Thursday, 28 September 2017 13:49

Breakdancing Comes of Age

There aren't many dance instructors who are the same age as their form of expression, but for Honey Rockwell, that's precisely the case. She and hip-hop dancing have evolved alongside each other over the past four decades, and now she's helping choreograph its future.

QUOTE 1Breaking the Mold

Rockwell, 45, is dedicated to sharing her love of hip-hop through her school, Rockwell Dance Academy, which she opened four years ago in Acworth with her husband, Orko, a fellow dancer. What started off as a small community dance-off, ended up being something way bigger. "I recruited my daughter's friends and some kids from the neighborhood. We had a blast! We would put on performances for the neighborhood. As more kids started joining, our basement was getting too small to fit everyone. So then we moved it to the garage, then I rented space at a recreation center, and finally, our studio."

The type of dancing she specializes in is breakin' (also referred to in popular culture as breakdancing). Her mission is to preserve the original dance styles of hip-hop. "My passion is teaching dance, my experiences, and what I can share with the next generation," she says.

PHOTO 1In addition to the array of classes for kids offered at the academy, there are classes for adults who want to move in ways they may not have ever tried before.

Adults can take classes in breakin', locking (freezing and holding certain positions), popping (quick, precisely timed muscle movements), salsa, and new school hip-hop choreography. "Dance can be a kind of Fountain of Youth. I've actually seen it reverse certain diseases like diabetes for the better. Bodies in motion stay in motion," Rockwell says.

SB 1Because hip-hop and breakin' are still such relatively young styles of dance in the history of the art form, Rockwell says she has had to forge her own ways of sharing them with her students of all ages.

"There's no template for what we're doing now," she says. "I'm always challenging myself to make my students believers of this dance style. It's about just going for it and having fun with it at any age. I love showing my students that this is me and this is what I turned out to be!"

Making Moves

Rockwell got her start dancing as a young girl growing up in the South Bronx, where hip-hop itself was born. She was studying gymnastics and dance by the time she was 7. As a teenager, she competed with the gymnastics team at John F. Kennedy High School and competed for the United States Gymnastics Federation (now known as USA Gymnastics).

The transition between the gymnastics mat and the dance floor was a natural one. While most high school students were busy keeping tabs on their crushes, Rockwell was connecting with many of the key pioneers of breakin' in New York, including Louie New Wave (who has since passed), Ghettoriginal Dance Production, the Rock Steady Crew, and VII Grandmasters. By the time Rockwell was 23, they had recognized and nurtured her skills, claiming her as one of their own: a true "B-Girl."

It was during this time that Rockwell says she learned some of life's toughest lessons, all of which she says went into making her the disciplined, balanced and focused woman, business person, and mother she is now. As a very young mom, she had to rely on the help of her grandmother to keep things together as she worked as a gymnastics coach and made a name for herself in the competitive dance culture.

In 1994, Rockwell began performing and touring with the Off-Broadway hip-hop musical, "Jam on the Groove," which went on to tour nationally and internationally. It was in that show that she met her future husband, "B-Boy" Orko. (The two remained in each other's circles over the years, eventually marrying when Rockwell was 40. They moved to the Atlanta area in 2010 with Orko's job at a utility company.)

After her tour with the show, Rockwell danced in the Vegas theater production, "Madhattan," and was cast in the movie "Mannequin 2." She also performed on MTV's New Year's Eve 2000, and at the VH1 Fashion Awards with Cuba Gooding Jr., and Kid Rock. She still remembers the experience vividly to this day. "It was nerve-racking and exciting at the same time. Plus, it was awesome to dance with Cuba Gooding Jr., who happens to be a B-Boy as well by the way—insider scoop!"

PHOTO 2In the early 2000s, with the Seven Gems Crew, she took part in a U.S. government-sponsored tour teaching hip-hop dance and performing in Brazil. She also produced Honey Rockwell's B-Girl Video, the first B-Girl dance video, which can still be purchased today, and in 2008, she was a dancer and actress in the Grand Theft Auto IV video game.

Dancing Through Life

As she reflects on life in her mid-40s, the youngest of her three children now a teenager, and life as an empty nester on the horizon, she is looking forward to finding new ways to enjoy dancing.

"I'm in this beautiful place in my life and I want to be an example for others. If you stay on a good path and learn discipline within yourself, you can have a better life," she says.

Her gaze is also focused on the future and expanding her dance school and continuing to spread the breakin' and hip-hop dance style. "Dance is an opportunity to release stress; it's therapeutic. It allows me to step into a world of fantasy. I love breakin' because I love the feeling of accomplishing challenging moves. It's a total body strength-training workout."


Wednesday, 27 September 2017 18:00

My Best Self: Caroline Jeffords

Before Caroline Jeffords ever stepped foot onto a stage, she already exuded beauty, grace, and confidence. Her experience serving as Miss Georgia USA and representing the Southern state at Miss USA in 2004 in Los Angeles only enhanced those qualities. Today, the 39-year-old uses the skills the pageant world helped her develop to give back to the Atlanta community through her work as a board and committee member for nonprofits and as an active stay-at-home mom.


By Alex McCray


What is your definition of beauty? I feel that a woman's beauty comes from her inner character, dignity, and values. When the confidence and strength that comes from knowing our value is expressed through kindness and compassion, that is when we exude true beauty.

How can people find their true beauty? The first step to finding your true beauty is to identify the unique gifts and talents that you have been blessed with and then to find ways to use those gifts to benefit those around you.

How and why did you get started in pageants? I chose to enter Miss Georgia USA after being encouraged by several friends who were familiar with the Miss USA system. After some research, I decided that participating would be a fun way to challenge myself and serve as a unique opportunity to meet new people and enjoy new experiences.

