Tuesday, 28 March 2017 17:10

Changing the Game

It is often said that taking part in sports from a young age nurtures connection, character growth and a competitive nature—all qualities that make a well-rounded individual. For no one has that been truer than for Atlanta's CW69 "Rise Up Weekly" co-host and media personality, Rashan Ali.

For Ali, the roots of the multibranched, far-reaching tree of her life are anchored deeply in the world of sports. A wide base of involvement in that world on many levels instilled her with resilience and ambition, as well as a keen sense of self and purpose.

"Sports played an integral role in my development as a woman," Ali says. "It allowed me to know what leadership looks and feels like. It shows you how to literally fall down and get back up."

P-02This awareness of the power of sports in shaping her life inspired her to start Sporty Girls, Inc. The 11-year-old nonprofit seeks to empower minority girls by exposing them to sports not traditionally offered in metro-Atlanta public schools such as golf, soccer, swimming, and tennis. To date, the organization has graduated nearly 25 young women from its Sporty Tract To Scholarship Program, many of whom have received academic scholarships. And Get Girls Sporty and Sporty Clinic initiatives have served 800 girls since the program's inception in 2006. This summer will mark the introduction of lacrosse to the Get Girls Sporty program at the organization's new Day Camp Experience.

Sports have been a vital part of Ali's life since she was a child. Her father, William "Buck" Godfrey, is the winningest coach in DeKalb County history, having sent 270 young men to college on football or academic scholarships. Her mother, Joyce Godfrey, was a Pop Warner youth football coach whose team of boys was undefeated one season.

Ali played softball, soccer and basketball, and was also involved in jazz, tap and ballet. But swimming was the sport that would take her the furthest. She and three other girls made up the The Worthington Valley Dolphins' relay team, which was a part of the DeKalb County Swim League [now known as the Atlanta Swim Association]. "We were the only black girls in the water at the time and we were fast,"Ali recalls of the team her dad coached.

All four of the swim team members went to college on swimming scholarships, and they remain close to this day. "The beauty of our bond is that it did not end in the pool," Ali says. "These three women were bridesmaids in my wedding almost 15 years ago. Our bond is unbreakable, and it all started because of swimming."

Whether she was achieving in sports or in the professional world, Ali felt the constant warm encouragement of a loving cheering section. That support and a degree in broadcast journalism from Florida A&M University helped her start her broadcasting career in 2001, when she beat out hundreds of competitors to secure a spot alongside the popular Ryan Cameron on his Hot 107.9 FM morning radio show.

"Because I am an Atlanta native and a Decatur-raised woman, I already have a built-in cheer squad," she says. "I received so much love from the city and that love has never died. I feel privileged to represent Atlanta in every facet of my life."

Her work in radio and the countless media and sports reporting jobs that followed that first one brought Ali many chances to gain personal strength.

P-01"Radio gave me my thickest skin," she says. "To be let go after doing a shift can be heart-wrenching. I thought that was an isolated situation, but after it happened two additional times, I knew it was the culture. I think the greatest professional challenge I have faced is that there is always someone in position who either likes you or they simply don't. That in turn, determines so much. I suppose that's the case with many jobs."

When Atlanta's CW69 became the official local TV partner of the Atlanta Falcons, Ali was asked to join the Saturday lineup as a co-host. Today she can be seen with former Falcons and University of Georgia player, D.J. Shockley on "Rise Up Weekly," which takes a behind-the-scenes look at the lives of the team's players.

"I truly enjoy hosting this show! Out of all of the shows I've been a part of, radio included, I enjoy this one the most. It's not just the Xs and Os of the game, we feature the Falcons in the community and tap into their fashion hits or misses in our segment, "Rocked It or Dumb Jocked It!" It's a fun segment. So much so that head coach Dan Quinn's wife told her husband it's her favorite part of the show," Ali says.

P-04And now, at 41, after an extremely successful and layered career as a TV personality, radio show host, sports reporter and founder of a nonprofit organization (not to mention children's book author, wife and mother), Ali is drawing from yet another foundational sports principle: reinvention.

Having built an impressive professional life freelancing her well-honed skills as a broadcast journalist and media personality, the lifetime Atlantan is experiencing a renewed spiritual connection that is drawing her to a higher purpose. She's ready for her "big gig," as she calls it.

"You have to take greatness into your own hands. You can't let others determine your greatness," Ali says. "There's another level of me that is totally untapped, and figuring out what that looks like can be daunting. But you have to give yourself permission to say, 'This is my life.' A life is like a fingerprint; there's nobody's life that's like yours."

P-03Many of the grooves of Ali's unique life fingerprint were etched inside the sports arena. And mastery and remastery of new skills—new approaches, new angles, new techniques—is a lesson she learned well in that setting.

And although Ali is not certain exactly what form her work will take in this next phase of her life, she feels strongly that it will be revealed to her as she continues to connect and align with her deep spirituality.

"I truly believe that you have to have faith in something greater than yourself," Ali says. "Whether it's God, meditation, universal thoughts ... it's important that we reach for something outside of ourselves."

"It's a work in progress; it's a constant search," she says.


