F&F Holiday Hustle Challenge: Reflections and Sponsor Shout Out

Where do I even start?

In the few years that I’ve had this blog, I’ve run a couple different challenges for my readers. There was my 31 Day Ab Challenge, April Arms, Fall Into Fitness, and Jingle Well Time. None of these even come close to the experience that hosting the Holiday Hustle Challenge for five weeks this holiday season gave me.

Fitness & Feta Holiday Hustle Challenge

I never know what to expect when launching a challenge on the blog, but this one far exceeded my expectations. All the other challenges I’ve run had a very specific check in item (different abs exercise each day, different arm exercise each day, etc.), but I left this one much more open-ended and up to individual interpretation. Each day of the month had a suggested check in theme, and I tried to make the daily themes span all areas of wellness for a holistic approach that would appeal to everyone. After all, there is no one size fits all approach to wellness.

Here’s a recap of what the daily themes were:

Holiday Hustle Check Ins

Week 2 Check Ins

Week 3 Check Ins

Week 4 Check Ins

Week 5 Check Ins

Every Sunday, I sent the group of women who signed up for the challenge a motivational email. Along with the suggested check ins, the email contained whatever inspiration I felt like throwing their way that week. I provided sample 30 minute or less workout suggestions for moving at work, bodyweight, strength, cardio, circuits, ab burners, and stretching. Some of the workouts were on the blog already, while some were new that I created videos for and put on YouTube. I also gave three stress less tips and multiple recipe suggestions for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and something sweet each week.

During the week, participants were encouraged to share their check ins and experiences on the social media channel of their choice using a hashtag specific to this challenge, #ffholidayhustle. If you are interested, check out the feeds from Twitter and Instagram! It’s fun to scroll through and see what types of things people posted.

Holiday Hustle InstagramHoliday Hustle Instagram

I won’t lie, I did expect more posts to come in via Instagram and Twitter. I’m also not sure how to gauge how much the participants used the suggested workouts, recipes, and stress less tips other than what a few people told me and my open click rate in my MailChimp stats. However, the most surprising and eye-opening part of the challenge was how active the group was on the private Holiday Hustle Facebook group. It was so incredibly inspiring to see a group of strangers with varying degrees of fitness levels and health connect with each other in this way. People shared their personal take on each day’s word, and whether it was sharing a small daily success or opening up about a personal struggle, EVERYONE was so encouraging to each other. My favorite days were strength (the conversation took a turn toward mental strength), kindness (we learned how much harder it is to be kind to ourselves than it is to be nice to others), hydration (got so many good ideas from everyone!), and weight (shit got deep).

Holiday Hustle Post 3Holiday Hustle Post: Weight Holiday Hustle Post 2Holiday Hustle Post 4

I want to take a minute to share what some participants had to say as the challenge came to an end because what they have to say sums everything up way better than I ever could:

“I have really enjoyed these 5 weeks. Not only having a focus every day to help keep on track thru the holiday season, new meal ideas, workouts, etc. – but the camaraderie has been awesome. I have really enjoyed interacting with all of you.”

“Thank you to everyone for all the inspiration, encouragement, and kindness over the past 5 weeks. This was a great experience in so many ways. One surprising way – I realized the positive power of social media. I so often get depressed by and yet sucked into social media.This experience showed me it can be different. Thank you Athena for bringing us together and continuing to be a source of positivity!”

“Oh my – really I can not believe 5 weeks is up! I must say this has been one of the best challenges I have been a part of! I loved checking in daily seeing everyone’s honest posts! This group is incredible everyone showed so much motivation, inspiration and dedication! It’s great how it connected a variety of people unfamiliar with one another. Everyone opened up and shared strengths, weakness, helpful tips, and much more! It’s been a great 5 weeks! Truly inspired!”

“Thank you Athena for creating our holiday hustle group! It has been wonderful motivation and so inspirational for me, especially during a hectic and stressful season. I am looking forward to carrying these thoughts and new ideas into 2015. I have loved “meeting” all of you.”

“I have to say, I am loving that this challenge has really gotten so many people to open up and share-both struggles and triumphs, as well as ideas and tips! What an amazing group of women! It is eye-opening to see that we all struggle with something, whether it be body-image, getting enough water or miles or sleep, everyone has something to work on and everyone has something to offer. I have enjoyed this month and seeing all the motivation and positivity!”

