Well ladies and gentlemen, this is the final #StrongBitch of our campaign. I so enjoy sharing these stories and I’m sad it’s coming to an end. However, I wanted to share Johanna’s story last because she means so much to me.
Johanna and I “met” through Instagram and bonded over sarcasm and mutual love for all dogs, big and small. We randomly ran into each other while she was working a CRISP shift and the rest is pretty much history. When Johanna and I both signed on to raise funds for One Tail at a Time’s Isolation Center, we decided to work together. Bouncing ideas off of one another, we came up with the #StrongBitch campaign. I wanted to showcase women like her who demonstrate strength in so many ways. I would argue that Johanna is the muse for #StrongBitch and her story is incredibly personal and inspiring.
I’m honored to call this amazing woman my friend and I admire her strength so much. Here is her story, it’s unedited, raw, and beautiful.
Tell us about yourself (age, occupation, hometown, etc.)
I am a 34-year-old corporate meeting planner from the suburbs but live in the city now duh. I like dogs and really like murder podcasts. Please prepare for an emotional roller coaster because I cry a lot too. Oh, I have a dog named Belle from OTAT who is a sassy B.
What does strong mean to you?
Strong means many things to me. I obviously consider myself physically strong (muscles bro), but mental strength can also have a larger meaning to the word “strong” too. It means pulling my shit together and being the best version of myself, even if that version feels far away and I have to work my ass off mentally and physically to get there. You can tell I’m currently very focused on my mental well-being by my responses today!
Who are some strong women who inspire you?
Two of my best friends- Caitlin Gath and Rachel Lauber- are so inspiring. Physically, Caitlin is a small person but OMG is she badass. She is always honest, open and always true to herself. It’s refreshing. There is zero bullshit and zero judgment in our friendship. She is always stepping outside of her comfort zone and it makes me want to do the same.
Rachel is someone I met at my gym who I instantly bonded with. Physically, she is one of the strongest girls I know. Her muscles are GAH and she always works hard in the gym. Rach is also totally emotionally woke. She speaks her mind, is true to her heart and totally vulnerable. She is far more social than I am and her zest for going out and living is just contagious.
Finally, Christine (Rescueinstyle) is the final woman that inspires me. She might have noodle arms (love you boo) but that woman is doing the dang thing. She gives her time and efforts back to the community, maintains a marriage (still trying to be a sister wife but whatever) and writes a blog where she has shared her mental health struggles. Imagine typing up a couple paragraphs about how you feel depressed and then posting that for the world to see!! We are “newer” friends, but I cannot express how grateful I am to be able to say that I know her.
These chicks you guys … I mean .. GAH. I am SO lucky. Also, they are all funny as f*ck. Obvi.
Can you tell us about a time that your strength surprised you?
I wish I could just put the easy (for me) answer here and say I hit a personal best at the gym. However, everything always comes back to my “fight”. This is heavy, but I always hope my honesty on this topic can help someone through their shit.
I have struggled with depression paired with an eating disorder for years. It will never ever not be there. It will never not be an issue. There are times that I am all good and just doing the dang thing. My mood is stable, my eating is healthy and everything is OK. Then there are times, like pretty recently, where I needed to buckle down and get to work. By that I mean talk to my therapist, open up to my friends, get my support system in line aka self-care X 1,000. Some days that’s a lot easier than others. I still have days (very rare) where I don’t feel like facing the world. I have days where I look at myself and see something other than the #strongbitch that I am. The strength that I show to pick myself back up and fight will never stop surprising me (I’m not crying, you’re crying).
How has rescue and fitness affected your life?
About eight years ago I was at a really low point. My eating disorder was out of control and I was so depressed I did not recognize myself. I started going to therapy and she recommended that I volunteer with dogs. It took me a few years but I eventually took her advice and found One Tail at a Time. Volunteering with OTAT gave me the passion, inspiration, and community I didn’t know I was missing. Obviously, being around dogs, in general, helped too. I mean, who doesn’t want to pet and kiss all the dogs? I 100% attribute my recovery at that time to finding OTAT.
Like OTAT, my Crossfit gym has made me a much happier person. I have always worked out but finding a place where women lift each other up and inspire each other is life changing. I am so grateful for both organizations.
Anything else you’d like to share? (Inspiring stories encouraged!)
I know that this is heavy and intense. As Caitlin likes to say, I feel my feelings 🙂 But this campaign means a lot to me and my story explains why it does. I am so proud to be a part of this and proud of the women who shared their stories!
Words won’t express how much I appreciate and value Johanna’s bravery in sharing her story. I am so proud of all she has accomplished and all she has fought for. Thank you Johanna, you are truly a remarkable person.
As I mentioned, this is the last #StrongBitch spotlight, but the campaign will continue through December. Join us next Sunday at noon at Chicago Primal Gym to workout and work up funds for One Tail at a Time. Sign up here, spots are limited! See you there.
Groovy(!) has been adopted BUT look at this little hippo named Freddy.
If you or a loved one are struggling with an eating disorder, you can call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline: 1-800-931-2237.