Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Broken Resolve: Why setting goals for 2009 is better than making “New Year’s Resolutions”

By Ashley Chin, PhD, MPH, MA

Each year about this time, people ask me, “So, what are your New Year’s Resolutions?” As I have been considering this lately, I’ve decided I’m not making any resolutions this year. Instead, I am developing “Goals for 2009”. What’s the difference you ask? It’s the difference between being disappointed sometime in mid-February and achieving lasting change throughout the year. Turns out, there’s a big difference between resolutions and goals.

  • Usually time bound to January 1
  • They are often all or nothing, once they’re “broken” they’re over
  • Not always specific or measurable
  • New Year’s resolutions tend to be huge, lofty goals that don’t always include the intermediate steps


  • Can be made at any time and cover any time period (i.e. annual goals, monthly goals, weekly goals, daily goals)
  • Are less rigid and can be measured by the amount achieved
  • SMART: Specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound
  • Well written goals include objectives and action steps

Here’s an example of a typical New Year’s resolution:

2009 New Year’s Resolution: Get healthy.

Not very specific – what does “get healthy” really mean? How will you measure it? How do you know if you can achieve it? Is it really realistic for you to resolve to “get healthy? What is the deadline for this – February 1 or December 31?

Perhaps a better way to improve your health is to set goals for 2009. Here’s an example of one way to formulate goals:

Goal for 2009: Improve overall health by losing weight, controlling stress and improving eating habits.
Objective 1: Lose 10% of current body weight by June 1, 2009.
Action Steps:
1. Find out when Weight Watchers meetings are held and join one convenient to me.
2. Make list of non-food rewards.
3. Reward myself for each 5lb loss.
4. Buy new walking shoes.
5. Walk 20 minutes, 3 X per week.

Objective 2: Utilize stress management techniques at least twice per week, beginning March 1, 2009.
Action Steps:
1. Before March 1, learn about stress management techniques such as yoga, meditation, prayer, biofeedback, progressive muscle relaxation etc. by asking friends, calling local yoga/fitness facilities and reading books/internet.
2. Try at least three different techniques before March 1.
3. Beginning March 1, utilize a specific stress management technique at least twice per week.

Objective 3: Eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day at least 5 days per week and limit alcohol/sweets to 2 days per week, beginning Jan.1.
Action Steps:
Make use of my cookbook collection and try a new vegetable recipe once per week.
Subscribe to the “Meatless Monday” internet newsletter for ideas on incorporating more fruits/veggies into diet.
Once per week, try one new fruit/vegetable I’ve never eaten before.
Invite girlfriends to come over for movie night (with healthy snacks) rather than meeting for drinks.

As you can see, the goals above are much SMARTer – specific, measureable, achievable, realistic and time-bound! Good luck with your goals for 2009.

Ashley is a personal trainer and group fitness instructor with over 15 years of experience. One of her goals for 2009 is to become a certified Wellness coach so that she can help others in their quest for total wellness. She can be contacted at

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Skinny on What to DO and What to BUY ... to get a started doing things holistically

This is a VERY BASIC to do list to get you started on a holistic approach to good health...


  • Try to get sun at least 15 mins everyday. If you cannot get sun, take cod liver oil for vitamin D and A -- in the summer, when you are in lots of sun, take fish oil everyday instead.

    (more herbs and supplements will be added per your personal needs)