What have you learned from participating in these competitions? To compete successfully, Miss USA requires a significant amount of preparation, discipline, and organization. For me, the experience helped to reinforce these life skills that are vital to the realization of your goals, whether it be success in athletics, accomplishment in the business world, or raising a family.

What do you like to do in your spare time? I enjoy being actively involved with my daughter's school. Wesleyan School has been a tremendous blessing to our family and provides so many wonderful opportunities to engage with my daughter during and after school. At Wesleyan, community service is a priority, and I have enjoyed participating in their annual Capture the Warmth coat drive and the Serving Others after-school enrichment class with my daughter. The annual Artist Market is also a favorite family tradition. It's a phenomenal opportunity to shop for amazing art and for students and local artists to work together and engage with our community.

Why is volunteering important to you? What organizations are you currently working with? There are so many worthy charities here in Atlanta that you can't possibly support them all. You have to find organizations whose mission touches your heart. I have chosen to be involved with Mercy Care, Atlanta Ballet, and Open Hand.

Who helps you be your "best self?" My faith and family are my foundation. They are the bedrock for my loyalty, trust, and cooperation. It is where I truly begin to learn to love, bear one another's burdens, find meaning and purpose in my life, and feel the value of being part of something greater than myself.

Tell us more about your faith and family being your foundation. As a Christian, my faith is the most important aspect of my life, with my love for my family being second. We attend Perimeter Church in Johns Creek and have been members there since 2010. My ultimate purpose is to try to reflect the love that God has shown us by working to make life better for others.



Wednesday, 27 September 2017 17:38

Paleo Home Cooking





By Laura Janelle Downey


Peter Servold used the art of cooking to woo Sarah Menkes seven years ago. "We did a Paleo challenge together," he says. "I went to the store and got every vegetable and different proteins." From there, he'd go to Sarah's place to prepare the meal. And when he arrived, Sarah would be plugging away on her computer while sipping a glass of wine. "I would be in the kitchen cooking and I thought, 'This would be a good life, this would be a good thing.'" It ended up being a great thing. The two got married in 2011 and the following year, opened Pete's Paleo, an online meal delivery service with commercial kitchens in Atlanta and San Diego.

QUOTE 1PHOTO 1"People take everything so literally with the Paleo diet and they say, 'Paleolithic? Do you cut with a rock and cook over an open fire?'" He sees the diet in a different light. "It's better described as the 'Great Grandmother' diet," he says. "If your great grandmother wouldn't recognize it as food then it is probably not food."

The basic tenets include nonprocessed meats, fruits, fish, vegetables, nuts and seeds. "We eat beef, fish and chicken. It's about variety," he says. "Paleo is just about getting outside of your comfort zone. If you know how to cook a sweet potato, you can cook every root vegetable that exists like rutabaga, beets, turnips, and all kinds of squash," Peter says. "They all kind of cook the same. You just toss them in olive oil and put them in the oven for a little while. It's about not being intimidated by it."

With demanding schedules, Peter and Sarah make time to catch up on their day over dinner.
As for whipping up something in the kitchen, Peter says, "Be bold and try new things." He also notes that the abundance of fresh ingredients available year-round makes experimenting in the kitchen easier than ever. "It's amazing what is available now to everybody. I prefer to shop at Whole Foods but there are really great produce and products at Publix and Kroger," he says.

At home, Peter continues to prepare Sarah's favorite meals whenever he gets the chance. "Sarah really loves cast-iron chicken thighs. Each time, I'll just use different seasonings like curry or adobo." He'll pair the dish with roasted purple sweet potatoes and broccoli. "In 35 minutes, you've made an unbelievable nutrient-dense meal."










PHOTO 3Cook time: 10 minutes

Serves: 4

• 1 pound ground pork
• 4 teaspoons table salt
• 3-4 Thai basil leaves, chiffonade
• 1½ teaspoons finely minced garlic
• 1½ teaspoons seeded, minced Thai chiles
• 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger

• Preheat oven to 375 F.
• Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.
• Form the sausage mixture into 2-ounce patties.
• Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat.
• Sear the sausages for 1 minute on each side, for a total of 3 minutes.
• Place the pan in the oven and cook for 7 minutes.
• Serve immediately.




Cook time: 6 minutes

Serves: 2-3

• 1 pound white fish fillet, cut into strips


• 1 large egg
• 3 tablespoons water
• 1 teaspoon table salt


• 2 cups fine almond flour
• 1 teaspoon table salt
• 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• 1 cup olive oil
• Several butter lettuce leaves for serving
• Several lime wedges for serving

• Pat the fish completely dry with paper towels.
• Slowly heat the oil over medium heat in a heavy sauté pan, until it reaches 300 F.
• In a shallow bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the egg wash.
• In another shallow bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the almond flour coating.
• Place the fish strips into the egg wash, then into the flour coating. Repeat on opposite side.
• Place fish in pan for 3 minutes, or until flour coating turns golden brown. Flip the fish and cook opposite side for 2 to 3 minutes.
• Serve in a butter lettuce leaf with a wedge of lime.




Thursday, 27 July 2017 18:43

August / September 2017 Digital Issue

June / July 2017 Digital Issue


Thursday, 27 July 2017 17:59

Braces Braces


Ambre A. Kragor, DDS, MS

Farah Kar, DDS, MSc, MS, FRCD



By Alex McCray


It’s not every day you meet dental experts like Ambre A. Kragor, DDS, MS, and Farah Kar, DDS, MSc, MS, FRCD. Growing up in Seattle, and Toronto, respectively, unconventional experiences led the two to orthodontics.

A poor childhood left Ambre without access to dental care. She was finally able to get her severely damaged teeth repaired at age 17, when she could pay for it herself. In 2004, local orthodontist Dr. Alan Carr decided to take on her case for free. When she asked how she could repay him, he offered her a part-time job at his office. Ambre recalls, “That was what developed my love for orthodontics.”

