Archive for the ‘Self Help’ Category

Menopause fire brewing? Inflammation + changes in estrogen

Monday, April 25th, 2011

Did you know that inflammation in your body could predispose you to health risks?

Did you know that the hormone shifts in menopause could further raise levels of inflammation?

What is inflammation?

We often think inflammation with tangible things like scraped knees. A scraped knee has obvious redness, swelling, pain and heat, right? The thing about inflammation inside your body is that it is silent but still holds the possibility of being destructive. In menopause there are changes with estrogen levels. These shifts together with existing inflammation can impact your health.

This article is intended to give you food for thought, information to make educated choices, and reconnect you to the fact that your body is made to heal. Inflammation serves the valuable purpose of fixing tissue damage; so it’s not all bad. Cellular repair is important and necessary. However ongoing inflammation, which does not resolve, is problematic. Remember you always have an opportunity to guide your body away from being more inflamed to less inflamed.

So what happens with this inner inflammation?

One way to look at this “silent” inflammation is that it is like oil build-up inside an engine. Your engine needs oil to lubricate your gears. However, if the oil is dirty, build-ups occur, your gears are stressed, and things may grind to a halt. Atherosclerosis (build up of fatty materials inside blood vessels) is one common example of a result of chronic inflammation, very much like clogged gears.

Do you have:


Popping or clicking joints?

Redness or broken blood vessels in your face or neck?

Increasing sensitivities to foods or environmental substances?

High blood pressure?

Elevations in your cholesterol, triglycerides or C-reactive protein lab works?

High blood sugar?

Cravings for sugar?

Drowsiness after meals?

Extra weight around your mid section?

Yes to any of the above, indicates inflammation. Inflammation can be temporary or can be chronic depending upon your health history, genetics and various lifestyle habits and how many of the above factors you have at the same time.

Here is what you can do right now to help reduce inflammation in your body:

Avoid environmental and nutritional things to which you are sensitive.

It sounds simple but most of us know when we don’t tolerate specific foods or beverages. Yet we still “try them” now and again. It’s not worth it. If curry always does a number on your digestive tract: it’s not worth the stress to your system.

Give up gluten in your diet.

Even if you are not formally allergic to gluten, there are multiple reasons to avoid it. Firstly gluten is a highly inflammatory substance. It is like tossing gasoline onto any inflammation fire inside your body. Secondly, gluten found in the typical diet is a hybridized genetically modified organism (GMO), which is foreign to our bodies. Lastly it is too heavily ingested as far as quantity. Gluten will substantially ramp up any inflammatory process happening in your system. A wealth of information currently exists on gluten-free foods; so do some research. (,

Specifically avoid: wheat, spelt, semolina, barley, bulgur, and rye.

Incorporate into your diet: rice, potatoes, quinoa, wheat-free oats, millet, or amaranth.

Corn is a possibility but keep in mind that corn too is inflammatory though not to the degree of wheat.

Increase in your muscle mass and decrease in your body fat. This does not mean hours and hours in the gym. Even modest shifts in body fat substantially reduce your body’s tendency to make inflammatory substances.

Give your body antioxidant rich foods and supplements like:





Red grapes,



Green tea.

Vitamin C,

Vitamin E,


Beta Carotene.

Increase your intake of Omega-3 Fatty Acids like:

Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA). You can also supplement with Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) but this Omega-3 is sometimes harder to absorb if you have multiple inflammatory signs.

Dietary sources of Omega-3’s:




Flaxseed oil,

Algal oil,

Krill oil.

Make an appointment with your Acupuncturist, Naturopath or Nurse Practitioner, as well as a Clinical Nutritionist or Personal Trainer to get more information, get evaluated and create a plan, which will work for you and your lifestyle.

Put a wiggle in it! Fitness myths & secrets @ ALL ages–>Interview with Dot Spaet

Monday, February 7th, 2011

KR:What do you find is the common denominator with people in midlife and exercise?

DS: Mindset. I think people really do believe that part of getting older is that you go to hell. Menopause for example happens and there is hormonal weight; but it is temporary. It’s not just because the hormones shift. People gain weight, as they get older because their metabolism slows down, but what they don’t realize is that they have control of their metabolism by keeping their muscle mass. The body loses 6-10% of our muscle mass per decade; so by the time you hit 40-50 you have lost almost 30%.  By adding muscle, we increase the metabolism.

I think the biggest message is that it doesn’t have to be that way.

A pound of muscle takes the space of a tangerine. A pound of fat takes the space of a grapefruit.

So muscle takes 1/3 the space of fat. If we do nothing to keep the muscle as we age, we get softer and mushier. The scale might not even change but the fat vs. muscle percentage in your body changes.

Think of this: a pound of muscle burns 50 calories a day. So for every pound of muscle you lose,  you lose the ability to burn 50 calories for each of those pounds. But let’s say you add 2 pounds of muscle to your body. You will burn 100 calories more per day. In 30 days you will burn 3,000 calories just by having that extra 2 pounds of muscle. It takes 3,500 calories to burn a pound of fat. So basically by putting on 2 pounds of muscle, you will burn fat just by the existence of the muscle.

You’d burn 10 lbs per year with that 2 pounds of muscle.

KR: What are some pearls for peri and postmenopausal women seeking fitness?

DS: I say the post-menopausal woman is way more sexy. These are women who say:

I don’t care what the world thinks. I can do anything. I’ve gotten over the humps of child raising, careers etc.

