Archive for February, 2011

Nevada Heart & Stroke Day was held at the Nevada State Legislature and Capitol.

I bought my flip cam and shot some video and put together a short trailer on YouTube.

Click here  to watch the YouTube video

The American Heart Association coordinated the event.

Advocates from many different fields advocated legislative action to the Governors office, our State Senators, and Assemblymen.

The 4 key legislative initiatives we lobbied for were:

1. Childhood Obesity – Removing foods containing trans-fats from the schools in Nevada.

2. Childhood Obesity – Improve nutrition and physical activity/education during and after school and childcare programs. Support statewide school wellness policies and help schools adhere to the program.  Support school playgrounds and athletic fields for use by community and non-profits.

3. Tobacco Control – Increased price of tobacco products, limiting exposure to second hand smoke and funding to cover cessation programs and services.

4. Stroke Quality and Availability of Care – Support state level recognition of certified stroke centers and coordinated systems of care for stroke in Nevada.

Click here to watch the YouTube video

Please feel free to share the link.

On Saturday I’ll be walking in the Children’s Heart Foundation Heart Walk in Las Vegas for kids born with congenital heart defects.

This foundation does some great work to help the children and families effected by and living with Heart Disease.

When I meet children survivors, it really hits your heart, both literally and figuratively.  These are amazing children who I admire for their strength and resilience.  Being around them really makes you stronger.  They have that natural way to uplift and inspire you.  We can always use Inspiration!

I salute these kids for their courage.

From the Children’s Heart Foundation Website

Children’s Heart Foundation

About Our Organization

Heart problems in children are surprisingly common. They are, in fact, the most common type of birth defect and the number one cause of death during the first year of life. Nearly twice as many children die from congenital heart disease in the United States each year as die from all forms of childhood cancers combined.

In Nevada alone, more than 350 children are born each year with significant heart disease requiring either intensive medications or surgery. An additional 150 to 250 of Nevada’s children and newborns may develop a heart problem due to infections, Kawasaki disease or Rheumatic fever. Hundreds more will exhibit problems with heartbeat irregularities requiring medications or specialized procedures.

Children’s Heart Foundation is committed to making a positive difference in the lives of children with heart conditions throughout Nevada. We empower heart families through emotional, educational and financial support to inspire a higher quality of life for all.

The Foundation has three main goals:

1. To provide a carefree camp experience for children with heart conditions

2. To educate healthcare professionals and the general public on pediatric cardiology issues

3. To lend support to families as they deal with the emotional and financial toll exacted by a child’s heart problems

Book Signing and Party

Friday I’ll be attending a private GoRed event for American Heart Month.

The event will take place at a residence Las Vegas.

I’ll be signing books and talking with the attendees.

There will be a Silent Auction, a Zumba class, Heart Healthy Food, Music and other activities.

It’s nice to see people take interest and dedicate a “Party Atmosphere” to raise awareness of Heart disease.  The proceeds of the event will benefit The American Heart Association.

On Thursday, February 24, I’ll be going to our State Capitol along with other advocates from the American Heart Association, Health Care Providers, Insurance Companies, the Medical Community and Citizens.

We‘ll gather in Carson City, Nevada to celebrate Heart & Stroke and Wear Red Day at the Legislature.

Events will be held throughout the day to educate and raise awareness of Heart Disease, Stroke, Obesity, Smoking and the other related chronic diseases and risk factors.

Throughout the day and afternoon, we’ll visit with our elected officials to encourage their support of pending legislation that will improve the lives of the citizens of Nevada.

I’m a firm believer that by investing now on awareness, prevention and education programs and initiatives to the citizens of Nevada and around the country the cost savings to the states down the road will be far less than if we do nothing.  I say, “Act Now”.

Some of the events taking place are below:

Hands Only CPR Demonstration by REMSA Begins

Speaker: Sudden Cardiac Arrest Among Youth

Speaker: Life’s Simple Seven

Speaker: Go Red For Women

Speaker: Fighting Childhood Obesity

Speaker: Tobacco and Heart Disease/Stroke

Speaker: Issue Overviews

Speaker: Preventing Atherosclerosis

Legislative Office Meetings

Describe your success and what factors led you to change your life?

My REAL weight loss journey started in July 2010 when I finally realized I needed to make drastic changes in my life and health!

I started the journey @ 309 pounds and to date I have lost 70 so I need to lose 70-80 more at least.
I had my doctor do all my blood work. I found my triglycerides to be elevated in the 400’s and my blood pressure was high.  I’ve been taking BP meds since 2003. (You would have thought then I would have woke up)
The doctor told me I had Syndrome X (A metabolic disease). I was also a diabetic.
In addition to wanting and having the desire to be healthy, another huge motivating factor are my husband and children. I have a daughter that is graduating from high school and in 3 yrs my other daughter will graduate.
I want to be around a long time to see both of them grow and make lives for themselves.
What was the journey like?

