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  April: Get Moving This Spring

Rogers Townsend & Thomas attorneys Trey Turner and Roy Shelley helped organize the Palmetto TRAC Club, an umbrella support group for Triathletes, Runners, and Cyclists ("TRAC") in South Carolina, to provide a forum for sharing information on running groups, places to workout in the area, training groups, and other items of interest, with a goal of increasing health and fitness for everyone.

Visit our website at:

Facebook page at:

We will be holding periodic socials to network and share information. Our first social was held August 2d and Dr. Rick McCain, an orthopedist, gave us information in diagnosing, treating, and preventing common running, cycling, and swimming injuries. Two photos of that event are attached.

Stephanie Nye, USC Law Director of Externships, and 3L students Robbin Wilder and Demetrius Pyburn

This year, USC’s law school included an optional morning “wellness hour” as part of New Student Orientation, to let our newest law students know that it’s important to stay healthy and balanced as they start on what we all know is a demanding academic experience.  Here, SC Bar Wellness Committee member Stephanie Nye, USC Law Director of Externships, and 3L students Robbin Wilder and Demetrius Pyburn prepare to lead 1Ls on a downtown Columbia run.  Other wellness options included a State House Power Walk with Bob Bockman, guided meditation led by Kerry Egan, an orientation to “The Strom” with Alex Ruskell, USC Law Director of Academic Success, and yoga with Tina Cundari.

Tandi Ross Card

It was taken after a 5mi run, very early in the morning. I am training for the Ray Tanner 12k and the Star Wars: Dark Side half marathon at Disney.

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  March: Avoiding “March Madness”

Considering going horseback riding

Jillian S. Barton of Robertson Hollingsworth Manos & Rahn, LLC
We enjoyed horses, fresh air, and trail rides on Johns Island: the perfect escape from traffic, stress, work and busy life. #livingabovethebar

Marissa Fish of George Sink, P.A. Injury Lawyers
Riding Acorino, my trainer's Holsteiner stallion. I keep fit and healthy by riding horses. I've been riding for over 20 years. I compete in the stadium jumpers and also train in lower level dressage.

Stefanie Anderson of South Carolina Court of Appeals
Fun birthday activity--trail ride with Clay Ivy near Phoenix, Arizona. Three hours in the Arizona sun may have been a little long, but we had a great time!

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New! February: Get Fit February

Stacy Thompson of Bluestein Nichols Thompson & Delgado, LLC
Stacy Thompson and her mom took on the Ultimate Hike in 2016, finishing 28.3 miles on the Foothills Trail in one day while raising money for children's cancer research. This mental and physical challenge for a great cause also became the 'Mother of all Bonding Experiences' for the Thompson duo!

Lyndey Zwing of Adams and Reese LLP
12 mile Spartan Super mud run in Asheville complete with 27 obstacles. #fitlife #livingabovethebar @scbaryld

Meagan Gentry of Gentry Law Firm
Aerial hoop is a physical exercise that requires both strength and balance. I find both are important to not only keep my body in shape, but my mind as well. Learning balance keeps you focused. Building strength keeps you busy....

Ashleigh Wilson of Bowman & Brooke, LLP
Early morning stress relief at Fit Columbia in Five Points.

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January: Happy New Year! Healthy Ways to Renew and Restart

Ideas from Stefan Feidler of Anastopoulo Law Firm, LLC

Roughly 6 months ago (2/22/2016) I began my jiujitsu journey. Without knowing a soul, I walked into a jiujitsu gym, got on the mat, and within 2 minutes I was completely humbled. Jiujitsu has completely changed every aspect of my life. It has taught me to be patient, kind, to work hard, but most of all - it has taught me to be humble. This has directly translated to my personal and professional life.

The video I have attached was from NAGA tournament in Myrtle Beach. This tournament was particularly important to me because: A) I'm from Myrtle Beach; B) I started jiujitsu in MB and my original coach and team would be there competing; and C) my new jiujitsu team (and family now) from Charleston was with me. I put a lot of pressure on myself. Out of 4 tournaments, I walked home with 7 golds and 1 silver. The attached video is the match I lost. It was also the best match of my life. The guy was covered in tattoos, very intimidating, But, I try and not judge a book by its cover. He beat me by a technicality. Technically, won the match, but out of respect for jiujitsu, my opponent, and my team - I did not complain or make a fuss. After the match, my opened commended me on my heart and said that he could not compete anymore after our match. I congratulated him, told him to keep going, and I hope to see him at the next match. He ended packing his bag, leaving, then coming back, I actually beat him our second match.  Come to find out, he was a recovering alcoholic. He's been sober since he found jiujitsu roughly 1.5 years ago. I told him that was more important that any medal. We are friends to this day. We speak all the time and I plan on teaching him how to surf. Point of the story: 1) failures worth more than winning; 2) never judge a book by its cover; and 3) exercise - whether via jiujitsu - surfing - and etc. can truly save your life.

Ideas from Barnwell Whaley Patterson & Helms, LLC

#chs #sc support staff renewal: office yoga with instructor Jeanne Anne!  @SCBAR #livingabovethebar

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December: Staying Stress-Free During the Holiday Season

Book Review: ​The Anxious Lawyer, An 8-Week Guide to a Joyful and Through Mindfulness and Meditation
By Jeena Cho & Karen Gifford

I am sure that many reading this could imagine ​The Anxious Lawyer being the title of a novel loosely based on their own life story. As Cho, Gifford and others have pointed out, anxiety seems to come part and parcel with the law degree. Many of us feel anxiety is necessary in order to keep our clients and ourselves from falling into legal and professional traps. But surely we can also recognize that there are times when failing to let go of our anxiety has caused the very problems we are so anxious to avoid.

Cho and Gifford, both attorneys who have spent years on the front lines of the legal profession, offer a solution to combat, or at least cope, with the pressures and stress that all of us who have chosen a career in the law face, day after day, year after year. Their new book, ​The Anxious Lawyer, is an easy-to-read introductory guide into mindfulness training, specifically geared to those in our profession. The book opens with an introduction containing a litany of the harrowing statistics on attorney substance abuse and mental health issues that we are all somewhat familiar with, even if we are in denial about ourselves.

Click here to continue reading.

Book Review by M. Allison Moon, Esq., of Moon Law Firm in Greenville, South Carolina.  Author, Jeena Cho, will be a presenter during the Wellness Committee activities at SC Bar Convention in January 2017.

