What are some common digestive problems you see in your patients?

Some common digestive problems we see in patients include:

  • Gastritis: an inflammation of gastric mucosa
  • Food Allergies: an adverse reaction to common foods such as nuts, wheat and soy, causing many problems such as constipation, eczema, nose stuffiness and weight gain.
  • Leaky gut syndrome: defects in the integrity of the gut lining cells due to inflammation of the cells, causing Candida yeast and waste products to leak out into the blood stream and promote an inflammatory reaction in the body.

What role do hormones play in the digestion process?

The major hormones that are involved in the digestive process are gastrin, secretin and cholecystokinin.

Stomach-painHow can digestive problem prevent weight loss?

Quality of calories consumed, stress level, sleep, metabolic disturbances, emotional imbalances, food intolerances and toxic burden can all cause individuals to gain weight and have difficulty losing weight. Among these, gut health plays a significant role in obesity.

Is it possible to remedy and/or cure a digestive problem and ultimately achieve weight loss?

Changing gut flora from bad bacteria to good improves metabolic irregularity, and decreases storage of calories as fat in the body.

Are there any foods, vitamins or supplements that can jumpstart weight loss in people with digestive problems?

A high quality probiotic, magnesium, vitamin D, antioxidants, B vitamins (especially B12) and vitamin E have significant role in maintaining metabolism. Overall, along with healing of the digestive system, a successful long-term weight loss program demands permanent changes in life style, healthy calorie controlled diet combined with exercise.

Call Natural Health Atlanta to learn more about achieving a healthy gut naturally at (678) 892-6865. Most major insurance plans are accepted.

Azam Banaian, NMD
Natural Health Atlanta
Phone: 678-892-6865

Most Major Insurance Plans Accepted

"Dr. Az" (Azam Banaian, NMD) received her medical doctorate degree from Tehran Medical College and her doctor of naturopathic medicine degree from the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine. She specializes in nutrition, weight loss, fasting, dermatology, immunology, allergy, adrenal fatigue, metabolic disorders, acupuncture, and botanical/herbal medicine.

Thursday, 22 May 2014 10:49

Dermani MedSpa

Thursday, 22 May 2014 10:48

Dermani MedSpa

Wednesday, 21 May 2014 13:24

2014 Over 40 & Fabulous! Contest Winners

Over 40 & Fabulous!, at first glance, seems like a self-explanatory contest name – the winners will be over 40 years of age, and they'll be fabulous. But what does "fabulous" really mean? This year's group takes the definition to a new level.

"Fabulous" doesn't just mean physical beauty; it means a strong belief that beauty is on the inside too. "Fabulous" doesn't just mean physical fitness for its own sake; it means being active with family and friends for overall health and happiness. "Fabulous" doesn't just mean donating money or volunteering your time; it means giving back to your community with the passion and energy of your whole spirit.

Over the next few pages, you will meet this year's top 10 winners and the next fabulous five. These 15 contestants are executives, parents, doctors, runners and coaches. They love books, travel, their families, their friends and life itself. They were nominated and voted on by you, and the vote tallies have spoken. Here are Atlanta's 2014 Over 40 & Fabulous! winners!

Thank you to our 2014 Over 40 & Fabulous! contest sponsors.

The contest is presented by National Coalition Against Domestic Violence/Valeant Pharmaceuticals.
Participating sponsors: ASM Wellness and AlternaHealth Solutions
Contributing sponsors: Bob Steele Salon, Skin IQ Medspa & Store, GlowDry

Prize Package sponsors: AlternaHealth Solutions, ASM Wellness, Bob Steele Salon, Concourse Athletic Club, Gardner Dermatology & Med Spa, GlowDry, Health & Beauty Boutique, Joseph & Friends Salon & Spa, The Maloney Center for Facial Plastic Surgery, Natural Health Atlanta, Obaji Products, Premier Image Cosmetic & Laser Surgery, Power & Pink Stripes, Salon 1580, Single Atlanta, Skin IQ Medspa & Store, Total HealthCare Medical Center, VeinINNOVATIONS


Diana-HofsommerDiana Hofsommer - Winner

"I've always had the view that you could be whatever you wanted to be. I feel like I'm just getting started!"

Diana has lived in Atlanta for 18 years with her husband, Jason. In her current role as the development director for Camp Horizon, Diana spends her days building support for Atlanta's youth in foster care.

What do you consider your best accomplishment?

Living in Germany for five years was the toughest thing I've ever done. I changed cultures as an adult and came to realize that my identity wasn't necessarily defined by all of the things I left behind. Learning to live and interact in a new language was an incredibly humbling and rewarding challenge, ultimately, even if it didn't always feel rewarding in the interim.

What is your favorite way to work out?

Snow skiing. It's the most exhilarating way to enjoy nature, physically challenge myself and completely clear my head. More regularly, I run or walk several times a week and do yoga videos, P90X or free weights at home. It seems small, but I think those things add up.

What is your favorite way to give back to your community?

My favorite cause is Camp Horizon, a charity organization providing year-round, no-cost programs to Metro Atlanta's youth in foster care. I've been volunteering as a mentor/counselor for eight years. My current role is development director, which I'm doing pro bono for two years to help grow our organization. Despite 32 years of running amazing programs and changing the lives of hundreds of wonderful kids, Camp Horizon is still unknown to most Atlantans. I'm working to build relationships and create better connections for support.

What inspired you to do this particular kind of charity work?

I'm a former "foster kid." I identify with the issues our kids struggle with, and I have benefited greatly from my community, federal programs and several specific kind and generous people unrelated to me. There is a pervasive and persistent myth that kids from disadvantaged backgrounds are often "troubled" or "bad." Well, if you suffered the same traumas, you might be troubled too. Instead of ignoring the issues, I'd rather see a greater investment in programs that inspire kids to strive for something they didn't think possible before. It's what we focus on at Camp Horizon, and I know there are a lot of other amazing groups doing similar work. Donating to a cause like ours is not just "good" – it's an investment that pays dividends exponentially. A neighbor I hardly knew taught me how to ride a bike when I was 7. I've never forgotten it. And like that example, I have several others that inspire me to put more good in the world than I have received. My hope is that our kids will be inspired to do the same someday too.

What is your most embarrassing moment?

I have so many! Some of the funniest happened while learning to speak German. One day I told my instructor about welcoming spring and cleaning the windows in the back of our apartment. Unfortunately, what I actually said was that I had cleaned the windows in my "behind."

What is your favorite quote?

I find this one from Eleanor Roosevelt quite meaningful, particularly for children who grow up without support or who are abused: "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." Even if it's your family that tells you that you're worthless, you don't have to believe it.

How do you maintain the balance between self-care, family and work responsibilities, and giving back?

I am not sure I do a great job at this, but I also have autoimmune issues that force me to balance this better than I used to. The four are inextricably linked, and all are a priority for me. If I'm not healthy, I can't do my work or enjoy time with anyone. So I've had to learn how to say no, even when I really want to say yes. Accepting that I have limits was difficult, but finding a way to work within them feels like a success.

Beth-Ann-BearupBeth Ann Bearup

"I thought by 40 I would feel fully grown up, but I am still growing and becoming more confident and independent."

This former pageant titleholder and model has three children with whom she runs an Atlanta-based non-profit organization. Beth Ann also serves as the director of public relations for The ENT Institute.

What is the best thing you've learned about yourself since turning 40?

I have learned what is important in life: being there for your family and friends and letting them know you love them. I have also learned I am stronger than I ever imagined, and the only person who can truly make me happy is myself.

What is your favorite way to give back?

Through Sheltering Books, Inc., a non-profit I run along with my three children. We have collected over 300,000 children's books that we send to homeless shelters, orphanages, children's hospitals and schools around the world.

What inspired you to do this kind of charity work?

