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.


Thursday, 01 June 2017 17:25

2017 Over 40 & Fabulous! Winners

Photos by Sawyer Photography

Move over millennials, these Over 40 & Fabulous! contest winners steal the spotlight. From business to broadcasting, health care to human rights, and fitness to philanthropy, our winners reflect the energy and enthusiasm that makes 40 and beyond a season of life to celebrate. Meet them all—and the contest's Advisory Board members—on the following pages!



Winner - Lisa M. Washington

After kidney disease nearly stole her life, 46-year-old B'Tyli Wellness and Beauty Co. CEO, Lisa M. Washington, is dedicated to living life on her own terms.

1-LisaHow has your perception of this age changed since you were younger? It hasn't changed a whole lot. I always dreamt of being here. When I was younger, I looked at the women in my life in their 40s and I saw this great freedom of expression and confidence. In my 20s, I would tell my friends I couldn't wait to turn 40. I am so grateful that I had women in my life that epitomized beauty, grace, and power in this era of their lives.

What do you consider to be your best accomplishment? After battling kidney disease for 35 years, being unconscious in the hospital for three days, being on dialysis for three months, receiving a kidney transplant, and starting a beauty and wellness company, with God, my best accomplishment has been living and dreaming out loud despite it all.

What is your favorite book? Outside of the Bible, it is "The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself" by Michael A. Singer.

What is your favorite way to give back? The biggest way I love to give back is by helping others establish well-being in their body, mind and spirit. I have a long list of organizations I've worked with in the past and work with currently, including HOPE worldwide, Georgia Transplant Foundation, Junior Achievement USA®, Autism Speaks, Youth Villages - Inner Harbour Campus, Jack and Jill of America, Inc., Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry Campaign, and Children Helping Children.

What is your favorite way to workout? Yoga, walking and a little strength training.

What is your favorite healthy meal? Baked halibut with lemon, parsley, pistachio pistou and roasted veggies with a side of my quinoa pilaf. For dessert, it's my Vegan Vanilla Bean Green Matcha Panna Cotta with wild blueberries. I am a personal chef, too. I love food.

Who are the experts/professionals who help you be your best self? My chiropractor, Dr. Julie Marie Lord, at Chat Hills Chiropractic located in Serenbe. Emily Hutchinson, L.E., L.M.E., and Paramedical at Laser Lights Cosmetic Laser Center and Southern Plastic Surgery. Meghan Madhavi Burke, founding director of the Healing Arts Centre. Jeju Sauna. Ebb & Flow Yoga and Surf. Life Time Fitness. My hairstylist, Brandi McWilliams at Keri Gold Salon. My massage therapist, Loyale, the owner of The Green Room Massage and Wellness.

What advice do you have for someone who isn't yet over 40 and fabulous? Enjoy every decade of your life fully. Live fully where you are. Love fully where you are. Make mistakes fully where you are and learn from them. Forgive others and yourself.



2-TranInspiration Award - Tran Bui Smith

For 45-year-old Tran Bui Smith, her 40s are the culmination of a lifelong path toward self acceptance and self discovery. She couldn't be more grateful for where those revelations have led her.

How has your perception of this age changed since you were younger? Did your parents look and act at 40 the way you do? My parents, Thu and Bich Bui, were in their 20s when they had children. They faced huge challenges during that time—fled Vietnam by boat, moved to a new country, learned English, worked multiple jobs and put four children through college. They had worked so hard and accomplished so much by the time they reached 40. That kind of work ethic and drive forces me to step up my game.

What is your favorite way to give back to your community? In 2010, I looked around and saw all the things my children had in their lives and came up with the idea for a family volunteer group called Little Helpers. I convinced a couple of friends to join me and today we have chapters in Memphis, Rochester, N.Y., Mooresville and Charlotte, N.C., Denver, Las Vegas, Fairfield, Conn., and Atlanta. We've even taken it to Ireland and Vietnam.

What do you consider to be your best accomplishment? Professionally, my greatest accomplishment was receiving an Emmy Award for a show titled "Traveling with Tots" that I co-created and hosted. It was a labor of love and the best part was that I got to work with my friends and family.

Personally, the nonprofit I co-founded, Little Helpers, has changed my life. When I get frustrated or saddened by what goes on in the world, I am reminded that there is still so much good in it that I am literally brought to tears. There are angels on Earth who give their time and hearts so freely. I am constantly inspired by these volunteers.

Name something on your bucket list. The biggest thing on my bucket list was finally fulfilled last year. I had made so many excuses, but after more than 40 years, I returned to Vietnam. Even though I was only 3 when my family fled during the Fall of Saigon, I had such regret for leaving the rest of our relatives behind. I felt guilty for finding freedom, while they struggled under Communist rule.

I thought our language barrier, experiences and differences would prevent us from connecting with one another, but when I came face-to-face with my uncle, aunts and cousins, the love we felt was instant. There was no judgment, guilt or jealousy. The goodbyes were long. It was a trip of discovery. I am forever grateful for my life, but something was missing and I didn't even know it.

What advice do you have for someone who isn't yet over 40 and fabulous? For most of my young life, I tried to hide from the real me. I wanted a different name, look, and even, history. I wanted to fit in. My advice is to embrace what makes you stand out. The Vietnamese girl who begged to change her name to Jennifer became an award-winning newscaster with a name people didn't forget, then ended up marrying a Smith. I love how life teaches you these beautiful lessons!



3-SteveGive-Back Award - Steve Hightower

Compared to where he is today, Steve Hightower, 52, owner of Steve Hightower Hair Salon & Day Spa, came from humble beginnings. It's that background that motivates him to inspire others to reach their full potential.

What is the best thing you've learned about yourself since turning 40? Patience pays off.

What makes you laugh? Life. And shocking people in a fun, harmless way.

What is your favorite way to workout? Walking, stretching at home, gardening, and doing yard work.

What is your favorite healthy meal? I love grilled salmon.

What do you consider to be your best accomplishment? My success in life. I am from a poor family and I am not ashamed of it, but I wanted more from life than what I saw around me. I want to show others that you can be more than where you are from. Where you are from is not who you are.

What is your favorite way to give back to your community? The charities I help are small local charities that assist children in need and the disabled. I have supported The Center for Children & Young Adults, Inc., Childkind, FOCUS + Fragile Kids, My Sister's House, Living Room, and National Breast Cancer Coalition (NBCC), just to name a few.
In 2010, I founded my main charity event, the Thriving Children Gala. This gala has always benefited children and youth in need.



4-BrandieBrandie Park
Brandie Park, 41, is as driven in her work as a sales consultant as she is to giving back to the organizations that helped shape her into the woman she is today.

How has your perception of this age changed since you were younger? Did your parents look and act at 40 the way you do? My parents have always been very active. At my age, they were avid water-skiers, played volleyball weekly with their friends and were active in the community. I am fortunate to never have had a number in my head that I considered "old."

What is your favorite way to give back to your community? I am most dedicated to the large youth development organization, Georgia 4-H Club Foundation, Inc. I have been a trustee on their board for over a decade. I was a 4-H'er growing up and credit that organization with teaching me public speaking skills, how to take initiative, and how to manage others.

What inspired you to do this particular kind of charity work? I believe in giving someone a leg up through education and opportunity. Growing up in a rural community, I would have never been exposed to the personal development activities I was able to participate in without organizations like 4-H or "Y" Clubs.

What makes you laugh? My family and my friends. My husband and I are comedy nerds and love to see stand-up comics and improv shows. My son even attends summer camp at the Whole World Improv Theatre every year.



5-ChristineChristine Pullara

"Atlanta & Company," WXIA-TV host Christine Pullara, 48, knows the power of a good story and that abandoning the pursuit of perfection to enjoy life makes for the ultimate tale.

