I’m not going to lie, I feel like a feminist just by deciding to WRITE this post, but here’s the deal. Apparently it is ‘Women’s History Month’ and I have one more day to capitalize on this. AND I am now a proud, proud Ambassador of the Movemeant Foundation (I apologize, but you are going to hear a lot about this organization this year…take it or leave it)…which is completely centered around empowering women through strength, movement, fitness, body confidence, etc. Makes sense that I am about to showcase the top 10 influential women in my life, doesn’t it?
I feel that as March comes to an end, it is only appropriate that I pay some well-deserved homage to the top 10 women, both ever-present in my life and that I admire from afar, who inspire and influence me in one way or another. In a world where we are often times our own biggest critic, watching others who are successful at paving their own way or doing something worthy of accolade is like adding fuel to the fire – it ignites something within us. Mankind is extremely symbiotic in that regard – whether we know it or not, we all need each other.
Read below for the women in my life that I am inspired by…and enjoy!
My Mom, Kelley Granger. This feels like a pretty cliche one, no? I admire this woman because while she has made some mistakes in her life (who hasn’t?), she has found a way to gracefully remedy those and ultimately come out on TOP, becoming one of the most cherished people in our lives. One of the biggest lessons I have learned from her is how to repair, grow, and maintain relationships. Life hasn’t always been perfect in the way of a “mother daughter” relationship with us, particularly when I was an adolescent, but this woman has shown me and taught me so many things about resilience, about ‘letting go’, about having faith, and about LOVE. She is one of the most beautiful, successful, insanely happy people I know…and it’s because she did the work on herself. She’s also MY biggest cheerleader, and ultimately one of my best friends. I literally do not know what I would do without this woman.
Kristina Ohlson. A fellow Sheepdog and total badass martial arts expert/instructor, Kristina came into our GoRuck workout group as the 2nd female behind me. At first I was honestly a little skeptical, hoping this wouldn’t be some girl trying to show me up or worse, weak. Kristina blew me away – not only by her grit and strength, but the things that resonate the most with me are her ability to see life situations with a level of objectivity, her honesty, and her ability to relate to every single person she encounters. Beyond her physical strength, her mental maturity and strength truly inspire me to be a better, more understanding, more balanced person. I am truly blessed to call this gal a friend.
Paige Bowie. I have never met her, but she is a GoRuck legend as the only female to ever finish Selection (a 48-hour individual GoRuck event where ONLY the best of the best, the strongest of the strongest, finish). This alone classifies her as someone who is worthy of admiration. To mentally survive this type of event requires an insane amount of strength. By trade, she is also a Firefighter, which in and of itself is an admirable trait – she thrives on saving lives. Overall, I hope to become half as strong as this woman in my athletic and personal endeavors.
Chrissie Wellington. An absolute Ironman legend as a 4-time Ironman Kona World Champion, she’s known as ‘that athlete’ that not only wins everything, but she does it with an insane SMILE on her face. This is the part that I admire most about her. She cherishes every single part of the experience and absolutely loves what she does. She is humble, thankful, constantly positive, leads a truly passionate existence, and is what every athlete hopes for themselves. She also proves that this is possible with the right attitude. I plan on channeling Chrissie many times throughout my first Ironman.
My cousin, Whitney Peek. Whit is a nurse, an athlete, incredibly dedicated to her family, and one of those people you just cannot dislike. She is my age, and was diagnosed with MS last year. The amount of grace she has handled this life altering diagnosis with is awe-inspiring. It’s as if she said “Ok, so this is how it’s going to be, well let’s adjust and keep living.” Perhaps things are upsetting or hard for her, but this woman (in true Dal Porto fashion) puts on a brave face, makes the necessary changes, and keeps going. She’s an admirable, beautiful woman I am proud to be related to.
Leslie Kelly. Leslie and I climbed Mt. Shasta together a few years ago with the Breast Cancer Fund, and while I learned a lot about her story…what I took away was her insane strength. She’s suffered from Breast Cancer for many years, and has a history (that she is very open about) with alienating people and things in her life, but her motto now is to “show up no matter what.” She is vulnerable, open, hopeful, loving, active…and the true definition of “being strong through adversity” for me. I am so lucky to have witnessed a part of her journey, and I follow her as she fights her terrible disease very closely.
My Aunt Tina. I don’t think either of us will ever forget, when I was a child and she was pregnant with my now-cousin, she had a very difficult pregnancy that almost took her life. My “Thanksgiving wish” was that “my Aunt Tina didn’t die.” It touched her heart then, but she really touches my heart now. She’s insanely intelligent, strong, resilient, funny, witty, gorgeous, and one of those people who, for some reason, I have always looked up to. What I love about her is her strong personality. She is “unapologetically herself.” It is a state I constantly strive for and look up to her for, and alongside overcoming extreme adversity, she exemplifies this for me.
Amy Schumer. We all know who she is, and probably all admire her for the same reason – she’s comfortable in her own skin and she inspires us all to be as well. She’s also adorable, funny as can be, and talented. What I love is that she teaches girls that beauty is not just about being a size 2. You can be loved, admired, adored, and successful at any size. I think this is a message that women need, a message that is long overdue, and one I need to remind myself of from time to time. I adore her for living this message out in true authenticity.
My Aunt Sandy. She passed away just shy of 2 years ago, and it was one of the hardest things I, and my family, have likely been through. Sandy was the DEFINITION of strength as she fought her extremely rare disease, giving it everything she had and then some. Sandy was the matriarch of our family, and one of the strongest, most giving, beautiful hearts I have known. She had every single person she met wrapped around her finger, but the greatest thing was that she did so by being 100% genuinely HER. The other thing that I love most about her is that she really took care of the Dal Porto heritage. Her family and our history was something she held very close to her heart, and not only that, she made everyone that came into the family feel loved. She will be missed more than words can ever express.
Christi Leong. A former/fellow Cal Triathlon team member, everyone looked up to Christi. She was not only president of our team, but one of the most fun-loving, fiercely loyal, inspiring athletes on the team. She is a multi-time Ironman, but boasts such a welcoming and calm demeanor, and is somehow able to see humor and happiness in every situation. Goofy yet serious, dedicated yet not rigid, she embodies a lot of traits I work really hard on. She’s always been an inspiration, as well as a friend, to me for years and I imagine she will be for years to come.