• Meet One of OHI’s Most Devoted Community Members — John Hagan!

    “I’m not big on hugs,” admits John. “The first time I walked through the doors at OHI and was greeted with hugs, I was a little uncomfortable. I wondered what I had gotten myself into, and thought maybe this wasn’t for me.”

    All hugging aside, John Hagan opted to stay for that first week at OHI, and it was such a positive experience for him that he subsequently came back for five additional 1-week stays, and then took part in the OHI Missionary program for 6 consecutive months. “OHI is one of the best things that has ever happened to me,” smiled John. “OHI is now a life-long habit and I plan to return again and again.”

    What prompted John to visit OHI in the first place? Prostate cancer.

    “I am a relatively quiet guy,” said John. “I have a passion for golf and motorcycles. I like to garden, and I’ve run a few NYC marathons in my day. My father was a large animal vet, so I lived on a farm in Pennsylvania for much of my life. I work in hospitals and nursing homes, and I find great joy in caring for others. When my mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, it was a no brainer for me to help my dad care for her for 15 years. It’s what I do. What I didn’t expect was a cancer diagnosis in my 40’s. It hit me like a sledgehammer.”

    John was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2012. He visited many specialists at Johns Hopkins, MD Andersen, and Loma Linda to weigh his options. A doctor at Mt. Sinai flat out told him he’d be dead in 10 years. John knew that the side effects of surgery could have devastating consequences for men. Instead of giving up, that bleak prognosis only inspired John to seek out more options. A specialist in Malibu thoroughly reviewed his case, and came back with one new suggestion — look into OHI.

    “I walked into OHI with an open heart,” said John. “Of course I was hoping the program would help my body fight this cancer. But I went into this experience vowing not to let my introverted nature hold me back from trying new things. I pushed myself to meet new people, try new foods, and learn new things.

    And that effort has changed me exponentially. OHI brought me out of my shell. I have so many new friends that I know will be my friends for life. The supportive community is phenomenal.”

    John took on the nutritional aspects of the OHI program with zeal. “The things wheatgrass juice can do for your body are amazing. Not only do I firmly believe that wheatgrass juice has helped my cancer outlook, but I have made it a priority to continue wheatgrass juice cleansing every day. In fact, I grow my own wheatgrass in my home in Pennsylvania. I may have a bit of a green thumb, but it’s no small feat to grow wheatgrass indoors. But I have figured out a way to do it, and I’m so proud!”

    John’s Bio

    John really took to the classes at OHI, as well. “I would say my favorite classes are the stretch and lymphatic classes,” enthused John. “The food prep classes are always great, and the weekly talent show is a blast. The release ceremony always made a huge impression on me, when you speak your truth on what you want to get rid of and what you want to incorporate back into your life. And the testimonials we give on Friday mornings often leave me a sobbing mess. It’s really powerful.”

    What made John consider the OHI Missionary program? “I had gone to OHI six times, and each year my PSA numbers were going in a positive direction. My dad passed away in 2014, so I was taking care of my mother full-time by myself, and wasn’t able to leave her to visit OHI for a few years. Once she passed away in 2017, I really wanted to invest some time focusing on my own health again. I figured if periodic 1-week stays had proved beneficial to my health, then an extended stay would be even better. Over the course of six months I lost 60 lbs, and I have never felt better in my life. A normal PSA level is under 4, and my current PSA is 2.6. I have done no chemo, no radiation, and no surgery. I honestly believe it’s the nutrition at OHI that has made a huge difference in my outcome.”

    So how did John start gardening at OHI? “I had mentioned in my missionary application that I had once worked in a nursery,” said John. “I don’t consider myself much of a spiritual person, but I do feel a great spiritual connection to nature. I was immediately drawn to working on the grounds at OHI. Being outside is my happy place! I think a garden should be bursting with color, and invite people to come spend time there. I immediately envisioned a wall of sunflowers peeking over the top of the hedges, urging people to walk through the hedgerow to see what those beautiful yellow sunflowers were up to. It was a joy for me to redesign that garden.”

    John is one of our favorite OHI guests for so many reasons, and we can’t wait to see him again soon. “I know when I walk through those gates, I’m going to get a whole bunch of hugs,” laughs John. “And that’s just fine with me!”

