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*Light-Hearted* + Relatable Mental Health Books

One thing I’ve learned through being open about my mental health journey is that it really helps feeling like you can relate to others. When you connect with a story, it can help you to feel heard + even give you the strength to share your own story or seek guidance.

When I read It’s Kind of a Funny Story, I felt this connection, as the author was describing situations I go through or thoughts I have but was never able to put into words myself — one of the characters even took the same medication I was on. Reading about mental health in a *light-hearted* way helped me to come to terms that it’s okay to feel this way ++ most importantly — other people feel the same way I do.

While you can find guidance + connection in self-help style books, but sometimes, these books can be too close to home + do more harm than good. The books below talk about sensitive, but important topics including anxiety, depression, suicide, addiction, + even spirituality, but in a way that’s easier to understand + relate to. You aren’t given advice or extreme details about mental illnesses, but instead, you can get a first-hand look at what it’s like to live with one:

#1] Get Well Soon by Julie Halpern

#2] Beautiful Boy by David Sheff

#3] What Made Maddy Run by Kate Fagan

#4] Turtles All The Way Down by John Green

#5] How God Changes Your Brain by Andrew B. Newberg, Mark Robert Waldman

#6] Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

#7] Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

#8] Marbles by Ellen Forney

If you’re looking for more memoirs on anxiety + depression similar to It’s Kind of a Funny Story, check out On Edge: A Journey Through Anxiety by Andrea Petersen + these other books.

If you find yourself relating to a character or story in the books, we encourage you to talk about the experience with someone. For ways that you can support someone [+ ask for help] through mental health, check out this post.

Have you related to a book dealing with mental health + want to share it with others? Let us know in the comments below or by tagging @CHAARG + #CHAARGBookClub on insta!

More Like This

— CHAARG Book Club: First, We Make The Beast Beautiful
— CHAARG’s Reading List

Coconut Chocolate Chip Breakfast Cookies

Did we say coconut + chocolate chip cookies for breakfast? YES, yes we did. These cookies packed with protein + healthy fats to help you kick-start your morn, but they are also super easy to whip up. ++ these pair wonderfully with a big cup of coffee ; ).


*makes: about 10 -12 cookies [depending on size]

  • 2 cup Quick Oats [gluten free if needed]
  • ¾ tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract [optional]
  • ¼ cup Honey [or Pure Maple Syrup]
  • 1 cup Peanut Butter [or your nut butter of choice]
  • 2 large, over-ripe Bananas [mashed]
  • cup unsweetened Shredded Coconut
  • cup Dark Chocolate Chips [dairy free if needed]


#1] Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl until well combined.
#2] Spoon out onto lined baking sheet [parchment paper or pan liners work great!]. These cookies will not spread in the oven, so form ‘em how you want ‘em [ours were about 3 inches in diameter].
#3] Bake at 325 degrees for 15 minutes [or until the edges start to brown], then let cool + DEVOUR!

*Store them in a sealed container at room temp for about a week, or throw some in the freezer to have on hand for busy weeks!

Let us know how they turn out! Tag @CHAARG + #inCHAARG on insta!

More Like This

— PB Banana Cluster Cookies
— Cherry Coconut Tea Cookies
— Cherry Pecan Oatmeal Cookies

+ Isabelle [@isabelle_inchaarg], IU CHAARG

Mint Chip Smoothie

I’ve been craving mint chocolate chip lately, + this smoothie gives me life. Side note: if you live in Columbus, please visit Native Cold Pressed + get their “peppermint chip superfood bowl” in smoothie form. That’s where I got the inspo for this recipe ; ). ANOTHER side note: listen to the founders of Native Cold Pressed on The CHAARG Podcast here!

#1] Add all ingredients  in a blender
#2] Blend until smooth
#3] Add mint leaves on top for the insta ; )

2 Green Juice Recipes To Make In Your Blender

Green juice in a blender? Yes, it’s possible! The co-founders from FARE were on The CHAARG Podcast [listen here] + they shared how they drink a green juice almost every day. They like to change up their green juices a lot, but two below are on heavy rotation!

  • 1 Whole Lemon — peel cut off
  • 1 Whole Orange — peel cut off
  • 1 Whole Apple — cored
  • 2 Stalks Celery
  • 3-4 Pieces Of romaine
  • 2 Large Stalks Curly Kale
  • A Few Sprigs Of Parsley
  • 1 tbsp Fresh Ginger — peeled!

*Add 1-3 cups water depending on what consistency you like your smoothie. Blend on high until smooth!

*Also, note that this is an obnoxiously large portion ; )… depending on how much water you use could be close to 40 oz. You can drink half when you make it + the other half the next day, all the citrus helps it stay pretty green!

  • 1 Cup Packed Greens — any combination of spinach, kale, romaine, etc!
  • 1 Stalk Celery
  • 1/2 Cup Pineapple
  • 1/2 Apple  — cored
  • 1 tbsp Fresh Ginger — peeled
  • 1/4 Avocado
  • 1-2 cups water, add more is a thinner consistency is desired

*Add 1-2 cups water depending on what consistency you like your smoothie. Blend on high until smooth!

