All posts by backyardstudios

A Day of Mindfulness: Transforming Difficult Thinking

Thursday, October 6, 2016
9 am to 4:30 pm at The Ecumenical Center, 8310 Ewing Halsell
Registration Only: $45
Registration with 6 CEUs: $75

Experience a day of mindfulness. Why are some types of thoughts so challenging? Some of our patterns of thinking create significant suffering in our mind. Thoughts can lead to anxiety, depression, and anger. Thoughts can be incessantly judgmental, repetitive, compulsive, worry-filled, anxious, and self-critical. Yet other thoughts can lead to happiness, calm, and peace.

In this daylong experience, we will explore how we can use mindfulness to transform difficult thinking. Through mindfulness, we can learn to not believe everything we think, distinguish helpful from harmful thinking, let go of repetitive unhelpful thoughts, and use thought in helpful ways to bring more happiness. The day will also include a basic introduction to mindfulness, tools for getting started with daily practice and ways to integrate mindfulness into your practice with clients and others.

The day will employ a number of modalities, including lecture, group discussion, interpersonal exercises. The centerpiece of the day will be walking and sitting meditation, to allow the participants to fully explore the benefit of mindfulness practiced over a full day.

Our Speakers
Diana Winston Called “one of the nation’s leading mindfulness teachers” by the LA Times, Diana Winston has been the Director of Mindfulness Education at UCLA Semel Institute’s Mindful Awareness Research Center since 2006. She is the co-author (with Susan Smalley, Ph.D.) of Fully Present: The Science, Art, and Practice of Mindfulness and the CD, “Mindful Meditations” (2008). She has been teaching mindfulness nationally and internationally since 1993 and has brought mindful awareness into schools, hospitals, businesses, and nonprofits, as well as to leaders, educators, and health professionals in the US and Asia.

Mariel HemingwayMariel Hemingway is Ernest Hemingway’s granddaughter. An Academy Award nominee and prolific author, In a high-tech world, Mariel is considered an expert in high-touch solutions that facilitate the greatest sense of personal power, life balance, joy, fitness, authenticity and peace of mind. She’s both a devoted teacher and student in this holistic concentration. Mariel will stop by the workshop in the morning to share a little of her story of surviving and thriving despite her family’s struggle with mental illness, alcohol, suicide and abuse.

Register Now

ACOG Practice Advisory Updated Interim Guidance for Care During Zika Virus Outbreak

ACOG and SMFM have issued an UPDATE to the Practice Advisory on the Zika virus issued on January 21, 2016. This update includes updated guidance for management of pregnant women and new guidance for women of reproductive age based on CDC’s updated MMWR dated February 5, 2016.

ACOG encourages providers to contact state health departments for local direction on handling specimens for testing. Please see a list of State Health Department Contacts here.

For additional information click here for the Zika webpage on ACOG’s Immunization for Women website or visit

Additional resources include CDC’s Interim Guidelines for the Evaluation and Testing of Infants with Possible Congenital Zika Virus Infection, Questions and Answers for Healthcare Providers Caring for Pregnant Women and Women of Reproductive Age with Possible Zika Virus Exposure, Questions and Answers: Zika and Sexual Transmission, and CDC’s new Zika virus microsite which is syndicated and will automatically update should you post on your own website.

These and other links found on ACOG and CDC’s websites are helpful resources, and may be beneficial to post on your practice website as resources for patients.

San Antonio Wellness Center

Achieving optimal wellness can be a struggle at any age, whether it’s simply to lose weight or to create a completely new, healthier lifestyle for yourself. With such a high-demand lifestyle these days, achieving a healthy level of wellness can be even more difficult.

Stone Oak Womens Center is here to help. Our wellness center in San Antonio, Texas is wholly dedicated to creating a custom plan that works with your lifestyle and your physical needs. One of our most successful programs at our San Antonio wellness center is called Firstline Therapy. What makes Firstline Therapy different from other programs is that it targets the underlying causes of chronic illnesses, not simply the symptoms that are the most obvious and sometimes the easiest to treat. Our San Antonio wellness center can provide a sensible eating plan, a good exercise regimen, nutritional supplementation and stress management tips to reach your wellness goals over the course of your wellness program. Our nutritional supplements include products from USANA Essentials and My Metagenics, some of the best wellness products available to women today. We also offer Firstline Therapy and nutritional assessment during pregnancy as well so you and your baby can both be at their healthiest.

Dr. Michelle Harden is the head of our wellness center in San Antonio, Texas.  Dr. Harden is a Board Certified OBGYN and a Fellow of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Her passion for preventative health and her extensive knowledge and training in women’s overall healthcare makes her one of the leading wellness experts in the San Antonio area.

