Wellness Coaches: What’s YOUR Brand of Overwhelm?

overwhelmed businesswoman

A Head-On Look at Overwhelm

If you follow the trends of “focusing on the positive”, it may seem odd to you that I’m illustrating this post with a photo of a business woman literally hitting her head against the wall and experiencing (what I imagine is) overwhelm. Instead, you might have expected that I’d use a photo of someone in a zen-like state and then hoped I’d go on to tell you how to attract that state. Nope.

Even though I incorporate the Law of Attraction into my work and life, I’m not much for skipping over what’s so and I’m really not much for trends. I’m more about what works and as far as I know, what works is always about first looking squarely in the eye of what’s so. So let’s talk Overwhelm.

What’s So

It’s a new year. You’ve got big plans for your Wellness Coaching business. You’ve printed out my 2011 Wellness Coaches planning calendar, looked through all 16 pages, seen the year’s worth of to do’s and gotten right down to it. You set your 2011 business vision, outlined your Q1 plans, started in on a huge list of marketing calls you’re committed to making, and you’re already juggling client work, writing blog posts and have outlined plans to develop new mp3 downloads.

Chances are, you have a ton of unread email in your in-box, a stack of juicy but unopened mail on your desk you’re dying to get to, and between it all you’re trying to fit in your own fitness routine!

(By the way, how’s your breathing right now? Just checking.)

You want to join a new networking group, spend more time on social media, order products, and sign up as an affiliate of your favorite big cheese. You also plan to hire a virtual assistant so you’ll be more efficient and work less hours. Of course you also have to place ads, read resumes and interview people… Whew!

How’d You Get Here?

Overwhelm. We’ve all been here. Some of us tend to hang around the place longer than others, but even the infrequent visitors know it well.  And while your brand of overwhelm is as unique as your thumbprint, it’s just about as likely as the sun coming up tomorrow that your version of overwhelm contains some element where you’ve lost your focus.

In fact, I’d bet on it. You probably arrived here at Overwhelm by trying to get your arms around the whole enchilada of your Wellness Coaching business all at once. So, slow down. Breathe. Focus in on just this post for now. We have work to do.

What You’ve Tried

When it comes to “Managing Overwhelm,” you’ve likely tried many ways of rearranging the external circumstances in your business and life to get “it” (as if Overwhelm were an entity) under control. Guess what?

You’re not overwhelmed because you need to work harder to manage your current activities. And we know you’re not overwhelmed because you’re slacking in your effort to try to get “Overwhelm” under control. You do plenty of both.

Neither task works because they’ve both got a faulty premise…they both assume that the content and circumstances of your life cause “Overwhelm.” Not so. “Out there” is not where you need to look.

Where the Work Needs to Be

You don’t “manage Overwhelm” by manipulating the external things in your life. Actually, you don’t “manage” Overwhelm at all, and you can’t “catch Overwhelm” from your To Do list. It’s not a virusas my friend, mentor, founder of The Gremlin Taming Institute and author of Taming Your Gremlin®, Rick Carson is fond of saying. Rick also says, Balance and Pleasure are primarily an inside job. This is key, as Balance and Pleasure are the opposite states of Overwhelm as far as I’ve experienced. Balance and Pleasure are the Big Kahuna of life. So let’s look more closely at that “inside job” of yours.

A Trip Inside You

The question is, what is your brand of Overwhelm? What’s involved when you do it? No, I’m not interested in those things outside of you that you consider to cause you Overwhelm. Those things could look the same or absolutely different for each one of us and some of us would or wouldn’t Overwhelm ourselves in response to them. I am interested in what you do on the inside of you. How do you overwhelm you? What do you do to you?

Actually, I’m inviting you to participate right here in one small component of Rick Carson’s powerful Gremlin-Taming® Method. I’ve studied and practiced the full method for years and teach it to my clients. Here, I’m inviting you to do as Rick taught me and Simply Notice.  Yes, I want you to Simply Notice how you Overwhelm you.

The Exercise (To be done when you’re alone and not driving.)

I’d like you to take a break right now and give yourself some time to do this exercise. Get comfortable to start. Turn the phone ringer off, put the cell phone away, and hang a privacy sign on the door. Great.

Let’s begin. Imagine I’m there with you right now.  I want you to Teach me how you Overwhelm yourself. Yes, teach me. Only you know how you do it. And until now, you probably haven’t been aware of how you do it. We’re going to shine a light on the whole mess right here, right now.

Notice every detail of you and your experience of overwhelm one by one. Do so as if you were writing a guidebook on how to create your brand of Overwhelm. Take big time to notice. Get into your best Overwhelm state. What are you doing to you? What are you doing with your neck? Your shoulders? Your jaw? Your eyes? What pray tell is going on in that mind of yours? What messages of exasperation are you chanting over and over again to yourself?

Notice I’m not asking you what the external circumstances are that you’re using as a reason to overwhelm yourself. Nor am I asking you what you think “causes” your overwhelmed state.  I’m asking you how you are overwhelming yourself. Only you do that to you. Exactly how, step by step, do you do this to you?

Go slowly. Play up, highlight, and exaggerate every smidgeon of the routine you go through.  Don’t judge, just Simply Notice.

Stay with it and see what happens.

Need an example?

