Morris Chestnut is making great strides in not only his personal health and fitness but also in the lives of many around the country. From getting in the best shape of his life for his lead role in the box-office hit ‘The Best Man Holiday,’ to partnering with Verizon Wireless’ Potential Of Us campaign, a Black History Month initiative, which focuses on “participating in challenges that positively impact the community” – Morris Chestnut is on a mission! We had the pleasure of speaking with Morris during his stop in Los Angeles, California, where he hosted Verizon’s Potential of Us 5k Run/Walk along with partner Black Girls RUN! Find out how Morris stays in shape, what tips he has for healthy living, what obstacles he had to overcome in his personal fitness, his plans to use health and fitness as a vehicle moving forward, and more!
BFT: Please, tell us a little bit about the purpose of the Potential of Us campaign and your involvement with the project?
MC: The Potential Of Us campaign is what I like to call a movement – it’s a movement to encourage and inspire people to reach their true potential in whatever walk of life, or whatever areas of their life so they can make an impact on our communities. My involvement with the project; I have begged and slept at the doorstep of Verizon for like the last three years trying to get them to do something with me [laughs]. No, actually to be honest with you, I have always loved what Verizon stood for, [they are] very strong and they’ve always had some type of community outreach. So I have wanted to work with Verizon for a long time now and when this program came up it seemed like a great time for them to accept me into the family helping people reach their full potential; and this is something that I believed in – just changing the way people see themselves and their potential and how they can make a change in the community.
BFT: How has the experience been so far partnering with Verizon to help give back and build a stronger African American community?
MC: So far it’s been great. It’s going to be a great challenge tomorrow and I’m looking forward to that because it’s along the lines of what you guys are about with the health and wellness. I’m really excited to see who comes out tomorrow because I know there’s going to be people who are really active and really get out there and run, they walk, go to the gym three to five times a week but I’m really excited to see the people who don’t necessarily do that; the people who don’t really get those opportunities to work out or maybe just haven’t really been motivated to work out as much – I’m really excited to see how many of those people we can get out tomorrow.
BFT: Now we know you’re into health and fitness because we had a chance to speak with your trainer Obi Obadike about helping you prepare for Best Man Holiday – how has fitness impacted your life and career?
MC: Wow! Fitness has definitely impacted my life and career. Most of the time when I’m on-screen people see me and I’m in shape a lot of the time and I think that’s contributed to my career and my health – I feel healthy and I think it all comes together [because] for me to be doing this after 20+ years being in the business; I see some people who aren’t as fortunate to keep themselves together with their health and wellness, which to me, I’m a huge proponent of because once your health starts to deteriorate sometimes it’s kind of hard to reverse that path that you’re going down with deteriorating health; so I’m just a huge proponent of that.
BFT: It’s safe to say you inspired a lot of people to step their game up after leaving watching Best Man Holiday; we get a lot of traffic to our site from “Morris Chestnut Abs,” article on helping you train for the movie. How do you plan to use health and fitness as a vehicle moving forward?
MC: Tomorrow is a vehicle and being out in the community getting the word out about health and wellness. They’ve been advertising on the radio out here about the [Potential of Us 5K Walk/Run] event and people have heard the advertisement but if they say “hey Morris Chestnut is there, I want to go out there and participate,” that’s one step in the right direction to being healthy and getting exercise. So I think we have an opportunity to make an impact and it’s not just in LA – I’ll be in LA but it’s going to be a number of cities across the country and I think it’s just the first step in the direction of getting a large number of people to become involved in getting healthy and exercising.
BFT: You’re going to be participating with Black Girls RUN!, is that correct?
MC: That’s correct.
BFT: They’re a great organization and they’ve accomplished a lot of things. How has it been partnering with Black Girls RUN?
