Guest Post! A Fitness 2013 Highlight

Hi friends!  Today one of my April Arms Challenge participants, Gillian, has offered to share her experience with all of you!  Enjoy!

A Fitness 2013 Highlight:  Athena’s April Arms Challenge

Last month I had the pleasure of participating in the April Arms Challenge from Athena at Fitness & Feta, that I sourced via Healthy Living Blogs.  I can’t tell you how great it is to be connected with so many great health and fitness related communities.

Healthy Living Blogs

I wasn’t too sure what to expect, as this was my first time coming into contact with Athena, but I was in for a very welcome surprise.  First, I loved the way the challenge was organized, before each week we were provided with a Google document containing a week’s worth of daily workouts.  Each workout was designed to challenge the various muscle groups of our upper body and to cater for the differing levels of fitness of the participants.  There was the standard exercise and then options to make it more challenging or easier.  For the exercises requiring equipment, there was also the option of using household items like canned food, etc. to increase the resistance.

April Arms Challenge Example

Although the focus of this challenge was our upper body, we also had exercises which worked our other muscles too.  This was great as we cannot spot train – there is no guarantee where our body will decide to tone first.  Another area that Athena’s challenge introduced was some of the various training methods that can be used in your workouts, with explanations on how they work.  So our challenge for the day could be supersets, Tabata, circuits, etc.  This was good for me as although I feel my workouts are quite varied, there is still scope to use some other techniques to maximize on my workouts.

An important area of training is tracking your progress.  Athena covered this by providing a tracking spreadsheet for each week where we could mark off completing the exercise, weight used, number of reps, and anything else we wanted to comment on.  Also, each week the exercises progressed from the previous week to help us push ourselves and improve our fitness levels.


Last but not least, there were prizes.  All participants who completed 20 days of the challenge were entered into the prize draw.  So a win win – you get daily workouts, you get to increase your fitness levels and tone up, and you could potentially win a prize too.

So how did I fare, as you can probably tell I loved the challenge.  It appealed to my need to keep the variety in my workouts, and it was a great addition to my existing workout regime.  I completed every workout, although I saved the last circuit workout to the weekend after the challenge completed due to time constraints.  Will I be using the exercises in my own training, definitely!  Would I sign up for another of Athena’s challenge, a resounding yes!  Don’t just take my word for it, connect with Athena that way you can join in next time too.


Gillian Stephen is a fitness and nutrition coach, and also a mother of two (a one-year old and a four-year old) that keep her very busy.  The main areas that she focuses on are weight loss and pre and post natal.  The latter certification was brought about by her own pregnancies when she realized the importance of her own diet and fitness through pregnancy and post natal, to regain her shape and prior fitness levels.  She supports individuals by helping them put together a strategy for weight loss.  It incorporates making better food choices and fitting exercise into their busy schedules, such that they lose the weight and keep it off – a true lifestyle change.

To contact Gillian:
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Thank you, Gillian, for your guest post and your wonderful words about the April Arms Challenge!  You were a wonderful participant!

Mid-Week Randoms

Ever just feel in a RANDOM mood?


Yeah, that’s how I’m feeling today.  And by today I mean last night when I actually sat down to write this post.  I have a bunch of posts I want to write, but last night I just wasn’t in the mood to write about any of them.  So instead, you get some F&F randomness.  Stick with me here, people.

— FIRST and FOREMOST:  Slesh asked me to be the maid of honor in her wedding!  YAYYYYY.  I have only ever been in one wedding before, and it was Auntie Paula’s when I was an extremely awkward 11 year old junior bridesmaid.  If you can even believe that.  I know you probably can’t.  Anyways, Slesh asked me a couple of weekends ago by just blurting it out in her room the next morning after I slept over after a night out in Davis Square.  We started jumping up and down and yelling and crying a little.  Her neighbors asked her later what all the ruckus was about, but I’m sure they understand.  I’m SO excited to be standing up there with my bestie on her special day.  Hopefully I can pull it together so everyone thinks I’m dainty and sophisticated!

me and slesh

— Last night I made a themed workout playlist, the first in what feel’s like a while.  Inspired by a recent post in the Recycle Studio blog, I was feelin’ me some Flo Rida.  So Flo Rida it was.  We got low and we left with a good feeling.  Terrible joke, I know.  Moving right along.

Flo Rida Workout Playlist

— Ooo, ooo.  New fitness toys are always fun.  Right?

