Tuesday, 24 November 2015 21:27

Sawyer Photography

Friday, 20 November 2015 21:36

Find Your Happy

p-003By Amy Meadows

You know you should eat right and exercise to maintain good health. You know that you need to remove negativity and pursue your personal passions to bring more happiness into your life. Then why is it so hard to do these things sometimes? Well, general suggestions are great, but maybe you're looking for recommendations to enhance your mood and improve your physical well being in more measureable or tangible ways. Here, we've compiled a list of eight tips for boosting your health and happiness. You've probably heard them before — but we're backing them up with the kind of hard evidence that will convince you to apply them to your own life.

1 Just Breathe

According to Dr. Karen Tedeschi of Tedeschi Wellness, the way you breathe can be both a signal for how much stress you're under and a method for relieving that stress. "You may be holding your breath when you become stressed. So check in with yourself on an hourly basis to just see if you are holding your breath." If you are, then slow down and inhale deeply, expanding your lungs fully. Studies have reported that this type of deep breathing may increase the amount of oxygen getting to the heart, relieve congestion throughout the body, boost the immune system and even help the digestive system function more effectively.

2 Take a Walk on the Wild Side (In Nature, That Is)

It's great to take a break during the day and enjoy a short walk. If possible, however, it's even better to take your stroll where you can see trees and experience nature. Maziar Rezvani, MD, founder of AvicennaMD, which is comprised by Avicenna Integrative Medicine and Avicenna Allergy and Asthma, points to a study published in ScienceDirect indicating that, compared to an urban walk, a walk in nature results in benefits like a decrease in anxiety and an increase positive cognitive effects, such as better working memory performance. (This applies to where you live as well; Rezvani notes that studies suggest that people living in neighborhoods with a higher density of trees enjoy higher health perception and fewer cardio-metabolic conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease and stroke.)

3 Eat a Can of Tuna (Really!)

Or get out into the sunshine. Do whatever you need to do to boost your levels of Vitamin D. "Many holistic doctors and naturopaths agree that, although you might be in the normal range (commonly 30 to 100 on a blood test), you will feel your best in what we call an optimal range (60 to 80 on a blood test)," notes Debra MacIntyre, ND, of Vitality Project (formerly Natural Health Solutions). In addition to protecting you against colds and helping you fight depression, the proper levels of Vitamin D might help you balance your hormone levels, which will make you feel that much happier. Fortunately, getting more Vitamin D is pretty simple: soak up some rays (safely with sunscreen), eat fatty fish (even canned tuna), drink fortified milk or have an egg (including the yolk), among other options.

4 Laugh Till You Sweat

It's said that laughter is the best medicine, and now there's proof. "The physical act of laughter is comparable to cardiovascular exercise and shares many common physiological benefits associated with exercise," notes Celeste Greene, director of Laughter Yoga Atlanta. She recommends trying laughter yoga, a health and disease prevention program using intentional laughter interspersed with deep yogic breathing and gentle stretches. Greene tell us that scientific studies indicate that laughter not only reduces stress and anxiety, but also exercises muscles, improves respiration, stimulates circulation, boosts immune systems, elevates the pain threshold and enhances mental functioning.

P-0025 Get at Least a Half Dozen Hugs Daily

"Nothing makes me happier than a good hug from my children or my husband. And animals count too," says Tanseem Bhatia, MD, of the Atlanta Center for Holistic & Integrative Medicine. In addition to the warm and loving feeling you get from giving and receiving hugs, there are a number of physical health benefits to the act. According to Maiysha Clairborne, MD, of Mind Body Spirit Wellness, hugs release the "cuddle hormone" oxytocin, which improves mood and decreases stress levels. She recommends getting (and giving) six hugs per day, which may also reduce blood pressure and decrease heart rate.

6 Have a Girls' (or Guys') Night Out

We all know that cultivating strong friendships can make you feel happier. But there's more to it than that. "Studies have shown that people who spend more time with friends have a 50 percent less risk of dying from chronic disease within seven years," Clairborne states. "Research has shown that spending time with friends and family decreases the risk of stroke and Alzheimer's, boosts the immune system and helps to relieve pain. So schedule one day a week to do something social."

7 Do a Happy Dance

When something good happens, big or small, celebrate it! "Celebrating is critical," Tedeschi says. "Some people even do a happy dance when things go their way." In fact, you can do anything from throw a party to call a friend to commemorate an important happening. The key is to reflect on the experience, which ultimately will make you more optimistic and allow you to feel less stressed overall. Those positive psychological effects will help you feel happier as you move into the future. And the happier you are, the better you will feel physically as well.

8 Find a Sense of Purpose

"People are happiest and healthiest when they have a purpose in life," MacIntyre observes. "Only you know how to answer this one, and you might have to sit somewhere quiet and figure it out. It could be as simple as rescuing a pet or as grand as wanting to change the world. Whatever it is for you, being involved in something bigger than yourself brings a special kind of happiness." What's more, studies reveal that people who feel they have a purpose in life tend to live longer, manage pain better, maintain stronger relationships and often have a greater protection against developing heart disease or Alzheimer's.


Editorial Resources
Atlanta Center for Holistic & Integrative Medicine, atlantaholisticmedicine.com
AvicennaMD, avicennamd.com
Laughter Yoga Atlanta, laughteryogaatlanta.com
Mind Body Spirit Wellness, mbswellness.org
Vitality Project, myvitalityproject.com
Tedeschi Wellness, tedeschiwellness.com


Friday, 20 November 2015 21:27

The Second Act

By Amy Meadows

Mara Davis admits it.
"There isn't a day that goes by that I don't miss being on the radio every day," says the esteemed media personality who began her enduring and notable broadcasting career in Atlanta nearly 20 years ago doing the night show from 7 to 11 p.m. on classic rock station Z-93. She became well known for her great humor and charisma, as well as her outstanding musical taste, which translated perfectly when Davis moved to the coveted midday slot. In 2004, Z-93 changed to Dave-FM, and Davis remained as the host of the lunch hour, which encompassed her popular radio request show, "Radio Free Lunch." However, everything changed in October of 2012. Dave-FM switched formats completely and became 92.9 The Game, a 24-hour sports talk station. And Davis no longer had a full-time job in radio.

"Everyone thought my phone would be ringing off the hook, but it didn't happen. And it wasn't because I wasn't hard working or talented. The jobs just weren't there," Davis explains. "Media has changed. Just like print, the radio industry has gone through a big change with digital media coming onto the scene. I realized that I had to diversify to find work and remain relevant."

When her phone finally did ring, a rather unexpected opportunity was calling — one that brought together her professional and personal passions in a surprising new way. In early 2013, Davis was offered the chance to join the weekly television show "Atlanta Eats" with Steak Shapiro. A longtime foodie who often discussed food-related topics on her radio show, she has had her finger on the pulse of Atlanta's (and the nation's) culinary scene since long before chefs joined the ranks of today's celebrity figures. (She actually interviewed Anthony Bourdain on the radio before he became a household name.) It made her the perfect person to contribute stories to "Atlanta Eats" about local restaurants, rising chefs and a host of other topics. "It was something that was already in my universe," she notes. "I was so flattered to be a part of it, and it made sense for me."

P-01Of course, Davis was used to sitting behind a microphone — not standing in front of a camera. "I had to learn how to be a good TV host," she confesses. "I had never been on a real television shoot before. I had to learn how to do a standup, how to work with a crew and how to be on set. And I'm still learning. But with every shoot that I go on, I pick up something different. It has been the greatest gift to learn to be on TV. It's been a phenomenal opportunity, and it's been so rewarding."

While she is enjoying her entrance into the television realm, she maintains her deep affection for the career that put her on the map. "I love radio. I grew up being a fan of it. And when I first got into it, I knew right away that it was just so me," she says. "I love the intimacy of it. Most people listen to the radio in the car by themselves. So when you're listening to someone on the radio, it's like spending time with a great storyteller. That really attracted me to the industry. And I love music. So I followed my heart. It was part luck and part talent — and I had a really tremendous career."

Fortunately, "Atlanta Eats" has allowed her to employ her radio roots as well with a complementary radio show that initially aired on 640/WGST-AM; starting on December 14, it will run from 4 to 5 p.m. on Saturdays on 106.7 FM. The talk format of the show has always interested Davis although she's never pursued the avenue, mainly because most talk radio shows not only are hosted by men, but also focus on politics. "There are no women in talk radio. And there are no real radio talk shows about food," she reveals. "To me, food is like music. It's so universal, and it brings people together regardless of age, race, class or nationality. We are all connected by food. So on the show, we talk about everything, from why pumpkin spice has gotten so out of control to whether or not bacon gives you cancer... talk radio doesn't have to just be about people yelling at each other about politics!"

