Muscle Sport Magazine

Stacked & Jacked JoNita Pauls – Back From the Brink

On the left is a picture of me at 115 pounds, which was taken during a relapse as recent as 2016 when my marriage was deteriorating from my ex-husband’s multiple affairs. Self-destruction is one of my MO’s and obviously something I’ve perfected over a lifetime of struggling with addiction, if you can be good at that sort of thing.


My addiction story started with alcohol in my late teens, then intravenous opiate abuse of all kinds – especially OxyContin and morphine – then ending with the biggest monkey on my back, intravenous methamphetamine abuse. I was arrested in June of 2012, weighing only 101.5 pounds in my intake report and running a temperature of over 103 degrees from a misfire in my forearm that was on the verge of gangrene, that had I not been arrested, would have resulted in me losing my arm or death. Death being something I was longing for during those dark days.


I was in prison on a five-year sentence on methamphetamine charges, much like many in my state of Oklahoma, who incarcerates more women per capita than any other state—about 151 out of every 100,000 women, double the national average. After three years, they spit me back out at the end of 2015, including the six months I served in county jail.


Trying to get myself in shape, I started with body weight exercises in my cell in county jail and prison, then lifting with a bar and two sets of dumbbells in my garage after release and eventually joining a gym. Lifting was my outlet, my constant, my way of staying in control. It brought me back to life, made me feel strong when addiction made me feel so weak, and was really the only thing that has been able to bring me back out of the hell that is addiction.


I’d be lying if I said I have beaten addiction. You don’t beat it; it is a lifetime sentence that you fight every day for the rest of your life. A dark mistress who lures you back when life gets too heavy or bad things happen you. A love-hate relationship of epic toxicity.



Most people look at me and see the finished product. They think I’ve always been fit and athletic, never knowing how many years I spent destroying my body through various chemical dependencies. I’m Type-A personality and I’m all or nothing, taking whatever I do to the extreme, much like all addicts. In the five years of strength training I’ve relapsed and lost it all and built it back more than once. You cannot stay down when you fall into the mud and even though I’ve fallen multiple times and stared the devil in the face, I’ll be damned if I let him win.



I do not write this for praise. I don’t feel it’s deserved necessarily and don’t want it to be the point of this post. I write this for others to better understand who I am and to show that if I can do this, then anyone can. For me it was a matter of life or death. But it doesn’t have to be just because of addiction. Being unhealthy, obese, depressed, hating the way you look, uncomfortable in your own skin, lost yourself over the years… whatever your struggle is, find your outlet. Find your way of taking your power back. If I can do it, YOU CAN too! 

FOLLOW JONITA ON INSTAGRAM – @stackedandjackedjo


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