“I’m living proof that the CHIP program works!”

  • By Elden Lai
  • 28 Jul, 2016

The CHIP program is quite a life-changer. For our July 14th session, a CHIP participant from a previous class presented his story and the impact CHIP made on his life.

Dennis is a business man who does investments with many companies and as his business grew more successful, his health issues grew as well. He started to become more international and traveled the world, trying and consuming more new foods. Furthermore, he frequently stayed at hotels that provided continental breakfasts. Before he knew it, his weight had reached 318 pounds. Dennis never thought of himself as terribly heavy because he had grown accustomed to his own image and simply thought that’s how he was. He eventually developed hypertension and high cholesterol. Moreover, he became pre-diabetic. All this meant he had many pills to swallow every day.

Realizing his health was deteriorating from the inside out, Dennis tried diets of all kinds from local dieting companies to exotic supplements. “I’ve tried it all," he exclaimed, “but none of them worked." Finally, Dennis spotted an advertisement in his local newspaper for the CHIP program by Rochester Clinic. His wife also noticed the ad and continuously reminded Dennis until he resolved to attend for sure.

Dennis was understandably skeptical of the CHIP program. Tired and worn out from empty promises by all the companies and diets he had tried, he initially believed this new program would not be any different. 

Fortunately, Dennis found that he had proved himself wrong. The program proved to be insightful and informative, careful to address why certain things were detrimental or beneficial to one’s health. If there were any questions raised that neither of the facilitators, Mei Liu and Dr. Jeng Lai, could answer, Mei was quick to relay the questions to the CHIP headquarters so she could get back to the participants promptly via email with an answer with which she felt confident telling. Within six weeks, Dennis saw numbers all around dropping—cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels. In fact, Dennis’ peers were questioning his new habits and lifestyle as they noticed his weight slowly shedding.

Ever since his CHIP class graduated, Dennis went full-force in applying the knowledge he gained. During a follow up at the Mayo Clinic, his doctor stopped in his tracks and asked, “What happened to you?” after seeing a much slimmer Dennis. Furthermore, his doctor was speechless at Dennis’ new blood work results. All his numbers were normal and thus, his medications were ceased. He was quite relieved he was completely off his medications, or, as he called them, his “crutches”. Dennis’ pre-diabetic blood sugar level sat at 94mg before CHIP, just shy of the 100-125mg pre-diabetic range. His number now sits much lower than before in a comfortable, normal range.

“Everyone else in my family is diabetic, but I’m not," beamed Dennis.

“You must have been adopted, then!” joked Dr. Lai, sending the room into laughter.

Naturally, Dennis’ physician inquired what changes were made and Dennis merely said, “Oh, I just exercised more, stopped eating red meat…”, but the physician insisted once more, “But really, Dennis, what did you do?” After receiving a more thorough explanation, Dennis physician praised him for being “a diamond in the rough” because patients enter the clinic saying “Fix me up, doctor," believing pills alone will make everything go away. What they don’t know is that the pills are only temporary fixes, curtains to make it seem like the problems are nonexistent when they really aren’t.

Dennis also had his eyes checked and his optometrist broke news that Dennis needed a prescription change, but not because his eyes worsened. Dennis’ eyes actually improved.

He had also gotten more into preparing foods using healthier options like baking, using alternative ingredients, and utilizing whole foods rather than premade goods. His taste buds have also changed, being described as “more sensitive," especially to salt. The salty foods he once enjoyed are now quite impossible to eat for him. Dennis explains, “I now eat to live, not live to eat."

From the beginning of February to mid-July, Dennis lost 68 pounds and is still losing. He revealed that he did not join the CHIP program for his weight, but for his high cholesterol, hypertension, and diabetes. He does not care about how much he loses or his end weight because the body will get rid of however much it needs to remove. Weight loss is merely a side effect, but cannot go unnoticed.

When Dennis walked through the doors that night to share his CHIP adventure, I could not recognize him. He was much slimmer and had an unrecognizable glow to his face. I was about to say, “I’m sorry, but this is for CHIP”, before finally recognizing Dennis. Dennis was always very enthusiastic and energetic during his time as a CHIP participant, but he looked much happier as his health improved. His doctor at Mayo even told him that he looked “less worried”—and Dennis really was less worried. He was less worried about his health for tomorrow, for the next week, for the future. When his grandchildren asked him if he would still be around when they’re in high school, Dennis exclaimed, “Of course! I’ll even still be there when you’re in college!”

