By: Mary Milewski
Imagine going to a spa-like resort to spend 19 days focusing on your health and diet and learning how to cook tasty foods for weight loss. Throw in some massages, nearly countless hours of physician attention and a guaranteed improved lifestyle when you return home.
The Lifestyle Center of America, situated on 1,700 serene, mountainous acres in southern Oklahoma, offers just that. It is considered a premier medical resort that offers hope and healing to hundreds of Americans each year.
19-Day Residence Program to Get You Back on Track
The Lifestyle Center of America (LCA), which has about 40 fulltime and 20 part-time staff, treats medical guests who have diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, weight management concerns and other chronic diseases. The LCA provides services in a structured 19-day residence program. Mark Hornstein, an LCA participant, says it changed his life.
Hornstein lives in Mt. Shasta, California, with his wife and 15-year-old son. He weighed 285 pounds and took 200 units of insulin daily before attending LCA in October 2003.
“I lost 13 and a half pounds in the first three days there,” says Hornstein, who had a heart attack at the age of 39 as a result of his poorly controlled diabetes. “They took me off the insulin during that fast. I’ve never felt better in my life. And my weight continues to come down. I left there 20 pounds lighter, and now I’m almost 40 pounds lighter.”
Diet, Exercise and Physician Access Are the Key to Program’s Success
All participants interviewed for this article cite the plant-based diet, extensive work with physicians, exercise focus and length of the program as primary reasons for their continued success— months, and even years, after they return home. Barbara Barnes lives in New York and attended the LCA in September 2003. Since then she’s been able to follow the food program that she learned there.
“I’ve lost weight, and I exercise more and I feel healthier,” Barnes says. “I’m diabetic and I reduced my medications. I don’t even have to take insulin anymore, so it’s been really beneficial to me.” Barnes says she recommends the intense, comprehensive program at the LCA.
“Of course, with all health issues there is a cost. But, the other thing is that the program works and they see results.”
Each of the 20 to 25 participants in each group has an individualized regimen that’s determined by the client and the physician, says LCA medical director George Guthrie, MD, who was trained to apply non-drug therapy to people with diabetes. “Lots of doctors don’t have time to do that,” says Guthrie. “We help teach people to lose weight, diet—or eat responsibly and exercise.”
“Lots of doctors don’t have time to do that,” says Guthrie. “We help teach people to lose weight, diet—or eat responsibly—and exercise.” From a medical standpoint, Guthrie says LCA does what your doctor knows how to do, but doesn’t have the time to do.
“We’re here to help people wherever they’re at health-wise,” says Sid Lloyd, CEO for LCA. “We work with people from all walks of life.”
Carlos DeAnda, 58, is a Texas native who lives with his wife of 30 years. They have two adult children. DeAnda was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes 12 years ago. “It was quite a shock to me to be diabetic,” DeAnda says. “It affected my lifestyle. Soon after that, I was put on blood pressure medication, and then I was diagnosed with arthritis. Every time I went to my physician another medication was added.”
When DeAnda first visited the LCA, he and his wife fell in love with the physicians, the facility and the approach, he says.
“It was different from your standard American Medical Association approach, where you go in and you just get another medication. Less than seven days into the program, they asked me to stop taking half of my medications, including three diabetes medications, one arthritis medication and a prostate cancer-related follow-up medication. It was phenomenal how my blood glucose levels came down, my blood pressure came down, going into the seventh day.” By the second week, DeAnda was without medications—and his blood glucose levels continued to normalize to 120 mg/dl or less. Since July 2003, he says, “I went from 222 to 164—three sizes of clothing. My body now is even slimmer than when I was in high school.”
Now the DeAndas walk at least three miles daily.
Yvonne Bryant, of Linden, New Jersey, went to the LCA in March 2002. Bryant was diagnosed with type 2 in 1985 and became insulin dependent in 1997.
“It changed my life. I became a vegetarian, and I lost about 22 pounds. Plus the insulin I was taking when I went there was three times what I was taking when I left,” Bryant says. “My cholesterol also went down drastically, from 230.”
Program Provides Lasting Benefits
Others gained the same enthusiasm, energy and benefits from their visits to the LCA.
According to its attendees, LCA provides lasting benefits.
“This is a lifestyle, not a diet or anything where you lose a bunch of weight and then you gain it all back,” Hornstein says. “I checked out so many programs, researched it for over a year and a half, and came to the conclusion that theirs is one of the best in the country.”
The program fees are $7,500 for medical guests and $4,995 for guests’ medical companions; nonmedical guests pay $6,495, and nonmedical guests’ companions pay $3,995. Additional fees apply for suite-style accommodations.
For more information about Lifestyle Center of America, call (800) 213-8955 or go to www.lifestylecenter.org.