What is the best thing you've learned about yourself since turning 40? I've learned to accept my imperfections in my marriage, my parenting, and my job. I'm really hard on myself. I think it's OK to be forgiving of mistakes or missteps, but of course, I always strive to learn, grow, and figure out how to do better next time.

What is your favorite quote? "This, too, shall pass." I used to only think of it in a context of working through hard times, but now I think of it as a reminder that time is fleeting and every moment counts. So, savor and be grateful for the good ones!

What is your favorite book? "Living, Loving & Learning" by Leo F. Buscaglia, Ph.D. My mom had it when I was growing up and I read it after my parents divorced. His messages of joy and love are timeless.

What is your favorite way to give back to your community? There are so many worthy causes that need our attention, but I have a few organizations that are near and dear to my heart such as the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society® (LLS), Georgia Ovarian Cancer Alliance, CURE Childhood Cancer, Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry Campaign, and Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.

Name something on your bucket list. Going to Paris with my family and having a picnic at the Eiffel Tower! Oh, and I'd love to do a segment with Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford!



6-JenniferCurtinJennifer Curtin

Business consultant and med spa owner, Jennifer Curtin, 46, realizes the importance of slowing down and enjoying the ride toward achieving her goals.

What do you consider to be your best accomplishment? My son, Colin, 11, and daughter, Carson, 6.

What is your most embarrassing moment? Showing up to a client meeting with two different shoes on.

What is your favorite way to workout? I like to take classes. My favorites are the Full Body Class at Stellar Bodies and the West Coast Barre and Best of the West classes at West Coast Workout.

What is your favorite book? Right now, I'm reading "Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy" by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam M. Grant Ph.D., and loving it.

What is your favorite way to give back to your community? I think it is important for everyone to get involved with their community and help wherever they can. I love the work that Tapestri Inc. and Open Hand are doing. Tapestri supports survivors of human trafficking and helps increase awareness. Open Hand provides nutritious meals to the sick, elderly and underserved. They are always in need of help in the kitchen and with delivering meals. Every September, there is also a fundraising event for Open Hand that everyone can attend called Party in the Kitchen.

What advice do you have for someone who isn't yet over 40 and fabulous? Try to enjoy every step of your journey. Sometimes, we are in such a hurry to achieve our goals that we don't enjoy the adventure.



7-RandallRandall K. Smith

Randall K. Smith, 51, owner of RKS COUTURE and The Randall Effect, is a champion for women. The pageant coach, who also serves as the national educational director and distributor of Dudley Beauty Corp, LLC., helps equip women with skills to succeed on and off the stage.

What do you consider to be your best accomplishment? Successfully working with so many pageant contestants and seeing them grow beyond measure. Pageants are not just about outer beauty. It's the beauty from within that allows contestants to set high goals and become doctors, lawyers, corporate executives, educators, models, actors, singers, socialites, and domestic goddesses. They take the lessons learned from their pageant preparation to the boardroom, classroom and the home to succeed and change the lives of others, as well as their own.

What is your favorite book? "Think Like a Winner!" by Dr. Walter Doyle Staples.

What is your favorite way to give back to your community? I love giving back! The three main organizations I am currently focusing on are Mercy Care, Sjögren's Syndrome Foundation, and Renaissance Kares.

What is your favorite way to workout? I like jogging, walking, and of course, walking while shopping.

What is your favorite healthy meal? I'm gluten free, so my favorite meal includes salmon, asparagus, broccoli, or any other green vegetable.

Name something on your bucket list. When I turned 40, it was to go parasailing. Now, I think I might need to be more grounded. I would love to live abroad, as opposed to visiting, for a few years to experience living outside the United States.



8-JenniferHankeyJennifer Hankey

After a harrowing journey to find a natural way to treat her daughter's life-threatening eczema, Jennifer Hankey, 42, discovered her purpose as "The Green Queen" of nontoxic living.

How has your perception of this age changed since you were younger? Did your parents look and act at 40 the way you do? My mom was diving with great white sharks and bungee jumping off Victoria Falls in her 40s. That zest for life and sense of adventure has certainly passed down to me.

What is your favorite way to workout? I like to work up a sweat doing cardio and playing tennis when I have time.

What do you consider to be your best accomplishment? Healing my daughter, Hayden, 5, from her eczema and allergies and helping other moms who are going through health struggles with their children find natural healing.

What advice do you have for someone who isn't yet over 40 and fabulous? I know this sounds cliché, but do what you love. The success will come to you. You spend almost your whole life doing what you do for work. You have to find what you love and love what you do for those eight to 10 hours a day it takes to get the job done.

Where do you see yourself in 20 years? At 62, I hope I can look back at a world that was made healthier and less toxic in some way by my efforts as the owner of Green Queen: Nontoxic Services. I hope that we'll see healthier children with less chronic conditions. We can turn the tide on all the toxic chemicals in our environment and become good stewards of the earth and of all the animals and people who live here.



9-KIMKim Steen Langan

For Kim Steen Langan, 42, owner and founder of Intown Tumbling and Yoga for Kids, her 40s have brought her greatest adventure yet—motherhood.

How has your perception of this age changed since you were younger? Did your parents look and act at 40 the way you do? Personally, I'm still a little shocked that I'm over 40. Time is a strange thing. At 40, my parents were having a great time! I'm a new mom, so life looks pretty different for me than it was for them. I'm having a great time, too, but in a much different way.

What is your favorite way to give back to your community? I am involved in the Atlanta Yoga Movement, which is a nonprofit program that brings yoga into metro Atlanta schools. I am also a member of the Morningside-Ansley Friends of Children's Healthcare of Atlanta group.

What inspired you to do this particular kind of charity work? I have always been passionate about working with children. When I was a kid, I suffered from self-esteem issues, as a lot of kids do. In my work with children, I really do my best to help each child see what makes them unique. All children should feel cared about.

What advice do you have for someone who isn't yet over 40 and fabulous? Don't feel like you have to have it all figured out. You don't. I'm still figuring it out as I go and having a blast seeing where life takes me. I do that by being as present as possible in each moment. Enjoy the ride!



10-RobinRobin Fink

It's said that dogs are drawn to people with good hearts. That must be true for realtor Robin Fink, 42. The dog lover devotes her spare time to helping them find forever homes.

How has your perception of this age changed since you were younger? Did your parents look and act at 40 the way you do? After I turned 40, and got into my new decade, I realized 40 is a number and that life is even greater now. The older you get, the more you realize the little stuff doesn't matter and, no matter the challenge, everything works out exactly as it's supposed to.

What makes you laugh? Situations where something funny happens and I am not "supposed" to laugh—those make me laugh the hardest.

What is your favorite way to give back to your community? I support dog rescue organizations such as You Lucky Dog Rescue and Sanctuary, Inc. and Angels Among Us Pet Rescue. I transport, foster and do home checks. When I am busy and can't donate my time, I then donate my money. When friends and acquaintances in the rescue world send me business, I donate $500 from each closing to a rescue of their choice.

In addition, I support a great organization called BeLoved Atlanta, Inc. that my clients started. BeLoved works to get women out of sexual exploitation situations and into group homes. Through their programs, these women can live a normal life without abuse.

What inspired you to do this particular kind of charity work? I love dogs and always have. I started rescuing dogs in college. They always seem to find me. And I thought BeLoved was a great organization because I want everyone to have the opportunity to succeed in life.



Michele Thomas

A development specialist at Morehouse School of Medicine, Michele Thomas, 47, doesn't let lupus hold her back from honoring the legacy of civil rights leaders through her volunteer work.

What do you consider to be your best accomplishment? As a lupus survivor, I accept the fact that I am beautifully flawed.

What is your favorite book? "One Day My Soul Just Opened Up: 40 Days and 40 Nights Toward Spiritual Strength and Personal Growth" by Iyanla Vanzant.

What is your favorite way to workout? Using a combination of the treadmill, free weights, resistance bands and the balance ball allows me to work my entire body.