My daughter, Mackenzie, was injured when she was 10 years old and developed a chronic pain condition called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. The only way she could get her mind off her pain was to get lost in a great book. Her doctor told her about Murphy Harpst, a home for severely abused children that had a library but very few books. Mackenzie started gathering her books, then asked friends and family for books, and before we knew it, she had several thousand books to give them. My sons soon got involved, and we had such a great time collecting and donating the books that we decided to continue. Eventually we turned it into an official non-profit charity and now send books around the world.

Who are the experts who help you be your best self?

I am a big believer that Botox can help you keep from getting wrinkles. I have gotten Botox at The ENT Institute for years. I also love my eyelash extensions from Pleasures Skin Care in Alpharetta. They really make me look more awake!

What advice do you have for someone who isn't yet over 40 and fabulous?

Learn who you are, and if you don't like what you see, work on changing that. You have to love yourself – that's who you're stuck with the rest of your life!

Marsha-MiddletonMarsha Middleton

"Hitting 40 made me stop sweating small stuff. I learned to really cherish every moment with my family and friends."

As a mother of two, the owner and president of M-Squared Public Relations and a board member for Meals on Wheels Atlanta, Marsha embraces all her roles while finding time to travel whenever possible.

What do you consider your best accomplishment?

It's really hard to say that I'm proud of just one thing, but I was the first in my family to graduate from college, and I'm absolutely proud of my company and the amazing clients we represent, such as Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta, Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants, and Moffett Restaurant Group.

What is your favorite book?

My favorite book is definitely the Bible. My pastor, Dennis Rouse of Victory World Church, plays a large role in my ability to remain humble and grounded.

What is your favorite way to work out?

I love a great spin class, and I'm most motivated by the music.

What is your favorite healthy meal?

I am totally obsessed with kale. While I used to judge all restaurants by their french fries, the older me – who can't lose weight so easily anymore – puts the verdict out on a restaurant's kale. One of my favorite places for a consistently good kale salad is Houston's on Peachtree in Buckhead.

What is your favorite way to give back?

I really believe in the mission of Meals On Wheels Atlanta. As a volunteer, you not only deliver food to hungry seniors, but it's also a delivery of conversation and friendship. This year, I'm extremely excited to get myself and colleagues involved with youthSpark, Inc, an Atlanta-based non-profit that provides intervention services for victims of child sex trafficking.

What is your most embarrassing moment?

It was work-related and involved a typo that, as a misspelled word, turned out to be profanity. The document went to the entire company. Oh, and this happened during my first week on the job.

Who are the experts who help you be your best self?

My life coach, David Smith, keeps me grounded, focused and centered. When I have a few too many balls in the air, he tells me it's okay to catch a few and put a few down without feeling like I've dropped them.

Sue-CobbSue Cobb

"In my heart, I'm not a whole lot different now than when I was a teenager!"

This sports coach and mom of six launched Sportabella, Ltd., her own sportswear company, which now outfits many of Metro Atlanta's youth sports teams and donates a portion of proceeds to cancer research.

What is the best thing you've learned about yourself since turning 40?

I can't remember – it was 11 years ago! Honestly, the best thing I've learned about myself since turning 40 is that your passion for life doesn't diminish with age.

What do you consider your best accomplishment?

My six amazing children and my marriage to my high school sweetheart, followed by launching Sportabella.

What is your favorite book?

"The Poisonwood Bible" by Barbara Kingsolver, followed by "A Prayer for Owen Meany" by John Irving. Not to mention the Dr. Seuss books I've read to my kids over the last 20 years!

What is your favorite way to work out?

Hit the pool for a long workout led by a wonderful Masters swim coach.

What is your favorite healthy meal?

Sushi. Not just the fish, but all the veggies as well.

What is your favorite way to give back?

I've been active in youth sports and coaching for the past 15 years. I have a personal passion for fitness and know that participation in sports provides kids with a tremendous opportunity to gain confidence, achieve physical well-being, and along the way make great friends and learn valuable life lessons.

What is your most embarrassing moment?

While living in Japan, I hosted a business dinner party and served what I thought were green beans. Of course, I couldn't read the label. Soybeans in their shells are not a replacement for green beans – I couldn't quite figure out why they were so hard to chew!

What is your favorite getaway?

The Georgia mountains, although my most frequented getaway is on the back porch with my husband.

Where do you see yourself in 20 years?

Surrounded by my husband, kids and a bevy of grandbabies! I also hope to be watching Sportabella bring joy to athletes around the world.

Peggy-RainbowPeggy Rainbow

"Life only gets better as you get older. I heard that all my life and now know it to be absolutely true."

As vice president of Worthmore Jewelers and a competitive bodybuilder, Peggy still finds time to give back through Atlanta Pride, Hosea Feed the Hungry, W.I.S.H. Society and Make-A-Wish Georgia.

What is the best thing you've learned about yourself since turning 40?

Probably the best thing I've learned is that I still have so much time to learn and accomplish all the things I want to do. I'm not at the end of my rope!

What is your favorite book?

"You Can Heal Your Life" by Louise Hay.

What is your favorite way to work out?

Old-school bodybuilding style.

What is your favorite healthy meal?

Bison and Brussels sprouts. I love Brussels sprouts!

What is your favorite way to give back?

I want to help the gay community, so my favorite way to give back is anything to do with Atlanta Pride. We have come such a long way since I was in my early 20s, and I want the younger gay community to have it easier than we did.

What is your most embarrassing moment?

When I split my pants showing off doing squats in the gym.

What is your favorite quote?

"Live life as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever." – Ghandi

Name something on your bucket list.

To attend a Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.

Who are the experts who help you be your best self?

My training coach, my posing coach, Yoda (yes, I'm serious) and my very dear friend Harris Botnick.

How do you maintain the balance between self-care, family and work responsibilities, and giving back?

I realize what my limitations and boundaries are and respect them. I have learned to prioritize and give what I can, when I can. I try very hard not to over-commit.

Where do you see yourself in 20 years?

Kickin' butt and taking names. Probably enjoying life and riding my Harley around the country. And, of course, still hitting the gym.

Virginia-KeagleVirginia Keagle

"I have a strong mom who told me that I could do anything I set my mind to, and I still believe that today!"

Virginia serves as the executive administrator of information technology at Habitat for Humanity's corporate headquarters. She stays fabulous with a well-rounded workout regimen and a healthy diet.

How has your perception of this age changed since you were younger?

When I was young, my perception was that 40 is just plain old. Obviously, I no longer think this way about 40, 50 or even 60, for that matter. Age is truly a state of mind, and how well you take care of yourself physically can have a huge impact as well.

What do you consider your best accomplishment?

Learning to accept myself the way I am. There is a lot to be said for self-acceptance and self-awareness.

What is your favorite way to work out?

Running and weight training. As you age, you lose muscle tone. It is my goal to retain as much of that as possible.

What is your favorite healthy meal?

I love fresh salmon on the grill and any other seafood dish that is prepared by either grilling or baking. I don't eat anything fried, and I stopped eating red meat more than 20 years ago.

What is your favorite way to give back?

My favorite way to give back to the community is building homes with Habitat for Humanity. Habitat addresses a human need by providing safe, decent and affordable housing throughout the world. Access to adequate housing changes people's lives – it impacts everything from health to socioeconomic factors in a huge way. To date, Habitat has served more than 800,000 families worldwide. Just last year, Habitat for Humanity served 124,946 families.

Name something on your bucket list.

To see the Great Wall of China or some other piece of history dating back more than 1,000 years.

How do you maintain the balance between self-care, family and work responsibilities, and giving back?

I think the most important thing to do is spend your time with those who are important to you, surround yourself with others who you can learn from, and never forget your old friends who have been by your side through the good and the bad.

David-JonesDr. David Jones

"I feel that I'm in a new, more exciting chapter of my life."