*This makes a smaller portion… 12-16 oz!

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Let us know what you think! + make sure to visit FARE next time you’re in Chicago. Highly recommend the Avocado Toast!

PSA: Another recipe from FARE to try: Nighttime Hormone Balancing Tonic!

A Month Of No Alcohol: 4 Things I Learned

Dry January is a public health campaign encouraging people to not drink alcohol for the month of January. It’s a pretty recent phenomenon, having started in the UK in 2014. I remember first hearing about this concept a couple of years ago + brushing it off. After all, I didn’t drink *that* much… why would I need to do a dry month? I thought I might complete it in 2019, however I think I only lasted a couple of days before unintentionally having a glass of wine after work. Oops! 

So this year, 2020, I committed to dry January. I had been intrigued about it for a couple of years + I had had an epiphany on my 28th birthday in December. I realized that I hadn’t had a *sober month* in 10 years. I was a little shocked when I came to that realization . So I figured for my 28th year, doing a month of sobriety would be a great reset +  maybe I’d even learn something! Here are the 4 things I learned + why I encourage you to do a *dry month* for yourself…

#1] It takes a lot of self discipline. Staying dry for the month took a level of self discipline I wasn’t exactly used to! Sure, I work out every week + am committed to that — but this was a different kind of self-discipline.  I didn’t want to not go to social things with friends — so I would still go out + be around the *pressure* to drink ++ would have to show myself a different kind of discipline to abstain [typically by just drinking a club soda with lime ; )]. 

#2] I slept SO. DANG. GOOD. I had never realized how much alcohol impacted my sleep until I took a month of no alcohol [I was always someone who thought a glass or two of wine would *help* me sleep… wrong!]. Even today, I realize that when I have even one drink, I am not going to get a great night’s sleep. If anything, it felt great to have a month of consistent + solid sleep! 

#3] My weekends were SO productive. This probably should have been a no brainer but as someone who doesn’t drink *that* much, I didn’t realize how much time I’d get back on the weekends from not being even mildly hungover Saturday or Sunday morning. Early morning workout? No problem. Doing a hot yoga class + not smelling like alcohol? Sounds great! I was able to prioritize *me time* on the weekends + enjoyed having what felt like an additional 4 hours every Saturday to relax + every Sunday to get ahead of the week.

#4]  I realized what alcohol I actually enjoy. I didn’t miss the speciality cocktails or martinis or prosecco or rose. I missed my red wine. The pinot noirs, the cabs, the zinfandels, the grenaches. Granted – it was January — but I did have a great realization… life is short, why drink something I don’t really truly deeply enjoy? 

1. How did doing Dry January influence your relationship with alcohol going forward?

I feel like Dry January didn’t really influence my relationship with alcohol! For at least a few years, I’ve really stuck to only drinking what I actually enjoy ++ if anything, I feel like Dry January would help you find the drinks that you actually enjoy + miss when you give up. I also was not a *huge* drinker to begin with [I just really love a good glass of red wine after a long day ; )].

2. Will you do it again next year? ; )

No. Once was enough!

3. Did it affect which social things you said Yes to?

Nope — that was a non-negotiable for me when completing Dry January! I wanted to make sure I still went out + did things with friends regardless of what it involved [being at a bar, concert, movie, etc]. My go-to was drinking club soda with lime ; )

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After reading this, if you’ve decided to take on a dry month [you don’t have to wait until January to do it!] then I encourage you to grab a friend + do it! My dad did it with me + it was awesome to have him holding me accountable [even though he admittedly did *fall off the wagon*]. After all, it’s only one month… so how hard will it be?

Marie Kondo Inspired: The Closet Challenge

*Disclaimer: While many of us are social distancing + inside right now, this is a great time to simply complete the “prior to doing this challenge” section! Or, if you are dressing up while social distancing [which is awesome], start the closet challenge now!

It’s officially spring + I want to finally (!) let you in on my “closet challenge” that I’ve been continuously doing for 2+ years. It’s very satisfying, + sometimes very challenging.

I want to preface this challenge by recommending that you Marie Kondo your closet prior. If you haven’t read The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up, you’re missing out! You can read my cliff notes version here. 

However, if you don’t have time to Marie Kondo, no worries. Through this challenge, you will realize pretty fast which items in your closet don’t spark joy 😉😆.

Prior to doing this challenge… take out all the pieces of clothing that you haven’t worn in 8-12 months [trust me… I know you have some pieces!] + put them in a pile together. This includes dresses! One by one, ask yourself if the item truly sparks joy. If you even have to question if it sparks joy, put it in a donation pile! If it sparks joy, put it back in your closet… + get excited to wear it!

Okay! Ready for the challenge! There’s only one simple rule…

The one simple rule of the challenge: You cannot rewear a piece of clothing until you wear every single piece in your closet.

Yep! That’s it!

Pending on how many clothes you have, this might take a looooong time.

*The advanced version of this challenge: If you try something on, you have to wear it. If you don’t decide to wear it that day, it goes in the donation pile!

