Colorado Life Coach: Change Your Unwanted Behavior and Thoughts

How do you stop doing things you don’t want to do?

How do you stop thinking about something that you can’t seem to stop thinking about?

You don’t want to yell at the kids. You don’t like it when you overeat. You wish you could stand up to your mom. You hate that you can’t stop the negative thoughts racing through your mind.

Money, kids, marriage, job, school, relationships, doubts, food, whatever…

What’s it all about? It might be:

*Fear of the unknown

*Worry about things you can’t control

*Mistrust of God

Fear of the unknown

Do you ever blow stuff way out of proportion in your mind? You know the money might be tight, but you picture your family living on the street in a cardboard box. The kids may be struggling in school, but in your mind, they’ve flunked out and are living on the streets in a cardboard box. (What is it about living in a box?)

Our fears rarely come true. That’s not to say that some other thing that we see as negative might not happen. But, the thing we spend so much time worrying about probably won’t happen. We don’t tend to fear what’s familiar…even if it’s not good. The unknown can provoke anxiety because it’s, well, unknown.

Worry about things you can’t control

Isn’t it funny that we all think we can control things better than anyone else, even God. I’ve messed up so many things in my life, but I still struggle with things I can’t control. As if my controlling it would be the best choice. I have limited knowledge on many subjects (even though I am fairly intelligent). Others may have much more experience. I’ve raised my kids well, but I still struggle holding back advice, telling them what I think or what they should do. When do I trust that they can and will make good decisions and they need to figure it out on their own?

Mistrust of God

It all comes down to this.

Do I really believe the God of the Universe can handle things, or not?

Do I believe He knows better than me, more than me?

Do I trust that He loves me?

Do I believe He has my best interest at heart?

Here is a practical tool I’ve used to change my behavior, heart or thinking when I got stuck in a negative pattern:

  1. First thing in the morning, I acknowledge that God is God and I am not. I remind myself that I can trust him and I don’t need to control (fill in the blank).
  2. I ask myself if I can make it to the bathroom without doing (fill in the blank).
  3. When I make it that far, I thank God for the little win and do a little celebration dance (dance style is optional).
  4. I ask myself if I can make it downstairs to breakfast without (fill in the blank).
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 all day long.
  6. If I don’t think I can make it to the next goal, I make it a shorter goal. Ex: Can I make it for the next 5 minutes? The next 1 minute? The next 30 seconds? When I make it, thank God and celebrate.
  7. Begin again

If the issue is negative thought patterns, I’ve tried listening to worship music or really upbeat songs. I’ve read verses from the bible that tell me how much God loves me, or how awesome I am because I am his child. I can’t think about 2 things at once, so when I decide to think about something positive, the negative thoughts tend to disappear.

After doing this for a few weeks, I noticed I was able to make it longer and longer without worry and without doing the thing I didn’t want to do. I was more focused on God, his ability to do what I couldn’t, and his love for me.

When I’m free from these unwanted thoughts and behaviors, I have energy to focus on helping others.

Please note: Sometimes deeper issues prevent us from being able to just change behavior. If you need more help and support, please call 1-800-New-Life to find a professional counselor.

If you have other suggestions, please leave a comment below so others can benefit!

This post written by, Colorado Life Coach, Carrie O’Toole



Colorado Life Coach: FEAR


Few people admit to being afraid. Most of us are.

Scared, anxious, apprehensive, boxed in, burdened, confused, distressed, fearful, frightened, guarded, hard pressed, overwhelmed, panicky, paralyzed, tense, terrified, worried, insecure.








Fear is the opposite of love.

Fear comes from feeling out of control. If we can’t control:

our situations,

our family members,

our friends,

other people’s reactions,

our emotions,

what will happen? We typically go to the extremes and find ourselves mulling over the absolute WORST that could happen. Very rarely does the worst actually happen. Then we find the worry was all for nothing.

Control. We don’t really have it. We can’t control other people, the weather, the traffic, the economy. We can control ourselves.

Self-control. It takes a lot of courage to let other people live their lives and stay in control of ourselves. We may think it feels like failure to give up control. It’s actually a great act of bravery.

Did you grow up in a home where you felt safe to express your fears? Some people learn that if they express fear, they will be ridiculed, “You’re afraid of THAT?” “Boys don’t cry.” They learn to keep the fear bottled up inside, or deny that it exists.

I’ve noticed that when you start to help someone uncover why they are stuck in a certain area of their life: relationships, jobs, finances, etc., they discover fear.

They might be afraid of:







fear itself

something happening to their kids or spouse

being abandoned or rejected


Some people are afraid that if others really knew them, they’d run as fast as they could to get away!

What to do?

