Saturday, April 30, 2016

What Has Been Happening The Last 3 Months -- "Mike's Mental Awareness Journey" Update?

Note: Initially, I was going to direct you to the page where the post below was intended to be published -- which is located on my "Mike's Mental Awareness Journey" webpage on  Instead, I decided to publish the update here too.  Without further ado, enjoy the update on my mental awareness journey over the last 3 and 1/2 months.

Original Post:

The last post that I wrote regarding my mental awareness was back at the beginning of the year.  I had just come off of a vacation – learning the importance of “disconnecting from your devices” was the theme.  What has happened since in my mind?  Any great mental revelations?  You must be thinking that I must be either going to be insane or full of a large amount of information that I feel the need to get off my chest.  Well, fortunately enough for you, neither is the current situation.  Below are three different mental awareness realizations that have occurred over the last 4 months:


The first realization that has had an impact on both my mental and physical health for a period over the last couple of months.  I am not perfect.  I happen to be stressed a little more than usual for reasons that I will get to in a minute has opened me up to the possibility of contracting the flu that has been going around.  I went to a super bowl party after spending part of the weekend at my Mother’s house.  If you have read my previous posts on this site, my parents have a tendency to push full schedule throughout the weekend.  The previous few weeks had been stressful.  By the time I showed up at my father’s house and ate a ton of few with deserts, I opened my health up to catching the terrible flu that had been going around. 

I returned back home and went to work while starting to feel worse over the week.  Over the next couple of weeks, I got worse.  My father used to tell me that “rest” is the best way to let the body heal.  I took a few days off (a couple).  After, I started feeling good.  I continued to feel “off and on” with a cough for a couple of more weeks.  Right about now, you are probably asking yourself why am I carrying on about feeling sick?  Especially since people get sick all of the time.  Working at the university has exposed me to a great amount of variation of strains of the flu.

The reason why I carry on is that sometimes when we get sick, we start to feel somewhat depressed and stress only exacerbates the flu symptoms further.  People tend to not factor in the two reasons for making the flu worse.  Stress will only prolong the flu symptoms and further weaken the immune system.  Depression is not any better.  That is why if I get sick, I try to rest and keep a positive attitude and try to heal.  Sometimes that is a challenge.  I still have a slight cough now a couple months later.  What is going on?  I have heard that people who have gotten sick have also started to feel symptoms of “bronchitis.”  I can report that over time, I am feeling better.

Additionally, I remember a thought from my childhood.  He used to tell me that the flu circulates in our bodies every three weeks.  I you do not take care of yourself when the flu comes back around, the possibility of getting sick AGAIN is possible.  So, remember, no stress or anxiety, and rest, and stay healthy after feeling better.  That is part of what has been filling up my time over the last few months.

Starting Up A Non-profit Organization:

Even when a person is feeling great, starting a non-profit organization is not an easy task.  I imagine that this stress has continued to prolonged state of “on and off sickness.”  I should backtrack a little about the origin of this organization.  Originally, the idea of ‘Kaiser Wellness Center’ originated out of a trip down to the beach.  That was part of the process. Kayla has had this idea in her mind for quite a while.  The idea was to demystify science and health/wellness through educating the public.  The other part was to grow and share our experience along the way.  We are normal people.  That is part of the wonderful aspect about ‘Kaiser Wellness Center’ is that the organization is an organic growth of disseminating knowledge to the public.  How did this translate into the beginning of a non-profit organization?

Be true to yourself.  If you feel something is right, then ideas will grow into a concrete realization.  Out of Kaiser Wellness Center grew our organization “Bikecar101.”  There is no surprise that currently, an obesity problem is emerging.  Our society is not getting healthier by increasing the weight that they care carrying around.  I am at fault too.  In order to deal with this emerging problem, there is a motivation among the transportation institutions to elevate the amount of people that are engaging in “Active Transportation.”  Further, we need to track our progress – which we do on our site.  Over the course of the last few years, we have realized that if you really want change, you need to promote change yourself.  How is that accomplished?  First, serve as a role model. 