#1] I have three separate sections for the challenge — fitness clothes, “normal clothes,” + dresses. This means that if I wear a dress, I can’t rewear it until I’ve worn all my other dresses, + the same goes for fitness clothes + “normal clothes.”

#2] I literally only have one pair of jeans, lol, so I don’t play this challenge with my pants… but, if you have 4+ pairs of pants, I highly recommend that you do it with your pants, too!

#3] Use a “divider” in your closest to easily see the “worn” + “still need to be worn” section. It’s very helpful if you have everything (or as much as possible!) on hangers.

#4] This rule does not pertain when traveling for me — I can grab items from my “worn” section if I’d like. ++ usually do, since the clothes that I love, I wear first!

#5] Since it’s still freezing in Chicago right now + my main clothing item of choice to work is sweatshirts, I have a few sweatshirts that I allow myself to rewear.

#6] Shoes? Jackets? Jewelry? You can (+ should!) apply this challenge to everything!

#7] Items that you try on + don’t wear (advanced version 😉) — donate! BUT, once you get closer to the end, chances are there are lingering items that you just don’t want to wear. ++ you know your cue from there… donate!

#8] The goal is to end with having a closet that SPARKS JOY + that you’re excited about every piece of clothing that you have! Also! There should never be a piece of clothing that’s been sitting in your closet for months on end, since you will be wearing everything!

Sounds easy enough right? Let me know if you take on the challenge, AND I’d love to hear how long the challenge takes you to complete it.

How Has CHAARG Changed Your University?

CHAARG aims to ignite a passion in college-aged girls for health + fitness. Too many college girls rely solely on an elliptical, but CHAARG is on a mission to liberates girls from the elliptical + show them that fitness can [+ should!] be fun.

Since every girl has a different preference of what fun is, we create opportunities for our CHAARG girls to “find their fit” through trying different types of workouts. Our CHAARG Chapters have not only impacted their members, but their university communities as a whole — read on to find out how some of our CHAARG Chapters have changed their universities…

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“CHAARG brought a positive community to GVSU that allows girls to connect with each other + come together through a love of fitness, health, + positive body image. It provides a space for girls who are a tad unsure of themselves to gain confidence + new friends through fitness.” — Lauren Johnson, GVSU

“CHAARG has brought a new sense of positivity to Penn State ++ brought an incredible community of women who welcome all girls. CHAARG gives girls that home away from home ++ yet it empowers women to step outside their comfort zones + live fearlessly through college + beyond.” — Katie Hynson, Penn State University

“CHAARG has changed our university by giving girls the opportunity to be a part of a community of women without being Greek. Sororities at UK are awesome, but are not for everyone! CHAARG has given girls who don’t click with Greek life the opportunity to be a part of a community at UK + a national community!” — Kathryn Porter, University Of Kentucky

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“CHAARG has drastically changed the way I see Penn State by making such a [HUGE] university into a small one. I have found my niche in CHAARG, my place among so many people. I now find girls in the gym to workout with + to grab dinner with after class. CHAARG has also inspired so many girls to get active + encourage one another. CHAARG has helped me feel at home, along with so many others!” — Emily Smith, Penn State University

“What’s so special about this community is that it is made up of girls that may never have crossed paths without CHAARG. The girls in our Chapter come from all different fitness backgrounds, with girls on our D1 sports teams, distance runners, soul cycle enthusiasts, CrossFit fanatics + others just starting out their journey! CHAARG creates a place where we can all come together, learn from each other + become the happiest + healthiest versions of ourselves!” — Bayley Shanley, GWU

.     .     .

CHAARG has honestly started shifting how so many girls on campus see fitness + really given them the bravery to stop outside of their comfort zone!

“In the last two years I’ve seen so many girls find that they want to try things they have never done before especially lifting! It always seemed like something the guys on campus truly ruled over. Now, I notice so many CHAARG girls going to the gym together + trying something outside of their comfort zone! I’ve also seen girls gain the confidence to ask someone at the gym for help because they really want to learn the right way to lift!

Not only that, but I’ve seen CHAARG shape our members into such strong + independent woman. CHAARG has given them this confidence + this glow from within to be such strong leaders + such empowering female role models! It’s given campus + myself a new perspective on what a leader can be + look like + lets everyone see that — hey, we are CHAARG girls + we are strong + ready to rock any challenge that comes our way!” — Marissa Flores, BGSU

“CHAARG has changed our university by making girls excited proud about working out, as well as their body image + what their goals are. Being #inCHAARG holds girls accountable about working out — whether that is posting an instagram daily about your fit goal or your healthy meal, people are always liking, commenting, motivating, + giving positive feedback about your post. CHAARG is a truly inspiring organization that has changed our university in more ways than one. It allows girls at our university to come together to support one another in creating a better version of themselves. Endorphins also make you happy so it really is the greatest group of people to hangout with :)” — Kate Elson, GWU

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Interested in learning more about how CHAARG impacts campuses? We’ve put together a resource that shares research we did with 1000+ CHAARG girls + their universities. Check it out here! Want to start a CHAARG Chapter on your campus? Apply here.

