Prostate cancer is the most common cancer affecting American men to date. And while symptoms can include urinary and sexual problems, this
slow-growing disease can easily go unnoticed. Stay healthy with these tips and regular checkups from your primary care physician.

What are the Risk Factors?

  • Age – Two-thirds of prostate cancers are found in men over the age of 65. The risk of contracting prostate cancer increases with age.
  • Race – Found in men from diverse ethnicities, prostate cancer is most commonly found within African American men and Jamaican men of African heritage.
  • Family History – Men with family history of prostate cancer are more likely to get it themselves, so they are encouraged to be examined beginning at age 45.

What about screening and diagnosis?
According to the American Cancer Society, men 55 years or older should be offered a digital rectal exam (DRE) and a blood test to check for levels of prostate specific antigen (PSA). Signs to look
for include:

  • Frequent urination or difficulty urinating
  • Hesitant urination (difficulty emptying the bladder)
  • Painful urination

If your doctor suspects signs of prostate cancer or you have a significant change in your PSA values, tissue will be taken from your prostate and examined under a microscope. This test is called biopsy.

PHOTO1How do I treat prostate cancer?
If diagnosed with prostate cancer, it is best to discuss treatment options with a radiation oncologist and a urologist. These doctors specialize in treating prostate cancer with radiation therapy or surgery. The treatment choice is ideally left up to the patient, but the doctors can provide guidance based on your specific findings and disease characteristics.

Treatment options include:

  • Surgery
  • External beam radiation therapy
  • Prostate brachytherapy
  • Hormone therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Cryosurgery
  • Active Surveillance



Craig Wilkinson, MD

Centers: Georgia Center for Total Cancer Care at Preston Ridge

Medical Degree: University of Miami School of Medicine

Residency: University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Hospital, Department of Radiation Oncology and Department of Internal Medicine.

Special Interests: Radiation Oncology/Bracytherapy, Breast Cancer, Prostate/Genitourinary Cancers, Lung Cancer, Head/Neck Cancers, Gynecological Cancers, Lymphomas, Gastrointestinal Cancers, Central Nervous System Cancers, Stereotactic Radiosurgery (Brain and Extracranial), and Benign Disorders

Dr. Wilkinson is married and lives in the Alpharetta area with his family. He is active in the local community and is involved in the cancer committees of the three local hospitals in the Alpharetta area. He has also been an integral part in starting Tumor Board/Multidisciplinary Conferences at two of the three local hospitals. Dr. Wilkinson enjoys playing intramural sports, new "technology" (i.e. toys!) and traveling.


Sponsored by: Atlanta Oncology Associates | (770) 255-7500 |
Alpharetta | Atlanta | Eastpoint | Greensboro | Hawkinsville | Macon | Over 15 Hospitals and Centers



Monday, 31 August 2015 16:20

Invisalign: Alternative to Braces

Unlike traditional braces or retainers, Invisalign is the modern approach commonly used to straighten teeth. These smooth, comfortable plastic trays are removable, see-through and specifically sized for your teeth. Find confidence in your smile with these answers to frequently asked questions about Invisalign.

How does Invisalign work?
Upon visiting your dentist, each set of virtually invisible Invisalign aligners are custom made to fit your needs throughout the treatment process. With no metal brackets or wires to be tightened, until treatment is complete, each set of new aligners will be used every two weeks to shift tooth position.

How long is treatment?
In most cases, the average length of time needed to straighten teeth for adults is 12 months. For teens, the treatment process varies but can be determined by your doctor. Regular appointments with your dentist will ensure progression of your treatment.

What are the benefits of Invisalign?
Compared to other suggested teeth-strengthening procedures, Invisalign offers many benefits that include:

  • Convenience
  • Comfort
  • Virtually invisible
  • Pain-free
  • Removable
  • Fewer visits to the dentist
  • Treats a wide array cases (overbite, underbite, crowding, spacing, crossbite)

How do I correctly care for my aligners?
To ensure optimum cleanliness of your aligners, regularly brush and rinse them in lukewarm water.

What happens after treatment?
Once treatment is complete, retainers will be worn at night for one year. This will help maintain the proper alignment while the teeth are first settling into their new position.


PHOTO1DR. Terry J. Lemons
Lemons Dental

Dr. Terry J. Lemons is founder and president of Lemons Dental. As one of Atlanta's premier cosmetic and general dentists, he has treated thousands of patients here in Atlanta, the Southeastern and Midwestern parts of the United States and from Europe.

Dr. Lemons graduated from Indiana University Dental School in 1989 and Emory University General Practice Residency in 1990. He has practiced in Johns Creek, Ga., since 1996. Spanning his 26-year career, he has encountered every form of cosmetic dentistry and enjoys developing end results that are in harmony with a patient's face and that enhance a natural appearance.

Sponsored by: Lemons Dental | 4060 Johns Creek Pkwy Bldg B | Suwanee, GA 30024 | (678) 293-9956 |



Monday, 31 August 2015 15:43

Urinary Incontinence

Dear Readers,

Have you experienced occasional or frequent urine loss? It can happen when you laugh, or sneeze, or cough. It can occur when you wait too long to use the lady's room. Urinary incontinence causes anxiety and embarrassment for millions of women.