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November: Getting Stress-Free in Time for the Holidays

Overcome the Stress Status Quo: Simple Solutions to Bust Stress and Increase Productivity
By guest blogger, Stephanie A. Williams, Esq., CPT, CHHC, of the Maine Bar

A couple years ago, I found myself at the bottom of a bottle of wine, attempting to erase the day full of obstinate opposing counsel, a too-long hearing, and an email inbox overflowing with demands. I paired my alcohol with a side of something boxed and processed and finished the meal with a dessert of self-loathing. Not surprisingly, at the time, I suffered from regular migraines, incessant heartburn, and, as a result, I practiced law inefficiently and less effectively. Finally yielding to my inner get-this-stress-thing-under-control voice, I underwent my own brand of medicine, evaluating my lifestyle and health habits, and made a plan to prioritize my health and reduce my stress. Funny thing happened when I did that: I became more focused and efficient, or, in other words, a better lawyer.
Because I know I’m not alone in my desire to maintain excellent health and focus, I pre-sent a few of my favorite ways to stay healthy and on the ball. I suggest implementing a   couple methods at a time and maybe slowly introducing others - you don’t need additional stress!

  • Set 3 + 3 Goals. My Rule of 3 + 3 is by far the most effective tool in my stress reduction arsenal. For each day, week, month, and year, write down 3 tasks you will complete for your legal practice or personal life. These tasks should be (1) specific, (2) concrete, and (3) small(ish). For example, one daily goal task should not be “draft motion for summary judgment”. Although specific and somewhat concrete, that task is not small. Consider instead goals such as “drafting argument section” or “ draft affidavit to the motion”. Taking small, specific bites out of your daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly to-do lists reduces overwhelm and stress. Additionally, you feel accomplished when you complete your three tasks, which guarantees you will become more productive overall.
  • Cook Once, Eat Twice. Or three times. Maybe four. Preparing meals at home ensures that you eat the most nutrient dense food while controlling unwanted and un-necessary ingredients from entering your diet. This combo translates into maintaining energy and focus throughout the day, leading to increased productivity. By cooking dinner on a weeknight and doubling or tripling the recipe, you also reduce stress because you know what’s for lunch, dinner, or both, the next few days. Twofer!

Click here to continue reading

Stephanie A. Williams, Esq., CPT, CHHC practices law part-time as special counsel for an international law firm, having joined that firm in February 2016 after working as shareholder and director of a Maine-based law firm. Stephanie’s passion, supporting her colleagues to get real about stress reduction and achieving their health goals, turned into her business,, in January 2016 (and, yes! Stephanie’s law firm knows about her biz and is very encouraging). When Stephanie’s not in court or helping to heal her colleagues, you can find Stephanie running, paddleboarding, traveling the world, playing with her dog, or hanging out with her husband and family.

Tips from the South Carolina Bar:

Kaitlyn Swicegood, of Charleston, SC

“The first place my tension and stress goes--the shoulders. It hangs out under the shoulder blades and up into my neck. I know it's time to chill when they flare up. This is an awesome way to open up. Where do you store your tension? #tension. #stress #shoulderopener #twist #bind #yoga #swicegoodyoga #livingabovethebar”

Suanne Ansari, of Suanne Monica Ansari, LLC

“As many solos, I find it challenging to fit in a vacation and find the next best thing is a day riding my road bike on the scenic trails at Kiawah Island. I'm getting in a great cardio workout, and melting stress away spending the day outdoors in nature.”

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October: During This Month—Domestic Violence Awareness Month—Consider What Factors Contribute to a Healthy Relationship

Healthy Relationships in a World of Trump vs. Hillary
By Leslie Ragsdale Fisk, of South Carolina Legal Services

With news reports crammed with hate crimes, bullying, riots, and terrorism, why are we surprised that people hurt their family members?  Even the 2016 presidential election is being called the most divisive in history.  October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.  What better way to fix the angst in our world than to start at home?   This blog post will discuss ways to have a healthier relationship with your significant other, how to teach your children to have healthy relationships, and how to encourage your clients to have healthy relationships.

Everyone is going to encounter disagreements with others.  If you cannot peacefully resolve disagreements with the people you love, how can you expect to peacefully resolve disagreements with those who may have a different religion, race, sexuality, or political view?   South Carolina has consistently ranked among the worst states for the numbers of women killed by men.   The Violence Policy Reports are released every Fall and rank the states according to the numbers of women killed by men, per capita.  This year’s report, which was released on September 20th, lists South Carolina as #5 in the nation for the number of women killed by men. Violence Policy Center, When Men Murder Women: An Analysis of 2014 Homicide Data. Sadly, this is quite an improvement. 
2013 Report:  1st
2104 Report:  2nd
2015 Report:  1st
2016 Report:  5th

Why in our State, do so many people kill the people they love the most?  Governor Haley developed a Domestic Violence Task force in 2015.  The task force has utilized surveys, data, public hearings, and personal testimonies from Survivors to discover the answers and solutions to our shameful problem.  Government officials, advocates, and law enforcement are implementing systematic changes.  But real change must occur in homes as well.

The short answer to why men kill more women in South Carolina has to do with traditional gender roles, gun violence, alcohol abuse, and a history of keeping family matters private.  But even in the states that have ranked far better than we have, there is vitriol among the citizens.   Violence is bad for our children, our health, and our economy.  How can we improve?

(Click here to continue reading)

Healthy Relationships Around the Bar:

Sean Cobourn, of Cobourn & Kyriakakis LLC
"Healthy bodies and relationships can be achieved through teamwork and physical exertion.  Sean Cobourn and Jennifer Kane on the summit of Mount Rainier in August 2016.  The air is thin at 14,410 feet!"

Lindsey Sink Dasher, of Krusch & Sellers
"Thankful to celebrate 5 years of marriage with my husband at the Ballantyne Spa this weekend. Nothing beats a day or two of relaxation and pampering. #livingabovethebar"

Tamika Cannon, of South Carolina Legal Services
"The photos were taken after a night of fun with my husband. Roller skating is great exercise and date night allows us to invest into our relationship."

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September: Enter the “Just for the Health of It” Video/Photo Contest

The deadline has been extended to 5 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 9, for the "Just for the Health of It" photo/video contest! Therefore, you have additional time to submit your photos and videos for a chance to win an Apple Watch, Fitbit or fitness prize pack. Tune into Facebook on Monday, Sept. 12 at 11 a.m. for a live drawing of the winners. See below for contest details. Contact Jasmine Smith at with your questions.

These are the winning photos from the Just for the Health of It Photo/Video Contest! They were selected from over 150 submissions in a random drawing on Monday.
1st: Stefan Feidler (Apple Watch)
2nd: Kaitlyn Swicegood (FitBit)
3rd: Tommy Dingle (Fitness Prize Pack)

The #LivingAboveTheBar Committee thanks all Bar members who participated!

