This is the hardest column I've ever had to write. Two weeks ago today, my wife suffered a major stroke, leaving her without the use of her right arm or leg and unable to speak. She is now in rehab, taking baby steps in a marathon in which no one knows the ultimate length of the race. My family has been buoyed by prayers and wishes from people throughout the world—some we know and others we've never met—and by the innumerable acts of kindness from friends, neighbors, colleagues, and many others.

There are new challenges for me, as well. Some practical (she handled our kids' after-school schedules, for instance ... yikes!), some physical ("Take care of yourself," everyone tells me), some emotional. One constant challenge is to avoid thinking too far ahead, to resist the urge to believe my wife's condition today is how she'll be in a month, six months, a year, or forever.

So every day, and usually many times a day, I say quietly to myself: Today is not tomorrow.

Our current circumstance—no matter how grim or painful—is not a life sentence. It's not even a "day" sentence, unless we allow it to be. Each dawn announces an opportunity for new progress, for new moments, new strength.

I've heard from numerous people who've had strokes or from friends and relatives of stroke victims, and their stories have all been the same: Your wife can be restored. With time, patience, hard work, and a positive attitude, today will be a memory.

We've all suffered setbacks. On the job. In our relationships. Our bodies have let us down.

Setbacks do not discriminate. They happen to the nicest people. To the strongest guy in the gym. To the seemingly happiest couple. To you.

But they're only temporary. Bodies heal. Hearts mend. Careers turn around.

Though not by themselves. And not if you believe today will be tomorrow, if you let today prevent you from taking the steps—baby steps, if that's all you can take— toward a renewed tomorrow.

Rather than wallowing in your current unfortunate circumstances, set a short-term goal that moves you out of it, then devise a strategy for getting there. In the gym it may be as simple as following our workouts rather than those stale routines you've been using for years. It may be taking a class in something that has always interested you, something that will broaden your skill set. It may be following the doctor's orders.

Whatever the challenge, take steps toward a better tomorrow: A better job. A better relationship. A better workout. A better life.

I heard someone say today that a setback is just an opportunity for a comeback. Now that's a tomorrow to believe in.

Roy S. Johnson
Men's Fitness
Editor In Chief