I AM Ashley Johns.
I remember the girl I used to be. You never forget where you came from because it’s that girl and everything she went through, that made me the woman I am now and no matter what, she is always with me because she IS ME. No matter how far you come, how far you go or how big you Fierce Forward, you will always have challenges, hard days and months and maybe even a tough year, you will always be in question of yourself and you have to be because inquiry and challenge is opportunity for choice. The day you choose not to have choice is the day you give up.
I laid there, sprawled out on the hard floor in my apartment, looking up at the ceiling crying so hard it felt good. I had been hiding so long. I still remember that moment on my floor like it was yesterday. It was like, I finally gave up but at the same time, giving up on my Life in that moment, my Life before me opened up and I knew that I didn’t have to give up on my Life altogether. I knew I could choose…
On New Year’s Eve, I sat waiting for my date to celebrate a new year, looking down on the pile of clothes on my floor. Not one shirt or pair of pants fit me. The last thing I wanted to do was celebrate anything as I wondered how it all added up to this one evening. The truth was, I had let myself go and weighed the most I have ever weighed in my entire life. I was having anxiety attacks at my job because I was so unhappy with me, with my Life, with my choices.
The next morning, after a long evening of questioning and self-loathing, I woke up and started sifting through the pictures of myself from the evening before. Something in me wanted to fully acknowledge the truth of my reality; I lay down on my apartment floor, began accepting how far I had let myself go, and let it all out. After lying on my apartment floor for an hour, I walked over to the mirror, leaned in, and looked into my eyes. This was the moment I came face to face with the truth: I was afraid to stand up and be who I wanted to be in this life. It was not the fact that I was so rock bottom that scared me. It was the belief that I am capable of so much more. That moment of recognition, or a lack of recognition for that matter, was my turning point.
I had been hiding behind clothes, food, and Sex and the City reruns for far too long, and as painful as it was to face this reality, it was my awakening. This was my life, and there was no other option but to stop hiding behind food, face my fears, and move forward, fiercely. This is exactly what I did. In that moment, I chose to become the woman I wanted to be and live the Life I wanted to live and to do it NOW! So I began my journey of Fiercing Forward.
Fierce Forward empowers you to live the Life you want to live, to be the person you want to be and discover that loving yourself is the most important job you have.
That first year, I fell in love. I fell in love with moving forward for the girl I was learning to love and care for deeply. I began my relationship with loving myself and in the process, I lost forty pounds, became a Spokesmodel for Online Supplement Giant, Bodybuilding.com and shot a national ad campaign with them, to inspire others to Fierce Forward! I had never felt so much accomplishment and love for myself in my Life. But what I didn’t feel was good in my skin. I began depriving myself of carbohydrates and got down to my smallest frame. I thought I had to keep being better because that is what I began to know. I got to a point where I began bingeing and throwing up my food. My husband and I knew there was a problem but the months kept passing and one day, standing at the Olmypia Sports Festival in Las Vegas, wearing nothing but a sports bra, tight blue pants and a fake smile, I knew that I had lost Ash again. I had lost myself in the pursuit of more. I knew that once again I had a choice, that I could choose to move forward for me or I could continue spiraling downwards and…I chose Ashley.
I gave up many things that day. I gave up my Sponsorship with Bodybuilding.com for the opportunity to love myself again. I gave up Bodybuilding Competitions so that I could let go of the need to be as good or better than her. I let go of restricting myself with food for a better relationship with food and balance. People who were inspired by my journey and my weight loss stopped following me because I started gaining weight in the process of finding balance and my health again. I struggled with the idea that I no longer inspired and that something I once had, I had to let go of. I gave up a lot of things that day but what I gave it up for was and always will be the most important thing…Ashley.
I began a new Journey forward. I was liberated and free from feeling I always had to be reaching for more or a better, skinnier, more beautiful me. I knew my choice was the right one, just as it was that day I looked myself in the mirror and chose to move forward for me again. You see, what I have learned in all of this challenge, is that my home is not the pursuit of more, but the nourishment of the girl I love. I now understand that I have to stay close to her and what she needs on a level bigger and more fierce than what my body composition is or what my accomplishments are in Life. I have to keep this girl close to my heart and that is my Truth and that is where I am living authentically.
Today, I still have challenges and I still think about how my path could have been different if I would have made healthier choices back then, along the way of fiercing forward but I don’t stay in my past too long because I know that that does not serve my Good. What serves me is to be in relationship with my Vision and to create that in my present. Sometimes, I can feel myself slowly getting away from my self, creeping into the pursuit of more. And when that happens, I have to remember my Why. My purpose is to empower others to live Life Fiercely, to be the person they want to be and to discover that loving themselves is the fiercest job of all. I always come back to that.
Below is a video I made when the road got hard and I needed to remember my strength. This video is the journey of a girl Fiercing Forward for her and no matter what size I am, what opportunities I am currently fostering in this moment in my Life, I will always be inspired by this girl who began all of this by one single choice to Fierce Forward. This girl is me, she is you and she is within all of us. We all have choice. We can all choose in any moment to Fierce Forward in our lives and for our selves. The choice begins with you. Something I began saying along the way that has always helped me keep my Purpose close is: it’s not hard work, it’s heart work.
Ashley is a certified Transformational Goal Coach, Personal Trainer and Yoga Teacher. She is also certified in Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
“I’ve always believed we are capable of anything. To come out of hiding, to open your heart to the possibilities and to run, fiercely towards what you want…that is living.” Ashley Johns
Thank you for showing up BIG for you and choosing to Fierce Forward in your Life and for you Self! I welcome you to begin your Journey at any time, to take the tools you need from the Fierce Forward website and to join our Community to share your story and connect with other women Fiercing Forward.
Read Ashley’s Transformation Story here.
Read Ashley’s TinyBuddha.com article on Conquering Your Fear and Living Your Fiercest Life here.
Read Ashley’s Interview with Rock Your Bliss on how she handles setbacks here.
Read Ashley’s Interview with Mantra Magazine on how she Reconnects to her Self through Meditation here.