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August: Enter the “Just for the Health of It” Video/Photo Contest

The deadline has been extended to 5:00 p.m. on Friday, September 9, 2016.

What does health and wellness mean to you? How do you incorporate wellness into your everyday life? Think it over and get active: take your camera or smartphone and promote a heathy wellbeing. Challenge yourself to take your best wellness or healthy lifestyle photos or videos. Already have a video or photo displaying some form of wellness? That works as well.

The Attorney Wellness Committee invites all members of the Bar to submit videos and photographs that promote wellness. Submit a video or photo for the purpose of wellness education and awareness, and you could win a prize!

Participate now to inspire us and raise awareness! Three winners will be randomly selected and announced on September 12.

Prizes include:
1st Place: Apple Watch
2nd Place: Fitbit
3rd Place: Fitness Prize Pack valued at $100

Videos and photos should highlight any of the following wellness topics:

  • Mental Health
  • Alcohol/Drug/Tobacco Use
  • Stress Management
    • Journaling
    • Hobbies
    • Volunteering
    • Meditation/Yoga
  • General Wellness
  • Nutrition/Eating Disorders
  • Sleep
  • Physical Fitness/Physical Health
  • Social Well-Being or Healthy Relationships
  • Time Management

Peruse this website for content ideas.
Visit the ABA's Fit2Practice initiative at #Fit2Practice-Sleep or #Fit2Practice-Nutrition for sample videos.

Rules & entry requirements:

  • Unlimited submissions are welcome and each submission qualifies as a separate entry!
  • Each video entry must be a minimum of 30 seconds in length. The videos should preferably include some explanation of any wellness demonstrations.
    • For example: If you are demonstrating a push up, include a brief instruction on form. 
  • Each photograph entry must include a caption with a minimum of 20 words if submitted via email, Facebook, or Instagram, or 140 character count for Twitter. The caption should describe the content of the photo and how it relates to wellness.
  • All videos and photos must relate to one or more of the wellness categories mentioned above.
  • Contest entries can be submitted either via email to the Living Above the Bar Attorney Wellness Committee at or via Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
    • For tracking purposes, all submissions via Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram should be followed by #livingabovethebar. Social media accounts and posts must be made public for the Bar to view your submissions. If you have any difficultly submitting via social media, email your post directly to

Contest entries must be submitted either via email to or via Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram using #livingabovethebar by 5 p.m. on Friday, September 9, 2016. Unlimited submissions are welcome!

The Committee will randomly select three winners. Winners will be announced on Monday, September 12. All submissions will be included on the Attorney Wellness Website; however, the Committee will not sell submitted photos or videos or license them to third parties for commercial use.

Lindsay Joyner and friends beating the summer heat while hiking over 4 miles in Highlands on Whiteside Mountain and Devil's Courtyard.

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  July: Should You Take A Vacation?

Kaitlyn R. Swicegood practicing yoga.

Walk Away
by Kaitlyn R. Swicegood

The power to walk away is an amazing tool.  For many of us that work under deadlines, whether self created or not, feel the pressure to get things done.  When I start a task, I want to get it DONE.  It’s the mentality of the checklist: for some reason it feels so good to take something off the list.  Perhaps it is that I lack a little patience as well. Sometimes it is good to buckle down and get things done, but sometimes it comes at a price.

When we work under time constraints, whether it is because we have procrastinated and face a deadline, or you just hate to have things lingering, things can end up messy.  They are messy in a physical and mental sense.  My anxiety ramps, and sometimes my work is sloppy.  It might be a positive that I am eager to get something done, and at the same time my work can lack quality in my urgency.

According to an article in Entrepreneur by Joe Robinson:

Time urgency kills attention spans, rational decision-making skills and, at its most acute, the body itself by contributing to factors that lead to heart disease.  People who feel chronic time pressure are twice as likely to have high blood pressure–even those in their 30s, a Northwestern University study found.

The other night I was working on my taxes, and wanted to get them done so that I could check that item off and no longer think about it.  Unfortunately, I was missing information I needed and couldn’t figure out how to access some things electronically.  Part of the reason I couldn’t find what I needed was that I had initially rushed in the original record making task.  Now, I wanted to rush through my taxes.

Earlier that day, I had made a plan to go to yoga.  In my time urgency, I skipped so that I could sit there and finish my taxes.  At the end of a few hours, I felt terrible.  I was yelling, cursing, and even getting teary.  I did not feel good my taxes were done.  I was more stressed than ever.

Tommy (my smart boyfriend), suggested several times that I take a break and go to yoga or just walk away and come back later.  My response: "WELL OF COURSE I CAN’T!  I HAVE TO GET THESE DONE!"  No, I didn’t.  My urgent desire to FINISH the task at hand and take it off the list ended up ruining my attitude, and making me miserable.  My taxes would not have been any different, had I walked away and taken a break for myself: in fact I might have had an easier time and done a more thorough job had I put it down and come back.

I accomplished nothing by forcing myself to finish with a sense of immediacy: except to create stress.

So here’s my suggestion: walk away, like I should have.

An article on Harvard Business Review about the Nine Ways Business People are successful includes taking five or ten minutes to do something you find interesting.

It doesn’t matter what it is, so long as it interests you.  Recent research shows that interest doesn’t just keep you going despite fatigue, it actually replenishes your energy. And then that replenished energy flows into whatever you do next.

Whatever you walk away from will be waiting for you when you come back.  When we are under extreme amounts of pressure, our work is often no good anyways.  Then, we are creating stress for no reason.

The next time you feel pushed to the limit to finish something within a time frame, walk away.  Walk away, whether its for 5 minutes, a few hours, or a couple of days.  It’s not really the length that matters, but the act of giving yourself time for you.

In the words of Kelly Clarkson, "Hey, hey, hey, hey. Just walk away"
Kaitlyn R. Swicegood is an attorney in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina.  This blog post was originally posted on her blog at Legally Ohm.

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June: Get "Fit to Practice" This Summer

Cedric Cunningham of Kinlaw and Cunningham, P.A., leaving the gym and picking up a bowl of fruit.

Cedric's plan to get fit to practice:
I try to go the gym either right before or right after work depending on my schedule for the day. I average about 4 days per week. I also try to stay busy or on my feet on the weekend by doing yard work, washing my car, visiting people, etc. I start my days off with eating either oatmeal or greek yogurt, followed by an apple as a mid-morning snack, followed by a decent lunch that usually includes a salad, another snack, then dinner hopefully by 7 p.m. When I exercise it's usually cardio or a fast paced weight lifting regimen. I've been at it since the beginning of March and I'm down about 18 pounds now.

