Monday, 30 December 2013 20:28

New Year's Resolutions

Most of us make them and break them. For 2015 make a financial checklist and set deadlines. Then ask someone close to you to check in on you monthly and make sure you hit those deadlines. What should be some of your financial resolutions? Here is a top ten list:

1) Review your Last Will and Testament, Financial Power of Attorney, and Advance Directive for Health Care or contact an estate planning attorney if you do not have them. Complete an important list to give to your family and friends with information on who to contact, where your assets are held, and your digital media passwords (or where to find them).

2) Review your home, auto, and umbrella insurance policies. Do you have ordinance coverage? Do you have replacement coverage? Do you have an umbrella policy? Contact your agent and review the policies in detail and also contact a competitor and compare rates and coverage.

3) Review your investments. Contact your investment advisor to go over your financial goals and investments.

4) Start preparing your income tax return so that is off of the "to do" checklist.

5) Find your "number." What is your financial independence (retirement) figure? How much do you need to achieve your goals and how are you going to achieve them?

6) Organize yourself personally and financially. The more organized you are, the more efficient you will be and that means more time for fun!

7) Set out savings goals for your financial year and set it up so that the savings are automatic. Pay off your debts, build your rainy day fund, and then save for financial independence.

8) Review your life, long-term disability, and long-term care insurance with your agent.

9) Cash flow. Words that will help you achieve financial independence. Keep it positive!

10) Balance. Find a healthy balance with money. Saving can be fun!!

Wishing you a very healthy and prosperous 2014!!

Laura K. Schilling, JD, CPA, CFP(r), CSA

Financial Innovations, LLC |
5555 Glenridge Connector, Suite 200 | Atlanta, Georgia 30342
(404) 459-2828 | (404) 459-2829 fax | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Laura Schilling isn't your typical Financial Planner. She is also a world traveler who has been to Asia, Africa, Europe, and Israel. Laura is an active member in the community, a mother of two, and a champion for each of the working mothers she employs. As principal and founder of Financial Innovations, LLC, she staffs her firm with stay-at-home moms who work from where they can meet the needs of their clients around the globe.

Thursday, 26 December 2013 20:09

Shopping For Your Health

Our quality of life is inextricably linked to the quality of our health, which is why it is so important to make informed decisions when selecting health coverage and care providers. But if you are not a health care industry insider, it can be difficult to determine if you are really getting the most for your medical dollars. So, here are answers to some frequently asked questions to help you make a better choice when shopping for your health.

women-in-front-of-computerHow can I obtain health insurance? Is the only option for purchasing coverage on my own?

Most Americans obtain health insurance through their employers. If you are covered under an employer-sponsored insurance plan, your employer should notify you of any changes to your coverage during the open enrollment period., the online health insurance marketplace or "exchange," is just a new avenue to health coverage. Employers and individuals can still purchase plans directly from insurance companies or through brokers. You can visit to learn more about Kaiser Permanente of Georgia's health plan options.

However, shopping on the exchange could have an advantage — federal subsidies. requires users to fill out an application to determine eligibility for financial assistance, which can reduce the out-of-pocket cost of health plans and medical expenses. The federal subsidies are only available to those who purchase coverage through, where you can also find a selection of Kaiser Permanente health plans.

What should I look for in a health plan?

When considering a new insurer, find out how its plans compare to the competition. Each year, the National Committee on Quality Assurance (NCQA) and J.D. Power and Associates rank health plans based on a number of factors, ranging from quality of care to customer satisfaction.

Kaiser Permanente of Georgia's commercial and Medicare health plans are the highest ranked in the state and among the top 20 in the country, according to NCQA. A J.D. Power and Associates' study also ranked Kaiser Permanente of Georgia highest in member satisfaction in the South Atlantic region for the fourth consecutive year.

Health insurers and providers are using the term "coordinated care." What does it mean, and why is it important?

Care is coordinated when your primary care physician, specialists and clinicians work together to manage your health. When all of your health care providers are working as a team, they are able to make more informed decisions when it comes to treating you.

Kaiser Permanente of Georgia, which offers both health coverage and medical care, has been operating a coordinated care system in metro Atlanta for nearly 30 years. We have one of the largest multi-specialty medical groups in the state with more than 450 board-certified physicians, who care exclusively for Kaiser Permanente members. So, whether you are seeing your primary care physician, dermatologist or cardiologist, they have access to your complete medical history through our electronic medical records system.

What major changes under the Affordable Care Act should I be aware of?

Under the Affordable Care Act, or health care reform, all U.S. citizens will be eligible for some form of health coverage starting in 2014, and they cannot be turned down for coverage because of a medical condition.

Health plans must provide many preventive services, such as screenings for cancer, diabetes and hypertension, at no additional cost.

After January 1, 2014, if you choose to go without health insurance for more than three consecutive months, you could face a tax penalty.