3-QFor Farah, it was putting to use her bachelor’s degree in fine arts, and architecture-focused master’s degree from the Georgia Institute of Technology that sparked an interest in orthodontics. “I helped my brother and others design their practice and realized the field of orthodontics is awesome. I decided to change careers and go into a profession where I could be around people and use my artistic skills,” Farah says.

Today, at BB Braces Braces, the two are excited to represent a changing approach to orthodontics and growing number of women in the dental profession. According to the American Dental Association, 30 percent of dentists are female but an even smaller percentage are orthodontists. “I feel like the change is not only gender-based but also generational,” Farah explains. She adds, “Every smile is unique and should suit your face. It’s a very different approach to how people were trained 30 to 40 years ago.”

2-PThey utilize the latest technology such as X-ray machines with the least amount of radiation emission as well as a premier bracket system by American Orthodontics to provide unparalleled care. Patients love this because the compassionate staff at each of the eight BB Braces Braces metro-Atlanta locations help them achieve the smile of their dreams at an affordable price.

The team also strives to create an environment that’s relaxing and downright fun— when is the last time you heard “Everybody Dance Now” playing at your orthodontist’s office? Ambre notes, “Almost every orthodontist you go to is well trained, but not every orthodontist has that fun factor.” Watch your favorite show on a flat-screen TV above your head while the doctors go to work on your smile. And thanks to a special connection with the Atlanta Braves, you can snap a picture of your little one in the mini Braves-themed Volkswagen car. All BB Braces Braces offices are proud orthodontic sponsors of the team.  

When Ambre and Farah aren’t dressing up to celebrate Halloween at the office or posing for selfies with patients, the doctors enjoy time with their families and pursuing hobbies. Farah can be found painting, sculpting or traveling. Ambre loves being behind the lens of a camera or spending time hiking and fishing.


Say Cheese!

3 ways BB Braces Braces makes us smile is by going above and beyond for its patients and the community.

  1. 1-POrthodontists Ambre A. Kragor and Farah Kar are passionate about leadership mentoring, especially in young women. “I would have never become an orthodontist if it wasn’t for a female faculty member at the University of Minnesota. She was the only faculty member in my school’s entire orthodontics department that answered my emails and invited me to do research with her. She believed in me,” Farah says. Now, she and Ambre pay it forward by regularly inviting high school and college students to shadow them.

  2. They understand and respect that oral care is deeply personal. Farah reveals, “A lot of patients who come here tell us that we are undoing damage from horrible previous experiences.”

  3. Customizable treatment plans can be designed to improve aesthetics and function. Farah has advanced training to handle difficult cases such as failed Invisalign, craniofacial anomalies, impacted canine recovery and more.


Thursday, 27 July 2017 13:55

My Best Self - Erika Preval

By Alex McCray


Atlanta’s very own queen of etiquette puts a modern spin on author Emily Post’s rule book and shares why those traditions are still relevant today.

Erika Preval is proof that good manners never go out of style. Just ask the servers whose continuous compliments of her 16- and 18-year-old daughters’ manners led her to launch Charm Etiquette, a modern-day finishing school for adults and children in 2012. Today, she partners with restaurants and businesses to make the art of etiquette approachable. For Preval, it’s about more than soothing the internal qualm of using the wrong fork. Her focus is to help everyone who sits at one of her tables depart with the skills to present the best version of themselves.


How does Charm Etiquette’s “Social Studies: Finishing School for Adults” help women and men be their best selves?

Every event is built around social scenarios where I’ve witnessed people being uncomfortable or confused. Your “best self” is the one that is fully confident and so poised that you’re not distracted by forks or dress codes and are fully engaged with the people in your company. That might look one way if you’re with friends and another when entertaining a client. Whether in the boardroom or at a barbecue, Social Studies guests are prepared to experience it all with ease.
Why is it important to keep classic traditions for social graces alive? When a MARTA train arrives and you step in front of the doors to enter, how will people exit? Etiquette is sometimes perceived as being elitist, but it’s really about being considerate and creating an environment or flow for things we do daily.

What are three common etiquette mistakes you see people make?

1. Cellphones, while making us closer than ever, can also be divisive. In the company of others, give your attention to whomever your feet are facing and get their OK before taking a photo of your food, etc.

2. Roundtable events can be confusing, but remember BMW (bread, meal, water) to know the order of your place setting; bread plate on the left, meal in the center, and water on your right.

3. Name tags should be worn high on the right shoulder. This makes them easier to view when networking.

You’re involved with Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta, The Junior League of Atlanta, Inc., and serve as a Women of Cole Cabinet member with United Way of Greater Atlanta. Why are these organizations important to you?

Muhammad Ali once said, “Service is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.” It cost $25 to participate in Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta. Realizing that it takes more than that to maintain and strengthen the organization that supports the leadership skills of over 41,000 girls compels me to continue serving on the Board of Directors’ Fund Development Committee.

The Junior League of Atlanta, Inc. does such important work in Atlanta. I’ll serve two presidential appointments next year to help ensure members have a great experience. United Way of Greater Atlanta is ready to tackle any issue with its own initiatives and community partners.

Who helps you be your “best self?”

My family. Being a role model for my girls and creating a strong legacy is a huge driver for me. My husband is always there to push me to the next level and support me when I need to step back and pour into myself. They keep me balanced and I’m ever so grateful for them.


Thursday, 27 July 2017 13:33

Live Strong, Live Long

By Alex McCray

When it comes to the longevity of men’s health, there’s no getting around it, the numbers are bleak. According to Harvard Health Publications, women live an average of five years longer than men in the U.S. While there isn’t much that can be done about that Y chromosome, advancements in modern medicine and a slew of health information can empower you to take your lifespan into your own hands as much as possible. Here, we’ve listed the top 10 causes of death among men according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Plus, we provide tips to live longer and we break down symptoms you should never ignore. 

