This week’s #womenweLUV is health and fitness goddess Lisa Raleigh
Mybeautyluv: Toni, Why did you choose Lisa Raleigh as one of your women’s month sheroes?
Lisa’s sheer hard work, determination and grit are a huge inspiration to me.
She has captured the South African fitness market with her unwavering passion and never-say-die attitude.
Her business acumen and tenacity are something all aspiring - and even successful - business women across South Africa can learn from. She always makes time to help others and is great fun to be around.
A bit about you
Name: Lisa Raleigh
Age: I’m 38
Mybeautyluv: Tell us about what success means to you
I've been in this industry for 20 years. I was 18 when I started - after high school, I studied personal training and went overseas for a while. After two years, I started a mobile training studio because that was my cheapest option. I would travel to clients with my little car and my home gym equipment.
I think that, right from the get go, I stayed very true to who I am and tried to be as authentic as possible. And I've never really deviated from the wellness world.
There were many times it got hard, there were setbacks and challenges in the industry - being young, I was a bit of a pioneer and I was female.
It was hard, but I persevered, no matter what. The more people told me I couldn't do something, or I shouldn't do something, or I don't know if this is gonna work, the more tenacious I became - and the more determined I was to prove everybody wrong.
So, I would say that resilience is important: being in business as an entrepreneur, I have gone through a lot with different recessions. I’ve invested in gyms and gone online. I’ve lost a lot of money. I've done well. I've had lots of opportunities. I’ve lost some.
All the whole way through, I’ve had a conviction and passion for helping others. And making sure that I leave a mark in some way .
I still just want to do what I love. If I can stay true to that, no matter what, even if it would be easier to go get a job, or to go down a path where I know there is guaranteed income or success. That is something I'm proud of.
I’ve never wavered. I've always stayed true to what I am and what I need to be doing in this world.
Mybeautyluv: Which women have empowered you?
One of my favourites is Michelle Obama. I love what she stands for - all about women, trying to empower them and make it fair for women.
A big thing was her push and drive to get more people to move when she was First Lady. For those eight years, one of her biggest drives was wellness. She created awareness around ‘your health is your wealth’.
She looked the part. She started a lot of initiatives, especially around the youth, getting children to eat better and move more. Some of the points she made resonated a lot with me.
I talk about ‘putting yourself first’ on stage.
As woman, generally, we are completely selfless. Everybody else comes first, and we are the last person to receive any self-love, care, attention or time.
I try to give women permission to put themselves first because it’s actually the most selfless thing they could ever do. But women ask, ‘How? How is putting myself first every day selfless?’
I explain, ‘We play such a pivotal role in our homes, organisations, society… We are the rocks. We are at the centre of every single role we play. And if you are your best version of you - strong, powerful, energised, fit, healthy, positive - everybody benefits. Your children will benefit, your husband, your colleagues, your staff members, whoever!
And so we have to put ourselves first in order to bring our best versions forward.’
Brené Brown is one of my role models. She is such a strong woman, with such a powerful message. She’s changed the way I think about certain things.
I’ve read all her books, and I keep rereading Rising Strong. I love her topic about giving people the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they're doing the best they can. I often refer back to that when I think about something and I want to be a bit judgemental in that moment. It helps to get some perspective.
Arianna Huffington is another woman I really admire. She is a force to be reckoned with. I love all of her writing - her book Thrive. I've also read her book about sleep [The Sleep Revolution].
Sleep is one of the things I prioritise, I've been talking about this with my clients for decades. And I sell sleep products on my e-store.
When I consult with a client, in our 90 minutes, we always talk about happiness and wholeness, sleep, digestion, stress. I talk about all those things because it doesn't matter how much or how well you exercise and how beautifully you eat if you're not focusing on all the other elements that make you whole and make you well.
She speaks a lot about that – about balance and wholeness and sleep. I really love what she stands for.
Lee den Hond is somebody local I really enjoy.
I’ve read her book What happens when you say yes. And I’ve consulted with some of her closest friends, and done workshops for her.
She is a lady who does not give up. She has been through so much. She was stabbed in New York City when she was early 20s. She built a huge events company. She’s one of the first South African women to summit Everest. Reading about what she went through to summit, and how many obstacles she faced - and she still did it - is inspiring.
After reading her book, and knowing her personally, she is definitely a hero in my eyes.
During lockdown. she did a 42-kilometre run around her garden. And I was like, ‘Lee! Seriously!’
She’s one of those women who never says no. She always pushes to the limit. Nothing is impossible. She shows us that women you can do anything they want to do.