We started riding the train along with our bicycles to work on a daily basis.  One of the largest addictive properties of a healthy lifestyle is that others are attracted to the benefits such behavior.  Why?  Normally on the train, a typically commuter seems to be quiet and “stand-off-ish.”  This is directly opposite of a rail car filled with commuters with bicycles.  Each person loading and unloading a bicycle onto a train car understands the frustration.   When you board the train and strap your bicycle down – you can then sit down and relax for the remainder of the ride – which is great.  Bicycle commuters tend to share the frustration of being classified on the fringe of the road and up until now – on the fringe of the train (in terms of storage space) too.  That is where we come into change.

As advocates for promoting residents of Southern California and beyond to engage in “active transportation,” we have to push politicians and public transit agencies to change to accommodate a growing bicycle culture.  How do we know?  Over the course of a couple years on the train, we had a few people come over and tell us about the fact that we motivated them to take a step forward and bring their bicycles on the train.  Four of those people now serve on the Board of Bikecar101 (one informally – Duke).  What a great result?  Living a healthy and happy life is addictive.  Even when a person (fellow train commuter) did not bring a bicycle on board, they still wanted to sit around us and laugh with us.  Healthy people who are relaxed by engaging in active modes of transportation tend to attract others.  Typically, the people have been interested in changing for the better.

Do I sound “arrogant” yet?  Believe me, I am not.  I am quite a humble person.  My wife tells me often – sometimes that I am too much.  I believe the reason aside from being happy that people feel comfortable approaching us is that we are NORMAL.  That is a cornerstone of the Kaiser Wellness Center.  We are normal people that want to promote a healthy life.  Change does not occur overnight.  But it does happen in small steps.  We are super happy to have started this organization.

The main point is to advocate for and educate the public on how to engage in active transportation on board the public trains.  Of course, active transportation is not isolated to a use of a bicycle with a train.  The point being is that people need to be educated on how to change.  I say that with all do respect.  That was our first experience after using a bicycle on the train.  We would travel all around cheerfully and enthusiastic about bringing bicycles on board the trains, and the first question of three we would get is: “You mean that you actually take your bicycle on board the train?” People do not actually believe us that we take our bicycles on board.  That was a realization in of itself.  Furthermore, that was hint number one that we needed to bring change.

Hint number two was the fact that each bicycle organization other than us, has been headed toward pushing a “bike-share” program.  “Bike-share” programs are great for tourist.  But for those who want to bring our own bicycles on board, have to fight the organizations that are trying to restrict space.

Hint number three was the fact that the public was in disagreement with us regarding the growth of ridership on board the train (even without bringing a bicycle).  We strongly believe that the combination of the Southern California train systems with a bicycle can reach an overwhelming majority of geographical locations in the area.  That is not to say that the travel time is minimal.  Although, considering traveling on the freeway system here, the times are becoming comparable during rush hour.

Not to carry on.  We know that starting this organization was the best idea that we have had in a long time.  Which is not to say the process is easy.  The most stressful aspect of the paperwork is that we are chemists and not business people.  We are experienced in research.  Therefore, we have a fairly high tolerance toward learning how to improve.  In order to carry out the paperwork process, keep an open and humble mindset. 

The same can be said of improving one’s lifestyle choices.  Education is the key in the entire process.  We are encouraged to educate the public about engaging in active modes of transportation by using our experience in education.  Which brings me to the last subject of this lengthy post – update – rambling session.

Educating The Public:

As I have alluded already to in the previous paragraphs above, education is the key.  Education is the key.  The easiest way to educate people is to use yourself as an example.  I love to learn.  I love to learn about myself.  Especially, if the result of the education is an improvement in my health.  Part of the process involves the inspection of data over time.  Each individual is different.  Change occurs at different rates for different people.  The best approach a person can take is to make education available.  Why do I know this is true?  Aside from working at a university, the following is true:

In a recent study in Europe, a group of tourists were educated before engaging in tourism – specifically, diving in the Mediterranean Ocean.  A scientist decided to study the effect of educating a group of tourists before a diving expedition.  Additionally, the group was given a quiz before the education and then following the diving experience.  The results were staggering.  I wrote about the study on another blog postlocated here.