Tuesday, 28 March 2017 16:54

My Best Self—Jenny Pruitt

Over the past four decades, Jenny Pruitt has built an incredibly strong reputation and record of success as a real estate leader. The CEO and founder of Atlanta Fine Homes Sotheby's International Realty attributes her achievements to her indomitable optimism and deep faith.

By India Powell


An extremely active philanthropist, Pruitt is involved with Habitat for Humanity and serves on the Board of Councilors for The Carter Center, as well as the Board of the Directors of the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce. She is also on the Board of Directors for the Buckhead Coalition. Pruitt is particularly passionate about her work with the Georgia chapter of the Alzheimer's Association.


What are the biggest shifts you have seen in real estate over the years? What has remained constant, if anything?

When I started in the business, we did not have cellphones, Internet or computers so the world today is a very different one. Now, while all of this technology changes how we do business, it has not changed the fact that deals are done between people. Buyers and sellers still very much need to partner with a professional REALTOR® in order to navigate the sometimes bumpy waters of a transaction. The job of the agent is not to just identify the right house for a buyer; it's about solving problems along the way so that the experience for the parties involved is as smooth as possible. It is the constant change and evolution of our industry that energizes me the most about our business and it's why I can't wait to go to work every day.


What is the biggest secret to your success?

I have had a philosophy in my companies [past, Jenny Pruitt & Associates, and present, Atlanta Fine Homes Sotheby's International Realty] that if we take care of the people, the bottom line will follow. Happy agents make happy clients and smooth transactions. We endeavor to take the burden off our agents with the support that we provide them allowing them to prosper in the areas of the business they do best. Beneath this philosophy are my strong spiritual beliefs, which have always guided me in my decision-making process. My strong relationship with God is without question the foundation on which my success has been built.


2Why are philanthropy and volunteering important to you and what does it bring to your life?

To whom much is given, much is required. I believe we must pass it on and give back to our community. I operate with an overflowing cup.
What does your work with the Alzheimer's Association mean to you?
According to the Alzheimer's Association, every 66 seconds, someone in the United States develops Alzheimer's disease. It is a devastating illness and I am helping to raise money to eradicate this disease. The Dancing Stars of Atlanta event is so awesome! The dancers work so hard with their pros and it is exciting that the audience is made aware of the devastation of this disease.



Monday, 27 March 2017 18:07

5 Nail Salon Safety Tips

1Take an Observation of the Salon. The surrounding areas (shelves, tables, equipment, and floors) should be clear from dust and debris. The pedicure chairs should be sanitize and pedicure bowls should be disinfected with Barbicide after each client. A business license should be visible for customers. Each nail technician should have their license posted at their station.

2Understand How They Disinfect Their Tools. Tools are disinfected through a 15 minutes soaking disinfection or using an autoclave sterilization. Barbicide or MarV-Cide disinfection are used for tools to soak 15 minutes in disinfection. Buffers and files should be single-use only and disposed after each client.

3Take Observation of Nail Technician. A nail technician should wash their hands before every service. They should wear gloves to prevent the spread of bacteria to the client. Nail technicians should wear a mask during pedicures to prevent contact with debris. Make sure the nail technician is not reusing dirty tools on you.

4Chemical Usage. From beginning to the end of service, you should always know what chemical is being used on you. The label should be simple for you to identify (for example, acetone, alcohol, callus reducer).

5Say "NO" to Pain. There should be no sign of redness or pain felt through any service. The sign of RED means STOP!

P-1It's important to understand that safety is vital in the nail salon. Take safety matters into your own hands the next time you visit your nail salon. Communication is key. Always ask questions on matters you don't know. You can have confidence with safety at Waterless MediPedi & Nail Spa, a Certified Safe Salon. Safe Salons use autoclave sterilization and uphold the highest standards of aseptic techniques in their establishments.



Letisha Royster, LNT, ANT-C
Owner of Waterless Medi-Pedi & Nail Spa

It was a desire to create a nail salon that could cater to the needs of chronic disease sufferers, as well as the everyday woman or man, that lead Advanced Nail Technician Letisha Royster to open Waterless Medi-Pedi & Nail Spa.

By forgoing soaking hands and feet during manicures and pedicures, 12 to 15 gallons of water are saved and the danger of spreading waterborne pathogens is practically eliminated. Waterless Med-Pedi & Nail Spa enhances its efforts to reduce infection risks by using an autoclave sterilization (medical grade sanitation) for all instruments, disposing nail buffers, and files after each client.

Every guest that visits the establishment doesn't simply leave with a fresh coat of polish, but also receives a consultation regarding their health, an evaluation of their hands and feet, and recommendations of services and products to maintain the vitality of their skin and beauty of their nails over time.

Sponsored by:
Waterless Medi-Pedi & Nail Spa | 1820 Peachtree Road NE Suite 402 | Atlanta, GA 30309
Phone: (404) 981-4841 | waterlessmedipedispa.com


Thursday, 23 March 2017 18:02

April / May 2017 Digital Issue

April / May 2017 Digital Issue:

Friday, 27 January 2017 15:51

The Waterless Pedicure Revolution

Nicknamed the wave of the future in the nail industry, waterless pedicures not only create the opportunity for a more luxurious visit, they are also leading the way as one of the most sanitary nail care treatments available.