Dennis did explain that there will be rough patches while fully transitioning to the CHIP lifestyle, which is completely normal. Body weight will also plateau as the body will take a break before continuing to lose more weight.

It’s not hard to see that the CHIP program has made Dennis healthier and happier than ever. He is relieved that unlike diets, he does not have to worry about what will happen to his body when he’s off CHIP because CHIP is a lifelong lifestyle change. “CHIP has given me the ticket to do all the fun things I want to do with my family”, proclaimed Dennis, grinning from ear to ear, “I’m living proof that the CHIP program works!”

News / Blogs

By Jengyu Lai 09 Dec, 2017

One of our recent CHIP (Complete Health Improvement Program) graduates, Joe, was kind enough to share his success story with us.

Since completing the 12-week course, Joe has a renewed vigor for life (and cooking, to boot!) He’s dropped excessed weight, dramatically reduced his cholesterol, and now has an abundance of energy he didn’t before.

Read about his personal journey:

Family history is cause for concern…

Prior to CHIP, I always had tried to minimize intake of red meats (opting for mostly poultry, pork, and fish), salts, sugars, butter, egg yolks, etc., and drinking only skim milk. Heart disease runs in my family. I lost my dad at age 57 after a quintuple bypass and a valve replacement. His four brothers all had open heart surgery or angioplasty with placement of stents in their 50’s/60’s. My own brother, who is quite active, had his first heart attack at age 55. I also have several cousins who have had heart attacks around 50 years of age.

I turned 50 in August of this year. I had been taking baby aspirin as a precautionary measure.

Wake up call…

I had a bit of an awakening in mid-July when a sore calf muscle ended up being the only symptom for a deep vein thrombosis (blood clot in main vein in my leg) and bilateral pulmonary embolism (blood clots broke free from the leg, traveled through the heart, and lodged in both lungs). After the fact, I was told how lucky I was and that many people die from this.

Researching options…

On my way to a fishing trip in late July, I got a call from a good friend saying she was considering taking a class called “CHIP” and thought it might be a good match for me. She sent me the info, and also borrowed me a book titled “Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease.” I began reading the book and then attended the information session for the CHIP class.

Deciding to take the CHIP-plunge…

Ultimately, I signed up to take the CHIP class.

During my very first CHIP class, I received a call from my vascular specialist telling me that my arterial plaque build-up was not terrible, but that it was more than there should be for a male that is 50 years of age. He recommended that, although my blood cholesterol did not exceed 200, that I begin taking statins immediately. At that point, I countered his proposal.

I told him what I was going to attempt through whole food, plant-based eating and that I would like 3-4 months to drop 25lbs, and attempt to get my total blood cholesterol below 150.   He agreed that that was a great approach. Most people are reliant on the quick fix, i.e. the drugs, and don’t address the underlying cause.

Let the [CHIP] journey begin…

I completely threw the switch to no meat, no fish, no dairy, no processed grains or sugars… Within two weeks, I began to notice the loss of my excess weight, my energy level was increasing, and I was getting an increase in mental clarity. In addition, I was pleasantly surprised by the variety of foods and the phenomenal taste. Initially I thought to myself, ‘I’m going to be so sick of beans.’ But here’s the kicker … the recipes fold in various ingredients where you’d least expect it… Caesar salad dressing, the best I’ve ever had, and yes, made with garbanzo beans! Chocolate chip cookie dough, the kind you don’t bake … again, made with garbanzo beans. The soups, the stews, the main dishes… crazy delicious! Turns out, I love to cook! Banana pancakes, waffles, nachos with cashew cheese, sweet potato black bean stew… all the fresh ingredients… Your taste buds change and begin to pick up on flavors that you never knew existed.

Each class begins with a meal prepared by volunteers who are helping to promote better health through whole food, plant-based eating. Each class has a theme -- heart disease, diabetes, cancer, osteoporosis, etc.  There are guest speakers, grocery store tours, food preparation demos, recipe sharing, interaction with the other “CHIPers,” plus more.  

The results are in…

Over the course of 12 weeks (18 sessions), not only do you note that you feel better, but everyone in the class shows physical signs of weight loss … faces slimming down, clothes fitting looser, people in general happier.

In the first six weeks, my total cholesterol dropped 10%, and I was down 12 pounds, despite eating like a horse. No calorie counting, no buying premade meals from some plan, almost everything from raw ingredients.