Heart Disease 

When it comes to heart disease, the most important thing Tara Hrobowski, MD, of Piedmont Heart Institute advises is being an engaged patient and knowing your numbers for blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, and weight. Aim for blood pressure less than 140/90, get 30 to 40 minutes of exercise four to five days a week, and limit sweet treats and saturated fats.


Lung, prostate, and colorectal cancer are the leading causes of cancer death in men, according to the CDC. Smokers are the most likely to die from lung cancer, but those who have never smoked are still at risk. Because lung cancer often doesn’t show symptoms until it is advanced, it is of the utmost importance to see a doctor if you begin to cough up blood or experience chest pain that is more intense when breathing, coughing or laughing. Also beware of a new onset of wheezing, hoarseness, or bronchitis or pneumonia that doesn’t go away or recurs.

The American Cancer Society recommends people with average colorectal cancer risk begin screening at age 50. Screenings are the most important way to prevent colon and rectal cancer. You can lower your risk by sustaining a healthy weight, exercising often, understanding your family history, and paying attention to symptoms. Beware of changes in stool, cramping or abdominal pain, and weakness and fatigue, advises Richard C. Wender, MD, chief cancer control officer for the American Cancer Society.

Unintentional Injuries

Risky behavior is just that, risky—and men are often more likely to die because of it. “Men 35 to 44 are nearly three times more likely to die in a motor vehicle crash than women,” says Andrea Stevenson, senior vice president and chief clinical officer of Visiting Nurse Health System/Hospice Atlanta. Men 45 to 64 face a new threat that is on the rise: drug overdose. For older men, declining health and a loss of mobility, flexibility, and independence can lead to serious falls. Make responsible behavior a lifelong habit. Wear your seat belt. Don’t eat, drink, or text while driving. Ask questions about prescription drugs and understand how they work. Pay attention to your surroundings and remove hazards that can cause falls, if possible.

Chronic Lower Respiratory Diseases

Because the lungs work with so many other organs in the body, deciphering their symptoms can be tricky. Common ones to keep an eye on include shortness of breath that is out of proportion to the level of exertion, coughing, wheezing, chest pain, light-headedness, and leg swelling, says Juan Israel Gaitan, MD, pulmonologist and intensivist with Piedmont Fayette Hospital. Keep your lungs healthy by avoiding cigarette smoke, air pollution, chemicals, maintaining the health of your teeth, and getting recommended vaccines and regular checkups.


Issues that creep up over time and can lead to strokes include hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease, and a history of smoking. Immediate signs of a stroke are facial drooping, arm weakness, and speech difficulty, explains Gwinnett Medical Center neurologist Rizwan Bashir, MD, and Susan M. Gaunt, MS, APRN, ACNS-BC, ANVP, CCRN, CNRN
stroke clinical nurse specialist at Gwinnett Medical Center.


“Research has shown that men are at a higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes than women due to differences in insulin sensitivity and regional fat deposition,” says Tasneem Bhatia, MD, of CentreSpringMD. Cut back on high-fat dairy products and fried foods. Take note of unexplained weight loss—it isn’t always a good thing. Susan Chapman, licensed dietitian and clinical nutrition manager at Piedmont Atlanta Hospital reveals that unexplained weight loss, increased thirst, and frequent urination could be ways the body is trying to normalize blood sugar levels due to diabetes. A combination of these symptoms with blurred vision are signals it’s time to make an appointment with a doctor. Chapman also notes, “The vast majority of people will experience no symptoms at all. That is what is so scary and why there are so many people walking around undiagnosed with the more common form of diabetes, Type 2. For the rarer Type 1 diabetes mellitus (DM), those patients always experience the classic signs.”


According to Andro Giorgadze, MD, of Institute for Behavioral Medicine, “Women attempt [suicide] more often, but men complete suicide more often.” In addition, feeling low, loss of interest in something you once loved, fatigue, insomnia, and a general decrease in activities for more than two weeks are hallmark signs of depression, he says. If you notice these signs, take action and let someone know—don’t suffer in silence.

Alzheimer’s Disease

“Scientists are beginning to identify links to issues that can potentially increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s, such as conditions that damage the heart and blood vessels like high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke and high cholesterol,” explains Bhatia. She goes on to note, “Autopsy studies show that as many as 80 percent of Alzheimer’s patients also had cardiovascular disease.” On the upside, there is evidence that exercise and a Mediterranean diet can decrease risk.

Influenza & Pneumonia

While influenza might make you feel like you’ve been hit by a truck, it can usually be resolved on its own or with antiviral medication, says Peter R. Jungblut, MD, MBA of WellStar Medical Group. Take everyday precautions like washing your hands and avoid touching your eyes, nose and throat to diminish contact with germs.

Chronic Liver Disease

An estimated three million people in the U.S. have chronic hepatitis C, one of the main causes of chronic liver disease, otherwise known as cirrhosis. Because of its role in chronic liver disease, the CDC recommends that baby boomers born between 1945 and 1965 talk with their doctors about screening for hepatitis C. It’s the ongoing fibrosis (creation of scar tissue) of the liver that eventually affects the liver’s ability to function normally. In the early stages, there may be no symptoms at all. Certain lab abnormalities might be apparent on routine testing, or at least suggestive of the need for further investigation, explains Jungblut. 


American Cancer Society,
Cancer Treatment Centers of America,
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Leading Causes of Death (LCOD)
by Race/Ethnicity, All Males-United States, 2014,
Georgia Urology,
Gwinnett Medical Center,
Institute for Behavioral Medicine,
Piedmont Healthcare,
Visiting Nurse Health System/Hospice Atlanta,
WellStar Medical Group,


Thursday, 27 July 2017 13:23

Body by Design

By Ruksana Hussain


In 2016, interior designer Kerry Howard’s career was on a high note. He had previously restructured his business to allow him to become more involved in the day-to-day aspects of design he loved most. His health however, could not have been worse. At 351 pounds, Howard’s lifelong detrimental eating habits were taking a serious mental, physical and emotional toll on him. And now with a happier work life, he was ready for a personal transformation. Howard realized it was time to tackle the heavy load he’d been carrying his whole life and embarked on a 110-pound weight loss endeavor.