But her reemergence (so to speak) in radio doesn't end there. Davis also landed a gig as a music contributor for 90.1 WABE, Atlanta's NPR Station. Her show airs every Friday during the morning edition and allows her to keep her hand in the music industry. So does the fact that she has carved out a very prolific niche as an emcee for a wide variety of citywide and regional events, charity functions and music festivals, including one of her all-time favorites, the annual 30A Songwriters Festival. "That is a total dream gig," she declares. "Not only do I get to go to 30A, but I'm on the main stage for the entire weekend. It really keeps me in the business." She also has emceed everything from the Free Entrepreneurship Bootcamp with Coca-Cola and the Women's Foodservice Forum to Giada De Laurentiis' Happy Cooking Tour stop at the Fox Theatre.

SB-1Davis credits her ongoing use of social media with keeping her name out there while she forged her new path, as well as for helping her stay connected to her loyal fans, many of whom have followed her from her days at Z-93. Active on Twitter and Instagram, she believes that her work in that area has opened the door for new opportunities and she's learned to embrace the power of the medium. "Social media has been incredible for me. People tend to resist change, but you have to step outside of your comfort zone," she advises.

She's also using her voice and platforms to bring awareness to the charities that are near and dear to her heart – such as the Atlanta Community Food Bank, which distributes over 50 million pounds of donated grocery products a year to more than 600 nonprofit partner agencies that feed the hungry, The Giving Kitchen, an organization that provides emergency assistance grants for employees of the local restaurant community, and a variety of animal rescue and adoption organizations. In addition to helping those groups with social media campaigns when appropriate, Davis volunteers her time and offers her emceeing talents for events related to the causes.

SB-2Adding a philanthropic spin to her freelance work in television and radio continues to be a focus for Davis— something she was often able to do at Dave-FM. "It felt so great to show up at work and raise money for charity," she recalls of her days in commercial radio. While it's more of a challenge in public radio, she strives to find new outlets for her charitable activities. For instance, she recently introduced an innovative idea for securing donations for WABE during her Friday morning show; those who made a donation were qualified to win a multi-course dinner for four at Restaurant Eugene with herself, Chef Linton Hopkins and her co-host Steve Goss. "I am trying and pushing so hard in every area I can. It's the only way to get things done," she says.

It's that kind of persistence that has allowed Davis to turn what could have been a terrible unemployment situation into something completely amazing. "Positivity is key. Opening your mind is key," she asserts. And looking at a set of circumstances in a different light helps too. Davis now sees that her new freelance schedule brought her a truly gratifying opportunity in her personal life, allowing her to spend more time with her husband of 13 years, Michael Kane, and their 10-year-old son, Charlie. "In so many ways, I am fortunate that this career exploration happened at this time in my life," she recognizes. "To be in the carpool line and go to soccer games means so much ... I have that freedom now, and I'm thankful for that."

Additionally, Davis is grateful for some advice that she received when she was "down in the dumps" after her tenure at Dave-FM ended and she was looking for work. "Someone once told me that you have to go out of your way to figure out how you can use your resources to help other people. In turn, you're helping yourself because everything leads to something else," she observes. "You can reinvent yourself. Everyone has a second act. I'm working on my second act now."

Friday, 20 November 2015 19:09

Best of 2015


Fitness & Weight Loss

Best Large Fitness Facility
YMCA of Northwest Atlanta
The YMCA of Northwest Atlanta works to create a space for healthy living, to encourage community and neighborhood support, and to promote youth development, bringing out the potential in every child and teen. ymcaatlanta.org

Best Small or Medium Fitness Center
Catalyst Fitness
Catalyst Fitness is Georgia's one and only fully-accredited and medically-recognized Personal Training and Small Group Training facility. They hold more awards than any other facility in the Southeast and offer small group training Monday through Saturday with personal training sessions by appointment. catalystfitness.com

P-001Best Rec Sport League
Atlanta Sport and Social Club
ASSC has become Atlanta's largest provider of adult social sports leagues and events. With more than 15,000 participants across 70 leagues (including kickball, softball, soccer, etc.) and several signature events (including Atlanta Field Day), ASSC serves as Atlanta's hub for active, social adults. atlantasportandsocialclub.com
Best Workout
This is the "every girl's" studio! The dynamic cardio workouts offered at this locally-owned, Atlanta-based studio will help you burn up to 1,000 calories in under 55 minutes. Try bootybarre™, FORME signature barre fusion, or cardio FORME to ensure a well-rounded exercise program. formestudios.com
Best Personal Trainer Todd Hancock Hancock knows what it takes to transform your body; two decades ago, he lost 60 pounds. Today, as a personal trainer with MODO Fitness, he helps clients change their own bodies and lives by teaching them how to make better food and exercise choices and reach their personal fitness goals. modofitness.com

Best Pilates Studio
Body Awareness Studio
Established in 1993, this Atlanta studio serves as the host site for Balanced Body teacher training. The Pilates classes offered at this Atlanta-based studio range from therapeutic to advanced fitness levels. Clients can choose from private sessions, semi-private or group reformer classes to receive a comprehensive and highly effective training program that integrates the mind, body and spirit. bodyawarenessstudio.com

Best Personal Training Facility
Stellar Bodies
The Lagree MethodTM is the centerpiece of this outstanding facility. This 50-minute workout, which has its roots in Pilates and is taught by Stellar Bodies' highly trained instructors, strengthens the body, tones and elongates the muscles,
improves endurance and more by encompassing cardio elements and strength training. stellarbodiesatl.com

Best Boot Camp
Taddas Fitness
Tadda's Fitness Center is named after the owner LaTasha Lewis, RN, BSN whose nickname was given at birth by her family; yet, when her clients look in the mirror, they say "Taddahhhhhh" in amazement of their results. Tadda and her clients-turned-trainers believe in a no mess approach to health and fitness. taddasfitness.com

Best CrossFit Instructor
Chris Romano of CrossFit Perimeter
With 13 coaching certifications, including USAPL, USAW, CrossFit Level 2 weightlifting and CrossFit Gymnastics trainer just to name a few, Chris Romano can help you gain strength and get in shape. crossfitperimeter.com

Best CrossFit Gym
CrossFit East Cobb
CrossFitters from all around Atlanta, along with Marine and Army Special Operations Forces, head to CrossFit East Cobb for the ultimate functional training by CrossFit Certified Coaches. The gym also offers a kids program and specialty training for those 55 and older.

P-002Best Barre Instructor
Katy Gibson
As a former dancer, Katy Gibson first learned about barre workouts while living in D.C. After relocating to Atlanta, she decided to make the leap to become a small business owner and instructor. She opened the Pure Barre Virginia-Highland studio in December of 2013.

Best Barre Studio
Pink Barre
Just under two years old, Pink Barre has rapidly grown its barre community through its Pilates, yoga, ballet-infused workout that tones and strengthens. Since opening, the boutique fitness studio, overseen by a former physical therapist, has expanded to four locations with a fifth to open late 2015 in the Virginia-Highland neighborhood. pink-barre.com

P-003Best Indoor Cycling Studio
Flywheel Sports
Flywheel Sports has redefined the world of indoor cycling. Cycle at your own pace, speed and resistance while music pumps you up and Flywheel instructors lead you through your workout. flywheelsports.com


Best Yoga Studio
Thunderbolt Power Yoga
This outstanding studio teaches Baptiste Power Vinyasa Yoga, which is an energetic and playful style with a strong emphasis on breath and alignment. The athleticism and vitality cultivated in each class helps students detox their bodies, torch calories, strengthen muscles and clear their minds — all while enlivening their spirit. thunderboltpoweryoga.com

Best Yoga Instructor
Becky Nickerson
Owner of Infinity Yoga, Nickerson honed her yoga skills in Miami before returning to her hometown of Dunwoody in 2013. She and her husband, Matt, now have two studios in Dunwoody and Brookhaven and continue to help develop the local yoga community with a variety of classes, including Becky's renowned Power Yoga class. infinityyogaatlanta.com


P-004Best Martial Arts/Boxing Gym
Szondi Martial Arts & Wellness Institute
From the 20th Generation of Chen Taiji Family, Master, Professor Florin Szondi — founder of the Romanian Martial Arts Federation 1990, President of USA Chen Taiji Center and President of HONG KONG Tiancai Taichi Association — combines the methods of physical and mental training in a variety of programs, including Taiji, Qigong, Kung Fu and Wushu, Self Defense, and fitness.taijiinstitute.com