I've seen Kaiser Permanente medical offices across metro Atlanta. Where can I go to learn more about the organization?

Kaiser Permanente has 29 medical offices conveniently located throughout metro Atlanta and a location in Athens to better serve our members. Our medical offices are staffed physicians with The Southeast Permanente Medical Group, which has doctors in more than 20 specialties. To learn more about Kaiser Permanente, just log on to


Kerry W. Kohnen

Nine Piedmont Center
3495 Piedmont Road NE, Atlanta, GA 30305 | (404) 364-7000

Kerry W. Kohnen is president of Kaiser Permanente of Georgia, the state's largest not-for-profit health plan serving 240,000 members through 30 medical centers across metro Atlanta and Athens.

Thursday, 26 December 2013 19:57

Is Our Modern World Toxic?

The evidence is overwhelming. Toxins are everywhere, in our water, air, food, soaps, shampoos, even in the clothes we wear. We read about mercury in our fish, jet fuel in our lettuce, and heavy metals in our air. Our bodies carry a chemical cocktail of industrial chemicals, pesticides, food additives, heavy metals, and residues of many pharmaceuticals, as well as toxins from alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, and illegal drugs.

StomachColon Hydrotherapy can help to minimize the effects of toxins and environmental stresses that can lead to imbalances in the immune system.

The International Association for Colon Hydrotherapy (I-ACT) protocol suggests: Week 1 & 2 = two sessions per week and Weeks 3 to 10 = one session per week. Our trained therapists can help you to determine the best number of sessions for your unique needs. We believe Colon Hydrotherapy, supported by a proper diet, water, exercise, and stress management can accelerate the healing potential of your body.

In her book Detox or Die by Dr Sherry Rogers, MD says toxicity is like a one-way street leading to disease; the key to healing is to reverse the toxicity. Dr Rogers suggests some of the best ways to detoxify are through Colon Hydrotherapy and Infrared Sauna.

Atlanta Colonic & Massage offers the best in Colon Hydrotherapy and Infrared Sauna Therapy in the Atlanta area.

Our modern world is toxic; a problem that is not going away anytime soon.

Cleansing is no longer just an option, it is a necessity!


Atlanta Colonic & Massage
6710 Jamestown Drive, Alpharetta, GA 30005
770-558-6900  |

Teresa Ducoffe and Candace Layer are Certified Colon Hydrotherapists at Atlanta Colonic & Massage. Along with Teresa’s mother, they are a three-generation family business who provides the best in preventative health care and detoxification, as well as unparalleled client care and service.

Thursday, 26 December 2013 19:47

How to Choose An Advisor

I often hear from potential clients – "When should I hire an advisor?" I will leave that topic for another article. Once I know I need an advisor, how do I choose an advisor? This is a large part of your financial plan. Here are some tips on helping you choose an advisor.

Advisors come in many forms – fee-only, fee-based, and commission. The first step is to discover which type of advisor you wish to retain. The second step is to ask people you trust if they have a referral. If you are not comfortable with this, you can go on LinkedIn and search and see how many people you know are LinkedIn with a certain advisor. You can also look at the advisor's biography on his or her website. The second step is to check This website offers a way for you, the client, to review if the advisor has any disciplinary actions against him or her. Next you should call the advisor and speak to him or her briefly on the phone and get to know them. Finally, meet with the advisor. I recommend meeting at their office so you can get to know the advisor better, and for the advisor to get to know you better. Preferably this is a complimentary meeting. Make sure you ask how the advisor is compensated.

At this point you should ask yourself: 1) Do I trust this advisor?;

2) If something happened to me and/or my spouse would I want this person on our team?;

3) Do they seem knowledgeable?; and

4) Do I feel comfortable with them?

If you are looking for an advisor take your time and find the right fit for you and your family.


Securities offered through Triad Advisors, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC.


Laura K. Schilling, JD, CPA, CFP(r), CSA

Financial Innovations, LLC |
5555 Glenridge Connector, Suite 200 | Atlanta, Georgia 30342
(404) 459-2828 | (404) 459-2829 fax | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Laura Schilling isn’t your typical Financial Planner. She is also a world traveler who has been to Asia, Africa, Europe, and Israel.  Laura is an active member in the community, a mother of two, and a champion for each of the working mothers she employs.  As principal and founder of Financial Innovations, LLC, she staffs her firm with stay-at-home moms who work from where they can meet the needs of their clients around the globe.


HUHDoes a Doctor Need a Board Certificate in Surgery to perform Hair Restoration Surgery?

Absolutely not. Did you know that in order to be a "hair restoration surgeon" in Georgia, one requires only a medical license? There are no formal surgical training certificates, nor a Board Certificate in any medical or surgical specialty required whatsoever. For example, a psychiatrist is permitted to add hair restoration surgery to his or her practice, buy some surgical instruments, and have a technician perform hair restoration surgery procedures in their office. Hair restoration technicians have literally zero professional training requirements. They are very often hired to perform the actual hair restoration surgery, while the doctor needs only to be on the premises. It happens every day.