How CHAARG Helped Me Land My Dream Job

CHAARG is an amazing organization to talk about when applying for future jobs — employers love to hear about your involvement in extracurriculars! Being an exec leader helps you to learn soft-skills that will be beneficial to a future job, regardless of the field you’re going into. We’re featuring some of our previous exec leaders from different CHAARG Chapters, + how CHAARG has helped them land their dream jobs <3

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Carly Garcia, University of Iowa

Degree Earned: BA Communication Sciences + Disorders, current Graduate Clinician in Masters of Arts Speech Language Pathology program at The Ohio State University
Position[s] in CHAARG Exec: VP Media, Event Coordinator, + Ambassador

How did your CHAARG experience help you land a spot in an unrelated field? 

CHAARG is more of a left-field experience for people applying for graduate school in speech-language pathology. It’s not patient contact hours, it’s not working with vulnerable populations, but it is learning how to be a leader. The skills I learned + developed throughout my positions on the exec team helped me stand out in a competitive field. Obviously, coordinating workouts isn’t a skill I use every day in grad school, but inclusivity, adaptability, + creativity are all skills I learned through my time as an exec leader that I use every day. 

How did you articulate your CHAARG experience on your resume + in your LinkedIn profile? 

When in doubt, think about the *skills,* not the tasks! I used the LinkedIn profiles of other leaders who had held the same positions in other CHAARG Chapters to make a big list of bullet points, combined them, + narrowed them down until I had created the ones I thought best described my position + its relevance towards my future career. It took some extra research but it was SO worth it. [P.S. here is my LinkedIn that I keep updated with *everything* I do!].  Keeping up with LinkedIn made it as easy as copying + pasting the information into a resume when the time came! Because I keep my LinkedIn up-to-date, I have also already been contacted by recruiters offering help finding a clinical fellowship position after I am finished with graduate school in 2021! 

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Haley Patel, University of Illinois at Chicago

Degree Earned: BS in Bio-Engineering 
Position[s] in CHAARG Exec: Event Coordinator

How did you explain CHAARG on your resume as an engineering major?

I always had a unique opportunity to talk about + showcase my CHAARG experience, especially in an engineering position. It showed how well I could work on a team + interact with people, which is a soft skill that people cannot learn in school. It allows you to work with people from so many backgrounds! 

I was able to showcase CHAARG on my resume beneath my leadership section, + something I did to make it stand out was stress the *numbers* aspect of CHAARG. How many members my Chapter had, how many hours I spent at events throughout the semester, how many events I planned as an EC, how I worked with a team of 7 girls… the list goes on + on! Showing data that demonstrates how I empowered women was a home run! 

How did you talk about CHAARG in your interviews?

In all my interviews, they were scenario based questions. “Tell me how…” “Explain a time when…” My time on exec [especially as an EC] exposed me to tons of experiences that I could talk about during interviews. For example,  “How did I recover from a failure?” lead me to think of a time a studio cancelled last minute with tons of members looking forward to it + how I had to think on my feet to plan something else as a back-up! CHAARG gave me real-life experiences to discuss in my interviews + show my leadership skills in action. 

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Antonia Wuschner, University of Michigan

Degree Earned: Bachelors in Nuclear Engineering + Radiological Sciences, Minor in Applied Physics. Pursuing PhD in Medical Physics with Radiation Therapy Focus
Position[s] in CHAARG Exec: Secretary + Ambassador

How did your time as a CHAARG exec leader help you get into school to pursue your PhD? 

I often reference my positions in CHAARG + definitely have talked about it in interviews ++ included it on a resume. A comment I often hear from my mentors + recruiters I have talked to is that nowadays the *soft skills* are those that make the difference.  Employers often are faced with the decision between two qualified candidates + are willing to teach any technical knowledge. However, soft skills such as managing + working in a team, communicating effectively with businesses + other professionals, adaptability, + generally being receptive to giving or accepting feedback are skills that cannot be easily taught.  These are the skills I feel I’ve developed strongly through CHAARG. Whether it be delegating tasks to plan a complicated event, contacting studios to put together an event schedule, having CPR conversations + using radical candor to optimize team performance, or making last minute changes to plans when a studio cancels on you, everything I have done in my roles as a CHAARG leader have made me a more competent leader in society + has made me feel more empowered ++ confident taking on these roles.

Personally, when applying to grad school, I highlighted my abilities to manage + work on a team as well as manage my time effectively. I also highlighted how I not only did this at a university level, but also communicated with a great national community to assure our actions aligned with the common goals of the organization. These skills are vital in a collaborative research environment + especially vital when pursuing a PhD where coursework must also be managed alongside research that may involve working with individuals across the world.

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Evanthia Vranas, Indiana University

Degree Earned: BS in Biology, currently pursuing Doctor of Dental Medicine
Position[s] in CHAARG Exec: Founding VP Membership, Ambassador 

How did being a founding exec leader for a CHAARG Chapter help prepare you for dental school? 

