Maria Connolly, LPC

Tag: Mental Health

Find tips on healing, supporting and maintaining the best mental health practices by also achieving the best physical, emotional and spiritual health practices too.

Stuck in a Exercise Rut? Discover How to Use NLP to Ramp Up Your Fitness Motivation

feeling stuck in a rut so use neuro linguistic programming NLP for fitness motivation


“Achieving good fitness involves making yourself a priority.”  ~ Robert Dilts

Do you know anyone who has turned their indoor treadmill into a clothes hanger? It happens more often than not. People in the United States are spending billions of dollars on physical fitness equipment each year, too much of which sits and collects dust. Just the gyms and health & fitness clubs alone this year are estimated to be $30 billion industry!

We all want and are trying to buy what they’re selling…to live longer, have more energy, enjoy better health, maintain greater flexibility, and create lean bodies that look super. So what’s causing this huge gap between the desire to be fit and the reality of everyday life? If spending money isn’t the answer, what is?

There are no magic pills or quick fixes to obtaining your optimal fitness. For many people, fitness depends on overcoming long-held habits and adopting a healthy lifestyle. Complete fitness applies to the combined health of your body, mind and spirit, which are supported by proper nutrition, exercise and a healthy outlook on life. These are the things that fuel your motivation to make real change!

How can you step up your inner game for physical fitness and lasting motivation that gets you through the tough times?

While the outer game focuses on your physical skills, the inner game focuses on your mindset, your mental approach and wellbeing – such as your attitude, self-confidence, your ability to deal with setbacks, and your commitment level.

First do a reality check. If you keep doing what you’re doing …

  • What will you look like when you’re 70?
  • Will you have the flexibility to tie your own shoes?
  • Will you have the stamina to dance at your granddaughter’s wedding?
  • Will you greet each day with joy?


If you don’t like what you see, then NOW is the time to start making changes. You are the master of your own body. No one can live your life for you. Each decision is your alone – to eat healthfully, to exercise regularly, to think positively.

Right now, take a moment, close your eyes, and visualize how you want your life to unfold from this day forward.

Visualization is powerful and can be dramatically enhanced by NLP. What’s NLP and what does it have to do with fitness? It may surprise you to learn that using Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) for fitness motivation is highly effective. It’s a set of guiding principles, attitudes and techniques about real life behavior. NLP allows you to change, adopt or eliminate behaviors as you desire. It also gives you the ability to choose your mental, emotional, and physical states of wellbeing. It’s a powerful tool you can use to create real and lasting change in your mental and physical wellbeing.

You may think you need a physical trainer to get in shape and that might be true. But it is also true that our physical wellbeing is dependent on our mindset. Working with a life coach or psychotherapist can help you achieve excellence in every aspect of your life, including your physical fitness. For example, you can work with a life coach on…

  • Setting achievable goals for where you are right now.
  • Developing self-discipline to make these goals part of your new lifestyle.
  • Making being fit part of your new identity by breaking old habits and setting new ones that create the lifestyle you want to live.
  • Updating your self-image and self-esteem by appreciating the progress you’ve made.

Are you ready to learn how using NLP for fitness motivation can help you achieve the healthy lifestyle you desire? 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. Contact me and 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.

How to Deal with Fear – Ten Ways to Cultivate a Fearless Mindset

How to Deal with Fear - Ten Ways to Cultivate a Fearless Mindset“Fear defeats more people than any other one thing in the world.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Have you experienced fear lately? Were you afraid to try something new? To push yourself outside your comfort zone? To say something you feared would start a confrontation? Did you meet it head on or did you retreat and run away? How did your response make you feel? Empowered or powerless?

Dictionaries define fear as: “an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.” Because we shy away from what is unpleasant, I challenge you to redefine the word fear this way: “This feeling of fear is alerting me to an opportunity to become more fully aware of my surroundings and connect with my inner power to handle whatever is happening.”

