Franklin Connection - Serving Franklin County, WA

Mental strength before anything else


Last updated 12/29/2022 at 1:02pm

A strong mind and body are crucial to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. I learned that while recently completing basic training for the U.S. Army at Fort Sill, Okla.

I was never a stranger to the gym. In fact, I spent every morning working out at FIT gym in downtown Colfax prior to leaving for the military.

As a regular there, I always focused on strength training and cardio. Afterward, I would get my morning cappuccino and find myself at my desk in the bullpen at The Whitman County Gazette.

I never stopped to exercise my mind and mental fortitude.

Basic training, however, has a funny way of humbling people. I can swallow my pride and admit that I struggled at times during my time there.

From our very first smoke session — that’s mass punishment — to our final 10-mile ruck, there were many times when I knew I could physically push myself but wanted to quit because it was easier.

Many people did fail or quit because of the toxic mentality they had going into the event.

There lies the issue — it’s the mentality.

I find myself sounding more and more like my drill sergeants back at Alpha 1-40th. When you’re a teenager, your mind is filled with so many thoughts, and often, a lot of self-doubts.

I know she probably doesn’t feel entirely confident and often times she says she “can’t do it.”

At the start of basic training, I was still filled with those doubts. However, there was one drill sergeant that would follow the sentence with the word “yet.”

I was told to repeat the entire sentence with the added word.

“I can’t do it, yet,” I would say.

That changed my perspective. I would think back to my civilian life while on the treadmill and how I would hop off the moment I was too exhausted to continue.

By the time we hit the halfway point in training, I added “I can give it my all.” I was able to go farther and push myself harder than I ever had before.

That determination and disciplined mindset to keep going helped me succeed. I was never the girl that ran the fastest or lifted the most weights. By the end of basic training, I dropped close to 20 pounds, gained muscle, could run a two-mile in 20 minutes and maxed my physical testing score for weightlifting by deadlifting over 220 lbs.

I perform better physically and mentally by building that confidence in myself.

Just because I can’t perform as strongly right now, doesn’t mean I won’t be able to in the future. I know when I return to FIT gym this spring and find myself at my cozy desk again, I won’t be the same girl that gets off the treadmill when I get tired.

— Olivia Harnack is currently in U.S. Army advanced training at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., and a reporter with Free Press Publishing. To reach her, email [email protected].


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