Miles Coleman of Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough, LLP, suggests My Fitness Pal. It’s a food logging site with both a free and a paid version. (The free version does pretty much everything you need.) It’s a relatively easy and quick way to log your food and exercise and see how many calories you’ve eaten for the day, how many grams of fat/carb/protein you’ve eaten, the percentage of your diet that comes from each of those macronutrients, whether you’d gain or lose weight if you ate like this every day, etc.

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May: Taking Stock of Your Mental Health During Mental Health Awareness Month

Consider Your Sleeping Habits

Good Sleep Matters - by Michael Ethridge, Chair, Attorney Wellness Committee

We are a sleep deprived profession.  Understandable, considering the nature of our work.  Almost every lawyer I know works notoriously long hours.  (A recent study showed that 82% of  lawyers’ schedules are so demanding that their health is at risk.  When you work that kind of schedule, sleep is the first thing you give up.)  Additionally, the stress associated with practicing law is always present.  We take our work home with us, and the endless to-do list loops through our minds long after we turn out the lights.  Add to that mix the client dinners that don’t start until 8 or 9:00 (and involve copious amounts of alcohol) and you have all the ingredients for a sleep deprived profession.

Instead of talking about how we might be able to modify lifestyles that allow us to get more sleep, lawyers make exhaustion and sleep deprivation status symbols.  We celebrate young associates who work through the night or we brag about getting up at 4:30 in the morning to get on the road for a deposition.  In a culture that measures self-worth by productivity, we simply accept that lack of sleep is something that comes with the territory.  We make Ambien a regular part of our diet and 3 a.m ceiling stares become routine. We tell ourselves if you’re going to practice law, you’re going to rack up sleep debt.

The irony of our glorification of sleep deprivation is that there is probably no single greater performance killer than lack of sleep.  A recent blog post in the Lawyerist, quotes Harvard Medical School Professor, Charles A. Czeisler:

“We know that . . . a week of sleeping four or five hours a night induces an impairment equivalent to a blood alcohol level of .1% . . . We would never say, ‘this person is a great worker! He’s drunk all the time!’ Yet we continue to celebrate people who sacrifice sleep.”

There is amble science that demonstrates how lack of sleep undermines cognitive performance.  And when you consider that cognitive performance is pretty damn essential to lawyering, it’s science we should pay attention to.  Lack of sleep impairs your effective working memory.  It makes it much harder to focus and pay attention to details.  And it significantly diminishes our judgment and our ability to make decisions.  (Not to mention lack of sleep makes us irritable and not much fun to be around).

The only way we’re going to add more sleep to our lives is by making a good night’s sleep a priority.  We schedule time for those things that matter to us.  We will schedule time for good sleep only when we begin to value it.  So, the first step is to stop glorifying exhaustion, and begin to value a lifestyle that allows us to bring our best cognitive selfs to our work.  In whose world would it ever make sense to come to work and perform your job all day as if you were drunk?

Knowing you need to make good sleep a priority is one thing.  Figuring out how to actually get it is something else.  Everyone is different.  So what works for one person, might not work for someone else.  But here are a few things that scientists and researchers tell us can help:

  • Do your best to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.  Even on the weekends.
  • Develop a relaxing bed time ritual.  Condition your body to know that it’s time for bed.
  • Don’t make your to-do list just before you go to bed.
  • Don’t read nonfiction prior to bed.  (Nonfiction can be a little like drafting the to-do list.  It results in mental planning and thoughts about the future.  Instead, read fiction that requires present awareness attention.)
  • Get the room right—turn down the thermostat, hang thick curtains that block out all of the light. Also, assess your mattress.  If it’s 8-10 years old, buy a new one.
  • The writer Tim Ferris has several posts where he discusses hacks for better sleep.  Some of them sound a little crazy (like ice baths an hour before bed).  But they seem to work.

The bottom line is sleep matters.  Let’s stop glorifying the sleep deprived, and start valuing a lifestyle that allows for good restful slumber.  We will be much better lawyers, and a lot more fun to be around.

Sweet dreams.

Michael Ethridge is the current Chair of the South Carolina Bar Attorney Wellness Committee.  This blog post was originally posted on his blog at

Consider Your Physical Fitness

Chisa Putman of City of Rock Hill Solicitor's Office, Emily Brown of York County Government, Mariama Glascoe-Kirkland of Glascoe-Kirkland Legal Services, LLC, and Jessica King of Williams Mullen, enjoying a Zumba instruction.

This spring, the 16th Circuit Young Lawyers Division hosted "Living Above the Bar- Fit to Practice, The Local Edition" in Rock Hill, SC.  The event was a full energy Zumba workout with certified Zumba instructor, Sandra King.  Participants consisted of attorneys and other local professionals.  The circuit chose to host the event as a way to develop and improve professional relationships and promote mental and physical fitness.

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  April: Techniques To Make Wellness & Nutrition
Less Taxing

Attempt a New Workout

For too long, I had fallen into the routine of working all day and not making time for my physical fitness. Finally, I made the decision to get back in shape, and I started working out at Workhorse Fitness, which is a newer gym off Huger Street. Workhorse combines a lot of the elements of CrossFit, but there is a great deal of personal training and personal attention. In just under two months, I have had a noticeable change in both my physical fitness and my mental health. The owner/head trainer is a wonderful guy who really does a great job of targeting the physical, nutritional, and mental factors that go into a healthy life.

-Bryan Caskey

Run a Marathon

Evie Evans running the 2015 New York Marathon, at mile 16. Living Above the Bar!

Volunteer Your Time

Todd Rigler, Stephanie Anderson, and Chelsea Clark refurbishing a domestic violence shelter damaged by unprecedented flooding.

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  March: Spring Into Action—How to Get Your Physical Health Back on Track

T.J. Twehues playing wiffle ball with friends in Beaufort, SC.

How to Make an Exercise Schedule

Fitness: Create a Program That's Right for You

How to Build Your Own Workout Routine

Why Keeping a Fitness Journal Will Make You More Fit

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  February: How to Love Your Life and Career

How to Fall in Love Again with Your Career

How to Learn to Love Your Job Again When You're Feeling Burned Out

Fall Back in Love With Your Job Before You Hate it Completely

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  January: Turning Over a New Leaf In the New Year

Harness the Power of Nature to Make Your New Year Better
By Jo Watson Hackl

What if sticking to just one New Year’s resolution could help make you healthier, happier, and more productive the whole new year long? Just for one week, try incorporating nature into your day and notice the difference. The changes you see are likely to motivate you to make spending time in nature part of your year-round routine. Below are a few reasons why, six ideas to get you started, and resources to help you along the way.