As with most things requiring change, the first step is acknowledging the fear. Spend some time listing things you were afraid of as a child, as a young adult, or as an adult. What topics do you tend to avoid? Where do you feel stuck? Could it be fear keeping you there?

Fear can only hold you captive if you don’t acknowledge it exists. Once you bring it out into the open, it’s not so scary. Write about it, talk it over with a trusted friend, pray about it. Ask God to show you where it came from, and then pay attention. Over the next week, see if the topic doesn’t come up in conversations, in a movie you watch, or a book you read. See if your circumstances don’t shift to help you see your fear more clearly.

Once that happens, think about what life would be like if you responded to your situation out of love. It is the opposite of fear.

What if you moved closer to the situation, instead of pulling away?

What if you leaned into the conversation and really tried to understand the other person, instead of shutting it down?

What if you faced your problem head-on, instead of pretending it didn’t exist?

Try this for a week or so, and see what happens. The only thing you have to lose is fear!

Would anyone be brave enough to share their thoughts on FEAR?

This post written by Colorado Life Coach, Carrie O’Toole

Colorado Life Coach: 12 min. Surge Training

12 minute workouts?

It sounded too good to be true! Since the Chiropractor was in great physical shape and this was supposedly the workout she does, I thought I’d give it a try.

We showed up on a Saturday morning a little before 9. The workout was scheduled for 9:00-9:12. I wore my spandex and athletic shoes, even though I couldn’t imagine I’d sweat much in only 12 minutes.

Patty spent a few minutes explaining the workout:

Surge training is used to get your heart rate up quickly, then let it come down…over and over again. She selected 6 different exercises to work different muscle groups. We would do 1 exercise for 20 seconds, then rest 20 seconds, and repeat 2 times, for a total of 3 sets per exercise.

For example:

1. Run in place as hard and fast as you are able for 20 seconds, rest 20 seconds, run 20 seconds, rest 20 seconds, run 20 seconds, rest 20 seconds.

2. Arms out to the side. Do forward arm circles as hard and fast as able for 20 seconds, rest 20 seconds, backward arm circles for 20 seconds, rest 20 seconds, forward circles for 10 seconds, backward circles for 10 seconds, rest 20 seconds.

3. One leg in front of the other. Lunge forward as fast and deep as you can for 20 seconds, rest 20 seconds, switch legs and lunge 20 seconds, rest 20 seconds, lunge on one leg 10 seconds and the other leg 10 seconds, rest 20 seconds.

4. Using a wall to support yourself, sit against the wall with legs at a 90 degree angle. Tighten butt muscles and hold for 20 seconds, rest 20 seconds, wall sit 20 seconds, rest 20 seconds, wall sit 20 seconds, rest 20 seconds.

5. Sit on floor with legs off ground. Use arms for support if needed, if not, arms in the air. Do bicycle movements with legs while tightening abdominal muscles for 20 seconds, rest 20 seconds, bicycle 20 seconds, rest 20 seconds, bicycle 20 seconds, rest 20 seconds.

6. Stay on ground. While sitting, support yourself with arms pushed behind your body to the sides. Do pushups from this position. If able, lift one leg and hold. Push ups for 20 seconds, rest 20 seconds, change legs and push ups for 20 seconds, rest 20 seconds, push ups for 20 seconds (change legs after 10 seconds), rest for 20 seconds.

There you have it! It’s actually 6 minutes of exercise and 6 minutes of resting.

And I thought I was going to die!! I realized I should have taken it a bit lighter the first few times. I was light-headed and felt like passing out for several hours after my first workout.

Part of my issue was that I had also cut out sugar completely that week. I had shocked my metabolism. It was so used to eating sugar and now there was no sugar in my system. It had to learn to go after the fat…and it did!

I now do this exercise most mornings before I eat a protein shake (see my last blog at Since the workout burns any left over sugar in my system, the protein shake causes my body to burn fat for hours after the workout. I make sure not to eat sugar or carbs within 2 hours of my workout.

As you get used to this routine, change it up! Do jumping jacks, regular push-ups, burpies, mountain climbers, anything you like. Just do it at least 4-5 days a week.

12 minutes a day: my stomach is almost flat, my legs are firm and my shoulders are rock solid. Who woulda thunk?

This blog written by Colorado Life Coach, Carrie O’Toole



Colorado Life Coach: 1 Simple Way To Lose Weight

Everyone knows there is no magic pill!

Weight seems to come on stealthy, in the night, when we aren’t looking. How does this happen? We live as we’ve always lived, eat as we’ve always eaten, and all of a sudden, our belly is NOT as it’s always been.

What’s the deal? I’ve struggled with 20 pounds through my adult life. I don’t know if it’s the same 20 pounds, but through the years it keeps showing up. Weight Watchers worked for me in my 20’s, 30’s and early 40’s (I did it once a decade to get rid of that 20 pounds).

