Maria Connolly Somatic Psychotherapy CoachingConnect with me on LinkedInLike us on Facebook

Best Diet to Lose Weight? Embrace Food as a Friend Not a Foe

The best diet to lose weight is a healthy mindset that food is a friend not an enemy “When I eat with my friends, it is a moment of real pleasure, when I really enjoy my life.” ~ Monica Bellucci

Food should be a friend, not a foe. But perhaps you know that you should lose some weight. You know it will improve your health, your energy and your self-esteem. What’s the best diet to help you lose weight?

The best diet is not dieting at all. Don’t even think about dieting! Rather than dieting, you’ll be so much happier if you replace unhealthy food choices and habits with a healthy lifestyle that you enjoy and can sustain. As every engine needs the best fuel to perform efficiently, so the human body needs healthy food to repair and reinvigorate itself.

According to the Boston Medical Center, “45 million Americans diet each year and spend $33 billion annually on weight loss products. Yet, nearly two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese.” It’s clear that traditional dieting isn’t working.

When someone says, “I’m going on a diet,” it implies that for a limited amount of time he or she is going to alter the way they eat. And if they go ON a diet, they will just as easily go OFF the diet and go back to their old eating habits that caused their health concerns to begin with. This on again off again approach is called Yo-Yo dieting. The weight goes on. The weight comes off (with ever increasing difficulty). And then the weight goes back on with more than before.

Instead, purposefully choose a healthy way of eating you can stick with!

According to The Journal of the American Medical Association you need to know this basic information about the food you eat. We spend so much time eating food we might as well understand what it’s doing to us. We need vitamins, minerals, good fats, and fiber to function well. And the best way to get them is by eating wholesome foods that supply this nourishment. By educating yourself on the basics of healthy eating choices, you empower yourself to create the life you desire.

Just as important as knowing what to eat is knowing how to eat. I’m not talking about how you hold your fork. What will enable you to make lasting change is to eat mindfully as you savor your food. Food is not the enemy. It’s something to be enjoyed.


A major problem is that we multitask as we eat. We’re working at the desk and stuff food in our faces so we can reach a deadline. We’re grabbing something quick because we’re too starved to take time to fix something from scratch. We’re sitting down in front of the TV mindlessly dipping our hand into the bag of chips until suddenly the bag is empty.

What are some ways you can introduce and embrace mindful eating into your life? It’s all about making conscious choices. Here are fifteen tips that you can incorporate right now…

  1. Remove unhealthy food from your house.
  2. Snack on vegetables and fruit. Baby carrots or celery sticks dipped in salsa is much healthier than chips.
  3. Put healthy snack choices on the counter or in clear containers in the refrigerator so they’re easy to see and grab.
  4. Eat slowly, chewing thoroughly as you savor each bite – paying attention to the color, texture, aroma, and flavorful seasonings.
  5. Unplug from technology – TV, phone, iPad – when you eat so you can think about how the food is nourishing your body and enriching your life.
  6. Sit at the table and reconnect with people you love as you enjoy good conversation over the meal.
  7. Use smaller plates and portion out food before you sit at the table to eat, which will keep you from eating too much.
  8. Don’t starve yourself, and make it a goal to eat several small meals throughout the day.
  9. Eat a moderate amount of carb-containing foods such as fruits, grains, pasta and bread as you increase the number of veggie servings you consume daily. This combination knocks down the level of the hunger hormone ghrelin, which will keep you from binging later.
  10. Sleep at least 7 hours each night or you’ll increase the amount of your hunger hormone ghrelin.
  11. Eat enough protein to stave off hunger pangs as well as keep your metabolism revved up.
  12. Keep a food diary for 3 to 5 days. Eat and drink what you normally consume and write it all down and see your weak areas so you can improve them.
  13. Compare your portion size to what’s on the nutrition label. One package may contain many servings.
  14. Learn nutritional information for what you eat. (You can get the total calories, grams of carbohydrate, protein, and fat from smartphone apps, computer programs, or the USDA database.)
  15. Identify your problem areas and make adjustments in your choices and daily routines.

Do you see several areas that you can improve on? One of the most important keys to making successful lifestyle changes is to focus on one thing at a time, taking baby steps until it become your newly ingrained habit.

Many people have found that having someone coach them and keep them accountable makes this so much easier. If you would like to work with me, in person or virtually, give me a call and we can schedule an appointment. We’ll create a plan that supports you as you achieve your desired goals. I’ve got time-tested tips that you’re going to love!

