A vision of golden limbs, endless energy and that mega-watt smile, Lisa Clayton radiates a natural sparkle which can brighten any room. It almost defies belief that she’s the mother of three boys under seven … including twins. It’s Lisa’s enthusiasm for life which people are drawn to … and what quickly transformed her humble Singapore based outdoor boot camp service into Asia’s largest fitness empire. But ever the risk taker, she has just packed up her family and returned home to Australia to take on a new challenge. The Delivery speaks to the 36-year-old golden girl about her lifestyle secrets and why her glass is always half full … wine glass that is.
Welcome home to Australia. Why did you choose to return to your roots after a decade of expat life abroad in Singapore?
There is no right time to leave somewhere you’re happy and have roots and no easy time, but the question which we kept asking ourselves was if we don’t start a plan now, when will we go? Will we be here another 10 years? We didn’t leave because we were unhappy but felt time for a change. We strongly felt our purpose was to give the boys an Aussie education and allow them to inherit the outdoor lifestyle that we remember and hold onto so dearly which shaped our childhood. It’s been a change, but all positive. It makes you realise how adjustable kids are to new places. Kids remember a lot from a young age but they thrive on excitement. We kept repeating to the boys all the positive and exciting things they were going to be able to do, especially in the summer. They also really love their family and were so excited to be close to Nana and their uncle and aunts. I think they were looking forward to that the most . The final months were nuts socially and so many goodbyes for them but the boys showed so much maturity with all the changes. The boys were like, “I know you’ll miss your friends Mum, you’ll make more like us”. Bless!
You built a fitness empire while based in Singapore, what are your plans and goals now?
I sold UFIT early last year as we wanted to face heading home with fresh eyes and be open to fresh opportunity. It’s every business owners dream to sell so I’m very fortunate I got it to this point of building it to its peak, though it was never the plan which was probably what made it so successful to me and other people. I didn’t copy anything and nurtured a culture and community which was non existent in Singapore. It was such an organic venture and wonderful experience. I didn’t want anything more from it. I did what I thought was unimaginable and never expected that I would end up with such a business. It’s my natural instinct to work hard and passionately but I’m focusing on a balance and weighing up a lot of options now. My CHICKFIT Retreats are something I’m really passionate about. Watch this space, but whatever happens I will stay true to who I am.
Photographed by Airlie Walsh
You radiate good health and vitality, what is your approach to health and fitness and what wellness tips do you have for mothers who want to improve their wellbeing inside and out?
Forget about being skinny. If you eat well and exercise, everything should take care of itself. Get some good advice and be honest and open with people. Create yourself and don’t copy what others do or compare your size or appearance to others, because what works for some people does not work for everyone.
This is my outlook: I sweat to gain more inner strength and self motivation to take on life’s great adventures. I’m not training for a competition. I’m not trying to set a new record. My goal is not the have the best body in the world. I’m not trying to impress you. I train so that I can manage the juggles of living a busy mum life. Fitness is a lifestyle, it’s not my life and anyone who says it’s not the lifestyle for them just hasn’t found their passion yet. I feel so good after a workout I don’t why everyone doesn’t want to feel this way. There is a role in fitness for everyone, it doesn’t just have to be in the gym.
“I will never be the best at this crazy, beautiful job of mothering …but I brought those three monkeys into the world and I will work my butt off with them everyday. “
My exercise routine now tends to take place five to six days per week, where I engage in outdoor bootcamps, boxing, lifting weights, strength training and circuit based classes. I love METCON workouts in particular. The biggest reason that I’m so committed to exercise is that I truly enjoy how my body and spirit come alive when I move in ways that intuitively feel good to me. For me, exercise has always been a beautiful balancing act, just like the rest of my life. I love stretching myself to the very limit and pushing myself. It’s that harmony between intensity and fun that keeps things interesting for me and keeps my body on its toes.
What are your secrets to getting in shape after having a baby?