Just as children first love sweets then, as they mature to adulthood, they develop a taste for the full palate of flavors – bitter coffee and endive, savory chili peppers, salty anchovies, and sour lemon – we can mature and embrace each uncomfortable sensation as an opportunity for growing and enriching our experience in life. To help you reframe your feelings and learn how to deal with fear and worry, here are ten ways to cultivate a fearless mindset:

  1. Fully acknowledge and accept your feeling of fear. Everyone feels fear. By being fully present in your feelings, you can embrace it as a friend that teaches you about yourself.
  1. Change your right/wrong attitude to a can’t-lose attitude. Regardless of the decision you make, there will be positive rewards. You may or may not attain your desired goal. No matter what, you haven’t failed. You’ve learning what you’re capable of and gained a greater self-awareness of your strengths and weakness. Upon reflection you’ll see what you can do to achieve greater skills so you can excel.
  1. See the benefits of facing your fear. Avoiding, running and hiding only reinforces your fears. When you gain confidence and put yourself out there, you’ll make stronger connections with family and friends. You’ll be sharing solutions with co-workers and clients. You’ll be true to yourself. And those who love you will accept you for who you are. Those who have a problem with your authenticity don’t need to be in your life anyway.
  1. Recognize fears that you’ve inherited. Not everyone has supportive parents who instill the belief that you can do and be anything you want to be. Fears around money, sex, and self-worth are some of the issues that stem from your upbringing.
  1. Identify where the fear is coming from. What you say you fear may not necessarily be what you really fear. For example, if you’re afraid of public speaking, in actuality you might really fear rejection, feeling foolish or failing. When you identify the underlying issues, you can focus on resolving them.
  1. Celebrate your growth. Don’t forget each time you’ve been challenged and have pushed your comfort zone further out. Remember it’s not about winning or losing. It’s that you handled it!
  1. Avoid comparisons, which only lead to feelings of inadequacy. Your life experiences are unique to you. Own how YOU feel and don’t worry about what someone else would do in the situation.
  1. Recognize fear as an alert system to protect against valid dangers. Fearless doesn’t mean reckless. Life is fragile and we must exercise proper precautions in times of danger.
  1. Take baby steps if you feel overwhelmed. If you fear swimming, jumping in the deep end of the pool will not help you. Slowly easing into the water and having positive experiences will build your confidence and feelings of control. Often having a mentor to guide you is what’s needed to get you past the roadblocks.
  1. Find your support system. When you can voice your fears out loud to someone you trust, you release the pressure, and the challenge may not be as large as you first felt. They know you well and their helpful feedback and support can instill a renewed confidence in you.


If you want to learn more about how to deal with fear and cultivate a fearless mindset, I recommend you get Susan Jeffers’ book, Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway: Dynamic techniques for turning Fear, Indecision and Anger into Power, Action and Love.

Do you feel it’s time to step towards your fears and learn to embrace them so you can create excellence in your life? I’m here to help. Contact me and let’s talk about what your next, best step might be.


Four Ways to Make Meal Planning and Good Eating Habits Easier

Meal planning and healthy eating habits don’t have to be too difficult or time consuming if you apply these four ways to make weekly meal planning easier.Often people say they don’t have the time to eat healthy. Our busy work schedules and family demands can make it difficult. But it is not impossible – if you have a good reason for doing so.

Why wait until a health crisis, such as a heart attack or diabetes, forces you into making changes. The risk of permanent damage isn’t worth it. How much better it is to make proactive, mindful decisions that support you in building an excellent life now. The evidence indicates that proper nutrition plays an important role in the prevention of various physical and mental health problems. A balanced mood, sustainable levels of energy and feelings of wellbeing can be cultivated by ensuring that our diet provides adequate amounts of protein, complex carbohydrates, essential fats, amino acids, vitamins and minerals and water.

So, what is your WHY? Why do you want to improve your eating habits? To prevent disease or needless pain? To have more energy so you can participate more fully in life? To see your children and grandchildren grow up? To look more attractive? Whatever your reason is, hold onto it. That vision will keep you motivated.