Is it Important to Check Your Doctor's Credentials?

Absolutely. You should feel perfectly comfortable asking your doctor if he or she has earned a recognized Board Certificate in a surgical discipline. The surgical training background and experience among hair restoration surgeons in the United States varies dramatically. Dr. Ken Anderson, MD, is the founder of the Anderson Hair Sciences and Research Center, a state-of-the-art facility dedicated to providing exceptional hair restoration surgery results to both men and women, with an emphasis on artistic concepts, patient comfort, and natural, permanent results. He relies on his seven years of surgical subspecialty training in Otolaryngology (Ear, Nose, and Throat surgery), as well as in Facial Plastic Surgery, in addition to years of formal training in the fine arts to bring his patients outstanding hair restoration surgery results. He is a Diplomate of both the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, as well as the American Board of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, and performed over 2,500 surgical procedures on the face and head before he performed his first hair restoration procedure. He has limited his practice exclusively to hair restoration surgery for over 10 years. Call for a complimentary consultation with Dr. Anderson to discuss options for treatment of your hair loss.


The Anderson Hair Sciences & Research Center
The Medical Quarters
5555 Peachtree Dunwoody Rd., Ste. 135 | Atlanta, GA 30342
(404) 256-4247  |

Dr. Anderson is a double-board certified Facial Plastic Surgeon who has confined his practice solely to hair restoration for over a decade. After 7 years of surgery training in facial plastic surgery, in 2003 he entered the field of hair restoration in Beverly Hills, California. Dr. Anderson is the first and only hair restoration surgeon in Georgia to offer the very latest in cutting edge surgical robotic device, the ARTAS Robotic Hair Restoration Surgery System.

Save early and automatically – and keep an eye on the clock

Saving for retirement requires as much discipline as watching your diet or exercising regularly. But if you learn to delay immediate rewards – whether they're bagels or baubles – you'll be in better shape for a retirement that's both physically healthy and financially sound.

First step, make it easy for yourself by contributing to an employer plan that automatically withdraws from your paycheck each week or establish a monthly direct deposit into an IRA to build your savings without extra effort. Also, consider the amount and source of any additional savings;

  • Using a raise to increase your retirement savings
  • Earmarking bonuses for one-time savings deposits
  • Setting aside part of your tax refund in an IRA

Second, choose the right kind of savings vehicle. Popular options include:

  • 401(k) s and other employer-match programs, which are usually the first choice, for those who employer offers such plans
  • Retirement accounts for the self-employed and traditional IRAs, which may give you a deduction that lowers this year's tax bill
  • Contributions to a Roth IRA, which don't lower taxes now but do allow for tax-free, qualified distributions

In case of a change in employers, determine how to handle existing retirement savings. Options include:

  • Leaving retirement money in the former employer's plan depending upon specific plan rules
  • Moving the funds into the new employer's plan if that's an option
  • Transferring the money into an IRA
  • Taking a cash distribution

Keep in mind that funds withdrawn or otherwise not rolled over within 60 days into a qualified plan or IRA are subject to tax and penalties and can really eat into the balance of an account that took hard work and delayed gratification to build.


For more information about tax planning and retirement, contact our article contributors Gary Newell, Scott Martin, Mary Zoellner or any H&R Block tax professional at one of our offices below.

Satellite Blvd | 770-921-2200 | 3360 Satellite Blv, Ste 13, Duluth, GA 30060

Dunwoody | 770-396-9218 | 4768 Ashford Dunwoody Rl, Ste 200, GA 30338

Merchants Walk | 770-509-1820 | 4235 Merchant’s Walk Drive, Ste 150, Marietta, GA 30068

Buckhead | 404-237-2355 | 2900 Peachtree Rd NW, Ste 204, Atlanta, GA 30305

Northpoint | 678-277-9465 | 7855 Northpoing Parkway, Ste 302, Alpharetta, GA 30022

Thursday, 26 December 2013 18:45

Managing ADHD in Teens

How do the hormonal changes of adolescence affect ADHD in teenagers?

ADHD symptoms include distractibility, poor concentration, hyperactivity and irritability. During teenage years, as hormonal changes emerge, ADHD symptoms may worsen. To compound this, if a teenager is mercury toxic, chances are their endocrine system (which regulates hormones) is disrupted, which can cause or contribute to further neurological and behavioral disorders.

ADHD-in-teensWhat are the health benefits to teens who manage ADHD without medication?

The advantage of managing ADHD naturally means that any nutritional deficiencies such as decreased essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals are balanced through proper nutrition. Also, food sensitivity and toxic metal testing will reveal any allergies/sensitivities and toxicity, which through elimination, will increase immune system function and achieve better health.

