Thursday, 03 July 2014 19:37

Diva Half Marathon

Friday, 27 June 2014 13:37

Meet Cinnabon president Kat Cole

A quick web search of Kat Cole, the president of Cinnabon, will reveal two facts about her: She's a young executive of an international company, and she began her career at Hooters. This engaging, personable woman is much more than those two facts, though. She is also an avid traveler, humanitarian, dessert lover and dance music fan. By pursuing her personal interests and professional goals with single-minded energy, Cole has achieved an incredible amount for her age and set a wonderful example for women in any profession.

Do you see your career beginnings as a significant part of your success story?
I learned great things about leadership and business from being a waitress – where I was a waitress is sort of not the point. Because I worked for Hooters, I definitely faced challenges and discrimination as I moved into the professional world. But the good part is that it helped me build a really thick skin. At a very young age, I realized that people are going to talk, but you just have to do things that you're proud of.

What inspired you to work as hard as you have to get where you are today?
For most of my career, I've had a heavy feeling of not wanting to let people down. I want to make people proud. I felt that way when I was a waitress, when I was an early manager in my career, when I was a director, and the first time I was a vice president. Because of that, I would show up earlier, stay later and work harder.

Kat-ColeWho are some of the professionals who have influenced you?
I have been fortunate enough to be surrounded by smart, talented, kind, high-integrity leaders pretty much my whole career. My first general manager when I was a teenager, Bonnie Rhinehardt, was an amazing person who taught me a different style of leadership. Other Hooters executives, like Cheryl Tyler and Kimi Riviera, were great leaders to learn from. Later, Russ Umphenour gave me an opportunity to become president of Cinnabon. The list is insanely long.

What charities are you involved with these days?
I spend time in Eastern Africa with Global Hopes Network International. Their work is about investing in people who can coach villages to learn to support themselves. A group of us travel to Rwanda and Ethiopia and meet with the village leaders, help them think through the challenges they're facing, and when we come back, we raise funds to continue to fuel the organization.

How do you balance your work and home life?
Sometimes you're going to be better at work than you are at home, and vice versa. It will ebb and flow, and that's okay. It is so liberating and empowering to decide, "I'm not going to weigh myself down with feeling guilty about not being able to do all things for all people. I'll do my best." Also, you have to remember that if you aren't healthy, you can't bring the best version of yourself to work or to your family. There are lots of things that I can't control, but I can control how healthy I am physically and mentally, and that gives me the strength to handle whatever happens.

What advice would you give a young girl thinking about her future career?
I would say don't waste life's precious time sitting around debating it for too long. Get out there and do something. You've got to show up, stand up and speak up if you ever want to move up. "Show up" means you've got to be there. "Stand up" is about having confidence. And "speak up" is about being able to articulate your view if you ever want to move up in school or in a career.

What would people be surprised to know about you?
I am an insane fan of electronic dance music, European house music and trance music. It is 80 percent of my Pandora, iTunes and Spotify.

How do you like to relax?
By spending time with Chris, my better half. We have been happily unmarried for over 10 years. I also love spending time on the BeltLine and showing my family great experiences in Atlanta.

Favorite book?
My favorite book for many years has been "The Fountainhead" by Ayn Rand – a classic. And I recently read "The Social Animal" by David Brooks. It's about how the social nature of human beings really drives everything. It's pretty amazing.

Favorite place to vacation?
Istanbul, by far. There is so much history, yet there is so much youth and technology and energy. It is just a beautiful setting, and the Turkish people are some of the most hospitable in the world.



"You can do anything for 1 minute!"
That's one of my favorite things to say at Boot Camp! Planks, squats, lunges, sit ups, you can do it all for just one minute! While you are in the middle of it, you may think otherwise but I am there to let you know that it IS possible. You can see that, while you are in a group setting with encouraging trainers, that you have the ability to do things that you wouldn't do on your own!

Boot Camp helps you reach your next level of fitness. If you are only able to do 5 sit ups in one minute, by the end of the 6 week session you will be doing SO much more!

Boot Camp is challenging but can also be a lot of fun. I LOVE to exercise but I also get bored easily like many of us do! The key is to change things up.

photo3As a member of Boot Camp in the Park, you will have access to all of the fun adventures that I will be bringing my girls on! I will offer field trips to go biking at the Greenway or the Chattahoochee, we will kayak the Cartecay River & hike Stone Mtn. There are SO many other ways to stay fit on a regular basis too with or without your kids. I have 3 kids & try to include them in most of my activities. My favorites include:

  • Bringing my kids to Lassiter and running bleachers while the kids are throwing the football or doing cart wheels down the 50 yard line. They LOVE this. Occasionally, one of them will come run with me & that helps them realize that fitness can be fun – a very valuable lesson you can teach your kids.
  • Hiking trails in the area without your kids. Leita Thompson is a great example. You can bring your dog, there is a dog park in front of the park & then take a walk on the shady, paved trails after. There is a creek & lake back there. It's hilly & beautiful! My kids love it!
  • Biking the Greenway is something my family has enjoyed doing as well. Load the bikes up & bring the kids to the Greenway. It's shady, flat & also very beautiful. I have brought my boot campers there as well so it can be as challenging as you make it. Very similar to boot camp!
  • Bring your kids to the park while you exercise. You can participate in boot camp and bring a picnic lunch for afterwards. You could fill some water balloons and have a water balloon toss with your kids afterwards! Kids love that & it would be refreshing after your workout!
  • Challenges this summer include the AB challenge in June, Burpees in July & Squats in August. We provide a calendar with the amount you have to do on each day & you will turn yours in at the end of the month. If you complete the calendar, you will be rewarded with a gift certificate to Invigo Day Spa!