The absence of water during a pedicure removes the risk of waterborne pathogens, meaning those suffering from diseases such as diabetes, lupus, or cancer can enjoy a pampering pedicure without putting their health at increased risk. The ability to provide extensive, hygienic nail care to guests, beyond that of a traditional salon, is why Waterless Medi-Pedi & Nail Spa founder and Advanced Nail Technician, Letisha Royster fosters close relationships with local podiatrists and dermatologists and can refer her clients to seek medical foot care if necessary.

The immune system isn't the only recipient that gets a boost from a lack of water, either. Skipping a soak extends the life of each manicure and pedicure due to the fact that the nails don't have the chance to retain water, which causes them to expand, and the nail polish to shrink. Those with dry skin especially reap the benefits of waterless nail care since water can irritate the skin by dehydrating it further.

While the water might be missing, nearly every aspect of a waterless pedicure remains the same as a traditional one. Customers can still expect to enjoy exfoliation, callus removal, cuticle care, nail trims, warm towel wraps, optional paraffin wax dips, lotion, massage, and nail polish application.

Plus, every Waterless Medi-Pedi & Nail Spa guest receives their treatment in a private and peaceful setting, allowing them the chance to truly relax and enjoy their time in a spa-like environment.


P-1Letisha Royster, LNT, ANT-C
Owner of Waterless Medi-Pedi & Nail Spa

It was a desire to create a nail salon that could cater to the needs of chronic disease sufferers, as well as the everyday woman or man, that lead Advanced Nail Technician Letisha Royster to open Waterless Medi-Pedi & Nail Spa.

By forgoing soaking hands and feet during manicures and pedicures, 12 to 15 gallons of water are saved and the danger of spreading waterborne pathogens is practically eliminated. Waterless Med-Pedi & Nail Spa enhances its efforts to reduce infection risks by using an autoclave sterilization (medical grade sanitation) for all instruments, disposing nail buffers, and files after each client.

Every guest that visits the establishment doesn't simply leave with a fresh coat of polish, but also receives a consultation regarding their health, an evaluation of their hands and feet, and recommendations of services and products to maintain the vitality of their skin and beauty of their nails over time.


Sponsored by: Waterless Medi-Pedi & Nail Spa | 1820 Peachtree Road NE Suite 402 | Atlanta, GA 30309  |  Phone: (404) 981-4841 | www.waterlessmedipedispa.com


A young, vibrant girl sat on an orange chair, tablet in hand, in her own world. Her mother wore an expression of fatigue, yet she smiled and hope shined through her eyes. As I chatted with Mom about her daughter's need for consistency, her extreme sensitivity to textures, her difficulty with interactive play, and her erratic speech occurrences, slowly the tablet drew less attention from the girl's eyes. Her little hands grabbed the stethoscope from my neck pulling me toward her. "Heart check," she exclaimed! With sudden excitement, she placed my hand with the stethoscope on her chest. But when we progressed to looking in her ears, no matter how gentle, she was sensitive and apprehensive. After resisting and then being held, she decisively put on her coat and hat and walked out the door before her mother was done speaking.

During our discussion, her mother explained that she desired for her daughter to gain an outlet of expression for her intelligence. However, she recognized the issues her daughter faced in communication adaptation. This is where many parents and providers share common goals. We desire the best for our youth.

Over my 10 years of pediatric practice, I have realized I must continually strive to further my education and knowledge and reach out to subspecialists, therapists, and counselors. The occupation of a child is discovery through play. As a pediatrician, it is my responsibility to understand this deeply and help families, parents, and children alike, to forge new relationships and conquer fresh frontiers through a team approach. We are so excited to make the idea of total child health a reality through collaboration with therapists, counselors, nutritionists, and teachers. Dare2Care Pediatrics promises to serve as a constant source of communication, coordination, and facilitation for families. Our goal is that every child who enters our medical home leaves a little better off in some way.

P-1That day, many possible diagnoses were introduced into our discussion including autism, sensory processing disorder, and language disorder. We discussed these to some extent, but more importantly, we came up with a practical plan of early intervention. We initiated speech, occupational, play, and music therapy sessions. My colleagues communicate her progress with me, and I regularly meet with Mom to talk about ongoing concerns and celebrate milestones. With each monthly visit, she is gaining confidence. The last time she came in she sat on the table, looked at her tablet briefly, put it down and said to me directly, "Doctor, heart check." When we moved to her ears, she liked the imaginary kisses and tickles and did not pull back. Once we'd finished, she gave me a hug and then said, "Go home." This is a perfect example of why I love coming to work every day. Play is the way!

Dare2Care Pediatrics | 11125 Jones Bridge Road, Suite 100 | Alpharetta, GA 30022
(770) 615-7000 | www.dare2carepediatrics.com

Friday, 27 January 2017 14:23

Sweat with the Best

Atlanta Fitness Classes to Try

By Amelia Pavlik

Barre, spinning, high-intensity interval training—these days, there is a workout class option on every corner from Atlanta to Alpharetta. And deciding which type of class to try and where to try it can be as exhausting as the workout itself.

