Rabia Vaughns, MMS, PA-C with the Atlanta Center for Holistic and Integrative Medicine, gives tips for stopping smoking this year through diet, exercise and alternative methods.

rabia vaughns atlanta center for holistic and integrative therapyEveryone knows that smoking is harmful to your health. Unfortunately, stopping smoking is tough. But if you are ready to quit, it’s time to follow an integrated approach to give yourself the best chance for success.

Create a plan. List your reasons for quitting. Analyze your smoking triggers and then find alternatives like chewing gum or exercising. Set a “quit date” and stick to it. Tell your friends and family about your plan to quit. Even if you relapse, keep quitting!

Eat clean. Fruits and vegetables have been found to make cigarettes taste less appealing, so loading up on plant-based foods before your quit date can be helpful. Also avoid meats, coffee and alcohol.

Get moving. Moderate to vigorous exercise can help prevent smoking relapses, cravings and moodiness in those trying to kick the habit.

Consider acupuncture. Book a treatment the day you quit or within the first 72 hours to support serotonin production, which can become depleted during smoking cessation.

For 3 more tips, check out the page 55 of this month’s digital issue!


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Day 8 of Fitness – Indoor Rowing at Rowbot Fitness

Best Self staffer: Flannery

Even after a tough workout for Day 7 of our 30 Days of Fitness, I was really looking forward to today’s class: indoor rowing at Rowbot Fitness. Rowing is a very balanced workout that combines weight training and cardio in the same motions, so it’s a very efficient way to both build muscle and improve your overall fitness level. It’s also a great way to sculpt your back muscles, which can be a hard area of your body to work on. For all these reasons, I was pumped to try rowing for a whole hour!

Concept2ModelD rowing machine

Concept2 Model D rowing machine

Once I arrived, I filled out some brief paperwork to set up my account. Rowbot keeps an electronic card in the studio that you insert into your rowing machine each time you come to train. This card logs your distance and all your workout metrics, so you can track your progress with each session. So with paperwork filled out and log card in hand, I headed to the rowing machine to get started. The machine uses air resistance instead of water resistance like some rowing machines, so you can increase the resistance for an even more intense training session. Charles hopped on the machine next to me and demonstrated the technique, explained how to read the metrics on my machine, and got me a complimentary water bottle. Then we were off!

Aubrey, the instructor for the 5:00 p.m. class, led the class through some slow isolation movements to warm up our legs, backs and arms: all parts of the body integral during rowing. Then Aubrey guided us through a variety of intervals, where we sped up our stroke speed to match hers for several minutes, with brief rest breaks in between. The rowing motion felt a little unnatural at first (especially since we weren’t actually in a boat), but I quickly got used to it and didn’t have to think about it as much. The mirrored studio allowed Aubrey and Charles to easily see our form and suggest changes if needed: I kept dropping my “oars” too low and leaning too far forward. All the instruction was given cheerfully and encouragingly, and it was exciting to learn, work hard, and (almost) keep pace with Aubrey even in my first class. Like indoor cycling, though, I was in control of my own speed, so when I started getting tired I was able to slow down and recover a little. This makes rowing a very accessible class for all fitness levels and ages. Before I knew it, our hour was up. This workout passed faster than any I have done before, because in the midst of our intervals, all the class members were chatting and getting to know each other. We finished with more isolations and some stretches, and then we turned in our log cards for next time.

Best Self staff member Flannery with Rowbot instructors Charles and Aubrey

Best Self staff member Flannery with Rowbot instructors Charles and Aubrey

If you’re looking for a multifaceted workout that builds muscle and improves your cardio level, led by encouraging and friendly instructors and alongside dedicated studio members, Rowbot Fitness is it. To try a class for yourself, reserve your spot online and drop in to an orientation and your first class for free!

Details: 2030 Powers Ferry Road
Suite 368, Atlanta, GA 30339www.rowbotfitness.com


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Alton Brown, The Edible Inevitable Tour in Atlanta



Celebrity chef Alton Brown returns to Atlanta on February 28 with The Edible Inevitable Tour. Spanning every genre, this national tour includes food experimentation, stand-up comedy and even live music from Alton himself. Come prepared for fun at this family-friendly event, but be careful of the seats in the designated “poncho zone,” where Alton’s cooking demonstrations might get messy! Tickets are available through the Fox Theatre or Whole Foods.
Details: www.altonbrowntour.com/shows/atlanta

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Who needs Glee when we have our own show choir, called Voices Embodied Ensemble (VEE), right here in Atlanta? Featuring talented singers who have physical disabilities and awesome voices, VEE officially began in June 2013 as one of the newest projects from the nonprofit group Abel 2.

