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Health & Wellness

Health and wellness tips, information and reviews of products and local professionals to help you get in great shape!

Live Life! Love Life! Be Healthy!


Ashley & Alex Poptodorov Owners, A+A Wellness


How One East Cobb Couple Overcame Together & Helped Thousands Achieve Health

By Ashley Poptodorov, Owner, A+A Wellness

It seems like only yesterday that I embarked on my own journey to getting healthy. I remember the day as if it were yesterday. I walked into a local store and I stepped on a scale that gave you a choice of your weight or your horoscope for .25¢.

I chose my weight. That moment will forever be frozen in my memory. It spit back a staggering 208 pounds. I left the store that day without shopping. I sat in my parked car and cried my eyes out for at-least 30 minutes. It was on this very day that I vowed to make a change. I did not know where to begin or
what to do but I started simply by putting one foot in front of the other. I tried my best to clean up my diet, I began to run more miles than I care to remember and I began to cut out people that were toxic to me. Part of this meant leaving my ex who was extremely abusive.

Not too long after this, I was blessed to meet Alex who is now my husband. While I was moving in the  right direction, it wasn’t until Alex that I was able to really learn about what true health was. Alex was always into fitness and nutrition and was eager to help. He designed my first meal plan, created my workout plan, challenged me in the gym (he actually bought my first barbell ever and showed me how to weight train) and worked with me until my body began to morph. He took me grocery shopping, educated me and encouraged me. On days that I felt like I couldn’t do it, he was there to remind me that
I could. When I felt like throwing in the towel, Alex was right there reminding me why I should stick with it.

My body changed, (I lost 80 pounds!!) and my self-esteem began improving. It was during this time that
my own passion for helping others was birthed! It was a beautiful sunny day and I came bouncing
out of the gym with Alex after a great cardio session. The sun was shining and I was FULL of energy! I look at Alex and said “We need to start a business helping others, just like you helped me!” 10 years later and we are still going strong.

Today, A+A Wellness offers the VERY thing that I myself, needed over a decade ago. We support,
encourage and guide others towards health. We have over 25 years of combined experience and Alex is currently in school to obtain his N.D. Degree. He is as passionate about nutrition as I am about helping others feel better. I do not think anything is more powerful however, than my own personal journey of trials to triumph. Nothing trumps personal experience. When clients say to me “It’s tough” or “I am struggling”, this girl gets it. I remember and I will never forget. I want others to achieve the lasting success that I have and to know that it is possible.

Alex and I have been blessed to help thousands over the years through the various programs offered by A+A Wellness. Programs such as one to one personal training, small group training, Custom nutritional plans and our fantastic web based fitness & nutritional program. We make living and learning the healthy lifestyle fun and this is why I believe people keep coming back.

Alex and I go the extra mile for our team because we know and remember all too well the amount of support and encouragement I needed on my journey. We pride ourselves on offering you EVERY component to success. Alex creates meal plans that are customized to the individual. We take our clients on educational shopping trips and teach them lessons in labels. We offer text support and look up menus to make suggestions so our team is successful when dining out with their families. We offer the support and motivation daily to keep people focused and on track, even if it’s just a simple text throughout the day, accountability is everything.

If you are in a place today where you need guidance and support, have a personal goal you want to reach or just want to learn more about nutrition, contact A+A Wellness. We offer a free consultation and would love to meet with you. Our heart is to help our community and families truly get healthier and with all of the information out there, it helps having a team like us who can help you put all of the pieces together.

Our Motto is: Live Life, Love Life, Be Healthy. Life is just too short to do anything but. A+A Wellness • www.AandAWellness • 770-905-7400

(P A I D  A D V E R T I S E M E N T)

You’re in Good Hands with Atlanta Hand Specialist


Michael Mangonon, D.O., an Atlanta Hand Specialist surgeon


Our hands are precious and the amazing things we can do with them every day is something we cannot  take for granted. If you have any pain, numbness, tingling or any lesion/cyst/mass in your hands or wrists, it is time to have them checked by the physicians at Atlanta Hand Specialist. The practice has six area locations, including one in East Cobb on Roswell Road.

