Posts Tagged ‘physical fitness’

Rucking and New Bellevilles

I have had a crazy couple of terms at school therefore I felt it would be better to focus my energy on getting good grades rather than writing new posts on Armyocs. However, things have slowed down and though I am still taking classes through the summer I feel I am able to continue updating my progress. So, I apologize for those of you who have been following me…. sometimes life gets in the way and you have to prioritize!

I have to admit that I’ve stopped working out. Yikes. That’s probably the worst thing I could do especially knowing that my fitness is in a dismal state as of current. So, I invested $130 in new Belleville 790s to encourage myself to start working out again and get the move on with toughening my feet and breaking in some boots. I chose 790s because I live in a rainy city and I knew that the waterproof goretex bootie on the inside would definitly be worth the $30 extra. I’ve hiked in them twice… not very far though. They don’t rise as high up on my shins as I thought they would from seeing the picture, but that’s okay because they still fit really well and so far they don’t hurt my feet.

As far as rucking in my new Bellevilles is concerned, I’ll have to raise my fitness level before I can add any weight to my “walks.” I plan to do a one mile out/one mile back pattern for the next week, then pump it up to two miles out/two miles back and so on until I am comfortable enough with walking in my boots for five or six miles. I estimate that by this time next month I’ll be ready to add weight. I do not have any kind of rucking device but I’m planning on using a small backpack stuffed with towels that are wrapped around a weight. I have free weights at home so I can easily just wrap up a plate in towels and use that to add weight to simulate rucking. I know it may not be a good idea though, knowing that many people can and do hurt themselves doing this style of ghetto rucking. This is more for just getting a feel for hiking and walking with weight in order to know what actual rucking might feel like. My main concerns still rest with actual running as well as muscular strength and endurance.


Why I Want to Be an Army Officer

In an officer candidate’s application checklist there may be an item listed requiring an essay to be written on the topic of “Why I Want to Be an Army Officer.” This item varies by state and by recruiting station from what I’ve been able to find out. Some applicants must type a page on this subject and also include an exact handwritten copy in their application paperwork. Other applicants must type the one page essay, include it in their application packet and then handwrite a similar essay on the day and at the place of their board interview (for example, I read about an applicant who had to write their essay from memory an hour or so before they went in to their boards).

I do not know what the future holds for me regarding how my essays will  be handled. I can only hope that I write a great composition therefore I am going to seek out all the help I can get on this. I’ve taken numerous writing classes and writing has always been one of my stronger academic areas, however, I’m not going to wing it when it comes to my impression on the people who will be determining my future in the military. Without giving away my literary jewel that I call my essay, I would like to share my reasoning for why I want to be an Army officer.

Firstly, I have a deep sense of volunteerism ingrained in my character. I have volunteered throughout my entire life and I feel being in the military is the ultimate form of volunteerism. But, when a person reaches a certain point in their lives, volunteering 5 or 10 hours here and there doesn’t cut it anymore. I am wanting to make a greater contribution to my country, therefore being an Army officer is my ideal career. Working in the  private sector would eventually consume all of my time and energy and I probably wouldn’t make as big of contribution to my community through volunteering. This is not the future I want for myself because I know I am able to make a difference and contribute to a larger goal.

Next, I love America. I didn’t used to be so patriotic but I have realized that I have been born into and had the privilege of living in one of the greatest countries in the world. Majoring in International Studies has shown me how defunct the world can be, and of course the U.S. is not without its flaws, however, comparatively speaking America is a well oiled machine (ha ha ha… there’s a little pun in there). We have healthcare, schools, relative wealth, functional business, industry, a bounty of fresh water and readily available food. This is a great country and from a cultural standpoint I am thoroughly American. I am independent. I am competitive. I believe people have the right to a peaceful assembly. I believe people have the right to follow any faith they choose. I like my culture. I like going to a restaurant and getting my food quickly, having the check automatically arrive, and being able to swipe my debit card to pay. I believe I’d make an excellent officer because I love America and I am a true American.

Lastly, it is actually a pretty cool gig. Think about it; you get a four-year degree and if you have federal student loans, the Army will help you to pay off that debt. In the Student Loan Repayment Program, all of my federal loans should be taken care of. Then, they give you all of the training you need on top of already having a degree. They teach you how to be a leader although a lot of your personal characteristics are sure to help you in leadership roles. They require you to be fit and pay you to maintain good health. You wouldn’t get those incentives in the private sector. They teach you how to shoot and gun and use weapons–including using your own body as a weapon–which is training you wouldn’t get in a private sector job. In fact, liking guns and weapons may scare your private sector co-workers whereas in the military you are just a normal person. The Army will pay for housing and healthcare, on top of training you how to do a job that can be quite lucrative if you ever decide to leave the Army. You can live in numerous stateside and worldwide locations if you are in the Army, whereas if you were in the private sector you’d be chained to one city until you decide to quit your job to move somewhere new. 

Obviously, I’m not blind to why the Army gives all of these seemingly good deals out to Army personnel. I know it’s because they want their Army to be the best and most prepared Army possible. They want to ensure Army personnel  is working in peak condition because we may be called on to fight for our country. And ultimately, that is what being an Army officer is about; leading in the defense of our country, organizing the flow of people and materials, and making hard decisions that others are unwilling or unable to make.

Fears and Choices: Is it worth the risk?

