Australian Fitness + Wellness Personality Tells Us How She Gets Her Sol
Lita Lewis is an Australian-bred beauty who brings a fresh perspective and a hell of a lot of confidence to the fitness and wellness game. Why? Because she's been through some dark times and she's had to reach deep to find and hold on to her life's purpose. Lita tells Get Your Sol creator, Leslie Gordon, that her purpose is to teach women to become the best possible versions of themselves. Your best You! is Lita’s daily affirmation and the mission behind her brand. It is the foundation of the You Fit pledge that went viral, received national praise and has become apart of Lita’s legacy in the fitness world and beyond. Lita speaks to audiences across the United States and around the globe with an inspiring message of love, compassion and hard work. What sets Lita apart is her badass fitness and nutrition regimen that backs up every single dose of inspiration, every lateral shuffle and every macronutrient she asks her loyal fans to try. Now living in Brooklyn, NY, Lita is a wonderful reminder that authenticity, organic beauty and eminent class are reflected back in all it touches. And her nearly 400K Instagram followers would certainly agree.
Read the Q & A with Sol Sister, Lita Lewis:
Get Your Sol: Lita, I've been following you on social media for a long time. A few months ago, I downloaded your legs and glutes blaster training program. It's an intense workout and I'm still mad at you for virtually kicking my butt. What do you say to people who tell you that your training programs hurt so good?
Lita: When I run my boot camp and training sessions across the country, I always get people that will hit me on email or social media to say, "I still can't walk and it's been two days." My response is always, "You're welcome." [Laughter]
Sol: Tell me a little more about yourself. You were born in LA and raised in Australia, right?
Lita: Yes, I was born in LA. When I was two-years-old, my parents moved to Australia because this is where my mother's family migrated to from the South Pacific islands. We had family in Ireland, New Zealand and Australia. My father didn’t actually want to raise a family in the United States and he fell in love with my mother's family and the country. I was raised in Australia until I was 23 when I decided to move back to the United States.
Sol: Tell me about your start in fitness and wellness as a trainer and motivational speaker. How long have you been doing this work?
Lita: It's been less than two years. I worked in corporate America when I first moved to the United States and I was in a pretty demanding job in online and media publishing. I was also in a relationship that I thought was going to be the fairytale where we'd get married and have kids. Those were certainly our plans but the relationship ended. I've always been a charismatic, full-of-energy kind of spirit, but that break up put me in this downward spiral. It took so much out of me and I suffered from a deep depression that resulted in me losing almost 30 pounds. I lost all motivation and my life really became work, home, sleep, work, home, sleep. I share this with people when I speak of my story because it was a turning point in my life. I remember a Friday morning as I was getting up for work, I walked into the bathroom where I caught sight of myself in the mirror. I was in complete shock because I didn't even recognize myself. It was a very scary moment and I remember collapsing to the ground and crying. Crying, because in that moment I realized I was hiding the truth from everybody around me. I was ashamed and embarrassed that I had let myself fail. In that moment I said to myself, "Go home to Australia or figure this out."
Everybody on this planet that I love unconditionally lives back home in Australia. I never want to paint Australia in a negative light but going back home after being in New York for four years to me would have been a failure. I basically gave myself only one option: To figure this shit out. I remember asking myself, "How do I fix this?" Then I asked myself, "What made you feel good about yourself?" The only thing I could think of was a workout or something physically demanding. I was fragile and felt very weak but I remember thinking, "Just go to the gym and see what you can do." I remember getting there and everything clicked. I was in the gym for almost four hours just going beast.
Sol: So, that one intense day in the gym ultimately propelled your fitness and wellness career forward?
Lita: Yes, I was going nuts that first day. People were like, “Yo, what is she on?" Maybe I was channeling all my energy, all my frustrations, all my hurt, all my doubt. I felt so great that at the end of that day I knew that whatever it was, I wanted to feel it again the next day and the next day. As I was rebuilding my life, somebody told me about this Instagram. At the time, I was feeling better about myself and my body started to morph and change. I started using Instagram as an open diary to express how I felt. I also began traveling solo to different places around the world and spending a lot of time with myself meditating, praying and reading. I began studying and became a certified personal trainer. I was on a quest for knowledge and I decided to share this journey on social media. My following jumped from a couple hundred whom I swear were purely family members, to a couple thousand to five digit numbers. I started to receive emails from different types of women, not only all across the United States, but from back home in Australia, from Africa and literally from all around the world. I would get emails that started with, Because of you, I was able to achieve so much. It touched my soul and spirit. I quit my job in July 2012 and decided to pursue a life in health and fitness. That’s where it all began. I was inspired by the impact I was having on others and I had full faith in myself to work it out. Whatever that meant... just work it out.
