Thursday, June 30, 2011

Thank God I am natural! Interview with...

Thank God I am natural!!!
Have you said that to yourself lately? I know of many naturals who are just happy to be natural but one in particular said this very thing to herself a few years ago and her gratitude for her natural hair seemed to had taken a life of it's own ever since.  She has recently released her book " Thank God I'm Natural: The Ulmitate Guide to Caring for and Maintaining Natural Hair" !  A book that " Essence Magazine calls Thank God I'm Natural, "The Natural Hair Bible"
Written by a Harvard graduate, Thank God I’m Natural is a must-read for any black woman who has suffered hair loss or breakage caused by relaxers -- or has grown tired of spending thousands of dollars and her Saturday afternoons frying her kinky tresses into submission. Featuring the advice of celebrity stylists for Jill Scott, Lauryn Hill, and Erykah Badu (among others), Thank God I’m Natural offers up to date information -- and a plethora of tips to help women break free from wigs, weaves, and damaging chemical processes.  While there is no shortage of information on this topic to be found on the Internet, Thank God I’m Natural is the most comprehensive natural hair guide on the market today, and the book black women need now more than ever before."

I have had the pleasure of interviewing this amazing woman who has been an inspiration to me on many levels beside natural hair and I believe that you will be greatly inspired by what she had to share. I am talking about the bright and beautiful Chris-Tia Donalson.

Hello everyone!
My name is Chris-Tia Donaldson and I’m the author of Thank God I’m Natural: The Ultimate Guide to Caring for and Maintaining Natural Hair. To give you some information about myself, by day, I’m a lawyer for one of the largest software companies in the world, and by night I (along with a team of talented and dedicated people) am working to launch a lifestyle brand whose mission is to empower black women to live healthier natural lives. At this juncture, our primary focus is to help educate women who are thinking about going natural learn about the benefits of making this choice, as well as giving women the resources and information not only to take care of their hair naturally, but their bodies as well. 
GHD:How long have you been a natural and why?
I went natural in 2002 after I grew tired and frustrated of spending so much time and money on my hair. When my hair was relaxed, it would go through this vicious cycle, where it would grow then break off, then grown then break off some more. Finally, I met a stylist, William of W Salon in Boston, who told me that I didn’t need a perm and that I could start pressing my hair.  I decided to stop pressing my hair and wore a wig for two years. Although I was natural at the time, I was never fully comfortable with wearing my own hair until one life changing episode happened. You can read all about it in my new book Thank God I’m Natural: The Ultimate Guide to Caring for and Maintaining Natural Hair available online at or get a sneak peak online at
GHD:How do you take care of your hair? What’s your hair regimen?
I believe less is more, so my hair regimen is fairly simple. I wash my hair once a week with Elucence’s Moisturizing Benefits Shampoo and Conditioner. I’ll then apply a little Knot Today to my hair to help with detangling with a wide tooth comb. I have found that if I use a wide tooth comb instead of my Denman, I can preserve my curl pattern and increase curl definition.  I’ll then two strand twist my hair with Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie, Coconut Oil, Aloe Vera Gel and Organic Root Stimulator Loc and Twist Gel.  I’ll leave the twist in for a couple of days, take them down and mist them just a little to get some fullness. I also like to get my hair trimmed every 8 -10 weeks. I found that when my ends are clipped regularly and my hair is shaped up nicely, it grows so much faster. Finally, I sleep with a silk scarf or bonnet and then in the morning I'm good to go. It's a fairly simple hair routine. However, I have been natural for a while, so I've got it down to a science.
GHD:What products do you use?
I like to use Elucence’s Moisturizing Benefits Shampoo and Conditioner. That works best for my hair type and curl pattern. As I mentioned above, I also like Shea Moisture’s Curl Enhancing Smoothie Coconut Oil, and Aloe Vera Loc and Organic Root Stimulator Loc and Twist Gel.
GHD:You are the founder of an organization called Thank God I’m Natural. What exactly is it about? Why the name? How did you come up with the name and the vision?
I feel the name of my company was truly inspired by God. As you may or may not know, I wore a wig for two years when I first went natural, because I worked at a very prestigious law firm after graduating from law school. I came very close to getting fired from this job, because I felt had to look and act a certain way in order to be successful in corporate America. It turns out trying to be something I wasn’t back fired, and I was almost let go from this job because of it. I left that situation, went natural, and never looked back.  It took me a while to accept my hair for what it was and come to the realization that my locks were beautiful, but once I did I said, “Thank God I’m Natural”.
It’s like a light went off and my eyes were open. Everything I had been trained to think about good hair and bad hair was erased and I was finally like wow, God created my hair to be worn this way, and I don’t have to spend all this time and money sitting in a beauty shop getting my hair transformed into something it isn’t.  That decision has also had such an impact on other areas in my life. Not long after going natural, I started to care not only about what products I put on my hair, but the products I was using on my body. My body began to crave everything natural from food, to exercise, to meditation, to healing therapies. It’s been amazing journey, and I have been fortunate enough to share this journey with women all over the world!

