I Almost Let My Recliner Kill Me
by Tim O'Connell
As I write this I'm sitting in my recliner. We have two overstuffed, over-large recliners in our living room. Coffee colored. I'm a bit of a slob when it comes to my morning coffee. Although they've both been super Scotch-Guarded, I'm a realist. I spill coffee. I spill Pepsi. I spill. When we went to the Gonzo Huge Furniture Warehouse back in Omaha, we told the salesman, "Give us chairs with enough room for one of us, plus a cat." Back when we bought them, we just had two cats. Maximum Dawg wasn't a part of the family yet.
During the winter months here, the winds blow up to about 40 miles an hour. With the various rain and snow and not to mention the constant dust that blows off the plains, going outside isn't conducive to someone who enjoys their flesh remaining on their body. My fitness routine of walking Max completely fell apart. We don’t stroll, we don't leisurely stride. We walk fast. I work up a good sweat, he works up a good pant.
I'm not going to tell you that I couldn't have gone to the gym. I'm not going to make excuses. After a bit of inactivity, the aches and pains that my body goes through when I'm not working it settled in. The arthritis that the Air Force says I don't have, made camp in my lower back along with a re-awakening of sciatica. A round of plantar's fasciata worked itself into my right foot and that took a good massage therapist to work out. Add some funky blood pressure meds that cause me to get tunnel vision when I try to go aerobic…I let myself get pretty jacked up. Let me make this clear, my fault, no one else's. I'm not a kid anymore. I don't recover from inactivity like I used to. I know it. I can't get away with sitting on my ass for a week, much less a month or two.
So what's that have to do with my recliner? I let my butt get glued to my recliner. I woke up, I'd let Max out and then lock him back into the room with my wife. The remaining cat (no, the other cat didn't get eaten by Max, it lost it's mind and tried to take a chunk out of my wife. We didn't put it down, we took it to the pound where she was adopted out.)…the remaining cat, pops out of the basement for her kibble. I grab my coffee, fire up my laptop and read the news and a couple of daily read blogs. The cat comes over and makes herself comfortable and we hang out until it's time for my shower and suit up time.
At work, I mostly sit in front of a computer all day. Writing reports. Answering questions from higher up via email. I talk to troops there. I figure out budgets there. Mostly all from my butt.
When I got home from work, I lost the uniform and again, planted my butt into the recliner. Sometimes with the laptop, sometimes not. I might have gotten up to get dinner. I may have got up to let Max up a couple more times. Otherwise, I was back in the chair from when I got home from work, to when I went to bed.
Now, maybe I'd stretch a little in the morning or a tad before I went to bed at night, but mostly, I just let my back get all out of alignment, I let my core muscles almost completely atrophy, I could barely walk from the parking lot and up the stairs without getting almost asthmatic.
I go through this every couple of years or so. I get lazy. I get tired of doing the things I need to do to keep this thing I travel around in moving well. I did some damage to my body when I was a kid. I didn't do football or baseball and in my day, we barely knew what soccer was. I was into martial arts and was a Frisbee freak. Ultimate, guts, freestyle. I was one of those guys that made the Physics Teacher talk to himself when me and the guys got rolling out on the blacktop of the parking lot. As I got older, I got into some beer soaked brawls. My right shoulder blade feels like it's got glass in it in the winter time from when some frat brat hit on one of the girls in the show I was in and wouldn't take no for an answer. I stepped in between her and a 6'4" freak of nature and got thrown into a wall for my trouble. To be fair, I did break his nose…on purpose, he had reason. I had a bad habit of wearing shining armor for people that didn't need saving. Still do on occasion. I blame the Anglo side of the family. Add to that I kept doing martial arts long after the doctors told me to quit because of my knees and the fact that I have feet that never should have gone into combat boots in the first place... I'm not a guy that can afford to quit doing stuff to keep my body moving.
So, once again I'm back to square one. Over the past few weeks I've been going back to doing Chi Kung and Tai Chi after I've let Max out and fed the cat, and also before I go to sleep at night. I went out and actually bought walking shoes vs running shoes. I can't tell you the stress that's taken off my knees and back. I'm never going to run again unless someone's chasing me, it's time to accept that. I've gotten a couple of good 1-2 mile walks in. I'm religiously loosening up before I walk. Once I get some endurance going I'll dust off the free weights and start on my old light weight, high rep routine. It's the only time I allow techno to enter my ears.
Now the only thing I have to watch out for is the old trap. Hey, I'm feeling better, I don't have to work out today. Okay, I'm a little stiff, but all in all, no big deal. Damn, I'm too sore to move much less work out.
My recliner? I won't be getting rid of it. I just won't be living in it any more.