Helping start a new CHAARG Chapter, being a part of a CHAARG exec team, + being a CHAARG Ambassador not only was an amazing experience ++ growing opportunity through my college years, but it has also impacted the person I am today. When applying to dental school, I truly felt that I could answer any interview question I was asked with an amazing opportunity or difficulty I had to overcome when holding a leadership position in an organization full of my passionate colleagues. I have also been asked by my peers before, “how can you be so mature for being one of the youngest in our class?” + I know that it is because of the three core values I took away from being a leader in CHAARG. 

The 3 core values I took away from being a leader in CHAARG were:

#1] The only way to stay truly motivated towards a goal is to have a genuine passion for the work you do.

#2] There is one thing to be a dreamer, but in order to achieve those dreams you must do the work.

#3] Research, explore, discover what makes you the best version of yourself, + never lose sight of it, no matter what life throws at you.

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Libby Hinken, University of Cincinnati 

Degree Earned: BA in Communication + Marketing, PR Certificate
Position[s] in CHAARG Exec: Small Group Coordinator, Event Coordinator, Ambassador, + Events CHAARG Summer Intern 

How did your experience with CHAARG help you find your dream job?

My experience with CHAARG has benefitted me long beyond my time of college. I started out as a Small Group Coordinator, then went on to Event Coordinator, Ambassador, Events CHAARGtern, + lastly a CLC [Chapter Leadership Consultant].

Through my experience with these variety of positions, I found my niche within the event planning industry. I have since then pursued a career as an event specialist. I use many skills learned through CHAARG such as organization, teamwork, interaction with instructors [now clients!], public speaking… just to name a few. I am so thankful I took the chance to apply for exec + for CHAARG HQ investing their time ++ resources to help me develop my skills. I truly do not think I would have found my dream job if it weren’t for my experiences with CHAARG.

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Emily Ganz, Purdue University

Degrees Earned: BS of Movement + Sports Science, MS of Public Health [from University of Cincinnati] Position[s] in CHAARG Exec: Founding Ambassador 

How did you talk about your CHAARG experience in your interview?

Drawing parallels from my experience on a CHAARG exec team to the position I applied for allowed me to paint a picture for my future employers as to how I would *fit in* on their team. One key point I discussed in my interviews was working on a team of 7 individuals with different communication styles to hit deadlines + goals. Regardless of the field you’re in, you will be working alongside co-workers where you will have multiple responsibilities on your plate. By shining light that you already have experience in creating a collaborative experience with others along with time management skills of different tasks, your future employers will see the confidence in your abilities + know that you are a team member they want to have!

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Do you want to learn more about becoming a CHAARG exec leader? Check out our Chapter Elections page to learn more + find out when/how you can apply! Ps — if you are a CHAARG girl ++ want to speak to any of these women about their career, send us an email at hello@chaarg.com + we would be happy to connect you!

One Month Caffeine Detox: How I Did It!

This is Kelly’s experience with zero caffeine. You may remember Elisabeth’s “No Coffee November” experiment, but Kelly takes it to a new whole level ; ). Read on…

Let me preface this by saying that I. LOVE. COFFEE. ++ really any type of caffeine! I drink black coffee every morning + love an afternoon latte or tea.  I honestly can’t remember when I started, but I love the ritual of making it every morning.

Pour over coffee is my go-to because that’s what my mom made when I was growing up — super easy + low-maintenance.  My other caffeine obsession: YERBA MATE! Run don’t walk to your grocery store + try Guayaki Sparkling Gold or Enlightenmint. You will not be the same. 

My average caffeine consumption was 1-2 cups a day for most of my life.  However, the past summer I worked at a coffee shop in Chicago [read: FREE. Espresso. All. Day. Long.] I was like a kid in a candy shop.  I felt dependent on caffeine + didn’t want to do things [especially creative tasks] without it. Plus my sleep schedule was MESSED UP. I prided myself for being in bed by 10:30-11 PM most nights — pretty good for a college kid! But after waking up before 5 AM multiple days a week + then drinking espresso all day long at work this summer, my bedtime was pushed back to 12-1 AM because I was so wired + had a second rush of energy at the end of the day. Unfortunately, that sleep schedule carried over into the fall + finally this January I decided I needed to reset my caffeine tolerance + give it up for a little while. One month felt challenging but reasonable so I went for it! 

It was important that I eliminated all caffeine + not just coffee because as I mentioned — I love it all! If I had given up only coffee, I would have replaced with tons of tea + not decreased overall caffeine consumption.  I wanted to see how I would feel with absolutely no caffeine for a month, aka zero:

  • Coffee
  • Caffeinated tea
  • Kombucha

The decision to give up caffeine was somewhat spontaneous + everyone gave me the same advice, “Don’t quit cold turkey” to avoid withdrawal headaches.  I, slightly impatient, decided not to take their advice + just stop immediately. I knew this was a risk + prepared myself to go back to gradually decreasing caffeine if I had crippling headaches.  But to my + everyone else’s surprise… NO HEADACHES. Still have no reason for this as going from ~5 servings of caffeine to zero was definitely challenging but the symptoms were mainly mental fog + tiredness. I missed the clarity + energy that comes with coffee.  PRO TIP: Start on a weekend like I did so you have more time to rest + are doing more low energy activities : ) I was not experiencing what I would consider cravings for caffeine but I did have a WAY bigger sweet tooth than normal which was unexpected! I also ate more because caffeine can suppress hunger + throw off your body cues so I was more in tune with when I needed to eat. 

