Lookin’ for the recipe for success on Insta? Feast your eyes on this! Wellness influencer, fitness junkie + creator of Meal Prep MVP Katie Lolas is all about inspiring others to achieve their fitness goals while leading a healthy, restriction-free lifestyle. When she’s not slinging mouth-watering recipes and food pics all over the ‘gram, Katie also works as a full-time high school teacher – proving to women everywhere that a successful side hustle doesn’t have to be a hassle!
We chatted to this lovely lady about her recipe for success on Instagram and balancing both her passions while maintaining a healthy, sustainable lifestyle…
How did @lady.lolas come about?
When I started my Instagram page, it was essentially just a fitness and recipe journal to keep myself accountable. I was really looking for a sense of community. When I decided I needed to make some lifestyle changes, a lot of my close friends didn’t really have a health and fitness focus. After being diagnosed with IBS I had a really desperate need for connection. I just wanted to talk to people and hang out with people that had similar interests to me. So, I kind of started @lady.lolas as a way to connect, and then it snowballed from there. I never really started it with the intention to grow a community, however now it’s morphed into a lot more than a fitness journal. I now feel a lot of social responsibility to encourage others and use my platform to inspire others, lead by example and share bits and pieces of my life.
How did you turn your content into a career?
I wanted to create what wasn’t out there and fill a gap in the market. I wanted to create something I was looking for that I just couldn’t find. A lot of that was simply relatable content. Content that wasn’t hundred percent perfect and polished, recipes with ingredients that were really accessible. I remember when I first started, people would share a recipe and the ingredients would either be way too expensive, unrealistic or just some really bizarre ingredient. How am I going to find that?! I literally have 10 minutes off work to get to the supermarket.
I wanted my recipes to be easy and accessible, and my messaging to be genuine. It had to be real and come from a place of experience.
“I wanted to create something I was looking for that I just couldn’t find. A lot of that was simply relatable content.”
What’s your most used Instagram feature?
I think my most used Instagram feature would have to be my Stories. I post maybe three or four times a week depending on what’s going on but I use stories every day – multiple times. It’s such a good medium to share organic, genuine content in the moment. I think people are now leaning more towards realness, and I also find my engagement on Stories is really awesome.
What’s your go-to way of motivating yourself when you’re feeling lazy?
My whole mantra is that action equals motivation. So even if I’m not feeling great, I’m going to do something that gets me rolling. I’ll go out for a walk and leave my phone at home, and that usually gets my creative juices flowing. I think it’s really important to just do something, because that feeling of motivation comes from action – it doesn’t just magically appear one day.
“My whole mantra is that action equals motivation.”
How has Instagram helped you grow your business?
It’s grown my business by becoming my audience. I became really in tune with what they wanted and what they didn’t want, and that gave me the idea to do something more with it. Meal prepping and recipe development is my little Instagram niche, but it’s also a huge part of my business. My audience even inspired me to create my own sustainable Tupperware range! Seeing what they want and what they engage with gives me most of my ideas. Being in tune with your audience means that the more your audience grows, so does your ability to reach them on a personal level.
“Being in tune with your audience means that the more your audience grows, so does your ability to reach them on a personal level.”
What’s the main mission or mantra of what you’re doing?
Ditch the scales, ditch the obsession with the calories, ditch the obsession with anything that you can’t maintain! There’s no point engaging in a 12-week diet, or a crazy recipe or workout plan, because after that four weeks, you’re going to crash and burn. When you restrict yourself so much, you’re going to start engaging in toxic behaviour. Just start small! Be kind to yourself, and realise that there’s really no ‘one size fits all’ solution. I just want to encourage and inspire others to apply different tactics to their life until they figure out what’s going to fuel their journey.
What’s the biggest misconception people have about health and wellness Instagram influencers? How are you doing things differently?
I think a big misconception is that we cannot be trusted, because a) everything is sponsored, and b) that we’re giving poor advice. I do have some sponsors, however I make it very clear before going into any sponsorship that I must use their product and believe in it genuinely. I’m not going to recommend a product if it doesn’t already fit into my lifestyle, so anyone I align with has to be really genuine and organic. I think the way I’m combating the idea of giving poor advice is just making sure that I’m speaking from a place of experience, but always encouraging people to seek professional support and advice.
How do you balance being a high school teacher and an Instagram guru?
I’m very busy! I like being busy, but I’ve had to create better boundaries for myself. When I’m at work, sometimes I’ll send an email or check my Instagram during lunch or recess or when I have a break. However, I don’t touch my phone during certain times. I do a lot of my Instagram during the week before school, and then create a lot of my content on the weekends. It’s all about making sure that I’m organised, planning ahead and creating those boundaries.
Do your students know that you’re killing it on Instagram?
I’m sure they do know, but it’s not really something that they bring up. I think they respect me and they know that it’s an out of bounds topic, so they don’t really approach it – which negates some of the awkwardness!
How has @lady.lolas change the direction of your life?
It’s created a supplementary income which has been really great, because being a teacher isn’t going to bankroll my future! However I’m not ready to let it go by any means, so having a supplementary income gives me so much more drive, motivation and passion. I love connecting with other women who also have full-time jobs and showing them that you can have a full-time job and still invest in yourself or have a side hustle.
What’s the biggest learning you’ve had from Instagram?
You have to know your worth. As an influencer, entrepreneur or content creator, it’s so easy to undersell yourself, just because you don’t want to scare opportunities away.
If something doesn’t feel right, ask people’s advice, ask questions. If you don’t know something – and it’s okay not to know stuff – speak to someone who does know. Utilise the expertise of other people to help you figure out what the best move is, rather than feeling pressured into doing something that you know isn’t going to work.
In a sea of foodies and fitness influencers, what’s your advice for standing out and building an authentic loyal following?
What has worked for me is creating a relatable recipe that other people can make. Simple, accessible ingredients, non-sponsored content and lots of natural lighting. Above all – the food needs to look appetising!
What’s your top tip for mouth watering foodie content?
It’s not all about the end product – people also really love seeing the process. They really love watching a meal or recipe come to life. So a lot of the time I’ll show my followers how to make something on my Stories, and then the final product goes into the recipe. They seem to really enjoy that.
What’s your advice for other women wanting to follow their passion, share their journey or make a difference with Instagram?
Firstly, you need to be original. Don’t be a copycat – too many people are already doing the same thing. So think of an original way to do whatever it is you want to do. If you really want to stand out and be unique and be authentic, really think about what your messaging is. What’s the purpose of what you’re sharing? What value can you add to your customer? How can you inspire them, encourage them?
“What’s the purpose of what you’re sharing? What value can you add to your customer? How can you inspire them, encourage them?”
Come from a place of humility and genuine passion, and if you want to do it – just do it! Simply find something that you really care about and find a unique way to share it. It’s not going to be easy, but you have to persevere. Consistency is key. I didn’t blow up overnight. It’s been a slow, consistent growth, but I’ve learned to love the process as well. I love engaging with my community and commenting and talking to everyone and really getting to know what they want. It’s all about being of value.