Okay, I’ll do the same exercise I’m asking you to do, right here. This is risky because you might be tempted to try out my exact method for “Overwhelm.” Please don’t. You have your own way. That’s enough for one lifetime. So read “my way of Overwhelming me” at your own risk. Then be sure to do the exercise for yourself. Meantime, here’s a description of “my brand” of Overwhelm:

My No-Fail Step-by-Step Guide to Overwhelming Myself:

1. First look at every detail on my new 2011 business plan.

2. Now scan my entire To Do list for the week.

2. Be sure to open my eyes really wide. Then wider still.

3. Alternate this with a frown, squinted eyes & a wrinkled brow as I…

4. Dart my eyes around the room from one thing to the next. (Tricky, but heck, I’ve been practicing for 54 years.)

5. Make my focus go rather fuzzy so I don’t see any one thing very clearly.

6. Make my breathing very shallow or even better, hold my breath.

7. Scrunch up my shoulders.

8. Keep staring at the clock and internally remind myself how little time I have to do “it” all, whatever “it” is.

9. Keep telling myself I’ll never get to “it” all and that others are going to get “there” before I do.

10. Say aloud how overwhelmed I am. Repeat 10+ times per hour.

What Happens?

Once I’m aware of my brand of overwhelming myself, and I exaggerate it just a bit, until I really see how I’m making myself miserable, 99% of the time magic happens. The other 1% of the time I just have to stick with it a bit longer. But the magic always happens. It will for you too. More on this when you come back from doing the exercise.

Now It’s Your Turn

Go ahead. Head on back and do the exercise. Really. I’ll wait.

About the Magic

Good job. If you took the time to do this, and played it up big time, something happened after awhile. You likely noticed that, like magic, things shifted. Rick calls this phenomenon The Zen Theory of Change which he describes on page 10 of Taming Your Gremlin as: “I free myself, not by trying to free myself but by simply noticing how I am imprisoning myself in the very moment in which I am imprisoning myself.” It’s magic indeed.

Now What?

My number one recommendation for Wellness Coaches, and anyone else experiencing Overwhelm, is to take a breath, and Simply Notice how you overwhelm you right in the very moment you are overwhelming you.

It’s as simple, and yet as challenging, as that.

After You’re Centered Again…

The exercise above, truly a life-long practice, will take you quite far when next you Overwhelm yourself. When you come back to Balance, consider some of these tips for staying a bit longer in that Balanced state:

1. Breathe. Do it often:)

2. Put your focus on just one thing. Stay with that one thing for an extended period of time. Even if it’s 30 minutes. Just the one thing though. No distractions. No fuzzy focus on a million things at once (which is impossible anyway.)

3. Phone a colleague or shoot a quick email and declare that one thing you’ll be doing for the next half hour, hour, or more. (Make it short and sweet. Don’t get distracted with the call.) Tell them you’ll be leaving another message when you’re done. Or hire an accountability coach and do the same.

4. Take some time to re-look at your priorities. Frequently. Ask yourself: What’s important? Perhaps it’s time to revisit this, right now.

5. Get a copy of Crazy Busy by Dr. Edward Hallowell. Take your time and read it. (Jane Massengill, LCSW MCC, Director of the Gremlin-Taming Institute, told me of this book just days ago. I ran off and got a copy. I’m drinking it up. Thanks, Jane!)

6. Remember that “NO.” is a complete sentence. You can use it whenever you want to. Doing so makes saying “YES” to your priorities all the more delicious.

7. I’ll say this one again: Get Rick Carson’s book, Taming Your Gremlin®. Go slow. Read it for just 15 minutes a night before sleep. Go ahead. I dare ya. And if you already have it, re-read it, or grab the sequel, A Master Class in Gremlin Taming. Seriously. Read or re-read either one or both. Don’t let your Gremlin tell you this isn’t important. It is.

‘Til Soon,



This post was born from your ideas. Many thanks for the requests and suggestions you sent or left in the comments on the We’re Refurbishing and Haven’t a Clue post. I appreciate you and your presence in the WellnessCoach.com community.

As you can tell, I ask you to bring your whole being, body, mind and spirit to the party when reading my posts or working with me. It’s a physical experience that you and I and all the other travelers on the planet have this go-round, and I make sure we work with that physical experience. My approach was first  built on years of study and practice of the Bio-Energetic work of Stanley Keleman at the Center For Energetic Studies in Berkeley, CA.

I have grown since then and my work has been deepened tremendously by the year-long studies I did at Rick Carson’s Gremlin Taming Institute in Dallas, Texas. My work and writing continue to evolve through the on-going studies I do with Rick to this day. As you can see in many of my posts, as well as when you work with me, I fully embrace Rick’s Gremlin-Taming Method®, weave it into all I do, and am honored to be doing this work in the world.

Spring Wellness – Time Out for Pondering

contemplation-photo.jpgOnly We Know What’s Best for Us
The best wellness advice I ever received came in the form of questions for me to ponder…questions that helped me uncover my own truths.

As a wellness coach, there is no input I can provide here for you that is more appropriate than the wisdom you’ll receive by checking in with your own body, mind, and spirit. Ultimately, you must decide what is best for you. I believe this is true regardless of the source of any external advice.