GHD:I imagine that since you started Thank God I’m natural it’s probably bigger than you might have envisioned as far as its impact on women. How has this organization surprised you? How has it changed your life? I suppose that many others have reported that it has changes their lives as well, in what ways?
I never knew that when I wrote Thank God I’m Natural: The Ultimate Guide to Caring for and Maintaining Natural Hair it would be this successful. First of all, writing a book seemed crazy, as I wasn’t the greatest writer when I first set out to work on this project. I wrote legal briefs and negotiated contracts, so my writing had a formal professional tone to it, whereas this project required me to dig deep inside of myself and find my personal voice and tap into my creative side.
I always knew that it made sense to write the book first and then work on the products second, even though no one had done it this way before, but it’s amazing to watch and see how my vision and God’s plan has come into fruition.
I never knew so many people would be so open to this project and would gravitate to it the way that they do. We’re changing lives all over the world, and I’m blessed and humbled to be given the opportunity to help women make life-changing decisions.

GHD:As a natural, an entrepreneur and an author what do you know now that you wish you knew then that you want to pass on to others?
As a natural, I just want to tell women, especially new naturals, that it’s okay to have a Bad Hair Day. A lot of the people look at all the women with gorgeous natural hair on YouTube and Facebook and think people look  like that every day and that’s not the case.  So if your hair is giving you trouble don’t throw in the towel, it only gets better with time. I also want to let new naturals know that not everyone is okay with how their hair looks after the Big Chop, and it can take some getting used to. If you feel like you need to wear a wig, weave, kinky twists, or whatever, it’s okay. No one is judging you, and your journey is your own.
As an entrepreneur, I would tell women to find what you love and do it. I think part of the reason TGIN has been successful is because it never feels like work to me. I LOVE WHAT I DO and I literally can’t wait to wake up in the morning and start grinding on the tasks for the day. We have a lot on our plate right now and we’re trying to figure out who is responsible for what, but every day is a challenge. I can’t wait to see where the company ends up in the next 5 years.
As an author, I would just tell writers, you have to commit to your craft. It took me 3.5 years to write Thank God I’m Natural, but I got it done even when I was working at a law firm working 80 hours a week. So make time, even if it’s only 15 minutes  every day. If you carve out time for your book/project, you’ll look up one day and be holding a copy of your book in your hand.

GHD:From the moment I came across your Facebook page and read more of your materials I told myself that you were a very successful woman, but not just a successful woman,  a caring woman as well. What’s the key to your success? What is it about you that anyone can learn from and even emulate to reach their goals and be successful?
Wow, great question. Like I said in the previous question you have to find what you love and do it.
Once you find your passion, you have to WORK HARD and be ruthless in your execution!  I have a full time job, and TGIN takes up a ton of time. I would never be able to write for our blog 4x a week, stay active on social media, run an online apparel business, ship books out to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and independent bookstores, travel for events, and try to launch a product line, if it weren’t for a team of dedicated people around me helping to get this off the ground. While I‘m getting to the point where I have people helping me with some of these aspects of the business, I have to create processes and a standard for getting things done, whereby that process can be replicated without me. I also empower my team to make decisions and come up with their own ideas and challenge my views and beliefs on things.
You also have to believe your own hype. I’m humble as all get out, but deep down inside, you have to think and believe in your dream or no one else will. Jordan wouldn’t be Jordan, Tiger wouldn’t be Tiger, and Oprah wouldn’t be Oprah, if they didn’t feel like they were put on this Earth with a purpose. Yes, we all doubt ourselves at time, but you have to know God created you with a special purpose in mind and believe in yourself as cheesy as it may sound.
Finally, TALK to PEOPLE. I have learned more about this business by connecting with people on LinkedIn and having short 45 minute conversations then I do Googling a certain topics. Google is great for giving you the background you need to talk to people and sounding like you have done some research, but talking to people in your field is really what has helped me take things to the next level.