That's why we're here to make your life a little easier. Best Self has pulled together a list of 17 classes to try at studios and clubs throughout the city. Read on to find out which ones might be a fit for you.


P-1Barre3: Signature Class

This hour-long barre class is inspired by ballet barre, yoga, and Pilates. Whether you're a beginner or an athlete, instructors will guide you through movements that tone all major muscle groups and strengthen your body.

Childcare: Yes

Awesome Amenity: Free parking

Cost: New clients get three classes for $30

Words of Wisdom: "We know trying something new can be intimidating, and our mission is to make each class enjoyable and effective for everyone in the room," says Jessica Walton, Barre3 South Buckhead instructor/client relations manager.

Multiple locations, www.barre3.com



If you're looking to punch and kick your way to better shape, this 45-minute option might be for you.
BURNBox is a high-intensity class consisting of plyometrics and pounding the bag with punches, kicks, elbows and knees. The goal is to make beginners and seasoned professionals sweat equally.

Childcare: Coming soon

Awesome Amenity: Heart rate monitors

Cost: New clients get five classes for $55

Words of Wisdom: "Treat this class like an adult game of Simon Says," says Matthew Callahan, BURNbox program director.

3575 Durden Dr. NE, Brookhaven, (770) 837-0051, www.livetoburn.com


P-2Chaos Conditioning: CHAOS

This one-hour, high-intensity interval training class will take you through stations that range from resistance work on TRX bands to running on a self-propelled treadmill.

Childcare: Yes

Awesome Amenity: Full locker room with showers and sauna

Cost: First class is free

Words of Wisdom: "Don't be intimidated! We try to have as much fun as we can while still making the class challenging and effective," says Jeff Baird, owner. "You will only be competing with yourself, and will always have the support of the group behind you."

The Forum Athletic Club, Lenox Square Mall, 3393 Peachtree Rd. NE, Atlanta, (404) 590-5852, www.chaosconditioning.com


Concourse Athletic Club: Fitness Quest

This one-hour class will keep your body guessing by utilizing a mixture of strength work and aerobic movements as it progresses through all areas of the club, including the outdoor spaces.

Childcare: Yes

Awesome Amenity: Well-lit tennis courts

Cost: First class is free

Words of Wisdom: "Arrive a few minutes early, and let the instructor know this is your first time," says Marianne Baker, group exercise and Pilates director.

8 Concourse Pkwy., Sandy Springs, (770) 698-2000, www.concourseclub.com


P-3CorePower Yoga: Yoga Sculpt

In 60 or 75 minutes, this yoga class incorporates free weights, cardio bursts, and strength training into a vinyasa flow.

Childcare: No

Awesome Amenity: Showers

Cost: New students receive a week of free classes

Words of Wisdom: "Keep an open mind, get ready to sweat, and walk away strong and refreshed," says Alicia Wilson, general manager for the Atlanta locations.

Multiple locations, www.corepoweryoga.com


Cyc Fitness: CYC45

During this 45-minute indoor cycling class, you'll move through endurance intervals and weighted sectors that are inspired by more than 20 different sports movements from boxing to volleyball.

Childcare: Yes

Awesome Amenity: Complimentary shoe rental

Cost: New clients get three rides for $60

Words of Wisdom: "Don't forget to hold your core—or what you might call your 'abs'—in the entire class," says Caroline Seagraves, lead cycologist. "It's always being worked."

3393 Peachtree Rd. NE, Atlanta, (404) 698-4343, www.cycfitness.com


P-4Exhale: Core Fusion Extreme

In this 60-minute, high-intensity workout, you'll move through five power stations (that incorporate tools like TRX bands, weights, and core balls) with mini active breaks in-between. The routine changes monthly so the workout stays fresh.

Childcare: No.

Awesome Amenity: Fitness shop

Cost: First two classes for the price of one ($25)

Words of Wisdom: "Bring sneakers," says Alexandria Stubbs, studio director of the Inman Park location.

Multiple locations, www.exhalespa.com


P-5FORME: Barre Fusion

Combine big movements with small movements for both upper and lower body in this 55-minute, barre-based class.

Childcare: No

Awesome Amenity: Complimentary hair accessories

Cost: $15 per class

Words of Wisdom: "Feel free to take the class at whatever pace you need," says Donna Burke, owner. "We're just here to give you the max number of reps you can get!"

365 Peachtree Hills Ave. NE, Atlanta, (404) 668-1947, www.FORMEstudios.com


Pure Barre: Signature Class

This 55-minute total body workout will lengthen and strengthen your muscles by focusing on your arms, abs, seat, and thighs. And since Pure Barre is low impact and restorative, it's an option for people of all fitness levels.

Childcare: No

Awesome Amenity: Complimentary healthy snacks like apples and KIND bars

Cost: Three-class pack for $30 for new clients

Words of Wisdom: "Don't compare yourself to others—just focus on you," says Katy Bayless Gibson, Pure Barre Virginia-Highland and Pure Barre Decatur owner.