Our San Antonio wellness center is located inside Stone Oak Methodist Hospital. To schedule an appointment and to begin making a change in your lifestyle, call us today at 210-495-LIVE. Dr. Michelle Harden and her skilled wellness team will take care of you from start to finish.

Wellness Center San Antonio

Being healthy in this modern age has become a challenge for women. Fortunately, Stone Oak Womens Center has an excellent wellness center in San Antonio designed to help you with every possible health concern. Our Firstline Therapy focuses on not just the symptoms, but the underlying causes of all your wellness problems. Our full-service San Antonio wellness center also provides excellent OBGYN care for women of all ages.

Firstline Therapy is not just a weight loss program for San Antonio women. Our wellness center offers Firstline Therapy as way to change your wellness lifestyle. What makes Firstline Therapy different is how we approach our customized plans. Every plan is tailored for each woman, because each woman is unique and no one plan can be used for everyone. Firstline Therapy integrates a low-glycemic eating plan, medical foods, supplements, stress management and exercise in order to help every San Antonio woman feel and be at their healthiest. What’s more, Firstline Therapy has been proven to be an effective method of achieving optimum wellness, so you know that you’re getting the best care at our wellness center! Stone Oak Womens Center’s wellness center also has a Firstline Therapy blog, where you can find a wide variety of recipes, tips and more! Visit our Firstline Therapy blog to read more.

Dr. Michelle Harden leads the Firstline Therapy team. She will work with you every step of the way to ensure your complete success with the program. Our San Antonio OBGYN and wellness center wants to provide you with unbeatable service, so we also offer USANA Essentials and My Metagenics products to keep you healthy. Visit our Wellness Products page for more information.

To schedule an appointment at our San Antonio wellness center, please call 210-495-LIVE. Dr. Michelle Harden and her excellent team of nurses will oversee your plan and your success.

Apple or Doughnut

Is it really that simple?

In our first article we discussed the rising incidence of obesity and the subsequent health hazards. Today we will discuss a few tips on implementing a change in one’s lifestyle.
Food processing has led to a number of changes that have occurred in the human diet. This, in turn, has also led to an increase in the glycemic nature of foods, having a subsequent impact on inflammation and disease.

Classification and Examples

  • Low GI – Most fruits, vegetables, legumes, and nuts
  • High GI – White bread, most white rice, corn flakes, and other processed foods

In review, high glycemic food leads TO A RAPID INCREASE IN blood sugar. This rapid rise in blood sugar then leads to the release of insulin from the pancreas. Processed foods are loaded with simple carbohydrates, which over time, may impact the ability of the pancreas to stimulate insulin. This then reduces the sensitivity of the cellular insulin receptors to respond to these rises in blood sugar. For example: When you first put on your earrings in the morning, you may feel the weight of them. As the day goes on, you may not even notice that you ARE wearing earrings. Why is this so? Constant irritation causes insensitivity. In the same way, a constant intake of high glycemic foods will cause an insensitivity of your cells to insulin.

Why is this a concern?

Maintaining healthy blood sugar leads to metabolic balance throughout the day, which is essential for good health. Metabolic balance, or healthy blood sugar levels, supports the following:

  • Energy Levels
  • Weight Loss
  • Loss of Body Fat
  • Good Cholesterol
  • Overall Improvement in Cardiovascular Health
  • Optimization of the Nervous System

A lifestyle change requires putting into action the three P’s

  • Priority
  • Planning
  • Persistence

A lifestyle change requires making your health a priority. So many people, especially women, are caregivers for everyone but themselves. Taking time to put your health higher on your priority list will lead to a longer and higher quality of life. A lifestyle change definitely requires planning and preparation. Diet is fundamental to good health, yet few Americans really spend much thought or time on preparation of meals. It is so easy to fall prey to the conveniences of modern life with its physical inactivity, fast pace and reliance on foods providing a temporary sensory gratification, rather than using food for fuel. Simple changes and a change in mindset can help to achieve and maintain good health, with improved energy levels as well.

Here are some key principles leading to health for life:

  1. Eat a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables; introduce your family to new types of food. Learn the history and medicinal qualities of food.
  2. Reduce your exposure to pesticides
  3. Eat to regulate your blood sugar and metabolic balance (consume low glycemic foods) foods that are complex and require your body to break down the food, rather than processed foods where the work has been done by the factory.
  4. Moderate amount of meat and animal foods
  5. Eat healthy fats-Olive, grape seed, and Coconut oil
  6. Drink half your body weight in water and eliminate sodas and artificial sweeteners

Lastly, have persistence in making healthy choices and then you will realize the lifetime gain from making HEALTH A CHOICE FOR LIFE!

“The First Wealth is Health” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Until next time….

