Self Care Centers You- Cumulatively, taking time for yourself keeps you aware of what’s really important in life. For me, that means I don’t obsess about things that are small in the scope of things — or if I do, I can put it in perspective.
All of us know that we have to take breaks in our day to take care of ourselves. “Selfcare is healthcare”, the saying goes. At the same time, we know that when you are a busy leader with enormous responsibility on your shoulders, it’s so easy to prioritize the urgent demands of work over the important requirements of self-care. How do busy entrepreneurs and leaders create space to properly take care of themselves? What are the self-care routines of successful entrepreneurs and business leaders? In this interview series, we are talking to busy and successful entrepreneurs, business leaders, and civic leaders who can discuss their self-care practices and self-care routines. As a part of this series, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Lisa Lotts.
Lisa Lotts is the owner and publisher of Garlic and Zest, a food and recipe website.
An avid home cook, Lisa knew she wanted to do something with food and cooking, so in late 2013 she left a successful sales career and reinvented herself as food blogger.
Her award winning blog and recipes have been featured in Oprah Daily, Better Homes & Gardens, BuzzFeed, HuffPost, Shape, Men’s Fitness, Parade among others. She lives with her husband in Boca Raton.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! It is an honor. Our readers would love to learn more about your personal background. Can you please share with our readers your personal backstory; What has brought you to this point in your life?
Icome from a family of cooks. We celebrated special occasions and accomplishments not by going out to eat, but by cooking special meals at home. Both my parents worked outside of the home, so I was responsible for making dinner during the week. My mother would leave a recipe on the counter for me and I’d prepare it, that’s how I learned my way around the kitchen.
I love to cook for my friends and they’d always ask for my recipes. That positive reinforcement made me want to be a better cook and I would challenge myself. There were certainly failures, but I always learned from them and kept on cooking.
My professional career was in sales, first for a South Florida newspaper, then in pharmaceuticals and finally home healthcare. But sales wasn’t my passion and the last position I held was truly not for me. I simply didn’t want to be there. When I finally quit, it was with the mindset of transitioning to something creative with cooking. That was when my business was born.
It wasn’t an easy path, but it gave me purpose, self-worth and a sense of belonging with other people in the same field.
What is your “why” behind what you do? What fuels you?
I’ve had friends and acquaintances tell me they don’t know “how to cook”. I want to demystify cooking to make it accessible and do-able for all levels of home cooks from the novice to the pro. You don’t have to have a culinary pedigree to get a delicious, home cooked meal on the table. I want people to have success in the kitchen and enjoy the results of their efforts.
How do you define success? Can you please explain what you mean from a personal anecdote?
For me, success is hearing back from someone who has made one of my recipes, rates it and leaves a comment about their experience.
Like Judith, who left me a 5 star review on a Grilled Herb Crusted Veal Chop recipe. She said, “Our favorite restaurant on Long Island used to serve the best veal chops. Until I stumbled across your veal chop recipe, I could not replicate those wonderful flavors we had enjoyed for years. So my husband and I just wanted to say thank you — now that we live in Tucson — for enabling us to enjoy our favorite meal again many times over at home, using your recipe!”
or Debra who wrote this about Southern Style Chicken and Waffles, “ I made this for my family last night and they raved!! I was hesitant about the onion/cheese waffle but trusted the recipe and I’m glad I did!! My 11 year old , who for whatever reason, claims he doesn’t like chicken and waffles ate a giant waffle and 3 strips! Thank you for helping me impress my family!”
and Mark says this about my Pot Roast made in a Dutch oven, “Making this pot roast for the 4th time in as many months. It is absolutely the best recipe ever! I now use mushroom powder in many other things like coq au vin and beef stew. It is addictive and quite versatile. Thanks for this deliciousness on a cold soggy day in Portland.”
What is the role of a growth mindset in your success? Can you please share 3 mindset mantras that keep you motivated, sane, and propel you forward?
Role of growth mindset:
My growth mindset at this point is less about producing new content and more about revisiting my older content that isn’t performing as well on Google and improving on it. I’m constantly tweaking and improving recipes, re-writing posts and keyword structure and retaking photographs.
3 Mindset Mantras:
You are by all accounts a very successful person. How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I donate to charities (Cookies for Kids’ Cancer) and have used my platform to speak out against social injustice, gun violence and the general insanity we’re facing today. Though not everyone agrees with my stance, it would feel disingenuous to not be true to myself.
I’ve also wanted to create some type of mutually beneficial arrangement where after I’m done cooking and photographing a recipe, I could donate the food to a charity or needy family. However, there are liability implications that I haven’t been able to work around yet.
Can you share a mistake or failure which you now appreciate, and which has taught you a valuable lesson?
Probably my biggest mistake was at the very beginning, when I was starting my business. Instead of doing my homework, researching the ways to start a blog, the things I needed to do, I jumped in with both feet and just started dog paddling.
I’m actually glad it happened that way, because if I had known all that this job required, I wouldn’t have had the courage to leap. Sometimes you just have to go with your gut.
