The South continues to rise

Growing up in Alabama, I was shaped by many experiences directly related to Southern culture, making me proud of where I’m from. Manners and hospitality were at the top of the list.

“Yes ma’ams” and “no sirs” have opened more doors for me than I could ever have imagined. What a valuable lesson manners have been!

As I’ve gotten older, though, I’ve realized with all the good there’s also the bad. Not too far down that list of proud Southern characteristics is our “down-home cooking”. I, like many others, once bragged about all the fried catfish and sweet tea I could consume in one sitting.  Well, that diet is now revealing its consequences in a recent national study.

In July, the Center for Disease Control reported, once again, that the South leads the country in the highest obesity rates.  The top eight overweight states were Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Louisiana, West Virginia, Arkansas, South Carolina and Georgia. Florida and Kentucky were the only states in the South that didn’t rank in the top eight.

I think many food traditions in the South are cherished greatly because of their ties to handed-down family recipes. I can’t count how many of my friends and clients brag about their mother’s _______ (fill in the blank) and feel guilty if they don’t clean the plate when it’s prepared. I do the same. 

Unfortunately, my mother’s cooking expertise not only includes delicious, rich meals, it also boasts a number of desserts impossible to turn down. One would think this is the demise of our healthy eating habits. These types of dishes are certainly not going to earn top honors on any nutrition list, but I don’t think they are necessarily the focus of the obesity epidemic in the South. The problem “down here” seems to be fast food.

We probably don’t eat at our mothers’ homes every day of the week, but those foods we grew up with have certainly shaped our tastes. They set us up well to crave the menu of the local fast food joint.  I think that’s why we Southerners occupy the top eight. We have to re-teach our taste buds and change this pattern of eating. It’s no tribute to Mom to order a double cheeseburger and fries!  Save the traditional meals for special occasions and holidays.

Fried and high-sugar foods will cause heart disease and some cancers. Whole grains, fruits and vegetables (steamed, grilled or raw), lean proteins, nuts and legumes will make you feel good about yourself and your health. Make good choices for a good body and good health.

Jeff Howerton is a trainer and owner of LEAN Personal Training at Hill Center of Green Hills, where he and his trainers work with clients to lose fat, develop lean muscle and implement strategies for healthier living.

LEAN (615) 279-1900 or

WhistlePig + Alfa Romeo F1

SHOREHAM, VT (September 13, 2023) — WhistlePig Whiskey, the leaders in independent craft whiskey, and Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake are waving the checkered flag on a legend-worthy release that’s taking whiskey to G-Force levels. The Limited Edition PiggyBack Legends Series: Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake Barrel is a high Rye Whiskey selected by the Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake drivers, with barrels trialed in their wind tunnel to ensure a thrilling taste in every sip.

The third iteration in WhistlePig’s Single Barrel PiggyBack Legends Series, the Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake Barrel is bottled at 96.77 proof, a nod to Valtteri Bottas’ racing number, 77, and the precision of racing. Inspired by Zhou Guanyu, the first Chinese F1 driver, this Rye Whiskey is finished with lychee and oolong tea. Herbal and floral notes of the oolong tea complement the herbaceous notes of WhistlePig’s signature PiggyBack 100% Rye, rounded out with a juicy tropical fruit finish and a touch of spice.

Keep readingShow less
by Spectrum Medical Care Center

Nurse Practitioner Ari Kravitz

When I started medical transition at 20 years old, it was very difficult to get the care I needed for hormone replacement therapy because there are very few providers trained in starting hormones for trans people, even though it’s very similar to the hormones that we prescribe to women in menopause or cisgender men with low testosterone.

I hope more providers get trained in LGBTQ+ healthcare, so they can support patients along their individual gender journey, and provide the info needed to make informed decisions about their body. I’ve personally seen my trans patients find hope and experience a better quality of life through hormone replacement therapy.

Keep readingShow less

Descanso Resort swimming pool and lounge area

Descanso Resort, Palm Springs' premier destination for gay men, just received Tripadvisor's highest honor, a Travelers' Choice "Best of the Best" award for 2023. Based on guests' reviews and ratings, fewer than 1% of Tripadvisor's 8 million listings around the world receive the coveted "Best of the Best" designation. Descanso ranked 12th in the top 25 small inns and hotels category in the United States. Quite an accomplishment!

Open less than two years, Descanso Resort offers gay men a relaxing and luxurious boutique hotel experience just minutes away from Palm Springs' buzziest restaurants, nightclubs, and shopping. Descanso has quickly established itself as a top destination for sophisticated gay travelers, earning hundreds of 5-star guest reviews and consistently ranking in Trapadvisor's top positions alongside brother properties Santiago Resort and Twin Palms Resort.

Keep readingShow less