What are some common side effects in teenagers who manage their ADHD symptoms with stimulant medications?

Research has confirmed that stimulants like Ritalin, Adderall and Concerta along with being highly addictive, can sometimes lead to feelings of hostility and paranoia. These stimulants affect the central nervous system, causing increased blood pressure and heart rate, and appetite suppression. It can even produce painful headaches, insomnia and depression.

What are the health ramifications for teens with ADHD that goes untreated?

Teenagers who go untreated (with no natural intervention) not only suffer from substandard health due to nutritional deficiencies and toxicity, but also find that impulsivity and poor judgment are compounded as they get older. Statistics show an increase for alcohol and drug abuse and school expulsion.


Natural Health Atlanta

Locations in Alpharetta, Dunwoody, Lawrenceville & Marietta

Phone: 678-892-6865

Most Insurance Plans Accepted

Marcia Williams, ND specializes in treating ADHD, gastrointestinal disorders, heavy metal detoxification, allergies and cardiovascular disease.

Losing weight and being healthy was more than just a personal goal for Sandi Porter. "After I lost weight 12 years ago, I knew I wanted to help others," she says. So Porter decided to parlay her love of everything fitness and health-related into a career as a trainer, though soon it wasn't enough. "I realized I didn't want to just be a trainer. I wanted to change lives, so I began my own company, Start With The Inside." Beyond her expertise as a trainer, Porter rounded out her education by going back to school and studying sports nutrition and physical therapy. "These certifications gave me the tools to work with my clients and their needs." In addition to Start With The Inside, Porter also started Gwinnett's Losing It! program, a 12-week weight loss program in a team format. "I don't want someone to lose pounds and then gain it back," she explains. "I want to get to the nitty gritty of what the real issue is and how that affects your ability to lose weight and live healthy."


What was the inspiration behind starting Start With The Inside?

My inspiration started with my coach from 12 years ago, David Greenwalt of Leanness Lifestyle. He taught me so much about healthy living and how to make these changes a part of my lifestyle, not just for 12 weeks. I added the emotional aspect of this program because of the emotional struggles that I see my clients go through in trying to lose weight and live healthy.


How did you start Gwinnett's Losing It! program?

The first season of Gwinnett's Losing It! began in January 2011. I had been teaching corporate workshops and working with clients on an individual basis and wanted to find a way to reach more people and also provide accountability for those people. Participants meet with me once every four weeks for a progress report, meet as a team every four weeks and participate in a weekly conference call and weigh-in. During the 12 weeks, the team has lessons on nutrition, weight training and cardio, emotional obstacles, and dealing with trigger foods, family and work situations.


What has been the best part about starting these two weight loss programs?

The best part is seeing peoples' lives change, the amazing changes in their health, getting off medications, losing inches and becoming more confident. Our worst setback was the economy, when people could not afford the program but needed to do it. Our fee is $249 for 12 weeks, and that was an investment for people. When I wanted to give up, I didn't because people would ask me to continue.


Who inspired you professionally?

I love older fitness pros who did so much for this industry – Charles Atlas and Jack LaLanne. I met Robert Kennedy and Tosca Reno, and they were a huge inspiration to me.


What was your first job in the fitness arena?

Believe it or not, I taught aerobics in the 80s. [I wore] a headband, spandex and all. I taught part time at local YMCA while I went to college. I loved those classes!


Best advice for weight loss?

Go to a professional. Start with small changes. Educate yourself and learn how to make permanent changes, not temporary fixes. Learn to listen to your inside voice.


Best way to balance home life and work?

Planning is key. I take my rest days seriously. I plan workouts and meals so that eliminates stress. My family is key. I make time for them, and my schedule revolves around them. I invest in monthly massages and weekly Epsom salt baths to take care of my body.


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

My husband of 22 years, my kids who inspire me every day, my clients who motivate me to never give up and my wonderful massage therapist!

We reached out to 10 of the city's top fitness and health bloggers to find out what's hot for the new year. Each of them weighed in on the current trends they use to stay healthy and active. These women are not only bloggers, but also distance runners, mothers, vegans, dietitians and yoga instructors. Thousands of readers and fans follow these bloggers' daily advice about new activities to try and ways to stay healthy around the city, and now you can too.


MadisonMadison James
Fitness advocate

"When I was approached by the AJC with the opportunity to share my lifestyle message, I jumped at the chance. As a NPC National Figure Competitor and former Division I Collegiate athlete, I wanted to take my workout to the next level and get ahead of the curve early. I want to challenge people, no matter what their level is. The main focus is to set a goal and keep working till you finish. I hope to share my daily life as a message of a lifestyle, not a diet. If I reach one person, then it is all worth it."