Why should I spend more time in nature?
Simply put, our bodies are designed to respond to the natural environment. Just think of the energizing effect of morning sunlight, how a stroll as dusk begins to fall helps you unwind at the end of a busy day, and the peaceful feeling that comes over you in a forested setting. A recent Harvard Medical School Health Publication described a number of study results supporting benefits of spending time with nature. These include: an increase in Vitamin D levels, an increase in exercise, improvement in mood, improvement in concentration, and faster healing.  A University of Michigan study found that walking in the park or viewing photos of nature can help significantly improve attention span and memory. As busy professionals working under deadlines, we can all use these benefits.  

Six Easy Ways to Incorporate Nature into Your Day
A few simple changes can help make nature more a part of your day. Below are a few ideas:

  1. Wake up with the Sun. As the days start to lengthen, let the natural light of morning help wake you up and energize you for the start of your day. Read more here.
  2. If possible, arrange your desk so that you have a view of a window. According to a study from Northwestern Medicine and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, people working in an office with more light exposure slept longer, got better sleep quality, and had more physical activity and a better quality of life compared to those with less light exposure. For more details, read Description of Results of Northwestern Medicine and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Study.
  3. Try walking meetings to get out of the office and connect with your colleagues in a natural setting. Read more about walking meetings here.
  4. Wind down outside after a long day at work. Spending time outdoors can not only help you, but can help your children also. The benefits to children of time in nature in terms of attention, focus, and healthy physical and emotional development are all documented in Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2008). Here’s a link to find this book at an independent bookstore near you
  5. Bring nature indoors with a fresh flower arrangement on your desk. Read more at Weathering Winter with a Flower Arrangement a Day.
  6. Plan your weekend around outdoor activities. Visit a South Carolina State Park. Take a class to build your outdoor skills. One series I’ve taken (and love): Earthskillsllc. Try a new outdoor sport such as kayaking or canoeing.  A list of SC water trails can be found here.

As the days grow longer in the new year, this creates even more opportunity to spend extra time outdoors. I hope to see my fellow South Carolina attorneys in the great outdoors. 
Jo Watson Hackl is a corporate attorney at Wyche, P.A. She is so convinced of the importance of spending time in nature that she launched a free website resource, to provide information and inspiration about the outdoors.

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  December: Continuing a Stress-Free Holiday Season

Remaining Stress-Free Throughout the Holiday Season by Jasmine Smith

You have made it over the hump of Thanksgiving, and now the holiday season is in full gear. At this point, you are probably shopping constantly, agonizing over the perfect gifts, cleaning, preparing for guests, lugging out decorations packed away in the attic, dealing with stress-producing family dynamics, organizing your schedule with holiday events, arranging travel plans, etc. All of this on top of your hectic schedule practicing law. Well, the Wellness Committee is here to help relieve some of this stress. First, if you have not already done so, please check out the first two videos in this stress-relief series: Office Yoga Stretches and Chair Yoga. Also, review a few of the resources listed in November's blog post for tips on having a stress-free holiday season. The final video in the series is a guided mediation by Tina Cundari.

5 Minute Meditation Sequence from South Carolina Bar on Vimeo.

Medical research suggests mediation is extremely beneficial in relieving stress as it produces a deep state of relaxation and tranquility. For additional information on the topic, check out this article from the Harvard Medical School, Mindfulness Meditation may Ease Anxiety, Mental Stress or visitThe U.S. Department of Health & Human Services National Center for Complementary & Integrative Health.

Here are some additional tips to make the holidays less stressful:

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  November: Stress-Free Holiday Season

Kickoff to a Stress-Free Holiday Season by Jasmine Smith

Does simply hearing the term "holiday season" make you anxious? While this time of year can bring joy, happiness, family bonding, and togetherness, it can also bring about stress and anxiety. Regardless of your stance on any particular religion, the number of holiday-related events from November to January seems to grow every year. There are parades, festivals, dinners, luncheons, cocktail parties, office parties, parties at your child's school, plays, musical events, etc. The list seems endless. The Wellness Committee recognizes the heightened anxiety incurred during this time of year and, in response, has produced a video series to hopefully help combat some of the stress. 

As you move into the season, check out the first video in the series in which SC Bar Member Tina Cundari offers a 5 minute yoga sequence you can do right in your office. 

5 Minute Yoga Sequence in your Office from South Carolina Bar on Vimeo.

According to leading experts, yoga helps manage stress and improve mental well-being. Yoga also creates clarity and calmness; increases body awareness; relieves chronic stress patterns; enhances strength; relaxes the mind; centers attention; and sharpens concentration. So, right before you rush out the door to that office event, court appearance, or stressful dinner with your in-laws, practice this yoga sequence. For more resources on how to handle stress, visit the Stress Management section of this website

Additionally, check these resources for practical tips on having a stress-free Thanksgiving:

Finally, here are additional resources that may help as you begin to think about how to plan the remaining holidays:

****Please Note:  If you or someone you know has been affected by the recent flooding throughout South Carolina, here is a list of resources to contact for assistance****

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  October: 2015 Wellness Challenge Updates

Click Here to get More Information on the Weekly Challenges

Week 1: Hydration
Week one of the Living Above the Bar Wellness Challenge asked participants to drink 104 ounces of water for men and 72 ounces of water for women daily. Together, SC Bar members drank over 63,838 ounces of water last week; that's almost 500 gallons! Congratulations to this week's Wellness Challenge prize winner, Janie Borden of City of Charleston in Charleston.

Week 2: Strength
Week two of the Challenge asked participants to complete two or three days of strength workouts for 20-30 minutes each. Together, bar members did 4,580 hours of strength training! Congratulations to this week's Wellness Challenge prize winner, N. Keith “Chip” Emge Jr. of Carlock, Copeland & Stair, LLP in Charleston.

Week 3: Cardio
Elizabeth Holland of Gibbes Burton, LLC, in Spartanburg was the Wellness Challenge Week 3 winner. The group did a total of 7,140 minutes of cardio for the week 3 challenge.

Week 4: Mind/Body
Lucy Grey McIver of BlueCross BlueShield in Columbia was the Wellness Challenge Week 4 winner. The group incorporated a total of 2,140 minutes of mindfulness into their regular routine for the week 4 challenge.

Week 5: Nutrition
Samantha Luck of Richland County Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) was the Wellness Challenge Week 5 winner. During this challenge, members kept a food journal for 142 days.

Week 6: Sleep
Dana M. Lahey of Dana M. Lahey, LLC in Greenville was the Wellness Challenge Week 6 winner. On average, members had between 7-9 hours of sleep for 6 out of the 7 days. Members slept around 1,300 hours for the week.

Week 7: Partner Workouts
Anthony Charles of Finkel Law Firm LLC, in Columbia was the Wellness Challenge Week 7 winner. On average, members incorporated at least 3 partner workouts for the week.