What causes urinary incontinence? Some women are genetically predisposed to this condition. Others might have medical conditions that can cause the problem. Pregnancy, heavy lifting, incorrect performance of pelvic floor exercises, use of medications that result in higher urinary production, and poor urinary habits are also among the possible causes. On rare occasions, incontinence can be unmasked by surgical correction of adjacent defects.

Can incontinence be corrected without surgery? Absolutely, depending on the cause of the condition. Pelvic floor exercises and medications can be extremely effective either alone or in combination with other forms of treatment. In fact, a relatively new device, called "InTone" can help patients experience exceptional results.

What is "InTone," and how does it work? I discovered InTone for our patients approximately three years ago. InTone is an FDAapproved device that is placed vaginally at home by the patient for 12 minutes a day. We program the devices in the office, setting them precisely for each individual patient, then teach patients how to use them. Within these 12 minutes at home, patients perform biofeedback-guided contractions and experience muscular stimulation by the device, which engages pelvic floor musculature, tones it, and helps patients recognize the correct muscles to contract. Many of our patients see improvement within just two weeks. Out of over 100 patients that have undergone non-surgical pelvic floor rehabilitation with InTone in our practice, surgery for urinary incontinence was needed for only 3 patients. Each of them improved, including women with previous pelvic floor reconstructive surgery. What's more, the device is 100% covered by Medicare and some other insurers, and guaranteed by the manufacturer. Again, no medication or surgery is required in a vast majority of cases.

Is surgery ever needed to correct the problem? Yes, mostly in cases of significant structural problems not correctable by physical therapy with or without InTone. This involves cases with complex pelvic floor defects (pelvic organ prolapse) or persistent urinary incontinence. Surgery can be performed with or without the meshes and are highly individualized depending on the patient's needs.

What can you expect when you visit my office for treatment of urinary incontinence? You can expect loving attention and care, extensive knowledge of gynecologic pathology, diligence, and thorough investigation by examination and other diagnostic techniques. Additional methods of diagnosis may be used as needed, followed by careful selection and implementation of the best strategy to correct the condition.

LOGOWith much love,
Assia Stepanian

P. S. Let us meet in October's Women's Issue to address Holistic and Minimally Invasive Approaches to Gynecologic Surgery and Women's Health.


Dr. Assia Stepanian grew up in Moscow, the daughter of two illustrious physicians. In fact, much of her training was supervised by her mother, Dr. Leila Adamyan, the developer of some of the most advanced techniques used today in the practice of Minimally Invasive Gynecologic Surgery.

Dr. Stepanian has authored and coauthored articles, book chapters and classifications in gynecology. She has presented nationally and internationally. Her devotion to women's health was exemplified by her 2001 creation of the first and the leading media resource with the focus of teaching minimally invasive gynecologic surgery worldwide.

Dr. Stepanian is quite candid about her devotion to her patients. "My focus is always on learning about the total woman," she says. "I spend a great deal of time talking with each patient, and I find that I am both teacher and student. It can be an emotional experience for us both. Our visits invariably end with a warm hug. I am extremely fortunate."


755 Mount Vernon Highway, NE | Suite 240 | Atlanta, GA 30328 | (404) 549-3224
Total Managed Care-Offering Options to Support a More Holistic Approach for Women |



Monday, 31 August 2015 15:35

My Best Self: Carden Wyckoff

You likely wouldn't bat an eye if we told you that recent UGA grad Carden Wyckoff has interests and desires just like many young adults: graduating college, catching favorite artists at Piedmont Park music festivals and joining her brother in Spartan Races. But when you realize she has muscular dystrophy (specifically a type called fascioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy, also known as FSH or FSHD) you start to understand what an impressive young woman she really is.

Tell us a little bit about FSHD.
FSHD is a degenerative muscular disease that affects primarily the face, shoulder and arm muscles and ends up attacking all smooth muscle in the body. Currently, there is no treatment or cure. Carrying out day-to-day tasks is challenging and takes time. I cannot lift more than five pounds. Walking and using stairs are difficult, and I tire very easily.

What are some ways you give back to the community?
During my tenure at UGA, I volunteered at the Athens Area Humane Society and Athens Regional Hospital. In addition, I am a goodwill ambassador for the FSH Society and a disability rights advocate. At UGA, I lobbied for six curb cuts to be installed on campus, a ramped sidewalk going from a bus stop to the top of North campus and a temporary platform at the UGA Arch to allow all students to partake in the century-long tradition of passing through it.

What is your favorite quote?
"Be the change you wish you see in the world." – Gandhi

Tell us about your rececnt Spartan Race with your brother Spencer.
I piggybacked on my brother all five miles of the race to raise awareness for FSHD. I have never seen a more supportive community in my life. One of the obstacles was to vertically climb a muddy mountain, which was easily 100 feet, with only the assistance of cargo nets and rope. Five supporters surrounded and braced us to assist us all the way up, and once we reached the top, we had a huge standing ovation from other Spartans cheering us on and asking about our cause. It was truly an amazing feeling.