The Blog:
Atlanta's Mad About Fitness –

High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) – As a former athlete, I find this is an effective way to train in a small amount of time and burn lots of calories. This involves short bursts of activity (like running or doing squats), followed by a short period of rest or recovery.  A great workout in 30 minutes! HIIT can be done anywhere, that's the cool thing about it. My favorite place is Piedmont Park. The beautiful view of the city is a great distraction when I get tired doing hill sprints.

Functional fitness – Great workout that uses real-life activities like climbing stairs to build strength, balance and flexibility.  I call it thinking out of the box. And it's great for older adults getting into fitness, too. For functional fitness I see the gym as my playground! You will catch me at L.A. Fitness in Buckhead.


AshleyAshley Evans
Registered dietitian

"I was inspired to start my blog as a way to keep in touch with my friends and family and to talk about exercise and nutrition. Little did I know that I would find my true passion. After the wonderful feedback and furthered interest, I decided to return to school to become a registered dietitian so I could not only write about what interested me but also so I could practice in the field as a credible source. On my site, I hope to deliver information that will help keep my readers healthy physically, mentally and spiritually."

The Blog:
The Gypsy Dietitian –

Tabata Bootcamp – This high-intensity interval training only takes four minutes to complete (20 seconds on, 10 seconds rest, repeated for a total of eight sets) and provides more cardiovascular benefits than jogging for one hour.

Yoga – Yoga offers various forms of mind and body connection, and it releases stress while increasing flexibility, posture, mental focus and mood.

AMRAP (As Many Reps/Rounds As Possible) – As many reps of a particular exercise (or rounds of many exercises) are completed until muscle failure. I tend to lift weights more these days and am a member at Anytime Fitness so that I can squeeze in a workout no matter what town I might be in.


AlexaAlexa Lampasona
Competitive distance runner

"I started blogging about food and fitness in college when I learned to cook for myself and raced in our triathlon club. I am a competitive distance runner and love to share my running adventures, healthy eating recipes and tips for an active lifestyle."

The Blog:
Life with Lampasona –

Group runs – These are a great way to build accountability and meet active friends. I never notice how far we've run until I look at my watch and see it's been five miles! My favorites are Highland Runners off Highland Avenue and Phidippides in Ansley Mall.

A plus is their monthly raffles – one time I won a free pair of shoes.

Hot yoga – I am one of those people who needs to break a sweat to feel like I've gotten a workout, and hot yoga does the trick! I go to Red Hot Yoga Studios on Miami Circle. The high temperatures really stretch out your muscles, and after the amount you sweat, you feel cleansed.

Home workout videos – My roommate and I do P90X and Insanity. After doing the same video so much, I mute the sound and watch television while doing the workout so it feels like I'm changing up my routine.


HaleyHaley Chura
Professional triathlete

"My triathlon coach, Matthew Rose, inspired me to start blogging as a way to chronicle my triathlon adventures. Hopefully my stories inspire people to try the sport or maybe just provide an occasional laugh!"

The Blog:
Haley Chura –

Dynamo Masters Swimming – My top fitness trend pick is definitely Dynamo Masters Swimming. The zero-impact, total body workout is great for all ages and abilities. And the camaraderie is hard to beat! (For details see


LatrinaLatrina M. Patrick
Certified holistic health coach

"My blog promotes the benefits of following a plant-based diet. In particular, how plant food Reduces the Onset of Cancer and Kills Sickness (ROCKS). I started the blog because I'm a vegan and wholeheartedly believe in the Hippocrates statement, 'Let thy food be thy medicine, and thy medicine be thy food.' By reading my blog, people will learn how to achieve a lifestyle of optimal health from a holistic approach. I focus on the mind, body and spirit. Most importantly, I emphasize how to make living a healthy life practical."

The Blog:
Plant Food Rocks –

Tabata Bootcamp –
This high-intensity interval training boot camp focuses on quality, not quantity. In as little as six minutes a day, you can burn five times more calories after your workout.


KristinKristin Gilbert
Fitness instructor at exhale spa

"My best friend, Scottie (a.k.a. Kim), and I (a.k.a. Bella) decided to write our blog together to help raise awareness about cleaner ways of living to help prevent disease, illness, behavioral problems and overall maintain good health. We post reviews of nontoxic products, give easy, healthy recipes as well as fit tips and have guest bloggers and occasional events.  We love helping others find ways around all the junk out there that's harmful to our health."

The Blog:
Pure Health Girls –

Core Fusion – I love barre classes, specifically Core Fusion! It builds long, lean muscles and core strength. You can repair and prevent injuries with this type of strengthening. It combines ballet, Pilates and yoga to build a supple, youthful body for years to come.


DonnaDonna Burke
Fitness advocate

"I studied exercise science, concentrating in athletic training and learned a lot about sports injuries and how the body works. I'm a science nerd with a fashion side, hence the name Yoga In Heels. My blog is a fitness fashion blog that helps you dress your body type so you look good, feel good and use the extra confidence to work harder toward your goals."