Best Pilates Instructor
Megan Hunter
A certified, Polestar-trained Pilates Rehab instructor, Hunter is one of the premier members of Stability Pilates & Physical Therapy. She specializes in treating orthopedic and sports injuries, as well as women's health conditions, and is passionate about the evaluation and treatment of the running athlete. stabilityatlanta.com

Best Zumba
Kandice Shelton
While she teaches everything from spin classes to Pilates, Kandice Shelton loves to teach Zumba. She is also an author, speaker, fitness coach and wellness consultant who has shed 60 pounds herself and kept it off. kandicefitness.com; fitspiration10.com


Best Group Fitness Class
Rowbot Fitness
Engage every muscle group for an intense indoor rowing workout class at Rowbot Fitness. Designed to mimic the action of pulling an oar through water, this class is a calorie torcher. rowbotfitness.com

Best Group Fitness Instructor
Charles Anderson
A two-time "Best of" winner, Charles Anderson leads a variety of high energy exercise classes, including group indoor rowing and power rowing, at his fitness studio, Rowbot Fitness. rowbotfitness.com

p-005Best Dance Instructor
Jay Varnedoe
Jay Varnedoe has had a passion for dance since the age of 7. He has pursued dance as a profession, in education and through charitable fundraising. His greatest joy in teaching is seeing his students grow and gain confidence as they learn the art of dance. myballroomdanceclub.com


Best Dance Studio
Ballroom Dance Clubs of Atlanta
For over 30 years Ballroom Dance Clubs of Atlanta has been the premier place for couples, singles and groups to learn dances the quick, easy and fun way. The dance studio also hosts community charity events.

p-006Best Golf Store
The largest golf retailer in the world, if it's golf related and you need it Golfsmith probably has it. Golfsmith offers an extensive product selection of premier-branded golf equipment as well as its proprietary products, advanced club-fitting services and pre-owned clubs. golfsmith.com

Best Running/Walking Gear
Big Peach Running Co.
Sprint over to this locally-owned and operated retailer for the absolute best in footwear, apparel and accessories for runners and walkers. The entire staff embraces the pedestrian-active lifestyle and can address every aspect of a customer's fitness routine. bigpeachrunningco.com
"Wonderful store, so welcoming to novices along with some amazing expertise and talent for the seasoned runners." — Clo H.

Best Outdoor Gear
Mountain High Outfitters
Wherever life may take you Mountain High Outfitters at Ponce City Market or on West Paces Ferry can gear you up to look good, feel good and be fully prepared. MHO offers a wide selection of apparel, footwear and gear for adults and kids. Fit any lifestyle with brands such as Patagonia, Chaco, The North Face, Sorel, Osprey, Toms, Barbour and bikes from Retrospec. mountainhighoutfitters.com

Best Cycling Shop
Cycleworks is a full-service bike retailer in Roswell and Duluth. Thirty years strong, this family-owned business is recognized as one of America's Best Bike Shops. See them for bikes, accessories, bike rental, professional bike fitting, and expert bike repair.

p-007Best Rock Climbing Wall
Atlanta Rocks!
It's the most popular indoor rock-climbing gym in the southeast for a reason. With more than 12,000 square feet of professionally-designed climbing surface, 50 top rope stations, overhanging lead routes and hundreds of climbs, visitors of all levels find themselves on top of the world here. atlantarocks.com

Best Kids Fitness
Cardio Kool Kids
Cardio Kool Kids is creating healthy kids for a lifetime by working with children Pre-K through 5th grade. With its innovative curriculum combining kickboxing, hip hop, strength training, sports drills and health and nutrition journaling, Cardio Kool Kids gets kids fired up for health and fitness. cardiokoolkids.com

Best Weight Loss Program
Citron Nutrition Clean21
The Clean21 program from Citron Nutrition shows you how to feel better and lose weight permanently by changing the way you eat and breaking through a lifetime of poor habits. On the program, you will go 21 days without sweets, alcohol or diet soda while eating easy-to-prepare food and ultimately transforming your life! citronnutrition.com


These fan faves also received lots of votes:

Best Yoga Studio
Empower Yoga

Best Barre Studio
Elevate Barre Johns Creek

Best Group Fitness Class
TRX at the Northwest YMCA

Best Pilates Studio
Stability Pilates


Life Enrichment

Best Volunteer Opportunity
Habitat for Humanity
No matter where you are in metro Atlanta, there's a Habitat for Humanity volunteer opportunity for you. This renowned organization builds homes and communities while giving volunteers the chance to enjoy hands-on construction opportunities. Donations are greatly appreciated as well. habitat.org

Best Life Coach
New Perspectives for Life
Offering counseling, life coaching, hypnosis and additional services, this innovative practice allows clients to assess their personal circumstances and use their strengths to find perspective, identify solutions and move forward to live happier lives. newperspectivesforlife.com

Best Financial Counselor
Laura K. Schilling
President and owner of Financial Innovations, Laura K. Schilling has won awards for her expertise in accounting and financial planning. Schilling is also licensed to practice law in Georgia and Florida and often works with taxes, estates and trusts. financialinnovations.biz

Best Hypnotherapist
Becky Shanks
Becky Shanks, of Presents of Mind Hypnosis, believes in the power of hypnosis to impact and improve every area of life. Already a certified hypnotherapist and Bachelor of Environmental Science holder, Shanks is also currently becoming a Reiki practitioner. hypnotherapistatlanta.com

p-008Best Animal Rescue
Angels Among Us Pet Rescue
This nonprofit is dedicated to rescuing dogs and cats from North Georgia shelters with high kill rates. No animal is left behind no matter age, breed or ability. Angels Among Us then works to find them forever homes through adoption. www.angelsrescue.org

Best Doggie Day Care
Puppy Haven
This three-time "Best of" winner features 5,000 feet of unleashed play space and will soon open a Roswell location with twice as much cage free space! Oh yeah, did we mention they offer multiple webcams so you can keep up with your pup online while you're at the office or out of town? puppyhavenatl.com

Best Pet Store
Uptown Pups
Dog and cat owners who want unique, affordable toys and products for their four-legged and furry friends head to Uptown Pups, founded by Michelle Bielen. Pet parents can shop online or visit the Vinings location to check out the latest offerings (and set up a grooming appointment). uptownpupsonline.com

Best Dog Park
Brook Run Dog Park
Thanks to donations and dedicated volunteers, this completely nonprofit dog park offers water stations, a special small dog section and nearly two acres of fenced-in space for your favorite canine pal to run, play and make friends. brookrundogpark.com

Best Local Vet
The Village Vets
Married veterinarians Francoise Tyler and Will Draper made their dreams come true 15 years ago with the opening of The Village Vets, a renowned full-service animal hospital that offers everything from preventative health care and surgery to boarding and grooming in three locations: Buckhead, Lilburn-Stone Mountain and the 24-hour hospital in Decatur. thevillagevets.com

Best Groomer
Groom with a View, Inc.
Groom with a View goes the extra mile to make your pet feel safe and comfortable, including allowing them to watch another pet be groomed and filing their nails instead of clipping them. They can even calm cats for baths! groomwithaview.biz

Best Pet Boarding
Best Little Dog House in Georgia
Staffed 24 hours a day by loving, certified professionals, this Smyrna-based facility offers the best in dog boarding, dog daycare and senior dog care. Daycare options include small group socialized care or individual non-socialized care, while boarding options feature climate-controlled sleeping arrangements in one of three areas: the Party Room, the Posh Spot or the Senior Center. bestlittledoghouseinga.com

Best Pet Walker/Sitter
Margie Adams
Owner of Doolittle's Doggie Day Care, Adams offers personalized care for your pooch (or feline). She is a true animal lover who handles all aspects of in-home care for your pets at reasonable prices.

p-009Best Charity Running Event
National Parkinson Foundation - Moving Day Atlanta
This annual run/walk fundraiser that includes, yoga, dance and Tai Chi, invites friends, families and communities to come together and get moving to fight Parkinson's disease, which is diagnosed every nine minutes in the U.S. parkinson.org

Best Local Festival
Piedmont Park Arts Festival
The Atlanta Foundation for Public Spaces hosts this highly-anticipated, annual two-day, family-friendly outdoor event focusing on the visual arts, with more than 250 local and regional painters, photographers, sculptors, leather and metalwork artists, glass blowers, jewelers, crafters and more, hosting one of the largest children's entertainments area, in addition to being dog friendly. piedmontparkartsfestival.com

Best Cooking Classes
The Cook's Warehouse
This gourmet store meets cooking school offers fun cooking classes such as Imagine the Pasta-bilities, A Date Night in Thailand and Knife Skills 101. Shop their array of name brand cooking supplies online or at their East Cobb, Midtown and Decatur locations. cookswarehouse.com
"Best group event too! The whole office staff had a blast at the last hands on class." — John M.

