Throughout my life I have always struggled with my weight + body image. When I was younger, my father enrolled me in gymnastics to help me stay active. Looking back on my gymnastics journey, I realize that this was my first ever *find your fit* experience. I loved gymnastics + it was more than just a passion of mine — it was my entire life. Although I trained four different events [vault, bars, beam, floor] + spent many hours on flexibility + strength training, I was still always *bigger* than other gymnasts. I remember my belly pushing through my leotard and my thighs rubbing against each other when we would train sprints for vault. As I got older, my insecurities rose. Girls were *supposed to be skinny,* ++ I was not. I was healthy//fit, but I didn’t have the body structure of the other gymnasts. I started to wear shorts with my leos to cover my legs + I would always try to *suck it in* wherever I went.
During my preteen to teenage years I had a coach who would compare me to every single one of my teammates, and instead of mentoring me, this coach would belittle my abilities with mean comments. My confidence dropped drastically. Looking back at this experience, I realized that I was verbally abused but I never said anything because I was scared + believed him. I soon quit. I let these comments control + consume my life, ++ I gave up on myself. I started to pay less attention to what I consumed + began to workout less, causing me to gain weight. I was nervous coming to college because of my body image, trying to eat healthy, + go to the gym. I ended up gaining more than the Freshman 15, but that’s when my CHAARG Journey began.
Before joining, I followed CHAARG on Instagram for a year. I remember telling myself, *Look at these women. They are strong, happy, healthy, inspiring.* I remember wishing that I could be strong + courageous like them. I was afraid to join because of my insecurities + thinking that I’d probably be three steps behind everyone else. I felt that girls would judge me + look at me differently because of my weight. I was afraid of negative comments or remarks. I still remember the moment when Jessica Ingalls, Purdue CHAARG’s previous secretary, shared with me how CHAARG changed her life. She encouraged me to join and my first reaction was *Ha, yeah, no.* I never believed that I was good enough or strong enough to join CHAARG.
The summer of 2015 I knew that I needed a lifestyle change. I was sick and tired of living an unhealthy + unhappy life and decided that enough was enough. I made an appointment with a nutritionist + we went over everything. Long story short, I was at risk for diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, ++ more. But the absolute worst was hearing that with my height, gender, age, + weight, I was classified as obese. This word hurts + brings tears to my eyes every time I think about it. In that moment, I hated my body + hated myself. As I left the nutritionist, I knew that my moment was now or never.
I contacted Jess one last time, still fearful of joining, but she reminded me that everyone #inCHAARG has a different fitness journey ++ that we are all here to encourage + help each other along the way. So, I finally joined. I was inspired by the girls in CHAARG ++ the amount of positivity that everyone radiates. I wanted to lose weight + become a happier//healthier version of myself so, rather than going on this journey alone, I decided to go on it with an amazing group of girls who inspire + motivate me every day. CHAARG has now helped me lose around thirty pounds on my weight loss journey + I am no longer at risk for any of these diseases or complications that I listed earlier. To this day, I can honestly that joining CHAARG was the best decision that I’ve made during college experience.
I am #inCHAARG because I am worth it. I am worth more than the numbers on the scale + the negative comments thrown my way. I wanted to be part of a community that I can call my family — a place where it is acceptable to stumble + fall, ++ a place where I have the support to brush it off + get right back up to continue on my journey. CHAARG has changed my life in so many ways. Before I joined, I was lost with no self-identity + zero confidence. This girl that y’all know — the extroverted, happy, lively girl that is typing this right now — did not exist a couple years ago. It took me a long time to love myself + acknowledge my self-worth, ++ I owe it all to CHAARG.
I want women everywhere to know is that we are all enough. There will be times when we will fall, but it’s okay. Life isn’t perfect. There will be days where things are harder to manage + overcome. We will make mistakes. We are only human. The important thing is that when we fall, we pick ourselves back up. Why? Because we are worth it.
My favorite quote is from Maya Angelou — *Nothing can dim the light that shines from within.* This quote reminds me that we can accomplish anything that we set our minds to. Never settle for less. We can + will conquer our struggles ++ achieve our goals.