Registered dietitian Ricia Taylor from Kaiser Permanente of Georgia is here to give her best advice on how to keep up with your New Year’s resolution and stick to that diet.

Ricia Taylor

Q: What resolution did you make this year?

A: I plan to limit my family’s consumption of fast foods. I keep The Calorie King- Calorie, Fat, Carbohydrate Counter in the car and my kids and I make it a game to find and choose the healthiest options.

Q: What is a common resolution that you hear from people?

A: People often vow to stop eating carbohydrates to lose weight. Carbohydrates are actually your body’s preferred source of energy and should be included with most meals for optimal health. Try choosing healthier ones, such as whole grains and fresh fruit.

Q: Why do you think people fail to keep their resolutions?

A: They go to the extreme and try to implement changes that are too difficult to maintain.

Q: What is one action a person can take to stick to their resolution?

A: Be realistic. Small changes can yield lasting results. Instead of going vegetarian cold turkey, try implementing meatless Mondays for the first month.

Q: What advice would you give someone who is struggling?

A: Allow yourself flexibility. You can maintain a healthy diet and still enjoy an occasional treat. It’s what and how much you consume the majority of the time that is going to affect your overall health.

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GARDEN takes indoor gardening to a new level and shows you how to not let the colder weather stop you from enjoying a little gardening. With a GARGARDEN ATL Terrarium DEN terrarium kit, you can easily move flora and fauna inside. Matthew Klyn, GARDEN’s founder and owner, explains that the idea behind these kits is to make growing something beautiful accessible to everyone, no matter what the temperature is outside. The kit includes a 100 percent recycled glass terrarium, charcoal, orchid mix, terrarium soil, moss, gravel, stones, decorative accents and instructions. $12

Details: 1080 Brady Ave. NW, Atlanta, GA, (404) 941-9154,

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Day 13 of Fitness – Les Mills BodyCombat at AGX

Best Self staffer: Flannery

If you’ve never tried a Les Mills class, today’s the day to fit one into your schedule. This company offers choreographed classes in a variety of styles, and they can be found at gyms all over the country. Yesterday our associate publisher Patti tried Sh’Bam, which is Les Mills’ dance fitness class, and I’m no stranger to these classes either: One of my favorites is group weightlifting in BodyPump, which I have taken in gyms from Charleston to Nashville. Yesterday, I decided to expand my repertoire and experience BodyCombat with Jacob at Adrenaline Group Xercise.

BodyCombat with Jacob at AGX

BodyCombat with Jacob at AGX

If I had to create a class tailor-made for a teenage boy, this would be it–and yet, all the adult women and men were enjoying it too! This mixed martial arts class put us through our paces with jabs, upper cuts, hooks, and an impressive repertoire of kicks. By about halfway through the class when we were jumping into the air and kicking sideways, I was pretty sure we had all achieved ninja status. This was a great way to get my heart rate up without focusing too much on the fact that I was working out. Instead, I felt like I could just as easily have been running around the house with my younger brother playing “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.” And yet, despite the fact that everyone was having fun, there was a lot of power behind the punches in that room. Everyone was working hard, and we got a great workout that challenged our muscles and our hearts. The music was upbeat, and our awesome instructor Jacob was enthusiastic and clear with his instruction. By the end, we felt like we had won our bouts, plus gotten a great workout along the way.

To try BodyCombat or any of the other Les Mills classes AGX offers, head to their website to check out their group fitness schedule. The gym is also offering a seven-day free trial of all classes, so this is the month to find the class that’s perfect for you.

Details: 5251 Peachtree Industrial Boulevard, Chamblee, GA, 770-458-3859,


Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

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Camp to Belong GeorgiaCurrently, more than 7,000 children live in foster care in Georgia, and about half of those children are separated from at least one sibling. To help this problem, Camp To Belong Georgia brings siblings back together for events that encourage connection, social maturation and positivity. At the camp, siblings have the opportunity to experience traditional camp activities like horseback riding, swimming and rock climbing, as well as hear motivational speakers and receive support for their unique situations. Registration for the 2014 summer camp begins this month.


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There are many different symptoms that could be linked to your thyroid not functioning at the optimal level and a number of ways to test your thyroid health. Some of these include fatigue, weight changes, depression and anxiety, bowel problems or changes in your hair or skin. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you may want to have your thyroid checked.  Some of the most common thyroid function tests include: Testing the Health of Your Thyroid

Blood tests measure the level of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) in the blood, which helps determine thyroid function. High levels of the hormone indicate an under active thyroid.