Sol: There is something incredibly powerful about being vulnerable and opening yourself up so other people can say, "Oh my God, I have a similar story" or "I understand what you've been through." It makes you more human and I'm sure your fans and followers appreciate you for being vulnerable and telling your truth.
Lita: Yes. You took the words out of my mouth. That’s actually one of the greatest lessons I have ever learned. I can admit to being a very proud person. I am the oldest of three so in my mind, even as a young kid, I had to be strong and appear to be a good role model for my sisters. I would always define showing vulnerability as being weak and inadequate. After suffering from depression and having to work things out, I found real significance in sharing my vulnerabilities. Not so much my exact journey, but like you mentioned a lot of women can relate to feeling some type of way about their job or their relationship. It just becomes a very relatable story and it has the power to be very significant in helping someone else.
Sol: I understand that you have a dislike for stereotypes and labels. Can you tell me more about that?
Lita: I think society is quick to judge and label people. As far as I’m concerned, I’m a lot of things and I don’t like to be called or labeled anything that would negate anything else that I believe I am. It’s funny, a lot of people call me a fitness model and its probably one of the biggest things that I detest. I am definitely not a fitness model, nor would I ever define myself as such. Fitness and wellness are definitely how I have navigated the world in search of my own personal holistic health, especially in the past couple years. I like to continuously remind people that although I am a fitness person, there is so much more about me that I'd love to be able to share and investigate with others. I'm really big on spiritual and mental health as far as wellness is concerned. I say this because I’ve been on a personal journey and I would still tackle new challenges like marathons, triathlons and body building.
There was a point that my actual work outs right at the beginning became an addiction. if I couldn’t get to the gym for whatever reason, I would not feel good. What I realized is that even after the workout, I would come home and have to fight these thoughts of depression. I'd look in the mirror and think, "Wow, I look great. Look at these delts and these biceps, and wow I’m seeing lines in my legs that I feel proud of." Then, if I thought about it I would look in the mirror again and feel horrible. I’d feel worthless. I’d feel like a failure. So, I knew I needed to look at that because I’m trying to be healthy from a 360 degree perspective which to me means you absolutely must include your spiritual and mental health.
Feeling healthy is one thing but actually having an unshakable sense of self means real health to me. That's what I was in search of, especially when I traveled. It helped me because here I was feeling some type of ways about heartbreak, right? And Leslie, maybe you've experienced this too but when you travel, and when I say travel I mean off the beaten path not as a tourist but meeting different people and experiencing things from a local perspective in their environment. When you witness real problems like a mother unable to feed her children, it puts things in perspective. It puts life in perspective. It certainly did for me. I would come home and spend hours in deep gratitude, praying and meditating on that and realizing that the depression that I was fighting through was a phase. I would meditate on phrases like This too shall pass, and it really helped me. All that to say that I don't like to be defined as a fitness person because there is so much of my story that is unwritten. Working out is one thing but when I can speak to people and I can engage with them, that is actually my favorite part. And that is probably why I don't like labels because I feel like I’m so much more than a fitness personality.
Sol: Tell me about Lita Lewis Thick Fit and You Fit philosophies. How do you get women to feel good about themselves and love their curves?
Lita: I found myself wanting to compete as a body builder. Long story short, I found a coach, I started training and my goal was to build this physique to look like these women that I find in some of my favorite fitness magazines. My coach who has been in the business for 20 years kept saying, "We're just gonna have to keep fighting those genetics,” which meant leaning out my thighs. In my eyes, I had already lost a whole lot of weight and gained a whole lot of muscle. For whatever reason it wasn't good enough. He was never negative toward my physique, but when you train for fitness competitions, you have to build a certain body that appeals to the judges. It’s a sport and there are criteria, but the criteria in the division I was competing in went against my natural genetics. The crazy thing is that I actually won my first show and then won overall. However, I began to question the idea of "fighting my genetics."
At the end of the day, I’m proud of my thighs. I’m proud that I’ve built a strong body that is capable of lifting and throwing and running fast. I don’t want to fight my genetics. I want to love the body I'm in. I don’t want to try to fight it to manipulate the way I look. In all my favorite fitness magazines, I could never find anybody that resembled the kind of body that I was ever inspired by. A lot of women are like me and carry a naturally thicker frame and maybe they’re feeling the same way I am. There were no role models. There was no representation on social media or in any publications that consistently showed that thicker, curvier women are hot right now. None of that. I don’t want to be super skinny, nor will I ever be really skinny because that’s not my genetic makeup. Thick Fit came about by simply hashtagging it without any agenda. I had no intentions of putting it out there for business. It was just a hashtag that I was proudly using because I’m thick but I’m fit. It caught on real quick because there are literally thousands of women across this country and even the world that will never be stick skinny but now we're changing the mindset of body image, especially here in the United States.