The fitness industry tells you 40 minutes 3x/week of aerobic exercise to “stay fit”

There many of us in the fitness industry who believe you can get cardio while doing muscle-building activities. Mindless hours of ellipticals and stair steppers are not necessary. You get a much better bang for your buck doing short, muscle building, intense movements which gives you cardio while you are doing them vs. just getting on that treadmill.  Women hear muscle and they think I don’t want to get bulky. The reality is that most women don’t tend to get bulky because we don’t have enough testosterone. The other consideration is that women are generally thinking of their upper body vs. their legs. It’s easier to add muscle to the legs than the upper body.

There is lots of research that shows it’s never to late to add muscle.

The body will find a different pathway to build the muscle as we get older; but functionally, older people get stronger just like younger people who work out.

Women are motivated by how we look. We’re often looking at the soft mush and we are not looking at the loss of quality of life. What’s more important? What happens if I can’t get up stairs or get off of a soft or low couch?

Strength is about being able to continue doing your life at a high quality.

So if you want a life with quality you want to be able to wash your hair. If you lose use of your shoulder muscles, you can’t open a refrigerator anymore. I’ve had clients in that predicament. If we don’t do anything it will happen.

So my “pearls” of wisdom are:  big payoff in building some muscle.  The other one is doing Pilates – great for toning the midsection and strengthening the “Core”, making all sorts of activities easier.

KR: What are some words of wisdom for creating the best mindset for getting in shape?

DS: Fear is big. The solution is to visualize where you want your life in 3 years. How do you see yourself?  If you see yourself less active with aging you’ll become that person. If we can’t envision it, we can’t become it. You must be able to see yourself as someone who is strong, able, fit and healthy.  I think it’s important for people to go inside and see their beliefs. If you are thinking anything like: this is the way it has to be, or this is what it’s like to get older, or there is nothing I can do about it or it’s more bother than I’m willing to do – you’ve got to look at all those belief systems and say who says it has to be this way?

Do you know that all the age markers go down when you exercise? You can keep away cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol, osteoporosis and more.

KR: What is your personal life approach to exercise, health and fitness?

What is my first line medical defense?

I believe in exercise.

I keep my food clean.

Whatever ails me: I go to acupuncture. My first line defense is acupuncture. I’ve done that for 20 years.

People are always asking me how much I exercise. I exercise, averaged out, to about 15 minutes a day with intense weight training plus I teach Yoga and Pilates classes.

People don’t get it. They say,  “I don’t have time.” I have two different answers to that.  The nuts and bolts answer is that you can incorporate exercise into your day just by doing what you are doing and not doing anything extra.

My favorite example is shown in this you’ve-got-to-see video clip on U-Tube which shows how to do chair sits. Of course, it’s my own video, just put fitnessbydot into YouTube.  Most people get in and out of a chair many times during a typical day.  This is a slightly different way to get into and out of the chair that uses your leg muscles more.  In public restrooms you squat. You butt goes back and you hover.  We can sit into any chair this way.  The closer and lower to the chair seat that you are willing to hover, the harder you work. Stop and focus and take an extra 20 seconds slowly squat into chair every time you sit down.

What is the worst that is gonna’ happen? You are going to end up in the chair!  First you work at it. Several weeks later you can hold easily above chair. You’ll end up able to ease in an out of all chairs without using your arms or falling into the chair. There are benefits to not getting stuck in a chair or on a couch. Strengthening the muscles supports knees too. There are benefits of joint health. Think about how many times you do this in a day. 10 Times at 10 seconds a piece. We are not talking about a lot of time here but even they are opportunities to get stronger and build muscle.

What else?  Park farther away ie:  park a block away. Walk more.

Use the stairs. You should never be in the elevator for a flight or two.

Stand at work vs. sitting.

Even if you are watching TV do some sit-ups during commercials.

The earmark of convenience is usually an opportunity to get some added exercise.  Squeeze your butt muscles together while you are standing at the sink or in line at the grocery store.

KR: Why do you think people resist classes as fitness opportunities?

DS:  The biggest reason is people have NO idea how much better they can feel because they have never felt it.

People who are beginners in a class activity think, “I look goofy.”

The reality is that in most classes people are at different levels. It’s like being

in a dance class and not knowing the moves. It’s just what new looks like.

We have this idea in our culture that we have to do things instantly and be good at them with no learning curve.

They are just excuses. I felt that way too when I started partly because I was embarrassed and partly because didn’t know what I was doing.

The time is now, not tomorrow, not later.

Get younger, feel younger. This is turn-back-the-clock work. This is how to turn back the aging clock.

People who exercise sleep better and fewer hours. They are more productive and their brains are clearer. Their moods are more even. If you had the ability to be focused and clear all day, do you think you could get more done? The time you gain is greater than the time you spend exercising. It’s like an investment that pays 5 to 1. It gives you back more time than you put into it.

The reality is that it doesn’t cost much and it’s readily available. If exercise were a pill everybody would be taking it. All you need is a good pair or sneakers and that’s about it.

KR: What helps with getting that ball rolling to begin exercising?

DS: People wait to be motivated.  It doesn’t arrive, it is created.

You can do all kinds of things to help yourself, like the only clothes you put out in the AM are gym clothes.

Block the front door with your bicycle.

It’s easier to manipulate the environment vs. create or motivate. The exercise becomes its own reward because it feels so much better that you don’t want to give it up.

Make a date to meet a friend at the gym or for a hike.  Accountability really helps – tell someone else you will do it and check in with them later.

KR: Dot, thank you for your many words of wisdom. What are your final pearls for spurring the fitness goals of our readers?

DS: Ask yourself: what is driving you?

Do you want to play with grandkids?

Can you get up off the floor without using your hands? (Sit on the floor right now, cross your arms over your chest and get up without pushing with your arms. Can you do it?) This is measure of muscle strength.