I can’t say enough about this class … best money I’ve spent, hands down. It will pay for itself in reduced health care bills, not to mention the reduction in food costs due to no longer eating out as much. Even better, rather than being on a slow health decline as we age, you actually have that energy to be interactive with kids, grandkids … living your best life possible, enjoying it rather than enduring it.

Spreading the word…

I share my newly acquired knowledge with everyone … family, friends, nurses where I get my blood tests done, random people at a music concert, my dentist and dental hygienist, co-workers … Many see my excitement and are planning to attend the next information session to learn more.

- - -

It’s your turn! Are you interested in having your own success story to share with others? Attend our next FREE informational session about CHIP on Monday, Dec. 11, 7 p.m, at Seventh Day Adventist Church in Rochester. Food sample provided!

You can also learn more about the program on our website at www.rochesterclinic.com/chip1

By Jengyu Lai 31 Aug, 2017

Healthcare costs in the U.S. are on the rise. It is estimated that 70-80% of healthcare costs are due to chronic disease, and the main reason for a trip to the doctor.


Exactly what is chronic disease and what can you do about it? Chronic diseases are conditions that cannot be prevented or cured by vaccinations or medications, nor do they go away on their own.


Common chronic diseases:

●    Elevated cholesterol

●    Type 2 diabetes

●    Hypertension

●    Obesity

●    Coronary heart disease

●    High blood pressure

●    Osteoporosis

●    Arthritis

●    Fatigue


However, living significantly longer and increasing quality of life is a reality, even for those with these chronic diseases. Modifications in lifestyle will lessen and potentially eliminate chronic conditions, and therefore increase quality of life and reduce medical expenses. You have the power to take charge of your health. This is lifestyle medicine.


Lifestyle modifications include:

●    Plant-based, whole food diet and nutrition

●    Physical activity

●    Stress reduction

●    Family/social support network


Through this evidence-based research, you can change the course of your health. With simple, fun, and flexible adaptations, the lifestyle medicine approach is a whole new way of living.


For more information on Rochester Clinic, the services and programs we offer, please give us a call at

507-218-3095, visit our website at www.RochesterClinic.com , or e-mail to Health@RochesterClinic.com .


We are happy to answer your questions and get you on your way to a healthy life!

By Jengyu Lai 03 Jul, 2017

Whether you’ve fully adopted a plant-based diet or are simply dipping your toes in the water, there’s no doubt that wholesome food is at the center of one’s wellbeing.


Here we’ve rounded up five of our favorite cookbooks that are chock full of nourishing recipes and nutrition tips that are sure to assist in your healthy eating goals:


1.         Forks Over Knives – The Cookbook

If you watched the Forks Over Knives documentary (read more about it here , along with the rest of our top documentary picks), you know what FOK is all about – the concept that degenerative diseases afflicting so much of the U.S. today can be controlled and even reversed by rejecting animal-based and processed foods. This cookbook features 300+ plant-based recipes which place fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes in the lime light.


2.         The China Study Cookbook: Over 120 Whole Food, Plant-Based Recipes

This cookbook came to fruition thanks to The China Study; a book touting one of the most comprehensive nutrition studies ever conducted which reveals that a plant-based diet leads to optimal health and can halt or even reverse many diseases. The China Study Cookbook shares 120+ plant-based, nutrient-dense recipes that promote optimal health.


3.         The PlantPure Nation Cookbook: The Official Companion Cookbook to the Breakthrough Film

PlantPure Nation, yet another noteworthy documentary created by the same producers as Forks Over Knives, provides this trusty companion cookbook boasting 150+ plant-centric recipes. It’s also filled with tips, tricks, and grocery lists for people interested in a whole food, plant-based diet.


4.         Plant-Powered Families: Over 100 Kid-Tested, Whole-Foods Vegan Recipes

Inspire healthful, plant-based eating among the whole family with this must-have cookbook from Dreena Burton. From delicious school lunches to appetizing on-the-go snacks, this book supplies more than 100 kid-tested and approved recipes and serves as an excellent reference for parents raising young ones on a whole food, vegan diet.


5.         Crazy Sexy Kitchen

Don’t let the risqué title of this one deter you. Author and cancer survivor Kris Carr attributes her triumph over cancer to her lifestyle changes, most especially her diet. After embracing a diet made up of whole, plant-based foods, she soon discovered the transformative power of nutrition and felt better than she ever had. This cookbook offers 150+ recipes that includes everything from fresh-pressed juices to delectable desserts.


Also recommended: Oh She Glows, Minimalist Baker, But I Could Never Go Vegan


What are some of your favorite cookbooks? Share on our Facebook page !

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