David, Kaiser Permanente of Georgia's assistant chief of pediatrics, advocates for better health through the Every Body Walk! campaign while maintaining his own health through regular exercise and local, organic food.

What is the best thing you've learned about yourself since turning 40?

I've become more willing to take chances, to challenge myself and to embrace change. As a result, I am happier and more fulfilled both personally and professionally.

What do you consider your best accomplishment?

Graduating from medical school.

What is your favorite way to work out?

I like weight training. It makes me feel good physically and mentally. Also, I am a tennis fanatic! When I cannot do that, I enjoy walking.

What is your favorite way to give back?

I participate in local health fairs and career day at various schools. I join my colleagues in community service events, and I enjoy fundraising for PAWS Atlanta, a no-kill animal shelter, to honor our Great Dane, Morocco.

What makes you laugh?

As a pediatrician, I hear many funny comments from kids. I laugh when they inadvertently embarrass their parents with an unexpected comment. I remember doing it to my parents as a child.

What is your favorite quote?

"I am not young enough to know everything." – Oscar Wilde

Name something on your bucket list.

Two things: I would really love to see the Wimbledon Championships, and I would love to go to South Africa.

Who are the experts who help you be your best self?

Dr. Rob Schreiner and Dr. Charmaine Gray have been close and highly valued mentors for me for many years.

How do you maintain the balance between self-care, family and work responsibilities, and giving back?

I firmly believe that caring for our physical and mental wellness is vital, although it may not be easy at times. If we neglect that, then we cannot be there fully for our family and friends when they are in need. Being physically active and "walking the walk," if you will, helps me be a more effective and credible healthcare professional.

What advice do you have for someone who isn't yet over 40 and fabulous?

Appreciate where you are and what you do right now, and enjoy each day. So much can be learned in both success and failure.

Erika-CarterErika Carter

"Everyone is fabulous in their own way, 40 or not!"

Erika's passion for fitness motivates her to teach FlyBarre classes, run marathons and organize charity fitness events. She also serves as the marketing coordinator for Flywheel Atlanta.

What do you consider your best accomplishment?

Running my first marathon with my dad in 1999. We weren't avid runners, but I had found information on raising money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and asked my dad if he would be interested in doing it along with me. I was living in Boston at the time and would drive to my parents' house in Rhode Island every weekend for our long runs. My dad and I stuck together the whole run and crossed the finish line holding hands.

What is your favorite way to work out?

Every Friday, I do a Fly Triple at Flywheel. I teach two FlyBarre classes and then I take a Flywheel class right after. It's the perfect way to start the weekend.

What is your favorite healthy meal?

Sushi. I could eat it every day and never get sick of it. I'm a huge fan of salmon and yellowtail sashimi, seaweed salad and edamame.

What is your favorite way to give back?

I often donate my time to organize and teach classes to raise money for various charities. The charity class I organized for The One Fund Boston was the one closest to my heart. I went to college in Boston and lived there for many years after, so the marathon bombing last year really hit close to home for me.

What is your most embarrassing moment?

In my junior year of high school, I had big hair with lots of hairspray (we're talking the 1980s). When I took my official yearbook photo, perched on top of my bangs was a fly. You could see it clear as day in the photo. I am sure it got stuck in my hairspray.

How do you maintain the balance between self-care, family and work responsibilities, and giving back?

It is sometimes hard to balance. Saturdays are the only day I have completely off, so I make sure that they are 100 percent family focused. We take the time to relax and recharge.

Where do you see yourself in 20 years?

Running a marathon with my two daughters.

Toni-MoceriToni Moceri

"Be the best you can be, and never listen to what others say you can't do."

Toni is a marketing and social media consultant and owner of Toni Moceri & Company. Her regular networking events and her role as a mom keep her living life to the fullest every day.

What is the best thing you've learned about yourself since turning 40?

I have learned not to be so hard on myself. Everything in life unfolds the way it's supposed to, regardless of how hard you want to plan.

What do you consider your best accomplishment?

Definitely raising my son, David. A long time ago I never wanted children, but it happened, and I always felt it was meant to be. I am very proud of him today. He has had his own hardships and persevered through them.

What is your favorite book?

"What Got You Here Won't Get You There," by Marshall Goldsmith. My son gave it to me before he left for college, and he wrote on the inside cover, "Mom, this is my way of showing you how hard you worked and sacrificed for me. You are an awesome mother. Thank you for showing me the way!"

What is your favorite way to work out?

Walking or jogging in Chastain Park and listening to music to clear my mind.

What is your favorite healthy meal?

Salads from Zoës Kitchen. I'm addicted.

What is your favorite way to give back?

I do charitable work with various organizations, and I hold a monthly networking event, Girls on Fire, inspiring other women to continue to help each other.

Who are the experts who help you be your best self?

The many doctors I have been exposed to in my former business and the author Bo Burlingham, who wrote "Small Giants."

How do you maintain the balance between self-care, family and work responsibilities, and giving back?

My son is weeks away from getting married, and I have a lot more time on my hands than I used to when I ran a business with 12 employees. Everything at work falls into place when I take time for myself.

Jen-GuynnJen McGowan Guynn

"Find peace in who you are, and that will be reflected in your everyday actions."

Jen serves as the co-founder and executive director of Pebble Tossers, Inc. while staying involved in athletics, outdoor activities, community groups and mothering her three children.

What is the best thing you've learned about yourself since turning 40?

The best thing that I've learned is acceptance of who I am. I've embraced my quirkiness and the fact that I am so blessed to have such amazing family and friends.

What is your favorite book?

I loved "The Book Thief" by Marcus Zusak and "Chasing Cool" by Noah Kerner and Gene Pressman.

What is your favorite way to work out?

Right now, I'm into cardio kickboxing, and I've practiced yoga for 16 years. They are two completely different workouts but both a lot of fun.

What is your favorite healthy meal?

Grilled fish tacos with lots of red cabbage and salsa verde.

What is your favorite way to give back?

I co-founded and am the executive director of Pebble Tossers, a youth service organization driven to ignite a passion for volunteering in youth. Educating kids and exposing them to the different ways they can individually make a difference in their community has been very fulfilling for me. I love watching kids have first-time experiences with community service, whether it's making s'mores for the homeless or painting flowerpots with the elderly.

Name something on your bucket list.

To go on a bike and vineyard tour through Italy.

Who are the experts who help you be your best self?

Dr. Leslie Gray, who is forward-thinking about how healthy living affects your skin, and Dr. Cathy Franklin, who has an amazing holistic approach to physical, mental and spiritual healthcare.

Where do you see yourself in 20 years?

In 20 years, I can see myself teaching my grandchildren how to be servant leaders – while also teaching them how to stand-up paddleboard in the ocean.

Fabulous Five Contest Winners

This year's nominees were so wonderful and the contest itself so close in votes that we couldn't stop at the top 10. Here are the next fabulous five winners, who have launched successful Atlanta businesses, overcome health battles, organized charity events and looked great doing it.

Trudy-DavisTrudy Davies Davis

Trudy is Mrs. Georgia International 2013, a six-year survivor of Stage 3 breast cancer, registered nurse and owner of The Image Academy.

What do you consider your best accomplishment?

The love and relationships I share with my family and friends. After that, it would be starting my company, The Image Academy.

What is your favorite healthy meal?

Spinach and salmon salad with all the trimmings.

What is your favorite way to give back?

Volunteering at breast cancer awareness events and sharing my "Breast Cancer Survival Kits" with women who are newly diagnosed. After being diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer, I was determined to do something to empower women going through the treatment process. In addition, I know how important it is to meet someone who gives you hope during this incredibly scary time.

What is your most embarrassing moment?

Remaining standing in the front row at church after everyone else was seated. Eventually the pastor said, "When the lady in the front row takes a seat, we will continue."