  • Intermittent Fasting (IF) – How IF fits into the OHI program (Part 2 of 2)

    Intro

    There’s a resurgent interest in the practice of intermittent fasting (IF) and its benefits—losing weight, reducing cravings, gaining muscle, and giving the digestive tract a rest. With a new year upon us, let’s learn more about IF in our “Based on Science” article from the January 2020 OHI Newsletter (digital version here). It’s packed with helpful tips…

    Intermittent Fasting (IF) – How IF fits into the OHI program (Part 2 of 2)

    The spiritual aspect of IF

    Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, and Islam all incorporate fasting into religious observations. So could intermittent fasting become a transformative springboard to elevate your spirituality? Absolutely!

    • Fasting can strengthen your resolve.

    If you’re struggling with a decision, integrating fasting with prayer can dissolve distractions. By denying the body just a little bit, we’re far more clear-headed and able to be mindful. In stillness we can often find clarity, and hopefully that leads to confidence in your decisions.

    • Fasting instills discipline.

    Fasting gives us an opportunity to master discipline over our lives and our desires. According to St. Francis of Assisi, fasting helps “to control greediness, and to keep the sensual appetites and the whole body subject to the law of the Spirit; and although we may be able to do but little, the enemy nevertheless stands more in awe of those whom he knows can fast.

    • Fasting makes us more humble.

    Fasting is an antidote to the amazing technological abilities we wield in the 21st century, because it reminds us of our human frailty. As mortal beings that become tired and weak, we understand the need of a steadfast, loving God.

    • Fasting brings you closer to God and others around you.

    Sacrifice is the ultimate gesture of love. When we’re mindfully fasting as a form of prayer, we can better understand our weaknesses and have empathy when we see the weaknesses of others.

    How IF works within the OHI program

    OHI’s holistic healing program places an enormous emphasis on cleansing and nourishing your body, to help you self-heal and restore your body to its natural balance. One reason the OHI Detox Diet is so effective is that it combines principles of calorie reduction, a cleansing -alkaline diet, and intermittent fasting.

    • Our calorie-reduced diet limits caloric-intake between 600-1200 calories per day. Calorie deprivation is an ancient fasting practice. Recent studies have shown that many forms of cancers have been stopped, slowed, or reversed by limiting calorie intake.
    • Our cleansing-alkaline diet is unique and effective because it includes ultra-rich nutrients and enzymes. The OHI Detox Diet is designed to bring the body from an acidic state to a more alkaline state. The purification and alkalizing effects on the body help to quiet the mind and build a bridge to spirituality.
    • At OHI, a combination of IF methods are utilized within the program:
      • The first method includes eating over a span of 9.5 hours during the day (8:30am- 7:00pm) while fasting for the remaining 14.5 hours. During the eating hours, we take-in three meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner) along with two shots of wheatgrass juice in-between meals. This protocol allows consistent nutrition and calories throughout the day, helping to maintain blood-sugar levels and reducing hunger.
      • The second method includes a seven-day cycle comprised of solid-food days and juicing days: Guests begin their week with two days of eating solid foods, followed by three days of juice fasting, followed by another two days of solid foods. Juice fasting, practiced for many centuries around the world, enhances the detoxification process.
      • OHI’s 21-day holistic healing program places an enormous emphasis on cleansing and nourishing your body, to help you self-heal and restore your body-mind-spirit to its natural balance. The OHI Program promotes healing and longevity by restoring circadian sleep rhythms and aligning our health on all levels: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual.

    By incorporating the principles of intermittent fasting with an all-raw, organic, plant-based diet, OHI guests reach new levels of healthy living and spiritual awareness. It’s just one of the many guided journeys our guests take on the road to a New You in this New Year!


     “What is Intermittent Fasting, and Does It Help You Lose Weight?”, by Tiarra Mukherjee, September 25, 2019, Prevention.com

    “Intermittent Fasting 101 — The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide”, by Kris Gunnars, July 25, 2018, Healthline.com

    “4 Ways Fasting Benefits Your Spiritual Health”, by Maria Walley, Grottonetwork.com

    “What Is Intermittent Fasting, and Will It Help Your Sleep?”, by Michael J Breus Ph.D., Apr 11, 2019, Psychologytoday.com

  • Intermittent Fasting – The Basics (Part 1 of 2)

    Intro

    There’s a resurgent interest in the practice of intermittent fasting (IF) and its benefits—losing weight, reducing cravings, gaining muscle, and giving the digestive tract a rest. With a new year upon us, let’s learn more about IF in our “Based on Science” article from the January 2020 OHI Newsletter (digital version here). It’s packed with helpful tips…

    Intermittent Fasting  – The Basics (Part 1 of 2)

    Fasting has been a common practice for thousands of years. Fast forward to the 21st century, and there is tremendous interest in the practice of intermittent fasting (IF) and its benefits – losing weight, reducing cravings, accelerating fat loss, gaining muscle, and giving the digestive tract a rest – all resulting in being healthier overall. With a new year upon us, let’s learn more about IF…

    What is intermittent fasting?

    Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that cycles between periods of fasting and eating. There are different methods for intermittent fasting, but the overall approach is the same – you can eat what you want, but only during a specific time period.

    Popular types of intermittent fasting programs

    There are many variations of intermittent fasting. Here are four popular approaches to consider:

    1. The 16:8 Method (also known as the Leangains Protocol)

    You eat over an 8-hour period in the middle of the day, and fast entirely for the remaining 16 hours.

    1. The 5:2 Program With this approach, you keep your calorie consumption to 500-600 calories on two non-consecutive days a week, and eat normally the other five days. This calorie limit is separated by a 12-hour fast, so you consume 250 calories in the morning and another 250 calories at night.
    2. Eat-Stop-Eat Program You fast for 24 hours once or twice a week, and eat normally the other five or six days a week.
    3. The Warrior Diet You fast for 20 hours a day, and eat one large meal every night.

    Many people find the 16:8 method to be the simplest, most sustainable, and easiest to stick to – which is why it’s the most popular of the four methods.

    How Does IF Impact Your Body?

    When you fast, several things happen in your body on the cellular and molecular level. First, fasting initiates cellular repair processes. This includes autophagy, where cells digest and remove old and dysfunctional proteins that build up inside cells. Second, when you fast your body adjusts the levels of Human Growth Hormone (HGH) to make stored body fat more accessible to be burned as fuel. Your insulin level drops, and lower insulin levels also make stored body fat more accessible. Fasting also increases the release of the fat burning hormone norepinephrine (noradrenaline). Because of these changes in hormones, fasting may increase your metabolic rate by 3%-14%.

    A 2016 study done by the Journal of Translational Medicine found that people who practiced IF for 8 weeks lost more body fat than those in the control group. NOTE: The success of intermittent fasting is based on the premise that fewer calories are consumed overall. For those that binge during their eating periods, they may not lose any weight.

    The Pros & Cons of Intermittent Fasting

    Here are the pros and cons to consider when deciding whether IF is a good fit for you:

    PROS:

    • You stick to one schedule.

    With IF, you’re not as worried about what you’re “allowed” to eat. Instead you just concentrate on sticking to your fast schedule.

    • You savor your meals.

    When food is not available to you all the time, you truly appreciate the meal in front of you, the enjoyment of eating, and the feeling of satiation.

    • You kick your bad snacking habits.

    IF forces you to stop eating at a certain time, and control your grazing behaviors.

    • You may bust through a weight loss plateau.

    If your weight loss efforts have plateaued, IF may kick-start your metabolism. Your body learns that there is no glucose available for fuel, so it burns fat stores instead.

    • You might get your pre-diabetes under control.

    Every time you eat, your body releases insulin to shuttle sugar from your bloodstream to your cells for energy. But people who are pre-diabetic are insulin resistant, which means the cells don’t respond well to insulin and can’t take up glucose, so your blood sugar levels stay elevated. Going longer between meals may help because your body pumps out insulin less often.

    • You get an anti-aging boost.

    IF creates a slight stress on your cells’ mitochondria (the energy powerhouses), which gives them a nudge to rev up their functioning, and promote cellular repair, which can lead to being more energetic.

    • You can reset your circadian rhythm.

    Eating close to bedtime is a sure way to negatively impact your circadian rhythm. Conversely, practicing IF gets your body on a regular cycle of eating and fasting. Refraining from eating close to bedtime results in resetting your circadian rhythm and improving your sleep.

    CONS:

    • You might feel irritated, tired, dizzy, or lightheaded.

    When you skip a meal, your blood sugar drops, which can affect your mood and energy levels. You can combat this by eating more protein- and fiber-rich meals with some healthy fats when you are scheduled to eat so you feel satiated. At OHI, we recommend plant-based proteins like nuts, seeds, leafy greens, legumes and sprouts.

    • High-Blood Pressure and Diabetes medications may need adjustment.

    For diabetics on medication like insulin or Glipizide, the fasting/eating cycle of IF could cause sharp drops/spikes in blood sugar, which makes their medications less effective. Additionally, IF can cause a rapid decrease in blood pressure, therefore people using high-blood pressure medication, need to be aware of this side-effect and consult their physician before participating in IF.

    Bottom Line: Always consult your physician or health care professional before participating in an IF program.

    Join us next Saturday for the second part of this article.