    raw milk (or organic WHOLE milk)
    raw almonds
    raw / unprocessed honey (best w/in a 50 mile radius)
    vitamin c
    vitamin b complex (sublingual --under the tongue)
    oil of oregano-sublingual (for migraines, candida)
    flax, flax oil
    borage oil (for SKIN health)
    coconut oil (for skin, organs, blood sugar and to fight candida)
    fish oil or cod liver oil (depending on season)
    ginger (fresh)
    cayenne -- amazing stuff!!!
    cinnamon -- lowers blood sugar!
    milk thistle
    enzymes -- fresh pineapple and other tropical fruits
    aloe vera plant
    various herb plants
    probiotics -- milk/water kefir, yogurt (homemade)
    sauerkraut or sauerkraut juice (homemade)
    kombucha (homemade)
    aloe vera juice
    teas - green, black, chamomile (make teas w/ spring water)
    1 black coffee daily - if you want (organic)
    sea salt
    dark veggies -- eggplants, greens
    good quality proteins: egss, meats ... without hormones/antibiotics
  • a distiller (to make your own distilled water for drinking)
  • a water filter (that removes chlorine, but not minerals)
  • a regular juicer (I like the Jack LaLanne's best)
  • a masticating juicer (I use the manual kind -- It looks like an old fashioned meat grinder)
    If you buy a masticating juicer you can make your own wheat grass juice. It is VERY good for you (but requires a lot dedication to grow) -- u can buy it directly from a grower (I used to buy a flat for $20 and divide it w/ a friend) OR in little baggies at wholefoods, but its a bit EXPENSIVE -- but if you are having health problems, I feel it is worth the expense.

Sprout your own stuff: alfalfa, beans, almonds, wheat grass ... sprouting anything sproutable makes it that much better for you ... lots of good enzymes!!!

NO SUGAR (you can have honey, stevia, blue agave) -- though ingesting sugar is a no-no, you will need regular white sugar to make kefir and kombucha... don't worry, the kefir and kombucha eat the sugar, so you don't have to.:)

You can eat peanuts and peanut butter, but not much. I don't eat peanut butter as a general rule, but sometimes I do crave a little. Almond butter and other butters can be subbed or added to your peanut butter if you love eating large amounts and don't want to give it up.

No pre-made juices -- make your own. Pre-made juices are like peanut butter. They contain lots of junk. Juices are also too concentrated and too sugary (natural sugars should be taken in whole form)

TRY to avoid gluten: do not eat any wheat, corn or milk (unless keferized)... whenever in doubt, ferment! Wholefoods has a really good gluten free bread in the freezer.

Avoid soy -- it is to be used as a supplement for women's hormonal problems and not as a food. If you want to eat soy, eat it fermented -- you can buy wheat-free natural soy sauce at Wholefoods. No tofu.

If u are dying to eat something sweet, though kefir and kombucha often curb cravings for sweets -- a little dark dark choc w/ all natural ingredients (no flavorings, hydrogenated oils or other junk)
Coconut oil is naturally sweet and u can make cool things w/ it for a sweet tooth.


    TOPICALLY for rashes (while taking internally)
    milk kefir -- for yeast/candida -- female yeast infection, thrush, acne
    kombucha -- for fungus -- ringworm, fungus nails, athlete's foot, acne, cradle cap
    vitamin C, tea tree oil -- Warts and some moles, acne
    coconut oil -- yeast/candida, dry skin/hair conditions, cradle cap

    blood root (old-fashioned Indian black salve) -- for serious problems (Be very careful about this: They do have people that sell very dangerous counterfeits -- use this under the close supervision of a holistic adviser)


  • lanolin -- extremely dry skin, chapping from nursing, medium for homemade baby ointment
  • Puffy eyes -- a potato slice for about 10 mins or used green tea bag (or cold spoon)


GET RID OF white table salt. I call it "table poison."

GET RID OF toothpaste w/ fluoride, mouthwashes and pre-washes that have words that you cannot pronounce -- instead floss, Waterpik and scrub your tongue (and if you have bad breathe, you can use Waterpik to clean stones out of your tonsils) ... you can do oil pulling for serious gum problems. Oil of oregano and itty-little-bitty amount of food grade tea tree oil, OR my personal favorite is food grade peppermint oil on the tongue instead of mouthwash. The occasional baking soda OR lemon, strawberry or hydrogen peroxide cleaning is fine (DO NOT SWALLOW peroxide!).

GET RID OF "fat free" and "diet" foods -- eat fats (good fats!), eat everything WHOLE ... if you want to drink milk, at least drink it whole. Your body needs the whole product to use it properly. Eat butter, not margarine. Feel free to use as much good oils as you want (Do not cook olive oil to a high heat). Flax and Borage are best uncooked. You can heat coconut oil.

GET RID OF deodorants w/ aluminum or waxes (I just use salt -- I never ever stink, a good premade one is Lafes Natural and organic Deodorant spray.