Thera Roll

April Arms Challenge peeps, don’t forget to be checking off your workouts on our tracking spreadsheet.  It’s almost time to pick some challenge winners!  Don’t let your motivation die down in the last week.  Keep at it… blast those biceps today!  Anyone noticing results?

— Do you follow me on FacebookTwitterInstagramPinterest?  How exhausting is social media sometimes?  But I love it.


— I’m seeing Jillian Michaels’ Maximize Your Life tour in exactly one week from today!  Heading to Lowell with Ashley and Lauren to feel inspired.  I seriously can’t wait.  I wish it were a workout with Jillian, but then I think I might die and then what else would you guys read to procrastinate your work day in the morning? (I kid).  QUESTION:  If you could take part in a workout with Jillian, would you purposely slack off just so she’d come over to you and probably get right in your face and yell?!  Or would you try to impress her?  Tim asked me that the other day, and I’m still thinking about my answer.  I don’t think he intended it to be such a thought-provoking question, but I thought you guys might understand.

— Other upcoming events I’m excited for:  Rescheduled NH weekend getaway with Tim, blogger fitness event at The Studio Empower, two much-needed girls nights in May, Wellness by the Water retreat with Monique, and Greek Easter!

Easter Egg Bracketology

— Fav fitness move of the week:  Stability ball V-Sits.  Yup.  Check out #14 in this link.  The rest of the moves are good too, but I’m loving these!  A nice twist on one of my favorite core exercises.

I think that’s enough randomness for today, yes?

Let’s chat… about something random happening in your life!  Ready… go.

Hope to be back tomorrow with a bigger and better desire to write!

Mentionable Monday Things

Yesterday was a good day.  Just wanted to share some mentionable things from my Monday!

— I made it to the gym by 6:10am.  On Mondays, this doesn’t always happen for me (it’s so hard after the weekend!), but yesterday I was determined to have some extra free “me” time at night.  I did the 3-2-1 cardio workout on this week’s Best Body Bootcamp plan.  For some reason, I’m not sick of the treadmill yet despite doing a few runs last week, so my workout ended up looking like this:

3-2-1 Treadmill Workout

My cardio was 35 minutes total, but depending on how many intervals of 3-2-1 you decide to do, you could make this as short or long as you want.  I think I maybe could have even gone a bit faster with my miles per hour, but I didn’t want to push it on my foot!  After my run, I did my pyramid pushups for day 1 of my April Arms Challenge, and I also did some ab work.

— Speaking of pyramid pushups, I got lots of fun feedback from them!  Check out some of these tweets:

  • @MelKrack: Ending the day with @fitnessandfeta’s #aprilarms pyramid pushups.  Holy wtf was that?!
  • @EricaJeanC:  Just finished day 1 of @fitnessandfeta #AprilArmsChallenge!  Really felt the extra work on the shoulders.  Can’t wait for day two!
  • @Ready2GetSweaty:  Day 1 – April Arm’s Challenge complete!  @fitnessandfeta’s pyramid pushups after 100 in crossfit were just wonderful 🙂
  • @berubeka:  Holy burn from push-up ladders @fitnessandfeta #AprilArmsChallenge
  • @mes613:  @fitnessandfeta just completed Day 1 of #AprilArmsChallenge! #gettingafterit #monday #gunsout
  • @achachi12:  Sore from Day 1 #AprilArmsChallenge!  Looking forward to completing the month!

Keep ’em coming you guys!  Hope you guys ROCK your triceps superset today.

— Last night I did my Sunday food prep a day late because I just didn’t feel like doing it on Sunday night after spending the day at Tim’s aunt’s house for Easter.  In this week’s prep is grilled chicken, frozen Greek yogurt bars, hard-boiled eggs, cottage cheese with strawberries and slivered almonds (I’m really changing it up with strawbs instead of bluebs), grapes, unsalted cashews, a couple regular salads, and a southwestern inspired shrimp quinoa that I actually threw together without a recipe.

Sunday Food Prep

— While I food prepped, Tim made dinner and it was AWESOME:

Mexican Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

I had seen a recipe in a blog a few weeks ago (forget which blog) for stuffed sweet potatoes, and this is what Tim came up with.  I’ll post the recipe soon!  I can’t wait to eat that second one for dinner tonight.

— Last night I also participated in my very first Twitter chat with some other Best Body Bootcamp participants.  Tim came home and said, “Um are you in a chat room?”  I guess I kind of was?  It was great though!  What an awesome community of people, and now I actually understand how Twitter chats work.  Very cool.

Anything mentionable from your Monday!?  If not, perhaps a terrific Tuesday is in store!

Can’t wait to be back to Two A Day tonight!