Tell us more about your push to make UGA's Arch more accessible.
In January 2014, Khaled Alsafadi approached me about his dream to make the UGA Arch wheelchair accessible. We launched the "Make UGA's Arch Accessible" Facebook campaign early February, and it went viral on campus. By the end of April, the administration granted the first ever temporary platform the day following commencement so that all students, regardless of their mobility, could partake in the tradition of passing through the Arch. The administration denied a permanent solution, but this has only fueled my passion to keep fighting.

What helps you be your best self?
The nature of my degenerative disease drives me to be my best self. Knowing that I probably won't be able to do something in three months or a year makes me get out of bed in the morning and advocate for change.

Monday, 31 August 2015 15:05

Healthy Families

Ovarian Cancer

Though Mom may be the only one in the family to be at risk for an ovarian cancer diagnosis, it has the potential to affect husbands and kids too. Doug Barron and Chase Powell know that firsthand. After women in their lives experienced the disease, they each became dedicated to ovarian cancer awareness.

Doug Barron
Barron's mother-in-law, Wendy Sheron, passed away in 2007 from ovarian cancer. Barron says, "I knew I had to do something." He joined Georgia Ovarian Cancer Alliance's board of directors in 2008, becoming executive director in 2010. "Looking back at the time leading up to her being diagnosed brings anger and frustration, which fuels my drive and passion for the GOCA mission. The risks and symptoms were right there in front of us – silent, yet shouting. We just didn't know what to look for. She is the reason I am so dedicated to educating women of all ages about the risks and symptoms of ovarian cancer." Barron says his mission, and that of GOCA itself, can be summed up in this phrase: "Until there's a test, awareness is best."

Chase Powell
Powell's own mother, Lorraine Powell, sat on the board of directors for Georgia Ovarian Cancer Alliance. She had the disease herself and threw her support behind GOCA because, as she said, "Until people know what ovarian cancer is, no one is going to really put forth the effort in finding a cure." She focused on education because she herself didn't know the symptoms until she had the disease. After she passed away, her son Chase became involved with GOCA and is now the program manager of the Georgia Ovarian Cancer Alliance. "I needed to do my part in getting the risks and symptoms of ovarian cancer out to the public," he says.





Maternal Mental Health

A crucial but often ignored aspect of family health is Mom's mental health. According to the Centers for Disease Control, as many as 20 percent of women who give birth each year in America show symptoms of postpartum depression, which can include everything from insomnia and irritability to feelings of shame and severe mood swings. To help dispel some myths about postpartum mental health, we asked Dr. Toby Goldsmith, the director of Emory's Women's Mental Health Program, to weigh in.

MYTH: Most women get the "baby blues." New moms should just deal with it themselves, and it will go away.
Sometimes mood swings, anxiety and irritability persist and worsen after the first two weeks post delivery. Dr. Goldsmith says, "After that 14-day mark, a woman should for the most part return to her previous functioning. If she does not return to 'normal,' then reaching out for help is appropriate.If a woman has thoughts about harming herself or someone else, we have moved well beyond the realm of the baby blues, and she needs immediate help."

MYTH: New moms can just "snap out of it" if they try hard enough.
Dr. Goldsmith says, "I believe that's the number one misconception." In reality, she explains, it's "a strong support network" that helps get women past postpartum depression, not the mom white-knuckling through it alone. "Having people to help you, to answer questions and to remind you to take a nap can be vital to feeling well." Beyond that support, Dr. Goldsmith adds, "Medication and therapy have been shown to be very beneficial."

MYTH: New moms shouldn't share their experiences.
On the contrary, Dr. Goldsmith says, talking about the experience of postpartum depression can be a huge help. "Say it out loud," she encourages. "Reach out to your obstetrician or midwife. Often they can get the ball rolling with treatment." She also recommends taking to social media to connect. "There is an amazing blog called Postpartum Progress, and Postpartum Support International has a very active Facebook page. Women can get support any time of the day or night with these tools."



Joint Replacement

If you've got a creaky knee or a shoulder giving you trouble, you're not alone. Dr. Nathan Jove, an orthopedic surgeon at DeKalb Medical, answered your most pressing joint replacement questions so you can get back to moving and living how you really want to.

My knee/hip/shoulder has been painful for a while now, but I'm not ready for surgery yet. What non-surgical treatments are there for joint pain?
Currently, treatments that are strongly supported by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) include physical therapy, weight loss, cortisone (steroid) injections and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

I'm in pain and open to the idea of surgery. Should I dive right in?
In order to have a joint replacement, you usually must first try physical therapy, anti-inflammatories and some forms of injections to have insurance approve it. In the end, a joint replacement is for when you can't do the things you want to do on a daily basis. If you want to walk two miles per day but walk 200 feet then stop because of pain, and if your knee hurts constantly to the point where you're willing to undergo surgery to fix it, you are probably the best candidate.