Who are the experts who help you be your best self?

Randall Smith at RKS Couture, Barbara Weber at Specialty Aesthetics, Dr. John Griffin, Candy at Jamison Shaw Hairdressers, Adam Awtrey at Salon Acaro, The Image Academy and Legend Nails.

LeeAnn-MaxwellLeeAnn Maxwell

As the CEO and owner of Vixen Vodka, as well as a heart attack survivor, LeeAnn hopes to inspire women to go after their dreams.

What is your favorite way to work out?

I am hooked on Orangetheory Fitness. #obsessed

What is your favorite healthy meal?

When I am looking for a good comfort meal, I turn to roasted vegetables like roasted Brussels sprouts and grilled asparagus with a side of balsamic tomatoes. Just talking about it makes my mouth water.

What is your favorite way to give back to your community?

After surviving a heart attack two years ago, my charity of choice is Go Red for Women. Women need to be educated on the signs and symptoms of heart disease, and now as a survivor, I feel I have been given the opportunity to bring awareness to others.

Where do you go for "me" time?

The dog park. Nothing makes me happier than to see my two rescue dogs galloping across the park.

What advice do you have for someone who isn't yet over 40 and fabulous?

Life just gets better as you get older. I was divorced at 50 and completely reinvented myself to be an owner of Vixen Vodka, got remarried, and I am loving every second of the new me. Be ready to embrace all the twists and turns and have an open mind for new adventures.

Rebecca-WaldenRebecca Walden

At Bernadette's Salon & Wig Gallery, Rebecca uses her skill and humor to support women experiencing hair loss and help them regain their confidence.

What is the best thing you've learned about yourself since turning 40?

Being authentically me is not just allowed – it's celebrated!

What is your favorite way to work out?

CrossFit at Hard Exercise Works of Dunwoody with my husband, Lance, every morning.

What is your favorite way to give back?

I serve on the board of directors of the Georgia Breast Cancer Coalition Fund, and I give back every day through my work. I have been dubbed the "Wigspert of Atlanta," and I help women with hair loss from chemotherapy, alopecia, trichotillomania or hormonal changes. My work goes beyond just styling their wigs – I get to meet the coolest people under unfortunate circumstances and feel blessed to be able to encourage them.

What is your favorite healthy meal?

Spaghetti and a chopped salad from Maggiano's. Wait . . . that's not healthy, is it?

Where do you go for "me" time?

I take a bath. I have a crystal bowl of salt with a quartz crystal in it for good energy. I put three handfuls of the salt in my bath: one for love, one for gratitude and one for trust in God. Then I turn on the TV at the foot of my tub and watch whatever I have recorded on my DVR, followed by my skin care rituals. It's awesome "me" time!

What is your most embarrassing moment?

I feel like I embarrass myself every day, but what comes to mind is that more than 20 years ago, when I was pregnant with my son, I sent flowers backstage to Adam Ant with a card that read, "You are my Elvis." Mortifying.

Who are the experts who help you be your best self? My therapist, Melissa Beddingfield. Therapy keeps your mind and soul growing to become your most authentic self. I think everyone can benefit from it.

Lea-BayLea Bay

As the president of Gwinnett Medical Center-Duluth, Lea started a running club for employees. She also set a goal to run 1,000 miles in 2013, which she completed 10 days before the new year.

What do you consider your best accomplishment?

Easily my two children, then my work as part of the team at Gwinnett Medical Center-Duluth and then nine half marathons.

What is your favorite book?

"The House of Mirth" by Edith Wharton and "Born to Run" by Christopher McDougall.

What is your favorite healthy meal?

Farm Burger in a lettuce wrap.

Name something on your bucket list.

Take my kids to Washington, D.C. and other interesting cities. Also, run the Covenant Half Marathon that finishes in Neyland Stadium.

Who are the experts who help you be your best self?

Mari Geier of The American Boot Camp Company (TABCC) and Dr. Steve LaScala of 1st Choice Healthcare have brought me back from pulls, strains and other injuries many times. Atlanta also has an amazing array of opportunities to get in your workout before dawn, like TABCC, Pure Barre and Brookhaven Fitness, and I try to take advantage of as many as I can between my runs.

What advice do you have for someone who isn't yet over 40 and fabulous?

Take care of yourself now and don't wait. It is the right thing to do for you and your loved ones. And start running if you don't run already.

Joesph-GolshaniJoseph Golshani

As the founder of Joseph & Friends Lifestyle Salon & Spa, Joseph also devotes time to a professional organization of Iranian Americans that helps reconnect families and support students working toward their college degrees.

What is your favorite way to work out?

Soccer, which I play three times a week, and swimming, which I practice in the warmer months.

What is your favorite way to give back?

I love being involved in helping young people, and over the years we have participated in numerous fundraisers and charities that help the young.

What is your most embarrassing moment?

I was giving a haircut, and when I finished and pulled off the cape, my client's halter top came off too! I ran to the back to prevent her from feeling more embarrassed.

What advice do you have for someone who isn't yet over 40 and fabulous?

Believe in yourself and look forward to a great future. When you hit that 40 mark, you'll have a lot of "aha" moments.

Where do you see yourself in 20 years?

Never retired. I love my business so much that I see myself active and taking part in Joseph & Friends in some way, shape or form. I also envision that with maturity I'll be more relaxed and wise.

Presenting Sponsor Over 40 & Fabulous! Pick

Annie-FrazeAnnie Fraze

What is the best thing you've learned about yourself since turning 40?

I've learned to view myself and my accomplishments from my personal baseline instead of comparing myself to the world's view of success. When I realized this, I became free to enjoy and celebrate who I am.

What do you consider to be your best accomplishment?

I'm very proud to be a first generation college student who, despite having two jobs, graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in nursing.

What is your favorite way to work out?

I'm a runner and have been since the fifth grade. My mother and I did the Moustache Dash 5K in Atlanta together last year.

What is your favorite way to give back to your community?

Working with abused and neglected children. Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) is a fantastic organization I am involved with.

What is your favorite quote?

"Happiness is a choice, not a result. Nothing will make you happy until you choose to be happy. Your happiness will not come to you. It can only come from you." – Ralph Marston





To some, cycling in Atlanta may seem like an inaccessible hobby. With our infamous traffic, incorporating bike rides into day-to-day life is a feat that many of us just aren't confident enough to attempt. And even if you want to enjoy the occasional ride, there's such a range of gear and bike options, it can be tough to know where to start.

Despite those perceived problems, cycling offers many more benefits than challenges. The activity improves your muscle tone and cardiovascular health, provides great social interaction, gets you out in nature and can even eliminate the need for cars on short trips. Plus, in the next two years, Atlanta will take significant steps toward making cycling accessible to anyone who wants it – and you don't even have to consider yourself a "cyclist" to join in the fun.

Get Your Gear

If you're just getting into cycling, gearing up couldn't be easier. "If it has wheels and you can pedal it, that's your entry point," says Rebecca Serna, executive director of the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition.

Head to your local bike shop and consult with the bike pros to determine the best type of bike for your needs. Dan Thornton, president and owner of Free-Flite Bicycles in Atlanta, says to start by asking yourself where you plan to ride: on the street or off road? "This will quickly narrow the decision by as much as 75 percent," Thornton says. Then, also consider the following:

  • How often do I plan to ride?
  • Do I want to ride for pleasure, for exercise or for competition?
  • What is my budget?

roller-shotBased on your answers, the professionals can help narrow your options, but don't be surprised if your bike still costs $500 or more. "The more you want to do with your bike, the more money you may spend," Trish Albert of Southeastern Cycling says, since race bikes can cost upward of $5,000. If you don't have a big budget but still want quality, Serna recommends visiting a local bike shop that sells used bikes, like Atlanta Beltline Bicycle.

