No Quick Fix
Cardiovascular Medicine at Domino’s Farms strives to change lifetime habits
Anyone who tries to adopt a heart-healthy lifestyle quickly realizes how many obstacles our modern way of life puts in the way. Americans live in a 24/7 high-stress society — where “vegetable” is a dirty word, we sit in front of computers all day, and obesity rates are skyrocketing. So it’s not surprising that we lose so many people to heart disease every year.
“If you go on automatic in this country, you will gain weight and develop heart disease,” says Kathy Rhodes, Ph.D., a nutritionist with Cardiovascular Medicine at Domino’s Farms. “Cooking takes time, but fast food is easy, cheap and readily available. You don’t even have to get out of the car — just drive through and pick it up.”
“In a different day and age, we didn’t have to find time to exercise; it was part of work and daily life,” adds Sandra Finkel, a specialist in stress management. “Now it’s a separate activity, which you have to make time for on top of work.”
The 60 health care professionals who work at Domino’s Farms know what heart disease can do to the human body. They see its effects every day in people who are trying to recover from a serious cardiac event or learn how to prevent one.
Domino’s Farms offers a range of short and long term programs — including cardiac rehabilitation, classes in stress management and meditation, support groups and educational options. In addition to cardiologists and nurse-practitioners who treat patients at the facility, there’s a fitness center where patients exercise under medical supervision, and a staff of nutritionists who help patients learn to make better food choices.
Most of the patients at Domino’s Farms need to lose weight; everyone needs to eat more fruits, vegetables and low-fat foods. Those who have never seen the inside of a gym have to learn how to use a treadmill and how to make time every day for exercise. People addicted to multi-tasking need to reduce stress and learn how to relax.
For those who stick with it, completing their regimen can make a big difference. Individuals surveyed one year later reported they had maintained their weight loss, lowered their blood pressure, reduced cholesterol levels and improved their quality of life. Unfortunately, about 25 percent drop out before they finish.
How do you motivate people to adopt lifestyle changes that will affect every aspect of their daily lives and, in many cases, the lives of their families? It’s not easy to change the habits of a lifetime, and it doesn’t happen overnight.
“We reinforce the point that this isn’t just a diet or quick-fix thing,” says Finkel. “It’s finding a healthy lifestyle that can become a permanent part of their lives. We talk a lot about behavior change and try to get people tuned in to what they value — what’s important to them — and have that be the reason they are doing this. For some, it’s seeing their grandchildren. For others, it’s being able to wear normal-sized clothing or get off some of their medications.”
The approach works best when people deal with diet, exercise and stress levels together, rather than separately, according to Rhodes. “If you are exercising and moving, you want to do more to take care of your body,” she says. “If you are eating well, it’s easier to keep moving and control stress. They all interact and work together.” —SP