What is your “why”?

Mush around the middle?

Maybe it’s that I am embarrassed because I think I should look better than I do?

Maybe it’s that my clothes don’t fit?

What activities are you giving up? Skiing? Bicycling? Hiking?

I don’t buy into that.

We become what we believe.


Do you know how many times I have heard, “If I had known it was going to be this easy, I wouldn’t have waited so long”?  You can get a whole lot out of a little bit of consistent exercise.

Visit Dot Spaet at, and feel free to join our email list and shop our very own fitness products.

Send me an email at:

telling me you signed up because you read Karen’s article and I will send you something free!

Dot Spaet, Fitness by Dot, where the best workout is the one you are willing to do!

Eat locally, think globally, maybe get a chicken…

Monday, December 6th, 2010

With recent economic changes, our lives have shifted to local community focuses, neighborhood activities, and things like cultivating backyard flocks of chickens. Eye opening documentaries, such as Food Inc., combined with rising commitments toward sustainability and eating locally, have made keeping chickens a renewed, enjoyable and popular endeavor.

Over the last two years, multiple friends of mine started raising chickens. Watching these quirky birds troop around a yard in search of bugs and snacks is oddly relaxing, not unlike watching fish in an aquarium. In addition to producing great organic eggs, chickens eat parasites off of our roses but do not eat the roses themselves. Their scratchings aerate the soil around the rose roots and chicken manure is ideal for citrus trees and garden composting. However, it is wise to allow them to roam within designated areas of your yard. Chickens are walking manure machines-once every 7 minutes is the fact. They will invariably help themselves to other garden and yard plants too; so without observation they can be destructive.

For a song….

Chickens have an amazing repertoire of vocalizations. My husband recently experienced the I-need-to-lay-my-egg pronto medley. He was making a small coop renovation, which apparently intersected with daytime official production hours. It gave new meaning to browbeat. Mature chickens are soft with luxurious, iridescent feathers and a comical way of running, rather like a miniature dinosaurs. Chicks are endearing, delicate, silly puff balls. They fall asleep while standing upright at which point their heads dangle between their legs.

Backyard chickens?

This article is about some steps for creating your own backyard flock.

If you are thinking of getting chickens, do investigate your hometown’s livestock ordinances. Local city/county municipality websites address zoning locations and permitted uses. It can be helpful to inquire with a local architect as well. Many areas allow hens but no roosters. As you might guess, roosters are very vocal throughout daylight hours, are usually aggressive, and can be deemed nuisances. If you live in an area where a rooster could get you into trouble, you can buy “sexed pullets” which are female chicks.

By the way: sexing is not an exact science, though many companies have as high as a 90% accuracy rate. One holiday morning at the crack of dawn, our 4 month-old “Ethel” began crowing. I’ll share that donning my fuzzy, blue bathrobe and sporting the universal “shhhhh” sign was not effective for a trumpeting rooster.  “Ethel”, renamed Ed, was re-homed to friends in an area where roosters are OK and where he could be the ladies man of the flock.

Information on keeping chickens

My personal goal in selecting chickens was to acquire good egg laying and social hens.  Here are two helpful websites with breed information: and has patented a safe heating element to enclose with shipped birds such that prospective flock owners can order as few as 3 chicks.  More traditional companies such as Murray McMurray require that you order at least 10 chickens.

The abundance of information on breeds will help you select the best birds for you. There are some exquisitely beautiful breeds; but do take into consideration your goals for having a backyard flock. For example the White Leghorns, reminiscent of the Foghorn Leghorn cartoons of yore, are good layers with modest food consumption. However Leghorns are aggressive to one another and are not docile birds. They might not be best for a household with children.

In contrast: Autralorps and Orpingtons are two breeds known for friendliness and good daily egg production. An Australorp hen holds the world record for having laid 364 eggs in a year. There are many things to consider such as hot/cold weather hardiness, egg laying, food consumption, and temperament. Ornate breeds are usually not prolific egg layers. Backyard flocks are ideal for families, since kids typically enjoy holding chicks. Households with children can create very social adult chickens.

Building your chicken coop

With respect to building your chicken coop, research, thought and planning cannot be underestimated. Housing options are varied such as prefabricated coops, which can be ordered and assembled or reusing recycled materials to construct your own coop. The book Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens by Gail Damerow is a wealth of information.  It addresses all aspects of keeping chickens as well as creating their shelter.

A modern chicken coop option is the clever Egglu at . Egglus are brightly colored molded plastic, compact, easy to clean, and transportable. However you may not care for bright colors or the cost of the Egglu comparative to other options.

For the most economical and well planned chicken coop construction in Marin County California, I highly recommend top-notch handy man: Ron Trifeletti. Phone: 415-717-4172, e-mail: Ron is a retired contractor. He brings 30 years of experience and knowledge about issues like: property line variances, coop size, placement, and materials; so you won’t be stuck renovating or moving a chicken coop at a later date.

What do you think? Is keeping chickens a step toward self-reliance and happy gardens for you?

Good luck with your own feathered ladies and backyard flock!

Karen Reynolds is an Acupuncturist and RN in private practice in Mill Valley, CA.

In additional to her specialties in women’s health, fertility and treatment of chronic pain, she has an avid interest in sustainable living and global health.

Karen Reynolds, L.Ac., M.S., R.N.

600 Miller Avenue

Mill Valley, CA 94941

Phone: 415.381.8500 Ext. 4



Maybe Stella got her groove back but Lena had it allllll along

Sunday, October 17th, 2010

As chance would have it or more accurately as the Universe perfectly orchestrated it,

I happened to see an old 60 Minutes interview with Lena Horne. Lena recently died at age 92 and she was a powerful female presence in an era in which she was blacklisted for it.