10 Easy Ways to Boost Self-Confidence and Attain Your Dreams

By starting these ten simple steps that boost self-confidence, you can follow your dreams and make them come true, even when others say it can’t be done.“Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.”E.E. Cummings

Don’t you admire people who confidently face their fears, challenges and tragedies head-on? They have a knack for always seeing the positive, the opportunities and potential in even the most trying circumstances. Their self-confidence supports and fuels them as they follow their dreams and make them come true, even when others say it can’t be done.

Does that describe how you live your life? Even if it doesn’t at the present, there are positive steps you can take to make this your reality. Here are ten easy ways to help you boost self-confidence…

  1. Reality checks. Is it really as scary or impossible as it seems at first? Fears are often not supported by reality. You’re not going to die of embarrassment when speaking in front of a crowd. More than likely, you will create a rapport and connect with another person on a deeper level if you simply acknowledge your mistake, sincerely apologize and move on. And you can often do “impossible” things if you break the huge project down into smaller, doable steps.
  1. Surround yourself with people that are good at what you want to improve. By removing the naysayers from your life and associating with those you want to imitate, you’ll find it easier to accomplish your goals.
  1. Make confidence building a daily practice. One small change a day adds up to a new way of living. I recommend that you begin with centering practices which are foundational for making real changes in your life.
  1. Transform your inner critic into an inner coach. Be aware of your negative self-talk and replace it with positive thoughts. If you begin thinking, “This is too hard, I want to quit”, replace it with “How” questions: “How can I make this a little easier?” “How can I keep my eyes on the prize?”
  1. Keep learning new skills. Never stop learning. Whether you’re learning just enough to get by or are striving to master a new skill, your self-confidence increases as you continue to acquire new skills!
  1. Develop a “Beginner’s Mind” mindset. When you admit you don’t know everything, your mind is open to asking for help, being curious, to asking questions. You won’t compare yourself to others, because you have nothing to prove. This positions you as a learner who is filled with child-like wonder.
  1. Practice psycho-rehearsing. Visualize in great detail, every step, to accomplishing a task. Athletes do this when they imagine over and over again successfully hitting the target or making the hoop. The brain can’t tell the difference between the visualization and actually doing it.
  1. Focus on competence not perfection. Perfection is a digital on or off switch. Either you’re perfect or you’re not. Competence has five stages, so life becomes an exciting journey of discovery as you move through these stages.
  1. Develop a Compassionate Mind. Treat yourself with the same kindness, concern and support you’d show to a good friend. Mindfully acknowledging and experiencing your feelings is a core component of self-compassion. Dr. Kristin Neff provides some guided meditations and exercises that you’ll find helpful. Straightforward self-compassion boosts self-esteem more than focusing on what we’re good at.
  1. Focus on positive experiences. You are what you do. When you change what you do, you change what you are. Always act and speak in a positive way. Pour your heart and energy into kind generous actions. You’ll soon notice an increase in your self-confidence.

It is possible to reach your dreams as you achieve your full potential. Sometimes it simply takes someone holding up the lantern and lighting the way. I would be delighted if we traveled on this journey together. Contact me and let’s talk about which of my life coaching services would get you to where you want to be.

Self-Assessment not Judgment Leads to Greater Self-Confidence

Self-acceptance, self-awareness and self-motivation empower you to let go of self-judgments as you realistically make a self assessment of your situation.Have you ever wondered why some people seem to view life’s challenges confidently and in a positive light, while others struggle with negative reactions? The distinguishing factor is whether a person is assessing themselves and the situation or if they’re judging themselves and the situation. What’s the difference?

Assessing is viewing the situation objectively, seeing what happened, why it happened and learning from it and moving on with greater self-knowledge.

Judging is the limiting mindset of labeling yourself as a winner or a loser based on a standard that either you or someone else imposes on you.

When you have a winner/loser mindset, it creates a desperate need to continually achieve your goals based on the fear of not measuring up to a self-imposed, unrealistic standard. This leads to chronic stress of fear of failure or to the other extreme of becoming narcissistic and egotistical.

Let’s examine ten typical behaviors of people with low self-confidence and see how realistically assessing the situation without judgment can create greater self-confidence:

Underestimate their capabilities. Rather than immediately reacting with “I can’t”, calmly think about the desired outcome and see how your skills can accomplish the task. Remember you don’t have to do things like everyone else does. When you succeed by your unique style, you gain immense satisfaction and confidence.