1402 North Highland Ave. NE, Atlanta, (404) 883-3882, www.purebarre.com


SculptHouse: StrengthSculpt

In 50 minutes, the M3 Megaformer will take you through a workout that delivers endurance, cardio, core, balance, and flexibility training.

Childcare: No

Awesome Amenity: Fitness shop

Cost: First class is $15

Words of Wisdom: "Don't be intimidated by the machines," says Katherine Mason, founder and CEO. "Yes, they look scary. Your first class will be challenging, but each class you take will make you more familiar with names of the moves."

3167 Peachtree Rd., Atlanta, (470) 553-0080, www.sculpthouse.com


Stellar Bodies: Full Body

Get ready for a 50-minute, full-body workout with a Megaformer machine, which uses springs and pulleys to provide resistance without putting impact on your joints.

Childcare: No—but well-behaved children have been allowed to sit in on a class.

Awesome Amenity: Filtered water

Cost: First class is $10

Words of Wisdom: "Arrive at least 10 minutes early to allow for time to get to know the Megaformer," says Amy Selig, studio co-owner.

Multiple locations, www.stellarbodiesatl.com


The Bar Method: Mixed Level

This one-hour format utilizes the strength, stamina, and flexibility of ballet training, and pairs it with the alignment and physiological principles of physical therapy.

Childcare: At the Lenox location on Mondays and Wednesdays during the 9:45 a.m. class

Awesome Amenity: Varies by location

Cost: $85 for 30 days of unlimited classes

Words of Wisdom: "This is unlike any workout you may have tried before," says Melissa White, owner and master teacher. "It's OK if it doesn't come naturally to you. If you can push through the first 60 minutes, you'll never look back!"

Multiple locations, www.barmethod.com


P-6Thunderbolt Power Yoga: Power Flow

Set to a rocking playlist, this 60-minute signature class aims to connect breath to rhythm, and beat to body in an 85- to 90-degree room.

Childcare: No

Awesome Amenities: A cool towel doused in essential oils to end each class

Cost: First class is free

Words of Wisdom: "People often ask me if I have a minute to show them how to hop into a handstand—but I can't teach someone this in a minute or even five," says Carly Grace Hinchman, founder. "So, be sure to check out the Fundamentals of Flying class. It's the foundation class that each yogi needs to incorporate various inversions into her flow."

3872 Roswell Rd. NE, Atlanta, (404) 556-1605, www.thunderboltpoweryoga.com


P-7TruAlliance Fitness: CrossFit

TruAlliance offers CrossFit class sessions, which provide effective and efficient workouts that incorporate compound movements like Olympic lifts and gymnastic exercises. For example, most workouts are short—not more than 30 minutes (not including the warm up or mobility work).

Childcare: No

Awesome Amenity: A discount at Jeju Sauna

Cost: First class is free

Words of Wisdom: "CrossFit is a high-intensity sport, meaning that it opens athletes up to the risk of injury if certain exercises are not properly executed," says Erick Colindres, owner. "So, work on form and technique first."

3555 Gwinnett Place Dr., Duluth, (678) 916-0610, www.trualliance.com


Vesta Movement: Kickboxing

Vesta Movement offers up a high-intensity cardio kickboxing class where guests can burn up to 1,000 calories over 60 minutes.

Childcare: No

Awesome Amenity: Wrap and glove rental is complimentary for your first class

Cost: First class is free

Words of Wisdom: "Be prepared to sweat—and have a blast," says Missy Mostrom, owner and trainer.

774 Ponce de Leon Ave., Atlanta, (404) 281-1121, www.vestaatl.com


West Coast Workout: Bench Interval

This 55-minute cardio and strength-building class uses the custom West Coast Workout benches, which are tools that incorporate the core muscles in a unique way by adding variation and angles.

Childcare: No

Awesome Amenity: Rainfall spa shower with essential oil-infused natural products

Cost: Mention this article and your first class will be free
Words of Wisdom: "Bring a towel—you'll earn every drop of sweat on your body," says Tammy Stokes, founder.

107 West Paces Ferry Rd., Atlanta, (404) 467-0602, www.westcoastworkout.com


P-8Windy Hill Athletic Club: Battle

Train for strength, speed and power using battle ropes and bodyweight movements in this 30-minute workout. Participants can modify any movement, according to their fitness level.

Childcare: Yes

Awesome Amenity: 50-foot climbing wall

Cost: First class is complimentary with a guest pass

Words of Wisdom: "Be prepared for anything and be ready to work," says Karen Foley, general manager. "This class will elevate your heart rate and strengthen all of your muscle groups."

135 Interstate North Parkway, Atlanta, (770) 953-1100, www.windyhillclub.com


Thursday, 26 January 2017 22:06

The Puzzling Truth


Get the 411 on heart disease, the No. 1 killer of both men and women living in the United States.

