Summer has always been one of the most intimidating times for me in terms of my health and wellness regimen. At school, I have nearly unlimited access to a gym seven days a week. One simple swipe at the front desk and I have all the equipment I need. I mean, working out doesn’t get much easier than that.

At home, though, it’s a bit harder. Despite advocating for people of all genders, ages, sexualities, etc. to have a right to feel comfortable in the gym, I still get gymtimidation from my local Planet Fitness, or any gym that’s not Ohio University Campus Recreation Center, for that matter. I don’t know what it is, but I get so nervous to be in a new place, to not know the gym’s layout, that I psych myself out and forego purchasing a membership summer after summer [not to mention, memberships can be expensive and I’m a college student on a ~tight~ budget]. So, year after year I’ve had to find ways to keep myself motivated to be active.

CHAARG [Changing Health Attitudes + Actions to Recreate Girls] has been instrumental in helping me find my motivation. Though I’m not physically with my #OUCHAARGies, one scroll through my _inchaarg Instagram profile has me feeling connected to hundreds of inspiring women. If I’m having a day where I feel particularly unmotivated, I know one message to our chapter groupchat will leave me with more inspiration than I know what to do with. It’s also comforting to know that National CHAARG has uploaded mini sweat seshes and workouts to the Instagram page [in addition to the annual Summer Bootycamp] and I always have these workouts when I’m in lacking ideas and motivation for workouts of my own.

Last summer was particularly challenging. Not only was I feeling unmotivated, but I was taking all the steps to become motivated and it still wasn’t working. I bought the Summer Bootycamp,  and I only finished less than half of the workouts. I tried to get into running, only lasted a few weeks. I started following new trainers and saving their workouts, but then never looked at them again. By the end of the summer, I felt okay, but definitely not my best.

This summer, after having a particularly stressful semester and having been off my routine for the last few weeks, I knew I wanted to make changes to my summer workout regimen.

For the past few months, my mom and I have been saying we want to run a 5K. For avid runners, this might not seem like a difficult task, but for us [and me, especially as someone who hates cardio] to finish one by the end of the summer would be the most fulfilling accomplishment. It’s helped to watch my mom take this goal seriously and to take her own personal health and wellness into her own hands with her daily workouts. Now, I’m constantly reminding myself that if my mom, who carpools my younger brother around weekly, works a full-time job and takes care of the rest of the house effortlessly can make time for a 30 to 45 minute workout, then so can I.

One of the biggest changes I’ve made so far this summer [and that’s helped keep me accountable so far] is participating in Blogilates’ 28 Day Summer Sculpt Challenge. I started doing Cassey Ho’s pilates-style workouts when I was still in high school and still attribute the initial spark of my passion for fitness to her. However, the past few years I’ve drifted away from pilates and focused more on weight training and cardio with the occasional yoga flow. When she announced the start of her latest series, I knew this was just the thing I needed to keep me motivated this summer [or at least for the month of June]. So far, the 30-minute workouts have been the perfect length to complete before I work in the mornings [yes, I’ve been getting up at 7:30 every morning, but it’s fine. I’m fine] and have had my muscles ~shaking~ by the end. Though I miss lifting and hitting new PRs with weights, it’s honestly nice to take a break and focus on the smaller muscles that have been neglected all year [muscles that I didn’t even know I had are sore as I write this].

My summer health and fitness journey is an imperfect, up and down process, but I’m learning more about myself, my own goals, motivation and capabilities every day. I’ve realized that it’s not about what other people tell you will work [trust me, I’ve asked many people how they keep themselves motivated and tried to copy it, but to no avail] but rather, taking the time to find what works for you. You know your body better than anyone else and as long as you stay patient and allow yourself to experience the process fully, motivation will come naturally.

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