Week 8: Variety in Your Workouts
Amy Olson of Olson Immigration Law, LLC in Greenville was named the week eight challenge winner.

Final Challenge Review:
Over the course of eight weeks, 377 attorneys and law students focused on their overall health and participated in the challenge. A huge congratulations goes out to Sarah Cronin of Hedrick Gardner Kincheloe & Garofalo LLP in Charlotte, NC, Lucy Grey McIver of BlueCross BlueShield in Columbia, Makenzie Polston, a student at USC School of Law, Jennifer Greene, a student at USC School of Law and Lindsay Joyner of Gallivan, White & Boyd in Columbia for completing all eight of the challenges. The Wellness Committee thanks all of the participants and hopes that all Bar members will strive every day to continue #LivingAbovetheBar.

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  September: Practicing Overall Health & Wellness

Click here to see our fitness partners

Staying Active
Amanda Pittman

  • I stay active by just living. If I am taking a trip to the mountains, I will either drive there or drive back on the parkway so that I can hike on a couple of trails. When I was on vacation in Jamaica, I participated in the Beach Olympics and played volleyball. On normal weekends, I either walk around my boyfriend’s neighborhood, or we go somewhere fun to walk/hike. Bringing your pet on the walk is an added bonus because dogs need to exercise too.  We always try to take Rusty when we are going on a hike/walk. My office is on Main Street, so if I have depositions at another office on Main, I’ll walk there if it’s a nice day. And in the spring/fall, I take a break to walk later in the afternoon. 
  • I also try to stay healthy by eating right. I rarely go out to lunch. I typically bring my lunch so that I can control the portion as well as limit what I’m eating. I gave up soft drinks for Lent back in 8th grade and never really picked it back up. I typically drink 2 cups of coffee per day and water the rest of the day. 
  • Being healthy is something you have to work toward – it’s not something that just happens. I love doughnuts and cookies and brownies, which can always be found at a law firm, but I have to tell myself that I don’t need it. I bring fruit, so I can eat an apple or peach or banana instead. I have to choose to love water when I would much rather have something with some taste. I have to choose to exercise when I’ve had a long day and I’m exhausted. But making these decisions makes me feel better about myself, and ultimately, makes me better at what I do.

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  August: Financial Planning and Budgeting

Check Out These Financial Planning Resources

Best 15 Money Management Apps That Make Financial Planning Easy

A Penny Saved — a Degree Earned
Gail D. Moore

Reprinted from South Carolina Lawyer, Jan. 2004, at 14

My children recently celebrated their second and fourth birthdays. As I cleaned birthday cake out of my carpet, I thought about what it will cost to send my children to college. According to my research, the total projected cost for my four-year-old to attend four years of college in 2017 is $74,000; it increases to $82,000 by the time my two-year-old attends college in 2019. These figures captured my attention and confirmed that although we are saving for college, we are not doing enough.

Click here to continue reading.

SC Bar members continue work/life balance initiatives all summer long
Law clerks, staff attorneys, and friends from the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals competed in the 2015 Richland County Attorney Summer Softball League. The league, which is held every summer from May through July, is comprised of attorneys from the Columbia area who hit the diamond for afterwork fun and fellowship. Pictured here are the Supreme Court/Court of Appeals Docket Rockets. Back row (from left to right): Matt Pegler, Vince Osborne, Will Childers, Katon Dawson, Ty Zeigler, Seth McDaniel, John McLeod, Thomas Twehues, and Drew Joiner.
Front row (left to right): Margaret Strom, Rebecca McCormack, Becky Depp, Kali Falvo, Stefanie Anderson, and Mary Lucas.

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  July: Achieving Work/Life Balance While Children are Out of School
Andrea Sancho-Baker and her stepdaughter running in the "Sweat it Out 5k" (a run to honor those with Hypohydriatic Ectodermal Dysplasia). The two "love doing races together and had a blast!"

Daily Priority One by Lindsay Joyner

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  June: Time-Management and Planning for Summer Vacations

Katherine Myers is making time to stay fit this summer. How are you #livingabovethebar?

Plan Ahead for Your Summer Vacation

Ways to Prepare Now for the Upcoming Summer Vacation

Life in the Slow Lane: The Joys and Benefits of a Sabbatical
Smith, Franklin J. Jr.

Reprinted from South Carolina Lawyer, March 2003 at 40

"Good morning. This is Noah Adams and you're listening to NPR, National Public Radio." I heard these words and threw back the covers. Slowly, I sat up and swung my feet to the floor. Resembling Rodin's "The Thinker" with my elbow on my knee and my chin in my hand, my schedule for the day ran through my mind just like it has every morning for more years than I can remember: executive meeting at 8 a.m., mediation at 10 a.m. and school board meeting at 6:30 p.m. "Typical day," I thought, and I shuffled off to the bathroom.

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May: "Mental Health Awareness Month"—How Can You Maintain a Stable Mental Health?

Lawyers With Lowest Pay Report More Happiness

Check out These Mental Health Resources!

25 Meals to Seriously Boost Your Mood

Restoring the Foundations: 12 Steps Toward Personal Fulfillment in the Practice of Law
By Hon. Carl Horn
Reprinted from South Carolina Lawyer, September 1998 at 32

Nationally, at the state bar level and in our local bars, there is an increasing realization that law is a profession in crisis. Much of the public views lawyers as self-interested profiteers thriving on the problems and even the tragedies of others. Rather than positice associations with "justice" or other higher purposes, lawyers today are more often seen as greedy troublemakers, willing to make any claim or argument to line their own pockets.

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  April: "National Volunteer Month"—Volunteering and Developing Other Interesting Hobbies

Make Physical Fitness Your Hobby
Marie-Louise Ramsdale and her daughter pausing during a run in front of an art installation in Central Park. Ramsdale's daughter has now joined a track team!

Picking Up a Hobby: "Party Time"
From a fellow member of the bar

Do you like to party? I like to party. Who likes to party? You like to party. 

By "party," I don't mean getting all liquored-up in some club to that brutal Miley Cyrus song. By "party," I do mean picking up a hobby or interest that will turn "hobby time" into "party time." Everyone, regardless of their currently hectic work and family schedules, should find little moments in the day or week to nurture a hobby that will subconsciously take care of your own well-being. Doing so will allow you to relieve stress and build a passionate hobby that will feel like a party in the U.S.A. every time you get to do that thing you do.

Now, let's find you a hobby. Let's begin by thinking about your interests. What gets you going? What do you really LOVE?

Maybe I can help you. I have a growing number of interests and hobbies that occupy almost all of my free time. And it's becoming a "problem." And I want you to have this problem. So, here's how I "party" and shed stress like it's my job.