GET RID OF Tums and antacids -- Drink milk kefir and/or aloe vera juice for an upset stomach (antacid prescriptions are, in my opinion, very dangerous -- if you are interested in learning more about the dangers of those and other prescriptions, I would be glad to forward you more information)

GET RID OF hair conditioners and that kind of stuff -- use coconut oil, lanolin (when needed) and essential oils mixed in the oil for smell (flax seed oil is good too, but more expensive and not any better than coconut)

GET RID OF perfumes and colognes -- If you can't go without them -- you can keep em, if u don't spray them on your skin. Spray them on your clothes instead if u really want to use them. Remember, you might be suffering from allergic reactions to those things and haven't realized it. Headaches, allergic reactions and sinus problems can be caused by lab formulated scents. Ask me to send you more info about this if you are interested in learning about the dangers of certain scents.

GET RID OF sunblock and bug repellent -- they have natural alternatives which are fine (but a bit expensive). Sunblock in general is poison. Cover up with cotton, just like they did in the old days. If you NEED a sunblock, make your own from broccoli or buy some from the Wholefoods Store OR Dr. Mercola has a real good one.

GET RID OF sunglasses -- let the sun get in your eyes everyday. NOTE: I am not telling you to stare at the sun, but allow the sun to get in your eyes. It is an important part of our optical process (the dilation and response to sun on the back of the eye is important) it is also needed for the brain's proper functioning and is a natural antidepressant. It is no coincidence that God placed a gigantic sun in the sky to shine on us while we work outside or commute to and from work... we were NOT born with sunglasses attached to our heads, but with eyelashes ... and common sense.

  • For easier reading, I have given only a limited amount of information per subject.If you found anything in this blog that you want more information on, feel free to ask me for resources.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Water Kefir Workshop

I am becoming over-run by happy water kefir grains (curds) ... that means it is time for a workshop again. I have enough for you to bring your friends too!

I will have a water kefir workshop during the Christmas holidays. Sooooooo, if you are interested in learning how to make kefir; I will give you a starter and get you started!

Please reply to this blog and let me know if you are interested in attending and then we will all work out a time to meet together. I am thinking a Sunday afternoon is best for me.

Let me know if you are interested in attending:)

in New Orleans

Sunday, November 23, 2008

”How Do You Sign Wal Mart?”

American Sign Language Proper Nouns

Presenter: Barbara Lovas, ThD

Come join us for a fun filled interactive workshop. We will learn commonly used signs for various states, cities, famous/infamous people, places, businesses, holidays, countries, and several international proper nouns via helpful memorization tools and interactive games. We are gonna’ learn ‘em all ... and have fun doing it!!!

DATE: December 6, 2008
TIME: 9am – 3pm
PLACE: CBBDC (downstairs – enter the door facing Hawthorne Pl. )
5324 Canal Blvd. , NOLA, 70124

Price -- $10.00 at the door

CEUs applied for
More info contact:

Friday, November 21, 2008

Kombucha Recipe

Here are my simple instructions for making kombucha. It is much more potent than what you can buy at a store. You will need to find a scoby. Join a kombucha Yahoo group or post your desire to find a scoby on a freecycle or your local health food store bulletin board. Most home kombucha makers are more than happy to share. Many have tried to make kombucha from store bought kombucha. To my knowledge, no one has ever been able to succesfully do it.

Most important thing to remember while making kombucha is that it must be made and handled in a very clean environment. Take off all jewelry. Scrub under your nails with a nail brush. Also make sure that no chlorine or chlorinated water comesds into contact with your kombucha or scoby at any time. Here's the instructions:

12 cups spring water/ 1 cup sugar/ 5 tea bags (bring spring water to boil, pour in 1 cup of white sugar and boil 5 mins, turn off heat and let 5 bags of organic black tea simmer for at least 10 mins. Let the tea/sugar/water cool down before adding ur scoby and kombucha tea to it.) Add your scoby in smooth side-up -- if it flips, no problem. They have a mind of their own. Don't freak out and take me literally!