Finding Professional Success

For over a decade, Howard made countless waves in the interior design world.

After establishing KMH Interiors in Atlanta in 2003, he wound up on the small screen. Appearances on shows such as Bravo’s “Top Design” and HGTV’s “Design Wars” helped propel his talent into the spotlight. Not to mention, professional photographs of his Cumming, Ga. home with an open floor plan and his signature pops of color landed him local and national notoriety.

1-PThe growth of his business meant more clients, more employees, more management duties and even less time to try and make conscious lifestyle changes. “The business grew really fast ... but self-awareness kicked in and I went back to the grassroots. I scaled down to a small staff. We were all in the same room again, so everyone communicated with each other, and it worked! It helped me focus—not just on my work—but also on changes in myself. And so began my weight loss journey.”

Pursuing Personal Goals

Howard’s personal mission has been one of designing a healthier lifestyle for himself. “I was always overweight, I don’t remember a time I wasn’t,” he says. “I was raised in South Carolina and have an amazing family. But my family feeds you to love you. At breakfast, we’d already be planning what we’d have for lunch. Food became an addiction for me.” Growing up, it was normal for his family to chow down on biscuits made from lard shortening and use pork fat to season just about everything, from beans to creamed corn.

With his 50th birthday drawing near, Howard’s list of health concerns only continued to pile on—back pain, hurting knees, out of control blood pressure, and sleeping with a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine every night. “I took anxiety pain medication when traveling because I couldn’t stand the thought of making somebody uncomfortable beside me on the plane. I was a big guy!”

3-SBWith diets and trainers not bringing any great results, Howard realized he needed to do something drastic. He needed to make a big change and make it fast. When medical issues persisted, this time affecting his kidneys, his primary care doctor recommended bariatric surgery. Howard didn’t tell anyone about the surgery, not even his mother, until the night before, for fear of discouragement. “I had made this decision myself and wanted to follow through.”

On October 26, 2016 he made his way to Beltline Bariatric and Surgical Group, LLC for gastric sleeve surgery with Charles Procter Jr., MD, FACS, FASMBS. Within six months, Howard went from a size 54 to a 40. Since having the procedure, he has lost 110 pounds.

“I used to hate going shopping, it was disappointing to not find anything that fit. Now I can go to a normal store to buy normal clothes and look good.” During his weight loss over the last few months, he was thrilled to shop at Target and find pants and shirts that buttoned all the way up for a great fit.

2-QUsually the first to avoid mirrors, Howard’s aha moment finally played out in real life. “In my mind, I didn’t think of myself as overweight until I walked past a mirror and saw the person in that mirror,” he says. “But that day, the person standing in front of me in the mirror was the person that I have always envisioned in my head. It felt so great, I didn’t cry, I was so happy that I started laughing!”

Maintaining Lifestyle Balance

Howard is still losing weight and is ecstatic to have newfound energy and control in his life. “I don’t know if I have ever had energy like I have now. I feel like I have a whole new reason to live.” On a recent weekend spent with family, Howard enjoyed riding bicycles with his nieces. “With being overweight for so long, little things like that made me realize that I missed out on a lot. But I don’t want to miss out on anything else anymore—whether it is family or work or to be able to fly without anxiety.”

Howard’s changes to his personal lifestyle have impacted his professional life positively. “I can get up for work without my body hurting and stay focused during the day.” Being obese, he was consumed by the thought that clients were judging him by his appearance. “But I was my own worst enemy, letting all these things take control of my life. Now, when I walk into a room, I have the confidence and I can own the room.”

As for his newfound happiness with his health, Howard’s mincing no words. “You have to have the will to want to change something in your life. Somebody can listen to me talk all day long about my journey but people have to listen to what their body is telling them to be able to change and become what they want to be in an effort to be their best selves.”


Wednesday, 26 July 2017 20:53

Avoid Brain Drain

By Amy Meadows


Sharp as a tack. On the ball. Quick on the uptake. That’s how we all want to be described as we age, right? We want to be seen as able, perceptive, rational and quick-witted. We want our mind to function as well at 80 as it did when we were 20. Unfortunately, we all know that this won’t be the case. That’s because, as the years go by, we will face changes in the way our bodies work—particularly our brains.

“We can all see the external changes to our bodies as we age, but it is important to remember that the organs inside our bodies age as well,” explains Lisa Billars, MD, chief of neurology and sleep medicine for Kaiser Permanente of Georgia. “The aging process affects the way our organs function. And the brain undergoes both structural and chemical alterations as a normal part of aging.”

1-QOf course, according to Jim Robinson, MD, a neurosurgeon specializing in brain- and skull-based tumor surgery and other brain micro and endoscopic surgery at Brain Expert, PC, the speed at which these changes happen and the amount of brain degradation that occurs over time is highly variable from individual to individual. While some cognitive deterioration in normal, healthy individuals is expected, people actually have a certain amount of power over how things play out. By understanding what is happening to your brain throughout the decades and recognizing what you can do to help slow that process, you can take control of your brain health beginning at a young age.

2-SBBrain Basics

“By the age of 30, the brain has completed myelination, which means that it is fully developed,” Billars notes. It’s a major milestone for your body, yet it also is the beginning of another process that can have major consequences down the road. She continues, “In our mid-30s, we begin the slow process of neuronal loss—the gradual loss of brain cells.”

