Expanding Your Capacity – Expanding Your World

earthglobe.jpgI’ve been focusing a lot lately on the idea of expanding capacity…the capacity to do more of what we love, bring forward more of who we are, and the capacity to live with increased joy and grace.

One way to expand capacity seems to be to surround myself with new opportunities, new circumstances and even new information.

I’ve been browsing through books I haven’t known about before, DVDs I haven’t seen or heard of, and even new blogs I haven’t visited. The books I found at a used bookstore and the DVDs from a new catalog I discovered. As for blogs, I found 259 new ones in the batch of 260 that Liz Strauss brilliantly showcased at her annual Blog-To Show this past weekend (I also expanded my capacity for trying new bloggy things and put my own blog in the show:) Pop on over to discover some new blogs that will help you expand your capacity!

At first glance, the notion of expanding capacity might seem to be the antithesis of living a simpler life…I don’t see it that way. Expanding capacity doesn’t inherently mean “get and do more stuff”…it could mean expanding our capacity to live more joyfully, simply, and authentically. I like thinking of it that way.

How about you? What would it mean for you to expand your capacity? What might be possible?

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

Contents:
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

Contents:
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 Cafe – What’s on Your Mind?

friends-at-cafe-2-copy.jpgThis afternoon I went to my favorite cafe. Took nothing but money, my driver’s license and my car keys. Thought I’d take a time out from all things work related.

I got my iced green tea, settled into a comfy chair, and did nothing but stare into oblivion. I’m sure there were whirring blenders, a strong aroma of dark roast coffee, and a cool breeze produced by the overhead fan…I’ve experienced them all, many times before. But today, I just needed to chill out. I did. For a good 15 minutes.

And then I heard a voice rise from the group of people who sat at the table beside me. “What’s been on your mind lately?” I heard a young woman’s voice ask. I turned, thinking she was talking to me. She wasn’t. She was talking to her group of friends. I turned back to my iced tea and, having borrowed her question, mulled it over for a while.

“What’s been on my mind lately?” I asked myself. Posing the question to my own self made me smile. My own “answers” to the question included everything from “maybe Oregon would be a good vacation spot this year” to “I’m wondering if my own fitness regime needs tweaking?” I even thought about several business decisions I’d sworn I wouldn’t bring with me to the cafe. Doing so with detachment was actually enjoyable.

After I left I realized that just exploring the terrain of my mind, without insisting that I had to do anything about what I was pondering, held the key to that enjoyment…

So what about you…what’s on your mind?