For some reason, it didn’t work in my later 40’s. What’s up with that?

Bob and I saw a flyer on “How to lose belly fat” at a health food store last summer.

We both had a nice little muffin top going, so we went to the workshop.

Well, it turns out, there is a hormone in my brain that I somehow turned off by eating lots of carbs and sugar.  I had heard of crazy people who gave up sugar, but I never wanted to be one of them. Truth be told, I’m not that into sweets. Now bread, on the other hand…

We listened to Dr. Eric Shuemake from Maximized Living, and learned that the sugar had turned off the fat eating hormone in our brains. To fix this, we needed to cut sugar and anything that turned to sugar in our bodies. Now our bodies would go after the fat instead of just burning sugar.

We both made the decision to cut sugar, bread, cereal, and all fruit except Granny Smith Apples and berries. Breakfast now consisted of almond milk, berries and whey protein. After about 2 months, Bob lost 30 pounds and I lost that same 20 that makes its presence known every few years.

The good news…I was never hungry! I snacked on Granny Smith Apples with sugarless peanut butter, or cashews. The protein kept me full and I no longer had low-sugar dizzy spells. I also noticed I didn’t feel bloated and gassy—before, I just thought that’s how everyone felt after eating.

The hard news…I went through withdrawals from the lack of sugar. I had headaches and body aches for about a week. I drank lots of water and rested as much as possible to get through it. Staying busy and focusing on activities helped. Once it passed, I felt better than before and don’t ever want to do that again!

We both gradually added back some bread and fruit, but kept most of the sweets out of our diets. The results? We’ve been on a 7-day cruise and through a holiday season without the uninvited pounds showing their ugly selves.

Bob bought some new clothes and slim fit shirts. His co-workers didn’t know what happened when he showed up in his trim new clothes. It looked like he dropped the weight over-night, but he just wasn’t hiding in baggy clothes anymore. I went down 2 sizes and feel so much better. Clothes are fun when you’re not squished in!

I told you it was simple…I didn’t say it was easy. It’s worth it though! Give it a try if you’ve got muffin tops to lose 🙂

This Blog Written by Colorado Life Coach, Carrie O’Toole


Colorado Life Coach: The Challenge of Change

Why is change so hard?

I have always been a good student. In school, I got good grades. I succeeded at almost everything I tried (except cheerleading in 8th grade). When I attend seminars or conferences, I take great notes and review what I’ve learned. I come home with a plan and put things in place to improve whatever it was that needed improving. I’m really good at this kind of thing.

Except when it comes to changing things like my character, or habits, or beliefs, or emotions…

It’s not so easy in these areas. What gives? Why am I such a success at changing or improving tasks, numbers, organizational issues, and performance, but personal changes take sooo long?

I know I’m not alone in this!

I believe there are many answers for this dilemma.

  1. Personal growth requires humility and the ability to acknowledge that you don’t have all the answers.
  2. Personal growth involves looking at WHY we do the things we do, not just that we do them. If we understand why we do them, we can gain strength to change. If we just try to change without understanding why, we continue to do the same things over and over, we sabotage ourselves by returning to old patterns.
  3. Character issues go back a long way and are set pretty firmly. It can feel like walking uphill in wet cement to change old patterns. Ever heard the term “set in his ways?”
  4. It can be painful. When we look at the reasons we ignore reality, shut people out, use food, sex, shopping or drugs to avoid feeling, hurt people with our words rather than ask for our needs to be met, refuse to be vulnerable, we have to go back to where it all started. This is the reason the behavior started in the first place! Why would we want to go back there now?
  5. When we try a new way of relating, or take a risk, or approach something with a new attitude, we are not guaranteed of different results. If we try something new and it doesn’t go well, it’s almost second nature to run back to our old ways of doing things.
  6. Even though life isn’t working, it’s familiar. The pain of what we are doing needs to be more than the fear of trying something unknown.

So why even bother?

Because you deserve it! Because those you love deserve it! Character change impacts everyone in our circle positively for years to come. It’s hard. It can be painful. And it’s so necessary!

I want my family to see me as I know I can be, not as I have been and still am sometimes. I want them to know I cared enough about them to do the hard work so I don’t fly off the handle at them, or cause problems to escalate, or have my anxiety spew all over them.

Change is hard. Most things worth having are. I’m willing and I’m changing.

Please share your thought about this topic below!

This blog by Colorado Life Coach, Carrie O’Toole


Colorado Life Coach: Pain and Suffering

Pain and Suffering

            There are different kinds of pain: Good pain and Bad pain. The key to helping people is to be able to tell the difference between the two kinds of pain.

