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Maria Connolly, LPC Facebook Facebook Facebook

Tag: Healthy Eating

Rather than trying fad diets or diets of any kind, healthy eating means you have a good relationship with wholesome food in the proper amounts so you get the nutrients your body needs to function at its peak.

Optimal Health and Wellness – It Starts With Food

Optimal Health and Wellness - It Starts With Food“Your diet is a bank account. Good food choices are good investments.” ~ Bethenny Frankel

When I had my 49th birthday, I decided to try the Whole30® plan. I’d heard friends talking about it for years. So, when a friend announced that she was going to do it (Thank you, Tia!) and asked for people to join her, I thought to myself, “I’ll give a try!” I was curious and I really thought that it was going to be good for me. I’d lose a few pounds and feel better. Well, I am happy to say that it changed my life, by putting me on the path to discovering my highest level of optimal health. I truly feel like nothing can stop me from becoming the best version of myself now.

I began reading one of the books that goes with Whole30® program, “It Starts with Food.” I didn’t know their information would blow my mind! It showed how the food industry has been playing into our weaknesses by massively producing our craving for sweet, salty, and fatty foods. I’m not going to let them do that to me any more! I want to be in the driver seat as I make mindful decisions about what I put in my mouth and how it affects my body. Isn’t that how you feel too?

How does the Whole30® program promote optimal wellness?

First, I highly recommend reading or listening to an audio version of the book “It Starts with Food,” written by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig, founders of the Whole 30® Challenge. It explains the science behind healthy eating and healthy living, in an easy-to-understand way that has kept me motivated ever since reading it.

For 30 days, you remove all potentially inflammatory foods and beverages from your diet (sugar, sweeteners, alcohol, grains, legumes, dairy, processed foods, and junk foods) and eat three “clean” meals a day, made with ingredients like lean meats, seafood, veggies, fruit, good fats, and eggs. When you eliminate inflammatory foods in a mindful way, you see how food is affecting your body on all levels.

Yes, it is challenging. But it’s also empowering! One of my favorite lines in the book was: “It is NOT hard. Please don’t tell us this program is hard. Quitting heroin is hard. Beating cancer is hard. Birthing a baby is hard. Drinking your coffee black. Is. Not. Hard.”

I feel and look healthier than I have in years. I sleep better, I have tons of energy ALL. DAY. LONG…and drum roll…. For the first time in my life, I feel in control of what I eat. During the 30-day program I went to potlucks, birthday parties and even Christmas celebrations, without wishing I could eat sugar, carbs or drink alcohol. I am so excited to make Whole30 my lifestyle, a way to feed myself to promote optimal health and wellness, both physically and mentally!

Do you want to incorporate this program into your new way of thinking about 2019? To begin with, I suggest you become very clear about your intentions for the program. Do you want to heal a health problem? Perhaps reduce the inflammation in your system so you don’t have to deal with chronic pain? Do you want to become more mindful about your choices, so you can love yourself again? Do you need to find motivation that keeps you going through the ups and downs of weight loss? Identify why you want to do this program, and it will help you stay committed. It’s only 30 days of your life. Within that small span of time, you will discover what foods make YOU feel good!

If you want a whole new understanding and respect for your body, give this 30 day challenge a try. It helps to do it with an accountability buddy and guide. I’d be honored if you’d contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype), so we can work on this together.

Daily Taking a Break from Work –The Secret to Innovation and Excellence

Daily taking a break from work may seen foreign to you, yet it’s really the secret to greater innovation, performance excellence, and a life filled with joy.“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.” ~ Anne Lamott

Every day we’re bombarded with advice to become more organized, to get more done, to write endless to-do lists as we break big projects into smaller portions. So the idea of daily taking a break from work may sound strange to you. And while I wholehearted support the concepts of being organized and prioritizing to get things done, there has to be a balance in life.

If you feel as if you have to be busy every moment of every day, and you don’t think you’re successful unless you have a lot of accomplishments – and you’re in an endless cycle of “Check! Done that! Move on! Check! Done that! Move on!” – perhaps it’s time to reassess what you’re really accomplishing.

