Healthy Eating Group starts in January!

Healthy Eating Group starts in January!

Would you like to address cravings or issues with emotional eating? Are you confused about eating well? Do you feel like you know how to eat but need some support?

Then this weekly healthy eating group is the place for you to find compassionate support with a science-based approach to nutrition.

What makes this group special is you get the expertise of BOTH a licensed psychotherapist and a trained nutrition educator. This group is co-led by Rebecca Olmsted (MA, MFT), licensed psychotherapist specializing in somatic and holistic psychotherapy and me, Michelle Dwyer (MS), a health coach and nutrition consultant with a Master’s degree in holistic health & nutrition education.

What you will get out of this group:

  • Discover a personal solution that works for you because one size does not fit all!
  • Create an eating plan that works for you at home and on the go
  • Develop a platform for personal growth, addressing both your feelings & your habits
  • Practice ways to let go of guilt and fear around eating, & instead enjoy your food
  • Expand your skills to feel confident in your ability to create nourishing meals or meal plans that support your body, mind and spirit

We will meet every Thursday from 7:00-8:30 pm in Oakland starting in January. When you call, please let us know which time you prefer. Once you join a group, you will meet at the same time each week.

The cost will be $320 for 8 sessions.

Contact me or call Rebecca at 510-863-4795 to find out whether the group is right for you.

Spaces are limited so that each person gets the attention they deserve, so please call TODAY! 

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Three Tips for Staying Healthy this Holiday Season

Three Tips for Staying Healthy this Holiday Season

Tip #1: Drink plenty of water. The recommendation is to drink at least half your body weight in ounces, so if you weigh 150 pounds, you need at least 75 ounces of water a day. Drinking a little water with lemon or unfiltered apple cider vinegar can also help your digestion, so you can start your day with it or drink it before a meal. If you are drinking alcohol, be sure to drink two glasses of water in between each alcoholic drink. Lastly, remember that herbal teas also count towards your hydration. A cup of peppermint tea is a great way to end the evening and is soothing to your tummy!

Tip #2: Keep moving. During the busy holiday season our regular schedules can get thrown off, including our workouts. Remember you don’t need to go to the gym to be moving. Movement can be as easy as:

  • Take a short walk during your lunch break
  • When running errands or shopping, try walking instead or park a bit further away to get a little walking in.
  • Cleaning your house counts as movement too!
  • Have a 20-minute dance party at your house every evening.

If you keep moving during this holiday, you will feel stronger, better and lighter!

Tip #3: Have a plan. This will look very different for everyone, but having a plan for the next few weeks will help you stay happy and healthy. Maybe for you the plan means taking some “me time” each week to get a massage, go to yoga class, or take a walk. For others it may involve setting a plan for keeping sugar at a minimum or eating mindfully at holiday functions. Maybe you aren’t even sure where to start? That’s where I can help!

If you feel like you would like a little extra support during the next few weeks, I have a special offer just for you:

For just $75 you can get the Holiday Health Help you need to keep with your wellness goals this holiday season.  This offer also makes a great gift for someone you love! I can meet in person or via phone/Skype for extra ease and convenience!

Offer good only through December 19, so BOOK ONLINE today!

holiday lights


Floating to Wellness

Floating to Wellness

I first floated in February 2012 when my friend and colleague John Balquist first opened Oakland Floats. I loved it right from the start. I walked out of the session in the magnesium salt-filled tank feeling lighter, clearer and more energized. That night I had a deep, relaxing, healing sleep that I completely aatributed to the float. Even two days later I was still feeling the positive effects: I got things done so easily and effortlessly, like I had eight arms and each was carrying out the task with ease and joy. Floating restored me to my center, allowing me to move and act from a place of balance and clarity.

If you have never floated before, at Oakland Floats you step into a tank or small room filled about 10 inches with warm water saturated with Epsom salts. According to the website, “Floatation tanks are lightless, almost soundproof tanks of warm saltwater. They remove external physical stimuli, creating a state of ‘sensory’ relaxation. Under these conditions your body has a chance to restore its natural powers of self regulation, while you simply lie back and relax. The temperature inside the tank is kept at 93.5 degrees, the same temperature as your skin. As a result, the nerve endings which cover the surface of the skin no longer perceive any sense of separation between the skin and the silky mineral solution which surrounds it. Free from all external stimulation, your body can achieve a state of relaxation which is deeper, purer and more beneficial than sleep. With no body to look after, your mind can attend to other business.”