Your body is beautiful because of what it has done so take the pressure off by finding something that you really enjoy to get you motivated to start with. Get your nutrition right and portions under control. Self doubt and excuses will go away the moment you have motivation and are moving in the right direction. As a mum, it’s difficult to be the best version of you for your family if you don’t truly feel happy within yourself. You created these children, you are amazing, you mean everything to your children. You are loved, needed and missed. A healthy attitude can be contagious, so surround yourself with those who will be on the same path as you. See a professional if you have serious medical issues after giving birth and give yourself time to heal. Don’t idolise other women, everyone bounces back at different times.
Please describe an average “day on a plate” for you?
My day starts with an espresso then another one 10 minutes later. Yes coffee is life! You would think I need it to keep up my energy but it doesn’t affect me, I just love the taste. I’ve also been known to drink an espresso before bed. I know right, like who does that?! It doesn’t affect my sleep pattern at all.
Most days I tend to intermittent fast so I’ll eat after my morning workout which is usually finished by 10am. Nine times out of 10 it will be avocado on sourdough with two fried eggs, a sprinkle of parmesan, sometimes feta, salt and chilli pepper. It’s really the only thing I repeatedly do every day. I usually have a piccolo after that! I’m not into snacking. I’m far too busy most days to think about it. Unless I hoe into what the kids are having or not having! I eat when I’m hungry and stop before I am full. Lunch will be salad or a wrap, probably handfuls of hot chips from the kids meals too (the last seven weeks on holidays I’ve consumed more fries than I’d like to admit but we all have a weakness).
We keep it simple at night unless it’s take out or we are going out and will drink and eat anything we like. I am always drawn to seafood when eating out and naturally drawn to healthier options in general. At home, we grill or bbq a piece of protein usually chicken or fish plus make a super rainbow salad full of seeds, feta or haloumi, kale, anything and everything will go in it to make it hearty and filling or we will make a healthy curry the family will eat. My husband will peel an orange for me on the couch most nights … Ain’t that love!
How do you perform the great balancing act between work commitments and motherhood?
It’s easier now I’ve sold the business as I’m the kids’ number one carer and around most of the time but when I have a work commitment I’m totally ok with it as are the boys. It’s nice they see me busy with other interests and I enjoy talking to them about it. They aren’t clingy, never have been. We don’t get separation anxiety because they know I’m doing something I enjoy and I know they are in good hands. My husband travels a lot for work so it has to be when he is in town now. Priorities have changed.
Time management tip for busy mums?
I wish I had it down pat! I write a list and write things down when they pop into my head, which is a lot. I have the biggest list ever! I’m always planning ahead as I’m very quick to jump on things. Everything in moderation means there is a healthy balance to your life. A balanced lifestyle to me isn’t just about eating right and exercise. It‘s about having a positive outlook, having good daily habits and lowering stress. Relationships, work, fitness, health and emotional well-being all won’t align if you‘re not looking after yourself and aren’t able to make the necessary time for yourself. We all can get bogged down with work and family responsibilities, but no one will benefit if you can’t keep up.
“As a mum it’s difficult to be the best version of you for your family if you don’t truly feel happy within yourself.”
Here are my top five tips to living your best life:
Making the Commitment: Often the hardest to do but commitment turns into dedication, which can lead to passion which leads to results.
Boosting happiness: Whatever that may be. A glass of wine, a book, a massage, taking your pets out, seeing a movie, anything that allows you to fully embrace the great things in life where you won’t get distracted. Being happy gives you a better outlook on life and you can then tackle your daily tasks better.
Enjoying exercise for good health: Making a good long workout part of your weekend plans with friends. Sneaking in some exercise on your lunch hour at work, or get up earlier and working out before you start your day. Schedule appointments for exercise just like you do other important tasks. Commit the plan to paper so you’ll be more motivated to stick with it.
Making time to eat right: Good eating habits will keep your body healthy, give you energy, and boost your spirits. Healthy food can be delicious, andit’s fun learning new recipes and healthy combinations. Also, healthy cooking doesn’t have to be time-consuming, just keep it simple and make it colourful. If I have to read a recipe over and over again before I understand it, I won’t bother. Most people say they don’t have time to cook, but many over complicate the process.
