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updated: 3/26/2012 7:44 AM

Fitness 'marathon' has a few bumps along the way

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In a move that caused my jaw to drop, my trainer, George Gersch, told me to go ahead and eat a piece of bread this week. And then he capped it off by telling me to add butter, to boot.

Mind you, I haven't had any bread -- or anything made from flour for that matter -- for months and if I dared to suggest it, George quickly vanquished it. You see, the discussion only came up at all this week again because I was in the dumps and I mentioned I was really, really craving a warm, crusty, loaf of bread. Somehow it seemed that would help.

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After months of determined progress, I finally hit a proverbial wall. The voices in my head, I know them as discouragement, criticism and defeat, were all arguing loudly and simultaneously: "I'm not doing well because of my injury, I'm letting everyone down, all the contestants are showing huge loss while I'm just slowly chugging along on a sliding scale of progress despite all the changes made."

You hear about the experience of "the wall" from marathon runners where toward the end of the race their body wants to quit and their minds must overcome the physical resistance to continue forward. I guess I never figured I'd face the problem given I'm still walking at a snail's pace and with a limp, courtesy of my knee brace.

My problem this week is the marathon anti-wall: My body is willing, but my mind is weak. I've got to think this phenomenon is not unique.

My downward slide started at a visit to the orthopedic doctor last Friday for a one-month checkup on my torn knee ligament. Early on he'd predicted I'd be nearly right as rain around a month after the injury. We're at five weeks now and improvement has halted. He concurred, ordered me back into the brace 24/7 for another few weeks and shipped me off to twice-weekly physical therapy.

The news hit me like a sledgehammer even though I knew I was still in pain. I just so wanted to be back on the treadmill and making double-digit weight-loss progress like all my "loser" friends. So the news hit me like a Three Mile Island-style mental chain reaction that's still in full cascade.

George always has a rebuttal for me that is logical when I hop aboard the negativity train, but those pesky voices were really singing in unison this week. By the time I left the gym, I'd forgotten his remarks. So here's what I've decided to do in response: jot them down, then stick them up on my office wall to fight back against my mental chorus.

The list:

• I'm in a marathon, not a sprint. Even if I hit a hurdle along the way, the length of the race remains the same. Tackle the hurdle and keep on moving.

• Regardless of what the scale shows, I'm different. The bulk of my wardrobe is now too large. I'm not the same size -- or shape -- that I was in January. That's a fact.

• I didn't quit when a significant injury presented itself, I continued working out four times a week, albeit in a different way. Many would cite it as an excuse to not work out and stay home. Why quit now?

• I'm significantly healthier. Based on my history, I should have had at least 30 migraines since January. I've had four. While a 26-pound loss would be nice, too, "losing" 26 migraines is a big deal!

• I will never look at food the same. I know the importance of carbs, fats, proteins, organic and cooking from scratch. I've even learned to cook.

Now, you're probably wondering about George and that bread allowance. He followed up his permission with a request: Take note of how you feel afterward and come back and tell me about it. So I thought about that. Did I really want the bread itself or was I just looking for the comfort in something familiar because I felt crappy. You should know what happened by now. The bread lost its appeal. Perhaps George knew that was the choice I'd come to all along, if he just gave me permission and time to sort it out on my own.

Catherine Edman is the cooperative advertising manager for the Daily Herald. She spent 19 years as a reporter at the paper, frequenting many drive-through windows on the way to cover night meetings, before joining the advertising staff in 2009.

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