Take the blame for everything. Rather than thinking, “If only I had done…” let others be responsible for their own actions. This actually dignifies them with freedom of choice. And if you are responsible in some way, make amends as best as you can by saying, “I’m sorry I made a mistake.” In many cases we just have to accept that we can’t fix everything.

Are overly self-critical. Our minds are quick to judge and criticize so rather than holding onto those stories, acknowledge them as judgments and let them go without getting caught up in them.

Take feedback from others as criticism. Rather than disengage from the experience and switch to negative thoughts, become more engaged in what the person is saying and sift out what is helpful to you.

Constantly focus and review past failures. Acknowledge each failure as helpful feedback, allow yourself to feel the emotions. Accept and learn from them as a valuable part of your experience.

Predict future failures. Rather than saying, “It never works or I always fail so why try”, approach each new situation with curiosity and enthusiasm as you eagerly look for the possibilities.

Focus on being perfect instead of being competent. Rather than thinking, “I can’t allow myself to make a mistake”, recognize that everyone makes mistakes. That’s how we learn. Don’t demand the impossible from yourself, and be happy you’re doing your best.

Are people-pleasers. Rather than seeking validation from others, it’s okay to say, “I’d really love to help you, but I have a prior commitment.” That commitment is your commitment to yourself to set boundaries so you don’t over extend yourself.

Isolates themselves. Rather than retreating into yourself when you’re hurt, be present in your feelings without judgment. Acknowledge them and own them without letting them alter the kind of life you want to live.

Stop learning. Rather than wondering if the other person thinks you’re boring, continue being excited about learning new things about the world around you, about the people in your life and about yourself. Your confidence will rise as you have interesting things to talk about.

Compare to others. Rather than comparing yourself to others, “I’m not as pretty as her or I’m not as smart as him”, think about the kind of man or woman you want to be – your ethics, your loyalty to friends and family, your honest and integrity and strive to be true to those ideals.

Self-acceptance, self-awareness and self-motivation will empower you to let go of self-judgments. Many people have found that private coaching and group coaching sessions helps them become more mindfully engaged in life. If you’re ready to stop judging and start assessing as you embrace this new way of being, please contact me and let’s talk.

Lack of Confidence – A Woman’s Greatest Challenge in Business

If you’ve ever shied away from an opportunity because of lack of confidence, learn five reasons for lack of confidence and how you can increase confidence.“Self-confidence is the first requisite to great undertakings.” ~ Samuel Johnson

Women have been trying to break through the glass ceiling for years. They struggle for equality in the workplace and in society. Historically women have played a supportive role. They’ve been the behind-the-scenes nurturers. In the business world, cultural and institutional barriers often define success or failure for businesswomen. Yet there’s an even bigger reason why women sometimes struggle to succeed. What is it? Many women lack confidence.

What is self-confidence? It’s the feeling of trusting your abilities, qualities and judgments. Many believe that self-confidence has to do with positive affirmations. Although, that is partly accurate, what truly builds confidence is experience – setting and achieving goals – thus building competence.

What makes so many women lack confidence? There are five basic reasons why women and men have lack of confidence:

  1. Unrealistic expectations. Many people are perfectionists. To illustrate: a number of years ago, Hewlett-Packard discovered that women applied for a promotion only when they believed they met 100% of the qualifications. Men, on the other hand, applied when they felt they could meet 60% of the job requirements. If you wait to be perfect to reach for what you want, you’ll never get it! Your self-confidence comes from doing your best now. It’s a process of daily approximation. Start where you are!
  1. Harsh, self-judgmental, negative thoughts running through our minds on an endless track. Some people feel they’re never good enough, never attractive enough, or never smart enough. Often this is a misguided attempt to improve their performance. Your thoughts have power. If you put yourself down, you’ll feel, well, down. The next time you hear negative talk in your head, ask yourself: How can I motivate myself to reach for what I want? Focus on an earlier accomplishment, be kind to yourself knowing that when you feel safe on the inside rather than under attack you will increase your motivation and perform better.
  1. Preoccupation with fear. In the book, The Confidence Gap: A Guide to Overcoming Fear and Self Doubt, Russ Harris offers this wonderful advice, “Rather than trying to ‘get over’ your fears, form a new and wiser relationship with them. Paradoxically, it’s only when we stop struggling against our fearfulness that we begin to find lasting freedom from it.” When you can peacefully embrace every one of your human emotions, including fear, as part of your daily occurrence, you’ll view life as a fascinating journey not something to dread. (I highly recommend this book as a valuable addition to your self help library.)
  1. Lack of experience. There is no such thing as failure, only useful feedback! Feedback enables us to learn from our mistakes, refine our plan, change our behavior or adjust our priorities. Failure, on the other hand, erodes confidence, negatively impacts self-image and reduces our motivation to improve, which inevitably leads to low level of achievement. So, embrace “failure.” Because if you are failing, you are learning and if you are learning, you are gaining experience. And experience is really what confidence is all about.
  1. Lack of skill. Never stop learning. Learn something every day about your field, job, hobby or presentation – whatever you want to feel more confident about. Nowadays it’s so easy to gain knowledge and information through YouTube tutorials, free online classes, mentoring. When you’re prepared, your self-confidence soars.


