual, handouts, six weekly lectures by our professional clinical staff, baseline and exit body measurements and blood work,” Anderson said.

Handley recommends the program to anyone interested in enhancing their quality of life in a short time.

“I would definitely recommend the Spectrum program,” he said. “Since the program was only six weeks, it was easy to fit into my schedule. The workbook was well-written and the instructors presented the
material in an interesting way.”

The Spectrum Program is typically offered on Thursday evenings, and healthy snacks are served during each session. The next session begins in March 2012. Due to space, enrollment is limited to 35 people per session. Call (304) 388-9411 to enroll in a future session.

Learn more about the Dr. Dean Ornish programs at CAMC:

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