MC: This is going to be my first event with Black Girls RUN!, but I’m excited because I believe in everything that they stand for and it’s really at the core of [many issues] because here’s the thing, even my wife sometimes after she gets her hair done “well babe I don’t want to go work out because I don’t want to get my hair done;” it’s always easier to come up with excuses not to work out than to work out. So if I can help people and get people out there to decide to start running; and African-American women, hopefully the fellas will take heed and say “wait a minute, Black Girls Run!? You mean it’s going to be a lot of Black girls out there? Let me gone out there and see if I can meet me somebody!” We have to get the fellas out there to, you know what I’m saying? [laughs] so we’re trying to come at everybody from a lot of different angles.
BFT: What’s your advice to people looking to begin living a healthier lifestyle? What’s the best way to begin the transition and how do you stay on track after you begin?
MC: That’s a great question. The best with for people to start living a healthy lifestyle is in my opinion, first of all you must have the motivation to do it because with health and wellness it always starts with your diet and if you can get the diet together and have a combination of diet and exercise, you can get the optimum effect that you want but it really starts with the right mindset. You have to really want to do it because like I said it’s always easier to find excuses not to do it than find reasons to do it, and people always fall back on that. So if you just start with your diet; I used to like to eat sweets like every day, then when I start dieting for movie or TV show I would have to cut it back a little bit and not eat it five days a week, then eat four days out of the week, then eat it three days out the week and then eat it one day out the week – but just take the first step, then be patient because people often look for a magic pill or a great piece of exercise equipment that they see on TV and the person demonstrating didn’t even use it to get in that type of shape. There is no magic pill, there’s no magic piece of exercise equipment; just get your diet together and start exercising – even when I say exercising, walking is a great exercise! So get your diet together and exercise and that would be a great way for them to start to a healthier lifestyle.
BFT: Getting in the best shape of your life for Best Man Holiday – what obstacles did you have to overcome?
MC: Well I’m a pretty disciplined person when I put my mind to something so the only obstacle I really had to overcome was sweets. I had to really cut down of my sweets because I do eat healthy but when I don’t have to be in front of the camera, when I’m not doing movies or a television show I tend to fall back and my diet isn’t as strict. So the main obstacle for me was my diet and eating sweets, and bread! You know black people love bread [laughs] I go to a restaurant and I eat so much bread that they keep bringing out – the waiter always gets mad at me and says “dude you got to pull back on the bread, man” [laughs] the chef is getting mad because no one else can get bread – but yeah I had to cut the bread and the sweets out and those were my main obstacles.
BFT: Now here’s a reality question and it has to do with nutrition: many people believe in the 80:20 rule; eat healthy 80% of the time and 20% have some balance. How important is it to have balance?
MC: The balance is very important and what I like to tell people is that the my 80/20 is 80% of being in great physical condition is your diet and 20% is exercise and that’s just me, I’m not a trainer, I didn’t study this but that’s kind of what I like to do. I really like to emphasize the diet because I see people in the gym all the time who work out so hard – they do cardio for an hour to an hour and a half a day but they really don’t see any changes and I don’t say anything because it’s their business but I already know that it’s their diet. If people would change their diet and then really put the emphasis on the diet because you can honestly eat right and still be in some pretty good shape depending on your diet. So if you put the emphasis of 80% on your diet and 20% on your exercise I think you’ll be in great shape.
BFT: Now on the other side, what is one of your favorite healthy meals, and one of your favorite cheat meals?
MC: With me I’m very fortunate because I’m a creature of habit and I don’t really like a lot of different foods so a standard meal for me is chicken breast and some greens, maybe broccoli or some green beans and that’s pretty standard – even sometimes when I go to a restaurant I’ll eat grill chicken; I’m just a creature of habit, I don’t really desire a lot of different foods but one of my favorite cheat meals is fried chicken and people always look at me crazy when order it in restaurants. I don’t [get a chance to] eat fried chicken and my wife never fries fried chicken in our house so when I go to a restaurant and I’m ordering fried chicken people look at me like “well you can make that at home, man!,” and it’s like I don’t eat that at home so that’s why I like to eat fried chicken along with the bread and sweets.