It’s not time to panic, though. “A popular concept that exists suggests that around the age of 30 or 40, our brains begin to lose approximately 10,000 brain cells per day. However, modern science is debunking much of this claim,” says Robert E. Ayer, MD, a board-certified neurosurgeon with Gwinnett Medical Center. Not only is that number inaccurate, but there are also other processes that may play an equal role in the health of your brain. For instance, Billars reveals that in your 40s and 50s, a gradual process of atrophy, or shrinking, occurs in the brain, impacting the way that your brain cells, or neurons, communicate with each other. “The result is less efficient communication between brain regions,” she states. 

And according to Ayer, “[Another] model suggests that our neurons start out with many connections to the surrounding neurons, like a tree with many branches. Over the course of our lives, some of the connections—or branches, so to speak—go away. Some of this cell death is programmed and seemingly irreversible. In other instances, it seems that the neuronal connections that are not frequently used get disposed. The human body is always trying to be efficient, and neurons require a lot of energy to maintain. Therefore, it appears that the brain has a tendency to drop the neurons that it’s not using.”

Finally, through the aging process, the brain is exposed to oxidative stress. “Oxidation is a chemical process that occurs as part of normal cell metabolism, but it happens more frequently when our cells are under strain or have been damaged,”

Billars reveals. “The chemicals produced by oxidation are commonly known as free radicals. These compounds damage neuronal DNA, which is a known   contributor to the changes associated with aging, including cognitive decline.”
So what do all of the simultaneous processes actually do to you? “Rote knowledge is knowledge that is structural in the brain. It’s a concrete structural intelligence, such as vocabulary, facts about people we know well, and the tasks we do every day. It’s experiential, it has been reinforced multiple times and becomes easier to recall,” Robinson remarks. “Fluid intelligence, like solving a math problem, figuring out a puzzle or working through something creative, requires a different set of tasks within the brain, solving problems and laying down new memories. Once these new memories or processes are reinforced multiple times, they will shift to rote memory. Fluid intelligence functions are more likely to deteriorate.”

From short-term memory to reasoning to dealing with unfamiliar subjects, the examples of functional loss can vary based on your age and overall health. And while many of these symptoms won’t appear until your 60s or beyond (unless you experience more excessive brain deterioration before the age of 60), there are efforts you can make as early as your 30s to begin combating the pervasiveness and severity of aging on your brain.

Take Action Now

“When we’re young, we don’t worry about anything. But when you hit 30, you realize that you are getting older and start to become aware of it. You start to be a little more careful about what you do,” Robinson says. And this can be a very good thing when it comes to your brain health.

Robinson adds, “Much of what you can do to preserve your overall brain health is behavioral.” And there are several specific areas on which you can focus your attention to keep your brain in tip-top shape as you age. Ayer notes, “The same things that keep your body healthy will keep your brain healthy.”

3-ICONImprove Your Diet and Nutrition

“Several studies have shown that a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fish and omega-3 fatty acids promotes brain health,” Billars states. What’s more, increasing your consumption of fruits and vegetables that are known to contain antioxidants, such as berries and leafy greens, can help reverse the damage from oxidation.

And as Robinson reveals, supplements can be beneficial as well. “A study from Harvard in 2012 showed that one of the vitamin supplements that statistically can benefit with cognition is vitamin E, otherwise they did not find other dietary changes or supplements to be of clear benefit,” he says. Additional vitamins to consider are the family of B vitamins, folic acid, and vitamin C.

4-ICONPractice Stress Reduction

With oxidation playing such an important role in your brain’s health, it’s important to remove as much stress from your life as possible to keep free radicals at bay. Billars recommends exercise, meditation and counseling when necessary to help you improve your coping skills and ultimately reduce oxidative stress.

5-ICONQuit Smoking

There are so many reasons to quit smoking, and maintaining your cognitive function is a key one. “Smoking is a huge oxidative stress,” Robinson says. “On metal, oxidation is rust. In your body, it causes damage to cell membranes. This affects all the cells in your body causing premature aging of the cells.” It also causes the production of free radicals, which can cause brain health decline.

6-ICONTry New Things

Exercising your brain may be one of the most critical things you can do to protect your cognitive health. “Introducing novel stimuli to your brain is very important,” Billars says. “Whether it’s learning a new game or sport, traveling or meeting new people through a social group, those activities cause the brain to create new pathways, which is a powerful antiaging strategy.”

Ayer agrees, stating, “Engaging the brain in intellectual and new activities can combat the changes associated with aging. This is particularly true of learning new things. With repetition of the new challenge, the brain recruits new regions of the brain to participate in the activity. This strategy can be used to maintain cognition during a person’s lifetime.”

7-PRobinson recommends enlisting intellectually engaging activities like puzzles, sudoku, reading, card games, and even playing musical instruments, as well as traveling, socializing with friends and family, and attending concerts and art exhibits. Learning new things is important and helpful. Consider taking a class, or learning a new language or instrument. Additionally, some of today’s popular smartphone and tablet apps can be helpful in this area. “While there’s nothing magical about reading on an iPad, you can use the technology as a vehicle to exercise your mind on your own,” he continues. “There are a number of online resources that provide intellectual challenge, and the technology can offer some structure to mental tasks and problem solving while allowing you to mix it up.”

Could It Be Alzheimer’s Disease or Dementia?

Anytime you have memory issues, it’s not unusual to be concerned about being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, especially if there is a history of it in your family. However, it’s important to recognize that the cognitive decline associated with normal aging is not the result of the same process that occurs with these now common disorders. 

“In normal aging, brain cells simply become less efficient,” Billars remarks. “Alzheimer’s disease is related to the production and buildup of abnormal proteins in neurons that ‘jam up’ the communication between those neurons by forming ‘plaques’ and ‘tangles.’”