Ultrasound exams detect signs of growth and other irregularities. An ultrasound scan is a diagnostic technique which uses high-frequency sound waves to create an image of internal organs.

Thyroid scans use radioactive iodine or technetium (a radioactive metallic element) to reveal any physical abnormalities of the thyroid.

Functional stimulation tests help differentiate whether the problem lies with the pituitary gland, the hypothalamus or the thyroid gland. One such test includes injecting thyrotropin-releasing hormone and measuring the pituitary’s response.

- Courtesy of Piedmont Hospital,

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Dr. Scott Karempelis from Dermatology Associates of AtlantaDr. Scott Karempelis answers a reader’s question about psoriasis and skin cancer.

Q: Is it true that lasers can be used to treat chronic skin conditions like psoriasis and skin cancer?

A: Today’s laser technology is highly specialized, with many types of FDA-approved lasers being used to treat common and rare skin conditions alike. At DDA’s Laser Institute of Georgia, the PHAROS EX-308 Excimer is the newest FDA-approved laser for psoriasis, using UV light to treat even the most difficult areas like the hands, feet, knees, elbows and scalp. In addition to cosmetic issues such as wrinkles, the CO2 Ultrapulse laser can be used to destroy abnormal cells in some forms of skin cancer or precancerous growths.

Do you have questions for our doctors? If so, please email your questions to


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House of Payne Fitness Model ExperienceGet your fitness model career started by learning from the experts at House of Payne Personal Training on January 18th. House of Payne will host The Fitness Model Experience, a unique event that will show you how to pose, train and more. Hear from guest speakers including special guest Adam Silver, founder of Silver Model Management in New York. Also learn more from professional fitness models and hear their success stories. $47 per person.

Details: 4656 Lawrenceville Hwy., Lilburn, GA, (678) 641-9188,

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Day 12 of Fitness – Sh’Bam Dance Fitness at Adrenaline Group Xercise

Best Self associate publisher: Patti

Les Mills Sh'Bam classFour o’clock on Sunday afternoon is not exactly my peak fitness hour, but that was the time of the Sh’Bam dance fitness class at Adrenaline Group Xercise yesterday. I headed there for Day 12 of our 30 Days of Fitness, and despite not usually working out at that time, I was looking forward to an upbeat class.

Traffic is light on Peachtree Industrial during the weekend, so getting to AGX was a breeze, as was the parking. The person at the front desk greeted me right away, pointed out where I could grab a towel, and proceeded to show me to the group fitness room. The instructor, Myrna Soraya, gave me a very warm welcome and promised a very athletic, high energy, dance class. I mentioned to her that I had done Zumba classes before, and she said that was good but this class would be even more athletic and a harder workout.

Best Self associate publisher Patti and Sh'Bam instructor Myrna

Best Self associate publisher Patti and Sh'Bam instructor Myrna

The energy of the music and Myrna’s friendly personality quickly got me out of my Sunday afternoon sluggishness, and I was soon smiling and stepping along with her. The music was great, and with each song we learned a different “routine.” The routines were short and not terribly complicated, so it was easy to follow. I know I didn’t make it look as good as Myrna, but I was able to keep up. About halfway through, I realized my knees were feeling the years of abuse and not responding well to the fast twists and turns on the carpet. I made a few adjustments—kicks not so high, not quite as many turns as Myrna—got back on track for a strong finish!

Details: 5251 Peachtree Industrial Boulevard, Chamblee, GA, (770)458-3859,



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Day 11 of Fitness – The Bar Method

Best Self account executive: Sandy

Jen and Carson from The Bar Method

Jen and Carson, who welcomed me to The Bar Method

For Day 11 of our 30 Days of Fitness, I went to The Bar Method. The workout is a full hour composed of eight to nine strengthening exercises. It’s not Pilates or yoga, but instead combines isometrics, interval training, dance conditioning and sports rehabilitation which can quickly and safely (emphasis on safe) burn fat and carve muscle using your own body weight to sculpt each muscle group. It’s high intensity but no-impact that works you to total exhaustion, followed by stretching. The combination of all of this is meant to create a long, lean, firm, sculpted body. After taking the class, I can totally see how this could change my body!

First timers just need to bring or wear socks along with your usual fitness wear. Your workout bottoms can be ankle or capri length. When you first arrive, grab a locker for your stuff, remove your shoes, bring in water if you want or get some from their water cooler, grab one of the provided towels and two sets of hand weights from the baskets.