Take Time to Go Within
In the spirit of quiet contemplation that the peaceful image above inspires, take some time out to look at your current level of wellness. Explore what you really need in each area mentioned below and let that information gently direct you to take appropriate action or non-action. Allow your body, mind, spirit and heart to speak to you.

I like to go through this gentle process of self-exploration each spring and let the natural healing forces and wisdom within go to work. Enjoy!



What areas of you need my attention?
Which foods would nourish you?
What forms of rest, recreation or replenishment do you want today, this week, this month, this year?
Do you need additional tools for rest and relaxation?
What activities would you enjoy at this time?
Are there any new healing/wellness modalities you want to experience?


What is intellectually stimulating and engaging for you?
Do you get enough of this?
How can I give you more of what you need?
Do I need to provide you with more rest?


What helps me feel connected with my source?
What is my spiritual anchor, compass or rudder in life?
What daily/weekly practices serve my spiritual life?
What things make my soul sing with appreciation for Life?


Who do I consider to be my “tribe”?
Who is in my closest inner circle?
Who do I love?
Who do I count on?
Who knows my heart?
Where am I expressing love?


What can I do to further your greatest expression?
Where have I abandoned you?
What am I pretending not to know about you?
How can I love you?

Hope the pondering leads you to new layers of awareness. Love to hear what you discover!

Wellness Tips for Winter Skin Care – from the Inside Out

drink-water-yoga-break.jpgWhat Season is this?
From the looks of the sunny weather in the SF bay area last week, you’d never think it was winter. But when I shed my sweater and bared my arms, all I had to do was pay close attention to my skin to know: 1) it is indeed winter; and 2) I haven’t been doing such a great job of nurturing my skin this year.

It’s much colder this week, and I’m back in sweaters and multi-layers. I’m not sure what kind of conditions you’re experiencing this winter (or even if it is winter where you are), but I write this to remind us all to take better care of our skin…particularly during the winter months.

When the Wind Blows…
Winter conditions can wreak havoc on the skin, particularly on the face, lips, and hands. When we frequently head outdoors into very cold temperatures (often with low humidity) and then immediately head indoors (where we’re exposed to consistent indoor heat), the skin gets quite a workout.  Even when there are sunny days, the air is dry, the evenings are cold, the indoor heat is constant and it all takes its toll on the skin.

The Result?
Overall in the winter, the cold outdoor dryness and warm indoor heat sap the moisture right out of our skin – which can leave it chapped, dull, extremely dry and even flaky (which is what I noticed last week when I took a few minutes out to scope out my bare arms.) But there are steps we can take to turn things around and help our skin thrive during the winter.

I hope you’ll take a real close look at the following list and join me in putting it into action:

Create a Healthy Glow from the Inside Out:
5 Tips for Turbo-Charging your Winter Skin Care

1. Keep yourself hydrated! While you may not feel thirsty as you bundle up and bustle about in the cold, consuming plenty of fluids is one of the primary tips for retaining moisture and maintaining the elasticity of your skin. Stay clear of the coffee and go for 8 or more glasses of purified water and herbal tea each day.

2. Boost your intake of Antioxidants* and Essential Fatty Acids*. *Antioxidants: Eat (or drink the juice from) blueberries, cranberries, acai berries, and dark purple and red grapes. Eat more tomatoes or tomato sauce for the Lycopene and eggs for Lutein (found in the yolk). Regular consumption of foods rich in Beta Carotene (yams, carrots) can help protect skin from sun damage.

Consider adding Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) supplements to your regime (always check with your health care practitioner.) ALA neutralizes free radicals in the body and promotes healthy cell function. Your skin will appreciate the help.

Essential Fatty Acids (EFA’s): EFA’s play a vital role in the health of your skin, nails and hair. They help your body form healthy cell membranes that will actually hold water inside the cells, hydrating your skin. You can boost your intake of EFA’s by increasing your consumption of fresh nuts, seeds, and wild Alaskan or Pacific salmon. High-quality Flaxseeds are also a great addition to the diet. Store them in the fridge and grind before using in smoothies, on oatmeal, soups or salads. Or buy already ground Flaxmeal and store in the fridge. EFA supplements for you to include are: Flaxseed oil or fish oil capsules (good source of Omega 3s), and Evening Primrose Oil or Borage caps for Gamma Linolenic Acid, which is a highly beneficial Omega 6 that you can’t easily get from food.

3. Increase circulation and stimulate blood flow to the skin. Get a fully-body or foot massage or facial. Use a dry brush to exfoliate dead skin cells and stimulate the skin to a nice rosy glow before you shower. Go easy on the hot water in the shower. Yes, the steam is great but excessive hot water can further dry your skin. Do Tai Chi, QiGong, or 10-15 minutes of aerobic exercise a day. You can give yourself a mini facial by adding a sprig of fresh Rosemary (or 2 drops of rosemary essential oil) to a bowl of steaming hot water. Hold your head directly over the bowl (but be careful not to get too close to the water) and place a towel over your head and the bowl to hold in the steam.

4. Eliminate conventional soaps and body washes that contain detergents and synthetic ingredients. They strip natural oils from your skin. Browse the aisles of your local health food store or alternative pharmacy to find an all-natural, gentle body wash. Look for one that is made with organic, highly moisturizing and protective coconut, olive, and/or jojoba oils or seaweed. (I like Zia’s Natural Seaweed Cleanser, which is primarily for the face. As I boost my skin-care regime, I’ll be using it for an all-over wash. )

5. Use body oil to moisturize instead of lotion. Lotions are predominantly water-based. Winter’s dry conditions evaporate the water from your skin before the lotion can do any moisturizing. A better bet? body oils! Containing no water, they are the purest form of moisturizer. To maximize body oil’s absorption action, you need to apply it to your wet skin immediately after you shower or bathe.