    “What is Intermittent Fasting, and Does It Help You Lose Weight?”, by Tiarra Mukherjee, September 25, 2019, Prevention.com

    “Intermittent Fasting 101 — The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide”, by Kris Gunnars, July 25, 2018, Healthline.com

    “4 Ways Fasting Benefits Your Spiritual Health”, by Maria Walley, Grottonetwork.com

    “What Is Intermittent Fasting, and Will It Help Your Sleep?”, by Michael J Breus Ph.D., Apr 11, 2019, Psychologytoday.com

  • Renewal: New Year, New You, New OHI (Part 2 of 2)

    Intro

    A very happy new year to our OHI community. Hopefully, you just received your January 2020 edition of the Optimum Health Institute Newsletter. If not, you can find a link to the digital version here.

    Our theme for this issue is “Renewal: New Year, New You, New OHI”. In this edition, we feature articles that highlight one of our newest staff members, Danielle Demko, a senior facilitator at OHI San Diego; Susan Manning, an OHI Austin missionary; John Hagan, a long-standing and now life-long OHI community member; and Sharon Peck’s touching story of how the OHI Scholarship was a god-send in helping her through Lyme and Parkinson’s Diseases. We also feature a science-based article that focuses on the basics of Intermittent Fasting (IF) and how IF works within the OHI program. And lastly, my article where I share ways to ‘renew’ in the New Year.

    Please keep reading for a preview of my “Renewal” article.

    Renewal: New Year, New You, New OHI (Part 2 of 2)

    NEW at OHI

    The most striking change you’ll see at OHI is our change in guest capacity. At OHI Austin, we are working to change room configurations giving us the ability to increase capacity and have more guests on a weekly basis. At OHI San Diego, we are doing the opposite and decreasing guest capacity. Our goal at OHI San Diego is to create a more-intimate guest experience and focus on continuing improvements to our facilities and rooms.

    Another exciting effort that is currently in development…we are creating a Contemplative Retreat for our OHI graduates. This Thursday-through-Sunday intensive retreat will take a deep-dive into one aspect of our program, such as engraining the practice of Alpha-meditation. Or it will focus on mindful movement or how to maintain the Maintenance Diet. Imagine getting the full benefits of our 3-week program related to spiritual practices mindfulness, diet or movement in just a 3-day intensive! You will build on your current experience and knowledge and go further into each level of physical, mental and spiritual realms. It will also serve as a quick reset for those who can’t attend for a full week.

    And finally…we heard you loud-and-clear when you said you wanted a Referral Program. The more you refer friends and family, the more you will enjoy great discounts on our rates. We will be releasing details soon!

    Take a Wellness Inventory as You Move into Spring

    The renewing season is also a good time to take inventory. Take an inventory of your health and wellness. Have you gotten off track with your diet, spiritual practices, and exercise? A visit to OHI is the perfect way to reset. In addition to the physical and mental, we will help you reconnect with the spiritual as well. In our safe and sacred environment, you will nourish your spirit through daily reflection, meditation, and celebration.

    We look forward to seeing you soon.

    Yours in prayer,

    Robert P. Nees, Jr.,

    Senior Pastor and Chairman

    Optimum Health Institute of San Diego and Austin

  • Renewal: New Year, New You, New OHI (Part 1 of 2)

    Intro

    A very happy new year to our OHI community. Hopefully, you just received your January 2020 edition of the Optimum Health Institute Newsletter. If not, you can find a link to the digital version here.

    Our theme for this issue is “Renewal: New Year, New You, New OHI”. In this edition, we feature articles that highlight one of our newest staff members, Danielle Demko, a senior facilitator at OHI San Diego; Susan Manning, an OHI Austin missionary; John Hagan, a long-standing and now life-long OHI community member; and Sharon Peck’s touching story of how the OHI Scholarship was a god-send in helping her through Lyme and Parkinson’s Diseases. We also feature a science-based article that focuses on the basics of Intermittent Fasting (IF) and how IF works within the OHI program. And lastly, my article where I share ways to ‘renew’ in the New Year.

    Please keep reading for a preview of my “Renewal” article.

    Renewal: New Year, New You, New OHI (Part 1 of 2)

    ‘Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!’

    -2 Corinthians 5:17

    A warm and wholehearted New Year greeting to our OHI community. As we enter the new year and the Spring season approaches, this verse is an excellent reminder that it is a time of renewal. As we witness the cycle of life starting once again, the world becoming greener as plants sprout new leaves and blossoms, it is the perfect time for us to renew and be recreated in body, mind, and spirit. As the verse above states, “the old has gone, the new is here,” it is time to let the past go and focus on the present and the future.