Best Classes/Workshop
Charm Etiquette
Founder Erika Preval, created Charm Etiquette after receiving extensive compliments on her daughters' manners. Charm Etiquette puts a modern spin on classic manners with classes and events for children as young as 2nd grade all the way up to adults looking to polish their social skills. charmetiquette.com

Best Place for Family Fun
Lanier Islands
A mere 45-minute drive northeast of Atlanta, this luxurious 1,500-acre resort destination has something for everyone in the family. In addition to outstanding accommodations, Lanier Islands boasts boating, water sports, horseback riding and many more family-friendly activities throughout the year. lanierislands.com

Best Place to Go Dancing
Johnny's Hideaway
Walking into this Atlanta nightspot is like taking a step back in time. DJs spin the hits from the '50s to today, with tunes from Frank Sinatra and Elvis to the Beach Boys and Madonna filling the air. johnnyshideaway.com

Best Theater
Fox Theatre
A night at The Fox is truly an event in itself. This historic, award-winning theatre — and one of Atlanta's most recognizable landmarks — hosts more than 250 shows and a half million visitors each year and has been consistently ranked in the top three theatres in North America for gross ticket sales. foxtheatre.org

Best Art Gallery
Muse & CO. Fine Art
Started by three longtime friends, Muse & CO. Fine Art, offers a gallery filled with fine art from established and emerging artists, a unique event space and a live recording studio all in the heart of Roswell. musecofineart.com

p-010Best Local Vineyard
Chateau Elan
Located on more than 3,500 acres in
Braselton, this illustrious resort features a 275-room European-inspired inn, a full-service spa, championship golf, outstanding dining options, conference space and, of course, an award-winning winery complete with lush vineyards. chateauelan.com

Best Comedy Club
Dad's Garage Theatre Company
Whether you're into improv, musical theatre or Theatresports (competitive team improv), Dad's Garage Theatre Company is guaranteed to make you laugh and re-think your definition of traditional theatre. dadsgarage.com

Best Local Museum
High Museum of Art
The leading art museum in the Southeast, the High Museum of Art features a rotating schedule of special exhibitions and more than 15,000 individual works of classic and contemporary art, with collections of 19th and 20th century American and decorative art, European paintings, African art, photography, modern and contemporary art, folk art and more. high.org

Best Bookstore
Little Shop of Stories
Located in historic Decatur Square, this quirky, independent bookstore features both kid and adult book clubs. Little Shop of Stories recently partnered with and supported the popular Decatur Book Festival. littleshopofstories.com

Best Music Venue
The Tabernacle Atlanta
Every seat is the best seat in the house at this historic locale, which opened in 1910 as The Broughton Tabernacle and is now operated by Live Nation as an eclectic music venue. From indie acts to major recording artists, there's something for everyone. tabernacleatl.com

p-011Best Local Coffee Shop
Octane Coffee Shop
With prime locations in Midtown Westside, Grant Park and Buckhead, this sophisticated and stylish shop is the perfect spot for anyone who is passionate about superb coffee, craft beers, wine, cocktails and delicious food.

Best Matchmakers
One on One Matchmaking
If you're looking for that special someone, this exclusive boutique dating service is just what you need. A team of highly-skilled consultants will act as your personal scout and matchmaker, providing personal, customized attention along the way to finding your happily ever after. 1on1matchmaking.com

Best Park
Piedmont Park
Known as downtown Atlanta's "Common Ground" since 1904, Piedmont Park is one of the city's most beloved amenities. The Piedmont Park Conservancy, a nonprofit organization that works with the City of Atlanta, has raised more than $60 million since 1989 for park beautification, maintenance, programs and a 53-acre expansion of green space. piedmontpark.org


These fan faves also received lots of votes:

Best Bookstore
Foxtale Book Shop

Best Festival
Music Midtown

Best Music Venue
Chastain Park Ampitheatre


Beauty & Anti-Aging

Best Anti-Aging Medical Doctor
Dr. Rhett Bergeron
Dr. Rhett Bergeron has been practicing integrative medicine for over 20 years. As medical director of New Vitality Medical Institute, he brings advanced training in anti-aging medicine. He is a compassionate and talented physician who is loved and respected by his staff and all of his patients. realhealthmedical.com
"Dr. Bergeron is amazing at seeing health problems that most doctors would miss or cover up with pharmaceuticals. He has helped our family." — Karen H.

Best Anti-Aging Medical Practice
New Vitality Medical Institute
New Vitality Medical Institute is the leader in anti-aging in Georgia. They have an exclusive approach to restoring strength, energy, vibrancy and sexual confidence for both men and women; they are the risk-management experts for age-related diseases. newvitalitymedicalinstitute.com

p-012Best Hair Colorist
Jasmine Howard
When she isn't cutting, correcting or coloring, Jasmine is often attending classes to stay up to date with industry trends. You can find her at Salon Red which she has called home for over two years. salonred.com


Best Hair Salon for Blowouts
Founder Paige Perkins decided to combine her love of blowouts with her Ivy League degree and business experience to launch a blowdry and makeup bar that wouldn't break the bank. Thus GlowDry was born. myglowdry.com


p-013Best Waxing
European Wax Center
Founded on the belief that everyone deserves to reveal natural, beautiful skin, European Wax Center treats all first-time in-state guests to a complimentary wax. And all guests — who can visit four locations in metro Atlanta — enjoy the 4 Steps to Gorgeous™ process, which preps the skin before and after each hair removal treatment. waxcenter.com

Best Sugaring
Defined Sugaring Studio
This salon knows sugaring — it's all they do! An ancient hair removal practice that uses an all-natural, non-grainy paste made from sugar, water and lemon juice, sugaring is gaining popularity nationwide, and the staff at this Atlanta-based studio are experts who never wax — only sugar. definedsugaringstudio.com
"Excellent for sugaring and wonderful customer service every time." — Erica G.

p-014Best Hair Salon
Aura Hair & Makeup
Whether you want demure or daring hair, Aura Hair & Makeup can make it happen. Aura offers specialty hair transformations such as multi-dimensional hair coloring and restoring frazzled hair back to a healthy state. aurahm.com

Best Eyebrows
Alyson Hoag at Authentic Beauty
Alyson Hoag, the creator of Authentic Beauty Makeup Salon and Hair Studio, has worked her magic on everyone from everyday women to celebrities and CEOs for years, earning her the nickname of "brow guru" of Atlanta. myimagejourney.com

p-015Best Eyelash Extensions
Sweet and Lashful
Sweet and Lashful owner Nancy Shim (medical aesthetician and Advanced-Certified lash stylist) and her team at Beauty Bar of Buckhead specialize in "All Things Lashes" from eyelash tinting to eyelash perming to eyelash enhancing tattoos to safe, clump-free eyelash extensions that will look like they're naturally yours! sweetandlashful.com
"Nancy is amazing. She exhibits the highest quality of professionalism and attention to detail. I will ALWAYS go to her for my brows/lashes/skincare needs. Can't recommend her enough." — Kasey C.

Best Permanent Cosmetics
Michael Lynch
Michael Lynch is a licensed medical aesthetician, certified laser tech and certified well-known permanent makeup artist. Michael's results speak for themselves and patients are thrilled with their results and overall experience during their treatments. Clients can enjoy his sought-after services at Aesthetic Specialty Centre in Roswell. asc-psd.com
"Michael FOR SURE — have been referring tohim for over 15 years. THE BEST for sure!" — Kimberly P.

Best Laser Hair Removal
Bella by Alethea MedSpa
Nestled in the heart of Buckhead, Bella by Alethea rescues Atlantans from the battle with razors and waxing once and for all with comprehensive laser hair treatments and packages. bellabyalethea.com
"Fabulous staff and great service! Thanks, Bella." — Barbara E.

p-016Best Hair Stylist
Steve Hightower
Steve Hightower has changed the hair industry as a fine and thinning hair specialist. Being in the industry for over 30 years from runway to everyday, his clients include young professionals, families, and celebrities. He is the owner of one of Atlanta's enduring prestigious salons. stevehightower.com
"Definitely the Best Of Atlanta. Steve has a gorgeous Salon with a marvelous staff, yet he makes everyone feel as if they are the most important." — Mare M.