By Katie Lambert

"'Doctor, why me?' I get that all the time," says William A. Cooper, MD, author and medical director of cardiovascular surgery at WellStar Health System. "'Why not you?' is oftentimes my answer to that question." Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States—more than all forms of cancer combined. It accounts for about one of every three deaths in the United States.

Heart disease is a term that covers a whole bucket of diseases and conditions. Most often, when we talk about heart disease, we're talking about coronary heart disease (CHD) and its precursor, coronary artery disease (CAD). This occurs when plaque builds up in your arteries until it cuts off blood supply to the heart.

But there are also several types of arrhythmias, or irregular heartbeats, that can lead to a cardiac arrest and a stroke. Heart valve diseases concern the movement of blood through the heart, while cardiomyopathy indicates a problem with the muscle itself. Some conditions you're born with; others develop over time. Some have noticeable symptoms, while others are harder to spot.

When our heart is working correctly, we take it for granted. It quietly beats and pulses without us noticing. It's only when the flow is disrupted that we're reminded of its power.

S-1It's Different for Women

Although it's the No.1 killer of both women and men, heart disease is still often thought of as a man's disease. "We're trying to change this frame of mind and make women aware that it's their disease as well. We're still not there," says Viola Vaccarino, MD, PhD, and department chair of epidemiology at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University.

Heart disease affects women differently than men. It tends to strike later in life, for one, and even its symptoms may manifest differently. For example, when Sara Barksdale had a massive heart attack at age 33, it didn't feel like one. There was no shooting pain in her arm, no severe chest pain. She felt nausea, pain in her shoulders, tingling and numbness in her fingers—and then sharp pain in her jaw. Google and her husband said it was time to head to Northside Hospital's emergency department, where she was diagnosed with a heart attack.

Ninety percent of women have at least one risk factor for heart disease or stroke. And considering that fewer women than men survive their first heart attack, we can't afford not to know them.

Calculating Risk

Sara is hardly what we think of as the poster child for a heart attack. She had no family history of heart disease, she exercised regularly and she maintained a mostly healthy diet. There's still plenty we don't know about who's most at risk and why, but there are also some facts we know for sure.

The higher these numbers, the higher your risk:

  • blood sugar (HbA1c less than 6 percent)
  • blood pressure (below 130/80 mm Hg)
  • blood cholesterol (it depends)
  • body weight (BMI of 18.6 to 24.9 and a waistline smaller than 35 inches)

S-2These risk factors affect both women and men very similarly. But there is one factor that may strike women harder: stress. "Things like depression, early life adversities, low socioeconomic conditions—in general, stress appears to have a more powerful effect on the heart and vascular system of women, and these factors may affect risk very early on," says Dr. Vaccarino.

While most risk factors can be addressed with behavioral changes, family history is not one of them. But knowing about your family's health gives you an advantage.

"These are tough things for families to talk about," says Dr. Cooper. "But take the time to ask, 'Wait a minute, this happened to dad at what age?' You don't want to wait until you're in my hands to find out."

He often tells his own story to illustrate the point. His brother Alvin, who served as the best man at his wedding, died of a massive heart attack at the age of 45. His sister Vicki died at age 41 after surgery to repair issues caused by an earlier heart attack. She went into cardiac arrest and died on September 12, 2001, while Dr. Cooper was stranded in another city and unable to fly home.

"I've got that family history. I've got a big target symbol on my back," he says. "But I often see families scrambling to figure things out when they're already in my hands. We're behind the eight ball at that point. When you're prepared, the consequences of whatever it is that happens to you are going to be more positive."

An Eye on Prevention

Starting early is what we tend not to do when it comes to heart health. "You should be thinking about heart health in your teens," says Dr. Cooper.

Dr. Vaccarino agrees. "Many women have the misconception that as long as they are young, they have other things to worry about. It's important to change this frame of mind. Heart disease is chronic, it starts in youth in both men and women, and it progresses. The earlier we act, the better."

For every age group, the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends a healthy diet and physical activity. Don't get too caught up in which diet is best. "There is a lot of confusion around diet," says Dr. Vaccarino. "Stick to what we know is proven and really works. Focus on a vegetarian diet as much as possible and eat meat and fish in moderation." Limit sugar-sweetened beverages, like juice and soda, and cut down on sodium.

If you're looking to make a change, Dr. Cooper's first piece of advice is to do a food diary. The next step: gradual elimination or replacement. He once encouraged a friend to swap out his 2-liter bottle of soda per day with half diet and half regular soda. It was the first step on the road to losing more than 200 pounds.

When it comes to physical activity, every little bit counts, but ideally, you should be getting a good mix of aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities—as in, not just cardio. "Put forth some milestones that are achievable so you don't get discouraged," says Dr. Vaccarino. "Small things little by little can achieve bigger goals."

Changing Treatment Landscape

If lifestyle changes aren't enough to keep a patient's numbers in line, a doctor may prescribe medications to control factors like blood pressure, heart rate, or fibrillation. But it's possible that surgery or other procedures will be necessary. Fortunately, advances in cardiovascular technology are changing the patient experience.