During the weekends this time of the year, I'm your typical South Carolina NASCAR fan, but I'm also a big English Premier League fan, and I follow the PGA Tour. While not your typical "hobby," having your favorite weekly sport or show to follow on TV can be as relaxing as a day on the beach.

Now, at the end of a work day, I love to try to play the drums like John Bonham—even though I fail miserably at it. I also love my morning time with a nice, peaceful cup of coffee at 6:30 a.m. I don't take cream or sugar, but I do take my coffee with a pretty heavy (and loud) dose of old-school James Brown. 

The list goes on. I love fishing and hunting and anything outdoors. I'm a pretty miserable golfer, but I really enjoy being on the golf course. I like working in the garage on my old car, changing the oil, and getting dirty. And God knows I love smoking a good ol' fashioned pork butt in my backyard for hours on end. So, yes.  I like to "party." I have a multitude of interests and hobbies and it’s a growing problem.

Is it a problem to juggle all of these hobbies? Sure, but, it is a great stress-relieving problem to have that has developed over a lifetime of trial and error. This "problem" allows me to decompress with a myriad of options at the end of the day and wake up the next morning ready to blare Brown's "I Feel Good" with my cup of coffee. And I want to pass this passionate "problem" onto my fellow members of the Bar.

So, here's my charge. Take up at least one regular activity this week. If you already have a hobby, great. Keep at it, but nurture it, foster its development, and watch it grow as you do. Or, go out and try something new. Maybe you'll like it. Maybe you won't. But you won't know if you don't try it out. Go and find what you LOVE to do (outside of being a lawyer, of course).

What activity gives you the most pleasure in the world? What makes you giddy with excitement when you have the time to pursue that activity? Whatever it is, make sure you find it and take time to get around to doing that activity regularly, whether it's by yourself or with the ones you love. Because when that activity develops into a full-blown love interest, your hobby will be as fun as a party, and your well-being, no matter how hectic your life is at that moment, will thank you.

This post is dedicated to my ever-patient wife who encourages me to continually develop new hobbies and foster old ones. She, too, likes to party.

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March: "Springing Forward" — Attorneys discuss career changes and retirement

So You Are Thinking About Moving—A Primer on Ethical Obligations of Departing Lawyers and Their Firms
By Nathan Crystal
Reprinted from South Carolina Lawyer Ethics Watch, March 2013 at 10 and May 2013 at 11

It used to be the case that when a lawyer started work for a firm, it was practically a lifetime commitment. No more. The profession has changed dramatically. Now it is common for lawyers, particularly those who have a large number of clients, to move to another firm or start their own. These departures raise a number of legal and ethical questions. An understanding of the basic principles applicable to such departures is essential for both departing lawyers and their old and new firms.

1. When should departing lawyers inform their firms of their plans to leave?
Lawyers have fiduciary obligations to their firms. A fiduciary has a duty to disclose material information to the principal. However, lawyers may engage in preliminary negotiations with prospective new firms and may make plans to open their own practice without disclosing such activities to their current firm. In the leading case of Meehan v. Shaughness, 535 N.E.2d 1255 (Mass. 1989), the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts held that departing partners owed fiduciary obligations to their remaining partners and that they could be held civilly liable for breach of those obligations. However, the court decided that the withdrawing partners did not breach their fiduciary obligations by making “logistical arrangements” for their new firm (executing a lease, preparing a list of clients they expected to retain after their departure, and arranging for financing based on their expected clientele) because fiduciaries may “plan to compete with the entity to which they owe allegiance,” provided that they do not otherwise breach their fiduciary obligations. Id. at 1264.

As a general matter, in my opinion lawyers need not disclose their intention to move until arrangements with the new firm are final. After all, the deal may fall through for many reasons. For example, suppose a lawyer signs an employment agreement with a new firm. Is disclosure to the old firm required at this point? If the employment agreement is subject to any significant condition, such as the satisfactory completion of a conflicts check, which may often be the case, in my opinion disclosure to the old firm would not be required until such conditions are removed and the employment agreement is essentially final. However, if the lawyer is in a management position in the old firm, the lawyer should not be participating in decisions by the firm that are based on the assumption that the lawyer will remain with the firm. If the lawyer is not ready to disclose his intentions at that point, at the very least, he should absent himself from participation in these decisions.

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Thoughts from the ABA

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  February: "Valentines Day" — Attorneys share their views on love (platonic, romantic, or familial) and relationships

Love in the Legal Field by Danielle Dixon
What would you write about if you were asked to write a blog about love?

More specifically, what would you write about if you were asked to write a blog about love for other lawyers to read?

I pondered that question for several days, quickly dismissing idea after idea. No, you don't want to hear about my children. No, you don't want to hear about my marriage. No, you don't really want to hear about the group of girls I hang out with. 

But perhaps you would be interested in reading about how I have encountered love while working as a lawyer. I admit, I was a little too excited when I landed on that idea. But then . . . nothing.

As lawyers, we don't often encounter love through our work. We are a litigious, adversarial, often overly-hostile bunch. It's understandable.  Our jobs require us to delve into other people's mistakes and misfortunes. Our jobs require us to negotiate and advocate and reach the best result for our client, which isn't necessarily the best outcome for the collective whole. This can sometimes lead to nasty, embittered disputes with other attorneys. Often it's for our client's benefit, but sometimes, in our competitiveness, we forget to respect one another or show love to one another. 

But I have to believe love exists in the legal field. I have to believe we have a deeper reason for what we do other than to obtain more money, more success, or more "wins." 

And I know it does. 

I remember being a young attorney. I had a client who was seeking custody of her grandson. I listened intently as she described what it is like to care for an infant who is addicted to crack-cocaine—the countless hours spent holding and coddling an infant who is suffering from withdrawal. She explained that this was her third grandchild, she had custody of her other two grandchildren, and she wanted custody of this one because her daughter was addicted to crack-cocaine. I agreed to file a custody action on her behalf. 

A few weeks later, my client called me to let me know her daughter was in jail. Selfishly, I thought that would make my case that much easier to prove. I filed an order to transport and prepared for the temporary hearing. 

The hearing date arrived, and my client and I stood before the judge prepared to present our case. As police officers escorted my client's daughter into the courtroom in chains, I held my breath, anticipating a nasty exchange. 

I was not prepared for what happened next. 

"Momma," the young woman cried, tears streaming down her face. My client walked over to her and embraced her. The two stood together for several minutes, sobbing. I heard my client whisper softly to her daughter, and I watched her daughter—the opposing party—nod in agreement. They embraced again, and then the hearing commenced. 