Actually, scheduling some downtime and taking a break from work on a daily basis will increase your ability to come up with innovative ideas and creative solutions. However, a more important reason to take a break is that if you don’t, it’s only a matter of time before you experience burnout, which could damage your body and spirit so badly that they’re not able to fully recover.

So as a friend, let me ask you: When was the last time you really disconnected from your business and responsibilities? When you didn’t listen to anything but the buzzing of the bees? When you didn’t watch anything but the clouds floating by? When you didn’t plan anything except…well, you didn’t plan anything at all! How often do you get to experience total creative silence as you simply practice being in and enjoying the moment? If you can’t remember, you’re way overdue. You are, no doubt, already on cognitive overload.

Think about it: You know you need to eat every day, right? You do it, not only because it’s enjoyable, but you expend the calories in your output of energy. And your body automatically knows to breathe in after exhaling. Why? Because you use up your supply of oxygen and your body demands more. As children, we knew how to play…when did that change? When did people forget to take breaks and enjoy life?

You constantly give all day long. You push to do things for your family, your friends, and your job. Yet if you aren’t regularly taking a break from work, you’ll run out of resources. Your body and brain needs downtime to repair itself. Not only is a good night’s sleep essential for refreshing yourself, but taking a little bit of time off during the day is necessary too.

The benefits of taking a break from work are countless. Your mood will improve. Your stress level will go down. Your energy will return. Your heart will be healthier. Your creativity and productivity will skyrocket. Your relationships will flourish. You’ll do your most excellent work if you’re regularly taking a break from work.

Isn’t it time to give your body and brain the space and time it needs to process all that you’re taking in every day? Your body may already be telling you it needs a break…are you listening? Unfortunately most of us have learned to ignore these messages from our bodies. Please, download my free 7-Point Body Wellness Assessment. Go to a quiet place and give yourself the gift of reconnecting with yourself this month. You owe it to yourself.

Body Sensations Reveal How Your Emotions Affect You Somatically

Body sensations are the way you manifest your emotions in your body, and once you learn to control your emotions you can change the way your body reacts.

“Our sensations are the original language of the body.” ~ Amanda Blake

Is your body talking to you?

Are you listening to its whispers?

Or do you wait until it screams?

Learning to slow down and listen to your body isn’t just about feeling the aches and pains of over exertion. It involves discovering how you actually feel emotionally about something.

Your emotional health and physical health are intertwined and inseparable. Your emotions are experienced and stored in your body. And they are manifested through body sensations. Breathless, clammy, fuzzy, hot, heavy, dizzy, queasy, or shaky are a few body sensations you may experience when you’re angry or stressed. Energized, full, expansive, smooth, and radiating are a few body sensations you may experience when you’re joyful and confident.

It’s within your body that you’ll discover the key to unlocking your emotional intelligence. In other words, emotions live inside your body, changing your physical experience and causing you to believe and act in particular ways. One moment you’re happy (emotion) on top of the world, so you’re feeling spacious and light in the chest (body sensations). Then someone says something that makes you feel anxious (emotion). It feels like your world is caving in, your shoulders slump and you feel deflated and dull (body sensations).

Conversely, by changing your posturing, you can alleviate these body sensations and alter your emotional experience. If you’re feeling shy and uncertain, you can breathe deeply, soften and straighten your spine, lift your head and look people in their eyes. The more you practice this, the more it will be your natural response and your emotions will change to feeling more confident and self-assured.

The concept, embodied cognition, says every thought/ideal is connected with an emotion which, in turn, has a physiological response in your body. Reflect on how the energy of shyness makes you feel small and act withdrawn. Sadness feels heavy, like the weight of the world is on your shoulders. Anger feels hot and stormy. Excitement feels energizing.

Tune into your emotions and identify each sensation as you experience it. Honor the messages that your body is sending you about your feelings. Don’t try to override them. Suspend any judgment of them. Simply observe them for what they are.

Do you want to become more balanced and centered? Here are some simple ways to get better acquainted with how your body responds to emotions. Observe what body sensations and emotions manifest as you do each of the following:

Regular exercise. It’s been proven to reduce stress, boost your “feel good” endorphins, enhance your self-confidence, sharpen your thinking ability, ground you, and inspire creativity.