Also, try applying body oil while you are actually still in the steamy shower, massaging it onto your skin (which increases circulation). By the time you finish showering and step out of the shower, the body oil will be thoroughly absorbed into both the outer (dermis) and deeper (subcutaneous) fatty layers of the skin. This will give your skin the deep moisture it needs to stay hydrated, moist, and supple. (I’ll be using the organic body oil by Alba.)

Look forward to hearing from you as you implement these tips. And  if you’ve got some tips to add, those of us with thirsty skin would love to hear them!
To your Health!

Work with our coaches and cultivate more Wellness in your Life!
Register now for Wellness Coaching sessions: 925-933-7445

“Open Your Heart, Change Your World”: A Meditation from Spring Forest QiGong

open-your-heart-stretch.jpgI was in the midst of writing the last post of my 2008’s Cornucopia of Resources Series today. I was stressing out to get the post up and give you the list of books I’ve found inspirational this year.

Somewhere along the way, I caught myself tensed up, hunched over the keyboard, with shallow breathing and a furrowed brow (familiar at all?). Noticing this, I stopped. I took a deep breath, pushed back from the computer and went to get a glass of water. A few more deep breaths and that glass of water later, and I vowed to re-enter my office with another mindset..or rather, another “heart-set.” I reminded myself to slow down and write from my heart.

When I returned to my desk, I took another minute out to check my email in-box. And there it was. An email from my friends at Spring Forest QiGong (SFQ), containing a special gift – a 15 minute meditation form SFQ founder, Chunyi Lin called, “Open Your Heart, Change Your World.”  I had just affirmed I’d go about my writing with and open heart, and so I took 15 minutes out right then and there to close my eyes and listen to the meditation.

Chunyi Lin’s meditation did indeed help me to Open my Heart and Change my World.

I’d like to pass the message and the meditation on to you.

Click this underlined phrase here to listen.

And be sure to read the note below that came from Chunyi Lin along with his gift.


Hello Friends:

Many of us are impacted by the troubles in our world as this year draws to a close and are looking for better ways to cope with the challenges in the coming year – be they economic, emotional, physical or spiritual.

At Spring Forest Qigong, we wondered what we could do to help. We decided to create a special healing meditation by Master Chunyi Lin as our gift to you and to others this holiday season. It’s our hope that this free 15 minute meditation might be useful to many.

This podcast is our gift to everyone. All you need do is download and listen. After listening we hope you will want to share it with everyone you know.

Imagine what would happen if 1,000, or 1 million, or 1 billion people practiced this simple, openhearted exercise every day. We would change our world!

In peace,

Your Spring Forest Friends

On my end, I’ll get back to working on the inspirational books post and have it for you soon. For now though, I hope you take time out to enjoy this meditation. There’s no better resource I know at this moment, to help you open your heart and change your world.

p.s. I am not an affiliate or in any way compensated by SFQ. I am simply an advocate of their wonderful work in the world.

Call me to set up a 30-minute wellness coaching session during the holidays. You’ll be sure to find the peaceful oasis within your own heart. 925-933-7445


FITNESS AT 50 AND BEYOND – Overcoming Resistance and Songs of Appreciation for Club50 and NuStep!

people-jumping-sunset.jpgLooking Ahead
For the past month, I’ve been looking ahead at the winter and realizing that, after decades of year-round outdoor swimming, doing so in the rain each year is getting a bit old for me.

True, the pool is heated, I live in California, and I don’t have to worry about snow where I live. And, yes, I could probably find an indoor pool around here if I looked for one. But that still small voice inside has been getting louder and urging me to find a nice whole-body regime to do during the winter – a regime that will supplement yoga, take the place of swimming, and be available for me at home or somewhere other than a traditional gym.

Buried Treasure
Well, I recently found the answer…but it was located way beneath my resistance.

You see, I’d done some research on the internet and found an incredible piece of equipment made by the company NuStep. Easy-on-the-joints, a full-body workout, and transforming lives, NuStep is a wonderful machine. It also comes with a hefty price tag, so I wanted to try it out first.

NuStep does have a 30-day at-home trial period, but rather than have it shipped here, set it up, and possibly not like it, I asked where I might give the machine a test ride. I found out that a commercially-owned NuStep machine was located at a gym near me called Club50. And not only could I try the machine out, but the salesperson at NuStep told me I could possibly join Club50 and not have to purchase the machine myself. “Club50?” I thought, “This probably means it’s really a senior center and there are tired seniors playing bingo.” So I resisted going. For weeks.

The Other Side of Resistance
But after a month of grumbling, I gave myself a self-coaching session and figured, “Heck, it’s only to check the machine out. I don‘t have to sign up and play bingo.” So I went. And I was oh so wrong about what I’d find.

Club50 Fitness Centers® were created for those of us age 50 and above and it is anything but a place for bingo. It’s for those of us who want a great workout, aren’t training for body-building competitions, choose cotton t-shirts instead of binding lycra and spandex and prefer to use exercise equipment that is highly efficient yet easy on our bodies.