The point of the study was the same regarding the health of the population of America.  Overall, after educating the public about the marine ecology, the overall health of the ecosystem was elevated.  Over time, the improvement of the ecosystem has continued.  Furthermore, the tourists have helped local divers and regulators make policy regarding spending on improving the environment.  The process of enlisting the help is called “citizen science” and is emerging as a strong proponent to help motivate a sustainable world.  We all need to work together to promote change.

I feel like I have rambled on enough.  I will try not to wait 3.5 more months to write an update.  Until then have a great day.  And remember, each of us deserves to feel health and happy.  Lets all encourage others to join the effort to improve life.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Have You Tried "CT Organics" Natural Skin Care Product Line?

Have you had a chance to try "CT Organics" natural skin care products line?  If not -- why not?  In case you are unaware of this wonderful natural skin care product line, we have provided a little background into the line and a few questions which were answered during an earlier interview with a magazine.  Our friend, colleague, and fellow author on Kaiser wellness center has built a skin care product line from natural ingredients.  We are super proud of her and had a chance to visit her store last weekend.  Here are pictures along with the interview questions from a previous interview.

CT Organics?

I realize that many of you have not heard of this natural skin care product line.  Let me give you a little background into the company.  Dr. Sepideh Yaghmaei is a close friend, colleague, and an author of our website.  Future posts can be expected from her.  She has been spending all of her time building up her business and expanding to new products.  I met Sepideh in graduate school at University of California at Riverside.  I had the honor to work with her on characterizing a compound that she synthesized as part of her research.  The result was a publication in an academic journal.  Therefore, I can back Sepideh's work up to say the least.  She is 'legit' as are the great products that she produces.  Check them out!  But first, read on to find out more about her product line below.

After graduate school, Sepideh decided to be a "stay at home mom" for a while.  She has two wonderful daughters (after which the company is named after).  I do not want to give you too much background because I am sending her some interview questions which will answer these questions and appear on a future post.  Anyways, after teaching for a while, she decided to pursue a dream job of opening her own company.  She decided to take a chance and start making a few products using ingredients in her own kitchen.  This is a sign of a true chemist.  Out of this effort grew the mission statement that is available to read on her website and is shown below:

At CT Organics, our products are scientifically crafted for you using only the highest quality natural and organic ingredients to promote healthy, supple, beautiful skin. Our expertly designed skincare line is rich in plant, fruit, seed and vegetable extracts, and nourishing sea algae. Our founder and chemist, Dr. Sepideh Yaghmaei, uses her expertise to source natural and potent antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fatty acids to encourage skin regeneration.

That is how "CT Organics" was realized and brought into a storefront shop that we went and visited last weekend.  Here is a picture of the storefront for "CT Organics" shown below:

Come on inside the store....

Her store is located in Santa Clarita (California) and can be found on Google Maps by clicking here!  Sepideh has done a wonderful job of creating a simple environment in which to shop.  The store is simple and not cluttered.  As you step into the store, you are immediately welcomed by the "olfactory" aspect of her products -- a pleasant smell of various plants, spices, and other aromatic delights.  Here are a few photographs of the inside of the store for you to experience the simple, yet beautiful and relaxing place of business.  At least for me, when I stepped into the store, I felt relaxed and not inundated by a large amount of products.  Her store is not overwhelming, yet offers a peaceful experience to focus on the products that are displayed.

Sepideh has done a great job of creating an environment that highlights the products.  As a trained Organic Chemist, she wants her products ingredients to be as "natural" and "transparent" as possible -- which is great.

