I’m so excited to introduce you to Les! You probably know her from her popular social media and blog formerly known as The Balanced Berry - which has now changed to @BalancedLes on instagram and grown to include her newest venture, a podcast and community that’s pushing wellness to be more inclusive @BalacedBlackGirlPodcast on IG, or balancedblackgirl.com. I won’t give away all the goodies of this interview, but I promise her podcast is one definitely worth subscribing to - she and her guests are covering real, relatable and important topics and will be sure to make you think & laugh along the way. We have a feeling Les is just getting started and can’t wait to see what’s next for her and Balanced Black Girl - she is no doubt, changing the way we think about health. Meet Les!
SO let’s start off with introductions, tell us a little about yourself!
Hi there! My name is Les, and I’m from Seattle, WA. I’m a personal trainer, nutrition coach, podcaster, and social media manager.
How did you get started in the wellness space, can you give a bit of background?
I first started working out consistently when I was a senior in college. After noticing how sluggish I felt at my first corporate internship, I started working out and eating better in hopes of gaining more energy. From there, the healthy habits just snowballed!
I became a personal trainer in 2013, and started teaching fitness classes. In 2014 I started my first blog The Balanced Berry - a site devoted to making healthy living simple and easy. For four years I shared workouts, healthy recipes, and personal stories.
What was the inspiration behind Balanced Berry?
At the time I was working full-time in a corporate job, working with personal training clients, and working out for nearly two hours a day. Things I didn’t do much of: relaxing, sleeping, or anything remotely fun. I was burned out and exhausted, and desperately seeking balance. I decided to step back from my training job, and started my blog to keep in touch with my clients. That’s how The Balanced Berry was born!
How would you describe going from the ‘idea’ of your sister brand to actually executing and creating it? What were some pivotal moments in that time?
It had been a long time coming. Being a part of the wellness space, and living in a city that is not very diverse, I often found myself in situations where I was the only woman of color in the room. I started having readers and followers who were women of color reaching out to me saying they enjoyed following me because I added more diversity to the wellness space, however, I didn't feel like I was doing enough. I was trying so hard to blend into the vanilla one-size-fits-all mold of what a wellness influencer looked like. I felt like I wasn’t being authentic to myself, and like I was letting down those who looked to me for inspiration.
In early October, I found myself at yet another wellness event where I was the only woman of color in the room, and decided that was the last time I was going to feel that way. I went home, drafted a vision for Balanced Black Girl, ordered a microphone (to record my podcast), and started a new adventure right then and there!
What’s your biggest goal for The Balanced Berry and Balanced Black Girl?
The chapter of my life where I focused on The Balanced Berry has ended. The site is still up because for four years I poured my heart and soul into that content, and want to leave it up for whomever would like to consume it, however I have taken The Balanced Berry as far as it is meant to go.
For Balanced Black Girl, I want to build an engaging community and safe space for women of color to connect on the areas of physical/mental health, beauty, relationships, and life. We have a lot of really exciting things coming! We are just getting started.
What’s been the most rewarding part of growing your brands?
Taking a concept from idea to reality is one of my favorite things to do. I love going through the creative process. Creating something out of nothing is incredibly empowering, and has helped me grow immensely on a personal and professional level.
Also, building brands that focus on empowering women and helping them feel good about the skin that they are in has been incredible. Anytime I get a message or comment from a woman telling me how my content has helped her, I’m reminded why I do it. That never gets old.
What’s been the biggest learning curve with growing your brand and sharing your life online?
I’m a perfectionist at heart. However, there really isn’t room for perfectionism when you’re a solopreneur. I’ve learned that “good enough” is better than perfect. That it’s ok to just put my ideas out there and fix it as I go along.
What do you hope someone takes away after visiting your Instagrams or hearing your podcast?
That their health and well-being matters, that they don’t have to shrink themselves down to feel worthy or beautiful, and that it’s ok to make wellness feel fun and relatable!
What’s your dream job?
Growing Balanced Black Girl into a large company that touches women all over the world.
Take us through a typical (or not-so-typical) day!
I still have a 9-5, so my days are usually pretty packed. My alarm goes off around 6am, and I usually ease into my morning routine. I love making myself a mug of lemon water followed by a mug of matcha, and journaling, meditating, and doing some reading. Then I will do a quick morning workout to get my heart rate up before heading to work. In my day job, I am a social media manager for a start-up, so my days are filled with creating lots of content for my company.
My evenings are usually filled with work for Balanced Black Girl. I am typically either interviewing podcast guests, editing upcoming podcast episodes, and creating even more content! Usually before going to bed I like to have some screen-free time so I wind down with my skin care routine and a bit more reading before going to bed. It’s not glamorous, but it is the life of a side hustler!
What’s your biggest goal as of now? (personal or brand-related)
I would love to travel more!
What’s something you’re currently obsessed with? (people, things, products, habits, places - can be anything!)
Books! I have been reading a ton, and am excited to incorporate a book club component in the Balanced Black Girl community. Each month we will read a book written by a WOC author together, and I’ll incorporate book club discussions on our website and podcast.
What does “health” mean to you?
Taking care of your mind, body, and spirit in a way that feels empowering to the individual.
How do you see (or hope to see) our perception of health and wellness changing in the near future?
I see wellness becoming more inclusive. I am so proud to be a part of the conversations happening around diversifying the wellness space. While I provide my perspectives as a black woman, there are so many more voices that need to be heard. Those who are different sizes, races, gender identities, sexualities, and ability levels need to also see themselves in the wellness space - and I am excited for more representation across all of these groups.
How can readers keep up with you? Social handles and platforms!