Me time: Socialising is my “me time”. A chance to laugh, kick back with my husband and girlfriends, enjoying catching up and talking over the silliest of things. Being surrounded by positive people is for me is the ultimate time to relax. I‘m not good in my own company, I prefer to be around people or my brain doesn’t switch off. However, for some, silence can be your solace. If you have a family, help one another out by offering to give your partner or spouse some downtime whilst the other takes the kids out. Tag teaming, we call it, on the weekends can be one of the biggest acts of kindness and a great way to be able to offer one another some time out.
Photographed by Airlie Walsh
Describe your parenting style?
I don’t know what you would call but it if you asks the boys this question they would perhaps answer “fun, but can get mad!”. If they love me 100% of the time then I must be doing it wrong because there are plenty of times when discipline is required and they aren’t going to like me for it…but they will end up cuddling their mama once the dust has settled. My kids have a pretty fun life. Actually very. We have spoiled them with travel and outings because I’m very adventurous, addicted to travel and new experiences. I will never be the best at this crazy, beautiful job of mothering which I wanted to do more of when I sold my business but I brought those three monkeys into the world and I will work my butt off with them everyday.
After years and years of parenting, I’ve discovered a few key things that work for my family:
Finding the right balance. The balance between fun and strict is the key. It is something you should not live without. I want to raise compassionate adults who I actually enjoy hanging out with. That takes strictness, no empty threats, and following through. Every. Single. Time. I also want to raise creative, spontaneous, adults with a great sense of humour. That takes fun, spontaneity, and letting your inner kid come out to play. Find the balance between strict and fun.
Treating each child as an individual. Coming up with different consequences or rewards for each child is more work. It’s exhausting and brain numbing at times, but it’s important. Each of your children are different. They have their own unique personalities, strengths and weaknesses, pet-peeves, and passions. And finally, talking. I talk to my children about everything. They’ll stop asking me and start asking someone else! Talk to your kids about everything. Let them ask questions. Don’t shut them out.
“I sweat to gain more inner strength and self motivation to take on life’s great adventures.”
What is the biggest lesson motherhood has taught you?
How to love (and how to get mad), how to find happiness with the simplest of things, approach life calmer and that laughter and friends really are the best medicine (and wine). Kids can teach us a lot if you step into their shoes and see that life can be more simple. It shouldn’t be about schedules and getting this and that done, it’s about living a life with meaning and remembering to enjoy it with those who matter the most.
What has been your greatest challenge in motherhood?
Everyone would assume it’s having twins but no. It’s more now the older they get the more crucial it is to nurture their individuality. That’s hard now the busier everyone gets. I do not have all the answers. I don’t always know what I’m doing. I do just like to have fun with them everyday. But I am constantly second guessing my rules and decisions. The feeling of guilt that I might be screwing up my children haunts me constantly.
And what are you most proud of as a mother?
Just surviving three kids under three and twins is enough for me!
What does your beauty regime involve?
I use Cetaphil cleanser and have for about 20 years. I use GO daily mosturiser and night oil, love it. I also use a body and face scrub as well as toning oil for the body from Bali’s Motion Fitness. I’ve been using it for eight weeks now and I can say the results have been amazing … softer skin, and legs are super hydrated- no more flaky legs and the tone in my legs has been extremely visible too. I hate wearing make up and doing my hair so rarely ever do! But I’ll use a tinted moisturiser by Laura Mercier, bronzer by Charlotte Tillbury and I get eyelash extensions so I don’t bother with any eye make up at all. It makes a world of difference and I’m ready in a minute.
Favourite family friendly holiday destination?
Terrigal and North Avoca (North of Sydney, Australia). We recently bought a house there and love the lifestyle and beaches. I can’t get bored anywhere there is a good beach. The boys surf nearly all day and axel our dog has so many dog beaches to choose from. There is bush life, farm life and it’s just stunning.
How has your relationship with your partner changed since having children and how do you find time for each other?
We have the same interests so it’s easy to find time. We are both fitness addicts, so often we workout together and stay out until 4am together! Definitely there’s been moments of stress and strain and there are always hard moments and challenges. No one and nothing is perfect but parenthood excites us equally as much as it frustrates us.
I’m going to be honest I haven’t read a book in years! I’ve attempted dozens but never get around to finishing them!
TED Talk recommendation?
The power of vulnerability, Brené Brown
For more health and fitness inspiration follow Lisa’s Instagram adventures @lisaclayton77