Too many skin care product lines are on the market which have ingredients that are of unknown origin.  Eventually, in the future, skin care product line manufacturers will have to be very transparent about their products (ingredient sourcing, manufacturing methods, waste, etc.).  Fortunately, Sepideh will be on the "cutting edge" of this movement -- which is wonderful for "CT Organics."  She already does this by offering a complete list of ingredients on her website.  

What products does she offer/sell?  Sepideh has a variety of products that are available for purchase online through Amazon.  Here is the webpage to her product line on her website.  In the near future, posts should appear with more descriptive analysis of her products.  For now, lets look at one -- her sunscreen.  "CT Organics" has just obtained FDA approval for the product shown below -- which is exciting:

The sunscreen is a zinc oxide sunscreen -- a "broad spectrum" SPF30 product.  Here is the link to the product on her website.   I took the product description from her website -- which is shown below:

Protect your skin from the sun with all natural ingredients of our zinc oxide and astaxanthin stick.  This rich formulation contains 20% non-micronized zinc oxide and a hawaiian red algea called astaxanthin that protects skin from harmful UV rays. It goes on smoothly leaving your skin look tan and smelling earthy.

Ingredients: wheat germ oil, organic coconut oil, organic olive oil, organic shea butter, raw beeswax, non-micronized zinc oxide, geranium essential oil, astaxanthin.

As I mentioned above, one of the many attractive qualities of products made by Sepideh is that the ingredients are listed.  Plus, for additional information, a customer could contact her and she would be pleased to clarify or answer any questions regarding her products.  We had a chance to try out the sunscreen last Saturday.  The texture of the sunscreen was smooth.   It was easy to apply.  Typically sunscreen is difficult to spread onto the surface of one's skin.  Not this product -- easy application.  Additionally, the sunscreen did not feel oily.  I would recommend the sunscreen along with her other products.

Before I show you the interview that Sepideh had with a magazine, I want to add one more note.  A major benefit to using "CT Organics" products is that there is a level of "individualized" feeling that you get from Sepideh with her products.  She makes a formula that is good for the broadest types of skin.  If your skin happens to have a negative reaction, Sepideh is willing to investigate the issue with you.  She can personalize the product for you.  That is hard to find.  She is always willing to teach people about her products.  "CT Organics" also offers classes at the store in Santa Clarita.  She offers classes to teach customers how to make soap.

Interview Time!

Without further ado, lets get to the interview that was conducted by a magazine a year ago with Dr. Sepideh Yaghmaei.  Here it is below:


1.  Please introduce yourself.  Tell us who you are and what you do.

My name is Sepideh Yaghmaei. I am the founder of CT organics, a natural skincare company located in Santa Clarita, CA.  I received my PhD in organic chemistry in 2008 from University of California, Riverside and started CT organics in 2012.

2.  What does “natural” mean?  There are so many products on the market these days with so many buzzwords…what is organic?

The word natural in skincare refers to obtaining a chemical from a natural source like an almond or coconut instead of a synthesized oil or synthetic product.  The latter will always contain impurities that are unnatural to the body.  I like to use ingredients that are made with chemicals obtained from a natural source and stay away from chemicals that are synthesized as much as possible.  The method by which natural ingredients are isolated from the source material is also important.  I use natural ingredients that are unprocessed and isolated from either cold press or carbon dioxide extraction.  These methods provide a whole extract, and keep the integrity of the fruit, plant or seed.

3.  Why Organic?  Why is Organic better than other options?

Organic ingredients are produced in an environment that is free from pesticides therefore using organic ingredients make products that are free of harmful chemicals. We use organic ingredients whenever possible. We make custom all organic products per request of the customer.

4.  What is the biggest mistake you see people make when it comes to skin care?

Ripping nutrients from your skin with too many peels or being afraid of oil based products. 

5.  Is there a one size fits all approach to skin care?

Not really. It really depends on your skin permeability, elasticity and pH. It is important to know the ingredients you are putting on your skin to figure out what works best for you. I always recommend getting sample sizes before committing to a regimen. I also love to custom make products for people that want to experiment with different ingredients, and in doing so discover a personalized formulation that fits their needs.