I heard stories of people giving up caffeine then realizing that they actually have more energy without it.  That was NOT my experience. Once withdrawal headaches were out of the way [I figured I was good after I survived the first week], I focused on my energy levels + how tired I felt throughout the day.  The first few days I let myself be super lazy + didn’t make major plans as I didn’t know how I would feel. Once I was back into my normal class + work routine I was looking for caffeine-free options to replace my morning coffee.  I like herbal tea but not so much in the mornings. I saved money from not buying any coffee or tea for a month + decided to experiment with Four Sigmatic Mushroom Hot Cacao++ really liked it!  One caveat — it is typically recommended for right before bed because it has reishi but I loved the taste + it worked well as a coffee substitute! Do what works for you!

I thought that towards the end of the month I would feel more energized + miss caffeine less. Not the case. I was used to drinking the Four Sigmatic mix instead but I still missed the benefits of caffeine + how productive I am when I drink it.  At the beginning of the month my motivation was high + I was flexible with myself when I needed rest. Typically, when I have lot to do or am hardcore procrastinating I will turn to caffeine to give me the energy to do something. This month, I practiced letting myself rest when tired instead of powering through or I just did it anyway! Because any creativity or energy that I think I get from caffeine I can have without it.  During the last week I was counting down the days until I could drink a cup of coffee, but I was also super proud of myself for getting so far!

“What are the benefits? I love coffee so much it’s gotta be a good reason.”

— Coffee is NOT bad for you! Unless it’s mostly cream + sugar ; ) There are a lot of benefits to drinking 1-2 cups of coffee a day.  However, getting too dependent on it is easy + the more you drink it the higher your tolerance is. Caffeine has a huge impact on your sleep + stays in your system for a long time so even if you fall asleep easily after drinking it you may spend less time in deep sleep + not feel fully rested. The main motivations for me were the opportunity to reset my tolerance + to experiment with how I felt without it! 

“Does coffee make you anxious? That’s why I stopped drinking it.  Switched to tea + feel better.”

— If I drink a lot…YES. I can overdo it, which is when I feel my mind is racing so it’s counterproductive because I can’t focus! 

“Did you have bad withdrawal symptoms?”

— Very mild considering the stories I heard! This goes to show that every body is different + reacts differently to changes.  Also a lesson in not letting other people’s negative experiences get in your way ; ) You never know until you try! 

“Did it impact your sleep schedule at all? [Positively or negatively]”

— Honestly, I was expecting way more of an impact!  My sleep schedule did not shift much except for a few extra naps. I didn’t go to bed much earlier than normal because I was up doing homework most nights [#TheStruggleIsReal] but since caffeine can affect how deep your sleep is, I was curious to see if I felt more rested but there was not a noticeable change! 

I believe in always challenging yourself + if you don’t believe that you can do something… do it! If you asked anyone in my life whether I could give up caffeine I guarantee the answer would be no [I didn’t even believe I could myself!] ++ that’s partly why I embarked on the challenge.  It was not a permanent choice, but rather an experiment to see how I felt living without something that had been a key part of my daily routine. When you do something every single day [like drink coffee!] it can be interesting to see how you feel without it. I also learned to not rely so much on external things to give my energy… it’s in ME!

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Moving Forward: BACK. ON. THE. COFFEE. TRAIN.  That first sip on March 1 was HEAVENLY.  I am glad that I decided to take the month off + proud of myself for committing to it! I’m not planning to give up caffeine again any time soon but I am even more appreciative of its benefits + it’s forever my favorite morning ritual… but everything in moderation ; )

Questions? Thinking about experimenting with no coffee or caffeine? I would love to hear about it! DM me on Instagram @kellythecooke.


12 Mantras Inspired By The CHAARG Podcast

Our favorite source for endless inspo… The CHAARG Podcast! Here are 12 mantras to inspire you throughout your day [Not sure how to use a mantra? Check out this post!].  Share on Instagram + connect with us using #inCHAARG!

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#1] I choose what I am busy with.

Inspired by Episode #100] Jill Jernas: All Things CHAARG, Ambassador Advice, + Rowing


#2] I surround myself with people who inspire me.

Inspired by Episode #80] Jenny Westerkamp: Sports Nutrition, Dietetics, + Fat Burners


#3] I am stronger than I know.

Inspired by Episode 39] Anna Wassman: Breast Cancer Warrior At Age 25


#4] I am worthy of having fun.

Inspired by Episode #99] Mary Kesinger: 10 Things I Wish I Would Have Known About Post-Grad Life


#5] I fill up my own cup.

