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My way, over and over again - Martha Carr

OK, month one of getting into shape with fitness guru, Brad King, is behind me and I actually stuck with the program. As a result, there's a little less of me to go around, particularly in the middle. It made it easier that the new gym in my neighborhood in Chicago, Ravenswood Fitness Center, finally opened.

It lowered the resistance bar a bit to be able to walk two blocks, get on a machine and just do it.

Of course, I introduced myself to everyone working behind the counter. It's one of the by-products of working alone in front of a computer. I constantly need to recreate the office water cooler, where I can hang for a few minutes during the day before getting back to work.

As a result, I've set up a short-term contest with Chris, who works behind the desk, and taken the challenge to sign up for a 5k race in June. I'd like to be one of those people who can be motivated by just doing the right thing and get in shape, but I'm a kindergartner at heart and I have to go with my strengths. To keep me motivated in this initial phase, Chris is giving me Crystal Lite samples for every gym visit. It's the grownup version of a gold star and frankly, whatever works.

Brad King and his people are collecting the home videos I've been recording and we'll be unveiling them sometime soon. I suppose there are some who would like to be sure I'll keep going before we get everyone interested in watching.

That means I'll actually be a smaller size than what's playing on the web, which should motivate me to keep going.

The past month hasn't been an easy one either. The web site for "Live Your Big Adventure," which so many put a lot of time and energy into, was an impressive flop with so many technical glitches. That was a tough one to walk away from, especially since the newsletter was a big hit. I've been e-mailing a free download of the book to all comers as a way to see something good come from all of that.

There have been a lot of times in the past four weeks where going to the gym was the best part of my day because it was the only thing I had any control over and I knew there'd be someone friendly waiting behind the desk.

Once the ball started rolling, I noticed where it's possible to make other changes as well.

I've often chosen, in the past, to ask for a lot of advice and then do things my way, anyway, while ignoring a few realities, mostly about time and money. I've ignored the pleas, until now, from my agent to stick to one genre so that an audience can be built over time.

I was going with whatever happened to come up, rather than sticking to a path. The first one had short-term payoffs, the other had bigger, long-term payoffs. I'm still glad I have three books, but a bigger audience who looks forward to my next book and buys it, rather than three small audiences who don't realize there are other books, would probably be better.

So, I've made another change. I made myself a promise to stick to my agent, Rachelle Gardner's advice this time, no matter what. Frankly, in the past, my favorite response toward any kind of action whether it was to lose weight or write a book has been, what does all of this mean? I didn't always say it, but my questions and actions reflected my intention. I didn't trust in much of anything and instead, did the same thing over and over again, hoping this time I'd hit it big.

Yes, that's the definition of insanity. However, occasionally I'm capable of taking my own advice or in this case, someone else's. To that end, I'm coming up with a new idea for a novel in women's fiction, the same category as my other novel, "The Sitting Sisters," and I've started a blog, http://marthacarr.blogspot.com/, because my agent told me to do it. Not too many questions asked, and I get the chance to write about change from a more personal perspective.

It's scary to stop trying to hedge my chances at a successful outcome, but I'm determined to learn how to trust and stop being a one-woman show. More adventures to follow.

Martha's column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons, Inc., newspaper syndicate. E-mail Martha at Martha@caglecartoons.com.