A Little Bit of Kindness Goes a Long Way

How a Company’s Mission TransPHORMed My Life

“Ew, really?! You took that from the bathroom?!” my lab partner exclaimed when I enthusiastically showed her the note I pulled from a “Kindness Jar,” left in the Science Hall bathroom.

I thought the jar was the neatest thing. “Take a piece of paper + smile,” it read. So, I thought “why not?!”

The paper I pulled said “Dream BIG! You can rattle the stars :)”

WOW. I snapped a pic and shoved it in my pocket before returning to Microbiology lecture.

Some people may have pulled that from the jar, laughed, and trashed it.

To me, this little piece of paper was a sign. I held onto it – it’s proudly displayed on our living room cubby.

You see – around this time I was feeling… “funny.” Not funny in a literal sense; funny as in uneasy, off, weird.

At this time, I was 4 months away from earning my B.S. in Dietetics. After nearly 6 years of college, I was finally going to get my first degree. I had already completed my undergrad Supervised Practice requirements as part of my Coordinated Program of Dietetics. I was at the top of my cohort; I had a 3.9 GPA; I participated in research on campus; I was minoring in biology, even added Exercise Science curriculum – You would think I was ecstatic.

I wasn’t. Not at all. Actually, I was discontented.

After all of this hard work in academia I was going to start my Graduate program and go on to become a Registered Dietitian. And while I dream of adding those letters after my name: “Hannah Holshue, M.S. RD” – my literal dreams [nightmares] woke me at night; left me unable to sleep despite feeling drained and exhausted. I often wondered if I was on the wrong path.

Why? Because the thought of following the “typical” clinical route in Dietetics brought me down. Like, really down.

I got into Nutrition & Dietetics to help people; to change lives; to make a difference. Yet here I was in a classroom full of people I don’t fit in with, being told to look for ways to diagnose “malnutrition” for insurance purposes.

I would always tell myself: “You’re too far in. Just power through.”

But the day I pulled that note from the jar, I had an epiphany.

I was meant for bigger things.


February 5, 2020

I saw a targeted advertisement: “DO YOU WANT TO BE THE NEXT BIG THING?” It was for an Athlete Search for a company called 1st Phorm

I didn’t know much about the company or what it stands for; I just knew it was a respected brand in the fitness industry. “Hey, should I enter this?” I jokingly asked Andrew (my fiancé) from across the table.

“Why not?” I thought – I’ll do anything to procrastinate this lab report. So, I filled out the application and got the “you’re in” email. Instructions followed. Get to know the brand, start your campaign, make videos. Yeah, okay – in my spare time.

February 6, 2020

I stepped out of micro lab to sneak in my mid-morning protein and empty my bladder. I didn’t want to return to class, so I decided to take a walk downstairs and use the bathroom by the Planetarium. I never use the downstairs bathroom. Like, ever.

Guess what was sitting by the bathroom sinks? The Kindness Jar. That little piece of paper was a sign: a sign to pursue the dreams that had me tossing and turning every night. But how? Maybe I should take this Athlete Search seriously, I thought. 

That night I went home and researched the company. I landed on the “Brand” page of 1stphorm.com. I was expecting to see half-naked fitness models intensely drinking pre-workout. 

Instead, I saw “Who We Are.” It read:

“It’s that crazy vision of what you truly aspire to be in life that recurs over and over and over again. The courage one must possess to go after that dream is what sets extraordinary people apart from everyone else.

Fear must be eliminated, faith must prevail and you have to trust wholeheartedly that you can achieve and become your vision. The path may not always be clear, but you can’t let that stop you from taking action to pursue the end result you believe in. Every single day you have the choice of whether to take steps toward or away from that dream, but regardless of what you choose the dream will always exist…

It is up to you to take steps against the grain, against all odds, against all negative influences, against all the nonbelievers and move forward daily with all of your heart. It is up to you to believe in yourself. It’s up to you to have the courage to be the best. It is up to you to Never Settle.”

Dumbfounded, I sat at my laptop with no words. This is it, I thought.. All this time I wondered how. 1st Phorm is how.

I started a script for my Athlete Search entry video. Hours turned into days of writing. I had to put my life story out there. I had to get over the fear of judgement that was holding me back. I had to tell everyone my why.

