“My Hiller Challenge”: Part 2, Doing Hard Things

February 6, 2024 by
Credit: VNDK8 Equipment Company,
Enjoying Morning Chalk Up? Access additional exclusive interviews, analyses, and stories with an Rx membership.

My year-long “Hiller Challenge” started on January 8, 2024.

During that very first week, I found myself immersed in deep reflection. I felt a horrible pang of hypocrisy. 

I had always motivated my team and those I coached to tackle challenging tasks, to “do hard things,” and to embrace the discomfort that comes with bravery. Yet, I wasn’t living up to my own advice, and I certainly wasn’t walking the talk.

I was constantly hiding, seldom attending events, and meticulously curating the images that graced my social media. I suspect this behavior was born out of embarrassment and shame, as I had not yet achieved the progress I consistently assured everyone was attainable. 

I knew it was time to step up and become the example I had failed to be.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Athena Perez (@athenamariebt)

I had never bared myself like this before. I sobbed for 30 minutes before making that post. 

I couldn’t think of anything else I would rather avoid, but astonishingly, the moment I hit send and knew the post was live for all to see, it brought an immediate sense of peace. I realized I had been my own roadblock. 

That was all on me.

I was also wrestling with feelings of hypocrisy when it came to Andrew Hiller

I had previously decided that I didn’t like him, perhaps due to the seemingly overly (at least to me) aggressive demeanor that came across in those videos. Yet, I always urged others not to judge anyone until they actually spent time with that person. 

Our Working with Larger Bodies seminar talks extensively about the pitfalls of making assumptions about people. It felt like I was facing the same assignment I had tasked my class with.

Truth be told, I was reluctant to move forward. However, I made the conscious decision to revisit a few more of those Hiller videos I strongly disliked. 

After rewatching at least three of them, I found myself at a loss to pinpoint exactly what had bothered me so profoundly. Why had these videos unsettled me so much the first time around? 

There were moments when I even found myself chuckling. I realized that I had overlooked the broader message during my initial viewing.

When it comes to understanding people, we’re often as clueless as a bat in daylight. We interact not with the person but with our perception of them, which is pretty unreliable.

People sometimes say “I’ll believe it when I see it,” but that’s not really how it works. We see what we want to believe.

And we’re quick to label and place people in “boxes” based on superficial clues, like an aggressive tone or loud edited scenes with dancing eyebrows. 

We’re all actors, trying to control how others perceive us, sometimes unintentionally emphasizing certain attributes over others. 

In the end, we rarely show our true selves to anyone. So, next time you think you’ve got someone figured out, remember this: people aren’t boxes. And the boxes we put them in? They’re often as accurate as a weather forecast.

Sometimes our mindset and mental wellness victories are our biggest gains.  

The journey so far:

Day #: 28


  • After a grueling six-year marathon since double knee replacement, I finally landed my first lunge.
  • I’ve shed 22 pounds, my clothes are beginning to feel loose, and my cheeks? Perpetually painted rosey.
  • My confidence is growing, and I’ve rekindled the flame of my “why.” After being in a rut for what felt like an eternity, it’s exhilarating to be building momentum!


  • We know so little about each other, yet we’re quick to form opinions. And yes, I confess, I’m guilty of it too.
  • It’s impossible to be everyone’s cup of tea. I myself might just be the villain in someone else’s narrative.
  • Let’s toss the rulebook out the window, shall we? When it comes to meals, there’s no such thing as a playbook. Breakfast? It doesn’t have to be a yawn-inducing parade of eggs or oatmeal.

Get the Newsletter

For a daily digest of all things CrossFit. Community, Competitions, Athletes, Tips, Recipes, Deals and more.

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.