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
Plenty of organizations and people talk about healthy sexual choices, libido, the premature sexualization of our youth, sexual abuse, human trafficking and even sexuality and the church. Why another person? Why another perspective?
I am a sheep. I am not ashamed of it. Instead of trying to buck my natural tendencies, I decided a long time ago to pick carefully who I follow. If I have faith in them, their cause, and their points of view, I will be the best recruiter, spokeswoman and solider in the ranks because I believe in them. It’s not a job, it’s not a requirement, it is a calculated choice I make to believe and follow.
With all the talking and my personal philosophy, it seems that I should pick someone else’s platform, organization or model for promoting healthy sexuality and exposing sexual abuse and exploitation and follow their lead. In a way, I will. So, why be a maverick? Because sex and sexuality aren’t just platforms; they are part of the substance of all of us.
And because I’m a victim. I think there are two kinds of victims, ones that keep the secret and ones that tell. I am one that told. It didn’t work out so well for me, but I’m a teller. Victims want to be heard. More than that, we want to be believed. Some rise above “victim” status and become advocates, for themselves and others. And that’s where I am.
I have a story and I want the sympathetic parts to be heard. I want to use my platform to help others who are hurting and heal others who have wounds from sexual trauma. But there’s a dark side to my story that I’m not so keen on exposing. I can also be considered an offender, never a predator, but I have hurt and exploited others because of the trauma I experienced. This isn’t unique to me, many victims have, in sorting out their own abuse, become intentional or inadvertent offenders or predators. It is a very dark place and I don’t know of a platform for it. And… I don’t know of a simple “fix” or solution even when it’s exposed.
My platform speaks to the good people of the world, the pure, the safe people. As Salt N Peppa said, “Let’s talk about sex! Let’s talk about all the good things and the bad things that may be.” I want to give honor to the people and organizations making a waterfall difference in a bucket of sexual abuse and exploitation. I want to put light on things that promote healthy sexuality in children and adults in a caustic and sexually aggressive society.
My platform speaks encouragement to men to be bold, heroic, sexy and honorable men and encourages women to be classy, sexy, enchanting and honorable women.
My platform speaks to people with esteem and body insecurities that distort their ability to enjoy their own sexuality. I want to encourage a love, respect and acceptance of our bodies and highlight the sacredness of an intimate physical and sexual bond.
My platform speaks out about the “little things” people do that promote the abuse and exploitation of others they would never think of victimizing… and yet, with money, actions, words, or silence, they offend through “innocent” or unconscious acceptance of sexual evils.
My platform speaks to men and women trying to navigate safe, healthy, fun flirtation and sexual expression in a world and workplace that’s hyper alert and sensitive and to those playing on a slippery slope of unacceptable sexual expression that is unattractive, unprofessional and unbecoming.
My platform speaks to child victims who became child offenders then later, when grown, realized the gravity of what they’d done and found healing but redemption escapes them and they deal with guilt and fear of exposure for past transgressions as much as their own pain and wounds. It’s for people who struggle with disclosure because of shame and possible punishment but want to extend apologies and restitution to those they offended.
My platform speaks to reformed sluts and predators, who are ashamed, afraid or unable to share their stories but want to do something to help stop abuse and exploitation now that they’ve repented, changed or are in anonymous recovery. For ladies like the one who slept her way to the top of her field and now, despite the prestige and title, is ashamed of how she did it, but doesn’t want to lose her status. They are out there. They deserve grace and a voice, because haven’t we all screwed up and hoped for redemption when we’re truly remorseful?
My platform is for the pedophile who doesn’t want to offend anymore, but needs support to stop; and for others chained to their own secret sexual addictions. It’s for the ones who, like me, when I was hooked on drugs, are too far down a bad road or buried deep in depravity to get out without a safe hand of hope to help them up when they’re done and want out of the pit.
Finally my platform, as much as I hate it, and as much as it turns my stomach, speaks directly to vile predators who like being evil; the ones who are turned on by the silence breaker’s stories of date rape, of childhood molestation and of sexual exploitation. They are out there, feeding off our stories of trauma and lack of self-esteem and self-control. They read, they listen and they watch and it’s disgusting, but it’s real. I want them to know... I’m coming to get them! I know some of their tricks and secrets, I know how to expose and shame them, I know they fear light and I know how to get spotlights pointed in their direction… I’m a teller and they better watch out, because I’m telling! I’m out to reduce their supply of young easily exploited girls and boys, women and men. I’m out to reduce the demand for their depravity. I’m out to fight!
My platform is a place of cathartic healing, honest and humble soul searching, advocacy and exposure. I’m compelled to do it. Parts of advocacy are yucky and dark. Part of my story is disgusting and shameful. Part of me doesn’t think the bad deserves to see the light of day because I don’t want to expose the good and pure people of the world to the darkness that lurks just beyond the scope of their perspective. I don’t want to open innocent eyes to evil. I want to protect. I want to keep kids safe and innocent. I want to help victims heal.
But I also want vengeance! If I can’t make my abuser pay for what he did to me, I will make all monsters pay by exposing their tactics, their avenues of exploitation, their ways of flying under the radar. If I can’t fix my childhood and put stronger advocates in my own life, I will advocate for every child who is being victimized or who will victimize someone else because they’re hurting and confused. If I can’t understand and wrap my head and faith around why a good and loving God would let sexual abuse and exploitation enter into the hearts and minds of men, I will explore every avenue of why He could have possibly allowed it, and how He can truly be safe to trust.
Why Sex & Jesus? Because I have a voice and opinion and so does everyone else and I want to invite you to be in on a most uncomfortable but necessary conversation and open up even more lines for honest dialog on the good, the bad and the ugly of it all.