“It has always been hard for me to be honest about various struggles and still have people by my side, and it sounds like so many of these women have experienced similar things or are just genuine in that they don’t judge people the way I have been judged in the past. I’m sure you never know what you’re going to get when you start a challenge, but I want you to know that the posts have been inspiring and encouraging for me, and have been a great way for me to seek support throughout a difficult time of year. This group is absolutely amazing, and though we don’t know one another personally, I feel a connection to these beautiful people who have shown me that it’s ok to be honest and “imperfect.”  I hope you recognize the impact these posts make in people’s lives, even if just for a few weeks!”

Wow. Just wow.

Hosting this challenge was so incredibly fulfilling to me, and I’ve never felt more inspired to take this blog to a new level than I do now. The holiday hustle pretty much clinched that I need to be doing MORE of this kind of thing, in whatever capacity I can, and LESS of the things that no longer serve me. I’ve realized that inspiring people to be kind to themselves and show themselves self compassion while on their healthy living journey is my CALLING. I won’t lie, there were several times during the challenge that I was brought to tears by some of the stories participants shared, especially when it was someone having an a-ha moment. I am so grateful to have made a difference in people’s lives. I wish I could offer something like this year round, but I don’t have the time or manpower at this point in my life since, well, this isn’t my full-time job, and it’s a lot of work on my end!

we rise quote

My goal with the F&F Holiday Hustle was to inspire women to take care of themselves and thrive throughout the holidays. I wanted everyone to focus on fun, community, small things they could do for themselves and their health, making connections, kindness, and living in the moment. And I think everyone would agree that we’re all starting 2015 not only a little healthier, but with the right mindset because of the positive choices we made for ourselves in December.


My heart is happy. Thank you to everyone who participated!

Before I go, I want to give a special shout out to the companies who sponsored the F&F Holiday Hustle Challenge by donating prizes so I could also incentivize the challenge and select a weekly check in winner:

F&F Holiday Hustle Sponsors

Readers, let’s chat! Did you participate in my Holiday Hustle Challenge? If so, what was your favorite part? How did it help you through the holidays? How do you think I could improve the challenge for next year? If you did not participate, do you think it’s something you would want to do next year?

To stay apprised of future F&F challenges, news, and upcoming events, and to receive material that’s not always on the blog, make sure to subscribe to my newsletter! I will be sending another one out in the next couple of weeks.

Happy New Year! Make Commitments, Not Resolutions

Happy New Year!

Whether you rang in 2015 with a crazy night out, a nice dinner, or a low-key night at home in your sweats, I hope you had a great time and were able to live in the moment.

A lot of people use the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day to reflect on the year past and review their goals for 2015. Along the same lines, a lot of bloggers use this time to post their “best of recipes/workouts/etc.” posts and give a rundown of both blog and life highlights.

I typically like to let the holiday hustle die down a bit before I do any reflecting or commitment making of my own. I don’t think there’s any magic rule that says all of that needs to be done by January 1st.

One thing I do want to do today is point out how I used the phrase “commitment making.” I didn’t say anything about New Year’s resolutions.

When I hear the word resolution, it makes me think of the result of something that was once broken or a situation that needed fixing. Every year, millions of people make New Year’s resolutions, and this has a very rear-view mirror way of looking at things, don’t you think? By making New Year’s resolutions, we essentially acknowledge all the baggage and crap we’ve carried around. We dwell on the things we’ve done incorrectly in some way, and then through our New Year’s resolutions, we resolve to fix them.

When we resolve to fix something, it implies that something was broken in the first place.

That seems like a pretty negative way of looking at things, if you ask me. Not exactly the way I would want to start fresh and anew.

My advice to you this year? Forget all the crap!

If we kick off 2015 focused on what we CAN’T eat anymore or what behaviors we WON’T do anymore, then we will immediately start our year with a deprivation mindset. It will make us feel like these items are off-limits, and that’s typically when we’ll feel MORE compelled to eat the junk or indulge in the “bad” behaviors.

