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OK, so years ago I was blown up by an RPG, sustained some blunt force trauma injuries and a TBI. As a result, I’ve had a medical issue or two. When I returned to the ‘States, it was nothing but one hospital visit after the next. Eventually I was medically retired, and the Army and I parted ways. A lingering aftereffect of that period was that I had become sedentary, unsure of what I could safely do in the manner of exercise. Also, after so much bad food overseas, delicious ‘Stateside food (Taco Bell, I’m looking at you) became a real crutch. I was eating like a horse with little exercise.

You see where this is going, right?

I packed on the pounds and lost all my conditioning. After a lifetime of heavy physical activity, I turned into a couch potato. It was pretty bad. My doctors at the VA saw what was going on and threatened to put me on statins for high cholesterol.

It was as if someone dragged a needle across a record. No way was I going to take more pills if a change in lifestyle would reduce my pants size and my cholesterol count.

About a year ago, I started running again, then I ran into issues with a trick knee. I had injured it on a winter ruck march in 2006, it plays up from time to time. Well, high impact wasn’t going to work out in the long term; I really don’t want a knee operation or a joint replacement.

So I looked at my options and evaluated my lifestyle.

First, it was time to lay off on the delicious fatty foods. So I did that. Not only better for the waistline, it helps the wallet, too. Second, I grabbed every chance I could get to walk. Set up a new rule. If I have business in my hometown, I walk. Trips to the post office, the bank, the car garage, everywhere. Finally, I experimented with an activity that I enjoyed from the service, ruck marching.

Strangely enough, I always enjoyed walking with a pack. Most people hate it, but I never did. Mile after mile with “the big green tick,” or the ALICE pack. Some of my fondest memories of the service were doing those long walks. I think the furthest I ever walked in one go was some twenty odd miles, I was carrying the 240B that day. I remember when my feet lost their callouses- I had an appointment at the hospital, they were checking me out for something. A nurse glanced at my feet and said “Wow, you’ve done a lot of walking.” It was true, the hard skin was peeling off my feet six months after I left Afghanistan.

So sometimes I put on an ALICE pack and walk a few miles in the park by the house. I’m mindful of the nerve damage to my neck and shoulder, so I don’t load very heavy, maybe 30 pounds. It’s enough to work up a sweat and remind my body that it’s not time to quit.

And it feels good when I’m done. I always had the idea that you need to push yourself to the limit when exercising, and that’s fine for a young soldier. However, I had to adjust my perspective after I was hurt, and that took some time. I think that I’ve got a pretty good plan now, and it seems to be working. Next month I go in for another check-up, and I’ll be curious to see where my cholesterol is at.

Hopefully my numbers are down.

Re: writing. At the moment I’m in a bit of a tactical pause. Catching up with my reading, some of which is in preparation for a pretty cool classified project slated for this winter. Also, there’s a new book out that shows much promise, “Blood of Heirs” by Alicia Wanstall-Burke. I bought a copy and I’ll read it soon. Give it a look, y’all.

JL

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