Each beat of our heart sends our life’s blood through our body — usually effortlessly, always without a thought on our part.
To many, the heart also represents our center, the place where all the outside joys and hurts come to rest; the place from which we offer our greatest gifts.
The theme of the 15th Annual Women’s Wellness Forum is Straight to the Heart — Women’s Heart Health. It will be from 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Saturday, March 23 at the Payson High School campus. The $15 registration is due by March 14.
The event is dedicated to one of the program’s longtime contributors, Christy Walton. Walton brought an enthusiastic wake-up to the Women’s Wellness Forum over the years, presenting Zumba, a wonderful Latin dance and exercise program.
She would have the Payson High School Studio Theatre, behind the school’s main auditorium, packed with women dancing to upbeat, fast-paced, fun Latin music, getting their hearts pumping and their lungs drinking in the crisp spring air of the Rim Country. Laughing and shouting, Walton primed her students to absorb all the great information forum presenters offered.
Her friends and family were shocked when she died suddenly Oct. 12, 2012 of a massive stroke. Walton was a fitness instructor for 32 years and appeared to be the picture of health, so her death was hard for everyone to comprehend. Her love of music and dance opened many hearts to being healed with her ability to teach and promote health.
She was also a part-time counselor for the Payson Unified School District’s Park Program and served as an advocate for children in a variety of capacities.
Abby Rike, the keynote speaker for this year’s event, knows how resilient the heart can be when it has broken under crushing tragedy.
Rike was a hard-working, lover of life. She worked as a high school teacher for 13 years, inspiring students to achieve their personal bests. A favorite among her students and fellow teachers, Rike was voted Teacher of the Year in 2003.
Then in 2006, Rike lost the life she knew and loved when her husband and two young children were killed in a car accident.
She shut down and for three years walked through life present in body only and her health deteriorated. Fortunately, she was not alone; she had loving parents, supportive friends and a faith that continued to sustain her.
Little by little she found the courage to return to living her life. She continued her education, obtaining a master’s degree in education. Then in 2009 she became a participant on “The Biggest Loser” television program.
It proved to be the catalyst for the physical and emotional changes she needed to make. She gained strength, courage, wisdom and hope — and lost 100 pounds.
Rike shares the story of her life, loss and recovery in the book, “Working It Out, A Journey of Love, Loss and Hope.” She will bring this message to the Women’s Wellness Forum with her keynote address at 8 a.m., Saturday, March 23.
Following Rike’s presentation, participants will go into breakout sessions where an impressive list of speakers will address a variety of topics to help improve heart health and more.
The presenters and their topics are: Dr. Cynthia Booth, reducing toxins to reduce disease; Holly Crump, accelerated wisdom — living a balanced life; Kenny Evans, healthy gardening; Dr. Salvatore Gillette, heart health; Dr. Marilyn Kiefer Andrews, bringing a spark to relationships in the golden years; Dee McCaffrey, cooking for health; Dr. Alan Michels, weight management; Penny Navis-Schmidt, qigong; Roslyn Rogers, hormones; and Debra Shewey, parenting teens and preteens.
McCaffrey, like Rike, has an inspiring story of changing her life. Eliminating white flour and sugar from her diet, McCaffrey lost 100 pounds in a year in 2002 and has kept it off. She has shared her story, tips and recipes with a series of books over the years. Her most recent work is “The Science of Skinny” (2012); “Plan-D: The Amazing Anti-Diet That Will Change Your Life Forever” and the accompanying “Plan-D Cookbook: Flourless and Sugarless Cuisine” (both published in 2009); and “Dee’s Mighty Cookbook” (2006).
McCaffrey is an organic chemist and nutritionist. Her passion lies in teaching others how to shop, cook and eat healthfully, while serving as a role model and inspiration for sustainable weight loss and healthy living. Through her works she shares a personal message of hope, empowerment, and courage for making lasting lifestyle changes.
In her program, expect to be inspired, educated and motivated to implement nutrition-packed foods into meals.
She will introduce participants to key foods that are the most important to overall health, including those that help manage weight, lower cholesterol and beat diabetes.
McCaffrey will prepare health dishes to taste and provide recipes to take home to try.
The other breakout sessions
Dr. Cynthia Booth, reducing toxins to reduce disease — Booth is an obstetrician and gynecologist with a practice in Payson and a longtime supporter of the Women’s Wellness Forum. For participants who feel like they are taking care of everyone but themselves, Booth will help discover ways to live healthy, decrease headaches and feel their best by eliminating toxins from their lives.
Holly Crump, accelerated wisdom — living a balanced life —Crump holds certification from the International Coach Federation, a nonprofit organization, formed in 1995, it is the leading global organization dedicated to advancing life coaching. The goal of her session is to bring individual awareness to participants’ personal life balance: how the balance looks now, how they desire it to be and a blueprint for how to create a life of health and well-being. The participants will be led through a self-assessment exercise and be guided through the steps needed to create the life they want.
Kenny Evans, healthy gardening — Evans is mayor of Payson and has strong roots in farming. He started as a migrant farm worker and went on to create one of the country’s largest family farming enterprises. He will share the success of the Payson Community Garden, which premiered in 2012 and will reopen for the 2013 season this month. He will talk about how participants can be part of the PCG and offer tips for turning that dirt (or granite) in the back yard into rich soil for a private garden.
Dr. Salvatore Gillette, heart health — Gillette is a doctor of osteopathic medicine. He will discuss how heart disease is different in men and women and should be treated differently. Participants will learn the top things to do to keep their hearts healthy. He will answer questions about risk, medications, warning signs and surgical options.
Dr. Marilyn Kiefer Andrews, bringing a spark to relationships in the golden years — Kiefer Andrews has a Ph.D. and is a registered nurse practitioner. Her workshop will focus on recognizing and maximizing who we are deep within and how we reach out to maximize the sweetness that the Golden Years offer. Emphasis will be on those close around us, whether in our hearts, our home, our neighborhood or our community.
Dr. Alan Michels, weight management — Michels practices internal medicine and pediatrics in Payson. Healthy food choices and exercise will be the focus of his program, which will stress that keeping the weight off is not about denial, it is about making changes that suit the individual’s life.
Penny Navis-Schmidt, qigong — Navis-Schmidt, a licensed clinical social worker, has contributed to the Women’s Wellness Forum for a number of years. In the past, she has helped participants get the day going with a pre-opening program of qigong. This year, she will be not only offer a chance to try the ancient body-mind exercise, but also discuss it. Qigong uses breath, posture, movement, intention, sound and touch to cleanse, gather and circulate healing energy within the body. In her program, she will provide a series of short, easy to learn sets that focus on the specific organ systems of women. They are designed to break up stagnant energy, release emotional distress and congestion in the body and balance the hormonal system. The different movements increase blood circulation, improve lymph function and promote overall health.
Roslyn Rogers, hormones — certified nutrition counselor and herbalist Rogers will share her passion for how balanced hormones keep our bodies healthy and mental acuity strong. Participants will gain a better understanding of how hormones affect skin, bones, menopause, emotional state and energy levels. Rogers will talk about healthy steps to take with and without supplements.
Debra Shewey, parenting teens and preteens — Tips for family communication; reasons for teen misbehavior; peer pressure and substance abuse; warning signs; and expectations and love within the family will be covered. This is an interactive presentation. Shewey is a licensed association counselor with Southwest Behavioral and has been working with children and families since 1992.