Inspired by Episode #48] Elisabeth + Sarah: 20 Self-Care Tips


#6] I have a choice to set myself up for success.

Inspired by Episode #93] Alissa Becker: Anxiety, Therapy, + Career Transitions


#7] I fuel my body with food + listen when it needs to rest.

Inspired by Episode #42] Alex Mazzurco: Diets, Macros, + Gut Health


#8] I let go of what I think I “should” do.

Inspired by Episode #62] Alexis + Simi: Intuitive Eating, Food Triggers, + Birth Control


#9] I am clear on what I want.

Inspired by Episode #89] Colleen Bordeaux: Am I Doing This Right?


#10] I let go of what does not serve me. 

Inspired by Episode #46] Molly Coeling: Healing Trauma Through Reiki


#11] I am in control of my narrative.

Inspired by Episode #71] Tanya Lozana: Healthy Hood, Inclusivity, + Dancing As Therapy


#12] I face my problems head on.

Inspired by Episode #56] Chef Sarah: Meal Prep Tips, Celery Juice, + Sugar Detox



CHAARG’s Guide To LA

*This is more like “CHAARG’s Guide To Santa Monica” — but until I dive deeper into all of LA… we are calling it the LA guide! ; )

I’ve been to LA many times, but this is the first time I stayed in Santa Monica [thanks David!]… + wow, I had a hard time leaving. The energy is wild + magnetic. I actually hard a time sleeping the first few nights I was there because I could feel the collective energy… sounds totally woo woo, but with the sheer amount of people in LA, I believe it. Once I felt more rooted + got to know the area, I slept better.

LA is so playful! + the wellness/outdoor vibes are insane. While I was on this trip, I added “spend a year traveling the coast of CA” to my bucket list… but honestly, I would be happy with a year exploring every inch of LA. There’s so much to offer!

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Coffee + Tea

#1] Primo Passo Coffee Co: Loved the atmosphere here. + the baked goods selection is very, very impressive. I was eyeing their house made hazelnut lattes… but ended up with my classic americano order.

#2] Demitasse: There are few locations — I’d recommend stopping by the Santa Monica location if you are shopping on Third Street Promenade [the outdoor shopping mall]. I loved their cold brew.

#3] Metro Cafe: A donation based coffee shop! It’s a Church-owned cafe, + all the proceeds go to various charities — there was a sign inside that shared they donated 50 thousands pounds of food last year. Also, they have an incredibly large outdoor patio!

#4] Cha Cha Matcha: The most instagramable matcha cafe. Enough said.

#5] Great White: I regret not getting the Shaken Iced Latte after seeing it on my friend’s instagram story the next day. Also has food that is served in the most beautiful way — I don’t think it’s possible to go wrong here.

*Most coffee shops will offer a “chagaccinno” — a mushroom coffee drink. Highly recommend trying it… get it on ice!

*For Next Time: Moon Juice


#1] Beaming: MINT CHOCOLATE CHIP SMOOTHIE! + the cookie dough bliss ball. It’s magic. *There’s also a Beaming in the Southwest terminal!

#2] Breadblok: A gluten free bakery! They also had various samples out, which I appreciated ; ) I recommend their banana bread, almond croissant, + mushroom egg toast…. I was also eyeing their vegetarian bahn mi.

#3] Blueys Kitchen: I actually stopped here on my way to Ojai [Guide To Ojai here!].The vibes + food here are incredible. I loved “The Bowl Formally Known As.” Great outdoor patio, too!

#4] Kye’s: Petitioning for Kye’s to come to Chicago. Literally, LA has all the trends. I love sandwiches/wraps, but sometimes I don’t want all of that bread. Enter the “KyeRito” — a nori, collard green, or romaine wrap. The “Pesto” was incredible. KyeRitos are the perfect grab + go meal, or picnic addition.

#5] Bodega: Coffee in the morning… wine bar at night? I’m into it. It has a hip coworking vibe to it, so bring your computer here if you want to blend it as a local ; ).

*For Next Time: Rose Cafe, Honey Hi, Gjelina Take Away


#1] Gjusta: OH MY GOSH. If you can only hit one place in LA, make Gjusta be the destination. Let’s just say I went here 3X in 24 hours once I discovered it. This place is an establishment! Go for breakfast, lunch, or dinner… you cannot go wrong. I’m really missing their salads + pizzas right now.

#2] Little Prince: Go here for happy hour [M-F] — their food selection for happy hour is actually great, which I feel like is pretty rare. Make sure to get the brussels sprouts : ).

#3] Cafe Gratitude: This is a LA classic — there are a few locations! The smoothies, the bowls, the veggie burgers… it’s all so, so good!

#4] The Butcher’s Daughter: If you are vegan/vegetarian, you will love this entirely plant-based restaurant. It sounds so weird, but the artichokes were my favorite thing on the menu. They also have a good coffee/juice/pastry counter where you can find grab + go items!