What is your favorite way to give back to your community? For the past 18 years, I have served as a steering committee member and/or committee co-chair for The King Holiday Observance, commemorating the birthday of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. For the past three years, I have also served as a member of the SCLC/W.O.M.E.N, INC. steering committee for the Drum Major for Justice Awards Gala, commemorating the legacy of Dr. King by providing a forum to recognize today's drum majors who are making outstanding contributions in our community.

What inspired you to do this kind of charity work? The pleasure of working directly with the late, great, Coretta Scott King and Jesse Hill Jr. inspires me to continue my mission of service in their honor.

What makes you laugh? Life! It is full of lessons and laughable moments. I use laughter to replace tears.

What is your most embarrassing moment? I once tripped while walking up a flight of stairs onstage in front of an audience.





Fab Five
Contest Winners

Voting results were so close that we wanted to recognize these next Fab Five winners who enhance the lives of those in their communities, whether through medicine or activism.

Pictured L-R: Kim Dennis, Kim Saunders, Leigh Mallis, Mrs. Stephanie Jester, Dr. Lisa Billars




12-KimSaundersKim Saunders

As the owner of Lift Yoga Studio, this 54-year-old California transplant extends her helping hands across the globe.

What is your favorite way to give back to your community? I love to teach free yoga classes for our community, wherever and whenever I can. You might find a Lift Yoga Studio class at the library, at local parks, at Avalon or at community centers. In addition, our studio and students donate to Himalayan Children's Charities and have 'adopted' Sita, a child who lost everything in a devastating earthquake two years ago. We just paid for a recent surgery for her and we are optimistic about her education and future.

Name something on your bucket list. I want to see that stunning water in Tahiti. I'd also love to go to Nepal and meet our Himalayan 'orphan.'

Where do you go for "me" time? My back porch. I fell in love with all the trees when I moved to Georgia—their beauty inspires me!



13-DrLisaBillarsDr. Lisa Billars

As a wife, mother and Chief of Departments of Neurology and Sleep Medicine at Kaiser Permanente, this 41-year-old considers her life fabulously full.

How has your perception of this age changed since you were younger? Did your parents look and act at 40 the way you do? I thought I would feel more settled in life at this point, which is how my parents appeared to me then. At 41, I have the benefit of abundant life experience, but can still see so much potential in life.

What do you consider to be your best accomplishment? My three great kids, Peter, 9, Jake, 7, and Alexandra, 4. They are a labor of love every single day.

How do you maintain the balance between self-care, family and work responsibilities, and giving back? Being mindful of how fortunate I am to be busy doing all these wonderful things helps me to refocus when things get overwhelming. I am very fortunate to have an amazing partner in my husband, Dan, as well as a career that is tremendously rewarding.



14-KimDennisKim Dennis

An avid mentor and voice for those without one, Kim Dennis, 46, finds joy in helping others through her nonprofit work with Create Your Dreams. She also makes it a point to not take life too seriously.

What is your favorite way to give back to your community? Through my relationship with Create Your Dreams, I help provide the vital resources, opportunities, and relationships for children living below the poverty line. It is a privilege to be called a mentor, second mom, and friend by my students and our alumni.

What is the best thing you've learned about yourself since turning 40? I can embrace change. It is never too late for your life to completely change directions.

What is your favorite book? My favorite book is "Harold and the Purple Crayon" by Crockett Johnson because we all sometimes need a reminder that we have the power to create our reality and have a little fun!



15-StephanieMrs. Stephanie Jester

This 52-year-old business owner and entrepreneur has enjoyed the fruits of success. But now, she aims her focus on building up those around her as the founder and director of the FreeWishes Foundation.

What do you consider to be your best accomplishment? Introducing my family to the importance of building legacies by starting and practicing good business. I am the founder of INTouch Properties & Management Services and the business/general manager of Freebandz, an entertainment label I started with my son, Future. As one of the world's top talents, I couldn't be more proud of the fact that my son looks to me to make decisions that contribute to the ever-evolving culture of music.

What is your favorite way to give back to your community? The FreeWishes Foundation is an organization my daughter and I introduced. Every year, we execute programming in the Kirkwood community that my children grew up in, and at senior centers that foster healthy and happy lifestyles.

What is your favorite book? The book that I find most guidance in is the Bible.



16-LeighLeigh Mallis

After walking out on the corporate world in 2004, Leigh Mallis, 42, found a higher calling by sharing with others the very principles of yoga and meditation that renewed her. She is now a Pranic Soul, yoga and meditation teacher.

What advice do you have for someone who isn't yet over 40 and fabulous? Spend less time judging yourself and others.

What do you consider to be your best accomplishment? Following my passion of yoga and meditation as a way to create work-life balance. I have the opportunity to certify students to teach and share the same styles of yoga and meditation that have greatly transformed my life.

What is your favorite way to give back to your community? There are several charities that I've had an opportunity to donate yoga classes and private sessions to as a way to raise money for causes. JDRF is close to my heart. My brother-in-law has Type 1 diabetes and started JDRF Rock the Cure, which I participate in each year.



Thursday, 01 June 2017 13:58

Meet the Experts Who Keep Atlanta Young

1aDermatology & Skin Care
Ashley R. Curtis, M.D.
Board-Certified Dermatologist
Dermatology Associates of Atlanta

How did you become interested in your profession?

What originally inspired you to pursue this field? As a child, I actually went to the dermatologist quite often because I had a family history of skin cancer, and because I have a lot of moles, I was at a high risk for developing skin cancer. Over the years, I developed an interest in being a dermatologist myself.

Tell us about your professional background.

My undergraduate degree is actually in Industrial Engineering from Georgia Tech, and I went to medical school at Medical College of Georgia before completing my residency with Wake Forest University's Department of Dermatology. During my residency, I developed a special interest in hair loss, and in my continued experience, I have also gained a passion for other aspects of skin care, such as antiaging treatments, laser procedures, etc.

What were you surprised to learn about your work once you got into it?

I knew that I would enjoy caring for my patients as a dermatologist, but I was pleasantly surprised by just how well I would get to know them. As passionate as I am about the medicine itself, my favorite part of my job is getting to know my patients. In some cases, I watch families grow and I love seeing what my patients do with their lives.My regular patients have become like family to me, and it's so rewarding to see them feel confident in their skin.

Who are your professional/personal mentors and what have they taught you?

My first professional mentor was Dr. Amy McMichael, who I worked with during my residency at Wake Forest University. She is an incredible physician to learn from, as is my other mentor, Dr. Edmond Griffin, whom I now work with at Dermatology Associates of Atlanta, and The Griffin Center of Hair Restoration and Research.

1bWhat is your professional philosophy?

My overall philosophy as a physician is to put the interests of my patients first. I've found that the best care comes from a combination of thorough medical knowledge and a genuine concern for every patient, so that is what I strive for.
What keeps you motivated? Being motivated is just a part of my nature. I have a background in efficiency as an industrial engineer, so as much motivation as my patients themselves give me, I also enjoy being busy and efficient.

What are some of your ultimate goals in your line of profession?

Ultimately, it's all about improving quality of life. I love helping patients manage chronic skin conditions as well as find self-esteem that they've lost or, in some cases, that they've never had before.

How do you stay on top of the cutting-edge trends in your industry?

1cMy practice is very active in a variety of medical organizations and in staying on top of all the latest medical advancements. Some of the best learning experiences I've had include meetings for the American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery, the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery, the American Academy of Dermatology, and other organizations.

Out of all of the other people in your field, why should people turn to you?

What makes you and your practice unique? One piece of feedback I repeatedly hear from patients is that they feel very at ease in our office. Dermatology Associates of Atlanta is a down-to-earth practice where we truly pride ourselves on caring for our patients and giving them a comfortable experience.