Fortunately, some of the same activities that keep a normally aging brain healthy can help in the prevention of Alzheimer’s and dementia, from eating healthy and exercising to enjoying brain-boosting activities on your own or in social settings. In any case, the key is to keep your mind active as often and as long as possible to maintain its function.

The Future is Bright

According to the experts, research continues to identify the genetic markers and understand the influence that age has on brain deterioration as you get older. There is a great deal of potential for discoveries in this area of study, and the results could have huge benefits. For now, though, we all have to stick with the basics to keep our brains as healthy as possible for as long as we can.

“There’s no magic bullet,” Robinson concludes. “From childhood and all through school and college, we’re learning new things all the time, which is so important. We’re exercising our brains with the tasks we do every day, and we’re stretching by learning new things. But that changes. So now it’s about lifestyle choices. If you’re living a healthy lifestyle and staying intellectually stimulated, then you’re already there.



Brain Expert,
Gwinnett Medical Center,
Kaiser Permanente of Georgia,

Wednesday, 26 July 2017 19:58

The “It” Factor

Photography by Sawyer Photography

We all know the spiel for buckling down against the affects of aging—take care of your skin, pack your plate with nutrients, and exercise regularly. Is that all there is to preserving youth? What about those women who have the wow factor? They are beautiful, yes, but also radiant and full of life. Their influence is felt long after they’ve left the room and you never can quite figure out how old they are. Learn life-changing secrets from five Atlanta women that epitomize true agelessness from the inside out.

1-Nirjary-Desai-7x10Nirjary M. Desai

For Nirjary M. Desai, 36, owner/principal project manager of KIS (cubed) Events, an event company that’s a favorite among Bollywood actors, it’d be easy to put self-care on the back burner. Taking time to realign her chakras, plus a few Ayurvedic tricks, keeps this young entrepreneur as stunning as the experiences she creates.

Best In Beauty

Has your beauty routine changed since entering your 30s?

A lot! I really believe in investing in your skin. People get intimidated by good skin care products because they think they’re too expensive. But if you divide it [the price] up based on the supply, or how long the products are supposed to last, that’s all you’re spending on your skin on a daily basis.

What are some of your favorite products?

I love the skin care line by Rodan + Fields. I also use an Ayurvedic turmeric wash. Turmeric is anti-inflammatory and great for cleansing. I take turmeric vitamins every day and a lot of other natural vitamins. Since I’ve been taking turmeric pills, I’ve noticed a big difference—less breakouts.

A Smart Start

What’s been your biggest mental shift since entering your 30s?

You have to remove toxic people from your life that can affect your best self.

What do you love about being in your 30s?

You know yourself better. In your 20s, you’re still a butterfly. You’re still trying to figure out which flower you want to land on and stay on. In your 30s, you’ve done that part. You’re more confident in where life is going.

Health Is Wealth

How do you stay active?

I work out about three times a week. I do a variety of full-body workouts at Iron Tribe Fitness. And I live on the BeltLine so my fiancé and I bike and walk it.

A Soulful Sync

How have your spiritual beliefs evolved during this decade of your life?

I’m Hindu by birth and I’m a very spiritual person. Hinduism isn’t my religion, it’s my way of life. Now, I focus more on the things I need to do with my spirituality—meditating, realigning myself and my chakras, and all of that. That’s important.

Does spirituality help you stay younger?

Oh yeah! When you’re cleaning your subconscious mind out, it’s like your skin. Your skin is like an onion, it has layers and, when you peel off those layers by doing meditation, you remain refreshed.

Wise Words

What advice would you give your younger self?

You have to remember that your longevity and your life depend on how well you take care of you, now.


2-Lisa-Gabrielson-7x10Lisa Gabrielson

For Lisa Gabrielson, 48, interior designer and founder of Lisa Gabrielson Design, her 40s are all about energy. She keeps pace with her growing company, which has been featured in a variety of regional magazines, by practicing yoga regularly and putting societal expectations to the side.

Best In Beauty

How has your beauty routine changed since entering your 40s?

The most notable difference is in the amount of time it takes to style my hair. Now I have a longer routine of blow-drying and styling my hair with a round brush, adding about 30 minutes to the process. Frizz is not flattering!

What are some of your favorite products?

I cannot live without a wet brush for detangling my thick, textured hair. Moisturizer is key. I love using Cetaphil Gentle Skin cleanser, Aveeno Positively Radiant moisturizer with sunscreen, Revlon PhotoReady BB Cream Skin Perfector, and Nivea lotion.

A Smart Start

What do you love about being in your 40s?

I love having older children to interact with. They have their own opinions, yet are still curious about the world and value my opinion as well. I also love the stability of this phase in my life from a career standpoint. I have worked hard to get here, and am enjoying focusing on building my business now that my kids are more independent.

What do you think is underrated about being over 40?

There are millions of strong, smart, successful and beautiful 40-something women out there, yet this demographic is missing from the media’s representation of fashion. I don’t get it, and I don’t buy fashion magazines anymore because they don’t speak to me.

Health Is Wealth

How do you stay active?

I lift weights with a trainer three times a week. On my off days, I do yoga and aim to get my 10,000 steps in each day.

Have you become more or less interested in health and fitness since entering your 40s?

I am much more interested in health and fitness than I used to be, mainly because it is significantly harder now to stay in shape. They say that yoga is the fountain of youth and I believe that is absolutely true!

A Soulful Sync

How does spirituality help you stay younger?

In yoga, setting an intention and placing your worries aside is much the same as prayer. The act of de-stressing helps keep wrinkles at bay.

Wise Words

What’s the best advice you’ve received since turning 40?

To lose weight, you have to eat more. I put on 20 pounds last year by not eating enough, thus sending my metabolism to a screeching halt. It’s all about balance—in everything.


3-Brenda-Page-7x10Brenda Nair Page

Confidence is sexy and Brenda Nair Page, 53, wife of wrestling pro Diamond Dallas Page [DDP], feels more secure in herself than ever at this time in her life. The breast cancer survivor feels the same way she did at 25 and knows that not sweating the small stuff is the key to effortless aging.

