Most of us have a tipping point when we realize we need to change our lifestyle to be happier and healthier. For Lita Lewis, this happened while she was depressed, overworked and in desperate need of an overhaul. Deciding to return to the gym was exactly what she needed, and becoming physically fit helped her return to her athletic roots and to feel like herself again. As a former track star, Lita is used to training, and she has now made a career of helping others become fit and healthy. She uses her impressive Instagram reach to inspire and motivate her followers. Lita also leads wellness retreats curated for those wishing to attain a more holistic lifestyle by revamping their spiritual, physical and mental wellness.

What put you on your fitness journey?
I started my fitness journey because I was looking for a way to channel all my energy towards something positive. I had been struggling with deep depression, I was overworked, mentally and physically exhausted, and knew I had to make a serious change to better my life and circumstances. I remember not knowing how to pull myself out of a rut. The only thing that made sense at the time was to drown out my depression by transferring the mental and emotional pain to my physical body. So, I walked into the gym one day after work and begun to train. I trained heavily and consistently. It became my daily ritual to commit three hours to the gym each day after work.

When you began your fitness journey, did you train with anyone?
No. When I began training, I was in the gym on my own. Since I wasn’t in a healthy state of mind, I chose not to be around other people or spend time with others. I didn’t want to fake a smile or pretend to care about trivial things that people liked to gossip about in social circles. My gym time was my time to zone in and focus.

Were you athletic growing up?
I was a very athletic kid growing up. My mother jokes that I was sprinting before I started walking and claims she had trouble keeping up with me. She introduced me to sports at a young age, and at six years old, my parents signed me up to the local athletics club where I thrived. I ran competitively on a national level until I was 18 and was highly ranked in my age group. I also played touch football competitively in my teens.

How did you learn fitness routines and exercises starting out?
Coming from an athletic background, I knew a lot of things prior to taking my fitness journey seriously. The weight room was familiar to me. I knew different training techniques and how to increase my strength, endurance and stamina. I also earned my personal training certificate so that I could get a more complete understanding of the human body and movement.

Have you experienced a total body transformation yourself?
Absolutely. During the period of my depression, I lost close to 30 pounds. After committing to regular exercise and adopting a new diet, I transformed my body by gaining lean muscle. I also competed in the sport of bodybuilding entering competitions that further transformed my body to new heights.

What weight or body issues have you had and how have you overcome them?
I’ve been many sizes throughout my life. I’ve been super lean during my competitive track years, slightly overweight during my college life, and very muscular while training for figure competitions. During the in-between periods of these various sizes, I’ve questioned my self-confidence due to not being happy with my size or comparing myself to others. I think body dysmorphia is very common, especially among women, and I definitely suffered from bouts of body dysmorphia, especially after my bodybuilding phase. I had to redefine my self-confidence by figuring out who I am outside of fitness. Self-confidence for me came from, not how I looked, but how I felt about myself from the inside out. Once I established a true sense of who I am, as a woman, it didn’t matter what I looked like, only that if I wanted to change my physical self, I had the confidence and resiliency to set goals and achieve them.

How do you help others commit to and succeed at total body transformation?
Helping others achieve personal goals begins with identifying self-love. Before rushing into the gym, I like to spend time getting to know somebody’s insecurities, their weaknesses, what holds them back, what frees them up. It’s important to look at the inner workings of how somebody operates before throwing physical goals at them. After getting to know someone, I assist with setting goals, short term and long. Keeping goals realistic and attainable helps establish confidence that then propels them to continue their efforts.

What does a typical Lita Lewis workout look like?
I love to train my lower body. I always start with a warm-up consisting of a light one-mile run, followed by some dynamic drills and stretches. I’ll start my strength workout with a heavy movement followed by a dynamic plyometric. I typically do 3-5 sets. I also incorporate a lot of lower body circuits choosing 4-6 different exercises that target my lower body muscles. Some of these moves are jump squats, walking lunges, leg extensions, barbell squats and deadlifts. I finish with 20-30 minutes on the Stairmaster.

