I’m Lucille Chun, a former DOE teacher who retired in 2002 at age 55 from Haha’ione Elementary after 10.5 years with the state.
My teacher friends felt that I was too young to retire so they warned me that retiring would be boring and all I would do is get FAT!
This played on me, so I made it a point to prove them wrong!
Right away I added more exercise programs to my daily walking routine. 12 years ago, I became a certified teacher of a Chinese stretching exercise called Luk Tung Kuen. I continue as a volunteer instructor to more than 100 students several times a week at Kahala Mall and Hawaii Kai Towne Center. In addition, for the past 8.5 years I also teach tai chi to another 150 students at Kilauea District Park in 4 classes.
In between all this, I enjoy going out into the community to speak and perform at various senior clubs, COPD meeting, the Lions Club, the Mayor’s Kupuna to Keiki summit, as well as teachers’ sororities.
I further attempt to fulfill my mission to teach tai chi to as many people as I can by being a volunteer producer at Olelo community TV station. Olelo’s outreach person found me on the internet on my tai chi website and asked me to share my tai chi lessons because research shows that there is a segment of our society who are home bound and would benefit by exercising.
It seems that many in the community are trying their best to help improve the population’s health because we all know good health brings wealth in a multitude of ways.
A number of my students are seniors, ranging from 50-102 years old.Their diligence and enthusiasm give me more incentive to continue my passion to teach and be pro active.
I have 4 children and 8 grandchildren. I have a daughter who is also a teacher, another who is a litigator for an employees benefit law firm in San Francisco. One son is an IT businessman for a California health care system and the other is a physician administrator. My husband is a retired Ear, Nose and Throat surgeon.
I first heard about the Ornish program about 14 years ago when upon retirement, I obsessively read all the diet and weight loss literature while on my exercise bike. The one that stuck most in my mind was Dean Ornish. He is a Harvard grad and 2 of my 4 children also have their degrees from Harvard.
About 6 months ago, my youngest son, Les, alerted me about the Ornish program coming to town, but he cautioned me: Mom, I’m not sure you’ll qualify.
I quickly did research online, got a contact number and qualified myself!
My son was happy for me as he met Dr. Ornish and is a firm believer of his program. Les is Queen’s Hospital Vice President of Medical Affairs and Chief Quality Officer.
I have always been pretty active and rather healthy person always receptive to new ideas and programs. So the anticipation to make a major life style change was very exciting and I couldn’t wait to start. My goal was to stop taking my medicines, move into a new chapter in my life by being healthier and really reap the benefits of my golden years.
At age 69 and 3 months short of turning 70 I felt I was in a rut. I wanted to jump start my life again and I really didn’t know how. To me, I was active, exercising, being connected to the community by volunteering, but yet I knew there was more to life than that.
I will always remember the anxiety and how there was a damper put on me because I needed to get approval before I could start the Ornish program. ( This was a bit nerve wracking, because I was in limbo, not knowing whether I would be approved and yet here I was, raring to make the change in my life!)
I even went as far as to change my begin dates just so that I could start right away. In the process I gave up babysitting and teaching tai chi to my husband, just so I could be in cohort 1.
Joining Ornish was timely and has enriched my life, bringing many new ideas: the importance of stress management, new ways of cooking and eating, being mindful and appreciative of others, learning to be a better listener, and developing a life time group of special friends from both the Ornish staff as well as members of our cohort. The social bonding over 9 weeks is simply amazing!
Although I am 70, I feel that age is just a number. My change in diet has revitalized my system with more energy and a sense of uplifted spirits and a greater desire to enjoy life with more confidence with lots of vitality. Early on, at week #3, my gerontologist took me off my hypertension and cholesterol medication. By being vegetarian, I have lost close to 15 pounds and my walking pace is faster and I have more stamina. Everyone who sees me gives me positive feedback and are interested in what I am doing for myself. I tell them I have made a life style change and a big commitment to eat a plant base diet so that I can be healthier.
Being Ornish has made a lasting affect on my family. My husband has been greatly influenced and has adopted a vegetarian diet and eats meats on occasion. His recent lipid panel revealed the best numbers he’s had in years. My daughter, who is also a DOE teacher, learned more about Ornish and she too has lost weight and has become vegetarian.
The many people I come in contact with are curious and ask me how I brought upon change and I talk about my positive experiences adopting the Ornish lifestyle. I will continue to spread the goodness of this healthy lifestyle to family, colleagues, people from all walks of life both young and old, as I feel I can make a positive impact on others.
I believe I have a pre disposition for longevity. My dad lived to age 89 and I still care for my mom who lives in her home and is 99 years young. (Mom also was a DOE teacher and dad was a business manager for the state’s Ho’opono program, helping the blind vendors.)
I am very grateful to you, the board members of EUTF, for granting me the privilege of participating in this outstanding health heart reversal program that may help me live another 20-30 years. Ornish is a comprehensive, one of a kind health program, that teaches 4 essential elements for a healthy life in both body and mind. No other program trains you and coaches you so that you will not fail in learning how to make a major life style change that gets better over time! Going Ornish is the best commitment I have made to myself.
As an educator, first to young children and now to adults and seniors, like me, I feel that being a participant of the Ornish program helped me fulfill a teacher’s aspiration to be a life long learner.
As a teacher, I feel compelled to educate and share all the things I’ve learned from Ornish on my website: everydaytaichi.org and on my YouTube channel: everydaytaichi4U
I feel empowered to share and inform others about this valuable health reversal program so that Hawaii will continue to be one of the most healthiest places in the world.
We are never too old to keep learning to improve our health and well being.