There are lots of other women that I look up to. In fact (laughs), I think women are not equal. Women are better.
It’s not because I'm a woman, but because I just think that there are so many stigmas associated with being a woman. There are so many responsibilities we naturally inherit because we are female, yet we are in the workforce, we have to earn an income, have to prove our worth.
We have to do all the things that men do, plus all the things that women do. And I think we are all just so amazing.
Mybeautyluv: Which men have empowered you?
Barack Obama, of course. Because my husband looks just like him (laughs). It’s crazy how much they look alike. He gets stopped at airports all the time. He's actually met Barack Obama and they were, ‘Whoa, we’re just the same’.
I love his human attributes. As a human being, he is just the ultimate.
He is probably one of the most humble men. He has such restraint, such respect for humanity, and is such a beautiful soul. He is definitely a humanitarian. He's humble, kind, patient and caring.
To me - and this is only what he portrays on television and social media, how he posts about his family - you see him to be the ultimate family guy, the ultimate leader everybody can look up to and respect.
I do like Elon Musk, not as a person, because I’ve heard and read some stuff, but for his business attributes. He reminds me a bit of Lee den Hond. The sky - literally Mars - is the limit.
He’s a big thinker, huge risk taker, he sacrificed I think pretty much his entire personal life for the betterment of the world. To develop things that didn't exist, to push the boundaries and to show people what's possible if you just dream. I love what he stands for, and the fact that he’s South African is amazing.
There are lots of men, but those, for me, shine.
Mybeautyluv: How do you support other women?
I’m a wife and a mom – I have two teenage step-kids who are 19 and 16, a little girl of four and, hopefully, another soon.
I have a huge soft spot for working moms because I know, personally, how hard it is to be more things to everyone and it's so tough. So, a lot of what I do is to try to make a difference for moms, especially working moms.
That’s the focus of a lot of my programmes, the messaging I put out there, social media posts and content I create.
I'm trying to empower busy working women, moms especially, to cook quicker, but healthily; what to do with their kids; how to exercise more effectively; how to get better quality sleep if you can't get eight hours but you can get six - how you get six good hours.
It’s also in the solutions I create with my home gym equipment - rebounding because it’s a quick, effective way to exercise. 20 minutes of rebounding is equivalent to 60 minutes of running. Most moms just don't have that hour. I know moms are under pressure, but if you can do a good 20 minutes on a rebound, it's like going for a run for an hour.
Everything I do is around trying to get a woman to feel amazing and energetic, full of vitality, stronger, more powerful, and sexier. Because along the way, we do lose ourselves, and I can say that for myself. There was a period when I thought ‘is this all I am? I’m just a mom, but what about all my other attributes?’
What happened to all the other beautiful things that you used to do and contribute to society? And the work you used to do, and what you stood for? Your skills and your knowledge? What happened to all those? How can they just be parked?
If you have more to give and want to give it - you must! Some women were born to be moms, and that is amazing, but if you’re like me and have always wanted it all, then it’s a sin not to try.
You have to contribute to make the world better. For me, you can't just be 'mom'. It's just not enough. So I lost my way for a bit, trying to find my new identity and my new balance, and how I was going to juggle both work and being a good mom.
According to a lot of people, you have to choose, and I was determined not to. And so I really empathise with moms who are trying to do it all.
I want to give them the tools to empower them so that they can do it all. And there are a lot of hacks that let you do it easier, quicker, more effectively... if you know the right things to do for your body.
Mybeautyluv: Do you have an empowering slogan or message you’d like to share?
There are a few I use. It’s not my own, but the one I probably use the most is “do what you can with what you've got from where you are”.
It means that it's never too late to start. You’ve just got to look at your situation and say ‘what can I do in my situation right now, with what I've got, where I am?’ And just start!
That is a big thing for a lot of women: they look for perfection, for the end game, and that sometimes takes years to perfect.
The point is to start somewhere, to be a little bit better in some way every day.
I love that slogan because it takes the whole perfection side of things away. Doing something is better than doing nothing. And that something becomes a lot when you do it consistently. You're seeing the small progress and, all of a sudden, the small little incremental improvements become quite big over time.
Make small little changes all the way through, as opposed to a quick fix - crazy eating plans and training programmes that are not sustainable when you're trying to work and raise a family.
You’ll look back after a year or two and if you've made 52 changes - one a week - you cannot believe how your life has transformed in that year.
‘Balanced makes perfect’ is another slogan I use a lot in our hashtags. Everybody’s balance is something different.
So, you may feel balanced when you don't work evenings and weekends, or when you know you have 20 mins a day for you to exercise, meditate, read, whatever it takes for your soul.