She’s probably best known for her vocals of the original song Stormy Weather.

In 1943, she performed that well known mesmerizing melody as a fresh faced girl among an all African American cast. That was the only way in which African American artists could participate in a venue.

The interview was conducted when Lena was in her 60‘s. A striking thing throughout was her natural sex appeal, her easy exquisite smile, her low rumbling voice and a magnetism which beckoned the listener toward her. Her charisma manifested itself without being garrish, lewd, or disrespectful. The now deceased interviewer, Ed Bradley, had moments of obvious intrigue.

During the conversation Lena spoke about how it was very hard for her to try and perform Stormy Weather as she had as a young girl. The difficulty wasn’t about her voice quality or the words or the music. The broadcast cut to scenes of her one woman show Lena Horne: the Lady and Her Music. She was belting out blues, unafraid of how the sounds contorted her lips and face doing so, and gliding about the stage like a queen. She sang about love, lust, being proud of her curves, her wrinkles and her still smoldering sexual desires. Of course she couldn’t sing Stormy Weather as she had in 1943 because she was a woman who had blossomed, fought against bigotry and open racism and she was fully embodied Mojo. The girl from Stormy Weather was just a babe with no hollows in her sweet round face and no life challenges to have molded Lena Horne into the powerful strong woman that she was.

So here’s to Mojo with growing power, Mojo that amplifies, expands and recreates itself joyfully throughout women’s lives.

I suspect Ed was waiting at the Pearly Gates with flowers and a bottle of wine and a

“Hey, baby I’ve been waiting for exactly you. It’s been some Stormy Weather up here.”

Free Spa Day Sunday, September 19th

Saturday, September 4th, 2010

Everyone needs more Rest and Relaxation theses days.

A group of trusted professionals is gathering at my office on

Sunday September 19th from 10AM to 2PM

to offer mini treatments AND a delicious organic lite meal.

all at no cost to you!!

Participants will flow through a series of spa experiences including:

Massage, Acupuncture, Skin care, Pilates (light stretching), Chiropractic, Biofeedback, and Nutrition. We also will have presentations/discussions with a Reiki master, a wholistic MD and a Naturpathic doctor. All of this is followed by a scrumptious, light, organic meal.

Sign up for your spot now-slots are limited.

Ring Kristina Lentz at 415.455.0307

OR e-mail her at:

Donor Ovum Considerations

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

The reality around donor egg/fertility issues is that YOU need a village.

If you are reading this article, it is likely that you are approaching the donor selection process already having experienced multiple heartbreaks with fertility and with your desire to create a family. You have undoubtedly heard the phrase: “It takes a village,” with respect to the rearing of children. The phrase is often applied to the more mundane or infuriating, aspects of life as well. The reality is that YOU need a village. You need a team of support solely and expressly for you. I want to stress that this is an endeavor in which bearing its solitary weight does not serve you, your child to be, or your family to be. Cultivate and use your village and allow it to nourish and ground you. Your team can consist of many individuals and specialties, which you personally find helpful.

Here I will share with you some members to consider placing on your team. The goal is for you to move through weighty decisions in a supported way, which is pertinent, individualized, and unique to you.

I have developed this article with input from prospective parents, from other parents who have already experienced successful IVF technologies, and from health care practitioners actively participating in teams assisting with family building. It is my greatest hope that this will provide for you some valuable information on your personal journey toward becoming a parent. Here you will find some food for thought and may review some general considerations to assist with your experience.

A lonely process with no guidebook means you must create your own guides

Being on the path of egg donor selection is likely overwhelming.

As an acupuncturist and RN specializing in fertility/reproductive health for men and women, I often witness this struggle. One of my fertility patients aptly described it as a lonely process with no guidebook. By comparison, when you purchase a car, for example, you can conduct exhaustive research. Magazines like Consumer Reports offer the non-partisan, objective facts, as well as a plethora of specialty books and periodicals for the buyer. Moreover, the road to selecting an egg donor is every bit as expensive as purchasing a $30,000 automobile. But unlike choosing a car, it is a private topic about which you may prefer not to solicit input from family and friends, involving something more precious than all things with which money is typically considered—a baby.

The decisions are many and weighty AND you will get through them.

Yes, you do have many decisions ahead of you. It can be all consuming to sift through these and weather the emotional charges associated with them. Remember: you will get through this time. One of the best ways in which to make your way is to create your team of support.

Who might be on your team?

Medical doctors

An Acupuncturist

A Psychotherapist

A Fertility Coach

A Lawyer

A Financial Planner

A Licensed Insurance Agent

Conventional and Traditional Medicine

You will of course require established relationships with your doctors including an Obstetrician and Reproductive Endocrinologist. This is a conventional medicine must.

What you may not readily know is that conventional medicine and traditional Chinese medicine–including acupuncture, Chinese herbs and nutrition–work synergistically to improve pregnancy outcomes.  Choosing an acupuncturist is key to weathering stressors and keeping your body tonified, strong, resilient and in prime condition for the many steps ahead.

Acupuncture has been scientifically found to:

  • Enhance immunities
  • Assist in hormonal balance
  • Statistically improve ‘take home baby’ rates and
  • Reduce stress to improve the way your brain communicates with your reproductive organs.

Acupuncture is one part of a 3,000 year-old complete system of medicine.

The process of acupuncture involves insertion of very fine, flexible needles into

acu-points on the body.  Needles are sterile, used once, and disposed immediately following treatments. They are delicate, much like a cat’s whisker, and are not hypodermic needles in form, function or sensation. Acu-points located along specific pathways are chosen according to your body’s unique needs. Most of my patients fall asleep during treatments due to the deep relaxation treatments generally induce.