Oakland Floats picThe first few times I floated, my mind took a little while to settle down and ease into the darkness. However, I would eventually relax and once I started to get used to being in the tank, it was really amazing to feel where I carried tension. I was floating there totally relaxed except I was clenching my jaw. I thought, “Why am I clenching my jaw?” and then released it.  Floating, because it removes other sensory input like sight and sound, helped me really tune into my body and fully realize where I carried tension so that I could fully let it go.

I continued to float every few months or so and loved the peace and clarity it brought to me each time. However, just like any wellness practice, regular visits are an important part of maintaining balance, and so I decided to float three times in three weeks to see how that might effect my health and well-being.

Consecutive floats really amplified the positive effects for me. I found I was able to relax into the water more quickly each time, and I noticed right away my body would just let go. My mind was another story, of course. Boy, was there a lot of chatter in there. With nothing else to stimulate it, my mind would go into overdrive at first but then eventually it just sort of ran out of things to say. Then would come a quiet so deep, a silence so delicious.

It is so wonderful to set aside time to be in a space with no light and no sound. We are constantly bombarded, whether we conscious of it or not, with so much artificial light and sound—from our computers, TV, phone, radio, etc. It is so refreshing and relaxing to really get away from all that stimulation for a little while. Floating also has allowed me to see where I might be holding on to something that is no longer serving me and not even realize it. With all other stimuli gone, the body has time to really check-in on itself and return itself to a state of balance. 

So who might want to consider floating as part of their wellness plan? Anyone who is having difficulty sleeping, feeling overwhelmed and stressed out, challenged with food/sugar addictions, suffering with joint pain, pregnant, or just needs a little time to reset and restore. I think that covers just about all of us!

If you want to check out the floatation center or learn more about ways to reduce stress and cortisol levels, please come to my free talk at Oakland Floats Tuesday, November 17 at 7 p.m. 

Yoga Helps to Lower Cortisol

Yoga Helps to Lower Cortisol

From my guest post on Yoga with Julie B’s blog! Julie is a Registered Yoga Teacher, Crossfitter, rock climber, foodie, and lover of life. She very kindly posted the following on her great yoga blog.

There are so many wonderful reasons to practice yoga. I personally have practiced yoga for greater flexibility, to increase my strength, to complement my other physical activities like dancing or rock-climbing, and for an amazing workout in itself. In my previous post “Yoga for Stress Management,” I addressed some of the great research out there on the many benefits of yoga for managing our stress as well. So how exactly does yoga help with our stress? It is all about lowering those cortisol levels!

What is cortisol? It is our stress hormone, the one that kicks in when we face a perceived or real danger. It is what sets off a series of responses in the body that allow us to fight, escape, tend or cope with all the stressors in our lives. Although cortisol serves an important role in our bodies, chronic stress—the kind many of us experience on a daily basis—can lead to an imbalance of cortisol in our bodies.  So is imbalanced cortisol a problem? According to Dr. Sara Gottfried, Harvard educated doctor and yoga teacher, chronically high cortisol can led to a multitude of health problems, including:

  • Abnormal blood sugar, diabetes, and prediabetes
  • Obesity, increased body fat, and metabolic syndrome in women
  • Mood and brain problems, including depression, Alzheimer’s disease, and multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Delayed wound healing
  • Infertility and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
  • Worsening sleep
  • Bone loss in menopausal women
  • Accelerated aging
  • Imbalance of other hormones like thyroid, estrogen, progesterone and testosterone

We need to find healthy ways to lower our cortisol and yoga is truly one of the best things you can do for your body, mind, and spirit. How does yoga help? When you take those deep breaths, you are lowering your cortisol and adrenaline levels and increasing our oxygen flow to the brain. Inverting by putting your feet above your heart will also lower your stress responses by activating your parasympathetic nervous system. For example, the pose Viparita Karani with your feet up against the wall, is a great position to help with insomnia or calming anxiety. Practicing Yin Yoga in particular—with its focus on mindfulness, compassion, and longer held poses—can be very helpful for lower cortisol levels. In fact, Dr. Sara Gottfried specifically recommends Yin Yoga for lowering cortisol in her book The Hormone Cure (p. 113). Lastly, think of Savasana as the ultimate stress-releasing pose. The ability to truly let go at the end of your yoga routine is the culmination of the wonderful gift of yoga you have given yourself.