Best Facial
Pure Aesthetics & Skin Care
Pure Aesthetics & Skin Care is committed to making sure their clients understand their true skin care needs and which products and treatments will provide them with the results they desire. pureaestheticsskincare.com

Best Esthetician
Lidia Nistor-Reteneller
After a consultation for her wedding, Lidia Nistor-Reteneller discovered her true passion of medical skincare. After attending esthetician school and an apprenticeship, she created SkinIQ, an upscale med spa to help men and women look and feel their best. skiniqmedspa.com

Best Manicure/Pedicure
Polished a Nail and Beauty Lounge
Located in Midtown and Vinings, this upscale nail salon is known not only for its 3-day manicure and 7-day pedicure no-chip guarantee, but also for its outstanding threading, waxing and massage services.


Best Microdermabrasion
Amy Anderson at Prima Clinical Skin Care
Skin care therapist Amy Anderson offers clients the most technologically advanced aesthetic treatments at Prima Clinical Skin Care. Her microdermabrasion facial exfoliates and polishes the skin to reveal a smooth and radiant complexion. vagaro.com/primaclincalskincare

Best Local Skin Care Products
Sally B's Skin Yummies
Atlanta native Sally Larsen's coveted—and cruelty-free—skin care line blends non-toxic, organic, natural and wild-crafted ingredients into products that are not only extremely effective, but also free of parabens, GMOs, formaldehyde, lead, aluminum, synthetic colors and more. sallybskinyummies.com

p-017Best Plastic Surgeon for Breasts
Dr. Ruth Celestin
An experienced and compassionate plastic and cosmetic surgeon, Dr. Celestin is one of the premier surgeons at Georgia Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. She can perform procedures at the on site state-of-the-art Asuch Surgery Center or at one of the many hospitals where she holds privileges, ensuring that patients receive the finest care possible in a comfortable and secure setting. Visit Georgiaplastic.com for more information.__________________________________________________________________________________________

Best Sunless Tan
Spray Studio Custom Sunless Tanning
Who needs a tanning bed when you can enjoy UV-free, custom, sunless tanning made of all-natural, vegan, cruelty-free ingredients? This innovative salon uses state-of-the-art equipment and certified technicians to provide clients with natural-looking, beautiful, streak-free and orange-free spray tans. spraystudioatl.com


p-018Best Plastic Surgeon for Face
Dr. Carmen Kavali
Founder of the Kavali Plastic Surgery and Skin Renewal Center, this renowned board-certified surgeon offers both surgical procedures (such as face lifts and eyelid contouring) and non-surgical services (like Botox and Juvederm), as well as skin renewal procedures (including chemical peels, laser hair removal, microneedling, and Ulthera). drkavali.com

Best Plastic Surgeon for Lipo
Meadows Surgical Arts
This full-service practice offers an advanced laser-assisted liposuction and body contouring technique called SmartLipo that dramatically improves results and shortens patient recovery time. Dr. Lionel Meadows and his team also offer everything from cosmetic and vein surgery to gynecological care and medical weight loss. meadowssurgicalarts.com

Best Makeup Artist
Paula Molinari
Having developed a passion for makeup in her teens, Molinari has become a highly sought-after professional makeup artist who specializes in beauty, fitness and special event makeup, as well as customized mobile airbrush tanning, through her company, Glowing Beauty LLC. facebook.com/paulamolinarimakeupartist

Best Personal Stylist
Kam Thomas Throckmorton
This Atlanta native helps women find confidence through the transformative power of clothing and style. Her company, Glam Kam, offers clients a host of services, including a closet edit, closet merchandising, personal shopping, trip packing, wedding styling and much more. glamkam.com

Best Custom Bra Fit
LiviRae Lingerie
Home of the "Double Divas", owners Cynthia and Molly are dedicated to changing the bra world for women, one fitting at a time. Need a pretty everyday bra or sports bra? They've got 'em! They even carry specialty products like nursing bras and mastectomy bras. liviraelingerie.com


p-019Best Plastic Surgeon for Tummy
Dr. David Whiteman
Offering a full tummy tuck, a mini tummy tuck and even a male tummy tuck, this highly-trained and credentialed surgeon provides personalized care for every patient. His Atlanta practice, Southern Plastic Surgery, also features services for the face, breasts and skin. southernplasticsurgery.com

Best Overall Spa
Sufii Day Spa
When you walk into Suffi Day Spa, you leave the world and all of its stress behind. This luxurious spa offers a host of outstanding services that are designed to help clients completely relax and rejuvenate — from massage and customized skin care to body treatments, manicures, pedicures, eyelash extension, waxing, and more. The plentiful seating area can accommodate large groups for corporate & spa parties. sufiidayspa.com

p-021Best Botox and Filler Injections
A New You Skin & Body Clinic
A New You Skin & Body Clinic credits three things to its success — its experienced staff, the right combination of the latest products and industry techniques, and a client-focused attitude. anewyouclinic.com


p-020Best Hair Restoration
Dr. Ken Anderson
When he's not busy acting as founder and director of Anderson Hair Sciences Center, Dr. Ken Anderson is also a skilled medical illustrator, his drawings have been published in multiple medical journals and textbooks over the years. atlantahairsurgeon.com


These fan faves also received lots of votes:

Best Anti-Aging Medical Doctor
Dr. Sharon Bent-Harley

Best Esthetician
Alicia Nicely

Best Hair Salon
Salon Red


Health & Wellness

Best Primary Care Doctor
Dr. Marion Owen
Patients who visit Dr. Owen at n1health Whole Family Medicine enjoy truly personalized care that focuses on their health as a whole — mind, body and spirit. She digs deep into each patient's health history, addresses their unique concerns and identifies how various factors affect their health. n1health.com

Best Chiropractic Care
Dr. Caroline von Fluegge-Chen
With over 22 years of experience, Dr. Caroline von Fluegge-Chen combines everything from neuromuscular therapy to sports chiropractic to treat her wide array of clients. She also regularly produces corporate wellness programs and speaks on health. balanceatlanta.com

Best Chiropractor
Austin Cohen of Corrective Chiropractic
Dr. Cohen founded Corrective Chiropractic in 2009, bringing a new model of health and chiropractic to the city of Atlanta. Corrective Chiropractic is unique as it offers specialized corrective chiropractic care, as well as deep tissue massage therapy and nutritional advising. correctivechiropractic.com
"Austin keeps me healthy and competing." — Cristoforo R.

Best Colon Cleansing
Clear Path Wellness
Restore your body to its natural state through Clear Path Wellness' detoxifying services, guaranteed to leave you relaxed, rejuvenated and refreshed. Their latest service, The HealthScope, is a microscopic technique that gathers your body's nutritional information. clearpathwellness.com

Best Eye Clinic
Milan Eye Center
With board-certified, fellowship-trained surgeons, Milan Eye Center remains a leader in ophthalmology offering the latest technology and quality patient care services including Bladeless Cataract Surgery, LASIK Surgery, Pterygium Surgery, Oculoplastic Surgery, Glaucoma Evaluation/Management, and Diabetic Eye Exams. milaneyecenter.com


p-022Best Fertility Specialist
GA Reproductive Specialists
Since 2000, Georgia Reproductive Specialists helps couples experience the joy of parenthood by diagnosing the cause of infertility and then creating a patient/doctor team to determine the right course of action. ivf.com

Best Pediatrician
Dr. Phillip Spandorfer
Known as "Dr. Pip" to his patients and their families, this highly-regarded pediatrician with North Atlanta Pediatric Associates also serves as a pediatric emergency room physician at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite. northatlantapeds.com

p-023Best Physical Therapy Center
Stability Pilates & Physical Therapy
Opened in Sandy Springs in March of 2010, this 3,300-square-foot facility offers everything from treatment for an acute injury or accident to high-level, sport-specific training for healthy athletes. One-on-one physical and occupational therapy treatments, stretch classes, functional movement assessments and screens and more are available. stabilityatlanta.com

Best Integrative Medicine
The Atlanta Center for Holistic & Integrative Medicine
This integrative medicine practice has helped patients handle everything from cancer treatment and pediatric care to weight loss. The practice also keeps patients up to date on new health care trends and treatments for the best kind of care — preventative. atlantaholisticmedicine.com

p-024Best Eye Doctor
Thomas Eye Group
Thomas Eye Group's team of award-winning doctors includes ophthalmologists, pediatric ophthalmologists and optometrists that provide specialized care in seven locations, including their latest location at Hillandale. thomaseye.com

Best Dermatology Practice
Dermatology Center of Atlanta
This practice specializes in medical and surgical dermatology as well as results-driven cosmetic procedures, including CoolSculpting, Botox, dermal fillers and more. Their mission is to always give their best to make you better! dermatology-atlanta.com