 GHD:As a Harvard graduate and really sort of a public figure you are a role model to others. I personally mentor some young people and it's always reaffirming to share with them some words of wisdom from public figures. I am very aware that a woman’s identity is more than hair and I wanted to know what message you have for young ladies not just in their hair journey but in their lives’ journey. What can you tell a young reader to motivate them to move forward in life?
I would tell young readers that you should never be afraid to be you.  Whoever you are, be that, and for those young people still trying to figure out who they are, that’s fine too. Whatever you do, make sure it’s something you want to do and not something you’re pressured into.  It’s so important that you (without sounding cliché) do you!
(I am asking this question because even though we are talking about hair I want to use it as a platform to instill excellence in other areas of life because pretty hair is worthless without a successful life and by successful I don’t mean that everyone needs a Harvard degree but everyone can be successful in their own ways)
GHD:When we talk about hair journey it seems to me that it starts with hair but then bigger issues surface that are much deeper and bigger than hair: Issues such as self-esteem, relationships, our place and roles in the community small or global etc. Do you agree with that perception? How do you think that the hair journey eventually impacts women? How did it impact you?
I totally agree that going natural has a major impact on who we are and how view ourselves on so many levels. On a fundamental level, when you think a certain part of you is inherently ugly, and go to such extreme lengths to alter your appearance it can take a major toll on your self-esteem. Your personality even suffers because of it. One man recently told me he loves how carefree his wife is now that she’s natural. He noticed that after growing out her relaxer she doesn’t have to go to the ladies room 6-7 times to fix her hair, like she did when she had a perm, because she’s just so carefree. I feel the same way. I feel like I can live my life and that my hair no longer interferes with basic things like working out, walking in the rain, or my sex life.
But those are changes you see immediately.  Over time, as I mentioned earlier, my diet has changed completely. Although I’m not completely vegetarian (I still eat seafood), I now eat a largely plant based diet, because I know that my body just feels lighter when I don’t eat tons of meat. I also work out more and take better care of my body, because I’m slowly starting to recognize that it’s a beauty myth that for black women being 20-25 pounds overweight is okay.
Finally, I’m more aware of my overall health and the rhythms of my body. I can notice if something is wrong without having to go to a doctor and I prefer alternative therapies to traditional medicines, whenever possible. I’m just more in tuned with myself and I wasn’t this aware prior to going natural. It may sound a little bit ”different,” but I promise you, going natural is just the first chapter in a very long journey.
GHD:With all the many people that you come in contact with what are the most frequent questions they have about hair and what’s the most recurring concern they have about their hair as it relates to their lives?
The most common questions I get are “If I go natural, how will it impact me in the corporate world?”, “Will guys like me if my hair is natural?” , “How do I deal with family and friends that don’t support my decision to wear my hair in its natural state?”
GHD:I am becoming more and more aware that some women and young ladies are being faced with a dilemma.  Most dating or married women who are embarking into their hair journey are not fortunate to have supportive partners as some men go as far as giving them an ultimatum! What do you think about this issue? Obviously a married woman can’t give up on her commitment to her family based on hair’s preference! What do you suggest as the best way to handle such a situation?
Well in regards to women dating while natural my best advice would be no matter what your hair looks like, you have to be confident. Men like confident women. Period!  Some of the world’s most attractive women don’t have much hair or at one time didn’t have hair (i.e. Halle Berry, Jada Pinkett Smith, Nia Long etc) and there are other women, who have long beautiful flowing natural locs (Tracee Ellis Ross, Amel Larrieux). Now yes, these women are all gorgeous in their own right but their beauty isn’t their hair, it’s their confidence.
For a man to give a woman an ultimatum when it comes to hair is proof this man isn’t the one for her. Point. Blank. Period.