Bottom line is Boot camp can be FUN! My goal is to make you realize that fitness in general does not have to be mundane & hopefully I can get you to LOVE exercise as much as I do!
Hope to see you all at Boot Camp!

Heidi Morris, Owner
Boot Camp in the Park, LLC  |  (404) 594-2668
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.   |

Heidi Morris launched Boot Camp In The Park in 2006 due to her beliefs, passion & drive for personal fitness & helping others foresee their goals become a reality. She loves creating a positive environment for everyone & showing each member that exercising can be fun!


Thursday, 26 June 2014 18:32

Breast Reconstruction Options


What are the most common reasons for breast reconstruction?
The most common reason to reconstruct a breast is when all or part of the breast has to be removed for cancer. We may reconstruct a breast when someone is born without a breast or their breasts are deformed. We also reconstruct breasts when cosmetic surgery has gone wrong or there is significant asymmetry between the breasts.

What are the options for a woman who has had a mastectomy?
There are several options for breast reconstruction, and they can be performed at the time of the mastectomy or in a delayed fashion if the patient wishes (though most prefer immediate/concurrent reconstruction). The options range from a prosthesis in a bra (i.e. no surgical reconstruction), to placing a tissue expander and slowly expanding it to a desired volume of breast then exchanging it for a silicone implant, to performing a TRAM flap where part of the abdominal fat and muscle are used to make the breast, to "free flaps" where we take distant tissue and sew the blood vessels with a microscope to make a new breast mound.

What does the process involve?
Depending on which option the patient chooses, the reconstruction can be completed at the time of the mastectomy. If utilizing a tissue expander, it may take a few months to reach the final volume and then a second procedure to exchange the expander for the silicone implant. Nipple areolar reconstruction is also performed commonly in a delayed fashion. In all, the reconstruction may take several months, and more than one procedure, to achieve the final desired aesthetic result.

Does reconstruction interfere with radiation or chemotherapy?
If we know that radiation will be needed, then performing a flap surgery should be delayed or another form of immediate reconstruction should be entertained because we don't know how the radiation will affect the reconstructed tissue/flap. We can do radiation therapy on a tissue expander-based reconstruction, although it may increase the risk of some complications. Reconstruction does not interfere with chemotherapy, but if there is delayed healing in association with the reconstruction for any reason, then chemotherapy might be delayed until healing is complete.


Asaf Yalif MD, FACS
(404) 822-4402  |  Available for Consultations

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.


Facet joints connect the vertebrae in your neck and low back to one another. Facet joints are like any other joint in your body. They have cartilage that line the joint, (allowing bones to glide smoothly), and a capsule surrounding the joint.

back-painFacet joint problems are located in the cervical, thoracic and lumbar spine areas. When the facet joints are affected, a person can experience lower back or neck pain.

Diagnosing facet joint disease in the neck or low back begins with a medical history, physical examination and imaging. Symptoms are treated with medications and physical therapy. Patients not improving with those treatments may benefit from a cervical or lumbar facet joint nerve block. This injection "blocks" the pain the same way a dentist uses an anesthetic to block pain in your jaw before working on your teeth. Successful facet injections indicate that you could benefit from a facet joint nerve radiofrequency ablation. This is an injection with a needle that uses heat to destroy the nerve fibers in your low back or neck that carry pain signals to the brain. This injection can relieve the pain. Midtown Neurology is fully equipped for the above procedures and is happy to assist you should you have these symptoms.


Aashish Bharara, MD
Midtown Neurology, P.C.
(404) 653-0039  |

Aashish Bharara, MD is a Board Certified Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation physician with a fellowship in interventional spine management.


Answer this riddle: What is pink, round, comes in all sizes and affects women of all ethnic groups?

If you answered fibroids, you are correct. But unlike the cute description given above, fibroids are known to be one of, if not the most disruptive health conditions experienced by women.
The Mayo Clinic reports that uterine fibroids affect 75-80 percent of all women. Health care costs associated with fibroids amount to billions of dollars, including hospitalizations for transfusions secondary to extreme bleeding and the resultant severe anemia.

Add to this the lost days of work, lost wages, sexual dysfunction, marital discord and the lifestyle disruption secondary to its unpredictable symptoms of bleeding and pain, and you can easily see how fibroids can be seen as enemy number one.

Data from the National Institute of Health indicate that this condition accounts for more than 200,000 of the 600,000 hysterectomies done annually in the United States.

Many of those obtaining hysterectomies are finally happy to be forever rid of the nagging unpredictability of these tumors. However, many occur in women who are ill-informed, ill-prepared, and worst of all, many of whom feel intimidated into accepting an irreversible and definitive treatment.

The symptoms and conditions that would have led to a hysterectomy in the past can, in most cases, with today's medical advances, be treated easily in a doctor's office or in short out-patient procedures.

The goal at Innovative Women's HealthCare Solutions is to educate, inform and thus empower our patients who we call "partners in health." All patients with fibroids have extensive counseling regarding their treatment options. They are given take-home material and information as to how to access links to fibroid education on our website.

Our Ten-Step Anti-Hysterectomy options include medical therapies, endometrial ablation (a five-minute, in-office procedure for heavy menstrual bleeding) and myosure (a hysteroscopic myomectomy through the cervix, without incisions), among others. They are also encouraged to consult with an interventional radiologist to see if they are a candidate for UFE (uterine fibroid embolization).

