Fly Female Entrepreneur: Lita Lewis

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Leaving the comforts of a cozy career in online media to pursue a fitness career takes guts. After all, fitness is truly a lifestyle, so no matter how you feel when you wake up in the morning you’ve GOT to put in work. Well today’s Fly Female Entrepreneur, Lita Lewis (known to most as @followthelita) does just that. She walked away from the trappings of the 9-5 clock-in, clock-out culture to do what she loves. Today on In Her Shoes, Lita shares the whys and hows with you. Grab a seat, sip a green juice (or lift a weight!) and be inspired:

In Her Shoes: For readers who aren’t familiar, who is Lita Lewis?

Lita: I am a daughter, a sister, a best friend. I am an ordinary woman doing extraordinary things! I am somebody living my dreams and pursuing what I now know is my God-given purpose on earth. Each waking morning I do what I love and because of it I am able to inspire and motivate hundreds of thousands across the world to lead healthy, active lifestyles. Apart from promoting physical health, I am equally passionate about mental and spiritual health, so I tie this into my daily mantra and wellness philosophy.

In Her Shoes: What inspired your transition into fitness as a career?

Lita: I was marching to a corporate beat since moving to New York City from Sydney, Australia in 2007. Although I didn’t despise my job in online media and publishing, I didn’t love it either. In early 2012, I started to document my own personal journey towards reaching optimum health on social media. At the time I was suffering from depression after a 3-year relationship dissolved. I used social media as an open diary dedicated to adopting a new mindset to healthy living, personal purpose and overall wellness. I wanted to share with whomever wanted to pay attention to the things I was learning, experiencing and reading. Over time, I notice my following on Instagram jump and very quickly, a few hundred people became a few thousand people. I was receiving Facebook messages, emails, direct Instagram messages from people across the globe thanking me for sharing my story as well as sharing ways to self-help yourself from a bad situation to a good situation – this was the turning point for me, these emails and messages had a significant impact on my heart. On July 19th, 2013, I resigned from my corporate job and decided to dedicate my life to helping others and establishing a career in the health and fitness space.

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Photo Credit: Michael Isiah

In Her Shoes: Anyone who follows you on social media knows that you’re 1 part fitness and 1 part inspiration. You’re truly creating a lifestyle brand that goes beyond physical fitness and also encourages mental fitness. How did this come to be?

Lita: While suffering from depression, I had dropped 28 lbs in 3 months, I had zero passion to live and outside of work I was sleeping my days away. One morning I caught sight of myself in the mirror reflection. I looked so sick and didn’t recognized myself so it was a terrifying moment for me. I remember just falling to the ground weeping uncontrollably. I looked myself in the mirror and gave myself an ultimatum; get your life together or pack up and return home to Sydney. Returning home I saw as a complete failure. My ego and pride just couldn’t stomach it so that wasn’t an option, the only thing I could remember that was always a guaranteed feel-good for me was an epic workout. I called out of work and hauled myself to the gym. I felt so good about my workout efforts that it quickly became an addiction. I would workout, eat well and do it all over again the following day. Months would pass and I could see the transformation of my physical form, I gained muscle, increased my endurance and speed, my body was starting to look stronger but when I returned home I would still think like a depressed person. I realized that my mental and spiritual health hadn’t advanced the way my physical body had. So I began to read, write and travel the world alone. My travels changed everything, witnessing poverty, having conversations with villagers with very little belongings but with the biggest most endearing hearts, learning to give, share and love selflessly were invaluable experiences that helped mould a new spiritual awareness. I learned that it didn’t matter how strong and healthy my body was, it meant nothing unless my mental and spiritual health were aligned. This soon become a key staple to my ideas of optimum health and a priority to share spiritual affirmations to encourage positive thinking and self love.

In Her ShoesWhat’s your definition of #ThickFit?

Lita: My definition of ThickFit has more to do with an attitude, a proudness, a self-love that is undeniable more than it being tied to a physical shape or size. I just so happen to be a thick woman, a woman that refuses to kill herself trying to be something she is not, nor will ever be! Instead, I strive and encourage everyone else to become the very best versions of themselves, this is what ThickFit is all about. It is me and it is you telling the world who we are, unapologetically. Whether you’re SlimFit or ShortFit, you can still identify with the brand because the message behind ThickFit is universal.

In Her Shoes: How do you feel about the popular waist trainers that seem to be all the rage now?

Lita: I don’t feel too fondly about them that’s for sure! I think most people that are aware of my brand and where I stand regarding these waist trainers know I am not for them. I will never advocate them or support them. Let me be very clear here, I know women that have worn a waist trainer post pregnancy, post back surgery who have shared positive feedback about the added support a waist trainer has provided during recovery/healing which I think is wonderful. My issue with waist trainers is that they somehow finagled their way into the ‘weight loss’ spotlight where they have no business existing. Furthermore, I find it to be a complete abuse of power to see women in the social media world whom call themselves fitness experts promote and sell these things for monetary gain knowing (or perhaps not knowing) that wearing a waist trainer for long periods of time pose some serious health risks, some being irreversible that restrict breathing and smother vital internal organs. Wearing a waist trainer does not reduce your body fat, it simply distributes your body fat to other places. I just think we, social media influencers need to hold ourselves accountable for the products we choose to promote to our followers, and on the flip side be responsible consumers. We cannot rely on our favorite ‘Fitspos’ to promote health just because they’re calling themselves experts.

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In Her Shoes: What is a day like in Lita Lewis’s shoes?

Lita: I am one of the lucky ones, I wake up each day and do what I love. My typical weekday starts at 7:30AM, I wake and read over my to-do list while I guzzle my lemon water and eat my oatmeal, I find myself at the gym an hour later for 90mins of intense cardio. Once my workout is complete I run home, shower, whip up lunch and open the laptop while The View airs on TV as a healthy background distraction.