Once you've selected a bike, it's time to think about your other gear. Deciding what you want or need is as individual as you are, according to Joanne Massey, president of Southern Bicycle League, but here are some basics to get you started:

Protection – Regardless of what the laws mandate, it's a good idea to wear a helmet. Mike Wagaman, the owner of Peachtree Bikes, recommends the Echelon II helmet from Specialized, which is adjustable for comfort and safety. To protect your bike from theft, Wagaman likes Kryptonite Kryptoflex combo cables, which give you six feet of cable and a reprogrammable combination for just $29.99. And don't forget to protect your skin with sunscreen!

Water – On a casual ride, a water bottle will likely meet your hydration needs. If you need more capacity for longer rides, try a hydration pack. "Many like the backpack hydration from Camel Bak or Osprey packs," Thornton says.

Repair materials – It's helpful to be able to patch or pump up a flat tire yourself. Thornton says, "We recommend an under seat pack to carry a spare inner tube and CO2 inflator."

Cycling shorts and bike seat – To make your seat more comfortable, wear padded lycra shorts or a baggy style with a padded lycra liner.

And if you're cycling for fitness, which is a great option for anyone looking for low-impact but high-intensity cardio, try these accessories:

Cycle computers – Thornton says, "The new Garmin cycle computers are very popular. These allow the cyclist to map their rides, record heart rate, time of ride, max speed, average speed and many other ride facts." This can help you ensure that you're getting the most from each workout.

Rollers – Companies like Travel Trac and Inside Ride sell simple metal frames known as rollers, which allow you to bike in place and break a sweat even indoors. It's a great workout because it's up to you alone to keep your "stationary" bike upright.

Market-Street-in-San-Francisco,-cred-SFBCAn Ambitious Goal

In 2012, Mayor Kasim Reed committed to making bicycling an integral part of daily life here in Atlanta. To achieve this goal, he allocated $2.47 million in 2013 toward bicycle projects such as doubling the total miles of bicycle lanes and linked, shared-use paths to 60 miles each and rolling out a bike-share program.

Because of these goals, Atlanta recently caught the attention of the national organization PeopleForBikes. Just this April, Atlanta was selected for PeopleForBikes' Green Lane Project, which will run through 2016. Starting now, our city will receive monetary grants and connection with other city cycling experts in order to build a network of protected bike lanes.

Zach Vanderkooy, the Green Lane Project project manager, explains the benefits of protected bike lanes versus the conventional strip of white paint. "A protected bike lane could be planters, trees or posts, but there's some sort of vertical separator between moving cars, people on bikes and people on the sidewalks." So the threat of rogue rush-hour drivers and the fear of not knowing where bikers belong on the road are eliminated. Vanderkooy says, "When you have very busy traffic, protected bike lanes feel a lot safer and more comfortable."

The Green Lane Project has already increased ridership in other cities. "On Dearborn Avenue in downtown Chicago, ridership doubled compared to what was there before," Vanderkooy says. "On 15th Street in Washington, it actually tripled." So don't worry if you've never biked much before – with these new infrastructure changes, everyone can enjoy the road.

Until these changes are fully implemented in Atlanta, the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition can help you find bike-friendly roads with their "bikeability" map, featuring rated roadways to help you find the best routes.

Cycling Events

In addition to these tangible changes in our infrastructure, Atlanta's residents are warming up to cycling more than ever. "There is a vibrant cycling

scene with group rides every day of the week, road races, mountain bike rides, a cyclocross series and dozens of century rides within an hour's drive of Atlanta," Albert says.

If you aren't ready for a century ride, Atlanta offers events for bikers of all levels, such as the annual Atlanta Streets Alive or this year's inaugural Atlanta Cycling Festival, which features bike rides and classes from June 7 through 14. More events can be found on the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition, Southern Bicycle League and Southeastern Cycling websites, so what are you waiting for? The time is now!

Hitting the Trails

Pick a path:

  • Arabia Mountain Trail
  • Atlanta BeltLine
  • Silver Comet Trail
  • Sope Creek Trails
  • South Peachtree Creek Trail

Find cycling friends:

Atlanta Bicycle Coalition – www.atlantabike.org

Georgia Bicycle Racing Association – www.gacycling.org

North Atlanta Riding Club – This group focuses on century and charity rides. www.bikenarc.com

North Georgia Cycling Association – Check this group out if you're interested in race teams. www.ngca.us

Sorella Cycling – Join more than 160 women who enjoy all levels and types of cycling. www.sorellacycling.com

Southern Bicycle League – "We're about bringing people together around the common interest of biking," says Joanne Massey, the group's president. www.bikesbl.org

Southern Off-Road Bicycle Association – Find off-road biking and events through this group. www.sorba.org

USA Cycling – www.usacycling.org

Editorial Resources

Trish Albert, Southeastern Cycling – www.southeasterncycling.com
Rebecca Serna, Atlanta Bicycle Coalition – www.atlantabike.org
Joanne Massey, Southern Bicycle League – www.bikesbl.org
Dan Thornton, Free-Flite Bicycles – www.freeflite.com
Zach Vanderkooy, PeopleForBikes – www.peopleforbikes.com
Mike Wagaman, Peachtree Bikes – www.peachtreebikes.com

Friday, 25 April 2014 14:36

A New Woman: Vaginal Rejuvenation

What is vaginal rejuvenation?

Vaginal rejuvenation is a broad term we use to help make the vagina more youthful in appearance as well as potentially more enjoyable during intercourse. We accomplish this through both surgical and minimally invasive procedures including the "G spot" shot, labia reduction, vaginal tightening and clitoral unhooding.

What are some typical symptoms of women who opt for vaginal rejuvenation?

Some women complain of feeling their external genitalia (labia) rubbing on their jeans in an uncomfortable way, or that the appearance of their labia is very asymmetric. Some women complain that intercourse is not as enjoyable as when they were younger, noting a change after childbirth. Some women have no symptoms at all and are just curious about how we can affect their appearance and/or their enjoyment during intercourse.

CoupleWhat does the procedure involve?

If it is a problem with asymmetry or discomfort in the labia, we perform a labia reduction to make them more symmetric and hopefully less symptomatic. If there is a sensation of laxness to the vaginal canal, we perform a vaginal tightening procedure. If we are aiming to increase stimulation during intercourse, we perform a clitoral unhooding with or without a G spot shot. The G spot shot alone involves injection of a hyaluronic acid filler into the area of the G spot within the vagina augmenting its size. All of these can be done separately or together, based on the individual's wants and desires.

Is there any recovery or downtime following the procedure?

A G spot shot has minimal recovery and patients may have intercourse as early as two weeks post procedure. The more invasive procedures require two to three weeks of recovery and about three to four weeks without intercourse. If multiple procedures are performed, intercourse may need to be delayed further. We give all patients strict instructions and precautions regarding care of the area and adequate pain medication to keep them comfortable during their recovery.

Dr. Asaf Yalif

Y Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery
Roswell: 2500 Hospital Blvd., Suite 410,Roswell, GA 30076
Woodstock: 145 Towne Lake Pkwy, Suite 101, Woodstock, GA 30188

Dr. Asaf Yalif is a triple board-certified plastic surgeon who specializes in cosmetic and reconstructive surgery of the face and body. Utilizing the most recent developments, both surgical and nonsurgical, he will help you create a unique plan to achieve your goals.


At five and six o'clock every weekday, Jovita Moore catches viewers up on the latest in Atlanta news. Before she takes her seat behind the desk, though, her work begins at two o'clock with a daily meeting, and then she rushes on to hair, makeup, promotions and the news itself, lasting well into the night for the 11 o'clock show. Moore jokes, "I used to be in bed at nine, and now that doesn't happen ever." But this nonstop pace is the best part of the job for Moore, and after a long journey to get there, she feels right at home in her role as anchor.

jovita-moore-and-petThat journey started at home with her mother. "I grew up in a one bedroom apartment, and we only had one TV. So when my mother came home from work and turned on the news, I would sit there and watch with her," Moore recalls. "I was the kid who always knew current events. I read the paper as a child, The New York Times and the Daily News, and then I would go to school and talk about it."