So far my journey has had so many ups and downs, emotionally and physically! I have come to realize this journey is more mental than anything!!
Whatever You Think…You Are!
I make it a point to think of myself as successful. Don’t get me wrong, they’re many days when I feel defeated but I go to the Facebook page I created and see others success and that gives me a big boost of “I CAN DO IT”.
How did you do it?
When I first started I did Optifast (a hospital run program) for 3 wks and it was HORRIBLE!!
I could only drink shakes, soups and eat fruit/chocolate bars. Eventually, my insurance stopped paying so I wasn’t able to continue through the hospital but I figured that by doing Optifast and losing 17 lbs in 3 wks I could do it on my own with diet and exercise AND FOOD!!! (Just the RIGHT food).
I started going to the gym and pool daily. I would walk on the treadmill then bump it up and run for a minute then back to walking then running about 10 times in a span of time. I would do the elliptical after the treadmill then hit the pool for another hour.
When I hit a plateau I continue to push myself.
What are your top 3 tips for success?
1. Commitment – You have to stay the course
2. Dedication – You have to make it your #1 priority for    instance not skipping the gym or your exercise video
3. Stay focused and don’t give up- If you aren’t seeing results quickly remember healthy weight loss is approx 2 lbs a week, some weeks might be more or less depending on your caloric intake and workouts.
What inspires or motivates you?
I felt inspired to create a page on Facebook called Our Weight Loss Journey, It’s a page for people to share their weight loss journey, whether they’re having a good or bad day we’re here for them!
When I read stories of success and hard work it keeps me going to be committed and stay focused.  I wanted to give back and give back what has been given to me.
If I didn’t have people saying, “You can do it” or “Way to go” I might have thrown in the towel and quit.
How do you feel now and where are you going?
I feel great even though I’ve plateaued for the moment. I haven’t seen big numbers in a while but in 3 short months my triglycerides dropped from a very dangerous 400 to 196 just by diet and exercise.
I started a new workout routine called Insanity…I’m looking forward to doing more cardio workouts, losing weight again, building muscle and making my heart stronger!
Here is the link to the FB page:
Please feel free to visit and join our community.
You have to open it up and click “like” I hope to see you there!! – Shannon

“The hardest thing anyone can do is putting his or her hand on the door handle and opening the front door.  Walking through the door is the second hardest.”
I recently spoke to fitness and health professionals and told them just that.
It may be intimidating, even frightening for some people to decide to go to a gym for the first time or to go back after a long layoff.
I explained how critical customer service was once the potential customer came in to their gym. Feeling welcome and making the initial visit as unintimidating as possible was a goal they should strive for.  Sometimes, all it takes is a smile at the front counter to take the tension off.
I told them that everyone employed at the gym ultimately has a positive or negative effect on someone’s fitness and well-being.
The lesson of opening the door can be applied to just about any challenge or fear we have in life. Will you open the door or just walk on by?
It’s making the decision to take action that stops so many of us from accomplishing a goal.  Keep in mind that not making a decision — is a decision.  Fear and the unknown usually drive our actions or inactions.
The challenge is to put your hand on the door handle and turn the knob. Open the doors that have held you back. What have you really got to lose? What do you have to gain?
An opportunity can only come when we walk through the door. – Keith

I’ve recently taken a few classes at the gym to mix up my workout routine such as Zumba, BodyPump, and Spin.
While waiting for one of the classes to start I was able to observe a Silver & Fit class in progress. This class is designed for seniors to enhance their flexibility, weight resistance training and mobility and get some cardio in.
They used stretch bands, light-weight medicine balls and light dumbbells.
It was really a class for all levels of fitness, not just seniors.  I saw it as an opportunity for people who need to get started.
I’m often asked, “Where do I start?” Regardless of age, this class would be a great place to start if you’ve been sedentary and just not moving much.
It’s a fun class with music and the trainer usually keeps it upbeat.  I would think the 50 minutes flies by like it does on most classes.
So, if you’re not moving much and want to start somewhere and you have access to a gym, try the senior program to get started. Remember to always check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program.
If you’re afraid to go in, just tell people you’re there for rehabilitation.
Because of my bad knees from carrying over 400 pounds for so long, I just do what I can when I’m in different classes.  If it means not bouncing, then I don’t bounce.  If it means not standing on the pedals of the spin bike, I may not stand.  You get the point. Make the class your own and own the class to your level of fitness while pushing yourself a little further each day of training.  Listen to your body.
Just move.  All of the exercises can be done at home if you can’t get to a gym.  YouTube is normally a good and free resource to look at different exercise routines or to see what a class may be like before taking it.
Remember, we all started somewhere. – Keith


“We become what our mind says we are! For a moment, a day, a week, or a lifetime.” – Keith Ahrens

I’ve come across a lot of people in the last 2 years that have told me they were concerned about what other people thought of them when they went to a gym or out for a walk or even out in public.
These fears arise from the way we look and how “we think” others perceive us.
I always say, “Its none of your business what other people think of you.”
By this, I mean it’s our life, not theirs.
We’re not going out for a cup of coffee with these folks.  We’re not going to have a drink at a bar with them nor are we going to have them over for dinner. So it really shouldn’t concern us what someone else thinks of us when we try do anything to improve our lives.
It’s important that we break down any barriers that will prevent us from getting more fit.  Being afraid of what someone else thinks should not be one of them.
Remember, it’s your time; it’s your life. – Keith

Teens/Youth – Fast fact #4

American Heart Month – Fast Facts
As we Celebrate and Educate with American Heart Month it’s important to look at some facts and remind ourselves of the work ahead.
The American Heart Association shares statistics and facts about Heart Disease and Stroke on their website.
From the American Heart Association Fact Sheet
Fact Sheet
As of April 26, 2010
• About 5,900 children 18 years old and under suffer out-of-hospital cardiac arrest each year from all causes – including trauma, cardiovascular causes and sudden infant death syndrome.
• The incidence of out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrest in high school athletes ranges from .28 to 1 death per 100,000 high school athletes annually in the U.S.
• The American Heart Association does not have a minimum age requirement for people to learn CPR. The ability to perform CPR is based more on body strength rather than age.
• Studies have shown that children as young as 9 years old can learn and retain CPR skills.