What do you want to be known for?

As a doctor, I strive to be someone who goes the extra mile and who always looks for ways to improve my patient's care. And as an everyday person, I hope to be seen as someone who is just a caring and good-hearted person.

Describe yourself in three words.

Motivated, compassionate, and an effective multitasker.

Is there any other information about you and your business you would like to highlight?

Our motto at DAA is "great skin care from head to toe," and that is truly the way we operate. We treat all of our patients' needs for their skin, hair, and nails, to help them both look and feel their best.



2aEar, Nose & Throat
Aaron Fletcher, M.D.
Board-Certified Head and Neck Surgeon
Georgia Center for Ear, Nose & Throat

How did you become interested in ENT? What originally inspired you to pursue this field?

Actually, my background is in English as a writer. My father is a carpenter by trade and my father's father was a barber. I come from a long line of Fletcher men that work with their hands and I wanted to carry on that tradition in some way.

Tell us about your professional background.

When I decided to become a surgeon, I trained all over the country in general surgery, ear, nose and throat surgery, and in plastic surgery. I'm pretty well-rounded.

A lot of my background in English is brought forth in my practice of medicine, especially as it relates to the way I teach patients. I pride myself on my bedside manner and being thorough. I want patients to understand what is going on before we agree to do any type of treatment. I have also written patient education materials and textbooks. I was a teacher in a former life. I used to teach ninth grade biology. I also bring my life experience to the table. People are usually pretty surprised that I am even a doctor. I have to show them my gray hair to prove I have the experience and the training under my belt.

2bWhat were you surprised to learn about your work once you got into it?

We study medicine as a science, but I think it is equal part art as it is science. I have learned a lot about people and the human condition—what people are like, what they feel, what they fear, what they are anxious about, and what they are looking for when they go to the doctor. Every time I am with a patient, I come away feeling that I have learned as much as I have taught.

Who are your professional/personal mentors and what have they taught you?

One of the major ones is Dr. Duane A. Sewell. He is the person who got me interested in ear, nose and throat. He has since passed on, unfortunately, but he was probably the biggest influence on me deciding to have a career in this specialty. He taught me everything I know about professionalism, dedicating yourself to your craft, and perfecting the way you approach patients.
My undergraduate mentor was a man by the name of "Dean" Thomas J. Blocker. He is the one who convinced me to pursue medicine.
My father was a big intellectual who inspired me to push the limits of my knowledge. He encouraged me to layer different life experiences to become more well-rounded.

What is your business philosophy?

Define your own parameters. Don't let anyone tell you what you should do business wise.

2cWhat keeps you motivated?

I constantly want to improve. I recognize my limitations. I am pretty young in practice and I know there is still a lot to learn. The field is always changing and there is a lot of information to wrap your head around. I try to be a resource for people and do the best I can. You can't be a resource unless you are motivated to be your best. The things I don't know probably motivate me
the most.

How do you stay on top of the cutting-edge trends in the industry?

I do a lot of reading. I go to a lot of courses to try to perfect my surgical skills. I search for other doctors in my field that are doing cutting-edge work. I try to find things from other disciplines and things that people aren't doing that I can apply to medicine to make my job easier or better.

What do you want to be known for?

I try to treat every patient like a family member. A lot of patients come in to talk to me about their heart or something not ENT related because they feel so comfortable talking to me. I have put together a staff that shares this family environment philosophy. From the minute you come in the door to the minute you leave, we try to cultivate that experience.



Karen Foley

General Manager
Windy Hill Athletic Club

How long has Windy Hill Athletic Club been in Atlanta?

Although our club was built in 1989, it has been part of the Midtown Athletic Clubs since 2008. The club is formally known as Sporting Club at Windy Hill and Midtown Athletic Club at Windy Hill. Our owners understood the importance of the name change here in Atlanta, and so while we are still a Midtown club, our name changed two years ago to Windy Hill Athletic Club.

3bWhat are some of Windy Hill's ultimate goals in the fitness industry?

We want our members to move in whatever way that works best for them ... and we want them to have fun too. Our goal is to truly inspire through movement, community, and personal attention. We want this location to be a destination and we want our members to feel like they are part of this community. We want to be known for recognizing them not just as members but for who they are as individuals. We hope to capture that essence through our campaign called slash everything.

What keeps your team motivated

Knowing that they make a difference and seeing the results of our members. They love what they do and they are amazing at that. I'm extremely proud of our team at Windy Hill and couldn't ask for a better group of people to work with me every day.

3cHow does Windy Hill stay on top of cutting-edge trends in the industry?

Our company isn't afraid to take a risk to see if something works. Steven Schwartz, our CEO and owner, believes in what our promise is to the members and empowers the teams in the field to make it happen. It's a family-owned business. Our staff is empowered to find what is working in the industry, in our local area and give it a try. For instance, boxing and kickboxing have become huge at our club because we were allowed to create this experience for members by building a small studio, hiring instructors and designing a program.

Out of all of the other fitness clubs out there, why should people turn to Windy Hill?

What makes Windy Hill unique? Our club has it all. Any way that you want to move, we are going to provide that element and do it well. Most importantly, we have the people that are the heart behind it all. Our coaches, staff, and team believe in our members and want to see them succeed. You will be part of a community and part of a family. Plus, we have awesome events and it's always a good time hanging out in our full-service café.

3dAre there any causes, initiatives or philanthropies Windy Hill is a part of?

Windy Hill participates in giving back to the community on many levels. Our most cherished cause is our work with the Special Olympics. We are also involved in charity events throughout the year in the local communities of Smyrna, Vinings, Marietta, and East Cobb. We love to participate with the Angel Tree program, which benefits the Ronald McDonald House during the holidays and provides the best holidays for the families in need. In addition, we also do events in honor of our armed forces and work with the local Army recruiting office, Dobbins Air Reserve Base and the Wounded Warrior Project. For 10 years, Windy Hill was the sole location of the Atlanta Ovarian Cycle ride, which helped support the awareness of ovarian cancer.

Is there any other information about your team or Windy Hill Athletic Club that you would like to highlight?

We are just as much about moving and working out as we are about being social. We offer social events each month for many occasions. We offer themed parties for the holidays, breakfast events for member appreciation, networking functions, tennis socials, family-friendly activities and more.



4aCosmetic Dentistry
Dina J. Giesler, D.D.S., M.A.G.D.
Master General and Cosmetic Dentist
Atlanta Smiles & Wellness

How did you become interested in your profession?

I began working at an orthodontic practice in 1980 when I was a 17-year-old senior in high school. Then, I worked as a dental assistant in a multidisciplinary practice before becoming a hygienist. In 1984, I graduated as a hygienist. When I began dental school in 1987, I had worked with over 55 dentists, so I saw many types of practices and specialized dentistry. I knew I wanted to be a cosmetic dentist.

What were you surprised to learn about your work once you got into it?

I was surprised by how much time, dedication and sacrifice it really takes to become a Master Dentist (there are currently only 2,200 in the country). The 10,000-hours concept is true for whatever you do. I never stop learning and evolving. The best dentists are true entrepreneurs who have to be efficient in business as well as clinical dentistry.

Who are your professional/personal mentors and what have they taught you?

There have been so many! In Houston, it's Drs. Roy Bell, Eddie Lee, and Susana Paoloski. In New York, it's Dr. Larry Rosenthal.
What is your business philosophy? I treat my patients the way I would want to be treated. I am honest and forthcoming. I believe in helping others out of a loving heart and doing what is right and ethical.

4bWhat's the most satisfying part of your job? What do you love most about your work?

I love that I'm serving others. I'm not only passionate about helping people achieve the smile of their dreams, but I also enjoy spreading health and nutrition education so people can live a more productive and healthy life.
What keeps you motivated? My family, my business partner—Dr. Marianna Kovitch, my fellow colleagues, my patients, and my soul sisters all keep me motivated.