Am I too old to have a joint replacement surgery?
If a person can't do the things he or she wants to because of joint problems, age should not be a deterring factor. I have done a joint replacement in someone under 25 years old and another in someone over the age of 95. We are performing surgery in older patients more frequently, with better anesthetics, and with better pre-surgical and postsurgical management by medical doctors. Thus we are having safer and better outcomes for those older than 80.

How long will a replacement joint last?
Many people think the surgical components don't last a long time after surgery. The good news, however, is that components are lasting longer. We have 15 to 17 years of data with over 90 percent satisfaction, and with the higher-end materials, we are expecting components to last longer than ever. These new advances in materials, including vitamin E plastics and ceramics, are the most promising surfaces for long-term implant survival, and DeKalb Medical is at the forefront of letting their surgeons use these.

What are the pros and cons of joint replacement?
The cons or main concerns related to the surgery are blood clots and blood clots that travel to the lung called pulmonary emboli. For this, we have all patients on blood thinners in the post-operative period. We are concerned with infection as well, which is why we place all patients on antibiotics prior to surgery and continue it for 24 hours after surgery. The pros are restored mobility, decreased pain, less stiffness, better motion, ability to walk longer distances and patients feeling like they no longer have to limp because of pain.


Prostate Cancer

Georgia Urology's Dr. Scott Miller
reviews the facts for Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. Find out even more at!

Believe It
Though it might seem hard to believe, prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in males. Dr. Miller says prostate cancer numbers are "similar to those for breast cancer."


Test It
In early stages, prostate cancer doesn't usually cause symptoms. Sometimes, though, men will experience difficulty emptying their bladder and other urinary symptoms. "Once prostate cancer symptoms develop, it becomes very difficult to cure," Dr. Miller says, so it's crucial to get tested regularly, especially for older men, African American men and men with a family history of the disease. He recommends a baseline PSA (prostate specific antigen) test every year, but the age at which men first start the test is between him and his doctor.

Treat It
"Prostate cancer treatment has radically improved in the last decade," Dr. Miller says. "Highly precise robotic surgical removal techniques continue to evolve to lower the chance of side effects. For cancer that has spread outside of the prostate, we now have advanced drugs that can specifically target the prostate cancer cells using newer hormone-manipulating techniques or one's own immune system."



The Importance of Vaccinations

From infancy into their later school years, children can achieve good overall health with vaccines as part of their checkups. According to Dr. Sam Gold, the chair of WellStar Medical Group's pediatric committee on safety and quality, "The goal of vaccination is to prevent serious illnesses that are known to put children at dire risk of major illness, such as meningitis, developmental delay, deafness and even death."

In recent decades some people have had a persistent, yet scientifically inaccurate, fear of a link between vaccines and autism and other issues, but Dr. Gold assures his patients, "Vaccination has been shown time and again by many different scientific and medical groups to be very safe." Without vaccinations, Dr. Gold points out, "Outbreaks can and do happen, as has been seen within the last year with measles in more than half the states in the country, as well as whooping cough."
For these reasons, it's key to stay up to date on all appropriate vaccinations to keep your children, your family and your community-at-large as healthy as possible.


Friday, 28 August 2015 15:58

What’s in Your Medicine Cabinet?

By Morgan A. McFarland

That half-empty bottle of oxycodone in the back of your medicine cabinet may be more dangerous than you think. Prescription narcotic medications play an important role in pain management after injury or surgery, but for many people, use of prescription medication doesn't end when the injury heals. Misuse, abuse, addiction and overdose are all risks associated with access to prescription medication. Proper storage and disposal of medications, along with education on the risks and warning signs of addiction, can help prevent your medicine cabinet from becoming a gateway to drug abuse.

SB-1Prescription Drug Abuse
Abuse of prescription medication is more common than most people think. In fact, drug overdose (including both illegal and prescription drugs) has eclipsed car accidents as the leading cause of accidental death in the U.S. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that up to 20 percent of people over age 12 have used prescription drugs for reasons other than those prescribed at least once in their life. Trust for America's Health, which compiles national public health statistics, ranks Georgia as having the 36th highest drug overdose mortality rate in the U.S., with nearly 11 people per 100,000 dying from overdose.

"Non-medical abuse of prescription drugs has continued to increase each year at least by a percentage point," says Chris Hinds, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in practice in Marietta for over 30 years. "According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, which has the best epidemiological survey data, [in] 2013 there were at least 1.5 million young people ages 12 and older who initiated use with prescription pain relievers. It's those prescription drugs and things in medicine cabinets that seem to, year after year, be keeping pace with cannabis and alcohol. That's definitely a problem."

Who's At Risk?
While the causes for addiction vary from person to person, many prescription drug abusers share common risk factors. Men have a higher risk of developing a prescription drug abuse than women. Individuals with chronic pain, such as from an injury or neurological disorder, are at elevated risk. Genetics can also play a role; those with a history of opioid addiction in one or both parents are more likely to develop an addiction themselves. Drug addiction often occurs in conjunction with other mental health issues, and it may involve patients misusing medication prescribed for anxiety or other mental illness along with pain medications.