Are you concerned about the education and credentials of your acupuncturist?

Knowledge of training should put you at ease.  Acupuncturists licensed in California are legally recognized as primary health care providers and are licensed herbalists as well. California acupuncturists are trained in 4-year masters degree programs, which total more than 3,000 hours of graduate studies. At websites such as the California Department of Consumer Affairs Acupuncture Board, you can research Oriental medicine, practitioners and verify licensure. Please also see the American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (AAAOM) and websites to research specialties and topics of interest. Many insurance companies cover acupuncture and I personally have a billing service which makes it easy to facilitate use of your coverage.

Donor selection and you: mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

In addition to combining conventional and traditional forms of medicine, remember to take good care of yourself mentally, emotionally and spiritually. This aspect of your team involves choosing a psychotherapist and a fertility coach. I clinically observe that my fertility patients who actively pursue therapy and coaching move through challenges more easily and with greater senses of well-being and peace. Additionally I want to stress that therapy and coaching work synergistically with acupuncture. For example, I frequently use acu-points to address key emotions pertinent for the individual.

Ahead of you there are emotional wrestling matches amid donor research and selection. Support both your body and soul at this time. Donor selection and fertility stressors have the capacity to impact you, your primary relationship, your physical, mental and emotional health, your family dynamic, your career progression, and your finances, etc.

With choice comes complexity

Never in history have people been able to make the decisions that the wonders of technology afford us today. However, this blessed opportunity brings about choice and choice ushers in complexity. It does not translate to an easy process. You need emotional and spiritual support. Seek it. Discussion with trained, compassionate, and mature professionals is invaluable.


Psychotherapy and drop-in support groups prove to be exceptionally healing for my patients. At Balance Restored Center for Integrative Medicine in Mill Valley, we have three psychotherapists on-site. All specialize in fertility and family therapies. Dr. Ellen Hammerle, the head of our Psychotherapy department, offers rare expertise to persons in the process of family building at each of its many levels.  Ellen is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT #32398) and holds a doctorate in clinical psychology. The current emphasis of Ellen’s work is on the integration of Western Psychology and spiritual wisdom teachings; of body, mind and spirit. The application of these tenets is pivotal for fertility and post-partum support groups. Please see our News Blog at for postings re: our available support groups.

Fertility Coaching-creation of your life plan

Coaches are fabulous for co-creating with you your desired life plan. Keep in mind that this can be important time for you to nurture other dreams in addition to that of having a baby. Plans keep you moving forward even when emotions run high and tend to cloud activities. A coach will help you define your needs and goals. With support and compassion, a coach will monitor your progress and keep you accountable to your goals. There are coaches who specialize in fertility challenges and even those who draw from personal experience of the various paths of IUI, IVF, donor selection, surrogate selection etc..

I would like to refer you to, a website created by coach, Merideth Mehlberg ACC. Merideth draws from more than 15 years experience in the business world having functioned as a product manager, business analyst, and project manager. She is the author of the book: The Power of Plan B: How Infertility Can Transform Your Life. From her solid, analytical skill set, she coaches her clients to dream big while creating plans with manageable steps toward those dreams. Being herself a survivor of what she aptly calls the “fertility maze”, Merideth brings to you support to promote creation of your passions, focus, and life goals. You can reach Merideth at or 510-864-0249.

Psychotherapy vs. Coaching-drawing distinctions

You may wonder about differences in psychotherapy and coaching.

Psychotherapy is like looking into your rear view mirror of your life. You see behind you what you have already passed and also that which has influenced your experience of your journey. There are profound life experiences in your rear view mirror, which mold how you move forward to present and future endeavors.

Coaching is like looking through the windshield of your car to the path ahead of you and deciding how you will navigate that unfolding road.

Both specialties are important: your past and your future.

Fertility challenges are not your fault, nor are they a measure of your worth

Interestingly I find that sometimes clients are reluctant to invest in their spiritual and emotional health in this most trying of times. It can feel indulgent when so many other resources in their lives are being dedicated to fertility processes. Some women share with me that they feel as though they have failed or let themselves or their mates down to find themselves struggling with fertility challenges. What I will share is that you are experiencing a situation of intensity for which you must give yourself every ounce of compassion and utmost credit. You always deserve to be treated well, to be loved and honored and to be supported in your journey.

Legal, Financial, and Insurance advisors on your team

A wise teacher of mine once said: plan as though for all eventualities, then live with joy as though life will unfold perfectly.

Independent of those of your fertility clinic or other agencies, it is wise to hire your own legal, financial and insurance advisors. These professionals protect and educate you. While the realms of law and money might trigger stress or anxiety, it is always preferable to operate in a well-informed and educated manner. It is money well spent.

Know your responsibilities as well as the donor’s responsibilities and review the plans for possible scenarios such as donor back-out etc. In my practice I find some clients who do not want to consider undesirable possibilities. In contrast, other clients focus so very much energy upon the scary “what if” scenarios that much precious energy is lost.  A place in-between is most in balance. It is wise to plan in case bumps in the road occur and then set about choosing the best possible plan for you.

Options to Investigate

•Shared risk programs available at some clinics. These are programs in which you prepay for multiple cycles at a discount, and there is a refund available if you do not take home a baby following care.

• Tax breaks may be available to you.

•Donor/Recipient accidental health insurance.

Honor yourself

There is a 5 Element Acupuncture saying that the each person who enters our doors is the likes of which we shall never again see. Each person is unique, special, and sacred.  You are unique, special, and sacred. Honor yourself in this process and create your village. I wish you well in your journey and selection. If I can be of help, please feel free to contact me at: or Phone: 415.381.8500 Ext. 4.