Years later, a college professor suggested that Moore's writing style made her a good fit for journalism. Running with his suggestion, Moore took a summer internship at the Amsterdam News in Harlem. "It was hands-on because the staff was so small. This was before the Internet, before cell phones, so I had to go out, get information, and come back and put together stories. After that experience, I guess I was bitten." Moore would later work in the very offices of one of her favorite childhood reads, The New York Times, interning through her sophomore, junior and senior years of college.

"[My internship] was definitely a great introduction to reporting the news, but what was frustrating was that I'd be sitting in the newsroom and the same story that I was working on would already be live on TV. I started to get the difference of television news – the immediacy, the urgency." In that pivotal moment, Moore decided to enroll in Columbia University for graduate school to learn more about the world of broadcasting. After graduation, she got a job at a New York Times TV station, where she wore a lot of hats and did so with enthusiasm.

"I had to carry around my own equipment, drive the truck myself, shoot the video and do the interview because back then I was a one-man band." She parlayed that experience into her next job at a TV station in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The first time the camera was pointed at her, Moore remembers, "I was so excited. I just remember thinking, 'I've got to get this right.' I had to figure out how to get better so I could move up."

This ambition served her well during her three years in Arkansas, where she was soon promoted to anchor. Then through her friendship with Ken Jobe, a fellow National Association of Black Journalists member, she took a job at a station in Memphis in 1993. Eventually she wanted to break into a bigger market – specifically a top 10 city market like Atlanta. With the help of an agent, and after a year-long job search, Moore arrived in Atlanta to join the WSB-TV team. "I came here [in 1998], not intending to be the main anchor, but certainly hoping I would have a long career. I was totally open to whatever the future held for me."

Moore started off as a weekend anchor who was also out on the streets reporting and taking advantage of every opportunity that came her way. One of those opportunities came not from work, but from a routine health exam, during which Moore's doctor discovered benign tumors in her uterus: fibroids. The lack of research about this condition led her to search for answers herself. "There were all kinds of theories, but there was nothing concrete, so I wanted to do a story on it," she says. Moore's report, "Women and Fibroids," garnered a lot of attention, and she won an Emmy award for the piece in 2001. "It was a great feeling of satisfaction for me that I had won because it was my labor of love. It was a story that I felt was important and educational for women and viewers."

Credit-Atlanta-Journal-Consitution_John-Spink_That labor of love and the evident dedication to her career eventually earned Moore a primetime seat at the WSB-TV desk in 2012 when anchor Monica Pearson retired after 37 years. Remembering stepping in to that role, Moore says, "It was very exciting. I feel like I was very prepared for it because of Monica and the management at WSB-TV." And the viewers have been behind her every step of the way. "They have been completely supportive and excited, and they are kind of on the journey with me."

That journey continually pushes Moore and her colleagues to stay on top of their game. The immediacy she originally loved about television news has in some ways been eclipsed by social media, which is an even faster way for people to get information. Moore says, "Social media certainly keeps our newsroom on its toes. We use it to our advantage to let our viewers know we're there, too. You don't just find us on TV – we're on the web, we're on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, too. Getting information from social media is simply a fact of life now, especially for younger people."

So whether the ever-evolving face of news brings her online, behind the desk or out on the street to tell important stories on her own, Moore knows what she wants and isn't afraid to keep working hard to get it.

One-on-One with Jovita

What advice do you have for working moms?
Be flexible. You never know what the day is going to bring you.

What advice do you have for people wanting to get into journalism?
Learn the craft at an accredited journalism school, get internships, network as much as you can and find a mentor. Also, understand you have to start small and work your way up – this is not a myth. It's real, and I think it's the best way to build yourself on a solid foundation.

Who has had the most influence on your career?
I definitely have to give credit to my mother, Yvonne. Also people like Ken Jobe and editors at The New York Times who were very helpful and guided me, the people at WSB-TV, Ray Carter, my first news director who hired me and saw my potential, Marionne Pitman, who is a great manager, my makeup artist, Tymeka, who has been a great support, and my agent, Betsy, who helped me and stood by me.

What charities are you involved with?
I'm on the board at Genesis Shelter, which is focused on making sure that women and newborns are not homeless. Last year we did a Mother's Day pampering day for the moms there, giving them massages and doing their makeup and hair. It's a great place.

How do you stay fit?
Well, that is one of the challenges of this job. It's like fighting between "Do I want to sleep?" or "Do I want to work out?" I actually started training for a half marathon, and then I hurt my knee, so I ended up going to a different trainer, David Buer at David Buer Fitness. I also do Pilates with Marie at Body Vision Studio in Brookhaven.

What do you like to do to relax?
Most of the time "relaxing" means being on the couch with the kids. And whether we're just watching TV, watching a movie or reading, that's what I try to do when I can. I feel like I'm turning into a foodie in my old age. I'm always going out to eat – I just went to St. Cecilia and loved it. And when I need to get away from kids and home life, then it's the spa. I love the spas at the Mandarin, Loews and the Four Seasons.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?
People are surprised to find out that I am a big Jay-Z fan. They don't equate a woman on the news being into hip hop culture, but it's how I grew up.

Friday, 25 April 2014 13:46

Meditate Daily for Better Health

If you still think of meditation as practiced only by hippies and peace-loving Zen types, you likely are not alone. But if I may say so, you are also mistaken! Meditation is becoming more mainstream, and with the fast pace of our everyday lives, many people in the Atlanta area and all over the world are embracing its many calming and centering attributes.

Break Down Your Mental Blocks

People often get involved in meditation to quiet their thoughts, whether they are negative or just generally overwhelming. Achieving clarity on a specific subject, enhancing creativity, improving concentration and connecting better to one's inner self are often cited as reasons people embrace meditation.

Famous-and-Focused-Despite the opportunity to reap those rewards, some people are still hesitant about beginning a meditation practice. Leslie Clayton, founder and director of Body Awareness Studio, says, "I often hear people say, 'I can't meditate,' or 'Meditation is too hard for me,' or 'It's impossible for me to just sit and not think.' I find it funny when I hear that." It's funny, she says, because "not thinking" isn't exactly what meditation is about. "To me, meditation is about mind and body awareness," Clayton says, rather than just an empty mind. "You'll find it in many different forms. One of my favorite forms is movement meditation like Pilates, yoga, dance and Qigong."

Once you understand that a quiet mind doesn't have to mean a quiet body, the next obstacle to tackle is the time commitment. It can be scary to add even 20 minutes per day to our already stuffed schedules, so Kim Saunders of Lift Yoga Therapy says, "You can start with even one minute! There is a great video on YouTube called One-Moment Meditation. I recommend it to anyone starting out because it's so simple and shows that meditation doesn't have to be complicated or long." That minute of meditation may be all you need to jumpstart your practice. Saunders points out, "Once you do one minute, then you may want to sit for five minutes." Soon, your mind will be quiet longer than you ever thought possible.

Pick a Path

There is no one way to meditate, but many forms of the practice involve sitting quietly and comfortably while clearing the mind and releasing random thoughts that enter your consciousness while you are engaged. Bee Intakanok of The Georgia Meditation Circle, an affiliate of The Georgia Meditation Center, suggests that a sustained commitment to meditating helps foster the desired rewards. She meditates for over an hour daily. "Just as in anything that you want to be good at, you must practice, and it is the same with meditation. To achieve results, you must put in the time to cultivate your mind: at least 20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes at night."

