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We’re all in this together

As with most things, the word “inclusion” carries various implications.

In this chapter of èBella èXtra, we feature Lois Carme, J.D., a lawyer and educator who has dedicated her life to serving the needs of people with exceptionalities. As an adjunct professor at FGCU, her “Yes, I Can” curriculum leads students here and abroad to discover compassion for all of humanity.

Gitanjali Rao, 16, is a remarkable scientist, humanitarian and undeniable game-changer. She’ll be presenting at the March 7 Imagine Solutions Conference 2022. Her accomplishments, regardless of age, are simply extraordinary.

Coming up April 2 is the SpelLIFE Women’s Wellness Summit, “An Ounce of Prevention is worth a Pound of Cure.” Read our interview with keynote speaker Dr. Nancy Snyderman and descriptions of wellness breakout sessions to be presented by area experts during the in-person and/or virtual summit.  

We hope these topics ignite the necessary compassion to bring us from exclusion to inclusion, no matter the circumstance.

Reaching the ‘Unreachable’ Stars
Inspiring the Future
The Art of Giving Meaningful Compliments


Be Young at Heart
An Ounce of Prevention
More or Less?


Be Young at Heart

Blue Zones Power 9 principles give the ticker the TLC it deserves

by Sebastien Saitta

“Heart age” is a concept that captures your risk of having a heart attack or stroke. Unfortunately, many Americans’ hearts are older than their age.

CDC researchers collected risk factor data from every U.S. state and combined that with the Framingham Heart Study to find that nearly 69 million people in the United States between the ages of 30 and 74 have a “heart age” at least five years older than their actual age. That means too many of us are at greater risk of heart attack and stroke, leading to unnecessary death or disability.

With the heart beating an amazing 100,000 times a day to pump 1,800 gallons of blood through more than 60,000 miles of blood vessels, there’s plenty of reason to give it the tender loving care it deserves.

The Blue Zones Power 9 is a set of principles practiced among the healthiest and longest-lived people in the world. Follow these top Power 9 plays to improve your heart health and lower your heart age.

1. Move Naturally

Your heart is a muscle and exercise will strengthen it. One of the simplest forms of exercise is to move naturally. The world’s longest-lived people move without thinking about it. This includes walking around the neighborhood, doing yard work, planting a garden, housecleaning and even dancing.

A study in JAMA revealed that older women who get lots of light physical activity may have up to a 42% lower risk of dying from coronary problems, and a 22% lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

2. 80% Rule

Eating a large amount of food in one sitting leads to higher levels of the stress hormone norepinephrine in the body. This can raise blood pressure and heart rate, which may trigger heart attacks in some people.

One tool to prevent overeating that is used by many Okinawans, a Blue Zones hotspot, is Hara Hachi bu or the 80% rule. The idea is to stop eating when you feel 80% full, since it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to send a signal to the stomach to let you know that you’re full. This also aids in preventing weight gain or obesity, another heart attack and stroke risk factor.

3. “Down Shift”

Our bodies produce a surge of hormones in stressful situations. These hormones put the body in a fight-or-flight response, making the heart beat faster, constricting blood vessels and causing a temporary spike in blood pressure.

Prolonged or frequent stress can lead to repeated blood pressure elevations, which eventually may lead to hypertension.


The “Down Shift” concept includes meditation, yoga, deep breathing exercises, naps and light exercise. It’s a great tool for controlling stress and reducing high blood pressure.


4. “Plant Slant”

Studies show that eating a plant-based diet at any age may lower cardiovascular risk. The Mediterranean diet — low in red meat, sugar and saturated fat and high in legumes, green leafy vegetables, olive oil, nuts and other healthful foods — is one of the most heart-healthy diets. In fact, those who followed the Mediterranean diet had 50%–70% lower risk of recurrent heart disease compared with those who followed the American Heart Association Step 1 diet.

5. Belong

Belonging to a faith-based community has many benefits, including a sense of peace, support and acceptance, which can lower your risk of dying from heart disease.

Women who reported attending religious services at least once a week also had a 27% lower risk of dying from cardiovascular causes.

Other steps to positively impact your heart age include spending time with loved ones, refraining from or stopping the use of tobacco, limiting salt intake and monitoring your blood pressure.

The free RealAge test by Sharecare is a 10-minute test that will yield your RealAge result: an estimate of your body’s age based on more than 100 factors affecting your health, happiness and lifespan. With it, you get a personalized health profile, easy-to-implement health tips and a dashboard that shows your progress toward your health goals. Visit for more information.


With more than 20 years of experience in marketing and public relations, Sebastien Saitta serves to help optimize community well-being as marketing director at Blue Zones Project Southwest Florida.


