I’ve always been a sloucher.

From my teenage years, people who had my best interest in mind would say, “Stand up straight. Don’t slouch.” I never did. It wasn’t rebellion. It was just laziness. Apathy. At times my slouching was an accurate representation of my constant mood. Slouched, low energy.

Plenty of times I’ve seen what happens to people who slouch. They can’t stand up straight. They have permanently curved spines and their heads protrude forward on their necks, jutting out in front, always looking down.

Lately, I’ve started getting chronically sore upper back and neck. I can tell. That permanent slouch is starting to ossify.

So, I’m paying more attention to my posture. It’s not quite too late. But soon it will be.

It’s taking a concentrated effort to remember after all these years. “Stand up straight,” I tell myself. And I do. And I feel the vertebrae cracking as I pull my head back up and straighten out my spine. Muscles in my back I haven’t used in years are tired by the middle of the day. I’m hoping that as I start to exercise them more, they’ll get used to being used again and stop hurting so much. Until that happens, an afternoon Aleve helps.

Breaking the habit of looking at my feet when I’m walking is more difficult than you’d think, too. I constantly have to tell myself, “Look up.”

So, if you see me slouching, you have my permission to remind me: “Stand up straight.”

And, if you’re a sloucher, take it from me. It’s easier to fix earlier than later.