Find where you belong. Find the people who push you to be the best version of yourself. Find where you’re meant to go and who you’re meant to be. But above all, realize these destinations may not be the ones you had planned.
Leaving for college, I knew my future wasn’t going to be neatly mapped out or executed perfectly according to plan. I was initially terrified, but I now understand the remarkability of that uncertainty. I wanted to leave my future unplanned. I wanted new experiences–happenings that would push me beyond the limits of my comfort zone.
And then, I found CHAARG.
CHAARG, Changing Health Attitudes and Actions to Recreate Girls, is a student organization that was founded at Ohio State in 2012 by Elisabeth Tavierene. The fundamental principle of the organization was to encourage young women to “find their fit” and ignite a passion in them to lead a healthy lifestyle.
I became involved with the organization in the fall of my sophomore year and instantly knew I found where I belonged. After one semester, I became an executive board member as the VP Media Chairman—a position that allowed me to combine my two passions, health and writing (check out our website at www.chaarg.com)!
Fast forward to fall 2013 and CHAARG has now expanded to four additional universities: Pitt, Cincinnati, Dayton, and Michigan. Nationally, CHAARG has obtained over 1,000 members and is growing more and more each day. This is not simply a college club—it is a movement. A movement that has forever changed me for the better.
Last weekend, I embarked on an unforgettable journey with the CHAARG at our very first National Retreat. 48 girls from all five universities congregated in Northern Michigan for what would come to be three of the most memorable and influential days of my life.
Because CHAARG at Ohio State has over 400 members, I understandably do not know each girl personally. However, there is no better way to bond than on a road trip—endless cups of coffee and singing along to country music got us through the seven hour car ride. Before I knew it, I found myself teleported to a world that seemed completely separate from the urban Columbus, OH I was in that morning.
The campsite was picture perfect. Six rustic log cabins were situated in a circle. The setting sun cast a perfect reflection on a sparkling lake that seemed to extend forever towards to the horizon. It was heaven to say the least.
We grabbed our yoga mats, gathered on the shore, and just like that, the adventure began.
The retreat, planned by CHAARG founder Elisabeth Tavierne and her assistants Eve Horbol and Natalia Martin, was a whirlwind three days of fitness, incredible food, goal setting, crafting, bonding, singing, dancing, crying and laughing.
CHAARG ladies take pride on our ability to workout outside of our comfort zones, so that’s exactly what we did.
On Saturday, our day began at 6:30 a.m. I gathered the girls for a sunrise yoga practice to center our minds and bodies for the day ahead. The air was a crisp 45 degrees but the sun shining through the trees made for the perfect environment to teach a relaxing yoga practice.
Later, we were broken into teams and presented with our first event — The Battle of the Paddle.
I have never been a fan of water sports, I actually found myself standing on the shore terrified of falling in the cold water. But I was soon reminded of a goal a recently set for myself to “live confidently out of my comfort zone.” I realized that the regret I would feel from sitting out would be far greater than the discomfort of trying something that scares me—so into the water I went.
And guess what? I loved it.
The challenges were hardly over, though. Next, the CHAARG Fit Challenge: a two hour obstacle course featuring tire carries, wheel barrow races, warrior carries, sprints, bucket carries and so much more. Every aspect of our physical capabilities was tested, and though it was difficult, there was no greater feeling than finishing.
Although the challenge wore me out, I had to break away before dinner for a run. I have developed a strong passion for running over the past few years, and anyone who feels the same will tell you that a run is so much more than a workout. It is a time of reflection, an incredible stress reliever and a chance to take a portion of my day to do something for myself.
Normally, I start a run with the intention of clearing my head from my daily anxieties. This time, however, was different. The moment my shoes hit the pavement I could feel that those standard worries I usually carry with were already gone. For the first time in my life I was running just to run—completely free.
With all this physical activity, a CHAARG retreat wouldn’t be complete without healthy and delicious eats, all courtesy of our incredible sponsors.
With sunrise wake up calls and early morning workouts, a power breakfast was a MUST. We fueled our bodies with homemade Chobani Greek Yogurt parfaits, complete with fresh bananas, strawberries and granola. And who could forget a warm cup of coffee?
For lunches and dinners we were spoiled with grilled chicken bbq, pita wrap bars with fresh veggies and hummus, grilled shrimp, steak and veggie kabobs. We were also treated to post workout fuel in the form of smoothies and power shakes.
As the sun set and the cool air creeped in, there was no other option than some gooey s’mores (complete with peanut butter!) by a camp fire. Hey, after all those workouts, even a CHAARG girls has to splurge sometimes!
THE FIT FAM
While the organization does promote a lot of physical wellness, CHAARG also provides emotional wellness as well.
Through CHAARG I have set and accomplished more goals than I ever dreamed imaginable thanks to the support of over 1,000 girls behind me—my fit family.
In between working and fueling our bodies, we also took time to reflect and remember the importance of living a life of balance.
We wrote letters to our future selves, shared our goals, and got to know one and other through personal stories of strength and why CHAARG has become so important to all of us.
On the final day, we gathered in the main cabin. Looking around at the 50 girls surrounding me I could not help but tear up. Each and every one of the girls I met proved to me that I have found a place where I belong.
The CHAARG Retreat theme was that “every positive thought propels you in the right direction”. We each received a bracelet to serve as a daily reminder to always live a life of positivity, never give up on your goals, and remember that no matter what you have 1,000 strong, beautiful girls right behind you.
-Molly, The Ohio State University
You can read the original article over at The College Tourist!