Good Pain: When the life of dysfunction, lack of a solid internal life, lack of character, unresolved pain from the past, pain of isolation, or addictions fail to work as coping mechanisms and a person decides to work through these issues. The result is growth and healing. Emotionally sick people need help to find the “medicine” that will make them whole, healthy and happy. Once they decide to look at their problems, growth can occur.

Bad Pain: When a person repeats old patterns and avoids the suffering it would take to change them. This pain is all for nothing. When we suffer trying to avoid grief or hurt that needs to be worked through, the pain continues with no hope of healing.

Pain is part of life. We all suffer at some point. Suffering can bring about lasting growth and change that will ultimately lead to freedom and joy. Suffering can remain the same and never lead to healing or growth. There is no hope that this suffering will end, because nothing changes.

Examples of bad pain:

*Pain that comes from avoiding pain, such a psychological depression that comes from avoiding grief, and anxiety that comes from not facing troublesome things inside one’s soul.

*Pain that comes from not facing a character pattern that needs to be changed.  Codependent people, for example, who lack boundaries and allow themselves to be used, suffer wasted and needless pain.

*Pain that comes from picking the wrong kind of people to be close to, in friendship or romance. This pain usually comes from not facing patterns of denial in one’s own life and then having relationship blindness when looking at others.

*Pain that comes from repeating failing patterns in work and performance. This comes from not facing weaknesses, irresponsibility, or undeveloped skills or talents.

*Pain that comes from addictions and other clinical syndromes.

*Pain that comes from avoiding growth in general. Life makes demands, and if we stay immature, we can’t make life work.

*Pain that comes from not separating from destructive family of origin patterns, the “sins of the fathers.” Thus, patterns are repeated for another generation.

*Pain that comes from lack of forgiveness and not letting go of bad relationships and injuries.

*Pain that comes from desiring things from the past that will never come true.

*Pain that comes from isolation and not learning how to become interdependent.

Thanks to Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend, How People Grow.

Are you suffering the pain of depression, anxiety, or other issues?  I am a certified Christian Life Coach through the American Association of Christian Counseling and I’d love to help you resolve this pain in your life.

Colorado Life Coach, Carrie O’Toole, M.A.


Colorado Life Coach-Lessons in the Tension

On the verge…

In many areas of my life, I feel like I’m on the verge…

I’ve been learning a lot about so many things and feel like God is asking me to share what I’ve learned.  I wrote a book about our family’s experience of adoption last year.  It was difficult to write, but it helped me get it all out and down on paper.  I thought that was the way I would share what I’ve learned.  Turns out, publishers won’t talk to me about a memoir unless I’m as famous as Bill Clinton or Mother Theresa.  I’m just a mom in a sea of moms.

I am restructuring the book to be more about why ALL relationships can be hard.  I’ve learned people don’t really want to know about your little story.  They want to know how your story impacts them.  I know I have learned things that others might want to know, but it’s been a struggle trying to figure out how to get the message out.  I’m on the verge…

I’ve been on the verge many times in my life.  I remember when we were waiting for our first child.  We were on the verge of being parents for a long time.  Infertility, miscarriage, 1 adoption that never quite got going, and finally the birth and adoption of our son, Brendan finally made us parents!  I felt like I’d never be a mom, but it wasn’t true.

A friend of mine watched her last child graduate from high school a few years ago.  She loves her family and being a mom, but she was excited to have time for herself after the kids were through with school.  She told me, “every time I turn around, huge things happen that prevent me from being able to do what I want to do.  I see other people doing it, but it feels like if I don’t make an effort to do things I need to do, it won’t ever happen.”  Things with her kids consume her energy and she ends up frustrated.  She’s on the verge…

Here are some things I’ve learned living on the verge…

  1. Life, like music, needs both tension and release.  Sometimes I feel like I’m playing 2 keys right next to each other on the piano, over and over again.  It is great to have dissonance here and there, but the resolution sure feels great when it comes!
  2. Sometimes you need to push to get to resolution.  Like when I was 9 months pregnant with Katie, and thought I would be the only woman in the history of the world to NOT have her baby.  It only felt like that.  I did eventually have my daughter!  The verge does come to an end…or a beginning.
  3. Sometimes you need to settle in to the feeling of being on the verge… Sometimes there is nothing you can do, but wait, trust God, and learn to be OK without the resolution.  It will eventually come, but sometimes you have to just wait!
  4. Learn to live in the now and the not yet.  It’s hard to enjoy the present if you are consumed with the future.
  5. Most things worth doing don’t come right away.  Weight loss, changing eating habits, relationship changes, overcoming addictions, growth of any kind, or accomplishing something you’ve always wanted to do.

Living on the verge…

It can feel uncomfortable, but it can be the start of something wonderful.

This post is brought to you by Carrie O’Toole, Colorado Life Coach


Contact Carrie O’Toole to schedule a confidential telephone call or appointment for coaching.