S-3When patients get to Dr. Christopher Meduri, MD, MPH, an interventional cardiologist at Marcus Heart Valve Center, they're often scared. "People associate heart procedures with having their chest cracked open, with bad outcomes. But today there are so many minimally invasive, and even noninvasive, options. This is the new frontier not only in the cardiovascular field but in all of medicine: developing new techniques with much less invasive strategies." In these cases, a long recovery and drawn out hospital stay is no longer the norm. Patients can often be walking around in a few hours after surgery and home in a matter of days.

Gail Edwards of Bartow County had already undergone open-heart surgery once, to replace her mitral valve. When her tricuspid valve began leaking, her doctors told her a second open-heart surgery was high risk. Instead, Dr. Meduri and the team at the Marcus Heart Valve Center suggested she join a clinical trial for a new heart procedure. Instead of having her chest opened, she had a tube threaded through her neck and into the heart to repair the valve. She was the very first patient in Georgia to undergo the procedure, and she's doing just fine.
Minimally invasive options aren't appropriate for all patients. Some patients' conditions are better served by traditional surgery. The risks, benefits, and costs of any procedure should be part of a conversation with your doctor.

Dr. Meduri stresses the importance of choosing a hospital with a large volume of the procedure you're having done. "You want to choose a hospital with a team of people who have very specialized training, people who are very focused on just a few things. It results in better outcomes and better care." Especially if you have a complicated condition, look for hospitals that are involved in research and clinical trials; they can provide access to new treatments that aren't yet on the market.

The Road to Recovery

After a heart event or surgery, the doctors still bring it all back to healthy living.
"That discussion starts at the first appointment," says Dr. Meduri. He pushes for patients to start being active as soon as possible after their procedure, to continue with weight loss, to walk frequently and eat healthily. "The choices you're making don't just affect you for one week, or one month. These are decisions about the quality of your whole life going forward," says Dr. Meduri.

For patients struggling with obesity, there are chronic disease management and weight management programs at many hospitals to assist with weight loss. "It's old, archaic medicine to just say, 'Go eat healthy and exercise,'" says Dr. Cooper. He notes that support groups make a big difference to his patients. "The most important thing is to keep encouraging people," he says. "Encourage them always."

And that psychological aspect is important. Heart health isn't just a matter of taking care of your body. It's choosing what you want your life to look like 5, 10, and 20 years from now.

WellStar Health System: www.wellstar.org
Emory University: www.emory.edu
Northside Hospital: www.northside.com
Piedmont Healthcare: www.piedmont.org


Thursday, 26 January 2017 21:45

The Second Time Around!

Tips and Tales About Taking Another Chance on Love and Marriage

By Amy Meadows

Frank Sinatra was really onto something when he crooned the beloved 1960 tune "The Second Time Around." With lyrics like "Love is lovelier the second time around" and "Love's more comfortable the second time you fall," he says what so many people feel when they find love again and feel ready to take another chance on a walk down the aisle. Of course, there's so much to consider before making that kind of commitment, and it's important to know what goes into having a successful second marriage. Here, the experts share their advice for turning a new chance at love into something that lasts a lifetime.

"Second marriages are challenging and face complexity," says Lisa Pope Campbell, MSW, LCSW, owner of Northeast Georgia Counseling. "You've learned that marriage isn't easy, and now you must learn that experience alone won't divorce-proof your marriage." That's why it's key to recognize how a second marriage will be different from a first marriage and take all of those elements into consideration as you move forward. There are certain steps that you will need to take to ensure that you are not only prepared to get married again, but also that you are ready to be a fully engaged spouse. Because according to Shatavia A. Thomas, DMFT, LMFT, owner of Buckhead's Dr. Shay Speaks, LLC, "Second marriages are about learning how to be a better you with someone new."

SB-3Learn from the Past

Moving on is never easy. And moving on from a marriage—whether it lasted a few months or many years—can be quite challenging. However, you can take comfort in the fact that your experience with your first marriage actually can pave the way to a happy and fulfilling second union.

"Just because your first marriage ended doesn't mean it was a failure," observes Crystal Bradshaw, MA, LPC, NCC, Gottman 7 Principles Educator and couples therapist with Synergy Counseling Innovations, LLC. "A lot of marriages create families. Is that a failure? A lot of marriages create friendships and businesses. Are those failures? No." In fact, Campbell believes that people should look at divorce as a sign of personal strength instead of failure, as it takes courage to walk away from a relationship that is not working. It also takes great fortitude to examine the reasons that first relationship fell apart and what can be learned from that experience.

"Some people learn about themselves, including what's negotiable or non-negotiable and their stance on unexpected variables such as friends, in-laws and the preferred balance of individual and couple time," Thomas says of first marriages. In many cases, the issues that contributed to the end of that first relationship—whether they involved a lack of intimacy or sex, financial disagreements, differing parenting styles or diverging values—can't or won't be recognized until after it has ended. But then there is enlightenment about the role each party played in that situation. "People typically can tell you about the red flags they overlooked in their first marriage, what they are not willing to endure the second time around and what kind of partner they want next time. They are better at identifying what they want from a relationship and what qualities they are looking for in a partner. They can use that information as they embark on their next relationship," Bradshaw says. "Learn from your past so you don't repeat it. Recognize how you may have contributed to the deterioration of the relationship, own your part (no matter how small or big) and vow to be an active participant in your next relationship."