The Art of Giving Meaningful Compliments

Compliments beyond the superficial truly honor others

by Lorena Junco Margain


“I love your shoes!”


“You look so skinny in that dress!”


How often do we all hear — and give — compliments of this sort about physical appearance, clothing or accessories? My bet is, pretty often.  But do they truly elate us or touch our soul?


These very compliments about my shoes, my dress, my hair, were intended to make me feel beautiful and supported at the first major social event I went to after the second of two surgeries. I was deeply grateful for my friends’ and coworkers’ unfailingly kind words, yet they contrasted starkly with how I was feeling inside. I’d barely begun to climb the thousand-mile staircase to being me again. I was wearing a heart monitor under my cocktail dress. Instead of the busy work schedules, charity events, book club meetings and lunch dates everybody was chatting about, my calendar was filled with medical appointments, blood tests and follow-up exams. 


All my life I’ve loved dressing up. The look on my husband’s face when he sees me done up and ready to take on the world with him is indescribable. We both needed this party. So, yes, I’d done my face and hair. I gritted my teeth and eased myself into shapewear and a cocktail dress. It took everything I had to wedge my feet into my favorite electric-blue heels, the ones that used to make me feel like Wonder Woman.


Looking back, I can’t help pondering the fact that we’ve all been trained to call out the superficial: clothes, shoes, hair — everything that’s fleeting, unimportant and far more changeable than anyone likes to think about. 

One important example: we need to do away with the idea that noticing weight loss is a compliment. I can tell you that doesn’t play well in a hospital where people are emaciated, battling chemo. If you’re already self-conscious about your weight, it’s painful to have it be the center of conversation. 


We each have a multitude of characteristics that make us shine and deserve to be celebrated. These qualities are lasting, and don’t change day to day. Instead of focusing on the physical, let’s practice honoring our loved ones by telling them how their presence brings joy. 


“You have such a good heart!”


“Your laughter is contagious.”


“It’s so much fun to be around you!”


“I love the wisdom you bring to a conversation.”


These are the types of compliments I love to give and receive. They lift me up and enhance my self-esteem. All the external stuff is fleeting and far less important. 


Health is inclusive. Body and soul are stuck with each other, like it or not. The separation of body and soul is the very definition of death. The permanent, meaningful things that make each of us beautiful are with us through it all. These are the true compliments! 


I invite you to go past “skin deep” when recognizing people’s qualities and notice what’s emanating from the soul.


About Lorena Junco Margain

Art collector and philanthropist Lorena Junco Margain is the author of “On the Way to Casa Lotus,” a memoir about her journey coming to terms with the permanent consequences of a surgeon’s devastating mistake. After studying visual arts at Universidad de Monterrey, she co-founded the Distrito14 gallery in Monterrey.  She also co-founded and curated, with her husband, the Margain-Junco Collection to promote awareness of Mexican art internationally. She lives in Austin, Texas with her family.


Inspiring the Future

Upcoming Imagine Solutions Conference features game-changing young scientist Gitanjali Rao

by Kathy Grey

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She’s 16 years old and enjoys piano, dancing, singing, swimming, fencing and baking. She’s also working toward her pilot license. By her hobbies alone, she’d be the pride of any parent or grandparent, but she happens to be an inspiration to us all.

High school student Gitanjali Rao, 16, is a published author and a celebrated inventor, scientist, changemaker and STEM promoter who will be featured as a “Game Changer” at the day-long Imagine Solutions Conference 2022 on March 7.

“I am honored to be part of the Imagine Solutions conference, where I will get the opportunity to share my journey and learn from some thought leaders of our nation, especially in science and technology,” Gitanjali says.


Gitanjali (pronounced git-ah’-sha-lee) holds these designations and more:

• At age 12, she was named America’s Top Young Scientist of 2017 by the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge, with a patent-pending device to detect lead in water faster than other techniques used today.

• In the next year, 2018, she was a “TIME for Kids” reporter, writing articles that brought greater awareness to the water crisis in Flint, Michigan.

• In 2019, 14-year-old Gitanjali was honored by Forbes in its “30 Under 30 in Science.”

• In 2020, she was featured on the cover of TIME magazine as its first-ever “Kid of the Year” and its “Top Young Innovator.”

• Just as she turned 16 in November 2021, she was named a laureate of the Young Activists Summit at U.N. Geneva.

Her book, “A Young Innovator’s Guide to STEM,” intends to create an innovation movement for people under the age of 18.

Having been awarded eCybermission’s STEM in Action grant, Gitanjali launched “Kindly,” an anti-cyberbullying service under the guidance of Microsoft.