Once you have your reasons for improving your eating habits firmly in mind, here are four easy steps to make meal planning simpler. (Preparation is the key to success!)

1. Commit! Just decide you’re going to do it. Involve those who eat with you by asking what they do and don’t like to eat. Even children as young as five or six can be included in this discussion. When you can factor their preferences into your plans, you can avoid discouraging, negative feedback.

2. Make a cheat sheet for your shopping trip. List plenty of veggies, fruits, and protein that you want to always keep on hand in the kitchen. This list will keep you from being distracted by the candy and chips aisles at the store. It will keep you on the outside aisles of the store where the healthy food is. And remember, don’t shop when you’re hungry. The money you save by not buying junk food will allow you to splurge on more varieties of healthy food. Don’t be afraid to try something new.

3. Prepare your meals for the week on Sunday. Plan two or three recipes for dinners and use the leftovers for lunch the next day. Cut up your veggies and fruits and put them in the fridge in see-through, separate containers. This simple step makes it so much easier to build your salad, have a quick snack or prepare an easy side dish.

4. Pre-make your breakfast. Breakfast IS the most important meal of the day! You can save a lot of time by preparing yours ahead of time. Did you know you can make a big batch of green smoothies and freeze them in mason jars? The night before simply move one to the fridge and it will be ready for the next morning. Give it a shake or a stir and you’re good to go. Or you can make little egg-veggie muffins for a quick bite when your meeting is at 7am!

New habits are formed one baby step at a time. As the book, The Power of Habit, points out, often it only takes one pivotal action to interrupt the habit cycle in our brain thereby allowing us to form new habits. (If you haven’t read this book, I recommend that you do because it’s very insightful. And it’s fun to read.)

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 determine the pivotal action that you need in order to create real change in your life. 

Regain Control as You Discover How Food Affects Your Mood

how food affects your mood“You are what you eat.” Often that is said about our physical health, but is it also true of our emotional wellbeing? Can we change our mood by changing what we eat? Women especially seem to be emotional eaters. Many of us seek stress relief by indulging in comfort food like ice cream, chips or chocolate. There’s even been a new word added to online dictionaries to recognize the connection between being hungry and being angry…it’s HANGRY.

Actually research is showing there’s a huge connection between why we eat and our emotions. But you already knew that, right? When we’re depressed or lonely we eat. When we’re excited and happy we eat. When we’re celebrating a special event we splurge on eating something special.

Food is an important part of our culture. The problem is we consume too much of overly-processed, chemicals-added, sugary, salty, fatty “fake foods”. Our taste buds have forgotten how to savor the delicate flavors of wholesome food.

It’s only in recent years that the human race has had access to so many choices. In times past, we were limited by what was grown locally or what took weeks to transport in. And people used up those calories quickly, as they did hard physical work to survive.

Dr. Leigh Gibson, a psychology professor at the University of Roehampton in London, makes this observation, “For much of human history, energy-dense foods, or what we now consider comfort foods, were the ideal thing to eat…Healthy eating is a modern thing that we now need because we’re living so long. You could almost say the default is comfort eating.”

One important question is: What’s your immediate reaction when you eat? How does food affect your mood? Do you feel guilty? Do you feel sluggish? Do you feel invigorated? Do you feel nourished and happy?

Too often people define themselves by their relationship with food. Dieting has caused an unhealthy attitude toward food. If they eat something that’s not on their list, they call it “cheating.” One “slip” and they tell themselves horrible stories, “What’s the use. I’m such a failure. Why even try. I’m always going to be fat.” Food is not your enemy.

Another important question is: How does what you eat today affect your mood days later? In a study published in 2012, Penn State psychology professor Dr. Helen Hendy found that the link between foods and moods played out over a period of two days—what you eat on day one is linked to how you feel on day three. She noted, “Consumption of calories, saturated fat, and sodium was significantly associated with increased negative mood two days later.” Dr. Hendy has even changed her habits based on this. When she has a meeting scheduled, she watches her calories, sodium and fat intake to give herself a better chance of creating a good mood.