So let’s make a little shift this year. Let’s make POSITIVE commitments for ourselves instead by looking ahead. Let’s ask ourselves:

  • What WILL I do this year?
  • What foods will I eat MORE of?
  • What behaviors will I START doing?

new years resolutions


To commit to something means to make a pledge or promise. Today, or when it feels right for you, set yourself up for success and make a commitment that is meaningful to YOU.

Pledge to take positive action.

Promise yourself you will add choices and behaviors that add purpose, health, and happiness to your life.

Isn’t this a much more positive way to start the year than looking back on the could have, should have, and would have?

Readers, let’s chat! I’m wondering, what do you think of this concept? Have you made any personal commitments yet for 2015?

Wishing everyone a fresh start and a wonderful first weekend of the new year. ❤

F&F Holiday Hustle Challenge! 5 Weeks of Healthy Holiday Motivation

Good morning! I have some exciting stuff to announce today, so let’s get right to it.

It’s been a while since I hosted a blog challenge. Who remembers my 31 Day Ab Challenge, April Arms, Fall Into Fitness, and Jingle Well Time? It seems like these were forever ago, and as I was putting this blog post together last night, I realized that they were done in 2013! Since I don’t want 2015 to roll in without having done a blog challenge in 2014, I’ve decided to launch a little holiday fun to close out the year.

Fitness & Feta Holiday Hustle Challenge

I invite you all to take part in the F&F Holiday Hustle challenge! This challenge consists of five weeks of healthy holiday motivation, and it’s all FREE as my holiday gift to you for being so freaking awesome.

What is the Holiday Hustle challenge about?

THRIVING during the holidays! This challenge is about fun, community, small things you can do for yourself and for your health, focusing on how you feel instead of how you look, making connections, kindness, getting out of your comfort zone, and living in the moment. It’s about starting 2015 a little healthier, but more importantly with the right mindset because of positive choices you’ve made for yourself in December.

What ISN’T the Holiday Hustle challenge about?

SURVIVING the holidays. This challenge is NOT about comparing yourself to others, weight, obsessing about food or fitness, numbers on the scale, beating yourself up, negativity, stressing about doing things the right way, putting too much pressure on yourself, and just trying to get by. It’s not about starting 2015 frustrated with yourself and feeling down about all the things you “did wrong” in December.

When will the Holiday Hustle challenge take place?

The challenge will run from Monday 12/1/14 through Sunday 1/4/15.

How will the Holiday Hustle challenge be communicated?

Every Sunday, I will send an email to all Holiday Hustle participants. The email will contain a variety of suggested workouts geared toward all fitness levels that can be done in 10, 20, or 30 minutes. The email will also provide a few different meal and snack ideas for each week, some stress management techniques to try, and whatever motivation I feel like throwing at you that week!

How will Holiday Hustle challenge participation be tracked?

All check ins will be done on your social media outlet of choice (Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram). My Sunday emails will have suggested check in topics for each day of the week, but I want this challenge to be FUN and about what thriving through the holiday hustle means to you. That said, your check ins can be about ANY healthy choice that you make for yourself during the day, no matter how big or small. I want these check ins to be creative, and I don’t want anyone to feel any pressure!

What should the Holiday Hustle check ins include?

For your social media check ins, please tag me @fitnessandfeta in your Twitter/Instagram check ins and pull in my Fitness & Feta Facebook page for any Facebook check ins. Please also always use #ffholidayhustle. This is a hashtag unique to this challenge, and it’s how I will be able to keep track of you guys! I recommend following me on each of these outlets to make it easier come challenge time:

How do the Holiday Hustle challenge prizes work?

Every week there will be a weekly winner! I have some fun companies sponsoring this challenge such as Women’s Health, Drink Maple, and Words to Sweat By. I’m still organizing some of these details along with lining up some more companies to participate, but each week I will choose a winner to receive a fun combination of prizes. Winners will be picked based on social media engagement. You don’t necessarily have to be spot on with completing all the challenges perfectly, but I want to see creative posts, kindness to yourselves, and encouragement of others checking in #ffholidayhustle.

How do I join the Holiday Hustle challenge?

Just fill out the Google form below or click here! Your information will not be shared with anyone. I will not be posting these challenges on the blog, so if I don’t get your signup information, I won’t know to email you!

I think that’s all you need to know for now! I hope that you will join me for the fun so we can make this the best holiday season yet!