GHD:Well to finish it up, I do write a health and wellness blog so I can’t finish without asking some health and wellness questions as it relates to you. It’s great to have natural hair but if hair is going to be treated as our crown it only makes sense to me that our lives and bodies shine as well. Your life does shine powerfully and I greatly appreciate you sharing all this with me and my readers! How do you stay healthy? Do you have an exercise regimen? An activity that benefits your physically?
I love this question. I could go on and on, but here are some of the principles I try to live by.
1.       Steer Clear of Processed Foods (other than frozen veggies). Many processed foods are made with trans-fats, saturated fats, and large amounts of sodium and sugar. These types of foods should be avoided completely or eat them sparingly.  Always go for brown over white since it has the fiber and nutrients, which causes you to be full. That means brown rice, brown bread, brown bagels, whole wheat pasta, etc.

2.       Eat out less. Cook at home more. When you cook at home, you know exactly what you’re putting in your food. At restaurants, a lot of foods are dripping with excess calories because they are swimming in butters and sauces.  If you have to eat out, go for ethnic foods. They tend to be better for you then American foods, since there aren’t a lot of breads and fries. Think Indian, Thai, Sushi, Mediterranean, Mexican etc.

3.       Drink plenty of water.  Four years ago, I used to drink diet coke with almost every meal after 11 am, but I noticed when I stopped I wasn’t as bloated as I used to be. There have been some studies to suggest that diet coke, even though its zero calories, can actually lead to weight gain because your body doesn’t recognize the artificial sweeteners as sugars and hence doesn’t metabolize it properly. Now, I tend to drink water and ice tea, which is basically water with herbs.

4.       Drink a Green Smoothie For Breakfast. A green smoothie is basically a salad in a glass. A lot of my friends and fans have tried green smoothies, and the consensus is people overwhelming love them. Green smoothies are great because you’re drinking raw veggies with an apple juice blend, so the sweet balances out the sour creating a party in your mouth. Greens are great, because they are alkaline, high and fiber, and help with digestion.  They also give the skin a younger looking appearance, and help with hair and nail growth. Raw greens are even better, because vegetables tend to lose a majority of their nutrients when they are cooked, which is why green smoothies are awesome. You can check out my blog for some of my green smoothie recipes.

5.       Limit Fried foods – I love mozzarella sticks, fried goat cheese, and French friends, but I try to limit my intake of fried foods, otherwise.

6.       Workout 5 days a week. I make it a point to workout Monday – Friday, because I have found that when you say three or four days, it becomes two or three.  When you go for five, it becomes a part of your lifestyle and you tend to be more consistent. I’d rather someone work out for 20 minutes five days a week, versus 90 minutes one day a week.

7.       Invest in a heart rate monitor. Yes, they can be expensive, but they are totally worth it. Heart rate monitors are great, because you know exactly how many calories you’re burning when you’re working out. I put on a lot of weight last year, because I would go to the gym, and then turn around and felt I had a license to eat junk. The problem was I wasn’t burning enough calories to outweigh the junk so I packed on the pounds. Once I started wearing a heart rate monitor, I saw that 30 minutes in the gym, equaled about 200 calories burned, which meant I couldn’t go bananas and eat at McDonalds.

8.       Eat Five Meals a Day. I recently met with a nutritionist and she told me I had to start eating regularly throughout the day to keep my metabolism working. I used to skip breakfast, eat lunch around 1:30, and maybe eat dinner around 8:30. This was wreaking havoc on my body since it would hold onto my last meal (and go into starvation mode) instead of processing it. Now I drink a smoothie for breakfast, have a snack before lunch usually a granola bar or peach Greek yogurt, a lunch of whatever I feel like (it's better to treat yourself during the day), another snack around 3pm, usually a piece of fruit, and a salad for dinner.