Viralkumar Patel, M.D., a board-certified general surgeon and hand surgeon, started the practice five years ago with a focus on providing the highest quality of care for patients with diagnoses of hand  and upper extremity conditions. With six convenient locations, patients are able to schedule appointments with more ease and flexibility, including same-day appointments. Surgeries are performed by four highly rated, specialized surgeons: Drs. Viralkumar Patel, S. Benjamin Watson, Jose Baez, and Michael Mangonon.

Atlanta Hand Specialist can treat a number of hand and wrist ailments and injuries, including carpal tunnel syndrome, ganglion cysts, fractures, arthritis, trigger finger and tennis elbow.

Dr. Mangonon, one of the physicians at the East Cobb location, specializes in minimally invasive hand surgery, including endoscopic carpal tunnel release. Patients speak highly of their experience with Dr. Mangonon and the other physicians and staff. According to Dr. Mangonon “Our goal is to facilitate a rapid recovery to a normal productive lifestyle for our patients, and using minimally invasive techniques in hand surgery helps us to accomplish this goal”.

The staff prides itself on treating each patient with the utmost in care and compassion. The professional staff at Atlanta Hand Specialist is dedicated to making all patient visits convenient and pleasant, while making every possible effort for a full recovery. Having radiology on-site allows the physicians to diagnose promptly and eliminates any delays in preparing treatment plans.

Each physician spends time educating his patients about their medical condition. “Listening to each patient’s concerns and helping them return faster to a pain free and normal, productive lifestyle is what I strive to achieve every day,” says Dr. Patel.

“I am quite pleased with Dr. Watson and his team and the quality of service they provided. They are very dedicated, professional and caring. They took care of everything. Dr. Watson is very nice and gentle. He encouraged me, during the entire process. I have already recommended Atlanta Hand Specialist to my friends. They are the best,” says Ida E. one of the patients treated by an Atlanta Hand Specialist physician.

Atlanta Hand Specialist has offices in East Cobb, Marietta, Canton, Smyrna and Douglasville. The East Cobb office is located at 3775 Roswell Road, Suite 250, Marietta, 30062. To book an appointment or to learn more about hand ailments, visit their website at or call 770-333-7888.

(P A I D  A D V E R T I S E M E N T)


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Register for the Regional Summit on Aging March 5


More of us are living longer than ever before. This creates unique challenges and opportunities for the Atlanta region. Metro Atlanta ranks worst in the country for transportation options for older adults. Wait lists for affordable housing and services continue to grow. Increasingly stressed caregivers are struggling to find the supports and services they need.

Come share your ideas for solutions, learn what others are doing and celebrate efforts that are making a difference! The region’s future depends on you. The time to act is now!

Attend the Regional Summit on Aging on Thursday, March 5, 9am-5pm. The Workshop will be held from 9am-3pm with a reception and special presentation of The CommUnity Hero Award Hosted by WellCare to conclude at 5pm. The day’s events will be held at the Loudermilk Center for the Regional Community, 40 Courtland Street, NE | Atlanta, GA 30303.

To RSVP to attend, CLICK HERE.


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Bringing Awareness to Ovarian Cancer is a Personal Quest for East Cobb Resident


Kelly Klanian


Back on April 25, 2002, Kelly Klanian Williams, who is now a Cobb County resident, found herself  battling a dreadful disease at the young age of 21 while working on a mechanical engineering degree at the University of Virginia. Williams who had hardly ever suffered even a sniffle and had no family  history of cancer received a shocking diagnosis when she was told she had stage 1a ovarian cancer. And according to the National Cancer Institute, ovarian cancer occurs in just three out of every 100,000  women between the ages of 20 and 24. What are the odds with her age and no family history?!

Earlier in the year before the diagnosis, Williams had ignored what might have been normal signs of  weight gain, missed menstrual periods and other symptoms that something was horribly wrong with her  body. She was busily immersed in her studies and just wanted to focus on school. What ended up being a “strange weight gain” ended up being an 8 pound cancerous tumor removed by her doctors, followed by four rounds of chemotherapy, loss of hair, and many days she was too weak to get out of bed. Today, thirteen years later, Williams is cancer free, recently married and looks forward to the possibility of having a house full of children.