All rights reserved. Karen Reynolds, L.Ac., M.S., R.N. 2008

Be well!

Karen Reynolds, L.Ac., M.S., R.N.

Balance Restored Center for Integrative Medicine

600 Miller Avenue

Mill Valley, CA 94941

Phone: 415.381.8500 Ext. 4

Mining your subconcious. What is your pivotal thought?

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

This is an article I authored for the website Owning Pink was founded by Dr. Lissa Rankin, MD- a wholistic Gynecologist with whom I have the great honor to work. She hosts a wealth of  information on Women’s health, getting your mojo back if might be lost, and scads of invaluable topics.

Are you familiar with this experience? Once upon a time when you were a fresh- faced pinkie, you had an unpleasant, toxic, embarrassing, or abusive experience, which led to a thought. The thought recurred and over time you took it in as truth. Do you know what is your unique thought? I didn’t truly, consciously know mine until recently.

The blind spots

The exquisite wiring and structure that comprises our brain is designed such that it executes our goals, even when we are directing it toward “goals” about which we are unconscious. What if your thought is: “Life is hard” ? What if your thought is: “No one listens to me” ? It’s sobering to think that those are the marching orders we can unknowingly give our brains and that in turn is what we create in our day-to-day lives. Ironically, even if you’ve gone through therapy, even if you meditate, even if you are the queen of self-help, you might not yet consciously know what is your formative thought.

What is incredible about our human pinkie brains is that it’s actually hard to mine down and discover that core thought. We all have blind spots just like the ones in our vehicles. They ride around with us and obstruct a portion of the view; but it’s ok overall because we can simply look around them. They are still present but we just don’t consciously see them. We humans are pretty creative and multi-talented organisms and we can adapt. Those blind spots make it impossible to uncover and deconstruct what is underneath, without help.

Drilling down to the driving thought

Recently, I was in a workshop hosted by a local company called Productive Learning and Leisure. I trotted into the workshop that day for what I thought was a business development course. Yes, it was indeed a business development workshop and it was so much more. The talent and compassion of the speaker, Betty Jo Waxman, awed me. She created a safe space filled with information, exercises, opportunities, non-judgment and humor. The ultimate learning came in her deft, kind drilling down to extract the driving thought for each person.

I have to confess that I myself was a big weanie, because I didn’t have the courage to work the conversational process live in front of my classmates. The respect and acknowledgement I feel for those who did is unending. It was through the observation of a woman who shares my same thought that I consciously got to the root of my brain’s marching orders.

This brings me to another powerful aspect of this excavation process. There is something pivotal about the group aspect and mining the subconscious. If you’ve ever listened to or read any of the work Eckhart Tolle, such as The New Earth, it is evident that our egos are clever, resistive, and ever active like psychotic Leprechauns skipping about to find gold. The ego or the subconscious zigs and zags to discover a path upon which it can execute its agenda. As humans we all share this phenomena: it is completing our agenda at all costs. Often we see that process at work more clearly in others as opposed to ourselves because we have that handy blind spot solidly soldered into place. This is how our brains work and actually it is not evil. It appears to be in place ultimately to protect us.

The brain fancies that it knows best for us. It intimately knows what has historically worked and protected. Therefore it fires up the blow torch to reinforce the metal seams securing that blind spot in place and off toward its original destination it goes.

Sharing the shift

When we are honest, open and quite literally out in the open, as within a group setting, there is a far more powerful shift. It is fruitful on a different level than what we might experience in a private session with a therapist or from individual counsel from an elder or spiritual advisor.

It was so freeing for people to give voice to their thought! The thoughts were varied and vast, such as:

I’m not worthy.

I don’t succeed.

I’m not smart enough.

Nothing works out for me.

My ideas are stupid.

It’s not safe.

I’m afraid.

I’m not liked or loved.

I’m not included.

The shift comes when each person identifies what is his or her thought and realizes that: it is just a thought. Yes, it is usually based upon some experience or set of experiences, which historically occurred. However in present time it’s a story, which no longer serves. I saw an enormously successful businesswoman come to terms with an “I’m not successful” story. It shook the room because we know her to rock the line of work in which she specializes. That is not a story; It’s a fact. The beauty and gift of the moment was her hauling that thought out of the shadows, acknowledging it for affording her protection earlier in life, and then reprogramming the new goal for her exquisite and amazing Pinkie brain.

The uplifting notion is that it is the lot being human to have this subconscious. It is the job of our subconscious to protect us and have our best interests at hand. That is its job and we can thank our subconscious for its fine work thus far… and go ahead and reprogram it with our new goals and desires. (My interview with Betty Jo on the topic here!)

My subconscious? June Cleaver.

It’s good to have some humor around the mining of that blasted subconscious too. I imagine my subconscious as sort of bizarro blend between a guardian angel hybridized with June Cleaver.

Contrary to typical fluffy, white, billowing romanticized depictions, angels are beings of fierce protection not to be crossed. I’ve encountered angels before and the experiences were not enshrouded by warm, fuzzy moments with a tinkling of fairy music in the background. They were not bad moments either, mind you. Intense is a gentle way of characterizing it, just like exploring the unconscious mind. The June Cleaver aspect is as far from my life as can be. The image of June is safe, sanitized, playing by the rules and in keeping with prudence. So I extend my sincere apologies to any angel out there who is likely bumming about being depicted in an apron and pumps. The reality is that we Own Pink as powerful conscious women who can direct our thoughts, lives, goals and aspirations.