1 cup of kombucha tea (if u forget to save kombucha from ur last batch you can use apple cider vinegar instead -- I don't know how much, I never used vinegar before. You can look that info up on the kombucha website if u need to use vinegar)

1 or one large mother (SCOBY)
and can add a baby SCOBY on top (both SCOBY should be smooth side up)

Put in a dark quite place for around 8 days. Temp. around 70 to 75 degrees. Taste to your liking. 6 days is too sweet and 10 days starts to taste more vinegary if you mess up and it is too vinegary for u to appreciate, u can add a juice, water it down, use it as table vinegar for your salads or for shampoo or antifungal -- I keep some in my bathroom for my hair. Add strawberries or herbs to your tea after the scoby has been removed (they call that the first fermenting) add your stuff and then let it soak a day or two in the fridge or out of fridge for a few hours (that is the second fermenting). Remember to burp ur bottles every once in a while to prevent them from blowing up:)

Here is Beverly's instructions Her instructions are far more detailed than mine. She is one of the few individuals who is most knowledgable in kombucha making. She is a member of one of the groups that I am a member of. In fact, I suggest that if you are not a member of the Original Kombucha Yahoo Group, it would be very helpful for you to join. If you have any questions you can always ask her for help too.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Rice Sock Heating Pad

Instead of using an electric heating pad with dry heat, consider making your own heating pad with plain white rice and a white cotton sock.

First, you will need around 3 cups or so of plain white rice (NOTE: though I don't buy white rice to eat, I do use white rice to make my rice sock heating pad. A gigantic bag of white rice is very affordable. One bag will last you a year.)

Then, find a clean white cotton sock. I would suggest washing it well with a little soap and bleach, rinse it very very well. Another thing I would suggest is that you start saving all your odd mismatched cotton socks for such things as this in the future.

Fill your sock with between 2 to 3 cups of rice, according to your preference. Place it on a clean microwavable plate and heat it in a microwave on high for one minute. After one minute, take it out and turn it over and heat it another minute on high. A total of 2 minutes should be sufficient. If you want it warmer, you can add a few seconds at a time.

Wrap your rice sock heating pad in either a clean white cotton pillow case, towel or a recycled white t-shirt. This rice sock will stay warm for a very long time. It also produces a moist heat, instead of a harmful dry heat. It is safe enough to use with children. NOTE: If you use it for children, be careful not to make it too hot. Also, quickly knead the heated rice sock in your hands to evenly spread the heat before giving the sock to a child to use. This precaution will eliminate the danger of a child being burned by hot spots that might be hidden in one or more areas of the sock.

You can use the same sock indefinately. I use mine until the moisture is just about gone. After heating it up the first time, you will notice a smell simular to popcorn. As the moisture is taken out of the rice it will more and more resemble the smell of popcorn ... when it starts smelling more like burnt popcorn, it is time for a new rice sock.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


BEFORE YOU BEGIN: It is always best to backup your harddrive before you do any removing; though honestly I don't do it for this simple cleaning. It might be a good idea for you to make a backup for the first few times you clean, until you get used to it -- if you follow these instructions FOR SURE everything you delete will be safe. The backup is more to protect you if you accidentally delete the wrong thing unintentionally. This is a very SAFE cleaning! I do it at least every 3 months.


Go into CONTROL PANEL > System > Advanced > Performance
You probably have selected "Best for computer",
Change to "Best for performance"

Go into CONTROL PANEL > System > Advanced > Virtual Memory
Is probably set to 480 - 960
Change to twice your ram,
for example: my ram is 256, so 256 X 2 = 512
I set both my min 512 and max 512

Go to Control Panel > Fonts > Delete all fonts that you don't use -- this will give u lots of speed back!

NOTE: If you need to find out how much RAM you have, let me know and I will tell you how to find it.Also, If you don't use your time stamp, you can turn it off -- it will save more energy. I would be glad to tell you how to do that too. Just reply to this blog.


START > Search > All files and folders > type in the box *.tmp then go to Edit at the top of the page > Select All > press Delete (on keyboard)
(if a pop-up says that you cannot delete a file(s) go ahead and highlight above that item(s) and delete manually. You can left click and drag across several together to group them and then click delete.)