Once we had our equipment, Jen began class. She was very detailed in her instructions and personable to everyone there. She notices if you are doing something wrong and nudges you to the right form. She also praises you when you are doing it correctly and would often tell me, “Great job, Sandy,” or “Nice form, Sandy.” How she could keep up with everyone was amazing, as she moved about the class constantly when she wasn’t in front of everyone showing us a new exercise. She was awesome.

For me, holding the ball between my thighs while squatting with my heels lifted off the floor was the toughest part of the class. Other women told me it was a challenge for them at first too, but after that, their challenge is going into deeper squats and lifting their heels even higher.  The workouts never get too easy since you are constantly challenging yourself to do something deeper, higher, adding arms, not using arms and so forth.

Bar Method

I have never done anything like this before and have never used the bar and a ball they way they use it. I loved the variety and never got bored with any one exercise. I thought the hour went by way more quickly than anticipated! I had been slightly intimidated before attending the class since it’s been two years since I’ve actually been on any workout schedule, and because of my age—well, let’s just say I’m in my 50s. I thought there would be nothing but young, hard bodies there. I was wrong; I saw all levels and ages, and it was a relief. Not only that, but I felt alive, invigorated and energetic the rest of the day. I would recommend this class to anyone at any fitness level and at any age.

Details: 1281 Johnson Ferry Rd, Suite 112, Marietta, GA, (770) 578-4655,

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Day 10 of Fitness – Happy Hour TGIF at Sacred Garden Yoga

Best Self staffer: Flannery

Best Self staff member Flannery with Sacred Garden Yoga owner Cindy Olah

Best Self staff member Flannery with Sacred Garden Yoga owner Cindy Olah

In years past, I have fancied myself a yogi. I used to look forward to the calm atmosphere at a yoga studio: the immediate, unintentional lowering of my voice and slowing of my step as I entered the space. I used to love the delicate scents in a yoga studio—even if it was just a regular candle, it became extra special in this place of quiet reflection and self-exploration. But as it tends to do, life got in the way of my practice. I let myself get busy, I convinced myself that the drive to the studio was too long, and I stopped going. Instead, I opted for a more convenient gym with shorter classes that can only be described as yoga-ish. There would be a mat involved, and several of the requisite downward dog poses, but the sacred space was no longer there. I didn’t realize what I was missing until I went to Sacred Garden Yoga for Day 10 of our 30 Days of Fitness. I signed up for this class partly because the owner, Cindy Olah, was voted “Best Yoga Instructor” in our “Best of 2013″ contest so the class was sure to be good, and partly because the class was called “Happy Hour TGIF Yoga.” I thought that sounded upbeat, fast-paced and fun—much like the watered-down yoga classes I have come to expect over the last few years.

When I arrived, the studio was smaller than I expected. Tucked in a residential area of Marietta, this little house has a reception area leading into a yoga room that holds about 12 mats. Chimes tinkled softly as I opened the door, and I was enveloped by that yoga-studio scent that I remembered from years ago. I can’t even name it, but I could feel it: it felt like calmness, safety, strength and happiness all rolled into one deep breath. I rolled out my mat and jumped into the class—I was late, because like so many of us, I had trouble pulling myself away from my desk on time in order to prioritize self-care. As I began listening to Cindy’s instruction, I realized how very different this was from the yoga-ish classes I was used to. The goal was not to get a quick workout in and then head back to our normal lives. She was talking to us about body positioning and what to stretch when, of course, but that was interwoven with talk about living intentionally, learning to trust ourselves on and off the mat, and keeping our inner fires of motivation lit for every facet of our lives. Cindy used the Sanskrit names for many poses, offered variations for the different levels in the class, and walked around to adjust us as needed through the entire 75 minutes.

Sacred Garden YogaI had forgotten this level of engagement that’s found at a dedicated yoga studio. The instructor and students are not just there for the physical benefits: we were there for connection and for the mental and emotional journey of mindful yoga. Even this blog post is different than the other days of fitness! I feel more reflective, slower, calmer than usual. That’s not just due to the movements of yoga (which help, certainly), but more due to the atmosphere, focus and sacred space created at Sacred Garden Yoga. Do yourself a favor and try a yoga class at a studio like Sacred Garden: give yourself permission to take the time, to make the drive, to prioritize yourself. See what a change it will make.

Details: 369 Campbell Hill Street, Marietta, GA, (770) 421-9353,

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