I have struggled with body image + confidence throughout my entire life. Growing up a dancer, I learned to always criticize my body for what it couldn’t do + torture it into a state of perfection. When I suffered a severe back injury my sophomore year of high school, I discovered [+ fell in love with] yoga. Slowly, I learned to feel comfortable in my body again + was able to push myself to embrace new challenges.
That all went away when I came to Pitt. I lived in the student-athlete dorm, but I wasn’t a student athlete. Everyone around me was in the best shape I had ever seen — waking up at 5AM to go lift before practice, heading to class, + then hitting the gym for evening practice too. Their nutrition was on point + I found myself growing jealous of everything that they had that I lacked. I totally spiraled out of control my freshman year. I was reckless with boys + alcohol ++ I grew addicted to the elliptical. That all changed the minute I joined CHAARG.
Fast forward 4 years + I am now a 2nd time CHAARG Ambassador. I think there is a misconception that ambassadors have it all figured out. Let me let ya in on a little secret [shhhh!] — ambassadors struggle with all the same challenges as everyone else! I’ve had a hard time finding a workout routine that sticks for me, I struggle with eating healthy + getting the right nutrients as a vegetarian, ++ I especially struggle with how others perceive my body to look.
I’ve done Fit Plans in the past but I always burnout around week 3 or 4 + never make it to the end. This time, I partnered up with my good friend + Pitt CHAARG member, Dani, + we decided we were gonna OWN the #CHAARGFitPlan. Own it, we did : )
Every Sunday we would schedule our workouts for the week. Nighttime is what worked best for both of our schedules so we mapped out what the week would look like. In the past, I’ve grown overwhelmed with the intensity of some of the Fit Plan workouts so I would get scared + just skip days. This time, I didn’t skip a single workout. Going to the gym didn’t feel like a chore or a punishment — it was something I looked forward to every day! I got to connect with Dani who happens to be one of the most insanely positive + funny people I know, ++ I always felt better after completing a workout. Without fail. My mind + body felt more aligned.
Now let’s just talk about modification for a hot sec — I work at a barre studio, I lead small groups + I give it my all at studio spotlights. Some days my body was tired. Most days my body was sore. Instead of settling into negative thinking like I used to, I modified the Fit Plan to what felt good for me on any given day. There were a lot of days when Dani + I were doing something completely different from each other but what mattered was that we did it together.
Five weeks isn’t that long of a time commitment to make a change that will improve your overall health + wellbeing. But, in five weeks, I gained happiness + peace of mind as well as strength, flexibility, + confidence. For the first time ever I actually saw results in my progress pics, but the biggest progress of all? When Dani was taking my 5 week pic, she looked at me + said “Wow, so smiley!”
“I am a lot of things, but most importantly, I am me. + that is enough, today + every day.” // Dani Peckman [@danip_inchaarg].