I met the energetic owner of the franchise near me, Mark, and grinned from ear to ear when I looked around. I found an inspiring environment, fabulous equipment, yoga classes, and, what’s become my very favorite, the NuStep machine. As I tend to like to get in and get down to business, I was also happy to see the efficiency of the circuit system and the lack of crowds at the equipment. I adore the place, look forward to going, get a great workout, and feel right at home!

If you are a baby-boomer at age 50 or beyond, want a fun and engaging way to keep fit, I encourage you to try a Club50 near you and/or also try the NuStep machine. Like me, you’ll be glad you did.

Sometimes, what we want is right behind the resistance we cling to.

Love to hear your comments about fitness at 50, swimming in the rain, overcoming resistance or anything else this post brings to mind:)


P.S. Join me on my FREE monthly WellnessCoach teleclasses. Call me to register: 925-933-7445

The Heart of the Matter: YOUR Well-Being First

human-body-drawing.jpgDuring the emergency safety procedure rap on airplanes, we hear flight attendants tell parents: “…put on your oxygen mask first, then place masks on your children.” Sure, you can use this statement to remember that you can serve others better when you take care of yourself first…but you don’t have to frequent the skies more often to get a daily dose of the same message. You’ve got a “built in” reminder much closer to home.

Did you know that your heart already gets the idea? Yup. Your heart is a more intelligent pump than you may realize. When your nice bright-red oxygenated blood returns to your heart from your lungs, your heart bathes ITSELF first with that newly oxygenated blood, before pumping it out again to the rest of your body. This is no small matter. Your heart takes care of its own well-being first. It “knows” how important it is to do so.

I invite you to use this information as a metaphor this week. Stop often during the day and place your hand on your heart. Breathe deeply. Imagine the newly oxygenated blood nourishing your heart first and then the rest of your body. Take a moment to think about the metaphor and take care of yourself. Whether it’s stopping for a glass of water, getting some fresh air, or stretching your limbs, YOUR well-being must come first. It’s written in your heart.

Wellness Product Reviews – Part 2 of 2: Wellness Solutions for Menopause

healthy-senior-woman-drinking.jpgWelcome to the second post in this latest product review series. Today, I’ve reviewed a second DVD in the Mayo Clinic/GAIAM Wellness Solutions series from the GAIAM catalog. While the product I reviewed in the prior post is a helpful wellness tool for those with chronic back pain, this product is a breath of fresh air for those of us entering, or currently dancing with, menopause.

Menopause came knocking on my door seven years ago. (Actually, banging on the door was more like it.) Since I was in my early 40’s at the time, she was an unexpected visitor. But I have since learned that mine was not an unusual age for hosting such a visit!

I have been fortunate enough to work with a great naturopath and nutritionist, as well as an acupuncturist, and am quite pleased with the results and my relationship with this powerful stage of my life and all it brings to me. That said, I am always looking for ways to strengthen my relationship with menopause. Which is why I was excited to test a new resource and am delighted to be able to share it with you.

mayo-mnpse.jpegMayo Clinic’s Wellness Solutions for Menopause

Product Description:
“Mayo Clinic, one of the top medical centers in the country, and GAIAM, the health and wellness experts, team up to bring you this groundbreaking, integrated health action plan designed specifically to help you become attuned to your body during this transition.”
– from the product’s back cover

DVD (90 minutes) and BONUS: 52-page My Stress Solution booklet.

Price: $20.00 U.S.

WellnessCoach.com Rating key
☺ ☺ ☺ = Great product. I’m using it, love it and I highly recommend it for those who seek a wellness solution to the issue or condition the product addresses.
☺ ☺ = Good product. I’m using it, or parts of it, for now, and/or if it addresses a wellness need you have, definitely consider giving it a try.
☺ = It has merit, but I’m not personally using it. Use with caution.
☹ = Don’t bother.

WellnessCoach Assessment:

For women who want an integrated approach to embracing the life transition from peri-menopause through menopause, this DVD supplies helpful resources and information. The Mayo Clinic team teaches that menopause is a natural life stage and not a medical disorder, which is a sound and accurate point of view.

By the end of the DVD, you will have met knowledgeable and caring experts, learned nutritional tips for eating well at this phase of life, taken a refreshing meditation break and had a restorative yoga session. The bonus booklet, My Stress Solution, gives tips for managing stress, which is critical for keeping your body healthy during times of transition. (As with any program, be sure to consult with your doctor to be sure this program is right for you.)

Strengths of the product/content:
1. Philosophy that menopause is a natural stage of life.

2. Integrated approach (expert information, tips for healthy diet, gentle and restorative yoga and meditation)

3. The My Stress Solution booklet is comprehensive and since managing stress is extremely valuable during menopause, this is a great tool. It’s almost identical to the bonus booklet in the above reviewed product, but the inside front and back covers have important notes specific to menopause in this case.

4. Dr. Lynne Shuster, M.D. is awesome. She is knowledgeable, warm, and an approachable expert. She is a great addition to this DVD and provides the core medical and emotional information. Because she is a woman, and either at or nearing this stage of life herself, you might feel like I did which is that you’d like to have her along for the duration of this transition.