What are some of your ultimate goals in doing this work?

I want to help as many people as possible achieve their ultimate goals in health and aesthetic dentistry.

What's the most commonly requested service or procedure you perform for clients over the age of 40?

Smile makeovers are very popular. They include teeth whitening, teeth straightening, metal-less crowns and porcelain veneers. Our patients also love receiving Botox® and other fillers. It works out perfectly because they're coming in every six months to have their teeth cleaned anyway.

4cHow do you stay on top of cutting-edge trends in your industry?

I mentor and I teach. I spend a lot of time at New York University giving back and mentoring younger dentists who aspire to be leaders in the field of cosmetic dentistry. Plus, I learn and share with the other instructors.

Out of all of the other people in your field, why should people turn to you? What makes you and your practice unique?

We get to know our patients. We are not a clinic or a corporate office where you have to go to the dentist on your plan. We are a private practice where we become family. We give you many options. We listen to what our patients want and help educate them on doing what's best for them at this time in their lives. We work with the best specialists in Atlanta. We are not pushy. My goal as a cosmetic dentist is to give you a great smile with natural, beautiful teeth.

What do you want to be known for?

I want to be known for inspiring others to be the best they can be while being a faithful servant and doing what God has called me to do. I want to spread education and joy and take care of my fellow man, no matter who they are.

Is there any other information about you and your business you would like to highlight?

We have a domestic violence foundation called the Atlanta Smiles Foundation ( We serve survivors of emotional and domestic abuse recommended to us by law enforcement and staff at local shelters. We help them regain their self-esteem and get back into the workforce.



5aHair Restoration
Ken Anderson, M.D.
Anderson Center for Hair

How did you become interested in your profession? What originally inspired you to pursue this field?

Before I started specializing in hair restoration, I was a facial plastic surgeon. In 2003, I began a private practice in Beverly Hills. When I was in California, what really struck me was how happy the hair restoration patients were when they came back to see me. In 2009, the Emory Facial Center recruited me as a hair restoration specialist. I then went on to continue specializing in hair restoration and opened the Anderson Center for Hair.

Tell us about your professional background.

I'm the only facial plastic surgeon in the world who has exclusively practiced hair restoration surgery for over a decade. My boutique-style practice is 100 percent dedicated to treating hair loss in both men and women. It is one of the most prominent in the Southeast United States.

In 2013, we became the first, and only practice, in Georgia to receive the ARTAS® Robotic Hair Transplant System.

What were you surprised to learn about your work once you got into it?

What surprised me most was how much artistic talent it takes to sit in a chair and perform hair transplants. When I am creating hairlines, I am literally drawing on people's foreheads. That is my canvas, if you will. I love it because I feel like I am doing one of my drawings. The results are very heavily dependent on the artistic talent and passion of the surgeon.

What is your business philosophy?

We put patient care and patient outcomes first. The consultations are very relaxed. I like to sit in my office and talk options with patients. Maybe platelet rich plasma (PRP) isn't right for you. Maybe lasers or surgery are a better fit for your situation.

5bWhat's the most satisfying part of your job? What do you love most about your work?

What I love most about the field of hair restoration surgery is how happy and satisfied the patients are when their hair grows in.

What are some of your ultimate goals in doing this work?

People are reluctant to come to a doctor for hair restoration surgery because they're afraid of bad hair transplant jobs. I want to show people that this is not your father's hair surgery. These are not hair plugs. It's a hair-by-hair transplant, and looks completely natural—because it is. During private consultations, I show patients how we apply traditional medical principles and today's technology to hair restoration surgery.

What keeps you motivated?

We have stem cells, lasers and robots. It is so much different now than it was five to 10 years ago. It continues to evolve at a rapid pace. It is really exciting to be on the cutting edge of some of these treatments. I love that I can utilize these new technologies to help people.

Tell us about your new office in Avalon.

5cWe are very excited about it. The Anderson Center for Hair Restoration and Aesthetics is not only going to be the second location for the Anderson Center, but will also be the flagship location of the American Academy of Hair Restoration Surgery.
I founded a physician's academy for doctors that want to learn about hair restoration surgery, not just using the ARTAS® robot, but all aspects—patient selection, patient counseling, how to do the surgery, and how to run a practice. Basically, I am going to give them lessons because years ago, I learned the hard way by doing it.

What would you tell someone dealing with hair loss?

I find that both men and women don't want to go to the doctor because there are tons of products on the market for hair loss. However, topical products are generally not very effective. If you are struggling with hair loss and are looking for answers, you should find a provider you feel comfortable with. Pick someone that fits your needs and that you can trust. Check out their résumé online. Make sure they can perform both the linear strip and the follicular unit extraction (FUE) methods. Honestly, there has never been a better time to have hair loss. So, call a provider and get some help.



6aFacial Plastic Surgery
Elizabeth Whitaker, M.D., F.A.C.S.

Double Board-Certified Facial Plastic Surgeon
Atlanta Face & Body Center

How did you become interested in your profession? What originally inspired you to pursue this field?

When I went to medical school, I fell in love with surgery. Facial anatomy, as the most complex, was the most interesting to me. Facial plastic surgery for me is a true blend of the artistic and the technical. It channels the creative aspect of my personality into what I do every day, and that's a part of what makes me very good at what I do.

Tell us about your professional background.

I received my medical degree from Duke, did my residency training at Emory, and my facial plastic surgery fellowship at Tulane. I was Chief of Facial Plastic Surgery at Medical College of Georgia before moving back to Atlanta and into private practice. Having performed over 4,000 facelifts, I am one of the most experienced facial plastic surgeons in the field. I have been selected as one of the country's Top Plastic Surgeons by my peers, which is a great honor.

What were you surprised to learn about your work once you got into it?

I was surprised by how significant of an emotional impact a procedure can have. You're trained to focus heavily on the physical change—getting the right placement, the right pull, and all of that. But, it's not just about how somebody looks. It is very related to how they feel.

Who are your professional/personal mentors and what have they taught you?

My fellowship director was a major influence. I was very lucky to train in New Orleans at Tulane University with Dr. Calvin Johnson. He is an internationally known facial plastic surgeon and one of the best technicians I've ever seen.
Locally, I was fortunate enough to work very closely with Dr. William Silver. I would visit his office when I was a resident at Emory. He helped me a lot professionally early in my career. It's wonderful to have those relationships.

6bWhat is your business philosophy?

My biggest focus, and one of the things I think is most important, is that results look natural. I believe the best facial plastic surgery shouldn't advertise itself. You should walk into a room and have everyone say, "How do they continue to look so great?" and not, "Oh, they had something done." That naturalness is what I'm always striving for.

How do you stay on top of cutting-edge trends in your industry?

I spend a lot of time keeping up with journals specific to my profession. Once or twice a year I go to meetings such as the Vegas Cosmetic Surgery, State of the Art in Facial Rejuvenation, or American Academy of Facial Plastic Surgery. Some of my favorite meetings involve multiple specialties. I love hearing from surgeons in other specialties and getting the perspective of someone in a different field. I'll think to myself, "That's actually a good idea. I'm going to incorporate that." You want to bring back techniques and information that are going to help patients and enhance their results.

What's the most satisfying part of your job? What do you love most about your work?

In an elective field like mine, I have the time to talk to someone to get to know them and understand what their personal motivations are. That is why most of us are in medicine in the first place—because we like caring for people. Also, as a surgeon, there is the immediate gratification of seeing the physical changes. But, what I really love about what I do is seeing the ongoing positive emotional impact.

6cWhat are some of your ultimate goals in doing this work?

What's so gratifying to me is seeing the difference you've made in how someone feels about themselves and how that translates into making their life better.

Are there specific success stories you can share with us?