Best ENT Practice
Northwest ENT and Allergy Center
Northwest ENT and Allergy Center utilizes the latest treatments and procedures to provide the most effective care for ear, nose and throat issues and ailments. Like their slogan says, "Come here. Feel better". nw-ent.com

Best Urology
Georgia Urology
The largest urology practice in Atlanta and the Southeast, Georgia Urology is comprised of 41 of the city's top urologists, many of whom are fellowship-trained and have advanced specialty training in oncology, laparoscopy, infertility, incontinence and pediatrics. gaurology.com

Best Gastroenterology
Dr. Brian Hudes of Advanced Gastroenterology Associates
When Dr. Brian Hudes isn't helping his gastroenterology patients, he is sharing his knowledge as a founding member of the Johns Creek Healthcare Association, and as an advisory board member for the American Liver Foundation. advgastro.com

Best Podiatry
Atlanta Foot and Ankle
Patients always get off on the right foot with this outstanding practice, which specializes in the medical, surgical and biomechanical treatment of the foot, ankle and leg with an emphasis on sports and fitness medicine. Drs. Perry Julien and Charles Peebles also provide consultation and strategies for injury prevention. atlantafootandankle.com

p-026Best Dentist
Atlanta Smiles and Wellness
The idea of visiting the dentist no longer has to invoke fear, thanks to Atlanta Smiles and Wellness. Drs. Giesler and Kovitch believe that receiving comprehensive dentistry should be an experience to enjoy. atlantasmiles.com

p-025Best Orthopedist
Dr. Krystal W. Chambers
A board-certified, fellowship-trained physiatrist, this Atlanta-based physician specializes in non-operative spine care, spinal injections and electrodiagnostic medicine. She works with the Resurgens Spine Center and is affiliated with St. Joseph's Hospital and Northside Hospital. resurgens.com

Best Vein Treatment
VEINatlanta is the first and only vein clinic in Atlanta to receive IAC Vein Center certification. Dr. Louis Prevosti and Dr. James Fonger, both experienced cardiovascular surgeons, take care of all venous problems of the legs, including leg pain, tired, heavy, achy legs, and varicose veins and spider veins. veinatlanta.com

p-027Best Massage Therapy
Jonathan Bautista of Catalyst Fitness
Jonathan received his formal training at the Atlanta School of Massage and has spent years dedicating himself to understanding every aspect of the multiple modalities in the field of body working. He boasts nine separate certifications in both massage therapy and personal training. catalystfitness.com

Best Cosmetic Dentistry
Atlanta Center for Cosmetic Dentistry
Atlanta Center for Cosmetic Dentistry helps patients achieve a more youthful look by reducing the appearance of wrinkles and laugh lines with anti-aging dentistry procedures such as tooth size manipulation, veneer adjustments and teeth whitening. atlantacenterforcosmeticdentistry.com

p-028Best Holistic Healing Center
Vitality Project
Formerly known as Natural Health Solutions, Vitality Project chose its new name to exemplify its mission to increase vitality and use homeopathy to help clients feel better than they ever thought they could. nature-heals.com
"Deb is the best naturopath I know. A great teacher, mentor and healer. So grateful her practice is nearby and available!" — Elizabeth L.

Best Urgent Care
MedPost Urgent Care
Conveniently open on nights and weekends, MedPost Urgent Care serves the metro Atlanta area with eight urgent care centers. Whether it's for immediate attention and treatment or for a $15 flu shot, a $25 physical or seasonal allergy treatment, the clinics provide something for patients of all ages and needs. medpost.com

Dr. Assia Stepanian
Beloved by her patients for her unparalleled and compassionate care, this world-renowned physician specializes in women's health and gynecologic surgery and enhances education in Minimally Invasive Gynecologic Surgery Worldwide. academiawomenshealth.com


These fan faves also received lots of votes:

Best Integrative Medicine
Total Healthcare Joint & Spine Centers

Best Eye Clinic
Marietta Eye Clinic

Best Urgent Care
The Little Clinic



Best Farmers Market
Buford Highway Farmers Market
Not just any old farmers market, the Buford Highway Farmers Market has been providing access to fresh and diverse ethnic food choices under one roof for more than 30 years.

Best Restaurant for Lunch
Souper Jenny
With four cafes in Brookhaven, Buckhead, Decatur and Westside, it's always possible to find a warm and comforting bowl of soup on a cold day...or a refreshing bowl of chilled soup on a hot day! Diners can also enjoy salads, sandwiches and more from a menu that changes daily to highlight the day's finest ingredients. souperjennyatl.com

Best Farm-to-Home Delivery
Cooking healthy meals literally couldn't get any easier than PeachDish. Simply browse their online menu for a meal you'd like to make, place your order and receive a box full of local, organic ingredients for your meal right to your door. peachdish.com

Best Farm-to-Table Restaurant
Milton's Cuisine & Cocktails
Executive Chef Derek Dollar puts a fresh, local spin on southern classics with vegetables and herbs grown right behind the 150-year-old farmhouse. Multi award-winning Milton's Cuisine & Cocktails offers a true farm-to-table dining experience. miltonscuisine.com

Best Food Truck
The Blaxican
When it comes to a name, The Blaxican's says it all. This food truck offers up a unique soul and Mexican food combination. The Blaxican is also passionate about giving back and donates any tips to local shelters. blaxicanfood.com

Best Kid-Friendly Restaurant
Bantam + Biddy
This eatery features classic and wholesome southern recipes that the whole family will enjoy. It's laid back feel makes it a perfect stop for a bite to eat while out with the little ones.

Best Pet-Friendly
Lucky's Burger & Brew
A local watering hole for both you and your beloved pooch, Lucky's Burger & Brew, with locations in Roswell and Brookhaven, offers a fun and relaxed atmosphere where you can enjoy a great burger, a cold beer and quality time with your pup on the patio. luckysburgerandbrew.com


p-030Best New Restaurant
The reviews are in, and this casual eatery's globally-inspired cuisine has gusto! Opened just over a year ago, the restaurant focuses on grilled proteins and "gustos," or flavor profiles in the form of fresh sauces, vegetables, fruits and garnishes. A simple, build-your-own menu means each healthy and satisfying dish is served in no time. whatsyourgusto.com


p-031Best Health Food Store
Nuts 'n Berries
This health food store doesn't just encourage its customers to shop, but to expand their knowledge by asking their staff questions and coming to their educational healthy lifestyle events. nutsnberries.com

Best Gluten-Free Bakery
American Gra-Frutti
Gluten-free certainly doesn't have to mean taste-free. Stop by American Gra-Frutti's store front to try their new gluten-free creations, meet the owner Marilyn in person and get a sneak peek of upcoming products. agrafrutti.com

Best Nutritionist
Sandy Dalis of Crave Nutrition
A board-certified holistic health, nutrition and life coach, Dalis helps clients learn to conquer cravings and overcome emotional eating. She offers several programs, including a 21-day crave detox, a 90-day transformation program and a six-month total wellness program. cravenutrition.net

Best Vegetarian Options
Café Sunflower
This charming, award-winning eatery proves that you don't have to sacrifice taste when you eat a dairy-free, gluten-free or meat-free diet. The café has been a staple on the Atlanta dining scene for two decades and continues to wow diners with its exceptional menu. cafesunflower.com

p-032Best Healthy To-Go
Good Measure Meals
Good Measure Meals cares just as much about the community as it does about providing nutritious food on the go. One hundred percent of net proceeds are donated to Open Hand, which supports meals and nutrition education for those in need. goodmeasuremeals.com
"I love the veggie options AND the fact that all proceeds support meals for people in need!"
- Suzi S.

Best Juice Bar
DTOX Organic Juice
Life is all about balance! So when you're leaning on the healthy side stop by DTOX Organic Juice to grab one of their raw and organic juices for a quick sip, or a full on cleanse or detox to get your body back on track. dtoxjuice.com

Best Local Food Blog
We Like To Cook!
Husband-and-wife team Dom and Denise Romeo, share recipes and tricks used in their home kitchen as they experiment with new ingredients and put a new spin on classic recipes in this deliciously delightful food blog.


These fan faves also received lots of votes:

Best Farm-to-Home Delivery
Garnish and Gather

Best Health Food Store

Best Restaurant for Lunch
True Food Kitchen


Best of 2015 photo shoot!
Special thanks to Sawyer Photography and Aura Hair
& Makeup — Alicia Benton (hair), Issac Ulrich (hair),
Alexandria Gault (makeup)


Monday, 26 October 2015 20:04


Monday, 26 October 2015 19:51

Elements Massage Buckhead

Monday, 26 October 2015 19:28

Anderson Hair Sciences Center

Wednesday, 21 October 2015 21:03

Give a Little, Get a Lot

SD-2By Nicole Letts

Contrary to every TV ad you'll ever see, the spirit of the season isn't about purchases, presents and parties. It's about giving and, specifically, giving back.