5. The dietitian in this DVD is also a woman, seeming to be at or nearing this stage of life as well. She provides solid and helpful tips for a plant-based diet and dietary healthy choices during menopause.

6. Yoga expert, Colleen Saidman, guides you through meditation and restorative yoga and does so with the compassion of someone who understands the terrain of the menopause transition. The yoga session was filmed in a beautiful setting, gentle music is in the background, and you feel like you are actually taking an outdoor, lakeside class with Colleen.

7. The DVD (as is each of them in this series) is presented in eco-friendly packaging.

Weaknesses of the product:
1. While I appreciated the welcome and overview by Mayo Clinic’s Dr. Brent Bauer in the prior product I reviewed, I had a different reaction to his introduction on this DVD. I honestly would have preferred the welcome to come from Dr. Lynne Shuster.

I just had a hard time hearing Dr. Brent Bauer tell me how menopause is a natural part of life. It felt a bit like having my Dad, uncle, or brother tell me about menstruation (which they didn’t) rather than my Mom, aunt, or big sister. Call me old fashioned or even gender-biased if you will, it’s just my preference to hear about changes to my female body from other women.

2. I have a small dislike for the terminology used to describe Part 1. It is called: Understanding Your Condition. I don’t think of menopause as a condition like I do back pain or arthritis. I’d rather it was called: Understanding Menopause. Not a big deal, but not exactly aligned with their philosophy that menopause is a natural change.

3. The eco-friendly packaging used for all the DVDs in this series presents the same dilemma it did in the above review – great for the environment but can potentially scratch the DVDs. Be careful when removing the DVD or placing it into the package.

My Personal Experience:
I wish I would have had this program right from the start of the menopause transition – it was seven years ago when peri-menopause was first dancing through my life and having this DVD then would have been helpful. But it still is relevant to the stages I’m in right now and I’m grateful I came across the DVD.

Because of my experience with the first product I reviewed in this series, I knew to watch this DVD in its entirety the first time through, without participating in the yoga or meditation right away. This let me see what props were needed and gather them ahead of time.

As before, Part 1 contained the overview of Mayo Clinic’s integrative approach. This DVD also contained an outstanding discussion by Mayo Clinic expert Dr. Lynne Shuster, who presents the physiological and psychological components of menopause, hormone therapy options, and a reminder that each woman will experience menopause in a different way. I really enjoyed listening to her and took a few notes to share and discuss with my own health care practitioner.

While the dietary information in Part 2 wasn’t new to me, I liked the presentation (plus the dietician is close in age to me and so her credibility to discuss menopause was strong). Additionally, Dr. Donald Hensrud of the Mayo Clinic “took me grocery shopping” to choose healthy foods (as he did in the Back Care DVD.) I only wish he could have done my actual shopping☺

The yoga and meditation by Colleen Saidman was refreshing. I did it first thing in the morning and liked how it eased me into the day. I modified a few of the poses to accommodate my back and my specific physiology. I already do yoga, but there are a few restorative poses that I’ll work into my routine.

I liked pretty much everything about this DVD — from the expert information to the soothing meditation, the music, the peaceful settings, and the bonus stress management guide. This will still be useful to me for many more years to come and also a nice gift for my baby-boomer friends.

Overall Product Rating: ☺ ☺ ☺

Hope you have found the last two reviews helpful in your own wellness journey, or for the someones who are close to you. Let me know your own experience of the products when you have a minute.

What else have you found helpful in your own wellness journey?

Wellness Product Reviews – Part 1 of 2: Wellness Solutions for Back Pain

woman-exercising-outdoors.jpgHere’s to wellness…in body, mind and spirit! In this 2-post series, I’ve reviewed two new Wellness Tools for you. I’ve tested, tried, read, watched and reviewed both products thoroughly. I’ll be giving you my professional and personal experience and provide an overall rating for each product.

As I’ve done before in this blog, I’ll be using the following key:

Rating key
☺ ☺ ☺ = Great product. I’m using it, love it and I highly recommend it for those who seek a wellness solution to the issue the product addresses.
☺ ☺ = Good product. I’m using it, or parts of it, for now, and/or if it addresses a wellness need you have, definitely consider giving it a try.
☺ = It has merit, but I’m not personally using it. Use with caution.
☹ = Don’t bother.

Overview of the Products Reviewed:

The two products (both DVDs) you’ll learn about in this 2-post series come from the Gaiam on-line catalog, a source I use and trust for selecting helpful wellness tools. Gaiam has teamed up with the Mayo Clinic to produce a new series of DVDs: Wellness Solutions from Gaiam and Mayo Clinic. Let me give you a brief snapshot of the Wellness Solutions series overall.

At the time of this review, the series contains 10 products. Each one focuses on a different chronic condition, from Arthritis to Fibromyalgia. They all feature integrated health action plans designed to help you manage health challenges and take charge of your health.

Each DVD in the series begins with 30-minutes of conversational presentations by several Mayo Clinic Specialists. Next, a Mayo Clinic dietitian teaches what to eat and what to avoid with respect to the specific condition that the DVD addresses. Finally, a yoga expert guides you through a 40-minute yoga segment, containing condition-specific relaxation poses and meditation exercises.