One face-lift patient brought in a picture from when she was in her 30s. She was so happy. She said, "I have my jawline back! I have my 30-year-old jawline back!" It was pretty amazing that she felt that degree of transformation.

What is a common misconception about your profession?

People may think they should go see a plastic surgeon only if they want to have a surgical procedure. I would like people to think about it as going to see someone that has the whole toolbox at their disposal—from injectables to noninvasive to surgical. If something in the toolbox isn't the best fit for you, I'm going to be able to offer you something from that toolbox that is.



7aMedia/Community Ambassador
Tom Sullivan

TV Host and Corporate Emcee

How did you become interested in your profession? What originally inspired you to pursue this field?

I've always loved radio starting with the "Gary McKee Morning Show." Gary was my inspiration. My big break came when the same radio station, WQXI, hired me right out of high school to be their station mascot, The Quixie Quacker. I wore webbed feet for 11 years. Duck by day, DJ by night! I worked my way up from overnights on WQXI-AM to full-time and then transitioned over to WQXI-FM (94Q). I made my way to WSTR-FM (Star 94.1), where I eventually became a full-time member of the "Steve & Vikki Morning Show."

Tell us about your professional background.

Thirty years in radio and my gift of adlib helped me easily transition to TV. I also continue my work as a corporate host and emcee ( and growing my love of photography with local professional Scott Reeves.

What were you surprised to learn about your work once you got into it?

When I started in radio, I was surprised by the fact that there was more work to do off the air. It led to a typical eight-hour workday.
In TV, I was surprised to learn how stressful it can be. Unlike radio, you are always on and have to adjust to that fact, which requires more energy. You have to balance producers talking in your ear while you're interviewing guests, looking at the right camera, and dealing with a tighter time clock. In radio, you could drop a song or go a few extra minutes, but TV has a network programming clock built in and timing down to the second. Plus, in radio, I could wear anything and no one listening was the wiser.

Who are your professional/personal mentors and what have they taught you?

I am grateful to Kelly McCoy for mentoring me in radio. I grew up loving Rick Dees and Casey Kasem. Rick was entertaining and filled with personality. Casey was the master of the countdown. In television, it was David Letterman. His fun, engaging personality mirrored my own. I appreciated that he wasn't afraid to knock the very network that hired him. He would always say what others wouldn't and I loved that.

As I grew in radio, I began to show others my craft. In 1992, I received a phone call from a young man attending Dunwoody High School. He told me he did the morning announcements and wanted to learn more about pop culture, see the Star 94.1 station, and learn about radio. I invited him up one Saturday afternoon. We quickly became friends and I began training him in all aspects of radio. Months later on Labor Day weekend, I had been working a long day and called him and said, "Buddy, you want to go on the air for me tonight?" He did. Thus began his amazing radio and TV career. His name? Ryan Seacrest! Oh, the days where he used to get my pizzas!

What's the most satisfying part of your job? What do you love most about your work?

Every day is different. On "Atlanta & Company," the stories I share with our audience and the games we play are always changing. Some of my favorite moments are when I'm interacting with Christine Pullara and Cara Kneer.
When I am hosting a corporate or charity event, it's connecting with people and engaging them with my personality.

7bWhat keeps you motivated?

Life, new opportunities, meeting new people, exploring the world, and taking care of my body are my biggest motivators.

What are some of your ultimate goals in doing this work?

I would love to host a TV show that empowers others. I love giving. The feeling is so incredible. I call it joy rising.

What do you want to be known for?

I want to be known for being myself and making a difference in the life of someone else every day.

Who helps you become your best self?

First and most importantly, God helps me be my best inside and out. The Nouveau Clinic takes care of my face. The Functional Health Institute of Atlanta keeps me healthy. Scott Cameron at Buckhead Elite Training Studio keeps me fit. Cryo Elite Therapy, which involves standing in a nitrogen-filled tank with below zero temperatures, makes me feel great. And Dr. Angie of Esthetic Dental Solutions is on my smile team.



8aHair and Makeup
Nyssa Green
The Green Room Agency

How did you become interested in your profession?

What originally inspired you to pursue this field? I started out as an award-winning hairstylist. Makeup was a natural progression for me. I've loved all things beauty since I was a kid. Thank goodness my parents were supportive because I played with dolls for way too long!

Tell us about your professional background.

I went to vocational school while I was in high school. I was determined to have enough hours to go straight to the Georgia Professional Licensing Board and take the exam to get my professional cosmetology license, which I did. Then, I went to Auburn University for two years. I was doing more hair than going to class! I ended up going home and opening a salon. Once I decided to move on to bigger and better things, I chose Atlanta because I wanted to be close to my parents.

8bWhat were you surprised to learn about your work once you got into it?

I was surprised to learn how unglamorous this industry is. There's so much that goes on behind the scenes that's not glamorous at all.

Who are your professional/personal mentors and what have they taught you?

One of my professional mentors is Gwynnis Mosby. She taught me all the basics of makeup and set etiquette. She continues to guide and mentor me. She now has a makeup school, Gwynnis Mosby Makeup Academy, where my first Emmy Award is displayed. My other mentor is Taffi Dollar. She's one of my pastors and an amazing woman and wife. Both Taffi and Gwynnis are invaluable to
my success.

What is your business philosophy?

Everyone is beautiful. Everyone gets the celebrity treatment. We always work in the spirit of excellence.

What's the most satisfying part of your job? What do you love most about your work?

I love meeting new people. I love showing people the true power of makeup.

What keeps you motivated?

The industry keeps me motivated. In this industry, you must stay current and relevant or you will not work.

How do you stay on top of the cutting-edge trends in your industry?

We stay on top of trends through research, social media, industry journals, and classes.

8cWhat are some of your ultimate goals in doing hair and makeup?

We want to help people update their look, boost their self-esteem, become their best selves, and be made aware of what makeup can do for them.

Out of all of the other people in your field, why should people turn to you? What makes you and your business unique?

People turn to me for the personalized service I provide. I am also known for my top makeup skills and diversity. I can do makeup on anyone and not all artists can confidently say that. I do not believe in segregated artistry. You should be able to do makeup on everyone.

What do you want to be known for?

I want people to know me for my diversity, creativity, and ability to create great makeup looks.

What types of events does The Green Agency provide hair and makeup services for?

We do proms, cotillions, and weddings year round. We also do celebrities, TV, and entertainers.


Wednesday, 31 May 2017 20:03

In My Father’s Footsteps

By Katherine Michalak

When that 1974 folk song, "Cat's in the Cradle," by Harry Chapin starts playing on the radio, it triggers a lump in the throat or misty eyes. Those precious childhood years are fleeting, and all too often, even the most well-intentioned fathers may struggle as life's busyness (think work, school, errands, activities) derails efforts to spend quality time with the kids.

Strengthening those parental bonds to develop a father-son relationship into mentorship is important. Having a dad who shines as a positive example can give boys a solid foundation and reinforce the values that form their core identity. Establishing special father-son traditions provides a consistent outlet for nurturing those values and building confidence in that identity. These little habits and rituals clear some common ground for generations to cultivate camaraderie and connection. And, these local men can attest to the incredible impact their father-son traditions have had on their families.


Patrick Flynn says his father, Frank, started running for exercise long before it was a trend. He remembers his father's runs around their Roswell neighborhood vividly. "Neighbors used to call my mom and ask what Frank was doing or where he was going," Flynn chuckles. "One day I just started running after him, chasing him," Flynn continues, recalling how his own love of running took hold. "It's my favorite form of exercise. I'd rather be outside running, and I think Dad feels the same way. I don't even think about the physical fitness benefits, it's more of a mental boost."

In 1980, the two ran their first AJC Peachtree Road Race together and have continued to do so ever since. "Dad is 81 now and hasn't missed one; I've only missed three. Over the years, other family members and friends have occasionally joined us, but he and I are the ones that established this as our tradition," says Flynn. "He's always trying to beat his age for his time, so this year he'll try to run it in under 81 minutes. He's an inspiration."