BFT: Lastly, many celebrities have gone on to create fitness books and DVDs, such as Kelly Rowland, Nelly, LL Cool J and 50cent – when can we expect a Morris Chestnut fitness product?
MC: [Laughs] I definitely would like to be involved with something like that in the future – that’s definitely something I would love to be involved with because to me it’s a gradual thing; I just want to show people what I do by example and I don’t just want to do movie one day and all of a sudden they see me on an infomercial “Hey, this is Morris Chestnut, AND YOU can have abs!” you know what I’m saying? So I want to show them by example that it’s more than just a piece of exercise equipment or a diet pill that everyone’s talking about now; it’s more than that. So I want to show them by example first and get out here with the run/walk event and they can come see how I live my life and then whatever piece of exercise equipment it is [that I might endorse] it’s kind of like the icing on the cake, so to speak.
BFT: Awesome! Well it’s been a pleasure speaking with you and picking your brain about health and fitness and we wish you luck with the project with Verizon and maybe next time we can link up.
MC: Thank you. Most definitely, I thank you for the conversation.
Future NFL Hall-of-Famer Edgerrin James Talks Running 500 Miles in 365 Days
No matter what he does, Edgerrin James knows how to lead. During his time in the NFL, James averaged 4.2 yards per carry and is one of the all-time leaders in career rushing yards. Although retired, these days, the future Hall-of-Famer also rushes toward opportunities to give back. A beloved member of the University of Miami community, James contributed the largest-ever donation of any former athlete that has ever attended. He is also the founder of the Edgerrin James Foundation and the Edgerrin James Youth Football Skills Camp.
Black Fitness Today caught up with James to learn about his recent decision to embark on a 500-mile journey this past year, and what set him apart in his training as a professional athlete.
Why did you decide to embark on your 500-mile journey across the country? What has the journey taught you?
I always like to challenge myself. Running is something I’ve always hated doing, so that made it pretty interesting! This experience has really pushed me because there’s no reward at the end of the [500-mile journey] except the fact that I did it and I was consistent. There were many times I didn’t feel like running, but once I agreed to do it, I knew I had to accomplish it.
Tell us more about your partnership with Adidas.
The Adidas partnership was good for many reasons. They provided some nice uniforms for my youth football team from top to bottom. That’s more important than anything — to lace a team of inner-city kids with custom uniforms meant a lot to me and the kids. Another reason is the relationship with the University of Miami; that’s my school and I rep the gear faithfully. So it’s only right I locked in with Adidas. I’m glad the deal worked out and look forward to building on that relationship.
You mentioned that you’ve always hated running. Did that have any impact on you while playing football in terms of how you approached your training?
Basketball was my go to sport. It is fun and exciting and also gets you in shape. I used playing ball as my running to get in shape.
What was your favorite off-season training routine?
I’ve always liked the late-night sessions in the off-season. I would train before going to the club or after leaving the club — sounds unusual but it was the best for me. I didn’t drink and was well-rested before I would go out. My training was always very quiet with no distractions. During the day I would go to the University of Miami and get it in with the younger guys in the hot sun.
In addition to your 500-mile journey, how else do you stay in shape these days?
I always work out three to four times a week. Nothing hard, but I consistently get some type of work in.
What role does nutrition play in your everyday life? What are some of your favorite healthy foods and foods you can’t live without?
I don’t worry too much about what I eat. I just make sure I maintain a certain weight and follow up any heavy eating with a nice workout to make sure I’m back on track.
Many people know you for your accomplishments on the football field, but many don’t know that you are also passionate about giving back. What are some of your initiatives? Why is philanthropy so important to you?