I obtained a temporary order of custody for my client that day. But what I obtained for her paled in comparison to what she showed me: the power of love, and how it can overcome anger, hostility, and wounded pride. My client was an amazing mother and grandmother, and despite everything her daughter put her through, I never heard her utter a negative word about her. Through her actions of caring for a crack-cocaine-addicted grandchild and forgiving her daughter for the pain she caused, she showed me that love is more powerful than anger and more meaningful than a successful day. 

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January: "New Year, New You" — Workout Routines and Other Healthy Habits

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to review our fitness partnerships.

What’s for Dinner? by Kathleen Warthen
What’s for dinner? No other question, asked eight or so hours ahead of the meal, can set my teeth on edge like that one. Putting food on the table has always been stressful, even for those who can afford plenty. It’s hard to balance nutrition with time constraints and your family’s demand for variety. At the same time, more evidence comes out every day that the American diet is a recipe for cancer, autoimmune disease and other ills, and that the incidence of those diseases are climbing. Perhaps at no time in human history has it been harder to figure out what to fix for dinner than it is right now. The nutrition aisle in the bookstore is bewildering. Competing theories run the gamut from the China Study, which argues veganism is the answer to longevity, to the Paleo movement, which insists eating the way we evolved is healthiest. It’s enough to make us envy Fido, happily downing the same bowl of kibble every night.

The glut of information is hard enough to reconcile when you have the time and leisure to read all the books.  But when you’re a busy lawyer, you might need the Cliff’s Notes version.

I’m here to read them for you, and yes, you can borrow my outline. 

I have to read them anyway. My kids and I have a genetic condition called Celiac Disease, which makes us unable to tolerate gluten. Because we are extra lucky, two of my kids are so sensitive to tiny amounts of contamination that we can eat almost nothing processed or cooked in a facility that isn’t dedicated gluten free.  The upshot is that I cook virtually everything we eat, from scratch. Like a caveman. And, of course, I read a lot of cookbooks and nutrition tomes. I hope that through the Living Above the Bar initiative, I can share some of what I’ve learned, and save you some time.

9/7/3: Are You in the Zone?

Sometimes, you just want to be told what, or how, to eat. Dr. Barry Sears is happy to do that for you, through his dozen books on the Zone Diet and his website, He’s also happy to feed you himself, through his Zone protein bars and supplements. It’s quite an empire. Here’s the quick and dirty summary of what you’ll learn from his books, the latest of which is bravely titled The Mediterranean Zone: Unleash the Power of the World's Healthiest Diet for Superior Weight Loss, Health, and Longevity (

  1. 9/7/3: There is an ideal ratio of macronutrients which will balance your hormones, in particular those that regulate hunger, in order to lose weight, maintain a healthy weight, and reduce inflammation in the body.  Every nine grams of carbohydrates you eat should be balanced with seven grams of protein and three grams of fat.
  2. Blocks:  Sears refers to each measure of, for instance, seven grams of protein, as a “block.” Likewise, nine grams of carbs and three grams of fat constitute one block of each.  In general, a healthy woman should have 3 blocks of each nutrient, at every meal, and a healthy man should eat 4 blocks.  The rest is just multiplication.
  3. Calorie restriction: Eat fewer blocks than you want to. Sears believes in calorie restriction, which has proven to extend the life span . . . at, least, in smaller mammals. If you want to lose weight, eat fewer blocks, but make sure to reduce or add blocks in a 1:1:1 ratio so that your meals, and your metabolism, stay balanced.
  4. Fish Oil: Take at least 2.5 grams of high-Omega 3 fish oil every day. The stuff in the grocery store is not sufficiently purified (of toxins like mercury) to be taken in the high doses Sears recommends. Conveniently, his store will sell you some here:

How in the world can you keep up with all those numbers? There’s an app for that! The app I use is called MyFitnessPal and coordinates with You can enter in each food you eat – or plan to eat – and the app will place your calories, by macronutrient, into a pie chart for you. You can enter your nutritional goals in a table according to the number of grams, or you can set your goal as 40% carbs to 30% protein to 30% fat (because fat has many more calories than protein per gram, the ratios are different when you analyze your intake in terms of calories).

The fish oil remedy is the easiest lifestyle “tweak” Sears has to offer, and indeed, it takes just a few seconds a day. It is also perhaps the most soundly based in science, as numerous studies have indicated the oil can reduce inflammation, help ward off heart disease, and even, at high levels, reduce pain. The neurological implications are exciting as well; after all, our brains are composed largely of an Omega-3 fatty acid called DHA. He promises more energy and better attention span; what lawyer couldn’t use some of that? The downside to the oil is the expense, and a fishy taste. In my experience the aftertaste is less of a problem if you take the pills just before bed.

When someone has built a huge empire out of telling people what to eat, I approach his theories skeptically. In this case, I think Sears’s basic premises aresound; his method keeps carbs under control, which nearly all nutritional experts today agree is a priority. However, he focuses on low-fat sources of protein, which is more controversial (especially in the Paleo community, where the cookbooks are full of gently home-rendered lard). Later reviews on these pages will go into more detail, but the gist is that America got fatter when “low fat” diets became the rage, because they substituted fat with carbohydrates, which, it turns out, were the bad guys all along.

Sears is such a true believer that his claims can occasionally beggar belief in the rest of us. He believes that consuming the allotted, or even fewer, blocks per meal will not leave you hungry, if you have perfectly balanced your nutrients. He actually writes in The Omega Rx Zone, “I can assure you that you won’t be hungry on this plan. In fact, you may actually need to remind yourself to eat every five hours, because you won’t be hungry.” I can tell you that I have tried that, and I still wanted to stuff my piehole, even if my taste for sugar has waned; but I was only allowing myself about two blocks per meal. Maybe, just maybe, dieting is supposed to be uncomfortable, and the magic pain-free diet does not exist.

Another caveat: The Zone brand foods defy everything (else) I have ever read about nutrition.  They are highly processed, shelf-stable food-type products that do not even perfectly meet the magic ratio. Michael Pollan would have a cow.  (Not really. He’s not Paleo). 

I discovered this diet via my rheumatologist, who recommended The Anti-Inflammation Zone: Reversing the Silent Epidemic That's Destroying Our Health, In this 2005 offering, Sears lays out much of the basic science surrounding inflammation’s role in disease, and the role a restricted-carbohydrate diet and supplements can play in healing. I recommend this book especially to people who suffer from autoimmune diseases.

You will also see a fat block described as 1.5 grams of fat; my understanding is this varies whether Sears is accounting for all the fat in the meal or just the primary source of fat. I think it is safest to use the number 3, especially in light of more recent research that challenges the low-fat advice of yesteryear (the first Zone book came out in 1995).

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