I’ve selected the following DVD for the first review:

mayo-back.jpeg1. Mayo Clinic’s Wellness Solutions for Back Pain

Product Description:
“Mayo Clinic, one of the top medical centers in the country, and GAIAM, the health and wellness experts, team up to bring you this groundbreaking, integrated health action plan designed specifically to relieve back pain.”
– from the product’s back cover

DVD (93 mins) and BONUS: 52-page My Stress Solution booklet.

Price: $20.00 U.S.

WellnessCoach Assessment

This DVD is a wonderful tool to help you cultivate better health and supplement your current back care program. The information, dietary tips, and back-health specific yoga stretches are expertly presented. And the bonus booklet, My Stress Solution, makes this a truly integrated program. (As with any program, be sure to consult with your doctor to be sure this is right for you.)

Strengths of the product/content:
1. The integrated approach is comprehensive (expert information, tips for healthy diet, gentle yoga and meditation)
2. The My Stress Solution booklet contains a thorough stress management action plan including stress assessments, and relaxation tips. It’s easy to understand and use, and contains a 1-page summary of the key tips presented on the DVD.
3. Dr. Bret Bauer presents a warm, personable, and expertly informative overview of the Mayo Clinic’s integrative treatment approach.
4. The detailed physiological information about back care and back pain are thorough and yet easy to understand.
5. The Grocery shopping tips for selecting nutritious foods convey the importance of making healthy choices.
6. The dietitian gives helpful tips for portion control and an overview of a plant-based diet.
7. Rodney Yee is a nationally known yoga instructor and having his participation here further adds to the value of this program. The poses are great for beginners and more importantly are specific to back care and stress relief.
8. The DVD is presented in eco-friendly packaging.

Weaknesses of the product/content:
1. While the dietitian presents absolutely impeccable and expert advice, she appears to be quite young and this may be an obstacle for some in accepting her credibility.
2. The eco-friendly packaging can potentially scratch the DVDs. Be careful when removing the DVD or placing it into the package.

My Personal Experience:
As someone whose back has been through many challenges, I’ve been a big proponent of healthy back strategies for many years. I was excited to try this program.

I watched the 3-part DVD in two stages.
First I watched Parts 1 and 2 for information. I got a solid overview of the integrative approach and Mayo Clinic experts discussed back care physiology, options, dietary strategies and food selection tips.

As a nutrition educator, the dietary information wasn’t new to me, but I enjoyed the presentation and found it to be affirming of what advice I follow myself. While I do eat a blood-type diet for a Type O, (I consume grass fed beef and organic free-range poultry), overall, my diet is predominantly plant-based as the DVD suggests it should be.

I liked that alternative approaches to back care, such as acupuncture, were also included in the strategies presented, as it fits with my belief in integrated programs. Parts 1 and 2 left me feeling very informed and ready for part 3.

I watched part 3, the yoga and meditation segment, later in the day.
I changed into my sweats and carved out 40 minutes for a yoga and meditation session, and followed along as I watched Part 3 (Soothing Therapies).

The meditations were peaceful. For the yoga component, I had my yoga mat in place, but I had to stop a few times throughout and go grab a few props from around the house. These included 2 blankets, a yoga strap and a yoga block to sit on. A better strategy would have been to watch the whole routine first and then I’d have known what I needed. The poses were gentle and felt great on my back. Some of them were new to me and I liked that.

I spent some time the following day, using the Bonus My Stress Solution action guide booklet. The assessments are good tools for evaluating stress levels and coping styles, and I got some good feedback. I liked the last page summary of key tips on the DVD.

I plan on keeping the yoga stretches in my daily stretching regime and keeping the booklet for future reference. Since my diet is already aligned with the suggestions, and I already use the modality of acupuncture, I figure I will stay the course. I also know what my brother, who sports a chronically challenged back himself, is getting for his birthday:)

Overall Product Rating: ☺ ☺+

Tune in on Thursday this week for a review of another DVD I’m testing out in this series, Wellness Solutions for Menopause.

WELLNESS PRODUCT REVIEWS: Part 2 of 4 Reviewed: Yoga to the Rescue DVD

yoga-woman.jpgWelcome back to my Wellness Product Review Series. In the prior post of the series, I reported from the Nutrition Front with a review of the Detox Diet (the book and the plan itself.) Today, I’m reporting from the Fitness Front.

As a reminder, here is the key to the rating system I use:
☺ ☺ ☺ = Great product. I’m using it and love it. Go get it.
☺ ☺ = Good product. I’m using it/own it. You might want to try it.
☺ = It has merit, but I’m not personally using it. Use with caution.
☹ = Don’t bother.

You’ll love adding this gentle yoga program to your day…especially if you spend a good portion of it either on your feet or hunched at a computer:)

DVD: “Yoga to the Rescue” with Desiree Rumbaugh

yoga-dvd.jpg Product Description: “Relieve your aching neck, back, shoulders, wrists, and feet with this gentle yoga practice…these simple exercises stretch, strengthen, and massage joints and muscles from head to toe, leaving you refreshed and restored.” From the Acacia website.

Price: $14.99 U.S.
Routine: Approx 60 min.
Available at: Acacia website, amazon.com and Borders

WellnessCoach Assessment:
Good for all levels, from beginners to advanced yoga practitioners. Especially friendly for those who have low flexibility or fitness levels or have shied away from yoga because of chronic pain. Good for a mid-day break when you spend hours at the computer, as well as a refreshing way to start or end the day. Instructor is experienced and has an engaging teaching style. As with all fitness regimes, check with your health practitioner to see if this program is appropriate for you.

