As the year ends, I found an absolute treasure of a motivational story in Andrea Johnson. This cancer survivor’s passion for fitness, healthy living and realistic expectations inspired and encouraged me, and hopefully motivates you to press on with your New Year’s healthy lifestyle goals!
Grab a glass of cool, refreshing water and enjoy a round of inspiration… Andrea Johnson style!
Andrea’s health and fitness journey didn’t start with a New Year’s goal six years ago but rather with a long, painful, honest look at herself and her life after high school was over and complacency had set in. At twenty-one, the vivacious five feet ten inch tall, extroverted, self-proclaimed “life of the party” was legal to drink … and did she ever! Andrea admits she was a step away from being a full-blown alcoholic. She went out as often as she had a good reason to and admits to drinking daily.
The alcohol, coupled with a gluttonous lifestyle, contributed to rapid weight gain. Because of her size, she’d been a “chubby” kid but the competitive nature of high school sports and “easy” ways to get skinny kept her generally satisfied with her figure. After she graduated and lost the competitive drive to keep fit, and had no healthy lifestyle techniques to stay strong and lean, Andrea ate and drank, what she wanted, when she wanted, and slowly slipped into a silent depression she tried to hide behind her big smile and personality.
Then reality, like it often does, slapped her in the face. After spending hours in front of the mirror trying to look “good enough” to go out and still feeling fat and disgusting on the inside... the ‘life of the party’ isolated herself and stopped going out. She was three years into a dead end relationship that was eight months from the wedding day and decided to do one of the hardest things she’s ever done. She broke off the relationship and stopped drinking.
At this point in the interview, Andrea came to life. She didn’t downplay how difficult it was to be the woman that broke off an engagement, or how guilty she felt for things that were said in the heat of an emotional separation, or the shame she felt for having to move herself and large dog back home to live with her parents so she could make ends meet. No, Andrea was forthright and honest about the hard parts of making real change in life, but she also basked in the joy that comes from a body being awakened mentally, emotionally, spiritually and most dramatically for her, physically.
“Cardio was really all I ever knew,” she told me, “there’s something therapeutic about being able to move and sweat and purge bad feelings.” Giving up the alcohol and getting out and moving brought her weight down to about 210 pounds but the mental clarity that came with alcohol free living for five months after the break up helped her see that there was so much more to life than what she’d nearly resigned herself to.
Things were changing in all aspects of Andrea’s life, she and a friend, almost as an ego boost and time passer, joined Match.com where she met “the stalker” who eventually became her husband. After trying to brush him off and push him away, Justin, patiently and persistently kept after her and eventually they agreed to meet and the rest is history. Andrea credits much of her rapid success to being so incredibly supported and encouraged by Justin. “He went through an entire year of rediscovery with me and dealt with every mental break down and road block too. I made the choice to do this for myself, but there’s no way I would have been as successful without him.”
Fitness was becoming a habit. Andrea already had a membership at Gold’s Gym, and then started training privately with Dave Osborn, who ran a power lifting gym, Osborn Performance Systems (OPS), out of his parent’s garage. She gained interest in weight training and lifting and was amazed and what her body could do and how good it felt to be strong. Inspired by all the changes she saw in her strength and form, she decided to enter a lifting competition. Then, with Dave’s encouragement, and Justin’s support, at the end of 2013 she quit her job and became a certified personal trainer working with Dave in his facility.
Andrea knows she’s a good personal trainer and she loves what she gets to do everyday. She’s realistic; she doesn’t tell anyone what they want to hear, she tells them the truth and knows it often comes off harsh, but she does it because she cares. “Food never lets us down,” she said when explaining why men and women have to overcome not just the physical barriers but the mental barriers they face too. “The weight loss discovery process is a beautiful thing, but the work and effort won’t necessarily lead to a perfect beach body no matter how much you do. There is no ‘there,’” she said emphatically. And proudly admitted to having her own boob job a few months ago because, “you can’t “fix” some of the physical issues like extra, sagging skin, with effort alone.” (I might add this is where she encouraged me in my plans to get a tummy tuck, and brightened my day even more!)
Two years ago with Dave and Andrea’s clientele both growing the space was getting cramped and the two decided to separate so both could grow their own businesses. This is when Andrea purchased The Gym, located in North Wenatchee across from Walmart and Dave moved OPS to South Wenatchee. Andrea believes her honest, practical and empathetic approach along with her affordable prices are what keep her business thriving and successful. She knows first hand the struggles her clients face because she is her best success story.
Just because she’s found a way to make her passion and lifestyle her profession, doesn’t mean it’s easy. Andrea believes, that like it was with her, the ‘idea’ of being healthy is probably in all of us, it’s just the actions we need to take that hold us up. She is an advocate of picking your program, whatever it is, it doesn’t matter, but picking it and sticking with it until it’s finished. We live in a culture of quick fixes, but anyone on a health and fitness journey shouldn’t expect immediate results, but rather steady progression over time. She said the hardest part of healthy living is Glaze! At first, I thought she meant, she’s a fan of sweet stuff, but she quickly corrected me, “No, I mean Glaze Donuts! Their banana fritter with peanut butter drizzle and little chocolate chips, is so good!”
It’s not always easy but the achievements and accomplishments make it worth it. Andrea proudly chalked up her best moments; among them were her personal goal to lose 100 pounds, but at 155 she decided, she liked strong better than skinny and likes to hover around 160 now days. She also reached her 19% body fat goal, participated in a lifting competition, opened The Gym, and “kicked cancer’s ass!” Yes, she’s still being treated for the cancer, but she is confident there’s no way she’d feel as good as she does if she wasn’t taking care of her body. “Our bodies are incredible things! Stop making excuses that keep you from realizing that! Make realistic goals to avoid depression and put your body where it needs to be so that it can be the best for what you want it to do!”
If you’d like to get more information on Andrea, you can find her on Instagram at @anjohnsoncpt or email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org and if you’d like information on The Gym which offers affordable personal training at $18/hr you can find them on Facebook at The Gym LLC