Is varying your workouts important, and why?
Yes! It’s important to change my workouts and training techniques for several reasons, some being to avoid boredom and overcome plateaus. I also love to switch up where I train. Instead of the weight room, I’ll opt to take a boxing or yoga class. Sometimes, hitting the great outdoors for a challenging hike is fun, too.

What has been your biggest lesson in life?
Loaded question! I think discovering what it means to truly love yourself has been the greatest lesson I’ve learned. It has impacted my life in more ways than I can count. Understanding what it means to love yourself unconditionally has helped me prioritize my relationships and develop my
business. It has also helped me move through life unapologetically, allows me to live my truth, and shake off the opinions of others from my consciousness.

What is your definition of physical and inner beauty?
Physical beauty is only realized when one is at peace with their inner beauty. Physical beauty is the celebration of our bodies and having love and
acceptance for our physical uniqueness. Inner beauty is a love for self that overrides the opinions of others built on an unwavering sense of self-confidence and self-acceptance.

What is your philosophy on self-love?
Self-love is a daily practice of self-care. You are doing things that make you happy. Surround yourself with those who encourage you to be better. Live your truth free from the judgment of others, and treat yourself and others with love.

Have you received any pushback on your mission to promote diverse cultures, lifestyles and body types as images of fitness?
I share a message that celebrates all body types. My key messaging is all about striving to become the best version of yourself. There will always be people who want to debate what “healthy” looks like. For me, “healthy” has no size, or isn’t one specific look. We are all so diverse and different that healthy is whatever is the best versions of ourselves. That version only we define, not by the standards society expects of us, but how we define what the better versions of ourselves looks and feels like. This approach will always have some pushback. I’ve found it pointless to waste energy with those who choose to be closed off to other perspectives.

Have you found the best version of yourself? What does it feel like to be at your best?
I think the best version of myself is an ongoing process of life’s pursuit of wholeness. I feel very happy and content with where I am in my life, both on a personal and professional level. I also know that life will continue to lend itself to new opportunities and tougher challenges that will push me to grow and develop in new ways. I am confident that I’m on a healthy path of continued growth.

Through your Instagram fame, people reach out to you for advice on life. What is it like for you to be in the position of role model for others?
It truly is a position of great honor and privilege. I’m humbled that people, often perfect strangers, trust me enough to reach out and ask for advice. I do not take this responsibility lightly, nor do I take it for granted. I’ll forever be grateful that I can lend my advice to those seeking guidance.

What do you like best about your Instagram reach?
The ability to share parts of my life, my wisdom, my truth with others in the hope that something I’m sharing may help and impact another.

What types of holistic health do you practice?
Meditation has become a daily practice of mine. If I only have 10-15 minutes a day to dedicate to some peaceful mindfulness, I’ll take advantage of it and sit in silence. In more recent years, I’ve also incorporated yoga into my monthly routine.

How has meditation, prayer and positive affirmations changed your life?
I know I am more open-minded, more understanding of others, and more patient. I am more confident in myself and my abilities. I’ve grown more passionate about pursuing my purpose and more driven to achieve my goals.

Where did you go on your last big trip, and what did you do there?
My last big trip was back home to Sydney, Australia. I attended some business training, a three-day seminar to help me learn how to elevate good business practices. I also spent much needed time with my family! On the trip before that, I led a wellness retreat in Negril, Jamaica. My annual retreat is called My Freedom Retreat, where I host a group of people at an amazing world location. We focus on total wellness, boot camps, meditation, yoga, and local adventure is always part of the agenda.

Where are you going next?
Outside of summer vacation, I’ll be preparing for this year’s My Freedom Retreat. We will be visiting Costa Rica. Like in previous years, My Freedom Retreat is curated to encourage and inspire holistic practices to help better our health, physically, emotionally and spiritually.

By Sarah Wilson