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Women In Wellness: Virna Lichter On The Five Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Help Support People’s Journey Towards Better Wellbeing

An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

As a part of my series about the women in wellness, I had the pleasure of interviewing Virna Lichter.

Virna Lichter is a certified meditation coach, bestselling author, and the creator of Beyond Mindset, a complete wellness and mindfulness mentorship program for individuals and corporations. She is the CEO and founder of Energia Wellness, established in Tampa, Florida, in 2013. Virna has a bachelor’s degree in Physical Education and more than two decades of experience in the wellness field. She is an ACE-certified personal trainer and a weight loss, sports conditioning, and fitness nutrition specialist. She launched her career as a wellness director at multi-billion-dollar corporations such as Transamerica, TECO Energy, and Verizon. Her vision is to bring mindfulness and meditation to the workplace to empower employees to use effective tools to reduce stress and improve health and wellbeing.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Our readers would love to “get to know you” better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?

Thank you for having me! I have been involved in wellness since I was thirteen years old when I joined a local martial arts school in my hometown in Brazil. I perceived being fit as only having a strong and healthy body. It wasn’t until much later that I realized that something was still missing when I had accomplished everything I thought would make me happy. I became very depressed. Life pushed me to discover that the physical body is just part of who we are. There was so much more to explore. I was introduced to meditation through a couple of clients from India. I started meditating daily and noticed how I was happy, fulfilled, and at peace. It also created a deep sense of purpose, and I was completely depression-free after six months. How could something so simple be so effective? I studied under great meditation and spiritual masters, and it was from my desire to share what I had learned with others struggling with stress and mental health issues that I founded Energia Wellness.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career? What were the main lessons or takeaways from that story?

When I opened Energia, my daughter was only nine years old, and when I wasn’t working, we would bond by playing Barbie and watching reality TV shows. There was a particular show about female wrestlers that she loved to watch. We played Barbie stories based on it. One night right before I closed one of my studios, I realized that the floors needed cleaning before our six a.m. class the following day, so I had to stay late to mop the floors. It was one of those many moments that business owners have when everyone goes home and you are on your own to deal with whatever is going on at your business. I was a bit sad because I wouldn’t be home on time to have dinner with my daughter. That triggered a whole stream of thoughts. I started to wonder how my daughter would feel and if I was missing out on precious moments with my family. As I was having my Cinderella moment, feeling a bit sorry for myself, the phone rang. I usually don’t answer calls that late, but something told me to answer it. It was a TV producer inquiring about the possibility of filming a reality TV show at the studio — the same show my daughter and I watched and based our Barbie play on.

It was a great experience to have the wrestlers at Energia, and my daughter was very proud of me. Most of all, it was a reminder that we are never alone, even when we think no one is noticing our hard work. I felt it was the Universe’s way of saying, “Hey, I got your back; you are doing good in the world.”

Can you share a story about the biggest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

When I started Energia, I knew I wanted to include more than just physical fitness. I offered a variety of holistic services such as massage therapy, nutrition, yoga, and meditation, in addition to fitness training. I needed ample space to handle all of that, so I decided to lease off the main road in an office building. It was a state-of-the-art wellness center. It seemed like I had checked all the boxes for a successful business. Days, weeks, and months went by, and we only had a handful of clients. Although the location was not difficult to find, people had to go out of their way. We ended up having to spend more on marketing to grow. I learned that you must have a vision, but there is nothing wrong with starting small. Choose the best suitable location for your type of business. Migrating to the online platform was the best move for our company. We reduced our overhead, and I can make a much more significant impact.

Let’s jump to our main focus. When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?

For the past decade, I shared wellness with my community, but moving my business to a digital platform has provided me the opportunity to serve thousands. It all started when the pandemic hit. Like many others, I was forced to pivot my business. I am the type of person who focuses on the silver lining. I went from working sixteen hours a day to eight hours, which gave me time to write my first book, Beyond Mindset.

As an immigrant, I never thought I would write a book in English, let alone that it would become a bestseller. Being a bestselling author is not just a fancy title. It means that you are making a major impact on people’s lives. The book is a compilation of my coaching program, which is now accessible to the masses.

