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posted: 4/16/2012 6:15 AM

Seeing progress gives her a real boost

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I've always viewed success as black and white: did I hit a deadline, tackle a goal, conquer a fear -- or not? Anything short of complete success was total failure.

This process of getting healthy, though, is teaching me about shades of gray.

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I'm pretty sure my trainer, George Gersch, has sought to impart this lesson to me since he met me in January. I've just been a little slow on the uptake.

The first wave of realization hit this week when, after doing my monthly measurements and stats, George told me I'd lost 4 inches and 11 pounds. What?! I assumed he meant since January, but when he clarified --"just in the past five weeks" -- I was stunned. I've got only two good limbs at the moment. I haven't been able to do any real cardio like the treadmill, bike or stairs. And much of my workout is done sitting or lying down thanks to my torn knee ligament.

Guess what happened when I was obsessing about my ongoing perceived weight-loss failure? Progress! Who knew?

As I've dutifully slogged along, pushing myself to work out four times weekly despite my physical setbacks, changing my diet and logging everything I eat, I've also lamented to George about being discouraged because I wasn't seeing the sort of change I expected. My almost once-daily migraines have all but disappeared, and I've needed to buy new, smaller clothes. Yet I was most upset about feeling I let everyone else down who had faith in me because the scale didn't offer up the measurable results I expected.

I saw the Fittest Loser contestants dropping pounds significantly, while my progress was slow and steady.

"Don't worry, it will happen," George would say, reminding me that I'm not competing, just working on getting healthy. And I would do another set of repetitions of whatever it was he asked -- simultaneously doubting and trusting him.

When I ponder the myriad excuses I've supplied over the years for not exercising I'm more than just a little embarrassed. "I don't have the time. I can't, I'm too busy. I don't feel well. I can't, I have (insert ailment here)."

Yet now, I'm busier than I've ever been at work, I've got the worst physical injury I've had in years, and I've added twice-weekly physical therapy appointments and four workouts to my schedule. Somehow, despite all the hurdles, I'm fitting "health" into my life.

Apparently, I've been changing all along, but the results I got this week were what I needed to see that progress is happening, even when it's not in the way I would deem as "success."

• 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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