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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Mass Amherst chapter.

In high school I was extremely active, running cross country and both indoor and outdoor track every season possible. I was doing cardio every day, in hopes to achieve the “perfect body” image I had in my head that would never be attainable. I believed that intense cardio, seven days a week was the only way to feel accomplished after working out. I believed that I needed to be dripping sweat in order to lose my calories for the day. I didn’t believe in rest days or honoring food cravings. I was so lost during a time when I thought I knew exactly what I was doing and what was best for me.

Little did I know that only a few months later I would find an organization that would shift my entire perspective on exercise and my relationship with healthy eating and gym habits. “CHAARG ” stands for Changing Health Attitudes and Actions to Recreate Girls. It is a national organization at over one hundred different college universities across the United States. CHAARG is on a mission to help girls become more confident in the gym; elevating them from the elliptical to try new ways to move their bodies. As a freshman, I learned about CHAARG through UMass Amherst’s current ambassador. I received a Facebook message before arriving at the university with loads of information about CHAARG and what it was. It instantly caught my attention and after chatting with other exec members at the activities expo, I joined and never looked back. 

CHAARG has taught me how to love myself. It introduced me to SO many ways to move my body; ways I enjoyed. It showed me what healthy eating habits are, and that I am allowed to indulge in foods that make my stomach and heart happy. It helped me discover a workout routine that I enjoy doing. Most importantly, I’ve met some of my best friends through CHAARG; ones I will have for a lifetime. 

I no longer work out seven days a week. I schedule rest days into my routine, as well as workouts that aren’t as draining on my muscles. I listen to my body. When I am exhausted, I rest. I don’t push myself in unhealthy ways nor do I restrict myself from eating if I miss a day at the gym. 

My CHAARG experience has consisted of having the opportunity to be more than just a general member. I loved my experience as a member so much my freshman year that I wanted to become even more involved. I was able to be a part of both the socials and membership committee, assisting to plan all of the events as well as brainstorming ideas to boost member engagement and participation. I wanted to give back to the community that gave so much to me. I now currently serve on the exec team as the VP of Media and am in the process of applying for the team again for my senior year. I have CHAARG to thank for so many things. I would not be who I am today without it or the people I have met and the friendships I have made. I am so grateful for how far I have come and look forward to continuing my CHAARG journey as I enter my last year of college. 

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Haley LaKind

U Mass Amherst '23

Haley LaKind is a junior Communication and Journalism double major on the Public Relations Track. She enjoys writing biweekly articles for Her Campus as well as running the chapter instagram page @hcumassamherst. Her hobbies include exercise, travel, journaling, and spending time with friends and family. At UMass she is also involved with UMass CHAARG and the Public Relations Club.