After battling and surviving such a deadly disease, Williams desired to give back to others and help those
who might be battling ovarian cancer. Williams stated to a reporter once that “On my refrigerator I have a bucket list — things I would like to accomplish before I die, or ‘kick the bucket.’”

The first thing on her list is “cure cancer.” She is thankful for those researchers before her who were willing to go that extra mile and find something that might help her live so she wants to give back to others so they a have the same opportunity. To date, the biggest initiative Williams has been involved with in helping is with the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund’s (OCRF) Ovarian Cycle Ride to Change the Future® which began over ten years ago in memory of Debbie Green Flamm, who succumbed to the  disease at age 43. A decade later, thousands across at least 10 major U.S. cities have ridden in support of the cause, raising more than $2.1 million to fund scientific research.

On March 7, Williams would like to encourage others to join her at the Midtown Athletic Club from 9 AM – 3 PM to cycle in a six-hour indoor cycling event raising money for much-needed ovarian cancer research located at 135 Interstate North Parkway NW, Atlanta, GA 30339.

Participants in OCRF’s Ovarian Cycle Ride to Change the Future pedal toward a healthier body while simultaneously raising money for this worthy cause. Ovarian Cycle was launched in Atlanta in  2004 and in 2012 became a signature event of OCRF, the oldest and largest charity in the U.S. funding ovarian cancer research. With annual cycling fundraisers now scheduled in at least 10 major U.S. cities, to date Ovarian Cycle has raised more than $2.1 million to fund scientific research on ovarian cancer.

Ovarian Cycle is sponsored nationally by Health magazine, Coca-Cola and LUNA energy bars. Local sponsors adding their support to the Atlanta event include Midtown Athletic Club (the Host Sponsor) and Butin Integrated Communications of St. Simons Island, Ga.

“As this exhilarating fundraising event continually expands and gets stronger, it helps bring us closer to the day women will no longer need to be worried about ovarian cancer,” says Bethany Diamond, founder of Ovarian Cycle. “Since day one, Atlantans have set an example with their outstanding dedication to this cause, which is helping fund some remarkable research in the fight against this dreadful disease.”

To register for the 2015 OCRF Ovarian Cycle Atlanta Ride to Change the Future®, visit The registration fee is $50 per person. (The fee is waived for ovarian cancer survivors.) In addition, prior to participating in the final ride March 7th all riders individually must meet a fundraising minimum based on the number of hours they plan to ride. The fundraising minimums are $600 if a participant is planning to ride all six hours on March 7th(solo or as a team member) or $400 if an individual is planning to participate on a bike for less than six hours.

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WellStar offers Car Seat Classes


SAFE KIDS Cobb County is offering a car seat education class to expectant parents and parents of young children. This program is designed to teach proper installation of your car seat in your vehicle and how to ensure your child is properly fitted to the seat. Four out of five car seats are installed incorrectly.

Find out what you can do to make sure your child rides safely every time. Nationally certified instructors will discuss best practice for safe transport of children and trouble shoot specific situations in this interactive class.

Topics covered include:

  • Georgia law pertaining to child passenger safety
  • Seat belt vs. L.A.T.C.H. installation
  • Proper positioning in the car (AAP recommendation)
  • Proper positioning within the car seat
  • Choosing the right car seat for your child
  • Projectiles, airbags and next steps
  • New recommendations
  • Cost: FREE


Locations & Times:

WellStar Acworth Health Park
4550 Cobb Parkway NW Acworth, GA
Saturday, Feb. 28
10-11:30 a.m.

WellStar East Cobb Health Park
3747 Roswell Road NE Marietta, GA
Saturday, Feb. 28
10-11:30 a.m.

To register, please call 770-956-STAR (7827).


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Walk Georgia – Move More. Live More

Join team YMCA of East Cobb in Cobb County’s upcoming Let’s Move Challenge. Cobb companies, schools and organizations are all joining the 12-week challenge to be more active and log activity for points.

All ages are welcome so be sure to register everyone in your family. Activity must be logged onto the Walk Georgia website for it to count toward the team’s total. Register at, then visit the YMCA of East Cobb’s Walk Georgia page to join the team.

Prizes will be awarded throughout the challenge and the organization with the most points wins a Golden Sneaker. The challenge begins February 16!