The Blog:
Yoga in Heels –

High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) – Short bursts of high intensity burn more calories and build more muscle. I love this because I can cover the same distance as a three-mile run, but in five to 10 minutes less time.

Barre – Low-impact, but intense with small muscle movements. It changes your body entirely! Svelte in Brookhaven will be the go-to studio in the new year.

15K races – Longer than your average race, but completely doable for anyone who isn't an avid runner. I see this distance getting very popular, especially with the Hot Chocolate Race this month.


Tiffany-WhitneyWhitney Carlson Online coach and personal trainer

Tiffany Staples ACE-certified personal trainer and aerobics instructor

"We were inspired to begin blogging about eating clean after changing our lifestyles. It's easy to say you are going to do something but hard to stick with it. We wanted to inspire anyone looking to make a change in their life to do so with the help of their partner and to, of course, consider eating clean. We post recipes, educational articles, workouts and tips for making living the clean eating lifestyle accessible to all those who want it!"

The Blog:
He & She Eat Clean –

Surf Set Fitness – Get that beach body even if you don't live at the beach! It's an amazing functional core strength and full body workout you can do at home that continues to challenge you and you don't get tired of.

The Weighted Hula Hoop – This is a throwback to your childhood. The weighted hula hoop whittles your waist but also can challenge your arms and legs depending on the exercises you do with it.


DaliaDalia Kinsey
ACE-certified health coach and nutritionist

"When I completed my studies in nutrition and started my coaching service, I noticed that an overwhelming number of people believe that eating healthy is out of their reach because of time constraints. My focus is helping busy people find a way to make balanced nutrition an effortless part of their lives. My blog is a great resource for anyone who has found that success in other areas of life has started to crowd out wellness practices like eating balanced, plant-focused meals and exercising."

The Blog:
Eating Beautiful –

Mind-body weight management – Traditional diets tend to fail a large segment of the population. Practices that encourage tuning in to the body are more likely to bring long-term success.

Plant-focused nutrition – Eating large amounts of minimally processed high fiber foods takes the complexity out of trimming down.

Meditation and yoga – These classes help to increase your awareness of your own body, making it easier to read hunger signals and feed your body appropriately. I practice Vipassana meditation and also attended a 10-day silent retreat in Jesup, GA to study the method. I also use Kundalini Yoga DVDs at home, and Kashi Atlanta is my favorite Atlanta resource for both yoga and meditation workshops.



Jessica-DaulerJessica Dauler (
Saving is always in style

Fitness Pick of the Month

I was recently invited to try Orangetheory Fitness when they launched in Atlanta, and even better for me, in Sandy Springs. My friends in New York and Los Angeles love this place, and even though the classes sounded tough and competitive, I was up for the challenge to reach the "Orange Zone." The class structure is a one-of-a-kind, group personal training workout broken into intervals of cardiovascular and strength training, burning up to 500 to1,000 calories in a 60-minute session. What makes this workout different and highly motivating is each person wears a heart monitor so he/she can follow their heart rates on TV screens throughout the session, with the target goal of reaching the "Orange Zone," resulting in the Orange Effect — a.k.a. maximum fat burning for up to 36 hours post-workout! Grab your free first class pass on their website,

Jessica Dauler
For more info visit
For more info on Jessica visit

Thursday, 26 December 2013 15:49

Know the Facts about Bariatric Surgery

Most of us know that a healthy diet and regular exercise can decrease our risk of developing obesity-related conditions like heart disease, stroke and Type 2 diabetes, but for a select group of people, bariatric surgery is the only way they feel they can combat their extreme obesity. And while some may view these procedures as "the easy way out," most clinicians agree that bariatric surgery is anything but simple. It is major abdominal surgery, and its success depends on a complete lifestyle change and a commitment for life.

Your Surgical Options - Learn the Differences

"Bariatric surgery is a blanket statement for many different operations," explains Dr. Kevin McGill, a bariatric surgeon with Buckhead Bariatrics. "Now there are several operations that we do – some make the stomach smaller, and some change the way your body absorbs food."

Gastric-BypassThe most common bariatric procedure is gastric bypass because it generally poses fewer complications than other weight loss surgeries. This involves the creation of a small stomach pouch through a process called "stomach stapling." The new, smaller stomach pouch is then disconnected from the first part of the small intestine and reconnected to a lower part of the intestine. As a result, food passes directly from the stomach to the lower part of the intestine, bypassing the small intestine, so fewer calories are absorbed.

Other common types of weight loss surgery include adjustable gastric banding, or "Lap-Banding." For this procedure, the surgeon places a silicone ring around the upper stomach, and the ring's tightness can be adjusted by injecting saline to fill up the band or removing saline to loosen it. Another procedure, called sleeve gastrectomy, reduces the stomach to about 25 percent of its original size, leaving a "sleeve," or tube-shaped stomach.

