May is known as Women’s Health Month, as well as National Physical Fitness and Sports month. In order to celebrate all things health and wellness that have to do with women of color, we’re launching Fitness Fridays for the month. We’re hoping to share stories that help others embrace the importance of taking care of themselves both inside and out.
When it comes to fitness, many things motivate us to change our bodies. Sometimes it’s a health crisis. Other times it’s a wake-up call from seeing what you really look like in pictures. In Lita Lewis’s case, it was depression, better yet trying to rebuild her body due to the effects of it. Since then, she’s made strength her priority over skinny and made a name for herself. Lewis has created successful body blast boot camps that she does around the country, started a fitness apparel line called Thick Athletics Apparel and recently completed an eight-day wellness retreat experience in Bali helping women not only be healthy but have fun during getaways.
While many people don’t know where to go after meeting their fitness goals, Lewis, trainer and health advocate, has found a way to make fitness her business and become a brand. She’s established herself so much that she even recently teamed up with U by Kotex Fitness to help them launch their line of fitness tampons, pads and liners. We talked to our favorite Aussie fitness enthusiast about how she has gained wealth from wellness and made healthy living her livelihood.
MadameNoire: How did you go from changing your body through hard work following depression to wanting to help other men and women do the same?
Lita Lewis: When I first adopted an active lifestyle and was hitting the gym 5-6 days a week, I saw my body morph. I was channeling all my spare time and energy into my workouts. My goal at the time was to put myself through enough strenuous exercise so that I could redirect the pain I was feeling mentality and emotionally to pain that my physical body could endure. After time, my body transformed but my emotional state stayed the same. I was looking different but I would still go to bed depressed. I knew then that “health” wasn’t solely about the way I looked but also about how I felt. It’s then that I decided to do some inner work. I traveled abroad alone, I read endless books, I began to meditate and pray daily, and I would create vision boards and use post-its to write positive words of affirmations to myself. Self-care and alone time became priorities. Life started to change for the better and how I looked on the outside finally reflected how I felt on the inside. After much soul-searching, I was so happy to be in a great place in my life that I was inspired to share how I was able to get through battling depression by finding peace and purpose, living a holistic and happy lifestyle.
Many people share their fitness journeys online, but not a lot of people take advantage of the opportunity to create merchandise to sell to their followers, or to put together boot camps around the country to get closer to them. How did you do it and with such a genius tagline like “Thick Thighs Save Lives”?
It never was my intention to build the brand and business I have today. Initially I used online social platforms like an open diary, sharing what I was learning, how I was training and what I was eating. I think for me, because the brand was growing organically and my following was more like an extended friend network, it was a natural move to share and offer more. People loved the movement and the sense of pride I was sharing regarding body image that folks began to ask me questions about training, dieting and kept telling me that I should put my tagline, “Thick Thighs Save Lives,” on a tank. My audience wanted to represent the movement so offering merchandise was a natural move. Folks wanted to know how I trained so offering training programs soon followed. The business aspect came from demand, a demand I wasn’t expecting or planned for, not from me having an intent to make money from sharing my journey. I consider myself one of the lucky ones.
How does traveling around to train people and to do your wellness retreat impact your own training schedule and eating patterns? How do you make sure you get your workouts in?
Like anything you find important to your life and health, I make my own training a priority. I typically schedule my client sessions around making time to get my own sweat session in. No day goes by that I don’t have the time to work out! Eating however is a different story. Because I’m usually on the go, I find it difficult to eat clean throughout the day the way I like, so it’s a daily habit to prep food for days that I won’t be home to cook for lunch and dinner. I carry snacks with me at all times. Fruits, mixed nuts and granola bars are always floating around my backpack.
How do you balance healthy eating without depriving yourself of sweets and goodies? We all know that a majority of good health and fitness is about food, but boy is it hard.
For me a balanced approach to eating clean and treating myself is key. I don’t stress myself out about avoiding a craving, I usually answer it with a serving of cake or ice cream! I do that because I find that fighting a craving for sweets for a long period of time will typically result in some type of sugar binge. Instead, if I’m feeling like having a little treat, I’ll go for it in moderation. However, I’m thankful that my sweet tooth isn’t overly active. I might have one or two sweets per month.
What’s next for you in terms of fusing business and fitness?
I’d love to expand my apparel line by incorporating more designs and items. I definitely plan to do so in the next few months. I am also gearing up to lead my own curated retreat in Mexico this Labor Day weekend. Super excited about all the things involved in producing a phenomenal experience for my guests. I also plan to pursue other ventures in entertainment. I’m in the early stages now of creating digital content that would be a health and fitness-related talk show format, which I am equally excited about turning into a reality.
Visit UByKotex.com for more tips from Lita, including her on-the-go workout routine, or to request a free sample of new U by Kotex FITNESS. And you can follow her at @followthelita on Instagram. Check out the rest of this month’s Fitness Friday features with yogi Jessamyn Stanley, CrossFit competitor Elisabeth Akinwale and bodybuilder Tokini Bilaye-Benibo.
Images courtesy of Kotex and Lita Lewis