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East Cobb Lions Recycle Eyeglasses



According to The World Health Organization, 153 million people have uncorrected vision. Most of these vision impairments are quickly diagnosed and easy to treat with corrective lenses. Lions Clubs  International is a service organization with over 45,500 clubs and more than 1,368,683 members in 205
countries around the world. Among the many service projects, Lions are best known for their program to  recycle eyeglasses as a way to help the visually impaired. It costs Lions less than 8 cents to provide a pair of recycled eyeglasses and change someone’s life.

For children, clear vision means a better education, healthier development and a better quality of life.
For adults, clear vision means greater employment opportunity and economic strength. For seniors,  clear vision means less dependence on others. Lions clubs collect millions of eyeglasses each year to  address the need for glasses, making eyeglass recycling one of their most popular activities.

You can donate glasses and change someone’s life. Help a child read, an adult succeed in his job, a senior
maintain independence, and provide a community with more opportunities to grow and thrive. You can drop off your usable eyewear at Lions-sponsored collection boxes. Typical locations include libraries, schools, community centers, places of worship, coffee shops, optometrist offices and other public places. See the highlighted box for East Cobb locations where you can drop off your eyeglasses.

The East Cobb Lions Club is in its 56th year of service. They are an active and growing group of service-minded men and women who are interested in improving the community. They are young people, families and Baby Boomers alike. To become a Lion is to become an active volunteer, a member of a respected international organization, a leader in the community and a friend to people in need.

If you’re interested in becoming a member of the East Cobb Lions Club, call Lion Ray Moore at 770-425-7881 or email East Cobb Lions meet at 7pm on the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of each month at Cherokee Cattle Company, 2710 Canton Road in Marietta/East Cobb.

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Transforming our losses



“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.” – C.S. Lewis

There are times when we do not want to know, but have to hear… when we do not want it to happen, but have to endure… when we do not want people we love to leave us, but have to let go. Grief is a natural response to many losses that we suffer by simply being human. Loss is change, and one thing I know for sure is that over time “things” will change.

Grief is a necessary process, and unfortunately, it is narrowly defined by society. Grief is designed to assist us through times of change. Some of us may blame ourselves for our losses or perhaps chalk it up to bad luck, “Why me?” Grief is not just about death. We tend to minimize and deny our grief by saying, “At least he is not dead,” or “Things could be worse.” These facts are valid, and it could be worse, but things can also be bad enough just as they are.

Grief manifests in different ways over time. We may comprehend we are sad, or we may be confused by a sudden onset of emotions. Even memories of good times can trigger sadness, such as going to college, graduation, weddings, birth of a child, job promotion, even living the life you always dreamed. The phenomenon of “Is this all there is?” may leave you feeling empty. Consider grief in the context of what it could or should have been… “If only!”

Grief is disguised in lost opportunities, such as a cherished dream, a child leaving home, becoming an adult, job change or promotion, financial and legal difficulties, loss of ability and serious illness, divorce, loss of friendship, growing up in a dysfunctional family, and loss of childhood. Unexpected events can incite the grief process, such as experiencing a natural disaster or witnessing or being a victim of a man-made disaster or crime, and loss of safety. However grief plays out in your life, it can be hidden as an underlying emotion that you can’t really articulate. We may feel grief so deep we can’t even find the words.

Grief affects us all differently. It can have physical, emotional, social and spiritual symptoms. Many describe the pain of grief unlike anything they have ever felt before. Some can continue with everyday routine activities, while others will find it difficult to function. It can include crying and sighing, headaches, loss of appetite, overeating, difficulty sleeping, weakness, fatigue, feelings of heaviness, and unexplained aches and pains. Everyday tasks such as self-care, going to work, or preparing a meal can be exhausting.

Grief is unpredictable. One minute we can be experiencing feelings of yearning, sadness, and despair and then angry or confused the next. Grief can also be veiled as anxiety, depression, worry, frustration, and guilt. A common coping mechanism is stuffing our emotions by telling ourselves, “Get over it. It’s not a big deal. It is in the past. So what?” Grief may also be expressed socially. We may lose interest in activities we once enjoyed, detach from others by isolating, and behave in ways that push people away.