One of the most popular forms of meditation is Transcendental Meditation (TM), which is usually practiced twice a day for 15 to 20 minutes. In TM, a mantra, which can be a certain word, sound or a specific phrase, is repeated out loud or mentally while meditating. The focus on this mantra allows the state of restful alertness. In the practice of Mindfulness Meditation, the emphasis is on being fully present and placing non-judgmental focus on sensations and thoughts as they occur.

If you aren't the quiet sitting type, Clayton recommends moving meditations at events held by The Wave Atlanta, Ecstatic Dance and Natural Rhythms™, all of which help you combine meditation with movement. These practices, she says, let the body take over for the mind and naturally release tension and stress.

Kim-Saunders-from-Lift-Yoga-TherapyReap the Rewards

"Honestly there are so many benefits to meditation, but in general, meditation makes you a happier person," Intakanok says. "You are not so clouded with greed, anger and delusion. You become more compassionate to all beings, and you naturally conduct yourself in a moral way. You become your master teacher when you seek refuge within yourself."

And while compssion and morality are certainly wonderful, there are even more tangible results to be gained from beginning a meditation practice. First, it offers significant immune-boosting properties. The act of meditating multiplies left-brain activity, the side of the brain controlling the immune system. Those who meditate have increased antibodies, or cells that help the immune system fight off viruses and bacteria-related illnesses.

In addition to providing these benefits, the left side of the brain also processes positive emotions such as joy and pleasure. Boosting its activity through meditation can aid in appreciating the more simple things in life and opening our hearts and minds to new experiences. "When one starts to meditate daily, wisdom develops within. It is an automatic benefit from cultivation of the mind," says Intakanok. "As a result, you are better able to make decisions and deal with challenges in your life because you see things more clearly, instead of just having a narrow view. Meditation has a way of broadening your perspective and understanding in all facets of your life. Meditation allows you to train your mind. You become the observer and not the actor."

People struggling with depression and fatigue, such as patients with multiple sclerosis and fibromyalgia, can benefit as well. In patient studies where participants added meditation, their depression symptoms lessened while their overall quality of life improved.

As for the other positives meditation brings to the physical body, you can count heart health as a major benefit. An April 2013 report published by the American Heart Association stated Transcendental Meditation (TM) lowers blood pressure. Another study found participants who meditated throughout the study had a decrease in the thickness of their arterial walls, providing a lowered risk of stroke or heart attack.

Getting Started

Group settings for meditation are thriving here in Atlanta and nationwide. "Becoming involved with a meditation group can be very beneficial," says Veletta Gebert, a member and organizer of the Insight Atlanta and Sandy Springs Insight groups. "There are many in the Atlanta area offering regular meetings that involve a time to meditate and a discussion period to ask questions and get feedback from other meditators. Groups like Insight Atlanta and Sandy Springs Insight also have someone on site to give instruction if needed." Lift Yoga Therapy also offers meditation workshops, which Saunders says are helpful for many. "The group experience makes it easier to follow and stay focused. If you are new to meditation, a qualified instructor can help you start by giving you different techniques."

Additional places to find instructors and get the group experience include Atlanta Mindfulness Institute, Body Awareness Studio, Georgia Meditation Circle, Insight Atlanta, Self Realization Fellowship of Atlanta and the Shambhala Meditation Center of Atlanta. Plus, the Southeast Vipassana Center will hold meditation workshops for kids and teens next month, and Dharma Jewel Monastery's ongoing classes and retreats offer something for everyone.

But if you're not really a group type and more of a self-starter, Gebert suggests consulting experts via the Internet for inspiration and techniques. "It is difficult to teach yourself to meditate without any help, but in today's technological age, there are many websites to support that effort," she explains. "Dharma Seed and Audio Dharma both have hundreds of helpful talks on meditation. They range from introductions and guided meditations, to those that are more involved and advanced. They are led by experienced and trained teachers."

"Introductions to Mindfulness" by Gil Fronsdal is one of Gebert's favorites. This six-part series begins with the breath and moves on through the body, emotions, thoughts, mind and daily life. There are also shorter talks introducing meditation and mindfulness that may be helpful for someone who is not committed to giving their time to the longer talks. "Since it is so much easier to learn to meditate with some outside instruction, these give the insight and instruction without having to go to a retreat or talk with a teacher."

With varying ways to bring meditation into one's daily life, finding the quiet strength it can offer is now more accessible than ever. If you've ever considered embracing this age-old practice, there is no time like the present. The many benefits of meditation are waiting to embrace you with open arms.

Editorial Resources
Leslie Clayton, Body Awareness Studio – www.bodyawarenessstudio.com
Veletta Gebert, Insight Atlanta – www.insightatlanta.org
Bee Intakanok, The Georgia Meditation Circle – www.meditationcircle.org
Kim Saunders, Lift Yoga Therapy – www.liftyogatherapy.com

Friday, 25 April 2014 13:28

Hearing Loss: What You Haven’t Heard

According to the Hearing Loss Association of America, about 20 percent of adults in the United States – or about 48 million – report some degree of hearing loss. But on average, it takes people seven years from the time they think they might have hearing loss to actually seek treatment. What many people don't know is that time is of the essence, and seeking professional help as soon as you notice hearing changes in yourself or a loved one can help delay or even prevent certain types of hearing loss. By recognizing the signs and acting early, you may benefit from the variety of new treatments and devices available today.

How Does It Happen?

Age and noise are two of the most common causes of hearing loss in adults. In our 50s and 60s, we often experience a gradual decrease in hearing, but there can be a genetic predisposition as well. "Age-related hearing loss is not preventable or reversible, but it can be easily treated with hearing aids," explains Dr. Kelly Shea-Miller, Director of Audiology for Kaiser Permanente of Georgia. "Noise-induced hearing loss occurs when we are exposed to loud sounds and damage is done to our hearing. This can result from recreational noise (loud music, leaf blowers, motorcycles) or occupational noise (factory work, firefighters, military). As with age-related hearing loss, noise-induced hearing loss is not reversible, but it is preventable."

Noise-Induced-Hearing-LossIn children, however, the most common cause of hearing loss is conductive hearing loss, which is often due to fluid in the ears from an ear infection. "Research has also identified over 100 genes that may influence the development of hearing loss in children," says Dr. Brian Herrmann, pediatric otolaryngologist at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite. "There are many genetic syndromes associated with hearing loss. Some examples include Down syndrome, Usher syndrome, Treacher Collins syndrome, Crouzon syndrome and Alport syndrome."

Hearing loss can result from a problem with any of the three main parts to the ear: the outer ear, middle ear or inner ear. Many problems with the outer ear and middle ear, such as earwax and infections, can be treated, but inner ear problems are typically permanent. "Both age-related hearing loss and noise-induced hearing loss are a result of a problem in the inner ear," Dr. Shea-Miller says. "Inside the cochlea, there are inner ear hair cells called cilia, which convert sound to neural impulses. These cilia can be damaged and die off, resulting in a hearing loss for the sounds those inner hair cells were responsible for converting. It's similar to a piano with damaged keys. If only the keys on the right-hand side of the piano are damaged, then you will be able to hear some – but not all – sounds."

Recognizing the Signs

The most common signs of hearing loss include sounds or speech seeming muffled, difficulty understanding words (especially in background noise or in a group of people), frequently asking others to repeat things or to speak more clearly, and setting the television or radio louder than friends or family would prefer. With inner ear disorders like Meniere's disease, however, the symptoms can be more immediate. "You'll have fluctuating hearing, a blocked-up sensation or ringing in the ears," says Dr. Vivek Gupta, WellStar Bi-County ENT. "With sudden hearing loss, a person could wake up and be deaf in one ear. There are debates about the root cause of this. Sometimes it can be a tumor growing on the inner ear, but it could be any number of things."