The number of fibroids, their location, the patient's symptom profile, their age, desire for future childbearing and most importantly, what treatment they desire should all be taken into account. It is important to remember: fibroids are benign in over 99 percent of cases, so patient input and desires should play a major role in treatment.

In summary, find a provider who will share ALL of the options, and one that is experienced in all of the medical and surgical treatment options. Make sure your questions are answered and your desired treatment option given careful consideration. This will result in the most satisfactory outcome.


Melinda Miller-Thrasher, MD, FACOG
Innovative Women's HealthCare Solutions (IWHCS)
3903 South Cobb Drive Suite #105, Smyrna, GA, 30080 | (678) 424-1123

Melinda Miller Thrasher is a native of NYC and attended Cornell University, Mt. Sinai and NYU for her residency training. Her expertise includes fibroids and minimally invasive surgical procedures to treat fibroids. She is on staff at Emory University Hospital and Piedmont Hospital. Dr. Miller-Thrasher has been selected as one of Atlanta's Top Doctors each year since 2009 as listed in Atlanta Magazine, One of the Gynecologists You Love (Essence Magazine) and she is a Patients' Choice Award recipient. She is also a member of the WebMD medical review board. She has an office in the Smyrna /Vinings area, Buckhead and soon to open in Midtown. Her new book, "The Innovative Women's Guide to Fibroids," will be available late summer 2014.


Thursday, 26 June 2014 17:03

Doctors Who Walk the Walk

So your doctor tells you that it's time to lose some weight. You have to get your cholesterol under control and your blood pressure down. He wants you to eat better and exercise. He wants you to learn to manage stress more effectively. But as he's telling you this, you notice his own elevated BMI, and you begin to wonder if he practices what he's preaching. Do you take his advice seriously if it seems that he doesn't adhere to the healthy lifestyle he's suggesting for you?

It's a common problem in today's physicians' offices. While treating patients and advocating the adoption of healthy habits, many doctors are actually unhealthy themselves. Often exhausted from dealing with the pressures associated with their profession, they don't eat right or exercise and end up contending with a host of chronic diseases. It's a problem because research shows that patients are more likely to follow preventative health measures if their physicians do so as well. Fortunately, these Atlanta doctors do, in fact, lead by example, walking the walk and living healthy lifestyles that serve as inspiration to their patients.


Shealyn-Buck-MDShealynn Buck, MD
Making a Lifelong Health Investment

This past December, Dr. Shealynn Buck, executive director of DeKalb Medical Employee Health Solutions, wasn't feeling her best. The single mother of two daughters, ages 11 and 14, had just turned 41, and while she was in generally good shape, she decided that she had to do something to reset her health. So she gave herself a full lifestyle makeover, starting with a transition to a plant-based diet.

"I had to ask myself what would work for me, and I know that I feel better when I'm eating foods that are from plants. I've never been a big meat eater, so it wasn't that difficult to go to a full plant-based diet," explains Dr. Buck, who not only is a medical doctor, but also a certified professional health and wellness coach. "I actually started eating a plant-based diet in high school, but it's easier today than it was then. There are options today. I eat whole foods – nuts, grains, vegetables and fruits. I don't eat meat, and I don't do dairy. And by doing that, I lost five percent of my body fat."

Truth be told, Dr. Buck didn't have a lot of weight to lose. A fitness enthusiast who was inspired by her father, a long distance runner, Dr. Buck has always been physically fit. She began running as a stress reliever while attending Emory University School of Medicine in 1996. And today, in addition to her healthy diet, she enjoys everything from running and walking to dance classes and rock climbing. "Those are the two areas I am so passionate about – nutrition and fitness," she says. "It's about overall well-being. When you exercise and eat right, your mind works better. Your body works better. You sleep better. And I've been able to integrate that thinking into what I'm doing with DeKalb Medical."

Hired in 2012, Dr. Buck is charged with creating programs that promote the long-term physical, mental and social well-being of the hospital's employees, as well as employees throughout Atlanta. With her background, it's a perfect fit. And while she currently does not see patients one-on-one, she understands the role that physicians play in transforming patients' lives. "Health care providers are some of the unhealthiest people. It's ingrained in us that someone else comes first," she states. "But a drowning person can't save another drowning person. We have to be healthy. We're walking billboards. When health care professionals are healthy, they deliver better care and are more likely to convey healthy habits to their patients."

Yet, she adds, "Doctors are human beings too. We have our own health journeys. I'm not picture perfect. My biggest struggle is stress management. But that helps me be more understanding about what people are going through. That compassion and empathy, bringing that human factor back to medicine, is crucial. It's easy to write a prescription, but it's tough to influence lifestyle change and behavior. We can show patients that investing in your health is the greatest lifelong investment you can make."


Ralph-Lyons-MDRalph Lyons, MD
All Things are Possible

It's not unusual to see Dr. Ralph Lyons out on the road at 5 a.m. running. When he's out there, he's usually training for a 10K, a marathon or a Half Ironman event. "I know my schedule, and I don't mind getting up early," says the renowned physician, who has worked with Atlanta South Gastroenterology since 1989. "I've trained for marathons at 4:30 a.m. It isn't easy, but if you find your passion, you'll magically find time for it. If you have that passion, you'll get up earlier or go to bed later to pursue it."

Dr. Lyons discovered long distance running at Harvard University after a roommate said he thought the active med student could run three miles. Believing he could not, Dr. Lyons hit the road and easily cleared the distance – and loved it. In time, he decided to enter the Peachtree Road Race. During the event, he saw people smiling widely as they ran. "I realized that this is a celebration of life," he recalls. "I've been hooked now for a long time. It resonates with my being."