Grief can transcend into spiritual expression and exploration. A spiritual perspective can be a source of strength and support. Although some of us may feel more connected to our higher power, others may question the reason for their loss and the purpose of their pain and suffering. Grief can radically affect your meaning of life and death.

If these symptoms seem like too much to bear or if you are just settling for ok, then it may be time to seek professional help. Grief is an expected part of life, not a punishment. We are not exempt from suffering, and there is no race to the finish line. Whatever losses you may be grieving and leaving unprocessed can manifest into complicated or prolonged grief, which is described as getting “stuck.” Symptoms continue to exasperate, which can lead to significant emotional damage, isolation, substance abuse, and life-threatening health problems.

Redefining, transforming, and becoming aware of our losses can be the catalyst that connects us to others and promotes a deeper understanding of ourselves. The goal of therapy is to enable grief that has a healing effect, to assist in adapting the reality of emotions such as baffling anxiety, anger, sadness, frustration, and depression, and to help identify and change our irrational beliefs into rational beliefs that minimize unhealthy, self-defeating feelings of despair, anxiety, and depression. Therapy can illuminate where we are incongruent with the reality in which we actually live, our core beliefs, and how we want to live. It is in our resistance in which we suffer. To attend to life on life’s terms is a process of acceptance of “what is,” not “what I wish it was.” Therapy can be flexible and consistent with reality and will promote an understanding of the meaning of our grief and life purpose. Processing or moving forward with our grief is not about forgetting, and the outcome of therapy is not to detach, but to integrate and transform our losses into our unique life story.


(Submitted by by Anastasia D. Bean, M.S., NCC. Anastasia Bean is a Licensed Associate Professional Counselor at Warnecke Professional Counseling (WPC), located in Marietta, Alpharetta/Roswell/Alpharetta. Anastasia’s areas of interest include depression, anxiety, stress, addiction, co-dependency, ACOA, grief, guilt, anger, trauma, women’s issues, life transitions, spirituality/religion, finding meaning, and interpersonal relationships. WPC recognizes that each individual is unique in his or her life experience. WPC’s goal is to provide each client with counseling services that are tailored to meet his or her specific counseling needs through an integrative and holistic approach. Office: 678.784.4293 or visit for more information.)


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Group Fitness Instructor course taught by fitness pro

group of smiling people exercising in the gym

KSU’s College of Continuing and Professional Education is set to become the first school in Georgia to offer a Group Fitness Instructor Certificate course. The program, instructed by Beth Linn, MBA, CPT, begins on Feb. 11 and features a combination of classroom and hands-on training in KSU Center’s fitness facility. Students will gain the knowledge to design and teach any class better, lead all fitness levels more effectively, and deliver memorable participant experiences. Additionally, the program will prepare students for the ACE Certified Group Fitness Instructor exam.

According to the CDC, 75% of Americans are either overweight or obese. A trend is moving toward a comprehensive approach to weight management through diet, exercise and health coaching. As a result, group fitness has exploded in the past five years with more than 22 million annual participants (

With the resurgence in popularity of group fitness classes, qualified instructors are currently in demand. The 36-hour course costs $1,099. For more information, email, visit or call 470-578-6765.


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KSU healthcare programs receive VA approval

Healthcare at KSU


KSU’s College of Continuing and Professional Education has several professional healthcare certificate programs slated to begin soon. The College, named a Military Friendly School by Victory Media, is committed to serve the military community with dedicated resources to help military students succeed. As a part of this initiative, all seven of the upcoming healthcare programs are approved for VA Education Benefits.

As the healthcare industry continues to grow, the College’s offerings have expanded to match the demand. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in 2014 there were nearly 20% more healthcare positions in Georgia than before the economic downturn.

Classes starting in February include Medical Billing and Coding Specialist (2/2), Pharmacy Technician (2/3), Pedorthist (2/9), Health Coach (2/9) and Group Fitness Instructor (2/11). Medical Billing and Coding and Pharmacy Technician are also approved for WIA Funding. March classes include Medical Interpreter (3/7) and EKG Technician (3/24).

Medical Interpreter and EKG Technician are also approved for Workforce Investment Act Funding. This federal grant covers training expenses for those who have been laid off or whose household income is at or below the federal poverty level.

Course costs and hours vary. For more information, visit or call 470-578-6765.


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