6.  When should women (and men) start taking care of (or worrying) their skin (any specific age)?

A good face wash and sunscreen is needed for all ages and genders. As you age collagen production decreases making skin lose its elasticity and firmness. Mature skin needs factors that promote collagen production and that can be achieved by using appropriately formulated serums and creams, in order to keep your skin hydrated and avoid fine lines that come naturally with aging.

7.  What prompted you to start CT Organics?

I was a stay at home mom with a one and three year old with a PhD in chemistry and a passion to have my own business, such as a skincare line. So the only way I saw that happening was to start experimenting in my kitchen and learning, by researching and blending ingredients. I totally fell in love with it and nap times became my play time. I ended up helping my husband with his psoriasis with one of my first products. After seeing how effective natural ingredients could be, I decided to develop a natural skincare line for the whole family. Currently we are starting to extract some of our own ingredients via carbon dioxide extraction.

8.  Do you make your own product?

Yes we manufacture our own products.

9.  If I wanted to learn more about CT Organics or its’ products where can I find you?

You can visit us at for more information or check us out on social media.


We hope that you have enjoyed this interview with Dr. Sepideh Yaghmaei.  One last note is that in keeping with our tradition of health and wellness, it is worth mentioning that we traveled to Santa Clarita by train and bicycle -- using active modes of transportation.  Here is a picture below of Kayla Kaiser with her bicycle:

Until next time, have a happy and healthy day.  Go check out "CT Organics" today.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

What Is "Mike's Mental Awareness Journey" blog?

Hello, this is Mike from Kaiserwellnesscenter.  Today, I want to tell you about a blog that I have been writing for the past couple of years (actually a little longer).  The blog is called "Mike's Mental Awareness Journey."  Why am I introducing a blog that has been going on for so long?  Well, here is the reasons.

Initially, I started writing the blog to document my mental health and physical health from a general and more personal angle.  Remember, that here at Kaiserwellnesscenter, we aim to educate the public about science and health/wellness.   We want to "debunk" and "demystify" science that is confusing and disorienting to the general public.  How are we different from other sites?  Well, to take a little bit of a "tangent" off from my blog, Kaiserwellnesscenter members are motivated to talk about themselves and their improvements in their lives.

Too often, I will read a blog post on health and wellness and think "where does this person live?" -- "in a perfect world or what?"  Or have you ever had the thought . . . "That is great that she or he can run 5 miles a day, but I am struggling on getting out of the house to run a mile."  Well, if you have then our website is for you.  Moreover, most websites are motivated by profit.  Not us.  We are strictly doing this work to show that there exists normal people who have degrees and are struggling day to day or month to month with optimizing their health.  As we say about education, "education is a lifelong process."

Back to my blog.  I wanted to share some struggles and obstacles in my life in hope that my story would help inspire you (the reader) to overcome obstacles that are present in your own life.  I believe that everyone should be able to live a healthy and happy life.  Of course, you will run into difficulties and setbacks (who cares).  The great aspects about these setbacks is that you have your whole life ahead of you to improve.   Is this starting to sound like an "info-mercial?  I feel like I am talking like an advertisement.  I do not mean to.

We just want the world to be more informed about science and how science plays into the health and wellness of the public at large on a daily basis.  For example, did you know that 75% of all U.S. citizens that tried to enlist in the U.S. Army in 2010 were disqualified for obesity.  That is right, 75% were disqualified for carrying too much weight around.  Here is the video from General Hurtling of the United Stated Army:

I would suggest watching the entire video (around 16 minutes).  Now, imagine what the downstream medical costs are for those obese people.  Obesity leads to diabetes which can run onto become cardiovascular disease.  Time to get moving folks.  How much do you have to move?  The time per week varies -- usually around 150 minutes -- 30 minutes Monday through Friday.