SB-2"The majority of my clients are people who have anxiety, stress or depression," says Dr. Clarence Massie, Jr., a professor of psychology at Georgia Perimeter College and counselor at Assurance DUI School. Throughout his 15 years of experience working with substance abuse clients, he has seen that prescription drug addiction is often the result of converging events, such as a combination of injury and major stressors like job loss or relationship instability. Dr. Massie says these can lead to "abusing the drugs, taking them more frequently than recommended, then getting a second prescription when [they] don't necessarily need it."

Watch for the Warning Signs
Prescription drug abuse manifests through physical and psychological symptoms. Some physical warning signs of opioid use include constricted or "pinned" pupils, slurred speech, sedation or sleepiness, confusion, euphoric behavior, itching and nausea. Opiates can also cause depressed respiration, which in the event of overdose can lead to death.

Some of the psychological symptoms are just as telling, such as preoccupation with the medication or feeling panicked when medication becomes inaccessible. Crystal Bradshaw, with Synergy Counseling Innovations, gives the example of a woman who became "extremely aggressive to staff, yelling and making a huge scene in front of other clients because we would not prescribe her child ADHD meds. The child did not exhibit symptoms or signs of ADHD – we believe the mother was seeking the prescription for herself."

SB-3The Danger of Overdose
Prescription drug use in teens can escalate as teens develop a tolerance, sometimes transitioning to crushing and snorting or injecting oxycodone, according to Hinds. Heroin use, often as an escalation from prescription narcotic abuse, is also becoming more prevalent among Atlanta youth.
Luckily, many overdose deaths from this escalating usage can now be prevented. Governor Nathan Deal signed the Georgia 911 Medical Amnesty Law in 2014, providing legal protection to overdose victims or those seeking emergency assistance on their behalf in the event of a drug overdose. The law also offers better access to the life-saving medication naloxone (Narcan), which counteracts the effects of narcotic/opioid overdose. Georgia Overdose Prevention, a grassroots group dedicated to reducing overdose death, can help volunteers receiving training in the use of naloxone and find pharmacies that will fill prescriptions of naloxone for those with loved ones at risk of narcotic overdose.

Georgia also has an excellent program for education and prescription drug abuse prevention. The "Think About It" campaign provides additional information on safe storage of prescription medication, helps Georgians locate drug disposal or "take-back" sites and offers education for healthcare providers, law enforcement, teachers and parents through videos, pamphlets and community education seminars. These resources, and your own awareness of potential problems, can help you make your medicine cabinet and your home a safer environment for everyone.

Editorial Resources
Crystal Bradshaw, Synergy Counseling Innovations –
Georgia Overdose Prevention –
Chris Hinds, LCSW, Hinds Therapy –
Clarence Massie, PhD, Assurance DUI Schools –
NIH National Institute on Drug Abuse:
The Science of Drug Abuse and Addiction –
Think About It: Prevent Rx Drug Abuse –


Friday, 28 August 2015 14:37

Give Her a Hand!

By Amy Meadows

It's a moment that Rachel Macy Stafford will never forget. She had taken her youngest daughter shopping for a dress to wear to the party for her recently released book, "Hands Free Mama: A Guide to Putting Down the Phone, Burning the To-Do List, and Letting Go of Perfection to Grasp What Really Matters!" Her phone was shut off and in her purse, where it stays during Stafford's hands free time – that time when she focuses solely on her family. When their shopping trip concluded, she took her phone out and turned it on. Instantly, she saw that she had nearly a dozen text messages from her publisher. In one of them, she saw the words NY Times. And she knew what those texts would say.

"I didn't read them right there," Stafford recalls. Instead, she walked her daughter outside. "I told her, 'You and I are going to read these together.'" Standing on the sidewalk outside the mall, the mother and daughter learned that "Hands Free Mama," published in January of 2014, had made the New York Times best-seller list. "I picked her up and swirled her around. It was our moment," Stafford continues, her voice breaking with emotion, explaining that her joy came less from the accomplishment itself (which thrilled her) and more from the fact that she could share it with her child. "We wouldn't have had that moment if I hadn't kept my phone in my purse. It was such a special moment for us."

PIC1Five years ago, Stafford probably would have missed the opportunity to have that remarkable experience. A busy wife and mother of two girls, she filled every minute of her days with activity. She participated in community activities, headed up school committees and got involved in her church. What's more, she had decided to return to teaching when her family moved, requiring her to take classes so she could receive her state license. "My life pre-hands free was chaotic. There was no white space on the calendar. I was controlled by my phone and tied to my to-do list," she says. "I was trying to be the perfect mom and the perfect wife. I was really putting a lot of pressure on myself."

PIC2Not only was there pressure on her, but the pressure was also spilling over to her children. Her two girls were tense around her, unsure if spilling a drink or breaking routine in some way would set their mom off. Stafford's oldest child developed a habit of nervously picking at her lip until it bled – a clear sign she was carrying too much weight on her little shoulders. Stafford began to sense that something wasn't right, and that it all started with her. "I was so short fused with my family. I managed rather than nurtured. And I was stretched so thin that my passion for living was nonexistent," she says. "I was the closest to having it all but the farthest from the life I wanted to live." Something inside was nudging her to question her lifestyle, but she chose to ignore the voice.