It's especially about giving back to Atlanta communities and neighborhoods we hold near and dear to our hearts. After all, as The Grinch Who Stole Christmas reminds us, "What if Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more?"
Whether you are looking to donate canned food or winter coats, or to volunteer for a few hours or a few days, we've got a comprehensive round-up of organizations giving back to Atlanta communities this holiday season in a major way.

Take a look at the list, find an organization that speaks to you and gather your friends and family to volunteer. The list covers events starting as early as November 1, so there is plenty of time to get involved. Embrace the holiday spirit and enjoy the season of giving!

P-01Mailbox Brigade  Nov. 1 - Dec. 4

Ashford Park Friends of Children's Healthcare of Atlanta Ashford Park Friends is one of more than 37 community "Friends" groups that support Children's Healthcare of Atlanta through volunteer opportunities, fundraising events and special service projects.

This year, Friends' events will benefit family support services, patient family services, research and more. Ashford Park Friends will be continuing a holiday tradition of decorating mailboxes where 100 percent of the funds raised will be donated directly to Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.

For a $40 donation, mailboxes will be beautifully adorned with fresh holiday greenery and a festive bow. Volunteers from the Ashford Park Friends group will be decorating the mailboxes while children of volunteers may help in the process by gathering greenery and assisting in decoration. Times vary, but decorating will take place in the Ashford Park neighborhood. To join Ashford Park Friends, visit www.facebook.com/groups/AshfordParkFriends

P-02P-03NFCC Holiday Program  Nov. 7 - Dec. 19
North Fulton Community Charities (Warm Coat Drive, Senior Baskets, Santa Shop and others)

North Fulton Community Charities' mission is to provide assistance to underprivileged families in the North Fulton area. Join other North Fulton county residents as they come together for a season of service with NFCC. Volunteer opportunities range from receiving donations to organizing events and assisting with cleanup. To volunteer with NFCC, volunteers must be at least 13 years of age. Groups of teens 16-18 must have an adult chaperone for every group of four. An adult must accompany teens under the age of 16, and children under the age of 13 are not allowed to volunteer at this time. Times vary on each event, but all activities take place at the Holiday Distribution Site: 1175 Northmeadow Pkwy., Suite 110, Roswell, GA 30076. To register to volunteer, visit www.nfccholiday.org

P-042015 Home for the Holidays Designer Showhouse  Nov. 20 - Dec. 13
Southeastern Horticultural Society

The Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles 2015 Home for the Holidays Designer Showhouse is the Atlanta design community's favorite wintertime tradition, and this year's no exception. (Twenty national and locally acclaimed designers will transform this home!)

A portion of the funds raised from the event will benefit The Children's Learning Gardens at the Southeastern Horticultural Society, a membership organization dedicated to furthering the knowledge of the horticultural industry throughout the region. The Southeastern Horticultural Society (SHS) is a nonprofit membership organization dedicated to promoting the knowledge, art and enjoyment of horticulture throughout the Southeast. The 2015 home, located at 1150 West Garmon Road, Atlanta, GA 30327, will be open to the public for tours Thursdays through

Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m. For this event, volunteers are needed while the home is open for tours to help direct guests and answer questions. Volunteers must be 21 years of age or older. For more information, visit www.atlantaholidayhome.com.

Holiday Tree Greeting Card Elves  Nov. 26 - Dec. 25 (Mon. - Fri. only)
Trees Atlanta

Trees Atlanta is a nationally recognized nonprofit citizens' group that protects and improves Atlanta's urban forest by planting, conserving, and educating.Each holiday season, Trees Atlanta seeks office volunteers (also known as "elves") to assist with mailing Holiday Tree Greeting Cards. For every holiday tree greeting purchased, Trees Atlanta sends a card to the friend, family member or associate of the purchaser's choice. Each card tells the loved one that a one-year old tree is being planted in their honor through Trees Atlanta's NeighborWoods program. As always, volunteers hand-address the envelopes to recipients for a personal touch. Volunteers ages 16+ are welcome to participate. Plan to meet at Trees Atlanta Kendeda Center: 225 Chester Avenue SE, Atlanta, GA 30316. For more information, visit www.treesatlanta.org.

Christmas Kindness  Dec. 5 - 9
Peachtree Road United Methodist Church

Christmas Kindness is a Peachtree Road United Methodist Church ministry that offers a dignified way for Atlantans in need to share the joy of Christmas. At this annual event, parents select from a variety of coats for all family members, appliances for their family to share and toys to give to their children.

Individuals from area shelters and housing agencies shop for basic necessities such as coats, shampoo, toothpaste, lotion and deodorant for their own use, and every shopper receives a wrapped Bible. Volunteers ages 16+ are invited to participate on December 5-8 while on December 9 from 3-6 p.m., elementary aged children can volunteer, too. Times vary for each day, but all activities take place at Peachtree Road United Methodist Church located at 3180 Peachtree Rd, Atlanta, GA 30305. For further information, visit www.prumc.org/local-outreach/

Amy's Holiday Party  Dec. 6
Creating Connected Communities

P-05Creating Connected Communities' mission is to provide life-enhancing programs to underserved children by empowering teen volunteers to become engaged community leaders. Throughout the year, CCC plans fun events and festivals for children living in homeless shelters and offers teen volunteers direct and meaningful community outreach opportunities.

This opportunity is perfect for families with teenagers hoping to get involved during the holidays. Rally your teenagers and join Amy's Holiday Party in providing over 800 children living in 40 shelters around Atlanta with a fun-filled holiday celebration. Over 300 teen volunteers participate in the event each year and help guests enjoy a DJ dance party, carnival games, craft projects, pictures with Santa, lunch and snacks and best of all a Toy Store with over 3,000 gifts. Volunteers in grades 8 - 12 are welcome. Volunteers are asked to register, and time and location details will then be provided. To register, visit www.cccprojects.org

Joyous Toys Store  Dec. 7 - 11
Buckhead Christian Ministries

For more than 28 years, Buckhead Christian Ministry (BCM) has worked to prevent hunger and homelessness for local people facing life-changing events such as job losses, reduction in work hours or medical problems. Joyous Toys is a store that provides gifts for children of all ages, birth to 17 years old.

P-07One of the things that makes the Joyous Toys store special is that it is full-service: clients are provided with access to a hospitality suite while they wait to shop, access to a personal shopper to help them select multiple gifts for each child and complimentary gift wrapping before they leave. Members of the community can volunteer to register families in the weeks leading up to the store or volunteer at the store itself. Volunteers must be 19 years of age to participate. The Joyous Toys Store event takes place Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday – 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.; Thursday – 9:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. ; Friday – 9:00 a.m. to 12 noon at Peachtree Presbyterian Church, 3434 Roswell Rd NW, Atlanta, GA 30305. For more information, visit www.buckheadchristianministry.org/events/joyous-toys-store/

P-06The Holiday Store  Dec. 12
Moving in the Spirit

Moving in the Spirit is an award-winning nonprofit that transforms the lives of Atlanta's children and teens through the art of dance. Programs combine dance instruction with leadership and mentor opportunities for a diverse community of young people, encouraging them to overcome the obstacles they face each day and reach their highest potential.

All year, Moving in the Spirit's 250 students earn merit points for meeting class commitments and personal goals. At the Holiday Store, they use their hard-earned points to "buy" gifts for their families and loved ones. Volunteers donate gifts, set up the store, wrap presents and serve as personal shoppers to the dancers. Moving in the Spirit welcomes volunteers ages 14 and beyond. Holiday Store hours are from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and all volunteer activities take place at Moving in the Spirit: 750 Glenwood Avenue Atlanta, GA 30316. For more information, visit www.movinginthespirit.org/holidaystore2015/


Wednesday, 21 October 2015 20:52

My Best Self: Lynn Stallings

By Beth Carter

Lynn Stallings is a woman of many, many talents. Throughout her lengthy career she's been a professional dancer, a casting director, an on-set acting coach...and even a probation officer!

But the role Stalling's held for almost 35 years as the Founder and Executive Director of the non-profit Atlanta Workshop Players (AWP) has brought the most fulfillment to her life. AWP has trained over 20,000 area students in musical theater, film and television, and she's helped launch many successful careers in Atlanta's red-hot entertainment industry. She's even created a program called "Make A Movie, Make A Difference," in which young students write and film their own movies.