9.       Pray Every Morning Before I Leave the House.  I try to read a devotional every morning, whether it’s my Bible or Joel Osteen’s blog. I find that staying in touch with God keeps me centered and my faith strong. I heard the best quote, “If you pray, don’t worry. If you worry, don’t bother praying.”

How do you relax? And do you have any natural beauty product that’s a key ingredient to your beauty regimen?
I relax by working out, spending time with my girlfriends, and talking on the phone with my family. I also love reading magazines. Some of my favorites are Martha Stewart Living, Inc. and Organic Spa Magazine.  I’m also a huge fan of naps. Sleep is so important, but you don’t realize how important it is until you don’t have it. So when I get time to just cool out, I’m definitely trying to take more naps.
GHD:What are some of your favorite things in life? Anything random from a favorite color to a favorite dish or place to visit!
My favorite things in life are my family and friends. I would love to visit Ghana and Nigeria.
GHD:Last but not least, you have recently published a book. Can you tell us more about the book, what made you decide to write this book and what people can expect to gain from reading it? Where can we get your book?   
Well, I think there are a number of factors which explain why Thank God I’m Natural was recently proclaimed the “Natural Hair Bible” by Essence Magazine. First off, it covers virtually every topic related to natural hair (e.g. the truth about hair relaxers, product picks for different types of natural hair, dealing with hair loss, tips for distinguishing between natural products and their imposters, as well as, many other subjects). It also features the styling recommendations of celebrity stylists for individuals like Jill Scott, Lauryn Hill, Floetry, Mos Def, among others, in addition to the perspectives of everyday women on going natural. The book also contains an entire chapter devoted to homemade hair recipes, which people LOVE, as well as an international salon directory.  I’ll also add that the models are absolutely beautiful, and the styles are modern, up to date and something you would wear to work or if you’re going out on a date with your man or woman (hey it’s 2011).
Thank God I’m Natural: The Ultimate Guide to Caring for and Maintaining Natural Hair is now available at Barnes & Noble, Borders and online at and For more information about Chris-Tia Donaldson or Thank God I’m Natural, please follow us on Facebook at or check out our blog at

GHD:Finally, what’s next for you?
I have two more books coming out. One is going to be like a TGIN Pt II, which is specifically for transitioners. I also hope to do a cookbook of meatless recipes for people interested in exploring a vegetarian diet. Finally, we are super psyched to be working on our hair care line at the moment and hope to expand our graphic tee line to include more athletic and yoga apparel. The next couple of years are going to be extremely busy, but I think we’re going to have a lot of fun taking TGIN to the next level.

Well....that concludes my interview with Chris-Tia. Here are a few ways to learn more about Thank God I'm natural!

All the pictures above were sent to me by Chris-Tia herself and should you want to copy them I encourage you to contact her yourself for permission to do so.

Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed this article and if you are new to the site please grant us the pleasure of having you as a follower and knowing what you think!

So what do you think? Is there anything in particular that Chris-Tia shared that hit home with you? If you have already read the book what's your feedback on it?

All right reserved 2011.N'na the Goodhealthiva!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The natural lounge! I have been featured!

Hello to you all readers, followers, first time visitors...I hope you are all doing very well and are having a pleasant summer.
I haven't been writing much lately simply because now that the summer has started, I am more active with fun little projects and find less and less time for connecting. Yet, there's so much that I want to share with you all, so please stay tuned for cool little updates and new articles to this site as the summer progresses!

 I had time today to catch up on my mail and saw that a few days ago, Angel,  the founder of The Natural Lounge had e-mailed me to inform me that I would be featured on Saturday 25th, on her blog! Well, that was yesterday so thankfully I did not miss too much...

The Natural Lounge is an organization in the U.K that, among other things, facilitates Meet Up between naturalistas.
I am not from the U.K but I have spent some pleasant summer vacations in England in my younger days and I have some dear cousins and some new friends residing in London.

Well here it is , the short article

 Enjoy and return to Goodhealthdiva soon because, later this week, I am posting an interview I did a while ago with Chris-Tia founder of Thank God I'm Natural, where we discuss her new book and a few other things I am sure you will enjoy!

Have a great week you all and if you are new on the site please become a Follower! It's always a pleasure to see some new friendly faces and know what you think!