What do you think? Can you uncover any of your subconscious blindspots? Are you clear on your driving thought? What does your subconscious look like?

Namaste, Pinkie world!

Be well,

Karen Reynolds, L.Ac., M.S., R.N.-Mill Valley, CA

Did you know that organization is good for your health? An interview with professional organizer, Toni Ahlgren

Sunday, July 25th, 2010

Principles of Feng Shui talk about how organization of a home, office or any environment direclty impacts your health and well-being. In my acupuncture and Chinese herbal practice in Mill Valley, CA, I see the effects of disorganization in my patients’ lives daily.  I recently had the amazing opportunity to interview professional organizer and author, Toni Algren, for her wisdom in this realm.

KR: What kinds of changes do you see in your clients once they organize their homes and lives?

TA: I definitely see positive mental changes. The physical effects are obvious; but when somebody’s life isn’t in control, his or her mind isn’t in control. They are distracted. Physical clutter creates psychic clutter. A lot of clutter indicates indecision.

KR: Who are your typical clients?

TA: I work for a lot of small business owners. By that I mean even people with large households. They’ve got animals and children and bills and really: life is a business.

Most are entrepreneurs who don’t have support staff like they have in a big corporation; so they must work efficiently. They need to get systems in place and simplify the mundane chores so there’s time for fun stuff!

KR: Can you give me an example of streamlining something?

Instead of writing 50 checks a month and spending an afternoon doing it, I set people up so they spend 7 minutes with paying their bills online. If  people have a place for everything–and that usually includes the right filing system–they will save tons of time not looking for things.

Here’s a tip many of my clients have found invaluable: Get a spiral bound notebook and keep it on your desk. Write down literally everything that you need to do, notes to yourself, and calls to return as they come up during the day. The pages are bound together. The notebook is easy to transport with you and you can refer back to lists. I constantly refer back to my own notebooks—they are a wealth of information. People swear by that system.

The idea of having a clear place to work is really important. A cluttered desk or kitchen creates a cluttered mind. It’s bad for the soul. It’s distracting and people are negatively affected by visual clutter.  Part of my job is to get beneath the disorganization to see what underlies the clutter. Most people don’t have a filing system. As a result their papers are all over the place.

KR: What types of things are underutilized in a typical office?

TA: Well, filing cabinets are actually over-utilized. People do not purge enough.

The 80/20 rule applies: 80% is garbage and 20% is actually important enough to keep. We live in an age where many documents are accessible online, so why keep copies of things you can easily get if you need them? We get unclear about what is actually important. This is particularly key because so much is available over the Internet today.

KR: What are the most typical things that you see clients keeping that could be purged?

TA: Old maps, college textbooks, old medical information, old real estate rules.

old tax manuals. You don’t need to be a librarian anymore or to keep your dog food receipts or telephone books from 2004.

But let me answer your original question: What is under-utilized?Professional organizers–we are under-utilized. We do not have the emotional attachment to things so we can help people let go. We give our clients permission to let go of things and gently encourage them to do so.

KR: Do you sometimes feel like you are doing psychotherapy?

TA: Absolutely. Professional organizers are great because they don’t have the emotional baggage that is attached to belongings.  A professional organizer can coach a client about what is important to save—generally tax-related paper. Sentimental items are a whole other ball game!  In 25 years I’ve had so many clients. It’s common to go through belongings from first marriages or newly ended marriages. People need to feel the emotion, express it and then let go.

We also often act as sounding boards for the story associated with the belonging. [Toni picks up a paper coffee cup, cradling it in both hands.] ” I got this in Paris when I was 14 and it means something to me.”  OK, that’s the story. Now dump it. [Laughter]. No, seriously–if it’s important to you, then take a picture of it. Then get rid of it. Humor helps a lot.

KR: Do you find that once people have said the story out loud they are more likely to purge things?

TA: Oh yes.  After letting things go they see that all that stuff was really weighing them down.  Often clients get really into it all and say, “This feels so good!” or, “Let’s do one more closet or filing cabinet before you go.”

KR: What is the oddest thing that someone ever wanted to save?

TA: I have a client who is 89 years old and he has his all of his college textbooks, all of them….from the 1940’s.

KR: What are some of the biggest challenges in helping people to organize?

TA: Well, first of all they must be ready. The idea of giving someone two hours of an organizer’s time as a gift generally does not work because the recipient may not be ready. Once a wife gave her husband of gift of my time to help him organize his garage. He was not happy and insisted that he needed no help and didn’t want it… I wonder if they are still married.

I remember getting hired years ago by a woman for her husband. He hand wrote everything. He didn’town a computer at that point. His wife bought him a computer and said she just wanted to be able to “push a button” and everything would be taken care of.  So she obviously had some unrealistic expectations, too.  It has taken me years to organize these clients.  Now they both use a computer, but he is still not quite sure how to turn it on!

I have to remind clients that it takes more than 4 hours to undo years and years of clutter and accumulated paper and belongings! It does take an investment of time and money to clear out and organize.  I also urge people to hire an organizer before they move so they don’t end up schlepping unnecessary stuff to a new house.

There is a spiritual component to organizing, too.  Someone out there needs your stuff.  Put it out there in the universe and let it be used and appreciated.  Let go of more stuff and more will come to you. That is the way it works. What good are things just sitting in your closet,  garage or  kitchen cabinet?

A really good personal organizer should be a referral service for their clients.

I want to help my clients’ lives to work better.  If that means getting a plumber to fix a leaky faucet or calling an electrician to fix their office lighting that’s what I’ll get done. Whatever it takes to simplify a client’s life!

By the way: organizing is an ongoing process. Life changes and things change.