The book teaches the readers step-by-step techniques to release years of stress accumulated in the body and mind. Stress is responsible directly or indirectly for eighty percent of all diseases. The word itself shows us that we are in a state of dis-ease, and to bring that ease back into our lives, we must take care of ourselves as a whole.

True health and wellness is not the absence of illness but the complete harmony of body, mind, and spirit.

Can you share your top five “lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing? Please give an example or story for each.

Practice silence: From the moment we wake up to when we go to sleep, we are constantly exposed to noise from the environment or the mind. Most people don’t even notice this, but at the end of the day, you may find yourself exhausted even when you haven’t done a whole lot during the day. Start to spend some time in solitude, in silence. Avoid talking, texting, checking social media, reading, and writing to just be with yourself. Get a chair or blanket, and head outdoors. You don’t have to make a mental note of everything you see. Just breathe and be. Nothing else is needed. Over time, you will notice that a sense of peace will start brewing within you. In reality, that state of “being” is always there. When we take away the distractions, we realize that and feel more at ease even during challenging situations.

Practice mindfulness and meditation: It is very natural for new meditators to be concerned about their overactive mind. We have thousands of thoughts every single day, so most likely, the mind won’t go blank when you sit to meditate. Thoughts are part of the process. Mindfulness and meditation are life skills. Like everything else, you will need to practice, and you will get better at it with time. Start slowly with five to ten minutes. You can even keep your eyes open. Start by being mindful of the five senses. Notice what you see, what you hear, any taste lingering in the mouth, what you smell, and the sensations on the skin, such as feeling the clothes touching your body.

Meditation and mindfulness keep the mind on the present moment. A present mind is not dwelling in the past or worrying about the future, which is our lives’ source of worry and anxiety. When we learn how to be present without feeling engaged by thoughts, we start to see the beauty in every moment.

Make peace with food: As a coach, I have been helping people lose weight for decades, so they assume that it comes easy to me. It does not. I am just like everyone else, and I had many struggles in the past. I was an overweight child, and I binge-ate off and on until my teenage years. After dinner, we would feed our family dog leftovers. I don’t know if they even made dog food back in the day. I loved feeding our dog because I would get to eat a bit more straight out of the pot. My weight went up and down more times than I can count. But then something happened. I heard a “click.” That click was my body telling me that I was full. I ignored that signal and kept eating because it tasted good or because I was anxious. Today, I listen to the meaning behind the “click.” It is an inner sense of “you are okay, you are satisfied, and there will be another meal soon.” Sometimes I still get distracted and forget to listen to it myself, so it takes perseverance and consistency. Find your inner click, and the days you don’t hear it, it is okay. Take one meal at a time, and always be kind to yourself.

Movement is the fountain of youth: Nothing can keep your body feeling and looking young the way that exercise can.

When I was a child, I watched my grandmother struggle moving around. She was a wonderful woman. Unfortunately, she couldn’t kneel due to some knee issues. Her dream was to be able to kneel in church to pray. That stayed with me. Keeping your body young is not as much about vanity it is about health. It is about all the things that you can do and enjoy and the things that you love without having to worry, can I make it through? I remember one of my clients arriving at her session telling me how happy she was when, instead of the elevator, she took the stairs at the theater with her husband. There are many things you can do to improve fitness. If going to the gym is not your cup of tea, ride a bicycle, go swimming, or take a walk. If you need help, hire a fitness expert to help you find a program that you will love and look forward to.

Fall in love with yourself: I remember my teenage years when I would fall in love with everyone. It could be a celebrity, a cute boy at school, or a new friend. I always choose to see the beauty in people, so it was impossible not to fall in love. The excitement inside, heart pounding, butterflies in the stomach, eyes lighting up — it was an exhilarating feeling! That kind of feeling that makes you want to move mountains resides inside each one of us. As we grow older, we fear loving like that because we know it could come with a high price — heartache. If you love hard and deeply but that love is not returned, you may start to feel that you are not lovable or worthy of love. But there is one type of love that will never disappoint you, and that is self-love. The name itself points to the real “you” — the Self. That part of you that is whole. You see, that immense love that feels like your heart will explode is not coming from the object of your love; it is coming from within you. Whenever you hear that little voice telling you that you are less than lovable or worthy of love, look in the mirror. Gaze into your own eyes to see that you are beautiful and lovable; you are love itself.