Other-BariatricAs with any procedure, it's important to discuss with your surgeon which option is right for you. "For Type 2 diabetics, gastric bypass is generally the best option because you get significant control of diabetes," says Dr. Scott Steinberg, bariatric medical director at DeKalb Medical Center. "The second choice is usually sleeve gastrectomy. The Lap-Band was popular for a while, but it's fallen out of favor because of long-term side effects like reflux, and it drives maladaptive eating behavior – patients tend to favor starches, sweets and soft foods that go down easily. We see much better long-term results with gastric bypass and sleeve."

The average cost for a gastric bypass procedure can range from $18,000 to $35,000, while the average cost for adjustable gastric banding ranges from $17,000 to $30,000. Health insurance providers including Medicare and, in some states, Medicaid, are beginning to cover some or all of the costs of surgery if medical necessity is established by your doctor and if you meet the National Institutes of Health requirements.

Who Does Bariatric Surgery Benefit?

"Bariatric surgery benefits a very select group of people," Dr. McGill says. "We're taking care of people who are at least 100 pounds overweight. All of my patients are professional dieters. The problem is they gain it back, and the likelihood that they keep off more than 10 percent of their weight is miniscule."

According to Dr. Michael Williams, president of the Laparoscopic & Endoscopic Surgery Institute in Alpharetta, there are very strict guidelines for bariatric surgery candidates, and patients go through a multidisciplinary assessment prior to any procedure. "People who have a body mass index of 35 with associated illness, or body mass index of 40 without any associated illness may be good candidates," he says. "People with severe medical problems which place them at a high risk of death from general anesthesia and individuals with severe cognitive limitations or psychiatric conditions that limit their ability to follow a post-operative program should not have the procedure."

What To Expect

"There is no way to sugarcoat this," Dr. McGill says. "This is major abdominal surgery." Dr. Steinberg says that patients are on a liquid diet for the first two weeks after the procedure, and then they move on to soft food. In addition to a challenging post-op period, like any surgical procedure, this one has associated risks. Nearly 10 percent of patients have complications such as wound infections and bleeding after surgery, though according to Dr. Steinberg, the most common side effects post-op are nausea, bloating and constipation.

Northside Hospital bariatric specialist and nurse Debbi Spamer points out, "Since most of the surgeries are done laparoscopically, the recovery period is short." For most people, any post-surgical pain is minimal. "Most patients are walking within a few hours of surgery." Patients may even be back to work in as little as one to six weeks, though she cautions, "It usually takes about three months before the patient learns to deal with a smaller stomach and what they can and cannot eat."

Regular check-ups are also required for every patient. "Each patient who commits to this operation is committing to a lifetime of follow-up with us," Dr. McGill says. "We see them every three months for the first two years, then annually for the rest of their lives."

The Best Possible Outcome

The best outcome with bariatric surgery begins with finding the right surgeon. "The hospital should be a Center of Excellence in bariatric surgery and have all the necessary equipment," Dr. Steinberg says. "We've been using the da Vinci Robot because it has enhanced control – in the right hands, it's a very effective tool." Dr. McGill also recommends finding a surgeon who has been fellowship trained and is a member of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery.

Barring any complications, most bariatric procedures today are done in two hours or less with just five small incisions, but the real work begins once the patient leaves the hospital. "Over 90 percent of patients keep the excess weight off," Dr. Steinberg says. "Ten to 15 percent will gain weight after surgery due to diet non-compliance. But for most patients, this is a highly effective treatment. Your body's normal function is to perceive hunger, but the surgery alters your hunger cycle, so it's much more effective."

The majority of a patient's weight loss typically occurs in the first 10 months post-surgery, and often their obesity-related health issues disappear too. "Many co-morbidities such as hypertension, diabetes and sleep apnea either go away or improve," Spamer says. "This is not about looking better – it is about improving one's health." Dr. McGill agrees. "What gets me excited is taking care of diabetic patients and seeing their diabetes go away," he says. "Physically they are transformed, but you watch their health problems go away too – they are living a very different, healthy life."

Editorial Resources
Kevin McGill, MD -

Buckhead Bariatrics,
Debbie Spamer, RN - Northside Hospital,
Scott Steinberg, MD - DeKalb Medical Center,
Michael Williams, MD - Laparoscopic & Endoscopic Surgery Institute,


Weigh Healthier
Atlantans do the work and drop the pounds


TinaTina Tait

Decatur resident Tina Tait, 43, considers herself a "fat-thlete." She's always been active, running in marathons and 5Ks, but has never managed to keep off the weight until now. Since she had bariatric surgery in January 2013, she's lost over 112 pounds. "I had a vertical sleeve gastrectomy, which is a relatively new procedure where 85 percent of my stomach was removed," she explains. "Unlike gastric bypass, the sleeve leaves the intestines intact. It was done laparoscopically, and I had five tiny incisions that were visible."