This singing group hopes to use music and art to do what Paralympians do through sports: focus on the abilities and not the challenges of talented people. VEE has the enthusiastic support of local and national organizations like the Shepherd Center, Disability Link, Full Radius Dance Company, People First of Atlanta, and Southeast ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), as well as the disability departments of the Smithsonian and National Endowment of the Arts.

Voices Embodied Ensemble casting call, Abel 2The group currently has three singers, and they hope to grow to about nine to 12 members. VEE held their kick-off showcase in November. The ensemble performed some contemporary songs as well as classic songs from a variety of genres. Come out to future concerts and help VEE gain the attention it needs to achieve one of their long-term goals: to be invited to perform at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Brazil. VEE’s next casting call is January 25 from 4 to 7 p.m. at Shepherd Center. If you or someone you know is interested in auditioning, email abel2nonprofit@aol.com

Details: www.abel2.org

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Dr. David Whiteman from Southern Plastic Surgery answers a reader’s question about pre-surgery weight.

Dr. David Whiteman, Southern Plastic SurgeryQ: Do I have to be a certain weight before I can have liposuction or a tummy tuck?

A: I remind my patients that plastic surgery should not be a “quick fix,” but rather should help them reach aesthetic goals, as liposuction and a tummy tuck only enhance the body’s contours. Prior to cosmetic surgery, it’s important to be near your weight goals and to maintain realistic expectations. To prolong long-lasting results after surgery, patients must adopt a healthy diet and exercise routine.


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Day 7 of Fitness – Interval training at Orangetheory Fitness

Best Self staffer: Flannery

Today’s workout for 30 Days of Fitness happened at the Howell Mill location of Orangetheory Fitness, a nationwide franchise that recently started opening locations in Atlanta. The workout is a circuit of treadmill training, rowing and weight training that promises to burn up to 1000 calories in a one-hour class. Needless to say, I was a little intimidated by that number–it sounded like the class was going to be next to impossible! I had also never rowed before, so I had a new skill to learn on top of working hard, but I was excited to try it out.

Best Self staff member Flannery with Orangetheory instructor Jason

Best Self staff member Flannery with Orangetheory instructor Jason

I arrived about 10 minutes before class began, but I quickly wished I had arrived earlier. If it’s your first time at Orangetheory, plan to arrive at least 20 minutes, if not 30, before class begins so you have time to complete your paperwork and get oriented to the training room. Thankfully, I had enough time for our instructor, Jason, to teach me the basics of the rowing machine before it was time to get started. I strapped on the provided heart monitor and headed in to the training room, which was tinted with orange light to get us in the Orangetheory mood.

As we came in, Jason split us up so that half were on the rowing machines and half were on treadmills. I was in the treadmill group, where I stayed for 30 minutes while the rowing group ran back and forth between their rowing machines and the weight room. Then we switched. Jason consistently gave instruction and metrics goals to both groups, switching back and forth between giving treadmill instructions, rowing instructions and weight room instructions. He guided us on percent incline and speed, and there was a helpful cheat sheet attached to each treadmill indicating the appropriate incline and speed for your skill level. I classified myself as “power walker,” because I didn’t want to commit to too much too early and wear myself out. Turns out, I’m stronger than I thought, and by the end, I definitely felt like I could have worked a little harder. Lesson learned: don’t be afraid to push yourself!

After 30 minutes on the treadmills, during which we kept an eye on the metrics screens that showed our heart rates and whether or not we were in the “Orange Zone” of maximum work, my group switched to the rowing/weights section. Jason demonstrated the movements, and another screen in the corner of the room displayed the weight repetitions and rowing goals we tried to meet. We finished the class with some quick stretching and then a rundown of our final metrics. This metrics screen and the instructor’s helpful explanations are a great way to set your goals for next time.

Orangetheory metrics

Orangetheory metrics - my screen shows that I spent about 32 minutes in the green zone and 20 in the light orange, for a total of 560 calories burned. I definitely could have worked harder!