You are a successful leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
What are some of the most interesting or exciting new projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
One of my recipes was recently included in Brian Baumgartner’s new book, Seriously Good Chili Cookbook. You may remember Brian who played Kevin Malone in The Office and the famous scene where he spilled a vat of his “famous chili” (which was meant to be shared with the rest of the office staff) and the hysterical aftermath.
Participating in his project with other renowned chefs, chili-circuit winners and respected culinary writers has made me want to create a cookbook of my own. I’m just deciding what my focus should be.
OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview about Self-Care. Let’s start with a basic definition so that we are all on the same page. What does self-care mean to you?
To me, self-care is a balance of body and mind wellness. It’s not about the absence of stressors, but how you manage them, so they don’t control you. For me, that means exercise, a mostly healthy diet and a regular sleep schedule.
As a successful leader with an intense schedule, what do you do to prioritize self-care, and carve out regular time to make self-care part of your routine?
As a creature of habit, I’ve developed daily routines that I stick to which automatically include self-care. I don’t have to carve out time, because it’s just part of my daily life.
It helps that I am a morning person, naturally, so I like to exercise first thing in the morning, generally before the sun comes up. Usually it’s a 2–3 mile walk or run, core and strengthening exercises and maybe some light weight training. During Covid, we regularly did YouTube HIIT workouts — but I didn’t change it up enough and I ended up with an injury.
I like working out early because it makes me feel accomplished more alert mentally and sets me up for a productive work day.
Will you please share with our readers 3 of your daily, or frequent self-care habits?
This is the main question of our interview. Based on your own experiences or research can you please share 5 ways that taking time for self-care will improve our lives?
Sometimes we learn a great deal from the opposite, from a contrast. Can you please share a few ways that NOT taking time for self-care can harm our lives?
Not taking time for yourself has had negative impacts for me… I was in a bad car accident about 10 years ago in which I fractured my C2 (They call it a hangman’s fracture, and it’s the same fracture that Christopher Reeve suffered).
I was immobilized in a neck collar for nearly 6 months and for the first month or so, they gave me pain medications which had a truly negative affect. I lost a lot of weight because I couldn’t eat anything without experiencing severe abdominal pain, couldn’t sleep through the night and was unable to exercise the way that I used to.
It impacted my psyche and my relationships. I was miserable.
Once I could stop taking the pain pills about 1–2 months after the accident, my stomach issues cleared, so I could eat normally. Then I started taking daily 2–3 mile walks (it was the only form of exercise I could do with my neck collar) — but it was what I needed to feel like myself again.
What would you tell someone who says they do not have time or finances to support a regular wellness routine?
Exercise and a healthy diet and good sleep are the basics of self-care and those are the things that don’t require a big financial commitment.
You don’t need a home gym or even a gym membership.
When Covid hit, we stopped going to the gym and switched to brisk walks (try to do a 15 minute mile) and supplementing with YouTube workouts, crunches, planks, squats, lunges — you don’t even need a set of dumbbells, just your own body weight.
Diet — Grocery prices are through the roof right now, so I’m not going to say it’s not tough there, but cooking at home is cheaper than going out for meals and you have control over what you put in your body… Luckily, I’ve got lots of easy and very healthy recipes on my Garlic and Zest website. From tasty and satisfying salads to soups and stews and lots of grilling favorites.
Sleep — It doesn’t cost anything to get a good night’s sleep, but it does require a routine. Avoid alcohol, don’t keep your phone in the room where you sleep, turn off the tv and do something that helps calm and center you, whether its meditating or just reading a book to take your mind off the day.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them :-)
I’m a huge fan of Jose Andres for his humanitarian work with World Kitchen (and we’ve been fortunate to enjoy meals at several of his restaurants). I met him briefly at a South Beach Food and Wine event years ago, so he’s probably the one that would inspire me the most.
I also have a not-so-secret crush on Sam Hueghan — and his Sassenach whiskey and El Tequileńo tequila. I’d love to make cocktails with him.
What is the best way for our readers to continue to follow your work online?
My website is Garlic and Zest. Anyone can sign up to receive an email when I post new recipes and content. I’m also on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok and Twitter @garlicandzest
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent on this. We wish you only continued success.
About The Interviewer: Maria Angelova, MBA is a disruptor, author, motivational speaker, body-mind expert, Pilates teacher, and founder and CEO of Rebellious Intl. As a disruptor, Maria is on a mission to change the face of the wellness industry by shifting the self-care mindset for consumers and providers alike. As a mind-body coach, Maria’s superpower is alignment which helps clients create a strong body and a calm mind so they can live a life of freedom, happiness, and fulfillment. Prior to founding Rebellious Intl, Maria was a Finance Director and a professional with 17+ years of progressive corporate experience in the Telecommunications, Finance, and Insurance industries. Born in Bulgaria, Maria moved to the United States in 1992. She graduated summa cum laude from both Georgia State University (MBA, Finance) and the University of Georgia (BBA, Finance). Maria’s favorite job is being a mom. Maria enjoys learning, coaching, creating authentic connections, working out, Latin dancing, traveling, and spending time with her tribe. To contact Maria, email her at [email protected]. To schedule a free consultation, click here.