Before Changing Others’ Lives, She Had to Fix Her Own

Nix that negative thinking, advises this successful coach

It was time to reinvent myself.

The year was 2000. I had lost 72 pounds and was itching to escape my cubicle at the law firm where I worked as a paralegal. When I didn’t regain the weight right away, people started asking for my help.

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After studying for and receiving certifications in personal training and nutrition counseling, I began to develop a client base. It was exciting — but I noticed a few things after trying to help folks in the old traditional “telling ’em what to do” way:

1.) Don’t be your own spoiler.  
People were undoing all of their good work by negative thinking. They’d have a great beginning — then falter mightily through a binge or injury. Their ideas about themselves caught up in one way or another. I needed a way to unlock those deeper negative beliefs and change them. I needed a way inside their heads.

As I pondered this dilemma, a friend sent me a book by a coaching pioneer, Cheryl Richardson. I looked her up online and discovered she was teaching a class in two weeks, in Chicago, just two hours away from me.

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You know how some things just line up perfectly? Call it serendipity, fate, or luck, but I fell in love with coaching. It was positive and open-ended. It was about helping people find their own unique answers, based on their own truths.

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2.) Resolve to better know yourself.
In those days, I thought emotions just washed over me from an unknown place, and I couldn’t do anything about them. I used to wake up every day and hope it was a good day. Soon, “hoping” felt wimpy. I realized that I created the emotions I felt — and was responsible for them.

I learned I was always making a choice, even when I chose not to act.

I learned I was always making a choice, even when I chose not to act. As soon as I stopped blaming other people or situations for my failures, I felt powerful.

If I didn’t begin to design my own thinking in a positive way, I learned I was going to regain the weight I had lost — which was now nearing the 100-pound mark. Since 99 percent of all people who lose substantial amounts of weight regain it, I decided I was going to be the 1 percent — and discovered how to make myself happy and motivated every single day.

I learned my life didn’t have to look like anyone else’s.

3.) Know that change is fun.
I tell every client this. Change lights you up. It gives you energy. It creates curiosity. It’s an adventure.

There is nothing like growth. It’s the very essence of life.

Pat Barone, MCC, is a professional credentialed coach and author of the Own Every Bite! bodycentric re-education program for mindful and intuitive eating. She helps clients heal food addictions. 

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