That is, until she took a run one morning, and everything changed. During that jog, she started thinking about a question that was often posed to her by others: how do you do it all? And for the first time, she decided to answer the question honestly in her own mind. "The answer brought tears to my eyes," Stafford reveals. She was able to "do it all" because, she says, "I missed out on life. I missed out on the laughing, the playing and the memory making. I would often say to my children, 'Not now – Mommy's busy.' And I realized that they were only going to be little once. I realized that I should be giving them all of my energy and focus. I should be nurturing these precious people. That was such an impactful moment. And that day, I started my first step to living hands free."

Stafford knew that the journey ahead would not be easy. She had so many distractions, both tangible and intangible. From her ringing phone and hectic schedule to the need to have an immaculate home, she felt like she was addicted to being busy. So Stafford made a list of the immediate distractions in her life and created a strategy for how to deal with them. It was as simple – and as challenging – as making small changes at first: giving her kids an undistracted goodbye in the morning, fully listening to her husband tell her about his day, taking 10 minutes to play with her daughters (even when there were dishes in the sink). And she kept a notebook documenting the moments she would have missed. SB1She didn't tell anyone what she was doing, but her family noticed a difference – even though they couldn't pinpoint what it was. She felt the difference in her own life as well. Three months into her journey, she explained it to her husband, and he encouraged her to share her story. Stafford launched her blog, Hands Free Mama, in 2010. In it, she shared anecdotes about and tips for letting go of distractions and living hands free. "There were crickets at first," she muses. "And I was scared. I was telling people that I'm not perfect." In time, she began to strike a chord.
SB2Thanks to a May 2012 blog posted entitled "How to Miss a Childhood," Hands Free Mama went viral. The post garnered three million hits, and Stafford's readership exploded. Today, her blog draws two million readers per month, and her Hands Free Revolution Facebook page boasts a quarter of a million fans – women and men, mothers and fathers, married and single, young and old. And her work has been featured in USA Today and Reader's Digest, as well as on sites like, and The Huffington Post, among many others. "I still can't wrap my brain around it. I didn't understand the impact this message could have on other people's lives," Stafford states. "The media perpetuates an idea, especially with women, where we see them fit, smiling, working at or outside the home and balancing it all beautifully. We're held to this standard. So we compare and compete. And it's hard to be the one to say, 'I'm struggling.' But you're not the only one. And it's a big sigh of relief when we can just be more real with each other. We need to give ourselves permission to fulfill our hearts and connect to what matters."

A lifelong writer, Stafford decided to pen a book based on her blog. By the time she had written the third chapter, she landed literary agent Sandra Bishop, who got Stafford a publishing deal with HarperCollins Christian Publishing. On Sept. 8, the company will release her second book, "Hands Free Life: 9 Habits for Overcoming Distraction, Living Better, and Loving More." In it, Stafford discusses how to acquire a new perspective and live a life of significance. It's something she felt compelled to write. "I am in a completely different place than I was when I wrote 'Hands Free Mama,'" she observes. "I've cultivated these enduring habits, and I've had a whole perspective change. I realized that I was able to see things that other people couldn't. And I can share this even deeper and more meaningful process."

Stafford also can share her incredible success with her husband and daughters, now 12 and 9. The family typically moves every five to six years for her husband's job, and just over a year ago, his career brought them to the metro Atlanta area. For Stafford, it's the perfect location for a hands free life. "We love it here," she says. "Saturday is a big hands free day for us, and there's always something fun to do. We'll go to a festival, a concert or a park. It's amazing." And at her husband's suggestion, they purchased a bike rack for their car and now explore the area's many bike trails whenever possible. "We have seen so many beautiful parts of Georgia by bike," she adds. "It's so wonderful."

What has truly allowed Stafford to enjoy those moments is her ability to set boundaries in her still increasingly busy life. For instance, when NPR requested an interview during her hands free time, she turned down the opportunity; she had promised to take her girls to the pool, and she did. "I don't regret that decision," she reveals. "If I can't be true to my message, then what good am I?" She also wants to be a role model for her daughters by staying true to her word. She continues, "I hope my daughters see that I lost my way for a while, but by God's grace, I used that difficult period to help others get back to what really matters. One person can make a difference. I want them to use their failings to learn. I want them to chase their dreams. And I want them
to be able to authentically connect with others."

Connecting is something Stafford has done in spades. And when she reaches out, she is steadfast in her message. "No matter how dismal life is now, no matter how many opportunities you have missed, today can be different," she concludes. "With the habits of a hands free life, you can bring joy back into your life and connection back into your relationships. Always remember that today matters more than yesterday."

Friday, 28 August 2015 14:10

20 Fun Getaways for Fall

By Kathy Kantorski

Day in and day out, you do your best to eat healthy and get some exercise. Why abandon your hard work on vacation? These trips, all within a few hours' drive of Atlanta, have a fitness bent to them that will help you feel great while having fun. Whether you choose horseback riding, kayaking at sunset or foraging for a wild meal, you'll return from vacation that much closer to your goals of fitness, health and happiness.