For somebody else, their life may feel balanced when they spend a lot of time with family and friends.
There's no perfect recipe and no perfect eight slices of a pie. Find your own balance that is perfect for you.
After consulting for years, I realise that different things make different people happy. It's about what makes you feel whole and happy. And giving women permission to change the way they slice the pie.
Mybeautyluv: How is self-care a part of your personal empowerment?
I gave myself permission 20 years ago to put myself first. I think that’s something I definitely got right. I consult with ladies in their 50s, 60s, 40s, 30s, and they've never put themselves first.
I was very young when I started in this industry. My clients have taught me so much. Years and years of consulting with people twice my age made me see what not looking after yourself looks like if I fast forward 20 years.
I realised you are totally in control of the decisions you make now, because if you don't… that is how you're going to end up. And I was reminded of that eight times a day with different clients.
It's a massive wake-up call. They reminded me daily that self-care and self-love is the only way to guarantee a healthy, balanced life. And to make sure that you age slower, and that you live to a good old age, disease-free.
I think I always had it in me to be self-controlled and self-disciplined, but the constant reminders really integrated this into my being.
I was a ballerina and a gymnast when I grew up. I had to be excellent, to practice hard, be disciplined and resourceful. I didn't even live in the same city as my parents. So I had to just get on with it.
I knew the power of discipline and having the right amount of sleep, getting the right food, because I could only perform and be my best when I did that.
I go to bed on time, I wake up early, I drink vegetable juice every day, and I have a vegetarian diet, sometimes vegan. I don't smoke, I don't drink, but I do have one or two naughty things I do, but it's balance again.
I love sweet stuff. I do have sugar in my diet every day, but I exercise a lot, so I do burn it off. And I do love the sun. I love summer, to lie in a bikini and sunhat around the pool, with an SPF, and get a golden tan. I know it's not good for my skin but it makes me happy and I'm like, you know what…?
I also know that I'm a terrible mom at the moment. For the past few days or weeks, I haven’t self-loved as much as I should have. I’ve been exhausted, Bella’s had a terrible sleeping patch. I'm just so tired, it's hard to even exercise.
I know what that does is to me, how irritable and moody I am and how I don't want to do anything. I eat the wrong stuff – it’s this downward spiral.
So I am lucky I know better and I can snap myself back into my old, healthy ways.
I just know (and I’ve seen with my clients) that when I don’t take care of my own health, I, and everyone around me, suffers.
We all have such a responsibility for our own energy, moods and emotions, and what we give out into the world.
An attitude of gratitude is a ritual I have followed for many years. I start my day with a gratitude list and I read out of four books - Marianne Williamson, Angus Buchan - a lot of little one page stories, quotes and messages.
This is how I set the tone and I fill my heart and my body with how much I have, because it makes me feel abundant and positive, and it starts my day well, especially if I haven’t had a great night's sleep.
So gratitude is a big part of my life, and attitude. Because some days you're working 14 hours and these are 40 things you have to achieve. If you go into it negative, you're going to have a very crappy day. You still had to achieve the same outcome, so you might as well enjoy it. It’s all about the mindset.
I'm actually in a new TV show called Kopskuif [ed: airing from September 9 on Via TV]. It is all about mindset and changing this first before you can change anything else.
Mybeautyluv: What do you do as your personal empowerment daily or nightly ritual?
Putting in good food. When people ask what you eat, I'm a total quality snob, I'm afraid – I eat with a high-quality lens. I only eat the best ingredients I can afford. And I try to cook as much as possible.
I don't put stale old rubbish chemical food into my body.
I exercise daily on a rebounder because I believe in restorative exercise - exercise that heals, doesn't harm. It’s non-impact and it's very good for my lymphatic system. It helps improve my alkalinity and decrease acidity in the body and reduce inflammation.
I look at everything and say ‘how is this helping my body? How is this making me better?’
I don't do anything that doesn't serve me except for the daily little dose of sugar.
Mybeautyluv: Which product did you choose from www.mybeautyluv.com to help you with this ritual?
Mybeautyluv: Now that you’ve used it, tell us about your experience.
The Milkshake Silver Shine Whipped Cream Leave-In Foam is, without a doubt, one of my favourite hair products. Not only does it smell fresh and amazing (which instantly lifts my mood), the purple foam really helps to neutralise the orange/yellow undertone I sometimes get after having my highlights done.
After a single application, my hair feels so silky soft and smooth, as though I’ve just had an in-salon treatment, and my frizz is gone! I love this product!
My Beauty Luv