#5] EREWHON: Saving the best for last! Honestly, Erewhon [the most gourmet grocery store ever] should have it’s own category. Alas, I’m obsessed. + very grateful that it’s NOT in Chicago… I would be broke. Their hot bar is best in business. Go to the original location in Venice after you’ve shopped Abbott Kinney! 🙂

*For Next Time: Gjelina, Tallula’s, Tocaya Organica, Fia, Manchego, Cassia, Rustic Canyon


#1] Studios To Try:

  • Sweat Yoga [Vinyasa Yoga]: Take class if you want the hottest, sweatiest yoga flow
  • Love Yoga [Katonah Yoga]: Take class if you want to feel the like a new person afterwards. *This was my favorite!
  • Coreology [Reformer Pilates]: Take class if you want to be sore the next day ; )

#2] R+R Sauna Studio: This may have been my favorite sauna experience ever! Your first session is $45 [typically it’s $70 per session… I know, $$$!] + it also comes with a complementary 20 minutes of compression boots. They give you noise canceling headphones that have the best meditation playlist, too!

#3] Original Muscle Beach: Spend at least 30 minutes mesmerized by all the acrobats + gymnasts on the swings/bars. Once you’re inspired, go for a run on the trail along the beach!

#4] Explore The Farmers Markets: Wednesday, Saturday + Sunday! All the fruit that you’ve ever desired.

Things To Explore:

#1] Walk down Abbot Kinney: Only the trendiest street ever. Don’t miss The Shroom Room [free drink of your choice!], Mystic Bookstore, Erewhon, + literally every shop that peeks your interest.

#2] The Lab Anti-Mall: If you find yourself exploring Costa Mesa, go to this open-air trendy spot with cute shops, restaurants, art, + more! Seabirds Kitchen is absolutely delicious — their mission: push the boundaries of vegan cuisine.

#3] Santa Monica Mountains: Take a long hike ++ end at Malibu Farm!

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I’m sure I’m missing incredible spots because there is just SO MUCH GOODNESS in LA… let me know your favorite spots!


Want To Find Freedom With Exercise? Try The Movement Menu

I can remember a time when my life was dictated by my exercise rules + schedule. I’d do anything I could to get in my workout – cancel plans with friends, skip a class in law school, ignore an injury, or wake up so early it felt like the middle of the night to get in all the miles of my run or make it to my daily hot yoga class.

People praised my dedication to “health” but the truth is I did NOT have a healthy relationship with movement. I felt obsessed, exhausted, + checked out of the other areas of my life.

I work with so many women in private coaching who are experiencing this same thing: They started exercising as a way to take care of their bodies + at some point it went from a healthy practice to an unhealthy obsession.

Here are some things they share with me they experience:

They feel guilt +  fear if they miss a workout.

They prioritize exercise over other things in their lives at almost any cost.

They don’t feel safe or ok to rest when they are exhausted, sick, or injured.

They obsessively think about exercise +  how / if / when they will get in their next workout.

They are trapped in their exercise rules about what “counts” — how many minutes, how many times a week, what kind of movement, rather than guided by what their bodies truly need.

Can you relate to any or all of these?

If so, I’d love to offer you a mindset shift that can help you experience more freedom in movement.*** I call it the movement menu.

The movement menu is a great starting place for someone who wants to have a nourishing, intuitive relationship with movement FREE from obsession, exhaustion, guilt, fear, + rules.

On a piece of paper, I’d love to encourage you to create your movement menu — a list full of all the movement options available to you.

Here’s an example of my own:

  • relaxed walk outside
  • at home streaming class
  • barre class at a studio
  • easy jog
  • dancing at home to my favorite 90s music
  • fun random workout class with a friend
  • stretching / foam rolling in front of the TV
  • intentional rest

On your own movement menu, make sure to include that last one: intentional rest.

Rest is 100% an essential part of the movement menu mindset shift. Because YES rest is sometimes the very “movement” our bodies need.

Each day, you can look at your movement menu + “order” what’s best for you that day. It gives you loving flexibility within the intentional structure [which can be much appreciated when you’re first starting to find your freedom] of the menu.

Here are my favorite questions to ask to help guide your “order” from a place of love + nourishment:

#1] How do I feel today? Check in with your mood, your energy, +  how your body feels physically.

#2] How do I want to feel after movement? If it’s the afternoon + you’re exhausted but you want to feel energized, then a gentle walk outside might be the answer! If you’re exhausted at 7PM at night + you want to feel rested, then getting into bed or into the bath for some intentional rest is likely just the ticket.

#3] Is there anything specific I feel myself craving? Maybe you’re craving some quiet alone time. Perhaps you’ve spent the day alone in your office + want to socialize! Or maybe you find yourself craving some fresh air. Movement is so much more satisfying when you ask yourself what you’re craving more of.

#4] What does my life look like today? Movement can work for your REAL LIFE. Everyday in your life isn’t the same + you have 100% permission for movement to look different day-to-day, too.

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I’d love to hear from you… what’s on your movement menu? Comment below + let me know.

Big hugs!

***A little note here: if you’re in ED recovery or for any other reason are taking a break from formal movement, please wait to incorporate this mindset until a time if / when movement is nourishing for you again.