Best In Beauty

What is one of your favorite skin care products?

I use the REFINEÉ skin care line.

A Smart Start

What’s been your biggest mental shift since entering your 50s?

I’m two years and nine months clean from having breast cancer. That didn’t change my mindset, but as far as my age and how it affects my mindset, I have just gotten more positive. I have an even deeper faith in God and confidence in myself ... breast cancer just empowered those things more.

Has your perception of what someone over the age of 50 looks and feels like changed?

Absolutely. I don’t see myself as an age. I still see myself as 25, but it’s starting to feel more like 30. All these years, the numbers have clicked off and it’s just a number to me.

What do you love about being in your 50s?

I’ve learned to worry less. It doesn’t matter what comes my way. It’s all going to end OK. I wasn’t like that in my 40s.

What do you think is underrated about being over 50?

Definitely physical ability. There are too many women that think ‘I can’t do that! I’m in my 50s.’ The physical ability is absolutely still there, you just have to work at it and find something that works for you. My mom is 72 and she tries to do DDP Yoga! The big thing is to stay healthy and to have that inner glow, which really comes from how you eat.

Health Is Wealth

How do you stay active?

I do DDP Yoga—and that’s all I do. It’s all encompassing. It has cardiovascular movements, strength training, yoga positions, and has multiple old-school calisthenics.

A Soulful Sync

How have your spiritual beliefs evolved during this decade of your life?

I have more confidence in myself, my God, and the universe. My beliefs haven’t changed—they’re just more solid.

Wise Words

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned since entering your 50s?

I’m focused on giving back what I’ve learned as a mature woman by mentoring younger females, starting with my 20-year-old daughter.


4-Cynthia-Good-2-7x10Cynthia Good

Cynthia Good, 57, has worn, and continues to wear, many hats as the founder & CEO of Little PINK Book. She’s also a writer, activist, speaker, and the list goes on. These days, her luster comes from her purposeful pursuit of what makes her happy.

Best In Beauty

How has your beauty routine changed since entering your 50s?

It’s harder to look great when you get older. You have to pay attention to how you apply makeup. You have to spend a little bit more time.

What are some of your favorite products?

I’m a one-product person. I can’t do the eye cream, the day cream and the night cream. I don’t want to make time in my life for all of that. So I just go to one product. It’s probably whatever my dermatologist recommends at the time. I use sunscreen because I’m always out in the sun.

A Smart Start

What’s been your biggest mental shift since entering your 50s?

My kids grew up and went to college, and that gave me permission to stop worrying about everybody else all the time and rediscover what brought me joy. As a mom, a business owner, a dancer, someone who’s involved in the community, and all of that, I just didn’t focus on myself. I was doing everything I thought I had to do for everybody else. Now, I’m just trying to learn what brings me joy—and that’s dance. I recently joined a dance group. That was part of my mental shift because in the past, I wouldn’t allow myself to do it. I’ll graduate with my master’s degree in fine arts from New York University in Paris in January 2019.

Health Is Wealth

How do you stay active?

I teach yoga once a week and I do that for mental purposes. It’s the reminder to breathe. What I also do, and absolutely do not do to look good, is dancing. I’m a dancer and I love dancing. I dance probably four to five times a week. The secondary benefit is that I’m strong, but that’s just a secondary benefit. I only do it because I love it and for me, the idea of exercising as a means to an end doesn’t make me happy.

A Soulful Sync

How have your spiritual beliefs evolved during this decade of your life?

If you want some peace and serenity in your life—go with that energy. Let the energy that already exists and the momentum that already exists work for you.

Wise Words

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned since entering your 50s?

If it doesn’t make you happy, don’t do it.


5-Jacqueline-Clay-Chester-7x10Jacqueline Clay Chester

This septuagenarian in her late 70s still embodies the glamour she once had when she graced the pages of LIFE, EBONY, and TIME magazines as a model in the ’60s. Now, her inner beauty emerges in new ways as a playwright, author, painter, jewelry maker, and all-around artist.

Best In Beauty

How has your beauty routine changed since entering your 70s?

I have always loved makeup. I find it accentuates the positive and eliminates the negative, as the song goes.

What is one of your favorite skin care treatments?

I love facials. I get one as often as possible. The best facial I ever had was by a young American cosmetologist who worked for Helena Rubinstein. She gave me my first facial during the American National Exhibition in Moscow. She seemed to know the location of every muscle or nerve in my face. Since then, I have had facials nearly as good by going to spas in and around Atlanta, like Spa Sydell.

Health Is Wealth

How do you stay active?

I love the freedom of walking. I like the feeling of my body in motion and walking requires so little effort—you just do it! Good walking shoes, comfortable clothes and you’re on your way! In the cool of the evening, Piedmont Park is a great place to walk. I start out thinking 30 minutes is my goal but I end up enjoying the walk so much I walk for twice as long.

A Smart Start

What’s been your biggest mental shift since entering your 70s?

I’m still waiting for that mental shift to happen!

A Soulful Sync

How have your spiritual beliefs evolved during this decade of your life?

I have always been a spiritual being. I don’t think my spiritual beliefs have evolved but have become deeper. I find church a tremendous continuing education on the Word. It seems impossible to walk away not having learned something or had an emotional load you’ve carried through the week lightened.

Wise Words

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned since entering your 70s?

To live passionately. To passionately love the choices you make in everything, from books, movies, friends, and art. If you feel something is not right for you, keep walking. Something better will come along! One of the most miraculous events that has happened in my life is my discovery of my ability to write … I never knew this growing up. Or, I might’ve known it and I was afraid to tackle it. I’m sorry that I had that fear because I let it control certain decades of my life.


Page 8 of 49