Emails are endless and I spend a good 2-5hrs crunching through them on a daily basis. There are bootcamps to orchestrate, travel to book, hotels to reserve. A perfect day would have me working under a big ole shady tree in Brooklyn, anything done among nature makes me a incredibly happy human being. I feel blessed my local park is also utilized as my part time office.

If I’m not posted up on my couch, or laid up in the park working off the mobile, iPad and laptop simultaneously you can catch me bouncing between meetings in the city, sliding into the nearest Starbucks to jump on a conference call, running miscellaneous errands, dishing up healthy eats at Wholefoods and/or treating myself to a ridiculously creative cup of frozen yogurt!

I end my day back at home tackling emails, part two and will take calls from my team in Los Angeles. I’ll dedicate some time to reading numerous chapters from one of the books I have in rotation, today’s book of choice is What I Know For Sure by Oprah Winfrey, oh how I love her!

The Summer sun has now faded, I’ll most likely play Sampha’s Pandora station loud enough to stream throughout my entire apartment, I’ll sit still, meditate and reflect on my day. I’ll write down positive affirmations, sentences of gratitude, add to my vision board and speak to my Creator in silent prayer. After a hot shower, and tomorrow’s to-do list is typed up the candle is blown out and I’ll let my eyes close – but not until I peep Instagram real quick! Ha, I’ll keep it 100 with y’all!

In Her Shoes: For many of us, working out daily seems like a daunting task when we’re busy building brands. How long did it take for you to make your daily workouts a habit and a lifestyle?

Lita: I’ve never considered ‘being busy’ a valid excuse to neglect maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Typically, when I am talking with business professionals, working mothers, the avid traveler and I’m being told there’s just not enough time in the day to get a workout in, it makes me giggle with zero sympathy, haha. There’s always time for what you choose to make time for! For instance, you have the time to read this article! It always comes down to priorities and time management. I chose to make my daily workouts a top 3 priority and therefore my alarms goes off at 7:30AM 5 days a week, I get my 60-90mins workout in before I open the laptop and start work. I’ve never considered this a daunting task, because it is my priority, I willingly and happily wake up with purpose, ready to go! I encourage everybody to start with making a list of their top priorities, and then remind everybody that health is wealth!

 In Her Shoes: Can you recommend an effective 30 minute workout for someone who isn’t overweight, but wants to tone up their arms and legs? *This may or may not be a personal question 

Lita: Haha, easy! I would split your workout in 3 phases;

Phase 1: (8mins) Cardio – a great way to warm up the body, get that blood pumping! Try the Stairmaster, level 5 or higher.

Phase 2: (12mins) 3x bouts of Tabata workouts – Tabata is a form of High Intensity Interval Training, 20 seconds of high intensity, 10 seconds rest and repeat non stop for 4 minutes.

Lower Body: 20 seconds Jump Squats, 10 seconds rest – repeat, 4 minutes total duration

Upper Body: 20 seconds Sparr Punches holding light Dumbbells, 10 seconds rest – repeat, 4mins total duration

Abdominals: 20 seconds Bicycle Crunches, 10 seconds rest – repeat, 4 minutes total duration

Phase 3: (10 minutes) Strength – Weight Training, your remaining 10 minutes will be dedicated to one specific leg movement and one specific arm movement: Barbell Squats and Bicep Curls.

Choosing a ‘moderate weight’ you’ll perform 15 repetitions of Barbell Squats for 3 sets (45 total reps), same applies for your Bicep Curls. If you fly through your 15 repetitions your weight is too light, I want to see some struggle by the 12th rep! Challenge 

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Photo Credit: Josh Baker

In Her Shoes: I’ve noticed that you’re doing a lot of traveling to host fitness workshops across the country. How do you like being on the road and do you have any additional dates coming up for summer 2015?

Lita: I truly love being on the road. It is such a huge blessing to be able to take my style of training to different cities across the US and even abroad to Australia and the UK.

It still blows my mind knowing that a perfect stranger would register for my class full of enthusiasm and anticipation! I remember the time when I was begging my sisters to come to the park with me to train and forcing my girl friends to join! I think for me being in front of a live audience of people reminds me that the impact and influence I’ve built is real. Sharing on social media is one thing but nothing beats a interpersonal conversation or experience being face to face with your friends (I hate using the word ‘fans’). I never want to take this feeling for granted or abuse it in any way but instead nourish it and continue to better myself so my influence continues to reach many and help millions.

Next scheduled Body Blast Boot Camps, Summer 2015:

Brooklyn, 5/30 – Fort Greene Park

Houston, 6/6 – The League

Dallas, 6/7 – Rockstar Fitness

Atlanta, 6/20 – Piedmont Park

And the list will continue to grow!

In Her Shoes: What’s next for Lita Lewis?

Lita: Well I’m excited about launching my lifestyle clothing line, ThickFit. Launch date is soon approaching, end of May, early June! I just love the idea of having apparel that people are so proud to represent and that identifies us as one happy, hard working family.

My team and I are also working on a TV project which I’m totally amped about. One of my longer term goals is to get my feet wet in the entertainment world. I love the idea of being a new era Oprah covering all things health, fitness and wellness related, so this TV project may just be a stepping stone towards that direction. TV is terrifying but that’s exactly why I must pursue it!

To learn more about Lita Lewis visit www.litalewis.com or catch her on social media: @followthelita!

 

As a New York City beauty PR strategist, Renae Bluitt created "In Her Shoes" to empower and enlighten women committed to realizing their dreams.