To try Orangetheory for yourself, visit www.orangetheoryfitness.com and register for a class at any of their Atlanta locations. Now is a great time to join because January 17 marks the beginning of their National Weight Loss Challenge. The top male and female participants with the highest percentage of weight loss between January 17 and February 28 will each receive $10,000!

Details: 857 Collier Road, Suite 15, Atlanta, GA, (404) 455-0402, www.orangetheoryfitness.com


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Look out for these common signs of aging that appear on your hands, and use our experts’ tips to avoid them.

Expert Tips to Keep Hand YouthfulYellow nails. Using dark polish can cause some discoloration. Yellow nails may also indicate a fungal infection.

Advice: To prevent yellowing of nails from polish, use a good base coat before painting nails, because nails are porous. Also, don’t leave polish on for a long time, as it can penetrate through base coats and cause discoloration to nails. If it’s from fungus, there are new laser treatments that are very effective as well as prescription medication.

~ Jill Barron, cosmetic consultant and licensed esthetician, Gardner Dermatology & Med Spa

Thin skin. You lose fat under your skin as you age, which can make the skin look paper, wrinkly and thin.

Advice: Fillers such as Radiesse and a person’s own fat may be injected in the back of hands to replace volume and provide a more rejuvenated appearance.

~ Dr. Brian P. Maloney, double board-certified facial plastic surgeon, The Maloney Center for Facial Plastic Surgery

Brown spots. Sun exposure over time can exacerbate brown spots, sometimes called liver spots, on the skin.

Advice: This is the best season to treat those unsightly brown spots with Intense Pulse Light (IPL) treatments, as great results are seen with just one session if you apply a cream with ChromaBright nightly and sun protection daily.

~Lyn Ross , president of Institut’ DERMed, master esthetician and aesthetic instructor

Expert Tips to Keep Hand YouthfulDry skin. Exposure to harsh soaps and, surprisingly, air and water pollution can dry out your skin.

Advice: Carry a good hand cream and apply to your hands each time you wash or use hand sanitizer to help keep skin from drying out. Also, keep a sunscreen in your car that blocks UVA and UVB rays and apply it to your hands each time you get into your car.

~Dr. Gabrielle Sabini, board-certified dermatologist, North Atlanta Dermatology

Prominent veins. Losing volume in your skin means your veins appear more prominent.

Advice: Hand sclerotherapy is a safe and effective treatment for these veins. This involves a series of injections of a solution into the veins that causes the vein walls to collapse. The veins are then absorbed naturally by the body over a period of weeks.

~Dr. Lisa Perez, board-certified vein specialist, Circulatory Centers

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Day 6 of Fitness – Hip Hop Fit at Dance 101

Best Self staffer: Flannery

Dance 101 Hip Hop Fit class

Some light stretching in the studio before class begins

When you’re having trouble staying motivated to work out, you might need to try something that doesn’t seem like a workout at all. Doing yard work, playing catch or tag with the kids, and even taking your dog on a long, brisk walk can be great ways to get moving. For Day 6 of our 30 Days of Fitness, I discovered that one of the best non-workout workouts is a dance class. I went to Dance 101 for an 11:00 a.m. Hip Hop Fit class with instructor D. Norris. I call this class a “non-workout” because it’s so much fun I quickly forgot that, technically, I was working out. As D. said at the beginning of class, “What’s the first rule in here? Have fun. Second rule? Have fun.” The class started off with a fast paced conditioning warm-up. We stretched and did a few crunches to the beat of familiar tunes like NSYNC’s Dirty Pop and other songs that had everyone in the class ready to dance.

Best Self staffer Flannery and Dance 101 instructor D. Norris

Best Self staffer Flannery and Dance 101 instructor D. Norris

After warming up, we jumped right into learning the day’s routine. I am by no means a dancer–unless a few uncoordinated routines in high school musical theater count–but D.’s teaching easily guided me and the rest of the class through the dance. He was careful to learn the names of the newcomers and be sure to check in with the entire class every few minutes to ensure that we understood the movements. As we learned new chunks of the dance, we would run it from the beginning several times to really lock it into our memories. In addition to helping us remember the moves, this repetition is what boosted my heart rate and had me sweating before I knew it! By the end, we were running the routine top to bottom, several times in a row, and I could tell my body was working hard. But since it was a dance class, I was enthusiastically focused on the moves and the music rather than my own fatigue–unlike whenever I’m on a treadmill, when I’m just increasingly tired and bored. So for those of you looking for a way to ditch the dull workouts and still burn a ton of calories and get great cardio, this class might be the perfect fit!