Seventeen years ago, Dr. Lyons joined the South Fulton Running Partners, the oldest black recreational running club in the country. He now runs six miles every Saturday and participates in a variety of races. "Running partners have more fun, and we take that to heart," he says. "The glue that binds us is the fellowship and fun. It's not about how fast one runs. Your value to the group depends upon passion and enthusiasm." And for Dr. Lyons, those elements are coupled with determination. At 58, he's fortunate to have avoided any major injuries and trains and competes whenever he can. "Sometimes I don't know how I do it, but I think it's about having a passion and a goal," he notes. "I'm a goal-oriented person, and that drives what I do in both medicine and my athletic pursuits."

In addition to keeping him healthy, Dr. Lyons believes that being a runner makes him a better physician. Not only can his body tolerate long days because of his endurance training, but he also is more alert and cheerful. Furthermore, his understanding of the psychology and physiology of exercise lets him connect with patients on a different, first-hand level. "You can help patients in a more realistic way instead of on a theoretical basis," he explains. "You understand that when you're an athlete, you're more tuned to eating healthier and making healthier decisions, especially if you want to pursue your passion with proficiency. I tell my patients that healthy behavior can follow the passion, and that's okay."

What's more, Dr. Lyons knows that his athletic success inspires his patients in many ways. "I hope it's a motivating factor," he concludes. "Running has shown me that happiness can be achieved independently of one's occupation or economic position in life. I think of myself as an ordinary person, but I know I can be an example and show my patients that they can unlock their own potential. It's never too late to start. Find what you're passionate about, and all things are possible."


Naima-Cheema-MDNaima Cheema, MD
It Becomes Second Nature

Dr. Naima Cheema, who joined North Roswell Internal Medicine six years ago, isn't a fan of fast workouts with loud music. As a busy physician and married mother of two, her life is already fast-paced enough. "I'm mentally exhausted after working all day, and I don't want to have to rush or have a lot of noise around me," she says. "I used to do cardio, but it doesn't help you relax. I enjoy yoga so much more, with the slow transitioning, the breathing exercises and the soothing music. I love the stretches, and at the end, there are always five to 10 minutes of meditation. It's the best part of my day. It's a great way for me to de-stress."

Once Dr. Cheema found a physical activity that she enjoyed, making it part of her lifestyle was easy. Today, she does yoga twice a week at Women's Premier Fitness and adds in a third day of another type of exercise, such as tennis. "We are such creatures of habit," she explains. "By doing something regularly, it can become second nature." It's a principle that she shares with her patients often, especially those struggling with their weight.

That principle is also something she understands personally. When she entered medical school, Dr. Cheema was overweight. In school, she says, "I learned more about chronic health issues like diabetes, hypertension and hyperlipemia, and I realized that there is a strong association between these health conditions and obesity." From that point on, she started making healthier choices like controlling her portions and exercising regularly. Through those changes, she managed to lose nearly 50 pounds.

Dr. Cheema's personal insight allows her to better guide her patients as the director of a medically supervised weight loss program. She says, "I understand the dynamics of weight loss. I understand that it's hard." Because she's been there herself, Dr. Cheema knows a realistic approach can work wonders. She advocates healthy additions to your plate, rather than counting calories or cutting out food groups. "You have to eat what you need to survive. You need protein, fat and carbohydrates," she asserts. "Counting calories is not practical," she adds. "Instead, just cut back on the calories with portion control." She recommends gauging an appropriate portion size by putting it on a quarter of a plate and eating just one serving.

These healthy practices that Dr. Cheema recommends to her patients are the same ones that are now second nature for her. Her easy rules of thumb are tried and true and have helped her maintain her weight loss over the years. "Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated," she says. "Eat more fruits and vegetables, have desserts on weekends only, minimize fried foods and try to eat more grilled and baked foods."

Since Dr. Cheema has been in her patients' shoes, she is proof that simple lifestyle changes can work. "You can only preach what you practice," she says. "If I'm 300 pounds, my patients won't listen to me. You have to own your behavior. When you do, you can make the greatest difference in others' lives."



Thursday, 26 June 2014 16:47

Eating Disorders Explained

"When I was 14 years old, I was told that I was 'too big.' I was extremely embarrassed and ashamed of myself and how I looked." Even at such a tender age, Dr. Genie Burnett's negative feelings about her body prompted a change in how she ate. "I began to engage in anorexic and bulimic behaviors in order to 'prove' that I was okay." At age 16, Dr. Burnett spent seven weeks hospitalized for treatment. Now a psychologist and executive director of the nonprofit Manna Fund, Dr. Burnett has long since returned to healthier eating behaviors, but increasing numbers of men and women of all ages are still struggling.

Eating Disorders Defined
At its most basic, an eating disorder is a disturbance in someone's eating patterns and behaviors that affects both their physical and mental health. These behaviors take many forms: severely limiting food intake, binge eating, purging, eating when not hungry, exercising obsessively to prevent weight gain, and the list goes on. According to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), the most common ways these behaviors manifest are known as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder.