My Personal Experience:
I absolutely love the yoga routine on this DVD. Even though I’ve practiced Chi Gong and done gentle yoga stretches for years, I like to add new routines to the mix now and then – but I’m fussy. The movements have to be gentle enough for me to take care of my back and yet provide a routine that helps me strengthen my joints and muscles. This one does both and truly does what it says – leaves me refreshed and restored. I enjoy Desiree’s approach and finish the DVD looking forward to the next time.

Overall Rating: ☺ ☺ ☺

Special Note: I just discovered that Desiree Rumbaugh will be at Borders Bayside Commons location in Burlington MA for in-store demonstration and signing of the DVD on February 10th at 4pm ET

Stay tuned: next up in the series I’ll review an environmentally-friendly cleaning product your carpet and spills shouldn’t be without:)

Got Wellness Products You Recommend? Let us know!

Your Wellness Manifesto – Don’t Wait for the New Year!

megaphone.jpgI’m not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions. That doesn’t mean I’m not a goal-setter, it’s just that I’d rather develop new habits (personal and professional) one day at a time, keep assessing progress throughout the year, and make course corrections as I go. I encourage my clients to do the same.

Wellness Manifesto
One of the tools I use to assess my overall wellness is a “living” document that I call a “Wellness Manifesto” – my clients have caught on and love the idea, so it’s the heart of this post today. A Wellness Manifesto is a written declaration of activities (and non-activities) that support wellbeing as you define it, declared in the present tense. I say that the document is “living” because you continue to refine it and revisit it on an on-going basis, not just at the New Year.

What Does the Manifesto Contain?

The Manifesto’s key components are: The Current Date, The Next Review Date, Your Wellness Intention, Keywords (words used frequently in the intention and/or those that you used that hold lots of juice for you) and 3 Habits to Strengthen.

I suggest revisiting your Wellness Manifesto quarterly and reading it aloud to at least one other person. Since I did so in September, my own Wellness Manifesto is already in good shape for the holidays.

Focuses Your Intention
When I glance at the Wellness Manifesto document each day, I’m reminded of my Wellness intentions. For example, I’m reminded that, in keeping with my Manifesto, I want to look back a week after Thanksgiving land say, “How wonderful it was to eat well, enjoy the gathering of friends and family, and get some exercise that day.” I’m just more likely to act accordingly if I write the Manifesto “as if” things I intend to do have already taken place. It doesn’t guarantee anything…it just helps me put my attention on what I want regarding my wellness.

Example of a Wellness Manifesto
Look through the following example of a simple Wellness Manifesto that I revised in September. Notice it is written in present tense as if these things are already firmly in place as I write it. Notice the keywords are really the top values I’m declaring to be of importance right now. Looking at this list each day (as well as having announced and read the Manifesto to my coach In September) supports the 3 habits I want to strengthen during this time.

Date: September 1, 2007

Next Review Date (three months): December 1, 2007

Wellness Manifesto of: Erica Ross-Kriegeer

I experience wellness in body, mind and spirit. I rise early in the morning so I can enjoy the quiet hours before the active day begins. I use the time to meditate, stretch, write a few words of gratitude in my journal and identify my priorities for my business. In this way, I am more focused and prepared for the full day ahead. I focus on relaxation during the holidays, build restful “time-outs” into my workday, spend time outdoors daily and also clear time to spend with family and friends. I take time to truly savor the healthy food I put into my body and know that when I do so I’m caring for the vehicle that let’s me do the work I love to do in the world.

Body, Mind, Spirit
Healthy Food
Enjoy Friends & Family

3 Habits to Strengthen:
Rising at 6am
Daily time outdoors
Business Priorities set each day

A Gentle Yet Powerful Reminder
I don’t suggest using the Wellness Manifesto to give yourself a hard time – I figure Life can be hard enough as it is some days. Just use it to keep your eye on what’s important.

For instance, let’s say you’re currently working on developing the habit of getting up a half-hour earlier than you used to (like I am). You can keep your manifesto by your nightstand and your alarm clock. On the manifesto will be a few keywords that you want to emphasize in your life right now – words that could include: quiet time, priorities, and focus. You might glance at the document before bed, taking a minute to imagine those qualities as already present in your life.

When the alarm goes off in the morning, and you’re tempted to hit the snooze button one more time (or turn it off and go back to sleep) just glance at the manifesto again. Ask yourself if those qualities of  quiet time, priorities, and focus are important?

If so, glancing at that list might just be all you need to get going and further solidify your habit of getting up earlier. If not, and you choose not to get up, don’t beat yourself up about it later on. Just re-group and course-correct. Maybe 15 minutes earlier is a better target for a while. Maybe getting to bed earlier is where you really need to focus. Just revisit the manifesto, revise it, declare it to someone again, and gently get back in the saddle.

Your Turn
I invite you to use the example above as a guide to create your own Wellness Manifesto and put it into place before the winter holidays this year.

It could just be one of the best gifts you give yourself.

What will your Wellness Manifesto say? Send a comment and let us know.

Oh…and do you see how you could do a Wellness Manifesto for your business? (Another topic for another post:)