START > Search > All files and folders > type in the box ~* then go to Edit at the top of the page > Select All > press Delete (on keyboard)

START > Computer > Local Disc C > Temp -- click on Temp to open > Select All > Delete

START > Computer > Local Disc C > Windows > Prefetch > click on Prefetch to open > Select All > Delete

Right click on Desktop empty area
PROPERTIES . Theme > Classic (select)

Screen Saver > none (apply)
Last thing to do: which you should do regularly is go to:
INTERNET EXPLORER > top of the page click on TOOLS > Internet Options >
select OK or APPLY as directed to remove them all.

Shut down your computer and turn it back on -- it should be running much faster.

(John's added a message for you)
Be sure you are ready to chase the computer when it runs faster, it will run off your desk and chase your cats and dog! Just kidding!!!

Monday, October 13, 2008


Drinking water kefir is a great way to fix just about any stomach problem you are dealing with. It is full of all kinds of friendly bacteria that can colonize in your intestines to help get your stomach's flora back in shape. Surprisingly many of our health problems are directly related to our ability to absorb and use nutrients via digestion. Digestion is large factor in determining our overall health. That is where kefir comes in. Let me steal a quote from Lucille Ball in her skit for the VitaMitaVegimin commercial, "and its so yummy too!"

Lately, everyone is running to buy special yogurts with added friendly bacteria. Yogurt is great! But making it yourself is even better and a lot cheaper. We really should take advantage of all of the friendly bacteria found in such things as yogurts, milk/water kefirs and kombuchas. Each contains different benefits. Here is a basic, not exhaustive, list of the kinds of friendly bacteria found in Water Kefir:

* Lactobacillus brevis
* Streptococcus lactis
* Saccharomyces cerevisae
* Betabacterium vermiforme
* Saccharomyces pastorianus.

There are many variations of kefir water. My favorites are are made with Ginger/Figs and Ginger/Raisins. Before I begin to explain how to make kefir water, I first want to give credit to Dom, the man who taught me everything I know about it. He has helped me more times than I can count. If after reading this you become interested in making your own kefir water, I highly recommend that you check out Dom's website:
Dom's kefir info webpage .

Here are the measurements I use for a quart size jar:

water kefir
3 cups spring water
3.5 - 4 TBS of grain
1/4 sugar
1/8 tsp sea salt (Celtic or Himalayan is best)
2 small ginger slices
slice of lemon
2 small or one large dried fig (or raisins)

mix (stir) water, salt and sugar well (until dissolved)
add grains
add lemon, figs and ginger
(carefully stir one more time)

-- Stir after 24 hours and ferment for another 24 hours -- when the temperature is warmer it ferment faster. Taste it to make sure it is ready. When the sweetness is gone, it is ready! Be sure to leave enough room in your container for it to grow... and burp it in the fridge from time to time. I have heard of exploding kefir bottles. So don't forget to burp your bottles!

Of course, I make mine in gigantic pickle jars. Which, for you, would just require multiplying the ingredients accordingly. If you are interested in learning more about making your own water kefir or finding out more about the benefits of drinking it, check out these websites:

How to make kefir
Kefir FAQ

Some of you are now wondering about milk kefir. I will talk more about that later!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Washing My Hair with Kefir and Kombucha

Since I had started washing my hair with Kefir Whey and Kombucha my hair has become noticeably thicker and shinier. I am almost 50 years old now, and prior to using the kefir and kombucha my hair had been starting to turn grey. My hair is now coming in healthy, shiny and back to it's original blonde color for the most part.

When I noticed that my hair was going back to my original color I was a bit embarrassed to tell anyone what I had noticed; because I was sure that people would think I was imagining things, so I said nothing. Ironically, within a day or so of my noticing this, someone in my kombucha group had noticed the same thing. Their experience was more evident than mine, because that person and their spouse's hair had changed from grey back to brown. I replied and shared my experience and so did others. So, I am not the only 'crazy' that says my hair has gone back to it's original color. Since that time, which has been at least a year ago now. Several people have commented on my hair. The ones who knew that my hair had been thin my whole life ... and that my hair had become dry, brittle and dull as I had become older have been even more shocked.