Anorexia Nervosa

  • Inadequate food intake leading to a weight that is clearly too low
  • Intense fear of weight gain and persistent behavior to prevent weight gain
  • Self-esteem overly related to body image

Bulimia Nervosa

  • Frequent episodes of consuming very large amounts of food followed by behaviors to prevent weight gain, such as self-induced vomiting
  • A feeling of being out of control during the binge eating episodes
  • Self-esteem overly related to body image

Binge Eating Disorder

  • Frequent episodes of consuming very large amounts of food but without behaviors to prevent weight gain, such as self-induced vomiting
  • A feeling of being out of control during the binge eating episodes
  • Eating when not hungry, eating to the point of discomfort, or eating alone because of strong shame or guilt about the behavior

— Information courtesy of the National Eating Disorders Association



Sometimes a person's eating behaviors do not fit into any of those three categories, which may result in a diagnosis of EDNOS, or Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified. This basically means someone exhibits behaviors typical of disordered eating but perhaps not to an extreme.

Not only do multiple conditions fall under the eating disorder umbrella, but also an increasing number of people struggle with them. A 2011 National Institutes of Health study estimated the number of Americans with eating disorders at 30 million, and that number is on the rise.

Digging Deeper
As the variety and prevalence of conditions shows, eating disorders are complex. The underlying reasons for the disorders are, if possible, even more complex because they are mental, rather than physical. Jessie Alexander, clinical coordinator for women's services at Ridgeview Institute, explains, "Often, clients will express that they can remember being cognizant of their bodies in a destructive way as early as three to five years of age. Other times, clients became critical of their bodies after experiencing a traumatic event that felt unmanageable to them."

Dr. Burnett adds that the disordered eating patterns can often stem from relatively common behaviors or desires. For example, many people diet regularly, sometimes lose their appetite due to nerves or stress, or have occasional negative feelings about their body. For some people, though, emotional factors cause these habits to escalate to unhealthy levels. "They use food to cope with their negative (often unconscious) beliefs and emotions," Dr. Burnett says. "At later stages, it is difficult for them to manage their intense feelings in any other way than by using food." Alexander agrees, saying, "Patients feel that their eating disorder provides them with a sense of control and serves as a distraction from unwanted feelings of shame, disempowerment, loneliness, emptiness and grief."

Get the Facts
Because eating disorders are a mental health issue as much as a physical one, misconceptions about these conditions are rampant. Make sure you know the truth.

Myth #1: Eating disorders are a choice. Many people make the mistaken assumption that recovery is as easy as just "eating more." In reality, "Developing an eating disorder is at least 50 percent biologically/genetically determined," says Dr. Linda Buchanan, the founder and clinical co-director of the Atlanta Center for Eating Disorders. Recent research shows measurable differences in the brains of those who suffer from eating disorders. "Differences in their brain chemistry increase their sensitivity to stimuli," Dr. Buchanan explains. This sensitivity makes them overly aware of – and often worried about – their own and other people's perceptions of them. According to Dr. Buchanan, "This generally leads to harm-avoidant strategies such as perfectionism, obsessive-compulsive behaviors, social avoidance, shyness and ultimately eating disorders." So rather than it being a simple choice, physiological differences and the resulting coping mechanisms are major factors in these conditions.

Myth #2: Eating disorders only affect young, white girls. "This is absolutely not true," Dr. Burnett says. According to recent studies, Dr. Buchanan explains, "The prevalence of eating disorders is similar among non-Hispanic whites, Hispanics, African Americans and Asians in the United States." And when it comes to age? At The Renfrew Center, a national eating disorder treatment center with a location in Atlanta, the number of midlife patients is on the rise. According to their website, "Over the past decade there has been a 42 percent increase in the number of women over the age of 35 who sought treatment at Renfrew." Dr. Burnett's private practice has treated men and women from age 7 to 67, and at Ridgeview Institute, clients range from age 13 to 65.

Myth #3: Eating disorders aren't a serious medical condition. Not so, according to Dr. Jay Faber of the Amen Clinics. He explains, "Eating disorders can lead to cardiac arrhythmias, renal problems and multiple system organ failure. Often, these problems are very serious and come on quite suddenly." If you are a parent and suspect that your child may be struggling with disordered eating behaviors, Dr. Burnett recommends a medical evaluation that includes blood panels. These will reveal how the child is being affected by their change in eating and help address the health repercussions as early as possible.

How to Help
Whether you're a parent, a family member or friend, if you see general warning signs of an eating disorder, take note. Is your child making excuses to skip meals or eat alone? Does your friend make self-critical statements about her body and seem increasingly concerned with perfection? Does a family member seem preoccupied with discussing food or food-related subjects? Do you yourself feel like you have some strange behaviors around mealtimes? And of course, keep an eye out for significant weight loss or gain, though these may not always occur.
If you are concerned about someone's unhealthy eating habits, don't try to control the behavior by trying to force them to act a different way.

Dr. Burnett recommends simply asking about the symptoms you've noticed, being sure to steer clear of specific comments about weight, and then listening to their response.

After opening up the conversation, you may want to seek out someone who has a specialty in dealing with eating disorders, like a counselor, physician or inpatient treatment facility like Atlanta's Ridgeview Institute."Ridgeview has an access center that is open 24 hours a day and provides free assessments for anyone concerned about issues associated with emotional distress," Alexander says. In addition to treatment facilities, support systems like Manna Fund's online space Talk It Out encourage people to talk out their emotions rather than acting them out with food. Manna Fund also helps families with the cost of inpatient treatment, which is often a necessary but expensive step in the recovery process. Even organizations like the Atlanta National Hypnotherapy Institute can help address weight and food issues with people of all ages.Ultimately, the goal of treatment is two-fold: to stop the disordered eating behaviors and to learn to process emotions safely. Even once the disordered eating behaviors stop, treatment for the underlying issues can continue for years. Dr. Burnett recalls her own years of recovery, saying, "I spent many years in outpatient therapy to work through and deal with the shame and pain of other issues from my childhood." Ultimately, she was able to come through the experience with a healthier mind and attitude as well as a nourished body.


