Growing up in developing countries, being active and eating healthy was just a way of life for Lia Ames. After settling in the states and enrolling at the University of Miami as an athlete, Ames has now gone on to launch one of the most recognizable South Florida meal delivery services – Lunchology. We caught up with Ames for a Quick 10 interview, but you can also follow her on Instagram – @lia.lunchology.

Tell us about yourself – where are you from and how did you find your way to the 305?

I was originally born in Monrovia, Liberia to a mother who is Liberian and a father who is from Long Island, New York. I had the pleasure of growing up a third-culture kid, living all over the world in mostly “developing” nations.

My family moved to America in 2000 so that my brother and I could get accustomed to the American culture and eventually go to college in the states. I made my way to sunny South Florida to attend and run Track & Field/Cross Country for the University of Miami and I never left. It’s been my home ever since.

How did you get your start in the health and wellness industry? Did you always want to be an entrepreneur?

I’ve been into athletics all my life and was never raised on junk food – on the contrary, what was most accessible to us growing up in developing countries were fresh fruits and veggies and slow foods. For that reason, by circumstance, a healthy lifestyle has always been a part of who I am.

Growing up, I was always the kid trying to solve problems. Generating ideas, self-starting and being motivated to perform have always been strengths of mine. Moving forward is my thing. I had the opportunity to work for two brilliant entrepreneurs; one in high-school and one right out of college. I never looked back after that. 

Tell us a little bit about Lunchology. Why did you start Lunchology? Is this your first project as an entrepreneur?

Lunchology was birthed from a need. In fact, at the time I was in need of healthy food made freshly for me. I was nine months pregnant and without the energy to shop, prep, and cook my own meals, while preparing for my son and closing down a venture that I had started one-year prior.

Prior to Lunchology, I had a company called Groutology that cleaned large scale, hard surfaces (tile, grout, carpet, etc.) with technology I sourced out of Arizona. It serviced large establishments like AMC Theaters, Moss Construction, Barry University, and many more commercial spaces. With each new venture, I have learned new ways to grow faster and become more efficient.

So what makes Lunchology different from all the other meal delivery options?

Lunchology focuses on quality meals with flexible options to allow people to maintain eating our meals without getting bored. We specialize in modifying meals to fit people needs.

The client that uses Lunchology does not want repetitive meals delivered in bulk. They are people who value a healthy lifestyle and want to create a better balance in their lives by using our service to handle their meals, while they focus on managing their active days.

We make fresh meals daily that fit client requests, like “gluten-free” or “no seafood” and the food is delivered daily at a time frame that works for them. Our goal is to make healthy eating accessible so clients don’t make bad decisions when they find themselves in a pinch.

Are you the chef? Do you have a say in the menu? What are some of your favorite meals?

I am not the chef, just an operator with a mission for a passion. We have a team of awesome chefs that put a lot of love into what they do. We also have the worlds most knowledgeable and energetic nutritionist, Monica Auslander Moreno, who believes in well-balanced meals that give to your productivity, rather than counting calories just to conform to the norm.

What is your favorite part about owning your business and being an entrepreneur?

I love to hear the testimonials about how Lunchology is making a difference in people’s everyday lives. We have worked hard to create a product that is not only useful for people to use, but it’s intimate. We often get the chance to learn about what our clients are dealing with, it allows us to optimize the product to better fit each individual need. Being “in touch” makes me feel grounded.

What’s the hardest part about owning your own business and startup life?

It’s a constant balancing act. What we do doesn’t come with a blueprint to follow. So we have to make a lot of educated guesses when it comes to the business. It’s fun but extremely challenging at times. I’m also a single mother, so finding the balance between my business, my baby (who are the same age) and personal goals is tough sometimes, but it’s also doable.

What advice would you give someone looking to start their own business?

Of course, be passionate about what you do because that passion will be the thing that keeps you from straying from the ultimate goal.

Find a good team, that ranges from cheerleaders to business mentors that push your limits, to support you.

Finally, be transparent. You’ll need this for your employees, your clients and yourself. People are more willing to walk alongside you through the ups and downs when they believe you are trying your hardest to make a product that everyone can benefit from.  

Let’s talk mind & body – where do you like train?

Wow! How connected are the two!? I love a good run outside in the elements, especially a good downpour. But on a regular, I like to bounce around to some different gyms and studios.

Legacy Fit gives me a great bootcamp for me and my little one. Anatomy has an extremely challenging Mace class with Grant Weeditz, Train8Nine is in my neighborhood and through a CrossFit-like workout, helps me to incorporate weights (which kick my butt) in a quick, painful hour.

Do you practice mental health in your everyday life?

Everyday! It’s totally necessary for me in order to function with the challenges of owning a business and being a mother. I have found over time that its never the same practice. Sometimes it’s working out, sometimes its travel, sometimes its a good dinner and wine with friends. Whatever it is, I’ve learned to honor the need however it shows up.