The elder Flynn runs, jogs or bikes every day, often riding with a high-mileage group. But, it's the running that bonds father and son. "When I was younger, we trained together. As I grew up [and left home] it became about meeting up for the race," Flynn notes. The two follow each other on the MapMyRun app and often discuss their times, techniques, training or diets. "It's reinforcing positive peer pressure. And, it's my quality time with my dad," he confirms. "No matter what is going on in our lives, we know we are going to meet up at Peachtree and Lenox on the Fourth of July. It's the 'due north' of our relationship."


For professional DJ La Verio (LV) Barnes, learning the definition of a "good dad" has become a part of a larger goal. As founder of the nonprofit Cool Dads Rock (CDR), LV seeks to both motivate and support men in Atlanta as they build a strong foundation with their families and their communities. "I didn't have a father present [in childhood]. I never wanted my child to feel how I felt. Although I had good role models to look up to [uncles, cousins], I wanted my child to have a consistent influence," says Barnes. "I had a friend going through a difficult custody battle some years ago and I posted something on social media with the hashtag #cooldadsrock. Then I realized that I know so many great dads doing stuff with their kids and not always showing it."

P2Others picked up on that hashtag and soon the group had a dedicated Facebook page celebrating fatherhood, which gave a forum for support and empowering fathers. By 2013, that grew into the Cool Dads Rock organization, which encourages fathers to build lasting relationships with their children by facilitating projects and events as well as offering resources for support. "Men tend to sit on stuff for a long time and it takes a certain comfort level to roll out conversations," Barnes concedes.

For Barnes and his son, Anderson, the annual CDR Soapbox Derby gives them a mutual creative endeavor. "We have ownership of the whole project—planning, building, figuring it all out, learning together. The derby is the platform, but it's the whole process leading up to the derby that is what's remembered and a shared experience," Barnes says. The organization's fifth annual Derby will take place on August 5 at Historic Fourth Ward Park. "That's probably our favorite event with the group. But we do other things too, like 'Milkshake Fridays'—every Friday, I pick him up from school, we go get milkshakes and sit down to rehash the week. He knows he has that time with me and he looks forward to it every week. I never had that," Barnes remarks. "It's special for both of us."


David Abes, chief operating officer of Buckhead Life Restaurant Group, found a way to turn a health issue into a motivating project. When his son, Mitchell, was diagnosed at age 2 with Type 1 diabetes, the Sandy Springs-based Abes family sought out avenues to get involved with JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation). "We immediately became active in the One Walk program that October," Abes says, "and it became a tradition. Over the years, family and friends have joined us. We raise funds, make T-shirts, and last year we chaired the walk ... but it's really something that Mitchell and I get behind together."

Abes has observed the way this level of consistent involvement has nurtured the charitable spirit of his son, who is now in high school. "It's shown him the power of giving back in such a direct way," he notes, "and I'm sure he'll carry that with him throughout his life." In fact, his son also focuses volunteer efforts on other health-related issues, particularly working with the Atlanta Community Food Bank to advance local hunger relief.

Abes received similar influence from his own father, Dr. Marshall Abes, a dentist who taught at Emory University and regularly offered up dental care for nonprofit clinics. "He is still very committed to community assistance and volunteers his services at the Ben Massell Dental Clinic," Abes says of his dad. "His example to all of us has always been about sharing your talents and giving back. He's very close with his children and grandchildren, so he has a great bond with Mitchell, too."


Buckhead/Sandy Springs-based radio host Bert Weiss has also found common ground with his sons through their mutual commitment to community action. Both of his sons share his passion for serving others and are fully devoted to the Bert's Big Adventure (BBA) program, turning this mission into a special family tradition.

Since 2002, this nonprofit organization, which was founded by Bert and Stacey Weiss, has arranged spectacular trips to Walt Disney World for children with chronic and terminal illnesses. Each year, a new group of deserving kids—and their families—are treated to surprises galore on this adventure of a lifetime; the volunteers that assist on the trip give complete focus to the patients and their families in order to provide a magical journey to the "Happiest Place on Earth." The Weiss boys, Hayden,14, and Hollis,10, have truly grown up along with BBA. "They never miss the opportunity to be involved and over the years have made some great friends within this community," Weiss says. "They aren't quite ready to go on a trip yet. That's something they need to work their way up to but it's exciting to see them both set that goal for themselves. They'll get there."

For Weiss, making conscious efforts to establish family traditions takes powerful resonance. "Growing up, my family didn't really have any traditions. We weren't a tight group and my parents didn't seem to place big value on being together," he admits. When he met his former wife, Stacey, he saw a completely different approach through her close-knit family who treasured spending time together.

That motivated him to develop a new vision for his own children. "I see how important it is, and now there are certain things sacred to all of us—whether it's our holidays or new routines we're starting now. You know with boys, it can be tough to get them talking, tough to get anything out of them. But, when we are doing stuff together, that's when we have conversations. We're going to try cooking together once a week when they are at my house and I'm hoping that will be our next new tradition."


The men of the Singer family look forward to spending more time together each year on their annual post-Thanksgiving fishing trip. "This trip started almost 40 years ago," Ben Singer recalls. "My dad, Bill, and his brother, my uncle Richard, me, and Richard's son, Heath, went fishing down in Apalachicola, Florida and fell in love with the area. The next year a cousin went; then a brother-in-law, then other kids and cousins started going. What started out with three or four people can now be as many as 15. It's grown into a tradition."

A big tradition. Singer resides in Marietta today, but grew up in Thomaston, Georgia and the annual family Thanksgiving feast still takes place down there with over 50 relatives coming in from all over the country. The next day, the men of the family hit the road for two days at Apalachicola's Bay City Lodge fishing camp. "There are some guidelines now. Generally speaking, boys must be at least 9 to go, and they cannot wait to be old enough," Singer says. "Kids realize the importance of the trip and look forward to being included." On each trip, the guys welcome those joining the crew for the first time by presenting them with a gold hook to attach to their fishing hats. It's a mark of honor for newbies, but the best treasure is time spent in the boat and what's pulled up on the lines.

They fish all morning and return back to the docks in the afternoon, cleaning up quickly so they can start watching football. "My dad went to Georgia Tech and uncle Richard went to UGA, so that's always a fun rivalry on Saturday after fishing. Little things make the trip special. Dad and uncle Richard have created an environment where the only expectation for the trip is to have fun, and everybody does," Singer assures. "That time out on the boat becomes a safe, comfortable place to start talking. We always draw names out of a hat to see who goes in which boat, and that mixes up the group. Sitting out in the boat together for hours, chatting to pass the time, telling stories and sharing the hope of catching a fish. We fish for speckled trout, sheepshead, flounder and redfish, which have to be a certain regulated size to keep. The kids all want to catch their first 'keeper' red on the trip. And of course, we all live for the fish stories."


Atlanta Track Club,
Bert's Big Adventure,
Buckhead Life Restaurant Group,
Cool Dads Rock,
JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation),

Wednesday, 31 May 2017 19:31

Back Pain

By Amy Meadows

The commercials make it look so easy. Just take two pills, and back pain will dissipate like magic so you can return to living a carefree life. Of course, if you're like one of the 31 million people who, according to the American Chiropractic Association, experience low back pain, you know that there's much more to dealing with the nagging discomfort associated with back issues. While oral anti-inflammatories (and even external pain relief patches) certainly can help, it's crucial to understand the cause of your back pain so you can weigh the pros and cons of today's available treatment options.

P1The Root of the Problem

"Eighty percent of adults will experience lower back pain at some point in their lives," says Paul R. Jeffords, M.D., a minimally invasive spine surgeon with Resurgens Orthopaedics PC. "It's the price we pay for walking upright on two feet. It's part of being human."

