Staying fit or playing sports well are constantly frustrating me…because I make some muscles or play my best tennis and then…I take a trip or become too busy with work and family and then…the muscles dissolve and I can’t hit the ball as well and win points. It’s a constant struggle. It drives me nuts.

I was playing my best tennis…then I went to London to visit my daughter studying there. I started going to the gym again…then I went to Boston to see a friend graduate from school.

All that effort that produces fabulous results that will disappear with the next trip or high-priority interruption. At least I love playing the sports, so that’s not a waste. But it IS maddening to have to start over again…maybe not from the beginning or zero, but somewhere back to where I was before. And all that working out that is such a strain, that is so difficult for me, and that feels so powerful and creates those beautiful cuts—they will once again go away with the pressures of daily life. Drives me crazy!…stay calm, Ira, stay calm. This is how life works: two steps forward, one and a half steps back.

In the gym I saw those young bucks with well-built bodies. They were always there, they told me they came four or five days a week. Most were single, some had girl friends. But when you have children, forget it. No way to keep coming, to find the time to make that trip to the machines. And how do you fit in the fitness routine when you are working during the day? I find it damned impossible to keep at it.

I do know a couple of guys who pack it in somehow. One wakes up at five and is pumping iron or pedaling by six. Another is a doctor who rows in a lake every morning at sunrise before seeing patients…until there is no lake, just ice. I could never rise that early—I go to sleep at between 12 and 1 each night. And I clearly lack the discipline to do that. Although I can easily make myself eat healthfully and do work chores. How do they do that? What gene or magic potion do they possess that I clearly lack?

So it goes in spurts, and I keep attacking the gaps. I want to not feel so overwhelmed that I can’t make it to the tennis court or the gym. But it is hard, hard, hard. For you too?