Now add another dimension to your exercise sessions – an emotional one. Are you feeling anxious? Channel your anxiety into the physical act of exercise and release it. Invite all of your feelings, whether you view them as positive or negative, to come through your movement.

Improve your postureSitting in a slumped, helpless position invites thoughts and memories to manifest. Sitting in an upright, powerful position invites empowerment thoughts and memories.

Eating healthfully for your body type. Everyone has a unique biochemistry which greatly influences brain chemistry and emotional state. What you choose to fuel this system will be determined by your metabolism, blood type, genetic history, and activity level. Of course, we all have basic needs for fresh, nutrient-rich, whole foods.

Deep breathing. It improves your physical health and helps you remain calm under stressful situations. Also Alternate Nostril Breathing can help you achieve balance and harmony.

The key to controlling your emotions is developing an awareness of exactly WHERE you feel them, HOW they feel in your body, and in WHAT healthy ways you can process them. Somatic Coaching can help you become between attuned to what your body is telling you. Contact me and let’s schedule a session that will transform you life.

And if you need help listening to your body, make sure to click here to download your free copy of The 7-Point Wellness Assessment – Create Change Through Awareness. 

 

You Can Be Merry and Be Healthy – It’s Okay to Take Care of Yourself!

it's okay to take care of yourselfDon’t you love the holiday season with its bright lights, lovely music, and pleasant aromas of pine trees and baked goodies? It’s such a festive time of the year!

Yet all that glistens is not gold, as the saying goes. There are inevitable stresses during this time of year. Rather than writing a typical “how to relieve your holiday stress” article, I’m sharing something you really need to hear…

But first…Which of the follow stress triggers really get you down the most? (Please come over to my Facebook Page and let’s share.)

  • Is it feeling trapped by obligations, being pushed beyond what you can physically and emotionally handle?
  • Is it spending beyond your budget, thinking you’ll deal with it later, when in reality the bills nag at you, robbing you of joy?
  • Is it falling into unhealthy patterns due to your history, family traditions and personal beliefs?
  • Is it being thrown together with a family member who brings you pain?
  • Is it seeing an empty place where a loved one was last year, but isn’t this year?
  • Is it the disruption to your routine that allows little down time that makes you crazy?
  • Is it feeling guilty for eating and drinking things you normally wouldn’t?

Your ability to handle all of these stress triggers revolves around one thing…your self-care. And I’m sure you’ve already read plenty of articles of how to deal with holiday stress that tell you to do this and do that. What you really need is permission to take care of yourself – to be told it’s not selfish to nurture your own wellbeing. So let me reassure you…

It’s okay to set limits to what you can do physically and emotionally.

It’s okay to set a budget for what you can spend and then stick to it.

It’s okay to do things differently than everyone else.

It’s okay to start a new family tradition.

It’s okay to schedule alone time to think about how you can make even a slight change in the coming year.

It’s okay to be more deliberate about your choices.

It’s okay to indulge a little.

It’s okay to treat yourself to a massage or a brief getaway to gain some breathing room.

It’s okay to walk away from family squabbles and go for a walk or to the gym.

It’s okay to insist on getting to bed at a reasonable hour.

It’s okay to bring new meaning into your holiday: identifying why and what are you celebrating… family, connection, or spiritual growth.

It’s okay to take time out to do breathing exercises to center and balance yourself when you feel tense.

It’s okay to view friends as family, if your family has let you down.

It’s okay to say, “No! Not this year”.

Didn’t you feel the stress flow away as you read, “it’s okay”? We all need reassurance that we can choose what’s okay for us.  In the same manner, we respectfully and lovingly allow others to have the same freedom of choice. As each person calmly explains their point of view, it can promote peace and greater awareness – the very foundation of being merry and being healthy. And that’s what I wish for you. Have a happy holiday season everyone! See you on my Facebook Page.