After people talk about their feelings around their stuff they say they feel 20 lbs lighter or love to go into heir office to work or love finding what they need. It is a feeling of completeness and empowerment when life is organized.

[Toni patting a stack of papers on my messy desk…]There will always be little messes. Can I help you with this pile? Life is messy!

KR: Is there a little mess somewhere even in your house?

TA: Of course!

Another useful tip is to have a pending folder. It holds things that are very short term, like the page from a catalogue with a confirmation number for something you ordered. What do you do with that piece of paper for a week until the item arrives? The pending folder is the perfect place to put something in a holding pattern.  It is not for long-term items like your financial future; it’s for the mundane things, like directions to a party or what attire is required.

KR: What would you say are the problematic areas of a house?

TA: Well, paper is almost everyone’s big fear.

The paperless society is not here and never will be.

KR: Thank you, Toni, for your tips and wisdom around this ongoing part of life. I’m going to go home and purge some filing cabinets!

If anyone wants to find out more information on Toni’s services,

please contact her at 415 444 5596, or

Optimize your fertility with food-event and free book!!

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

Talk on Eating for Fertility

Aug. 12, 2010, San Francisco – Special Event at Greens Restaurant:

At this special event being hosted by fertility specialist and patient educator, Dr. Danielle Lane of Golden Gate Fertility, and sponsored by MDR Pharmaceutical, featured speaker Cindy Bailey, co-author of the Fertile Kitchen Cookbook ( will give an information-packed talk on how to change your diet to optimize fertility and share strategies and tips for successfully building healthy eating and cooking into our busy, daily lives.

All attendees receive a handout of local organic resources and goody bags which include a copy of our book.

When: 5 – 6:30 pm, Thurs., Aug. 12

Where: Greens Restaurant, Fort Mason, Building A, San Francisco, CA 94123

RSVP: Seating is limited, so respond ASAP!

To RSVP, call 415-893-0391 and ask for JODI, or send an email to Cindy at with “Event at Greens” in the subject.

July 17th $39 Back Care Class by Dot Spaet; San Rafael, CA.

Saturday, July 10th, 2010

I want to share this valuable info on fitness classes from my amazing friend, Dot Spaet.

What is the biggest factor for success in any kind of fitness program?  The answer is at the end of this message.

Last chance to get a discount to Eliminate Back Pain for Good! I

Dot offered a discount for this 2 hour workshop and am extending it for 2 more days until July 12.   After Monday, July 12, it’s going up.

*  Feel your back pain diminish almost immediately.

*  Learn what stretches relieve discomfort.

*  Identify which of your muscles are pulling on your back.

This is a 2 hour workshop and will be both informative and interactive.

Dot shows you exactly what it takes to lessen your back pain.

What past participants say:

I have been going to physical therapy for 9 months; afterwards, I am in more pain]. Literally, within 24 hours (after working with you), the really bad pain at the bottom of my spine was relieved. This is the best I’ve felt in 9 months. – Jaclyn D., San Rafael

Of all the classes I have ever taken I learned more from your back class than any doctor or physical therapist. – Mary W., Novato

Dot is a master teacher integrating the best of yoga and pilates stretches to help loosen/relax your entire body including back pain. My back and neck pain have improved greatly with her class and her individual care and recommendations. Do yourself a favor – work with Dot to release whatever pain you have. – Sharon M., San Rafael


Pre-registration is REQUIRED.

These classes are popular; reserve your space today.

Date: Saturday, July 17 from 1-3 pm.

RSVP before July 12 to receive a discounted rate.

Location: 618 B Street, San Rafael at the San Rafael Community Center, next to Safeway.

Cost: Valued at $79 or more, specialàONLY $39 before July 12.  $49 after July 12.  Special for YOU:  bring a friend and each comes for half or $25!

If repeating, please come as my guest for FREE, i.e if you have taken any of my Back Care Workshops before.  Please RSVP to me if you are planning to repeat.

To register: Online at .  Click on Activities, Adult, Fitness, scroll down to Eliminate Back Pain for Good.

Phone:  Call San Rafael Community Center at 485-3333 or me, Dot Spaet, at 892-6605

Paypal:  to

Check:  payable to City of San Rafael, mailed to Dot Spaet, 385 San Marin Drive, Novato, CA  94945

The answer to the tip question:  The biggest factor in the success of any fitness program is …

consistency.  What this means is that 35 is greater than 60.  That is, you will make better progress working out 5 minutes each day (35 total minutes each week) than working out once a week for an hour (60 minutes).

Dot looks forward to helping you and your back feel terrific!

Dot Spaet

Fitness Consultant and Coach

Certified Personal Trainer, Yoga/Pilates Instructor


Where the best workout is the one you are willing to do!


FITNESS/NUTRITION/WEIGHT LOSS WORKSHOP Intro.  1 day only.  $49 per person


Saturday August 14, 1:00-4:00 pm, Bring a friend and each pays half, only $25!

San Rafael Community Center, 618 B Street, call 485-3333

or register online at

Click on Activities, then Adult, then Fitness.


Beginning Pilates Class

Thursdays, 3:30-4:30 pm, 618 B Street, San Rafael Community Center, San Rafael

Drop in $15; 1 month $50; 2 months $95.

PILATES Classes at Terra Linda Rec Center:  Call 485-3344 to register or register in class.

Classes are at 670 Del Ganado, take Freitas Parkway to Del Ganado

Monday, 7:00-8:15 pm, $95 for 8 week series, $15 drop-in.

YOGA Downtown San Rafael

Thursday, 12:00-1:00 pm

750 Lindaro, Room 225 upstairs.  $15 drop-in.