Have an Adventure
Thrill seekers unite! These three destinations will satisfy your adrenaline cravings.

Banning Mills
Drive time: 45 minutes

Soar up to 60 miles per hour over the lost gorge and the ghost town of Banning at Banning Mills Resort and Adventure Park. This family-owned conservancy features more than 100 zip lines and a multitude of sky bridges, along with a 100-foot power free fall, aerial challenge courses, kayaking, hiking, biking and even sleeping in treehouses.

Drive time: 1.6 hours

This Georgia town is a new hotspot for whitewater kayakers. Its 2.5-mile stretch of the Chattahoochee River features Class I to Class V rapids, along with a Lazy River. And what makes this rafting destination unique is its urban location – exit the river and bike or skate along the city's 20-mile river walk, offering live music, food, boutiques and more.

001Amicalola Falls and Unicoi State Park
Drive time: 1.75 hours

Newly introduced adventure-lodge experiences await at these state parks in the North Georgia mountains. Both offer treetop zip lines, GPS scavenger hunts, 3-D archery and climbing walls, and both are designated GoPro Parks, with classes and a rental program enabling guests to make an entertaining record of their day using the action camera mounted on a bike, kayak or helmet. Amicalola Falls also features guided hikes and fitness trail runs, survivalist camping and a birds-of-prey experience, while Unicoi adds lessons in fly fishing, paddleboarding, kayak fishing and primitive camping under the stars.


Climb A Mountain
If you think "The higher the altitude, the better," check out these getaways, in order of distance.

Callaway Gardens
Drive time: 1.25 hours

Located in the southernmost foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, Callaway Gardens is a man-made nature retreat for the purpose of connecting people with nature in ways that benefit both. The area features four lodging options along with activities such as a butterfly center, daily birds of prey shows, treetop zip lines and obstacle courses, geocaching (a real-world treasure hunt), beach and water sports, golf and, of course, plenty of gardens to tour.

002Town of Blue Ridge
Drive time: 1.5 hours

This cozy mountain town offers easy access to the Aska trail system, which features 17 miles of walking and biking trails. In October, visit the nearby Georgia Apple Festival, which includes food, art, crafts and more from hundreds of vendors, or catch a movie under the stars at the Swan Drive-In Theatre, built in 1955. If you decide to stay overnight, Escape to Blue Ridge ( offers a wide selection of cabins with great views and amenities.

Snowbird Mountain Lodge
Drive time: 2.5 hours

Celebrating its 74th season, the Snowbird Mountain Lodge offers majestic views and warm accommodations. Hike, horseback ride, do yoga, mountain bike, fish and canoe, or go for the unique experiences of wildflower walks or night walking with synchronous fireflies. The lodge closes for the season on November 29.

003Bryson City
Drive time: 3 hours

Take a break from the gym and take a fitness trip to the Smoky Mountains instead—Bryson City, North Carolina, to be exact. The city offers a two-day get-fit itinerary that involves jogging past waterfalls and through woods, paddleboarding, a sunset kayak tour, mountain biking and a one-hour massage to cap off the trip.

Singletree Gun and Plough Resort
Drive time: 5.5 hours

Nestled in the city of Danbury, N.C., this 1,000-acre family-owned wilderness resort offers lodge rooms or private cabins. Eight miles of private hiking trails are offered for guests of the resort only, but you can also visit the adjacent Hanging Rock State Park for 26 more miles of hiking trails, including five waterfalls and a 12-acre lake for fishing, boating and swimming. Additional activities include zip lines, fly fishing and tubing. We recommend you cap off the day watching the sun set over the Blue Ridge Mountains as you sip moonshine on the lodge's front porch.



004Primland Resort
Drive time: 5.75 hours

Let the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains take your breath away as you sleep not just under the sky, but in it, in one of Primland Resort's three treehouses. Or you can opt to stay on the ground in the mountain homes, cottages and other lodging options of this 12,000-acre mountain resort, offering activities such as golf, disc golf, fishing, horseback riding, hunting, mountain biking, nature walks, sporting clays, off-road adventures, archery, swimming, tennis and stargazing from the resort's observatory.


Get Cultured
These destinations offer the perfect combination of history and activity for those looking to stretch their bodies and expand their minds.

Drive time: 1.15 hours

Home to the largest hard-rock gold mine east of the Mississippi (and site of the first major U.S. gold rush), Dahlonega is a historic quaint mountain town in the heart of Georgia wine country, just over an hour north of Atlanta. Enjoy panning for gold and gemstones, visiting the heritage museums and touring the town, with its arts scene and gold-medal wineries. Or crank the activities up a notch with hiking, kayaking, bicycling, mountain biking, golfing, hunting, fishing and camping.

