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An Interview with Keith Mitchell, Former NFL Linebacker & Master Certified Yoga Instructor

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Keith Mitchell, NFL, linebacker, yoga

Keith Mitchell, Master Certified Yoga Instructor, Philanthropist and Former NFL Linebacker for the New Orleans Saints, Houston Texans, and Jacksonville Jaguars, turned tragedy into triumph when a paralyzing spinal injury abruptly ended his Football career. During his process of recovery, he discovered yoga and meditation where he not only found healing but a whole new life.

1) Throughout your work over the last decade as a Master Certified Yoga Instructor, what are some of the differences and similarities between training in sports and training in yoga?
The commitment to be better and do the work is consistent, the challenges of feeling and thinking through the limitations. In a lot of cases, as good as you may think you are, you may not always be able to attach ingrained thoughts and understanding about your play. The last thing is the importance of teamwork. In the conscious world we call this community. The support of community is just as important as the food we nurture our souls with and the physical practices we have. In my opinion, it is the completion of our existence.

2)   Stress management is a challenge many Americans face on a daily basis, what is one of your favorite exercises/routines for relieving stress while boosting energy?

I would suggest practicing traditional sitting. If you have back problems, lean against a wall. As you’re sitting focus on breathing from your diaphragm. Focus on the inhale and exhale and see what comes up, as things come up don’t buy into it, be with it, observe your thoughts, observe your mind. To hear yourself is to see yourself. As we continue to breathe, now tension will start to formulate, embrace the tension with the same format of observing it. Don’t over react but observe it.  The body’s only way to communicate is through tension, pain. Begin the process of listening to self in order to be exposed to your truths. As you begin the practice of taking all of this in and truly commit to the inquiry, you find your zone and new layers of possibility become accessible to you. In my opinion, stress is the exhausted energy released in holding a stance or defending a reality that is not your own. The body is a vehicle, which has the capability to be manipulated to execute a miracle. As an athlete, I used to think in terms of “I need to get warmed up before I move.” But the fact of the matter is we have 98.6 degrees inside of us, we are simply not accessing this.

Keith Mitchell, NFL, linebacker, yoga

Photo Credit: Leelu Morris Photography

 

3)   Are there any principles that you learned as an NFL athlete that have strengthened your practice and teaching of yoga?

The best way to answer this question would be “if I see you in the same uniform as me I recognize you with likeness, but if I see you in a different uniform, I recognize you as the opposition.” This plays out in our conscious and even more in our subconscious because if you think of all of the uniforms such as color, religion, school, rich to poor, smart to intelligent, homeowner to homeless, it causes the physiological disconnection.

4)   One of your areas of expertise is injury prevention, please share your advice for athletes to improve both their physical and mental approaches to their sport?

Injuries typically don’t just happen, in a gladiator sport such as football someone can fall awkwardly on you, yes, but typically in athletics injuries are constantly brewing. Remember tension, pain, even has its own level of intelligence, it’s actually the body’s way of communicating with you.  We just have simply been holding postures of not listening.

5)   You are a champion of a number of noble causes, including mental health awareness and caring for veterans. As a member of a family that has many veterans, I was particularly inspired by your use of Yoga and Meditation as therapeutic tools for soldiers who suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS) and related health challenges. Please elaborate on this important work.

The soldiers practices and relationship to himself have been created by a lot of sacrifice, and through that sacrifice the body has been neglected in the process. Yoga and meditation for the soldiers has been a revelation for healing of the self-inflicted wounds of neglect, brutality, and self-sabotage that we have first put on ourselves through regurgitated rhetoric that has been passed down. We have one life and it’s time we live. We have traditionally neglected the now as if another lifetime is promised but as one of my favorite teachers says “in order to have peace in another lifetime, we have to learn to have peace here, right now.

6)   What would you say is your greatest achievement so far?

Creating my reality and going through the process of its development. When you speak of doing things that appear to be against the norm, it can be scary, it can have its highs and lows but to truly trust the process has been what I’ve gotten the most joy out of. The journey is truly the destination and I’m very grateful for the realization of a real faith.

Keith Mitchell, NFL, linebacker, yoga

Photo Credit: Leelu Morris Photography

 

All photos courtesy of Leelu Morris Photography

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Kumba Sennaar is a freelance writer, researcher on science and health, aspiring physician and Master’s candidate in Biotechnology at Johns Hopkins University. She graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelor’s of Science (B.S.) in Science, Technology & Society (STS) from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Her passion is to help people live healthier, happier lives. For superior articles and content for your website, interviews, or technical writing support contact Kumba via email at Ksennaa1@jhu.edu or Twitter @kumbas1.

Celebrity Interviews

Future NFL Hall-of-Famer Edgerrin James Talks Running 500 Miles in 365 Days

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edgerrin james, fitness

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.

edgerrin james, fitness, black fitness today

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.

edgerrin james, black fitness today, edgerring james camp

Via Naples News Daily

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.

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Celebrity Interviews

Carmelita Jeter Talks Personal Connection To Breast Cancer and Her Fight For a Cure

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carmelita jeter, carmelita "the jet" jeter, olympian, fastest woman alive

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.

carmelita jeter, carmelita "the jet" jeter, olympian, fastest woman alive

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!

www.carmelitajeter.com
Instagram: jetg5
Twitter: carmelitajeter
Facebook: carmelitajeter

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Celebrity Interviews

WNBA Legend Lisa Leslie Talks Hall of Fame Inductions and Healthy Partnership with Boston Market

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Lisa Leslie, WNBA, women's basketball, 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

Ingredients

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

Directions

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

Ingredients

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

Directions

Combine all ingredients in a bowl, chill and serve on bread, croissant or on a bed of lettuce. Serves five to six.

Tip

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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