She is a three-time TEDx speaker and has open-sourced her lead-detection invention and her colorimetry-based algorithm for prescription opioid detection.

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Gitanjali aspires to study genetics, combined with computer science and product design, and she thrives in collaborating with organizations such as Imagine Solutions to promote innovation and creativity.

“While the world is coming out of the pandemic, our trust in science has increased more than ever,” Gitanjali says. “We need to look at innovation for social change, using science as a catalyst. The Imagine Solutions Conference brings us that opportunity, and it is up to us to unleash our potential, no matter where we are, who we are or what age we are.”


If You Go

What: Imagine Solutions Conference 2022: “A Whitewater World” 

Where: Arthrex Global Headquarters, 1370 Creekside Blvd., Naples  |  When: 8:30 a.m.-5:15 p.m. Monday, March 7

Cost: $700 per person (75% tax deductible)


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More or Less?

Are you a good candidate for breast implant or reduction surgery?

by Dr. Kiran Gill


In general, good candidates for plastic surgery procedures are healthy nonsmokers with realistic expectations and who are pursuing a change for themselves, not others.

Breast reduction candidates often have very large, pendulous breasts; back, shoulder, and neck pain; and skin irritation below the breast.

For breast implants specifically, good candidates are women who want to augment breast size or shape to correct flatness, drooping or asymmetry; for personal preference; or for overall better body proportion.


Aesthetics in Plastic Surgery by Kiran Gill, M.D., a leading plastic surgery practice in Southwest Florida, has changed its name to Naples Aesthetic Institute – Boutique Plastic Surgery and Skin Spa. Dr. Gill’s practice is located at 6610 Willow Park Drive, Suite 104, Naples. To learn more, call 239-596-8000 or visit


An Ounce of Prevention

SpelLIFE Women’s Wellness Summit draws world-class health experts

by Kathy Grey

Much attention is given to curing illness, but what if you never got sick in the first place? “An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure” is the theme for the upcoming SpelLIFE Women’s Wellness Summit, presented by A Euphoric Living Foundation and èBella magazine, which brings local and international wellness experts to Naples to discuss preventative health.

Before the April 2 event, here’s some information about each speaker and what attendees can expect.


Keynote Speaker: Dr. Nancy Snyderman

Recognized as one of America’s top medical correspondents who served major news networks for a quarter century, Dr. Nancy Snyderman will be the keynote speaker, saying she’d like to address the personal side of wellness with what she calls the third “third” of life.

“The kids go off to school. You have an empty nest. What does it do to your identity?” Snyderman asks. “You’ve got these three ‘chunks’ (of life),” she explains. For her, kids and career where the first two. The present, for her — and for many SpelLIFE attendees — is what she calls the third third, in which many women wonder, “Where do I fit in the universe?”

Snyderman is not retired, but she welcomed the dawning of “a quieter version” of herself. She’s a consultant, serves on health care-related boards and is an advisor at Stanford University School of Medicine. (“It keeps me attached to universities and young women scientists,” she says. “A good feminist opens doors for other women.”)  

Snyderman went west to Montana, where she raises grass-fed, hormone- and antibiotic-free cattle on her relatively small ranch. She’s also working to restore America’s grassland to help “reverse the damage we’ve done.”

“I still need the intellectual stimulations that kept me tethered to my previous life. I’ve woven together a fabric of life that works for me. Women know what it means to weave together an existence.

“I hope this push to age with grace, to be healthy and to own it becomes the norm. I would challenge all women to constantly reevaluate where they are,” she says. “I hope that this journey is shared by the women in the conference.”

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If You Go

What: SpelLIFE Women’s Wellness Live and Virtual Summit

When: 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Saturday, April 2, 2022

Where: Telford Center, 350 7th St. N., Naples

Tickets: Ranging in price from $49-$135 with various options from VIP to virtual only; available at Ticket sales end April 2.


SpelLIFE Resource partners also present opportunities to learn about community resources and connect with other like-minded people live at event tables and at virtual booths via


Reaching the ‘Unreachable’ Stars

Lifelong ambassador of inclusion brings out the heart and art in everyone

by Kathy Grey 

Lois Carme, J.D., lawyer and educator, has dedicated her life to serving the needs of people with exceptionalities. As an adjunct professor at FGCU, her “Yes, I Can” curriculum leads students to discover compassion, not only for people with special needs, but for all of humanity.

Her comfort with inclusion started at home in her childhood. Carme’s father suffered infantile paralysis as a child and surgery left him with one leg shorter than the other. She never knew him to walk without a limp.

