This article was first seen on the Huffington Post. For this installment, we are joined by Nita Lee Marquez.
Let’s start off with a general introduction. How would you describe yourself, what are you all about and how did you get involved in health and fitness?
I would say these are the three words to describe me, as they have been my three goals of being since I became an adult. Tenacious, Vivacious and Efficacious.
I believe it is in everyone’s best interest for a person to pursue a life of discovering their true purpose. I don’t believe that purpose can be defined with words, but it is an unspeakable inner language between us and our maker that drives us to evolve to our capacity as individuals. Who will each serve our world in a very unique and impactful way.
This drive is what led me into fitness, as I found calmness, inspiration, strength and drive all at once when I first entered the fitness industry. I knew it was my calling to be in fitness, if not for my fullest purpose, at least I believed it was a step toward growing my life’s overall purpose.
Nita you’re now a well known fitness celebrity and authority but that wasn’t always the case. I read that you made some bad choices as a child tell us a little bit about that and how you turned things around for yourself?
I grew up with a very unstable abusive lifestyle. My mother was a hard worker, but a very broken young mother who repeatedly got into one abusive relationship after another before meeting the demise of our family when she got addicted to crack cocaine when I was 13.
At that point, I fell to my own divisiveness, also being involved with drugs/drinking and a host of other damaging choices. My addiction to food became a normal crutch, and thus, did my self-abuse through self-loathing. It wasn’t until I entered the fitness industry that I found a sense of relief from my demons, and began to make better choices because I finally started to value myself through the disciplines.
Just months after having your first child you entered your first fitness competition that’s just amazing what drove you to do that?
At the time that I met my children’s father, he was intoxicatingly adoring. He was my greatest cheerleader. He really inspired me to believe in myself enough to go after it. I did work very hard throughout my career, of course, but I give him so much credit for being a support system in the inspiring moments in those initial years.
Since then you’ve accomplished some incredible things what are you most proud of?
I can honestly tell you that my favorite thing in life is being able to see that I raised extremely grounded, spiritually sound, intelligent children who are all near adulthood now. My moniker in the world would not be right if motherhood were not at the helm of all my accomplishments.
That was why as a fitness personality & expert, I trademarked America’s Hottest Fit Mom™ – everything in my life since I became a mother has started and ended with motherhood. I also believe it is easy to lose the focus on parenting when we get so involved in any industry. Rather than seeing anything overshadow anything else, I always structured things in a way that all elements would feed one another, not overshadow.
Why was it so important for you to give back to the single mother community?
I have always volunteered for causes that I had experience in. I have been an advocate and volunteer for Youth At Risk (now New Pathways for Youth), and a number of other smaller programs that supported troubled teens.
As for what led me to becoming an advocate for single mothers. My husband told me he wanted to split up after years of marriage, and when he left, he basically abandoned ship on responsibilities to our children as well. Feeling blindsided and victimized in my devastation, I took a lot of time to recover and get over the pain and bitterness.
In my growth period, I have learned the camaraderie I felt with troubled teens also spread onto the same connection I feel with other single moms who struggle with a variety of issues socio-economically, emotionally, financially and more. It was very organic for me to commit to the cause.
How do you feel raising three children has made you a better person? And what is the most important thing you’ve learned from being a mother?
Being a mother or a father teaches you to be more selfless, without a doubt. Those who falter in this lead destructive paths in their relationships to their children and it often defines the emotions of self-image a child contends with overcoming for an entire lifetime.
I’d say becoming selfless is the most valuable thing my children have taught me. They do not ask to be here, it is our duty to teach, love and respect them above our immediate gratifications, and it’s not always an easy thing to do.
What kind of a legacy would you like to leave behind for your children?
I feel like I want to let them lead their lives how they wish, but that it is through a legacy of integrity. We empower ourselves by empowering others. And of course I would like to teach them the industry and how to continually build more wealth to enjoy life with peace of mind and also to build opportunities for others.
You talk a lot about energy, how it is important for mothers to have the energy to make a living, excercise, be there for their children etc. If there was one lesson you could share about energy what would it be?
Being honest saves a lot of energy, eating cleaner and working out (in any way), creates a lot of energy and all that energy is useful when you’re a mother!
When people look at you they might say, wow she is just incredible, I could never be like that, what would you say to them?
Looks aren’t everything, so please judge me by my ability to love and honor others. We are all just here to do our best and evolve through purpose – there are no comparisons.
If you could only choose one thing, what would you tell your younger self?
You should only give your time and energy to people who are helping you grow in your purpose.
Where can people go to learn more about you online?