What is the "Make A Movie, Make A Difference" program all about?

The goal is to give our young students life skills, confidence and a strong work ethic.
For more than 10 months, they work with award-winning professionals from across the country to learn all aspects of movie-making: screenwriting, producing, filmmaking, promoting and acting. Kids are remarkably deep thinkers and have so much to say but don't always have an outlet to be heard. Through this program, they spend a great deal of time brainstorming about the things that are important and relevant in their lives, and then they write film shorts, PSAs (Public Service Announcements) and documentaries that are sent to film festivals and public screenings. They're currently shooting the first five episodes in a web series titled "What Is Your Story?" which will be complete by the end of November and launch in early December on You Tube.

How does performing help your young students stay healthy?

A performer's body is their instrument, so they take care of theirs with good nutrition, exercise and sleep. Performers also exercise their minds through learning lines, choreography and creating new works that have great value and purpose. These students also explore challenges that are faced by young people today and tackle those issues with social responsibility. The creative process brings personal soul-searching and thoughtful contemplation.We also laugh a lot, play hide and seek and have epic water fights!

You began Atlanta Workshop Players with your husband, Don. What's it like working so closely together?

Our entire family is involved with AWP, and I feel so fortunate to be able to create together. Don is an actor and filmmaker, and our precious daughter Ashlyn is an actress, writer and filmmaker. Our son Lane is a technical wizard and is in the final stages of developing a feature film project. We also love to travel the world together and going to the theatre in the West End!

When you're not at Atlanta Workshop Players, what do you do to relax?

I am powered by light. When you turn out the lights, I'm fast asleep and enjoying the ultimate state of relaxation. Other than that, I work 80 to 90 hours per week and love every minute of it.



Wednesday, 21 October 2015 20:43

10 Tasty Type 2 Diabetes Risk Reducers

By Morgan A. McLaughlin McFarland

For those at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, dietary changes can often play an important role in controlling blood sugar, reducing risk and improving overall health.

The prospect of completely changing eating habits can sound daunting. When we seek to decrease our chances of getting diabetes by changing our eating habits, we often fear the worst. We assume we'll be stuck with a boring, flavorless diet that revolves around the things we can't eat, rather than the things we can.

Not true! A blood sugar-friendly diet can actually be full of color and flavor, especially if you include these ten tasty risk-reducers:

P-01Black or Green Tea

Finding out you're at risk for Type 2 diabetes may mean saying goodbye to sugary sweet tea. But black and green tea can stay on your daily menu!

Clinical research confirms what many cultures have long known – that tea can have a significant positive impact on health. One Japanese study found a 33 percent reduction in the rate of Type 2 diabetes among adults who drank six or more cups of green tea daily. Don't care for green tea? Black tea also offers protection from diabetes. In 2012, a study of 50 countries' tea drinking habits found that regularly drinking black tea reduces the risk of Type 2 diabetes across populations.


If tea isn't your cup of, well, tea, coffee also offers significant health benefits for those looking to decrease the risk or severity of Type 2 diabetes.

Some studies have shown that drinking four cups of coffee a day may decrease the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by as much as 50 percent. The components in coffee—caffeine, caffeic acid and chlorogenic acid—protect the insulin-producing pancreative cells from damage.

For those concerned about ingesting that much caffeine, never fear: decaffeinated coffee actually contains more caffeic acid, the coffee component that provided the most protection for pancreatic cells, than caffeinated coffee. Just be wary of artificial coffee creamers, which often contain large amounts of saturated fat and added sugars.

P-03Dark Chocolate

When it comes to chocolate, then the darker, the better. (At least if your goal is to reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes.)

Cocoa contains natural antioxidants called flavonols, but not all cocoa flavonols are created the same. The flavonols found in dark chocolate, called cocoaoligomeric procyanidins (CPs), can reduce the risk of diabetes. CPs also curb weight gain, which further lowers the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

In one study of the effects of dark chocolate, the subjects continued to maintain their weight or even lose weight despite a high fat diet. Not only that, but their ability to tolerate glucose actually improved, leading to a lowered risk of Type 2 diabetes. For a satisfying treat that also provides some protection against diabetes, skip sugary white and milk chocolate and instead enjoy the rich, bittersweet flavor of a high-cocoa dark chocolate.


Those at risk for Type 2 diabetes know that sugar is usually a no-no, so they instead turn to artificial sweeteners. But many artificial sweeteners carry their own mild health risks and can leave behind a bitter aftertaste.

Instead, consider dates and date sugar! Dates provide a naturally sweet alternative to high GI table sugar. Loaded with important nutrients like potassium, iron, calcium, manganese and copper, dates are also an excellent source of dietary fiber. They contain anti-inflammatory tannins.

Dates' low glycemic index—42 for a 60 gram serving—makes them an ideal snack for those with Type 2 diabetes. A 2011 study found that all five varieties of dates shared this low GI, having little long-term impact on blood sugar.

Date sugar, a minimally processed sweetener made from dried dates, can be substituted for white or brown sugar in most recipes, though like all sugars, should be used in moderation. Date sugar retains the nutritional value of dates while providing maximum sweetness. More sweet, lower GI? What's not to love about dates!


An apple a day may not keep the doctor away, but apples and other fruits high in quercetin—a naturally-occurring plant flavonoid—can reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

A study of Finnish men found a 20 percent reduction of Type 2 diabetes risk, along with a decrease in the rate of cardiovascular disease and some cancers. Quercetin may also help fight Alzheimer's disease and improve respiratory health. Quercetin is found in berries, leafy greens, raw onions and, of course, apples.

If you want all the health benefits of quercetin, make sure to also eat the peel, which contains the quercetin, along with much of the apple's fiber and other nutrients. Remember that fiber also plays an important role in controlling blood sugar, making apples a fantastic go-to snack.

P-06Lingonberries, Blueberries, and Grapes

Apples aren't the only fruit with the power to reduce the risk of diabetes. Several varieties of berries have a positive impact on diabetes risk. A 2014 Swedish study suggested that lingonberries can help control weight and maintain blood sugar, even in the face of a high-fat diet. That's well worth another trip to IKEA!

Another study showed a decrease in Type 2 diabetes in those who ate regular servings of whole fruit, particularly blueberries and grapes, which are also high in quercetin. Loaded with antioxidants and vitamins, these small fruits pack a huge nutritional punch, and they're easy to prepare. Toss them in a smoothie, mix with a whole grain breakfast cereal or snack on them whole; just be sure to include the quercetin-rich outer peel for maximum health benefit!


Cutting back on fat, sugar and processed carbohydrates doesn't have to mean eating bland, tasteless food. In fact, many spices actually offer additional health benefits for those at risk for diabetes — thus providing an opportunity to try new and exciting dishes from around the world.

Turmeric, a bright yellow spice used to boost the color and flavor of foods from curry to mustard, can also help prevent the development of Type 2 diabetes in at-risk individuals.

Curcumin, a compound found in turmeric, aids in lowering blood sugar and decreasing insulin resistance. One nine-month study of curcumin in at-risk groups found a significant reduction in the onset of Type 2 diabetes in the group taking curcumin; while 16.2 percent of the at-risk placebo group developed Type 2 diabetes, no participant in the curcumin group developed it. This versatile spice deserves further study and a place in your spice cabinet.


Speaking of spices, cinnamon adds additional flavor to blood sugar management. Regularly including cinnamon in your diet helps maintain a healthy blood sugar level and reduces the risk of complications from diabetes and cardiovascular disease. One study found that one to six grams of cinnamon daily significantly reduces blood sugar, as well as reduces triglycerides, LDL cholesterol level, and total cholesterol level.

Cinnamon can be integrated into prepared dishes or taken as a supplement. Try sprinkling some on apple slices or mixed berries or adding a dash to a smoothie or other sweet treat for an extra boost of diabetes protection!
Twenty-nine million Americans have Type 2 diabetes, and 86 million more are pre-diabetic — at risk for developing Type 2 diabetes. While no magic bullet can guarantee pre-diabetes won't develop into full-blown Type 2 diabetes, changes in diet and exercise can dramatically decrease that risk. Incorporating fun, delicious foods into your daily routine can not only improve your health, but also your outlook!

Many of the same foods that help reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes—such as chocolate, whole fruits and black or green tea—have been shown to elevate mood and improve alertness. A happier, healthier you can start with just one
bite or sip, and it's never too late to start!


Editorial Resources
Brooks Kent, MS, RDN, LD, CDE, WellStar Diabetes Educator – www.wellstar.org