SB-1SB-2Take a Time Out

Thinking about "getting out there" again can be both exciting and frightening. That's why experts suggest that an individual take some time before taking the plunge again. "Take time to get to know yourself after a breakup," says Julie Trujillo, MA, LPC, of Northeast Georgia Counseling. "Allow yourself to grieve the losses associated with ending a relationship instead of attempting to avoid the pain. Being able to tolerate uncomfortable feelings is a useful skill that can be developed through practicing mindfulness. By rushing into another relationship, dysfunction is likely to resurface." What's more, by taking that time, you will be able to reflect fully on your first marriage and really find those lessons from the past that will benefit you moving forward as you consider a second marriage.
Gordon Shippey, MA, LPC, of Northeast Georgia Counseling, agrees. "Take time to be a healthy individual before starting a new relationship," he says. "Prioritize functioning well by yourself, then build a social network outside of romantic attraction. Make sure you've extracted all the lessons you can from the previous marriage before trying again."

Find Your Second Time Around

When you are ready to find that special someone, you shouldn't necessarily look for romance immediately. "Instead, look for friendship and shared interests and values," Bradshaw remarks. "Connect with someone on this level and then evaluate if it's a good fit. Do you balance each other? See how it naturally evolves." By focusing on your own hobbies and interests, you will find like-minded individuals who could possibly be Mr. or Ms. Right. "If you enjoy cooking, take cooking classes. If you enjoy a particular activity, then seek out classes or meet-up groups. This is a good way to meet others with similar interests," Bradshaw continues. "The more people you meet, the more opportunities you have of meeting someone who's a good fit."

Of course, there's always that well-meaning friend who wants to set you up. And, as Shippey notes, "Dating has moved online. Most relationships are now found online, and the quality of relationships started online is at least as good as those found offline." When approached cautiously and with great thought, any of these options could be ideal avenues for finding love once again.

Prep for the Plunge

A second marriage is a completely different proposition than a first marriage. That's because there are different factors involved when you are entering a second long-term relationship. "Recognize that remarriage means bigger, more complex challenges than first marriages, such as raising stepchildren, combining finances and households, feeling disappointments yet trying to love again and the aggravation of dealing with ex-spouses," Campbell says. However, she adds, you can use your fear of these issues to be more intentional in your effort to build a stronger bond with your new spouse. You also have to learn how to communicate openly about all of the issues you will face as a new couple.
"I recommend people go to premarital counseling with a therapist who is trained in couple dynamics," Bradshaw reveals. "There are so many issues that couples don't realize they need to dialogue about, assuming their partner shares their beliefs, values, expectations and have the same life-shaping experiences." However, a trained couples counselor can help those entering into a second marriage—or even those who have already married—have open and honest discussions about everything from finances and parenting to sex and fidelity. What's more, Bradshaw suggests that couples take their efforts even deeper by reading about how to have a successful marriage. She recommends The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work and Why Marriages Succeed or Fail...and How You Can Make Yours Last by Dr. John M. Gottman, as well as books by Dr. Sue Johnson, Esther Perel and Terry Real.

Again, knowing yourself and how your first marriage has affected you will be a significant factor in the success of your second marriage. "Some people may go into the next relationship with a 'deal breaker' attitude. Similarly, some people may be set in their ways and have a 'me' instead of a 'we' disposition," Thomas warns. Therefore, she says, you have to "explore your personal triggers," as well as the impact your personality and communication and conflict styles will have on your relationship. A couple's therapist can help you and your partner navigate these issues and find the right resolutions.

"If you have concerns, talk them out before tying the knot. Problems that exist before marriage will be the same, if not worse, after marriage. Work on them before committing," Shippey says. "A counselor can help you do these things and give you a clearer perspective on your relationship."

And in the end, be sure that you understand what marriage really involves. "A lot of couples don't realize that a marriage has to be intentional, meaning you have to put in the work daily. And sometimes that may mean having a hard conversation, compromising on something, facing your flaws and taking accountability for your needs, wants and mistakes. It also means respecting and appreciating your spouse," Bradshaw says.

You must be fully invested in making a second marriage work—but the rewards will be worth it. As Campbell concludes, "By resolving to work at this marriage differently and learning from your past, remarriages can be stronger than you ever envisioned."


Lisa Pope Campbell, LCSW, Northeast Georgia Counseling, www.northeastgacounseling.com
Shatavia A. Thomas, LMFT, Dr. Shay Speaks, LLC, www.drshayspeaks.com
Crystal Bradshaw, LPC, NCC, Synergy Counseling Innovations, LLC, www.synergycounselinginnovations.com
Julie Trujillo, LPC, Northeast Georgia Counseling, www.northeastgacounseling.com
Gordon Shippey, MA, LPC, Northeast Georgia Counseling, www.northeastgacounseling.com


Wednesday, 25 January 2017 18:08

February / March 2017 Digital Issue

February-March 2017 Digital Issue:


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