Editorial Resources
Jessie Alexander, LPC, NCC, Ridgeview Institute –
Linda Buchanan, PhD, Atlanta Center for Eating Disorders –
Genie Burnett, PsyD, Manna Fund –
Jay Faber, MD, Amen Clinics –
Laura LaRain, Atlanta National Hypnotherapy Institute –
National Eating Disorders Association –
The Renfrew Center –


Thursday, 26 June 2014 16:33

Evaluating Your Home Health Care Options

When a loved one needs extra care, you may consider arranging care for them at home. Care at home offers the comfort of familiar surroundings, including continued support, interaction with pets and neighbors and other positives that help ease what can be a difficult time of transition for aging parents or others who need care assistance. But how do you know when home care is appropriate for your loved one? Factors like type of care required, qualifications of the providers and cost are all worth examining before taking the next step.

Know Your Needs
It is important first to establish the difference between "home care" and "home health care," as they are not the same service. Home health care means receiving skilled medical care from registered nurses, licensed practical nurses or certified nursing assistants, who are often affiliated with home health care agencies. Home care, on the other hand, is provided by a non-medical caregiver such as a personal care aide and tends to focus on companionship and assistance with daily activities.

"Both home care and home health care have the same goal: to keep your loved ones safe and as healthy as possible," says Ed Ukaonu, Certified Senior Advisor and CEO of FirstLight HomeCare's Atlanta locations. "Often, they work in tandem. A home health care nurse or physician's assistant will visit the home and potentially adjust prescriptions, while a non-medical caregiver will make sure these medications are taken on time. A physical or occupational therapist may design an exercise plan; a non-medical caregiver will help with these exercises throughout the day. A physician usually prescribes home health care when someone needs skilled care in the home. Both services require specific licensing and both assist with activities of daily living (ADL)."

Kinds of Service
The great benefit to home care is that it is truly customizable to each individual person and situation. "Our home care services are available to people of all ages wherever and whenever they need it," Ukaonu says. "This includes seniors that need some assistance to stay in their homes, care for the elderly who have chronic illnesses, families with members who have special needs or disabilities, people recovering from illness or surgery, new moms and families of deployed military personnel. We can even serve people who just need someone to talk to."

Some of the most common services provided include activities of daily living like bathing, dressing, eating, transferring (from a bed to a wheelchair, for example), toileting and walking. A home care provider may also address companionship and social needs by providing transportation to shopping, errands, medical appointments, social events, church, playing cards or board games and watching movies or television. In some arrangements, the provider may even do some light housekeeping or cooking to make life easier on everyone in the family.

Broaching the Subject
Discussing the topic of in-home care is often difficult for families, but having an open dialogue is key in identifying and providing the best care solutions. When you first bring up the topic to your loved ones, they may be resistant to accepting additional care. Try to speak candidly to the person about the issues holding them back from accepting assistance. Is it fear of losing their privacy and independence? Are they worried they are being a burden? Are they concerned about the cost? Once you identify the real issues behind someone's resistance, you are better equipped to rectify their fears or misconceptions.

A crucial element in addressing those fears and misconceptions is education, both for the family members and especially the person in need of care. David Solie, author of "How to Say It to Seniors: Closing the Communication Gap With Our Elders," shares, "In 20 years of working with seniors, I've come to know how deep the need for control is in that age group." He points out that, though they desire a reasonable measure of control over their lives and circumstances, seniors often wind up with very little control. That can be confusing at least and frightening at worst, but education about home care options can help significantly. Often, once patients understand their options, they feel more active in their care and appreciate the independence home care can offer.

Find the Right Care Provider
Once you and your family member agree that some sort of home care is needed, it's important to know what to look for from care providers. Whether you work with an agency or a private professional, knowing the right questions to ask can be a huge help in identifying the best person or group of people to provide the necessary care. Your starting place should include:

  • Speaking with former and/or current patients and their families
  • Confirming the agency or private professional's licensing
  • Running background checks
  • Ensuring there is a backup person available in the case that the individual you hired is unable to perform their job due to scheduling issues, emergency or illness

"You should have good communication with the agency," says Nancy Bour, co-owner of Synergy HomeCare of Metro Atlanta. "Are the owners accessible? Can you speak with the nurse if you have questions?" Accessibility can make all the difference in your experience as you select the right provider and move forward with care for your loved one.

Your primary care physician may be able to assist in providing names of qualified caregivers. Check with your local church or senior center; they may know qualified people looking for employment. You can also access the Eldercare Locator at or at 1-800-677-1116.



13 Questions to Ask

  1. Does my state license home care? If so, is the agency licensed? If not, does the agency follow policies and procedures similar to those in a licensed state?
  2. Is the agency locally owned and operated? Are the owners on site actively managing the agency? If the agency is part of a franchise, what "watchdog" organizations is the franchise a member of?
  3. Are the agency's caregivers employees or independent contractors? (You might want an agency that knows its employees, not one that just acts as an employment agency.)
  4. Are caregivers bonded and insured? (They should be.)
  5. What criminal screening and background checks does the agency run on its caregivers?
  6. What sort of training do the employees receive? Is training ongoing?
  7. Will an agency supervisor evaluate the quality of care you receive? How often?
  8. How is billing handled? If private insurance will pay for some of the costs, will the agency bill them directly?
  9. If you have a family member who is involved in your care, how does the agency ensure they stay informed and included?
  10. What provisions are there for backup care? Who do you call if no one shows up? Does the agency have someone on call? After hours? What provisions are there for care during a disaster?
  11. Who can you call to discuss any issues and be sure to have them resolved?
  12. Are you committed to a long contract with the agency?
  13. Once you decide to work with the agency, how long will it take to get a caregiver?