On minimal sleep between work shifts, Andrew and I spent 2 full weekends filming and editing. I searched 3 old laptops for pictures from my darkest times. I didn’t tell my friends. They didn’t know about the Athlete Search – or about my past. In hindsight, no one really knew me. I spent years hiding. But this was it – this was my chance to clear the air.

And so, I created a YouTube channel to share my story.

I nearly sh*t a brick in the process, but I hit “upload.”

My heart was pounding, I felt physically sick. How will people respond? Will they view me differently? Think less of me? Maybe they won’t even watch…I’m a nobody.

Nearly 7 THOUSAND (total) views later, I couldn’t have been more wrong!

In my Why I Am 1st Phorm – Athlete Search 2020 video, I put it all out there.

Why I Am 1st Phorm – Athlete Search 2020 entry video

As I talk to the camera, I sport a tank top that reads “DREAM BIG.” How fitting. (In more ways than one apparently, because I received a lot of complimentary remarks about my arms! Hahaha.)

People at school and work approached me in disbelief. I received heartwarming messages from friends, professors, strangers, even my childhood bully.

They said I inspire them and asked for more. So, I delivered – I created more content.

In March, New Jersey went into lockdown and I lost my job. I also lost my outlet: the gym.

To maintain my sanity, I revisited an aspect of my life I thought I would never partake in again: Performing Arts. (I actually went to vocational high school for Drama). I wrote Coronavirus parody lyrics to Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ On A Prayer” and came up with an idea for a music video.

Andrew and I put it up on my YouTube. The next morning, I was contacted by 6abc – my local news station. That same night, our video was featured on television! Later I found out it was going around as “office chain mail” of a billion-dollar company in Arizona.

Corona’s Everywhere (“Livin’ On A Prayer” Bon Jovi Parody)

People seemed to be pretty receptive to the content I was creating for the sake of this Athlete Search contest. So, I ran with it!

I made new connections, even new friendships with people at 1st Phorm headquarters. One of my Instagram idols since 2017 (who just so happens to be a 1st Phorm Elite Athlete) followed me back (@jenna_fail) and sent me a voice message saying she’s rooting for me! *fangirl*

I got involved in the Legionnaire Program and was introduced to coaches who are now my mentors as I develop my own brand.

As I earned my B.S. degree, I knew I had acquired a lot of knowledge – both through my education and my own personal health journey. I knew I could help a lot of people, but I never (truly) put myself out there; I never created that platform for myself.

Five months ago, because of 1st Phorm’s mission, I bit the bullet.

I started sharing my wealth of knowledge. I added Professional Wellness Coaching to my Graduate studies. And with the nudge of my Legionnaire coach (@cemaflozell), I created a Facebook community for my followers – “Hannah’s Health Nutz.” My group attracted almost 300 people in less than 3 weeks.

I now have my Private Facebook Community, my YouTube Channel, a professional website (this blog), and a new group of people to call my “Phamily.”

The Athlete Search pushed me out of my comfort zone and changed my outlook on my career; my life, even.

Five months ago, no one knew my story. No one knew I had so much knowledge to share. No one knew I was capable of creating original content – comedic & informative. No one knew the sound of my talking voice – let alone my ability to belt out Bon Jovi.

1st Phorm helped me define my purpose and discover my true self.

I will no longer settle for a lackluster career, or put my head down among complacent classmates who belittle my dreams. I am destined for bigger things.

That being said – there is a lot of work to do; this is merely the beginning. But I am ready and willing to work for it. We all must do the work!

It just goes to show that sometimes, the only thing standing in your way is the person staring back at you in the mirror and the lies you tell yourself based on the opinions of nonbelievers. Sometimes, you just need a little bit of encouragement from like-minded individuals who believe in YOU, just as much as you believe in the MISSION; individuals who uphold the same CORE VALUES; who care about people, not price tags (or in my case – hospital bills & insurance reimbursement). I am proud to wear the 1st phorm logo. It’s not just a brand, it’s a movement; a culture; a Phamily.

So, while the Athlete Search doesn’t end for another 6 days, the way I see it, I already won. #NeverSettle

Thanks Pham!

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