Types of Exercise That Foster a Healthy Lifestyle and Greater Happiness

Types of Exercise That Foster a Healthy Lifestyle and Greater Happiness “In order for man to succeed in life, God provided him with two means, education and physical activity. Not separately, one for the soul and the other for the body, but for the two together. With these means, man can attain perfection.” ~Plato

Would you like to improve your thinking, memory, motivation, mental wellbeing, physical health and even reverse some diseases? Well, you can by elevating your heart rate on a regular basis. Yes, I’m talking about exercise!

John J. Ratey, M.D., author of Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, and researcher on the mind-body connection, has found that exercise is our best defense against everything – mental disorders, addiction, mood swings to mention a few. “Moving our muscles produces proteins that play roles in our highest thought processes.” Ratey says.

The wonderful thing is that we can feel an almost immediate change in our brain after a workout. Why is that?

First, regular exercise helps your body optimally use energy. For example, food is broken down into glucose – the body’s energy fuel. Your pancreas produces a hormone called insulin, which regulates the amount of sugar in your bloodstream by letting glucose into the muscle, fat and liver cells. “We think of insulin as a ‘key’ that opens doors to the body’s cells, so glucose can enter,” said diabetes educator Gary Scheiner. 79 million people in the US are pre-diabetic because their sedentary lifestyle has made them insulin resistance. The insulin key can’t open the frozen lock, so glucose can’t get into the cells to fuel your muscles. The resulting increased blood sugar makes the pancreas crank out more insulin, which causes you to become very tired. It’s a vicious cycle! Exercise can reverse this process and give you your energy back. That’s just one of the many mind/body systems that your body needs regular exercise in order to function properly.

Regular exercise also builds a sustainable cycle of wellbeing. Regular exercise builds strong lifestyle patterns that support mental wellbeing, which in turn motivates you to keep exercising regularly. It’s a win-win-win! And when you are physically active, you’re more social, which boosts self-confidence. It alleviates anxiety, stress and depression. It improves focus and helps you replace addictive behaviors and bad habits with healthier choices.

How much and what types of exercise will help you achieve your peak performance? It’s recommended that you exercise 30 minutes per day/5 days a week at the minimum. That’s only 2½ hours out of 168 hours of your life every week. Isn’t that a small investment for the greatest return – a long, healthy, and happy life? (Note: If you have any medical problems, consult with your physician before beginning a new exercise routine.) Here are some suggestions:

Aerobic Exercise. This type of exercise gets your heart rate up and makes you sweat and can be sustained over a long period of time. Work up to doing aerobic exercise four days a week, at 60 to 65 percent of your maximum heart rate. Try running, swimming or biking.

Anaerobic exercise. This is high intensity exercise that can only be sustained for a brief time period, like sprinting. For example, after you’ve warmed up and have walked for about 10 minutes, break out into a sprint for 5 minutes, then go back to walking until your heart rate slows again to where you can comfortably talk, then repeat the sprint/cool down cycle.

Strength training exercise. Use weights or resistance machines twice a week. Do three sets of your exercises with weights that allow you to do ten repetitions in each set. Personally, I love my Cross Fit class!

Balance and flexibility exercise. Focus on this twice a week for thirty minutes. The Feldenkrais Method® (which relieved my chronic pain too), Yoga, Pilates, tai chi, Aikido, martial arts, archery, and dance are all good choices.

Brain exercise. Never stop learning. Numerous studies show that the more your brain continues to learn, the more likely you are to keep your thinking abilities and ward off dementia.

Doing a mix of low, medium, and high intensity exercise is important as each does beneficial things for your mind and body. If you need to split it up into 10-minute intervals, 3 times per day, that’s still effective. Your brain and all your muscles needs to be used in order to keep your quality of life at its best.

I recommend you read or listen to the audio of: Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain by John Ratey. It will get you up and moving as it changes forever how you look at the connection between brain health and exercise.

Are you motivated to try some of these types of exercise, but you need someone to keep you accountable and on track? Contact me and let me support and challenge you each step of the way as you activate your inner abilities to achieve and maintain your motivation for total wellness and fitness.  Let’s get started as soon as possible!

If you haven’t you received your free copy of The 7-Point Body Wellness Assessment yet, download it right now. It will help you get started on the path to a healthier you.

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