My purpose is to empower my people and all people that share stories similar to mine. Too many times, you see other cultures having success and wonder why not us. It’s up to us to look out for us and when you see examples, it makes it really real to the younger generation. It also gives them realistic goals to chase without making the excuses. I’m just trying to be an example that’s tried and true without any excuses. Just hard work and determination…
What advice do you have to young men who are looking to follow in your footsteps?
Learn as much as you can and just become a good example for the next generation, understand how this world works, and play the game of life to win!
What is the legacy you want to leave behind?
The legacy I want to leave behind is that I did things the right way and never tried to be anyone else except myself, that I showed people you don’t have to conform or be something you’re not to be successful, and just put in the right work and let everything else work itself out.
Carmelita Jeter Talks Personal Connection To Breast Cancer and Her Fight For a Cure
There’s still no faster woman alive than Carmelita Jeter. We will always remember her amazing achievements on the track as a world record holder with three Olympic medals. You may even remember her signature pink cleats she wore during some of her races. But the story behind them reveals an inspiring journey. In 2012, while training for the Olympic games, Jeter’s aunt — Brenda Washington — lost her battle with breast cancer. However, Jeter found new strength and turned tragedy into triumph. From partnering with NIKE to nonprofits, Jeter has become an outspoken advocate for breast cancer awareness and is dedicated to using her platform to fight for a cure!
In 2012 as you prepped for the London Olympics, your aunt, Brenda Washington, passed from breast cancer. And much like you did, people have to find the strength to pick themselves up, go to work and continue living after tragedy. How were you able to find that strength?
I was able to find the strength to keep going from my family, my coaches and my agent. At the time, I questioned my faith a lot. I just couldn’t understand why God would take her away from me. But I concluded that if my cousin Lachondra (her daughter) was able to be strong, I could not be weaker than her, for her sake.
What’s the best advice you can offer for supporting family members who are battling breast cancer?
The best advice I can give is to stay very close and experience moments with each other, even if it is just a small gathering at a relative’s house where everyone brings a dish. Also, never be afraid to speak about the person that is sick or has passed away. You have to keep their spirit alive.
You’ve partnered with various non-profit organizations to raise breast cancer awareness. Tell us a little bit about some of your partnerships including “The Pink Jet” with PINTRILL.
I partnered with Pintrill who made a Hot Pink Jet and a bracelet made from MyIntent with the words, “Mind over body,” inscribed. I’ve been the ambassador for Susan G. Komen’s Circle of PromiseInitiative that was based on African-American women getting tested more frequently.
In what ways did your aunt’s battle with breast cancer impact you on and off the track?
My aunt Brenda Washington’s battle made a huge impact on the track for me. Nike, my sponsor, made me my very own hot pink signature spikes in her honor. Every time I lined up to compete, I ran for her.
What advice would you give to African-Americans in the fight against breast cancer?
The advice I would give African-Americans would be to not give up, and remember to stay a unit.
What are some tips that you can offer in helping with early detection and decreasing the rate of diagnoses?
My major tip would be to stop thinking African-Americans don’t get breast cancer. Also, stop thinking that you have to be over 45 to get diagnosed with the disease. We need to be more educated on the topic and we need to stop being afraid to go to the doctor. Go to the doctor and get checked up regularly!
Keep up with Jeter’s work in the community and dedication to fighting for a cure!
WNBA Legend Lisa Leslie Talks Hall of Fame Inductions and Healthy Partnership with Boston Market
Lisa Leslie became not only the most recognized player in the WNBA, but changed the face of women’s sports. As a two-time champion, three-time WNBA MVP, four-time Olympic Gold Medalist and eight-time all-star it should come as no surprise that Lisa is being inducted into both the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on June 13th and September 11, 2015 respectfully. As a wife, mother, Olympic athlete, model, author, speaker, and businesswoman, Leslie is a true leader and pioneer. But part of her success and ability to be Superwoman is through smart choices and taking care of her health. Recently, she teamed up with Boston Market in celebration of National Rotisserie Chicken Day, June 2nd – to celebrate the healthier cooking method. Read our interview with Lisa as she discusses her upcoming hall of fame inductions, teaming up with Boston Market, and a list of her favorite healthy rotisserie chicken recipes.