No matter what the studies say, you are in the best position to determine how you and your body react to your eating habits. If you intend to mindfully eat healthfully and you follow through, achieving that goal is guaranteed to contribute to better emotions. On the other hand, if you’ve developed an unhealthy relationship with food and want to regain control, give me a call and we’ll talk about how you can mindfully reconnect with your body, your spirit and your world so you make lasting changes

5 Ways to Make Your Lifestyle Changes Stick Even if You’ve Failed Before

7 lifestyle changes that empower you to cultivate physical, emotional, spiritual and mental health one small, deliberate lifestyle change at a time.Human beings are complicated yet we want simple solutions. That’s why many look for a prescription to deal with pain – whether the pain is physical, emotional, mental or even spiritual. The right prescription can at times help. However, we need to make sure that we don’t ignore the lifestyle choices that got us where we are today. If we do – we won’t really get better.

Let’s say you’re under a deadline, so you live on caffeine and sugary energy bars. By skipping meals your body is starving for essential nutrients and minerals. This leads to sleep deprivation, which hinders your body from making vital repairs. Your moodiness and tiredness cause your relationships to suffer. You turn to alcohol to relax, but it makes things worse. Your mind starts bombarding you with negative and abusive self-talk. You begin to believe nothing you do works. You’re a failure. Everything starts to snowball into a mental health crisis like depression. So you keep pushing harder and harder…

Did you see the lifestyle choices that led to this pain? If you see yourself struggling be assured that it’s never too late to improve your health. We have the power to cultivate wellbeing by making small, deliberate changes in our lifestyles in the following seven areas:

  • Diet
  • Exercise
  • Mindfulness
  • Sleep and daily relaxation
  • Intimacy with self and others
  • Setting short and long term goals
  • Spirituality

You might say, “Maria, every year, I really try. I resolve to do things differently. And I do okay for the first day, the first week, or the first month. Then I mess up. I just can’t keep it up. Now I feel even worse. Not only can’t I change, I feel like such a failure for not having enough willpower. Why should I even try?”

Let me reassure you…you can change. It is worth the effort. You can succeed.

How can you make lifestyle changes that truly lead to better physical, emotional, spiritual and metal health? Where do you start and how do you make these changes stick? 

When making changes it’s really important to:

  1. Avoid the temptation to work on all seven areas at once. That’s too much. Instead, pick only one lifestyle change to work on until it becomes the way you want to live. That success will empower you to tackle the next one.
  1. Do it in small chunks. Take your one big goal and list the steps you need to take to accomplish it. This makes it more realistic, achievable and less overwhelming. For example, do you want to eat healthier? One step may be to clean the sugar and junk food out of the cupboards, pantry, refrigerator and freezer. Another step may be to find healthy recipes you want to try. Another step is to stick to a weekly grocery list of only healthful foods. Another step is to build in new reward systems for each success – treat yourself to a pedicure, a new book, new clothes, etc.
  1. Have a buddy system. We need support and encouragement to be successful. We need someone to be accountable to and to share our challenges and victories. I could not do it without the fierce and gentle support of my buddies!
  1. Continue to adjust your goals as new information is available. We aren’t aware of all the variables when we start, so we need to continue to adjust. It’s like a pilot that starts with a destination and a route in mind and during the flight has to adjust because of the weather or other air traffic. You may make it your goal to lose weight, but first you need to learn to eat healthier or start an exercise program. Or you might find that you’re an emotional eater who needs to heal a relationship problem first.
  1. Accept that there are some things that can’t be changed. If there are some physical problems that can’t be fixed, you can still focus on mental health, emotional support and spirituality to help you accept your current situation and cope in a healthier way. You will often discover this improves your physical wellbeing in the process.

Every time you make mindful choices that supports the lifestyle you envision for yourself, you’re taking back the control you need. Each success empowers you to go on to the next with confidence. You can improve your physical, emotional, spiritual and mental health one step at a time. If you find you aren’t getting the support you need, why not give me a call and we can schedule an appointment to work together so you can achieve the success you desire and deserve.

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