If you go to our website, there is a page that has a bunch of links to articles, videos, etc about getting up and moving.  Fitness is the topic of the page.  But what if you are not the type of person to run in the gym or run with a group?  No worries.  As I write on my blog, the most important learning experience that each of us can attain is to learn about ourselves.  Usually when I say this to people, I get a blank stare.  Learning about your body is extremely important.  So important that you will find that learning about yourself is the main obstacle toward success.

Next, how do I find this out about myself?  As you can read over the last couple of years on my mental awareness journey, the learning process is continuous.  Over time, your metabolism will change as will your exercise habits.  As you age, your body might start to develop a thirst for other types of exercise.  An example of this is where I stopped training in Jiu Jitsu and moved toward increasing my time spent on my road bicycle.  Anyways, I have carried on about this too much.

Remember, taking time out of the day to improve your health should not be a major issue for yourself.  How do I know?  Well, I have incorporated my workout into my commute to work.  I ride a bicycle to the train station and from the station to my work.  Then I repeat the reverse on the way home.  I arrive feeling much better at the office and at home.  There are other stories about engaging in active transportation on my mental awareness journey blog -- see Carlos's Journey.

I just wanted to introduce you to a blog that I have been writing off and on for the past couple of years.  I do not post frequently (as in every two week or a month).  Why? I believe that progress takes time and some immediate improvements might just be "noise" (as we say in science when evaluating data).  Real improvements take time and realization through optimization on behalf of our efforts.

Check out "Mike's Mental Awareness Journey" and enjoy the other content on the site too.   Click here for the menu page of my journey.  We will be posting more frequently on this blog post site from now on -- I promise.  I have spoken with other authors/members of Kaiserwellnesscenter and they agree -- more content on the blog.  Look forward to seeing this soon.

Have a great and healthy day!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Active Transportation Implies That Every Bicycle Trip Is A Commuting Trip!

My name is Mike Kaiser and I am part of  You may find my information on our website under 'bio'.  This blog has been neglected to a certain extent.  Over the next few months, Kayla Kaiser and I will work to turn that around.  Part of the purpose of Kaiserwellnesscenter is to educate the public about health and wellness and the science behind the concepts.  Additionally, we seek to include demystifying science behind consumer products, and fitness concepts and trends.  Are we experts in all areas?  No.  Are we educated?  Yes.  Our staff consists of educated people in their respective areas.  We all bring various contributions to the table.  Let me give you an example of this.

Over the last few years, Kayla and I have been riding a bicycle and train to work.  How do we do this?  Well, the concept is called "blended commuting" -- due to the combination of riding a bicycle to the train station and then a train into the valley.  Follow this by a short bicycle ride to the university at which we work.  Kayla and I are concerned about our health and the health of the population in th midst of a growing obesity problem.  We have been engaging in "active transportation" over the last few years.  As a result, we have started a non-profit 501(c)3 organization (see to educate the public about bringing bicycles on board the public trains.  Why do I carry on about active transportation?

One reason is that we all are faced with various trips during the day.  How we choose to travel around is grounded in a choice of mode of transportation.  How do you travel around town?  Do you walk?  Do you ride a bicycle?  What are your limitations toward engaging in active modes of transportation?  What are the real barriers?  Some are legitimate.  Some are fictitious.  Regardless, how we view trips actually influences how we engage in active transportation.  Here is an article I wrote on my own blog site:

The purpose of the blog post was to challenge the public to re-think our idea of commuting.  Why do we let our children walk or bicycle to the park?  Why do we then tell them that in order to commute to school, we must drive?  Where is the line between bicycling as a child and obtaining a driver's license at a teenager?  Why do we choose to engage in driving rather than riding a bicycle?  I am guilty of driving too sometimes - I admit.

The point is that we need to instill the value of walking and biking whenever possible.  Even to engage in active transportation during our commuting.  In the coming days, I will write more about this subject and others.  Leave a comment if you have a topic that you would like covered.



P.S. I write about my own "mental health" and "physical health" at the following page on our website  Remember, each of us deserves to live a healthy and happy life.

Link to my mental health blog:

My last post in Jan. on disconnecting from your devices:

Have a great day!