So, now are you wondering what I do to wash my hair? First of all, I haven't been able to go totally soapless on the hair yet. Though, I use so very little shampoo, that one large bottle of shampoo with essential oils lasts me forever ... I mean, FOREVER! I tried the "no poo" method with Baking Soda and Apple Cider Vinegar. It was too drying for my hair. Though, I must mention that it does work very well for others.

Here is what I do: I soak my hair in the kombucha at least once a week. I also soak my hair in kefir at least once a week. When my hair needs washing between those times I use a pinch a good quality herbal shampoo with essential oils ONLY on my roots. As I rinse the shampoo out (rinsing it out very well!) the shampoo water runs down the remainder of my hair, though I don't intentionally 'wash' the rest of my hair or ends.

I used to pretty much just take a handful of shampoo and slap it on my wet hair/head and sort of scrub my hair around until it looked like a nest (which is the common practice of most), then rinse it out; followed by conditioner. My poor hair certainly needed the conditioner after that horrible abuse!

I no longer use conditioners or hair sprays. Thankfully, I don't need them anymore. Being that my hair used to be so thin, it used to quickly become oily. This is no longer the case. Now, I use a little bit of pure coconut oil in my hair after washing. It works great! Every once in a while I mix up some coconut oil and lanolin and use it on the tips of my hair.

Let me warn you! If you wash your hair too often in kombucha, your head will smell like vinegar when you sweat. That happened to me once. Not good! Which also reminds me, if you are a person who likes your hair to smell good you can do what I do. When you add the coconut oil to your hair add a drop of geranium oil, or any other essential oil that is safe for your skin. Your hair will smell great and look shiny. It also holds up well to humidity. I live in New Orleans, the capital of humidity, and my hair holds up great.

Friday, September 19, 2008

No More Soap?

I never dreamed that I would see the day that I would bathe without soap. Nor, could I imagine ever being proud to tell someone such a thing. Well, that is the truth. I don't use soap to bathe anymore... and it has been one of the best decisions I have ever made!

Ever since I have thrown out the soap, my skin is softer and more clear than it has ever been. I am sure you are wondering if I stink now. Nope, that has not been a problem either. I don't use soap, but I do use sea salt, Epsom salt, kefir and kombucha:

Sea Salt -- works as a natural neutralizer. It kills bacteria and germs that can cause infection and softens the water.

Epsom Salt -- provides magnesium and sulfur that the body needs, with all of the added benefits of salt. As a perk, Epsom salt baths are great for relief of muscle pain and sprains.

Kefir and Kombucha -- are great astringents for fungus and any kind of skin condition. They are packed with probiotics (friendly bacteria). They are not only great for soaking in, but also can be used instead of shampoo.

I am sure that at first glance of this list most people would assume that this is too expensive of a venture to even think of trying. Let me tell you, since I have started doing this I have saved lots of money. I buy the salts by the bulk and make my own kombucha and kefir. I will be going into more detail in my next few blogs as to how to make kefir and kombucha. I will also add all of the links to the cool websites and to my mentors, so you can learn to make them for yourself.

The reason I started making kefir and kombucha is because I had stomach problems and I was looking for a way to straighten up my stomach's flora. It worked! My stomach problems are gone and the lagniappe perk is now I have found that there are more uses for them than I ever knew, including bathing in them. In fact, the kefir I use to wash my hair is made from my leftover whey. The kombucha I use is made from the kombucha that I make to drink that becomes over fermented. I could go on forever about using them to wash my hair ... but that is another blog too!

Why did I stop using soap? I know you were wondering. I was reading an article from Dr. Mercola and he had mentioned that we should not be using anything on our skin that we would not be willing to eat. It sounds bizarre, but think about it: our skin is our largest organ. Our skin absorbs everything that we put on it. If you think about all the junk we put on our skin; all the chemicals and toxins we take in on an average day with our soaps, lotions, colognes, laundry soaps and softeners ... then add in all the chemicals we come into contact with in the environment on a daily basis, it's too much to even begin to wrap our minds around. Maybe after reading this you might consider going soapless too!