—Information provided by Synergy HomeCare



Costs of Care
When it comes to costs, home health care is usually paid by Medicare, Medigap, Managed Care, Medicaid, Veterans Benefits and private pay, Ukaonu says. He says home care clients are generally private pay, although Medigap, Long Term Care Insurance (LTCI) and veteran benefits are available. Some health insurance plans can offer limited respite care coverage. "Home health care services are usually temporary (generally a short period of time) and with limited frequency (one to two hours per week), whereas non-medical home care can go on indefinitely."

HHC-PHOTODepending on the type of care provider you choose, you may also need to be prepared to deal with taxes and speak with your insurance company to insure your employee in case of an accident. You may want to consult an attorney to ensure you have all the bases covered when it comes to hiring an independent home care worker.

Quality of Care
No matter how thoroughly you've vetted the care providers, it's still important to be an advocate for your loved one and continue participating in their care. Keep an eye out for any changes in your loved one, such as a personality change that may be due to medications or a change in conditions like dementia, according to Bour. "Did the agency raise the issue to you? If not, you should have a discussion with them and ask what their caregivers have observed," Bour recommends. "When was the last nurse visit, and what were her observations? What do the caregiver notes show?"

Bour says communication and participation are key to the success of any caregiving situation. "I tell anyone who is managing someone's care not to abdicate your involvement. You still need to go visit Mom on a regular basis, whether she's still at home with home care services, in a skilled nursing facility or in assisted living."

So when it comes time to call in some professional backup, rest assured that you will still be involved in the care process. From starting the conversation in a respectful, loving way, to selecting and working with the right care providers, your advocacy for your loved one can make all the difference in their enjoyment of their years at home.

Editorial Resources
Nancy Bour, Synergy HomeCare of Metro Atlanta –
David Solie, "How to Say it to Seniors: Closing the Communication Gap with Our Elders" –
Ed Ukaonu, CSA, FirstLight HomeCare –

Is your menstrual cycle heavier, more painful and longer than it should be? Should that discomfort you feel during intercourse be happening? Many women overlook the symptoms of uterine fibroids because to them, their abnormalities seem normal. After all, you've never had someone else's period, right? Surprisingly, up to half of all women may develop fibroids in their lifetime. For African American women, the numbers are even more alarming, estimated at 80 percent. Because uterine fibroids are so common, it's important for all women to understand the implications and symptoms of this condition as well as the various treatment options.

What is a Uterine Fibroid?
A fibroid is a smooth, abnormal growth of uterine tissue muscle, and 99.7 percent of fibroids are benign. Dr. Nathan Mordel at Gwinnett Medical Center explains, "For all practical purposes, if you have any disease or medical condition that is 99.7 percent benign, you don't have to address it as possible cancer." While most fibroids are benign, they do vary in size, location and number. A woman can have a single fibroid or multiple fibroids, and their size and location play a major role in the characteristics and severity of a woman's symptoms.

What's Normal, Anyway?90-fibroids-removed,-cred-Michael-D
Dr. Boyd Byrd, a radiologist with Roswell Radiology Associates at North Fulton Hospital and Roswell Imaging Center, says, "Only approximately 10 to 20 percent of women with fibroids are symptomatic." If you are in that group, it is common to experience disruptive symptoms like heavy menstrual bleeding, clotting and pain. Dr. John C. Lipman at Emory-Adventist Hospital points out, "Sometimes the woman has been bleeding heavily for so long, she does not realize that it is abnormal." A woman's period should last three to four days without clotting or pain. Dr. Lipman continues, "If you change pads more frequently than every three hours or use more than eight total pads or tampons a day, it is abnormal and needs to be evaluated." Frequent urination is another possible sign. If you're running to the bathroom more than usual during the day and multiple times at night, make a note to tell your doctor. Also, any physical discomfort during intercourse isn't considered normal. If you're experiencing discomfort, talk to your doctor. Frequent constipation is another symptom and is often the most commonly disregarded.

Because fibroids are very hard, their location and weight can inflict pressure on different parts of the body. If located near the center of the uterus, the fibroid can stretch the lining. If stretched too far, the lining isn't able to heal properly, which causes heavy menstrual bleeding and clotting. Some fibroids block the bladder and disrupt the flow of urine, which – you guessed it – causes frequent urination. Fibroids located near the cervix are responsible for causing sexual discomfort. Those located near the back of the cervix press against the colon, causing constipation.

Fibroids and Menopause
While most affected women experience these symptoms in their 20s and early 30s, many other women don't become symptomatic until they reach their 40s. Dr. Thomas Murphy from Quantum Radiology explains, "Fibroids usually shrink in size or involute after menopause, but fibroids can continue to be a problem for post-menopausal women if symptoms persist."
Dr. Byrd adds, "Most commonly, fibroids will become asymptomatic since hormonal stimulation will decrease with menopause. However, women who receive hormonal replacement therapy (HRT) may have fibroids which will not decrease in size or disappear."