As I work with clients on their health and wellness goals, one pattern I see with almost everyone is the need to manage our stress more effectively. Stress management connects to our weight, our sleep, our digestion, our levels of inflammation, and our overall sense of well-being. Yoga can be one of the most effective ways to begin to bring balance back into our lives. So grab your mat and head out to one of Julie B’s amazing classes today! Your body will thank you for it.

My review of encuentro cafe and wine bar from “Check Please! Bay Area”

My review of encuentro cafe and wine bar from “Check Please! Bay Area”

In honor of World Vegetarian Day, I thought I’d post a copy of my review from the recent episode of “Check Please! Bay Area.” You can see all three reviews HERE or watch the whole episode below!

encuentro café and wine bar creates flavorful, nourishing and delicious vegetarian and vegan food in an atmosphere that is inviting and cozy. The food is always fresh and inventive, the wine list options are well-considered, and the wait staff is ready to answer any questions or offer suggestions. encuentro means “to meet, gather, encounter” and I think that is a perfect description of this charming Oakland dining experience.

Since much of the food is local and organic, their menu changes with the seasons. In general they serve small bites, salads, bruschetta, and then a variety of smaller meals ranging from inventive sandwiches to fresh takes on dishes like gnocchi, quesadillas or polenta. The menu is always interesting and lovingly prepared and really celebrates the quality and flavor of seasonal foods. They also have amazing desserts, some of which are dairy-free, like tiramisu, hazelnut pudding and their amazing chocolate cake.

Check please group photoFor my most recent visit, I went there to celebrate my birthday with my husband and three friends. It was so much fun to order so many different foods and share them. The flavors of the food are really highlighted through creative pairings like dates with macadamia nut pate and walnut honey for a lovely appetizer or the bruschetta with roasted beets, hazelnuts, macadamia nut “cheese” and golden balsamic reduction. Each of the dishes offered something both surprising and comforting in their tastes, combining earthy flavors with sweet and spicy in an excellent balance. The dark green salad with kale, arugula, roasted beets, and cashew cheese was perfectly dressed and rich without being heavy; it was also well-plated in a deconstructed style that made sharing a great experience.

Everything in the restaurant is vegetarian and many of the plates can be made vegan. However, rather than finding replacements for meat, encuentro selects quality foods in delicious combinations that really celebrate the wonders and flavor of the food. Since it is also a wine bar, the well-thought out and varied wine list also needs to be acknowledged. One of my favorite things to do is to get the wine flight because you can choose which three wines you want from the list, making it a great way to try new wines or pair different wines with different small plates.

encuentro has managed to make its small location feel open and welcoming with large windows, modern yet cozy eco-friendly décor, and delightful touches like fresh flowers on the tables. It is a great place to make an evening out of, to share food and wine and conversation for hours, or also a good place to come in for a salad, bruschetta and glass of wine. This place can be a special occasion destination or a light meal before or after a show in Jack London.

By the way, if you have ever thought of applying to be on the show, I highly recommend it. I had a wonderful experience. Leslie Sbrocco and the entire staff at KQED were so lovely, gracious and welcoming.

I also want to give a great bow of thanks to my fellow guests that day on the show–Jack the longshoreman and Jill the horse trainer. I had a really great day with you!

The reviews of encuentro start around 18:30!



September Events!

September is shaping up to be an exciting month. Some upcoming events in you might be interested in include:

Check please group photoThursday, Sept. 5: My TV debut on “Check Please! Bay Area” at 7:30 pm on KQED Channel 9 (see website to stream the show or see other viewing times!)


Thursday, Sept. 19 at 6:30 pm: A free talk on “SUGAR: Hidden sources, its link to many diseases, and ways to reduce your sugar cravings” at Whole Foods Oakland.


Thursday, Sept. 26 at 6:30 pm: A free talk on “Creating Joy in your Pregnancy: Nourishing Your Body, Mind & Spirit for a Healthy Pregnancy & Beyond” with Gina Marie Buonpane, a certified BodyTalk practitioner and prenatal massage therapist. This FREE class will be an introduction to finding balance, energy and calm in your pregnancy.


World Veg Fest pic

Saturday, Sept. 28 at 10:30 am: A talk on “Nutritional Support for Vegans” at the World Veg Festival in San Francisco




For more information about any of these events, please feel free to contact me today!


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