It was just three months ago that I woke up to the New Year's challenge and vowed to get my mojo back at the gym.

Driven by a vision of a svelte body, Michelle Obama arms and the Ruth Bader Ginsburg workout book, I promised to hit it hard at the gym at least five days a week.

I armed myself with motivational quotes:

"Today I will do what others won't, so tomorrow I can accomplish what others can't." -- Jerry Rice

"Set your goals high, and don't stop until you get there." -- Bo Jackson

And my longtime personal favorite, hanging on my office wall: "Life begins at the end of your comfort zone." -- Neale Donald Walsch.

Thanks to all this inspiration, I did get to the gym at least five days a week. It was there I learned that the best way to bypass the gym is, well, to go to the gym -- and push your comfort zone.

Instead of life beginning there, I found a torn meniscus, followed by a cortisone shot, several weeks of healing and a whole new exercise routine with a physical therapist we'll call Chip.

If exercise were Monopoly, I'd have gone directly from landing on a square called "gym" to being sidelined in a corner suite called "physical therapy," where it takes more than a lucky role of the dice to get out.

PT jail has all the equipment but none of the upbeat athletic vibe of the gym. It is populated by orthopedic boots and walkers and punctuated by the occasional groan.

"Maybe you overdid it," concluded Chip, followed by the dreaded "for your age."

We were not off to a helpful start, but I decided to forgive him because he was on the eve of a landmark birthday and feeling particularly decrepit.

"After we hit 30, we lose muscle mass every decade," he moaned. "You need to build it up here to avoid these injuries. You want to save your joints."

I agree with all that. But I have to admit I didn't hop right on the positive, joint-saving track.

Instead, being an expert catastrophizer, I was quick to calculate the number of decades I'd been in decline and the percentage of muscle mass that already had disappeared.

I pictured every single joint surrounded by muscles either the consistency of jelly or brittle rubber bands purchased sometime before Y2K.

I took every twinge as a sign of a cartilage somewhere starting to slip.

"Yikes!" I said, which is exactly the reaction he wanted. I couldn't have been more eager to work my way out of PT jail as he began producing colored bands to pull here and there and printed instruction sheets that -- followed diligently every day for three or four months -- would get my regular gym mojo back. It is a slow, boring haul.

And that's why I'm in the market for some new motivational quotes -- something geared toward being in it for the long haul rather than always pushing to the max.

Right now, I'm partial to Michael Jordan: "I've missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I've been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed."

Thus far, I'm succeeding with his success plan.

Balancing Act author Pat Snyder is a northwest Columbus resident and life-balance speaker and coach. Find her at PatSnyderOnline.com.