Tait's surgery was performed by Dr. Charlie Procter at Piedmont Atlanta Hospital, and she was fortunate to have no complications during her recovery. "I have only 13 pounds to my doctor's goal weight for me of 125 pounds, which puts me at a normal BMI," she says. "Because I have a much higher activity level than most, Dr. Procter thinks I might even get to my ideal body weight, which is 110. (I'm only 5 feet tall)."

To keep herself in check, Tait tracks everything she eats in My Fitness Pal. "I eat around 800 calories a day – sometimes as much as 1,000 – mostly protein and then vegetables or carbs if I have room," she says. "I drink most of my vegetables in a green smoothie, which is the easiest way for me to get them in. I weigh and measure everything, even though my stomach tells me when it's time to stop."

Today she says her life no longer revolves around food, and she's become the athlete she's wanted to be her whole life. "I'm no longer carrying an extra person with me, and it's opened up a whole new world," she says. "I train[ed] for the Atlanta Thanksgiving Day half marathon, and I even joined the Atlanta Track Club!"


SilvieSylvie Hamel

Sylvie Hamel was overweight from the time she was 13, but it was witnessing her mother's struggle with weight and subsequent loss of mobility that motivated her to make a change in her own life. "I knew I would be in that position in 15 years if I didn't act soon," she says. "I hadn't developed diabetes yet, but I was on cholesterol and high blood pressure medicine. I weighed 283 pounds before surgery."

After meeting Dr. Kevin McGill, Hamel knew she was in good hands with him and the staff at Piedmont Hospital for her gastric bypass surgery in May 2010. "My surgery was performed five weeks prior to my retirement from UPS," she says. "The first day of my retirement was the first day I could exercise, and after that I was in the pool every day for six weeks. I gave my metabolism and weight loss a boost, not only because I was losing fat, but because I was exercising at the same time. I lost 120 pounds over 12 months. I've since regained about 12, so I'm working with a nutritionist now to get back on track. But I'm nowhere near as morbidly obese as I was before."

Since her surgery, Hamel says her life has undergone a complete reinvention. "I take salsa lessons, I shop for clothes (and enjoy it!) and I date, which I didn't do for a long time," she says. "A lot of people see the surgery as the easy way out, but it's not. You've got to do the work. It's a tool, but it's not a miracle. With work and dedication, it's the only way I could have achieved this. It saved my life."


DianaDiana Oates

At 267 pounds, Diana Oates was a self-proclaimed food addict. "Food and the couch were my best friends," she says. "My body began to break down. My husband began to shake me throughout the night, saying I stopped breathing in my sleep." During a visit to her primary care physician, Oates was referred to a sleep study. "I stopped breathing many times," she says. "After returning to my primary care physician for the full results of the test, his words were very clear: You need to do something about your health."

In February of 2009, Oates elected to have adjustable gastric band surgery with Dr. Scott Steinberg at DeKalb Medical. "When I entered his office, I saw two life-size [before and after] posters on the wall," she says. "On that day, I set one of the biggest goals of my life. I said I wanted to be on his wall."

Since her surgery, Oates weighs in at 133 pounds. "I went from not exercising at all to now having a love for it," she says. "I now exercise six days a week, and I'm also a certified personal trainer. I love working with others and showing them the road of this journey. So many people have no idea what weight loss surgery can do. I am the face of weight loss surgery. I took back my life, and I can enjoy all that life has to give."


HaroldHarold L. Harris, Sr.

For the last eight years of his 21-year run in the Air Force, Harold Harris was on the weight management program. He was spending as many as four hours a day in the gym but could not lose the necessary weight. Then in 1993, he had the first of three heart attacks. "My doctor told me that my weight was a problem," he says. "I was put on weight loss medication with no success, so I started discussing surgery with my doctors."

The final straw came in 2012 when his car broke down and two of his grandsons were walking him home. "After only a few feet up the hill, I fell back down, hurting only my pride in the process," Harris says. "I knew then if I wanted to spend some quality time with my grandchildren, I would have to do something to improve my health."

Harris was 276 pounds when he was admitted to Atlanta Medical Center for gastric bypass surgery with Dr. Miguel del Mazo in June of 2012. "Today my weight is consistently between 170 and 178, dependent on my exercise program, which has started to level out at four times a week," he says. "Medically, the improvements are beyond my every expectation. My [Type 2] diabetes is now being controlled by diet and exercise and has been that way from the time I woke up in the hospital. My blood pressure medications have been cut twice since the surgery, as well as my cholesterol medication being cut in half. I no longer suffer from sleep apnea or acid reflux. My heart has shown vast improvement." Harris even jokes that at his last stress test, his physical stamina was so high that his doctor simply stopped the test, which shows just how far he has come.


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Center for Weight Management at Gwinnett Medical Center - Duluth

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