I like to say Thick Fit doesn’t define our physical form. It's not about a size as much as it is about a woman who says, "I'm just going to claim whatever makes me feel good about myself." It was just my personal definition of accepting who I am and what my body is. So Thick Fit is my definition, but it’s more of an attitude and an ownership of self empowerment. Even women who don’t define themselves as thick tell me, "I love how you are so comfortable in your own skin and you don’t let other people define you. You claim that and you wear it so well and with such confidence." You Fit is a spin off of that because Thick Fit is too often mistaken with a physical definition. My team said, "Let's try to make this universal because we don't want the girl that is slim to feel excluded from this amazing philosophy of self empowerment because she isn't necessarily thick."
Sol: How do you find clothes that fit you appropriately since you have thicker thighs?
Lita: Anybody who knows me well would laugh because I live in sportswear. I'm very lucky because I resigned my job and my life is fitness so I can literally wear nothing but fitness clothes throughout the day. When it comes to trying to find that pair of jeans that fit around the waist, and then allow my thighs to breathe or finding a dress, it becomes difficult. If it allows some stretch, I can make it work. All my jeans stretch. Nothing is without stretch. One of my longer-term goals is to actually come out with an apparel line that speaks to a curvier woman. So I'm gonna put that out there and add that to my list of goals.
Sol: Lita, tell me a little about your thoughts on nutrition as a part of a healthy lifestyle. Are there any specific foods that people should incorporate into their diet? What are your favorite foods?
Lita: Nutrition is huge when it comes to health. It's how we fuel our bodies. At the end of the day, you are what you eat. Because I'm a girl that loves to eat, I don't like dieting at all. I find it unrealistic. I hate meal prep. I like to eat my food. I'm realistic with myself. I want to live my life. I want to love the foods I'm eating and enjoy a meal out with friends. My whole take on nutrition is that I keep it really simple. I want to hit all three macronutrients. Macronutrients are the proteins, carbs, and healthy fat. So every meal---breakfast, lunch and dinner---I look at hitting all three macros. I’m going to have a source of protein, for instance. In breakfast that may be eggs or some tuna. For lunch, I eat grilled chicken, lean beef, or salmon. That's the protein. And then healthy carbs, I always eat complex carbs so that would be a sweet potato or brown rice, making sure I have a nice portion of carbs there, and then the healthy fats. I usually have some greens, baby spinach---a healthy salad with walnuts and avocados.
Your nuts and avocados, extra virgin olive oil---they are all healthy fats that are a good source of energy and great for fueling our bodies. This is my basic rule of thumb. And I snack healthy. I love low fat Greek yogurt. I love cashews and almonds. I love fruit like strawberries, blackberries, raspberries and peaches. I’m a big fan of rice cakes with peanut butter and jelly on them. These are healthier snacks but I'm also human so sometimes I'll eat a blueberry muffin with my coffee or I’ll order a side of French fries along with my salmon and salad. I think it all starts with your goals and my goal right now is to maintain and to be strong because I love to feel strong in the weight room or during my workout. I'm very realistic when it comes to my diet.
Sol: You host Body Blast Bootcamps for people at all fitness levels. What can people expect when they attend your bootcamps and how should they prepare in advance?
Lita: I'm really proud of my bootcamp because it's different. The way I run in my camp is a reflection of real functional movement. I move and lead people to do drills like football players so we're high kneeing, we're lateral shuffling, and we're bounding. I want them to move functionally for athleticism. It's an intense workout but I call it a high intensity dynamic workout. It's sixty minutes of nonstop movement. So even when I'm demonstrating something or they're waiting for someone to go in front of them for any drills, I always have them running on spot. I have them moving constantly. Once we're on the clock it's intense. The heart rate is up. We're burning fat the whole time. We're testing those muscles because it's biometric too. My camp has a lower body emphasis because I'm kind of known for lower body and having strong legs. So we do a lot of fat burning and conditioning for lower body too.
Sol: What's next for Lita Lewis in 2016?
Lita: Although health and fitness is my platform and where I started, I would really love to take my career toward entertainment. In time, I would love to be able to build myself up to become a new age Oprah Winfrey. I'd like to speak to a whole new generation, embodying spiritual health, mental health and physical health. It terrifies me because it's a space I've never navigated before, but in my life anything that terrifies me I have to sprint towards.