This is why it is so important to have a hearing evaluation as soon as possible. Many health fairs and physician's offices offer hearing screenings, but if you do not pass this test or want a more detailed evaluation, be sure to see an audiologist who is licensed by the state and has either a master's or doctoral degree. If you are not sure where to find one, the following sites have lists of licensed audiologists:

  • www.georgiaaudiology.org
  • www.audiology.org
  • www.asha.org/public

Recognizing the signs of hearing loss in babies and young children, on the other hand, can be trickier than a simple test. According to Dr. Herrmann, a telltale sign is when babies fail to awaken or startle with loud noises. "The two most common methods of assessing the hearing levels of a newborn include otoacoustic emissions (OAE testing) and automated brainstem response testing (ABR testing)," he says. "Current guidelines recommend that if a baby fails a newborn screen, to repeat the assessment by one month of age, have diagnostic assessment by three months of age and intervention completed by six months of age."

Can Hearing Loss Be Prevented?

Reducing our exposure to recreational noise is one of the most important things we can do to protect our hearing later in life. "There are over-the-counter foam earplugs and earmuffs that can keep your lawn mower, leaf blower and favorite music venue from contributing to the damage in your inner ear," Dr. Shea-Miller says. "For people with more consistent noise exposure, custom hearing protection is also available."

And in the case of hearing loss with a sudden onset, she says it may be reversible. "If you have a sudden change in hearing in one or both of your ears, you should see your health care provider, otolaryngologist or an audiologist as soon as possible." Expert evaluation for sudden hearing loss is best because home treatments such as ear candling are not considered effective remedies and should be avoided. "The American Academy of Audiology is against ear candling," Dr. Gupta says. "I tell my patients that nothing smaller than your elbow should go in your ear, so no Q-tips."

Lend-an-EarCertain medications can also aggravate hearing loss, sometimes accompanied by tinnitus. This is why it's a good idea to ask your physician if hearing loss is one of the possible side effects. If it is, be sure to ask if there is a substitute medication that would work just as well. Examples of ototoxic drugs include some over-the-counter drugs such as aspirin in high doses, some antibiotics, some chemotherapy drugs, loop diuretics and some anti-inflammatory drugs.

Treatment and Breakthroughs

Even for people with aggressive ear disorders, a variety of treatments can help reduce their symptoms. "With otosclerosis, one of the bones behind the ear drum can harden up and stiffen to the point that it prevents hearing," Dr. Gupta says. "This can be treated with hearing aids or a surgical procedure." This procedure, called a stapedotomy, involves drilling a small hole in the stapes footplate with a micro-drill or a laser and inserting a piston-like prosthesis. "If someone is deaf on one side, we can use a device called the Baha implant," he says. "It's a metal screw implanted on the deaf side, which sends signals and transfers sound to the normal hearing side." This ultimately results in a sensation of hearing from a deaf ear.

In the majority of cases of hearing loss in adults, the most effective treatment is a hearing aid. But the hearing aids of today are vastly different from what you might be familiar with. The Hearing Loss Association of America recently announced a breakthrough at The Ohio State University, where computer engineers and hearing scientists are working to solve what many experts call "the cocktail party problem," or difficulty hearing one person's voice in the midst of background noise. This technology, which uses a computer algorithm to analyze speech and remove most background noise, could pave the way for the next generation of digital hearing aids. These hearing aids could be a feature inside of a smartphone, which would do the computer processing and broadcast the enhanced signal to the earpieces wirelessly.

Those advancements are already being made by companies like Beltone, which recently introduced the Beltone First hearing aid. The First hearing aid connects to your iPhone, making it simple and discreet to adjust the hearing aid's volume or other settings right from the palm of your hand. Atlanta Beltone's COO, Alexandra Sims, says the device is even more sophisticated than meets the eye. "The First is the only hearing aid to memorize locations and settings, so that every time a user goes to a particular location, it can automatically switch to the desired settings." This means that as you travel from the office to your favorite restaurant, for example, the hearing aid will learn your personal settings and transition seamlessly to the new noise level. It can even be reprogrammed to meet the user's needs over time. The price range for these new hearing aids, Sims says, is between $2,750 and $3,875, but she adds, "There are hearing aids for every budget, every lifestyle and every hearing loss."

Living with Hearing Loss

If you or a loved one is coping with hearing loss, organizations such as The Hearing Loss Association of America are full of resources, educational programs and support. Also, programs like the Georgia Telecommunications Equipment Distribution Program (GATEDP) can provide resources and equipment to make to make elements of day-to-day life, like making a simple phone call, much easier. With the use of amplifiers, captioning and speech assistance, this free program helps Georgia residents with any degree of hearing loss speak and understand more easily on the phone. Kevin Steffy, a GATEDP coordinator, says users appreciate the independence they achieve through this equipment. And in addition to independence, users also enjoy the real benefits: connection. "Some of them had tears when they made their first calls to their children or grandchildren and were able to hear them speak, after a long time of not being able to," Steffy says.

Regardless of the profundity of hearing loss, options exist to make life easier, and plenty of organizations are out there to support you and your loved ones. "Living with hearing loss is hard work and requires lots of coping skills," Bonnell says. "Our clear, straightforward message has changed the lives of thousands of people: 'Hearing loss is a daily challenge you can overcome. You do not have to hide your hearing loss. You do not have to face hearing loss alone.'"

Editorial Resources
Jeff Bonnell, The Hearing Loss Association of America – www.hearingloss.org
Vivek Gupta, MD, WellStar Bi-County ENT – www.wellstar.org
Brian Herrmann, MD, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta – www.choa.org
Kelly Shea-Miller, Ph.D., Kaiser Permanente of Georgia – www.kp.org
Alexandra Sims, Atlanta Beltone – www.beltone.com
Kevin Steffy, GACHI – www.gachi.org/gatedp
Mayo Clinic – www.mayoclinic.org
WellStar – www.wellstar.org

Tuesday, 22 April 2014 14:17

Your Mouth Can Make You Sick

Our most important human organ is the GI (Gastrointestinal) tract. The GI tract is a tube measuring an average length of thirty feet, beginning with the mouth and ending at the anus. It's responsible for the breakdown and absorption of various foods and liquids needed to sustain life. We've all heard the saying, "My body is my temple." In our temple, the GI tract represents its main hallway. Let's consider the mouth our front door, and the anus our back door.

photo-1We are what we eat. But more importantly, we are what we absorb. Proper mechanical and chemical break down of our food and drink intake begins in our mouth. The absence of teeth decreases your ability to process the most nutrious foods in our diet; fresh uncooked fruits and vegetables. Sometimes we invite the most unruly guests into our temples. They can make a real mess of our place, and we struggle to get rid of them. What better "gate keepers" are there than a full set of healthy teeth; covered with the hardest substance in the human body, enamel! Infections and disease that threatens this front line crew of enamel covered soldiers, like gum disease and decay, threatens the entire temple. A nonfunctioning or poorly functioning GI tract can be the source of many chronic health issues, like heart disease, stroke and cardiovascular disease.

Never take bleeding gums lightly. Bleeding gums are caused by infection, which leads to chronic inflammation. Remember, the blood you see while brushing and flossing is the same blood that carries inflammation from the mouth, through our blood vessels, and to all of our vital fleshy organs. This chronic inflammation leads to the clogging of arteries and other chronic diseases. This constitutes a direct assault on our health and well- being.

Your body IS your temple, and your mouth is its grand entrance. A healthy smile IS a beautiful smile. Visit your dentist on a regular basis. Preventive and comprehensive dental care is your first line of defense.


Dr. Karen Mills

Advantage Dental

(770) 499-7756 | 123 Marble Mill Road, Suite A, Marietta, Georgia 30060

Dr. Karen Mills practices general and cosmetic dentistry since 1992. She is a 1987 graduate of Howard University's College of Dentistry.