Turkey Burger


  • Turkey burger patty made from ground turkey
  • Ezekiel Burger Bun
  • Zucchini
  • Onion
  • Slice of Gouda Cheese


  1. Grill burger (I use a George Foreman grill)
  2. Saute veggies in a little olive oil, season with sea salt, pepper, and italian seasonings.
  3. When burger is cooked, top with slice of cheese and veggies. (Sometimes I don’t use the bun at all, other times I will use half)
  4. Also good to top burger with cheese, baby spinach, and raw onion rings.

Six Quick and Easy ways to prepare Spinach

Chopped Spinach
Chopped:  Add a handful of coarsely chopped spinach to sandwiches, eggs, pasta, grain dishes or your favorite soup

Steamed Spinach
Steamed:  Heat spinach in a steamer basket just until wilted, then plunge into ice water.  Press out excess moisture and chop.  Mix spinach with Greek yogurt, garlic, green onions and dill to make a quick dip for crudites and whole grain crackers.

Wilted Spinach
Wilted:  Top spinach greens with hot grilled vegetables and a little vinaigrette.  Toss to wilt spinach.

Creamed Spinach
Creamed:  Saute some onion or leeks until softened, add spinach, and cover for a few minutes; stir in a dash of cream and season with salt, pepper and freshly grated nutmeg.

Blended Spinach
Blended:  Throw a handful of spinach into your morning smoothie for an extra helping of phytonutrients and fiber.

Sauteed Spinach
Sauteed:  Saute chopped shallots or garlic in extra virgin olive oil, add 4 to 5 ounces of spinach and continue sauteing for a few minutes until cooked down, then finish with salt, freshly ground black pepper, and a splash of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice.

Curried Garbanzo Beans With Spinach

Here is a great FLT approved recipe we found in the Experience Life magazine
Serves Four

  • 1 tbs. ghee or coconut oil
  • 1 medium onion, minced (about 1 cup)
  • 2 tbs. minced jalapeno pepper
  • 2 tbs. minced gingerroot
  • 1 tbs. whole cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1/2 to 1 cup water
  • 1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • 5 ounces fresh spinach

Heat ghee in a large skillet or saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the onion, jalapeno, gingerroot and cumin seeds to the skillet and cook until all vegetables are softened. Add the coriander, turmeric and salt, and cook for another couple of minutes until fragrant. Turn the heat up to medium-high, add the diced tomatoes, and cook until the tomatoes are soft and saucy. (Add water as needed, depending on the moisture content of the tomatoes.) Add the garbanzo beans and cook to heat through. Add the spinach and stir to wilt.

Spinach and Potato Frittata

Serves six to eight

  • 2 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 3 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 3 cups)
  • 5 ounces fresh spinach leaves, stems removed
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 eggs, beaten
  • 8 pitted Kalamata olives, sliced
  • 1/2 cup crumbled ricotta salata cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Heat olive oil in a heavy 8-inch skillet and saute the onion until just beginning to soften.  Add the potatoes and continue to cook until al dente (firm to the bite).  Add the spinach to the skillet and stir briefly to wilt.  Mix the salt and pepper with the beaten eggs and pour into the skillet, stirring gently to allow the egg to reach the bottom of the skillet.  With a rubber spatula, gently left the egg as it cooks to allow more of the raw egg to reach the bottom of the skillet.  When the egg is mostly set on the bottom and sides of the frittata, remove from heat and top with the sliced olives and cheese.  Place the pan in the oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the frittata is cooked through.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Brown Rice & Black Bean Casserole


  • 1/3 cup brown rice
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/3 cup diced onion
  • 1 medium zucchini, thinly sliced
  • 2 cooked skinless boneless chicken breast halves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • salt to taste
  • ground cayenne pepper to taste
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained
  • 1 (4 ounce) can diced green chile peppers, drained
  • 1/3 cup shredded carrots
  • 2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese

Optional Toppings

  • Lime
  • Sour Cream
  • Salsa


  1. Mix the rice and vegetable broth in a pot, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 45 minutes, or until rice is tender.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a large casserole dish.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat, and cook the onion until tender. Mix in the zucchini, chicken, and mushrooms. Season with cumin, salt, and ground cayenne pepper. Cook and stir until zucchini is lightly browned and chicken is heated through.
  4. In large bowl, mix the cooked rice, onion, zucchini, chicken, mushrooms, beans, chilies, carrots, and 1/2 the cheese. Transfer to the prepared casserole dish, and sprinkle with remaining cheese.
  5. Cover casserole loosely with foil, and bake 30 minutes in the preheated oven. Uncover, and continue baking 10 minutes, or until bubbly and lightly browned.
  6. Serve with optional toppings.