What can you do to build your self-confidence? Make an honest assessment of yourself. If you need to, ask a trusted friend to help you with this exercise. Make a list of all the things that have been gifted to you because people value you – close relationships, words of praise, loving gestures, kind deeds. Then make another list of your accomplishments that make you feel proud. Place these lists where you see them daily to remind yourself what an amazing person you are.

Isn’t it time that you stop missing out on opportunities in your life? I’m here to help you. Through private coaching and group coaching sessions you can embrace your fears and discover your inner strength as you reclaim confidence in yourself. Please contact me and let’s talk.

Five Ways to Mindfully Shift up Your Level of Happiness

Increase your level of happiness“Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.” Omar Khayyam

Happiness is something we all want but how much control do we have over it? Even if you have tendencies toward negativity, you can create a happier life by (1) opening your eyes and seeing the good around you, (2) expanding your heart to appreciate each beautiful moment and (3) focusing on responding to each life circumstance that arises instead of simply reacting. It’s your choice to be happy with where you’re at in life at this moment in time.

To achieve a happy, positive attitude, it’s beneficial to incorporate mindfulness practices in our daily routine that boost a positive outlook. Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D. who’s responsible for bringing the practice of mindfulness to mainstream medicine, defines it as: paying attention in a particular way – on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.

When you allow yourself to be relaxed and aware of the present moment, you can extend openness and curiosity toward your feelings rather than making judgments about them. And more importantly when you extend that to others in gestures of giving, compassion and gratitude, it causes your happiness to grow.

Try these simple mindfulness exercises…

1. Take Pleasure in the Moment. Calm your mind and heart to become aware of the good that’s already present in your life.

How can you do this? Savor the experience in the moment. Hold good thoughts as long as possible. Notice the somatic resonance in your body. Anchor those sensations to be able to access them at will. We’re surrounded by beauty every day. Take the time to really look for and appreciate the good in each moment of life.

2. Express Gratitude. Feeling gratitude and expressing gratitude are two separate things. Research shows that having an attitude of gratitude is good for us. However, expressing gratitude increases happiness levels by 25 percent. Researchers are seeing how cortisol levels, stress levels, heart rate and brain activity are all affected by expressing gratitude. Science is showing that we can actually rewire our brains and develop new neuropathways.

How can you do this? Daily look for times to say “Thank you.” Gratitude journaling makes you aware of past kindnesses. Make a point of sending a card or making a phone call to let people know how they’ve touched you.

3. Connect Your Purpose. Having a sense of meaning in your life may become a defense from life difficulties. This, in turn may preserve your physical and mental health, promote self-acceptance, and ultimately increase happiness.

How can you do this? Focus on your values, how you make the world a better place for your family, friends and neighbors. Think about how you make their lives fuller and richer.

4. Connect with Others by Giving. Humans are not meant to be isolated. We’re meant to interact with others. Giving of your time and resources without expecting anything in return is the best way to connect with others.

How can you do this? Seek out someone in need. And remember that one of the greatest gifts you can give is to listen to them without judgment. The best gifts are not necessarily based on things or money. Love, kindness, concern, thoughtfulness are all gifts. And if someone wants to give back to you, graciously accept their gift.

5. Walk in Their Shoes. When you’re able to empathize with others, you become more compassionate and understanding. Barriers dissolve and relationships flourish as you treat others as you would like them to treat yourself.

How can you do this? Always ask yourself, “If that happened to me, how would I feel and how would I want people to treat me?”

We cannot wait for happiness to find us. We can mindfully cultivate happiness every day. I’d be honored to partner with you in private coaching and group coaching sessions as you expand your ability to consistently make choices that contribute to your personal happiness and that of others. If that sounds good to you, please  contact me and let’s talk.


Recent Posts

About Maria

Our Address