    When I was a kid, Spring cleaning was a big deal at my house and in my neighborhood. Everyone on the block would throw open all their windows and doors and let the fresh air inside. My parents and I would dust, vacuum, scrub and cleanse until the inside of the house smelled as good as it did outside. Nowadays, I like to add some mental Spring cleaning as well. It’s a great time to clear out the clutter in your mind, find ways to simplify your life, and reorganize your priorities, so that you can do more of what you really want to do.

    Here at OHI through our classes and activities, we show our guests many ways to renew, restore, and recreate. And, over the past year, we have been renewing, too – our facilities. We have refurbished many of our rooms, including 80% of our guest rooms on the main campus, and 100% of our townhouses. We’ve removed the carpet and updated with wood flooring; we have repainted; and in the bathrooms we’ve put in new tile and tubs. And, further down in the newsletter, I’ll share some of the exciting new programs we’re offering.

    New You: Now is the Time to Harmonize with Change

    As the days lengthen, and the world around us brightens and becomes more colorful, it is a good reminder that our world is constantly evolving. New ways of thinking, new ideas, new methods for doing things, new challenges with new solutions, and lots of new things to do. All of which makes the upcoming Spring a great time to reflect on how we fit into this new world, and what part of it fits us.

    Change can be frightening, we fear it will cause us to fail or get hurt. But, when we step back from it for a moment, we realize that it is constant, and that we have been adapting to it all along. History is nothing if not ongoing transformation: birth and death; construction and destruction; order and disorder. “The world is full of suffering, it is also full of overcoming it,” stated Helen Keller, who at 19 months old experienced dire change, learned it wasn’t the end of the world, then for the rest of her life modeled resilience to all of humanity.

    The best way to deal with change is to prepare for it, then it is so much easier to accept and enjoy. At OHI, we’ve found that stretch, alpha practice, and mindfulness not only strengthens our minds and bodies, but gives us a growth mindset that empowers us to encounter failure and not get upset. Instead we learn from it, and acclimate to the change it brings.

    ‘Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.’ Romans 12:2

    Science has shown that light exercise stimulates our brain and increases creativity. Over the long winter, with the shorter days and the colder temperatures, we tend to stay indoors. Spring is just around the corner, which makes it time to break free and get outside. A short walk every day has amazing health benefits.

    Another wonderful outdoor activity is gardening. I like the old proverb that says, “Gardening is an exercise in optimism.” Gardening is an activity that keeps you in the present, yet allows you

    to anticipate future progress. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as watching a plant grow, mature, and blossom.

    Our guests here at OHI enjoy volunteering their time in our garden. Tending the plants from which we make our famous juice. Come join us in this and the many other mindful activities offered everyday at OHI.

    You can also brighten your spirit by doing volunteer work, or spending time on a hobby or a favorite activity. Better yet, start a new one – experiencing new things stimulates your brain starting with the dopamine receptors which make you feel good. Trying new activities also creates new neural pathways in your brain (more electrical connections between brain cells) which strengthens your brain and makes you more creative. It even helps reduce the effects of dementia as you age.

    ‘There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:’ Ecclesiastes 3:1

    This wonderful verse reminds us that the beginning of the year is a time for renewal. A time to take inventory of our life and consider where we want to be in the future. As we read further into the third chapter of Ecclesiastes, we learn in verses 3:2-3 that there is a time for restoration and progress: ‘a time to plant and a time to uproot… a time to tear down and a time to build.’ At OHI where we focus on the body, mind, and spirit, you’ll find a great place to rejuvenate, regenerate, and revitalize.

    As we move toward Spring, this is an excellent time for letting go of the past. To quote Helen Keller once more, “When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.” Holding onto past emotional hurts can harm our physical health, and ruminating over old wounds keeps us stuck. The changing season is a wonderful time to work on becoming more of the person you’ve always wanted to be. Now is the time to commit to decisions you’ve been putting off.

    Keeping in touch or reconnecting with your extended OHI family is a great way to release your negative thoughts and replace them with positive ones. Those friends you made here, who understand you better than anyone else, are ready to help. They will be the sounding board for your thoughts and dreams when your family and older friends simply won’t understand the diet and lifestyle changes you want to make. Plan a reunion visit to OHI in the coming months and spend some quality time with your people. A personal retreat to OHI will give you the time to reflect on your life, the past year, and what you may want to incorporate into your life moving forward.

    Join us next Saturday for the second part of my article.