Sometimes, Dr. Byrd continues, they may even increase in size. In that case, another consideration is the rare chance that the growths are cancerous. "If a fibroid grows post-menopause or there is excessive bleeding, a condition called leiomysarcoma must be considered," Dr. Byrd says. Thankfully, this cancerous condition is exceedingly rare. Dr. Byrd says there are more likely causes for post-menopausal bleeding, such as break-through bleeding from HRT, endometrial hyperplasia or endometrial cancer. So whether or not fibroids are the culprit, if you notice unusual symptoms during or after menopause, have a consultation with a physician familiar with these conditions.

Causes and Prevention
It's not completely understood what causes uterine fibroids, but it's generally accepted that genetics are to blame. The gene responsible hasn't been isolated; however, as the topic is researched further, doctors are able to suggest possible preventative measures. Dr. Lara Hart from Georgia Elite Obstetrics and Gynecology explains, "Some risk factors and associations with fibroids are diets high in red meat and low in vegetables, higher consumption rate of alcohol and early onset periods." Dr. Thomas Murphy from Quantum Radiology adds, "There are studies showing that women who get more exercise do have a lower incidence of fibroids." Basically, many practices that benefit your overall health could potentially help with fibroids too. Another of those practices is maintaining a healthy weight. "As fibroids are estrogen sensitive, keeping oneself at a normal weight may help with the condition," says Dr. Melissa Seely-Morgan at Radiology Associates of DeKalb. "But it is genetic," she continues, "and the best measure is to know your body and follow your fibroids for life-altering symptoms."

Diagnosis and Treatment
Because fibroids are genetic, the low possibility of prevention can be discouraging. Fortunately, diagnosis is relatively quick. During your annual gynecologic exam, your doctor may actually be able to feel or see the fibroids upon examination. If the fibroids are too small, however, an ultrasound or X-ray may be used to verify their presence, size and location.

If you do end up with a diagnosis of fibroids, treatment may not be necessary, especially if you don't show any symptoms. "Most women are unaware that they have these growths and will go their whole lives without an issue," explains Dr. Hart. However, for many women, fibroids can be extremely inconvenient and sometimes life-altering. It varies from case to case. This is also true for the various treatment options. Dr. Hart continues, "Fibroids can be treated many different ways, depending on the patient's individual situation and what her desire for the ultimate outcome is."

For a woman who no longer desires to become pregnant, the two most common treatments are hysterectomy or embolization. A hysterectomy is the complete removal of the uterus and will trigger menopause, whereas embolization carries a lower risk of menopause. Embolization works by injecting the uterus with small particles, blocking the blood supply to the fibroids, causing them to shrink and die. This option is minimally invasive and carries a low risk of triggering early menopause. However, because its effects on fertility aren't completely understood, patients are advised to avoid pregnancy following this treatment.

For others, there are options that have fewer implications on fertility, such as a myomectomy. "During a myomectomy, the fibroids are removed from the uterus," Dr. Hart says. "This may require cutting them from the outside, inside or both sides of the uterus. Women are then encouraged to allow a few months of healing before attempting pregnancy." Despite the recovery period, this procedure can ultimately leave the patient's fertility unaffected, meaning that uterine fibroids do not have to be a sentence of infertility.

These days, the removal of fibroids, whether through hysterectomy or myomectomy, may be performed using a minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery. Small incisions are made and, using a camera and operating instruments, the surgeon can completely and safely remove the fibroids. Embolization is even less invasive than surgical routes. Whichever treatment you choose, know that all of your options will likely be much less of an ordeal than in years past.
With as many as half of all women being affected by this condition, it's extremely important for women to understand their bodies and recognize abnormalities. This knowledge enables women to communicate effectively with their doctors and ensure the successful diagnosis and management of uterine fibroids. But as Dr. Lipman says, it's important to remember, "If a patient has no symptoms, no treatment is usually necessary."

Tania-Leah-Davis-showing-phone-picReal-Life Recovery
Local woman Tania Leah Davis’ story began when she first noticed some unusual symptoms. She experienced everything from extreme cramps and heavier than normal menstrual bleeding to pelvic pressure, frequent urination, blood clots and even iron deficiency anemia. Upon talking with her OB/GYN, she was told that fibroids were causing her symptoms and that a hysterectomy was basically her only option. “I was devastated,” Davis remembers, because she still wanted to have children. “I decided to get a second opinion.”

Her search led her to Dr. Randell, who recommended an abdominal myomectomy. Through that process, he was able to remove 90 fibroids and successfully repair Davis’ uterus. “I went into surgery weighing in at 130 pounds and came out weighing 117 pounds!” Davis recalls. After two weeks, Davis was up and about, and after four weeks, her menstrual cycle returned. “It was not heavy at all, with no cramping or blood clots,” she says. Though she did still need a few weeks to recover fully from the anemia, today Davis experiences no symptoms or remaining negative effects.

She says, “My advice to other women who are experiencing issues with fibroids is definitely to see a physician.” Doing so helped Davis change her day-to-day life. “The pain [of the fibroids] was awful, but not knowing if I would experience spotting or bleeding from day to day was horrible! I no longer have any of the symptoms I had before the surgery. I can honestly say that I am happier than I have been in a long time.”

Editorial Resources
Boyd Byrd, MD, Roswell Radiology Associates at North Fulton Hospital –
Lara Hart, MD, Georgia Elite Obstetrics and Gynecology, LLC –
John C. Lipman, MD, Emory-Adventist Hospital –
Nathan Mordel, MD, Gwinnett Medical Center –
Melissa Seely-Morgan, MD, Radiology Associates of DeKalb –
Thomas Murphy, MD, Quantum Radiology –
Michael D. Randell, MD, PC –