005Biltmore Estate
Drive time: 3.25 hours

In 1895, George Vanderbilt built this 250-room chateau in Asheville, N.C., which stands today as the largest home in America. The home's gardens were designed by renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, with the Blue Ridge Mountains as the backdrop. Outdoor activities include fishing, horseback riding and bike rentals, and visits to the nearby Antler Hill Village and Biltmore Winery are popular highlights of this trip.

006The Brice Hotel
Drive time: 3.5 hours

A new addition to Savannah, Ga., The Brice Hotel overlooks Emmet Park and the Savannah River in the city's historic River District. The four-star boutique hotel is pet friendly, and offers PUBLIC Bikes so guests can spin around the city. Its inviting brick courtyard, called the Secret Garden, is charmingly strung with lights, and a nightly social hour with free wine is held in the lobby.


Eat, Drink and Be Merry
Foodies and wine enthusiasts will treasure these getaways that leave you well fed and feeling great.

007Chateau Elan Winery and Resort
Drive time: 45 minutes

Just a quick drive to Braselton, northeast of Atlanta, Chateau Elan is a 3,500-acre vineyard featuring healthy dining, a European health spa and 63 holes of golf with courses for beginners to champions. While you're there, check out the resort's Night Golf, a walking course event with glow-in-the-dark balls, flagsticks and tee markers lighting the course.

White Hills Herb Farm
Drive time: 2 hours

Lisa Kessler, a former instructor at the Medical College of Georgia, now runs this sustainable herb farm in Dearing, just outside of Augusta. She welcomes guests to her 1890s farmhouse and offers tours of the fragrant lavender farms as well as lessons in producing field-to-product balms or lavender-infused oils, creating the perfect herb rub or pot of tea.

Paradise Hills Winery Resort
Drive time: 2 hours

The Lander family, originally from Northern Maine and Belgium, moved to Blairsville, Ga., in 2002 to open and run this winery resort. Situated on a mountain ridge, Paradise Hills offers cabin rentals, a spa and a family farm winery. The area is also popular for outdoor activities such as fishing, rafting, canoeing, hiking and horseback riding.

White Oak Pastures
Drive time: 2.75 hours

This cherished, sustainable family farm just opened its doors in August to diners and lodgers. Guests can stay in cabins or book a room in the Pond House. Every other Saturday, the farm will host classes, such as a seed starting class on Sept. 6. Additional offerings include guided horseback trail rides, farm tours led by a member of the Harris family, fishing in the farm's ponds, skeet shooting and, of course, the incredible farm-to-table dining.

No Taste Like Home
Drive times: 3.5 hours

Take a foraging trip with this culinary travel group. No Taste Like Home partners with three hotels to offer foraging-for-fitness packages through October. The excursions include a woodland "shopping spree" where you gather wild mushrooms and other edible plants. Picnic, then enjoy fine dining at one of the group's lodging partners (including the Omni Grove Park Inn in Asheville, N.C.) as the chefs there cook up your "catch of the day."


Go Where Life's A Beach
If the sun and sand are calling your name, try these trips!

Hilton Head Health
Drive time: 4.15 hours

Already a top retreat for weight loss and wellness, Hilton Head Health recently underwent a transformation and now features a new spa and art gallery, and program changes including educational speakers. The wellness resort's focus is combining health with nature, and it features such activities as kayaking, a daily sunrise beach walk, paddleboard yoga, daily cooking classes, golf, tennis and more. The retreat is located within Shipyard Plantation, an 800-acre gated resort and residential community on Hilton Head Island.

008Jekyll Island Holiday Inn Resort
Drive time: 4.75 hours

After a $20 million rebuild, the Holiday Inn Jekyll Island opened its doors earlier this year, and guests have been flocking to its 1,200 square feet of unobstructed beachfront space on the historic Jekyll Island, which itself is undergoing a revitalization. Amenities at the new resort include a fitness center, kids club, nightly entertainment and more, and guests can also enjoy multiple water activities, golf, tennis, biking and nature-based excursions.

009Sea Island
Drive time: 4.75 hours

The Lodge and The Cloister are resorts on Sea Island, and both have been ranked among the Top 10 resorts in the U.S. by the readers of Travel + Leisure magazine. Needless to say, this is a high-quality getaway for families, outdoor enthusiasts and those looking to simply refresh and recharge. Sea Island features five miles of private beach with horseback riding and open-sea kayaking, tennis and squash centers, a yacht club, a shooting school and three championship golf courses including Seaside, the site of the PGA Tour's McGladrey Classic.

010Emerald Coast
Drive time: 4.75 hours

It's time to revisit Florida's Emerald Coast. With St. Joe Club & Resorts, your weekend could include: biking the Timpoochee Trail, which links each town's art galleries, cafes, a popular food truck stop and beach access points; kayaking, canoeing or stand-up paddleboarding across Western Lake; playing a round of golf on the Greg Norman-designed Shark's Tooth course; hopping on a pontoon boat at Bay Point Marina and fishing for snapper, grouper and scallops in the Gulf, then cruising over to Shell Island to enjoy lunch on the beach; and ending the day next to a bonfire on the beach.


Thursday, 23 July 2015 19:09

Body Symmetry MD