BFT: Things have changed since 1985 when Boston Market first opened its doors, the obesity epidemic being one. As a spokesperson for Boston Market why did you feel it was necessary to join in promoting healthier eating?
LL: Absolutely. I feel like we are in a time where we can no longer accept the bad food that is bombarding our community. Boston Market is definitely taking a stand with the new brand promise, All Good. The fact that you can find fresh, never frozen chicken with no added steroids or hormones makes Boston Market a frequent stop for me. As a working mom, I understand the importance of healthy food and trying to make healthy choices for my family. The Boston Market Rotisserie Chicken is not only yummy by itself but can also be used to make a variety of other meals, salads, tacos and enchiladas.
BFT: We were surprised to learn that Boston Market offers more than 150 meals 550 calories and under! When you’re on the go what is your favorite menu option at Boston Market?
LL: My favorite is breast of chicken with a wing, the green beans, sautéed spinach, which is only available at select stores, and yams. I try to load up on vegetables.
BFT: What are some of your favorite Rotisserie Chicken dishes and recipes?
LL: I love to use Boston Market rotisserie chicken in many different kinds of recipes. First, it is great by itself with some healthy sides. Then I can use the leftovers for additional meals, like Chicken Wraps and a great Waldorf Salad.
BFT: As a pioneer of the WNBA, how does it feel to know that you are being formally inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in less than two weeks, June 13, 2015 in Knoxville, TN?
I am really humbled and excited to be a part of the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. It took a lot of hard work but I did not get here alone. I had so much support from teammates, coaches and family. It seems unfair that only I get an award.
BFT: This September you will be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, “the highest honor in Basketball.” Many players dream to one day be in your position. What type of work, training, dedication, support etc., did it take to get you to this point?
It takes an abnormal amount of focus and dedication to your craft; it takes about 10,000 hours of repetition to become good at anything. I had a great support system as well, from my mother to my family to the coaches and teammates I played with throughout the years.
BFT: When you think back on your career and your many accomplishments, what are you most proud of?
LL: It is hard to choose one thing: I am proud of being a mom. I am proud of being a wife and businesswoman. I am proud of my basketball career and philanthropic work.
BFT: What do you want people to take away from what you were able to accomplish during your career?
LL: I would love to be known as a person who really gave her all in everything she did, as a wife, mom, athlete, captain, teammate, businesswoman. Along the way, I have met some wonderful people. I have helped people and received so much in return. I am just thankful for the journey.
Here are the recipes:
Chicken Lettuce Wraps
1 whole Boston Market Rotisserie Chicken, picked and diced in small pieces
2 tablespoons canola oil
8 oz. can water chestnuts, drained and chopped
1/2 cup carrots, diced in small pieces
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup roasted peanuts chopped in half
1 head Greenleaf or Iceberg lettuce, separated into whole leaves
1 – 8 oz. pouch or 1 cup of your favorite Hoisin Sauce
Heat oil over high heat in large frying pan or wok
Add chicken, all vegetables and half of the peanuts, stir fry for two minutes
Add 3/4 pouch of Asian sauce, bring to a simmer, add green onions and remaining peanuts
Scoop the mixture into a lettuce leaf cup
Drizzle the remaining sauce on top
Waldorf Chicken Salad
1 Boston Market Rotisserie chicken, picked and diced
½ cup apples diced
½ cup celery diced
¼ cup grapes cut in thirds
¼ cup walnuts chopped
1/3 cup mayonnaise
Salt and pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients in a bowl, chill and serve on bread, croissant or on a bed of lettuce. Serves five to six.
This recipe calls for one whole Boston Market Rotisserie chicken but if you want all white meat buy two whole chickens and use dark meat in another recipe.
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