My last post dealt with working out and getting fit for the military and I think it’s only natural to share my fears about the process of joining and making it through Officer Candidate School. It’s only natural, because one of my fears is that I will physically fail. I will somehow not meet the standards; I’ll not be able to do enough push-ups or sit-ups in the allotted time or I won’t be able to run a fast enough pace. This worry is what keeps me working hard and physically pushing myself. If I decide I shouldn’t worry about this then I’ll get complacent and then I’m really setting myself up for disaster. So, on this fear, I think it’s better to worry about it because it makes me keep hitting the gym and doing all I can to be in good physical shape.

Of course, there are many other fears that run through my mind as I think about joining the Army. I think first and foremost that there is a huge fear of death. It’s only natural, I think, to fear death and in the case of being in the military, if I do die serving my country, it will probably be in war or in some sort of conflict. It’s a scary thing to think about; being shot to death, being exploded, dying from injuries sustained in battle (chemical warfare or just plain ol’ bullets will do the trick), dying in a POW camp or being kidnapped and murdered. It is something that everyone must think of and consider when joining the military. One is making the ultimate sacrifice of one’s own life for the better of their country.

But I think that some deaths are in vain. The soldiers that died at the hands of their own (at Fort Hood or from dying from friendly fire in combat) probably didn’t think that was how it was going to go down. Is that the ultimate sacrifice? Dying by someone who later says, “oops, we shot that guy.” It makes me afraid of my own (well, soon-to-be-my-own) knowing that people who have committed crimes can be given a waiver and then promptly given a gun. Someone I know said that soldiers “are trained to be killing machines.” Do I trust the 18-year-old killing machine with a GED and a history of drug and alcohol related crimes? No.

And I am also afraid of my soon-to-be-own in light of the allegations that there is a culture of sexual abuse in the military (click here, and here for two takes on the same story). I hurt for those women who claim they were victims of sexual crimes at the hands of their own. If these stories are indeed true, I must consider doing all of this work and having all of these worries, only to have it taken away by a fellow soldier. There is no doubt that I would leave the military if I was raped by a fellow officer. But in true officer fashion I wouldn’t just leave. I’d fight back and lead the way against prosecuting my attackers.

Other major fears include not getting in to OCS, getting hurt and being recycled, getting hurt and getting sent to Advanced Individual Training (enlisted), or making it all the way through everything, uprooting my family, moving across the country and then hating my job. Volunteerism runs deep in my blood but ultimately if I don’t feel like I’m doing a good thing and contributing to something bigger than myself or if I find a corrupt, abusive military establishment I fear that I would have to leave. After all my fears and hard work I would ultimately have to leave.

The fact that I’m considering these things is good. It reminds me that there are risks and rewards no matter if I work in the private sector or the public sector. Yes, these fears are very grim, but it’s important to be realistic about what I’m getting into. I feel powerful in contemplating my future. I feel powerful in knowing myself. Above all I feel powerful knowing that I can make the choice. And ultimately it’s my choice.

Working Hard Working Out

To be honest, I’m not in good physical condition. I’m not a total slob and I’m not noticeably overweight, but I can tell that I am out of shape and that I need to overcome many fitness obstacles to physically qualify for OCS. I am ashamed of this and I can only blame myself for getting out of shape. I am sharing this with you because I know there are people out there in my position. I want to be truthful about what type of physical condition I am starting in so that I can document the improvements that I hope to be making. I was a cheerleader in high school and I maintained a good physique after high school while eating and drinking whatever I wanted. But, life has caught up and I am in that period where I can no longer eat whatever I want, and if I want to stay in shape I actually must work at it! So pair these changes with being a full time student and (BOOM!) I am out of shape. I have worked out periodically during my time in college but it never has lasted long term. So, now I’m looking to make some lifestyle changes because working out and staying in shape will be a requirement of my job in the future, which is part of the reason why I like the idea of being a soldier; I will be paid and expected to stay in shape!

So here is the truth of my physical fitness as of Feb. 13, 2011:

     Push-ups: 10 on my knees to muscle failure (2 minute test TBA)

     Sit-ups: 50 in one minute to muscle failure (2 minute test TBA)

     2 mile run: oh my god! I can’t even run a mile right now! Mile time: 13:41. That’s running on a treadmill at 5.5 mph for a half-mile and then walking the rest as fast as I could.

Ouch! It’s hard to write and it’s hard to read. But I have been doing the right things to advance my fitness base. I have a locker at my college gym which is quite a nice feature because I don’t have to pack a big bag full of workout clothes to school everyday. I bought a new pair of running shoes and some new workout clothes. I am trying to go to the gym three days a week but to be honest I’m not a gym person. And, there is a huge problem at my school’s gym: girls (and guys!) go to the gym to workout together, but they all just want to chit-chat or text on their phones and they are the biggest burden in the world! I watched a girl on the lat-pulldown machine just sitting there texting while I waited and waited and waited for her to get off! How rude! I even asked her if she was resting and she said yes! How could that be?! She wasn’t sweating. She wasn’t breathing hard. She was just using the lat-pulldown machine like a fricken park bench.

I know, I know. If I want to get a serious workout I should join Crossfit. Crossfit is something I’m considering, however, I am a student and I don’t have any money. So, I may join Crossfit in the future when I’ll really benefit from that kind of mentality and functional-type workout, and also when I am fit enough to keep up. So, for now, I’ll endure the stupid college gym if it means that it will get me closer to my goals. Thinking about being a PT stud at basic and OCS keeps me going during my workouts, knowing that if I push myself now it will be easier for me in the future.