Of course, not all back pain is created equal. In fact, Jeffords notes that there is a range, from a simple pulled or strained muscle to more complicated degenerative conditions that can cause severe or even debilitating pain. Less serious back pain can be the result of overdoing it at the gym, lifting a heavy object incorrectly, sitting for too long at work or leading an overall sedentary lifestyle.

More serious issues can affect either the discs in the back (the cushions or "shock absorbers" along the spine) or the facet joints (where the bones connect to each other). In addition to basic disc degeneration, which derives from general wear and tear as you age, you may also encounter conditions like herniated (bulging) or ruptured discs, pinched nerves, sciatica (compression of the sciatic nerve) or arthritis. A traumatic injury also can wreak havoc on your back, affecting tendons, ligaments and muscles.

Fortunately, according to Shahram Rezaiamiri, M.D., F.A.C.S., a neurosurgeon with AllSpine Laser and Surgery Center, a majority of acute—or short term—back pain cases will resolve spontaneously with time and without the need for major treatment. However, a percentage of those cases will become chronic, lasting 12 weeks or longer and requiring evaluation and possibly medical intervention.

"You don't have to rush to see a doctor every time you have back pain," Jeffords says. "But if you have back pain that fails to improve with rest, or if it's waking you up at night and you can't find relief with any position, there might be something more serious going on that calls for further investigation."

A Team Approach

While back pain may be a prevalent problem, it has many possible causes. And that means there are a variety of professionals available to help you navigate the treatment process. But where do you start? Should you see a chiropractor or a physical therapist? If you have severe pain, should you go straight to a spine surgeon?

Chiropractors, physical therapists and surgeons will each bring their own expertise to your case. Jeffords recommends starting with a medical doctor who can look at your medical history, current medications and any other symptoms you may have—such as red flags like a persistent fever, numbness, tingling or weakness—to rule out an emergency situation. Once you have the all clear, you can consider the other professionals in your arsenal and get recommendations for who might be able to help you tackle your specific issue.

According to Zachary Walston, PT, DPT, OCS, CSCS, clinical director of PT Solutions, physical therapy can be very effective for back pain. "Physical therapy involves rehabbing someone through education, exercise and manual therapy when appropriate," he says. "When back pain is chronic, there may be several issues going on. The body has to be retrained to move pain free and establish proper motor patterns to fully address the issues resulting from chronic pain." A physical therapist will show you the right exercises and how to do them properly to facilitate the healing process.

P2A chiropractor is another valuable professional to have on hand. With a focus on the spine and how its alignment and health affects the nervous system, chiropractic care can be extremely valuable not only to your back, but also to your overall health. "We address the subluxations, which can affect the nerves and the nervous system," explains Samantha March-Howard, D.C., of 100% Chiropractic. "When we start to address the body from that perspective, it can heal properly and achieve the health you're looking for, whether you have back pain, neck pain or any kind of ailment."

And while the thought of going to a spine surgeon may sound scary, it doesn't have to be, as Jeffords notes that surgery is actually a last resort for most back pain cases. However, it doesn't hurt to be evaluated by someone who specializes in orthopedic care or neurological issues and can identify problems that may not be fixable through noninvasive techniques like physical therapy and chiropractic care alone. When additional treatment is needed, an orthopedic spine surgeon or a neurosurgeon are your next options in your team approach.

With all of these professionals, it is crucial to find someone who is educated and trained in their field. And when it comes to finding a back specialist (particularly a surgeon), Rezaiamiri recommends looking for a professional who has completed a fellowship in spine surgery.

The Phases of Treatment

"It's frustrating when you're looking for a cure. If you have an infection, you can take antibiotics in order to cure the infection. But in cases of spinal arthritis or disc degeneration, the underlying condition causing back pain can't be cured," Jeffords explains. "If the back pain is due to degenerative conditions, the goal of treatment is not to cure. We actually have two goals—to relieve the pain and to improve the patient's function so they can return to an active lifestyle. And we do that by breaking it down into phases of treatment."

The first phase of back pain treatment involves noninvasive options like medications, ice and heat, physical therapy and home exercises. Chiropractic care may be an appropriate adjunct to treatment in certain conditions. "Ninety percent of patients experience improvement with time and the treatments in phase one," Jeffords says.

The next category or phase, Rezaiamiri reveals, includes the use of either steroid or nonsteroid injections. Dr. Tara Frix, case manager of Total HealthCare Medical Centers has seen great success with the use of the nonsteroid Ortho-Biological Injection treatment. "Anti-inflammatory bio-injections decrease pain and help retrain the soft tissues of the body to do what they are supposed to be doing instead of being held in a state of spasm causing joint and muscular pain," says Frix. Epidural steroid injections, facet joint blocks, selective nerve root blocks and other injections can be used sparingly to try and alleviate the pain associated with disc or facet joint issues. "There is a 30 to 70 percent success rate with these injections," Rezaiamiri continues. Jeffords adds, "The goal is not to cure the underlying condition. It's not to shrink the disc. It's to reduce the pain and inflammation to a manageable level. But there is a limit to what it can do." In fact, patients should receive no more than three to four injections over a 12-month period.

P3Surgery comprises the final phase. While most patients do not require surgical options, there are several, from a lumbar microdiscectomy to remove the herniated part of a disc to a laminectomy to relieve symptoms of lumbar spinal stenosis (a narrowing of the spinal canal). An initial comprehensive evaluation, including an MRI, allows a spine surgeon to identify the area of concern and plan the best surgical strategy. Fortunately, technological and medical advancements have created minimally invasive alternatives to major back surgery. "We use smaller incisions and try to limit the amount of trauma to the body while doing surgery," Jeffords notes. "It allows for less blood loss and faster recovery."

In recent years, some patients have turned to percutaneous laser disc compression (PLDD), a noninvasive procedure in which a laser probe is used to vaporize the center of a disc, thereby shrinking its size, reducing the pressure and relieving pain. Rezaiamiri, who was trained by Daniel Choy, the founder of the Laser Spine Center, reveals that between 50 and 60 percent of patients find the procedure effective. "It's not a large operation. There is no incision," he says, adding that some people find relief immediately while others may experience relief slowly as the disc shrinks over the course of a month. However, while he specializes in PLDD, Rezaiamiri warns that some practices throughout the country purport to offer this specialized laser procedure but actually do not. Therefore, it's important to research any facility thoroughly before agreeing to a procedure.

SB1The Lowdown on Low Back Pain Treatment

As with any kind of medical care or therapy, there are positives and negatives to each phase of back pain treatment. In the earliest phases, physical therapy and chiropractic care can take time. Injections may not last or work at all, depending on the severity of your issue. And surgery always has its drawbacks, from the development of scar tissue and muscle atrophy to the acceleration of degeneration in some instances. Yet, treatment can be very effective when the right plan is implemented. And March-Howard suggests dealing with the issues as soon as possible. "If you feel pain, or if you feel your posture shifting, get corrective work and start to address that," she advises.

And as your team helps you work through the issues you are experiencing, you can rest easy knowing that research is being done to try and find even better ways to treat back pain. "For the future, the focus is on regenerative treatments, such as gene therapy and stem cell therapy," Jeffords says.

In the meantime, there are many options available to you if you are one of the millions of back pain sufferers. It's just important to keep one thing in mind as you set out on your journey. "Don't give up. Don't lose hope. It takes time and effort," Walston concludes. "But it will make you so much healthier in the long run." Remember to thoroughly research your treatment options and do not do anything you are not comfortable with.


100% Chiropractic,
AllSpine Laser and Surgery Center,
American Chiropractic Association,
PT Solutions,
Resurgens Orthopaedics PC,
Total HealthCare Medical Centers,


Thursday, 25 May 2017 17:01

June / July 2017 Digital Issue

June / July 2017 Digital Issue

Page 8 of 48