If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?

I love this question! At Energia Wellness, we have started a movement by bringing mindfulness and meditation to the workplace. Work-related stress matters, and it has increased since the pandemic began. We have created a program that is accessible to any business size. We see excellent results from the participants in as little as twenty-one days. The program benefits the employees and the employers by decreasing absenteeism, increasing job satisfaction, and reducing healthcare costs — a highly stressed employee can cost an additional $2,000 per year compared to a less stressed peer, according to a study by Aetna and Duke University. The best part is that the participants can continue applying the techniques they learned during the program and see even more significant benefits over time.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?

Practice smart networking: When I started, I found myself in a networking group focused on home improvement. It was not a good fit or the best investment of my time and resources. Network with other wellness professionals with a similar mission and target market. More than ever, people are struggling with their physical and mental health. They need our support. So the larger your network, the more lives you will impact.

You don’t have to do everything on your own: I am a problem solver by nature. Give me one problem, and I will come up with ideas for ten solutions. There will be many hurdles in business, and it is easy to want to take care of all of them yourself. You become the IT department, cleaning crew, HR, and accounting. Instead, delegate those tasks to others. As an entrepreneur, it is so easy to want to wear many hats, but that prevents you from growing and focusing on what matters — your mission.

Don’t make decisions on the spot: When you need to make important decisions for yourself and your business, sleep on it. People will tell you that you must take swift action and pressure you to make purchases on the spot. It may be that it’s best to take action — but intelligent, thoughtful action. I have signed up for so many courses that I didn’t need because I didn’t think it through.

At Energia, we send our prospects — both companies and individuals — customized proposals so that they can make an informed decision before hiring us. We never pressure anyone to hire us on the spot. It creates a much more positive client experience, and they feel inspired to work with us.

Learn to let go: There is no need to keep trying something that is just not working. You will reinvent yourself many times over, and that’s good. It means that you are evolving. I have held on to certain projects much longer than I should have. That happened when I had invested so much time and money that it felt like I would be giving up and wasting the investment. Learning when to keep trying and when to fold is essential in life and business.

Don’t forget about yourself: As much as you plan for your business, you must also have a plan to take care of your physical and mental health. When I started Energia, I was working too many hours, and in my free time, I would still be brainstorming ideas. That is very normal for entrepreneurs, but I missed out on what would have been important moments in my life and became stressed and anxious. Add downtime to your calendar, make that time with yourself sacred, and treat that blocked-out time the same way you would for your dearest client.

Sustainability, veganism, mental health and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?

They are all so important, but mental health is the dearest to my heart. Having a history of depression and anxiety, I know from my own experience the impact on one’s life. Depression is tough because it feels like there is nowhere to run. You are locked in your mind with your thoughts. Having overcome postpartum depression and depression — which I permanently overcame twelve years ago through the practice of meditation — it has become my mission to share what I’ve learned with others.

My goal is to teach my clients to experience themselves beyond the mind to a deeper and more real part of themselves. When we find that we are more than the constant stream of thoughts in our minds, freedom comes.

As a certified meditation and fitness coach, I recommend to my clients a combination of daily meditation practice, exercise, proper nutrition, and breathwork. This type of work can be very helpful in complementing traditional therapy. Most of my clients see a mental health provider once a week. Using the tools that I teach not only leaves them feeling empowered to continue working on their psychological and physical health between office visits, but also speeds up their progress.

What is the best way our readers can follow you online?

Thank you for these fantastic insights!

My pleasure!



In-depth Interviews with Authorities in Business, Pop Culture, Wellness, Social Impact, and Tech. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

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Candice Georgiadis

Candice Georgiadis is an active mother of three as well as a designer, founder, social media expert, and philanthropist.