“People would stare at him with this pathetic look or they’d look away,” she says. And yet, “He was my first dance partner. He had a fantastic voice and sense of rhythm.”

Carme taught music and dance to a group of afterschool children at River Park Community Center in 2017. Thirty percent of those students had disabilities: some hypertonic and confined to wheelchairs, some with autism, some with Down syndrome and other developmental issues.

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Lois Carme

But Carme’s inherent gifts of performance and her experiences with people with disabilities made her a perfect fit for empowering students to discover their inborn expression and ultimately enhance their sense of social well-being.

“River Park was a crazy thing to step into,” Carme says. “And…I…loved…it.”

But how do you teach a girl to dance and make music when she can only move one hand? You roll her around the floor in her wheelchair and put bells on her wrist.

She began her undergraduate studies at Regis College, where she met former Boston Celtics star Dave Cowens, who headed Regis’ athletic department for a year. Cowens asked Carme to utilize the college’s new performing arts studio to teach dance to students of The Learning Center for the Deaf in Framingham, Mass. She learned sign language and adapted the auditory process into a visual one, and the program evolved into “Sounds of Silence, Worlds of Dance,” the title of one of the books she’s authored.

“It was profound,” she says. “Because of that class, I was absolutely certain I’d go to law school at Massachusetts School of Law and specialize in the care and protection of marginalized children: a world no one wants to see. (Still,) there’s only so much you can do to help children as an attorney. But as a teacher, you can quadruple the effect with your students. The arts give students a different language that raises their self-esteem.”

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In 2017, Carme taught afterschool children, many with disabilities, at River Park Community Center. – photo credit Ivan Seligman

In Florida, the Naples resident has taught music, dance and art at many grade levels. Today, Carme teaches music and art to Naples students grades 6 through 8.

She also taught intensive reading, music and art at Pace Center for Girls in Fort Myers.

“They were tough kids because they were hurting,” she says. “You can’t change the past, but you can change the trajectory of their lives with discipline, love and expression.”

In 2014, she was hired as an adjunct professor at FGCU, teaching in the justice studies department. Three years ago, she pitched a new course, “Yes, I Can,” inspired by her book of the same title. Course chapters include music, art, dance, critical thinking, morality and life affirmation. FGCU’s head of integrated studies gave her the go-ahead, and now Carme teaches two “Yes, I Can” campus-based sessions, plus the same course in conjunction with the University of Siena’s Collaborative Online International Learning program in Italy. Carme will be headed to Siena in June to teach for several weeks.

Disability is largely stigmatized throughout Italy, the students divulge — some who have loved ones with special needs at home — and they marvel at the accommodations available in North America.

Now a U.S. Department of State Fulbright specialist, Carme hopes these international students will take what they’ve learned and become ambassadors of inclusivity in Italy and throughout the world.

Her life experiences have come together at FGCU, “a school that really listens to you.”

“How many students’ lives are changed because you listened to them and gave them the benefit of your education and experience?” she asks.

“I don’t know how a person gets to be as lucky as I am, to do what I’m doing. It’s life-changing to reach somebody who otherwise wouldn’t be reached.”



Dr. Eduardo Maristany will discuss genomics, the ever-changing field of medicine and how advanced technology and genetics allows for customization of nutrition and supplementation plans. Maristany, a board-certified internal medicine physician, was also trained by the Institute of Functional Medicine. He utilizes IntellxxDNA programming to map his patients' genes and find causes behind problems and potential solutions.


Dr. Lindsey Berkson has been a practicing nutritionist and an integrative nutritional/
gastrointestinal endocrine specialist for more than 40 and 30 years, respectively. Berkson teaches courses on hormones to doctors and pharmacists, sharing her research as a scholar at Tulane Medical School’s hormone think tank.


Dr. Linell King of Naples Vitality will share the five reasons why many women struggle with energy levels, chronic pain, inflammation and weight. They are: fad diets and improper nutrition; toxic environment and not detoxing properly; poor fitness routine; hormone imbalances; and lack of proper mentorship.


Yolanda Beckers, director of Innerlight Center for Meditation, will focus on meditation for preventative health. “All stress will lead to illness,” Beckers says. “If we can prevent being stressed, we have greater immunity and focus.” Guests will leave with practical tips for reducing stress, including breathing techniques and focus exercises.


Michael J. Annichine is CEO of Magee-Womens Research Institute and Foundation, dedicated to women’s health and reproductive biology. He will discuss how new fields of science are shaping the future of women’s health, presenting research on postmenopausal health and cancer, pelvic floor dysfunction and the role of the immune system in causing and fighting breast cancer.

Breakout Speakers
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