Normally, you can drop in to a Dance 101 class for $20, or take advantage of their new student specials. Right now, you can also take advantage of their 2014 Free Week, which begins January 11 and runs through January 16. You can take up to seven free classes, which allows you to try a variety and find the perfect class for you. Visit their Briarcliff Road location or their brand-new Alpharetta location, opening next week.

Details: 2480 Briarcliff Rd NE, Atlanta, GA, 404-542-3887, info@dance101.org, www.atlanta.dance101.org


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Local counselor Angela Buttimer explains how to find and select the best therapist for your needs.

Angela Buttimer, Buttimer & AssociatesQ: When looking for a therapist, where should I start?

A: There are many ways to begin your search for a therapist. I have observed that referrals by those who know us (and that we trust) can be the most effective starting point. The next step (and if you don’t have a personal referral) is to find the therapist’s website to learn more. You can Google “counseling in Atlanta” to begin a web search of experienced therapists in your area. If what you read seems appealing to you, make the call to have a live conversation. During this conversation, you will get a feel for the personhood of this professional as well as get some pragmatic questions answered.

Q: What should I ask during the initial phone call?

A: Potential clients ask many questions like location, price and hours. Be sure to ask about their structure and process. There are as many approaches to psychotherapy as there are psychotherapists. Two different professionals may seem similar in writing but actually have very different processes. For example, some psychotherapists have a strong focus or psychological theory they utilize with all of their clients, while others are more eclectic. Some focus solely on talk therapy, some on experiential, while others incorporate both in the session. Some therapists ask you to do homework between sessions, while others focus more on the process in session.

Q: What’s most important when vetting a therapist?

A: By far, finding a good fit! Psychotherapy is very personal, and it takes courage to take that initial step of self-care. If you spend a few sessions with a therapist and are not feeling comfortable, it is absolutely appropriate to find someone else.

Q: Should my therapist have personal experience with the issues I want to work on?

A: This is not necessary. They are trained professionals. However, it is important that they have professional experience in working with issues and goals similar to yours. So be sure to ask them about their experience and success with these issues.

Q: How is therapy better than talking with my friends?

A: A good therapist will be more objective, professionally trained, and will put aside their needs to focus their complete attention on supporting you.

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Day 5 of Fitness – Aerial Arts at Sky Gym

Best Self staffer: Flannery

Learning the trapeze at Sky Gym

Best Self staffer Flannery learning the trapeze

Do you have what it takes to join the Cirque du Soleil? After taking classes at Sky Gym, you might! This gym instructs students in the aerial arts, which are exactly what they sound like: artistic movements in the air, like those you see at the circus performed on hoops, trapezes and fabric suspended from the ceiling. Amber Monson opened Sky Gym in 2009 after completing teacher training classes with Cirque du Soleil aerialists themselves. She has since passed her expertise on to a handful of other instructors who are there to help you fly your way to fitness.

At the beginner level, though, you won’t be flying quite yet. The beginner class I attended started with students sitting on the ground to hear a serious talk about safety and correct body positioning when performing aerial movements. One major safety rule is to remove all jewelry and secure long hair, so that nothing gets caught on the fabrics and causes injury. The beginner level class also contains an explanation of the various equipment in the gym: a hoop called a lyra, a trapeze and durable fabric strips called aerial silks.

Sky Gym instructor explaining proper positioning in the silks

Sky Gym instructor explaining proper positioning in the silks


After this introductory information, the fun really begins. Class participants partner up with a spotter to practice positions such as a “lay back” and a “side press-out” on the various pieces of equipment. These positions may look easy – especially when you’re only a few feet off the ground – but they require lots of core and upper body strength. I don’t think of myself as someone who has much of either, but I didn’t let that stop me. Sky Gym welcomes students of all body types and skill levels, and the spotters and instructors were there to help me get into each position and start building my strength. By the end of the class, I got to try an inverted pose where I was upside down in the silks. It wasn’t as scary as it sounds, and after you conquer that pose, you’ll be ready for Cirque du Soleil before you know it! Drop in to an introductory class today for just $19.

Details: 6780 Roswell Road, Suite D100, Sandy Springs, GA, www.aerialsilksatlanta.com

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