The pressure to find a tribe of friends, a balanced routine — your *niche* — is one of the most intimidating parts of going off to college. With a little time under your belt [+ the chance to get over the *join every organization on campus* phase — we’ve all been there, girl], you may have started to dread involvement fairs or certain campus walkways for fear of encountering people shoving fliers at you. That was the case for Whitney Lynn, until Morgan Simpson caught her attention by asking her simple question — “Do you like to workout?”
Finding a passion for health + fitness is often a journey. ++ sometimes that journey is spurred on by a single moment, “I just had this moment when I realized how uncomfortable I was with myself. I was always the big girl growing up. I remember my mom selling my clothes on the Internet when I was younger + one description she used that I will never forget was *these jeans are for little girls who are big girls.* I don’t say that to bash my mom, but that’s who I was — the big girl. All of my friends growing up were either in dance or softball; whereas, I was a lot more comfortable just reading. I tried to get fit in high school. I would run for three days, then quit because I wasn’t seeing results. Or I’d eat somewhat healthy during the day but eat bag of chips + drink a Coke as soon as I got out of school.
When I got to LSU, I realized that I had a free gym membership + that I should use that to my advantage. I was so intimidated when I first walked in that I just rode a stationary bike for a few minutes then left. That’s all I knew how to do. That continued for a few days, until I saw that the gym had personal training. I didn’t have to do this alone. Someone could help me help myself. I signed up, + on January 27, 2014 I took *CHAARG* [; )] of my health + fitness. I began meeting with a trainer, learned how to use the machines in the weight room, + grew confident in myself that I could do this. It also helped that my trainer was cute, so I always tried a little bit harder! ; )
From my heaviest in high school, I’ve lost about 40 pounds. I used to could barely bench press the bar, + I just recently hit a 100 pound bench press! *flexing emoji*. ++ I went from squatting the bar to being able to hit a one rep max of 190, with my goal at 200.”
Living life #inCHAARG is a journey in itself. With countless lessons learned, what was Whitney’s biggest takeaway? “I don’t give up anymore. The old me gave up as soon as something got difficult, but I’ve taken CHAARG of my life + learn from the hard times in order to get better. There will always be a bad day, whether at school, in the gym, in life. But you have to get up + keep going. There have been some workouts that I’ve absolutely hated, but I’ve continued to push through them because I know that I am capable of doing so.
This past summer I decided I really wanted to see how strong I truly was. I was given a lifting plan by one of the local trainers in my town + got to work. I have been sore before, but I’ve never been as sore as I was after that first week. My first leg day consisted of squats, three variations of lunges, calf raises, + deadlifts — I could not walk straight for three days. And I still had to run everyday despite the pain. It was tough, but it was something I needed to prove to myself that I wasn’t weak. I became a runner that summer. I learned about looking at food labels to see what I was putting in my body. I lifted + pressed ++ squatted every damn day. ++ once the weight on the bar started going up, I was hooked. I could feel myself getting stronger as the weeks went by. Endurance was building. Muscles were growing. Inches were being lost. It was absolutely incredible.
I fell in love with lifting that summer, and now I can’t go to the gym without touching some piece of iron. I’ve got some pretty awesome callouses on my hands now, but they show how much work I’ve put into bettering myself. I lost fifteen pounds in those three months + lost another 10 when I went back to school for the fall semester. Right now my weight fluctuates by five pounds, but that’s not the important thing anymore. The important thing was hitting a 100 pound bench press + running two miles without stopping. It’s about growing and getting stronger.
CHAARG has just opened so many doors for me. I have learned so much from everyone who is a member of CHAARG, from the girls I see every week at the LSU events to the girls I know from Instagram. I just see so many strong + powerful women in this community, + I want to be more like them everyday. + I love that the focus is not about losing weight. It’s about creating your best, strong, most beautiful self, which is something I think a lot of young women struggle with. But there is always someone there to lift you up in this organization.”
The message she wants women everywhere to know? “You can do it. I promise you. I know it’s hard, + sometimes it sucks + your muscles hurt + you’re just so tired ++ you have a million other responsibilities. But you need to try if this is something you really want to do. ++ if you fail, then try again.”