This Man Lost Almost 200 Pounds In a Fight For His Life

By | Food for thought, inspiring, Motivation, stories, success stories

After being forced to buy two seats on a plane because of his size, Dr. Ross Gardner knew it was time to completely transform his life.

At 28, Ross, from Florida, weighed nearly 400 pounds and doctors gave him less than three years to live.

“Needless to say, these two events really made me rethink how I was living my life,” he told Men’s Health.

Graduation changed his life…not for the best

Following his college graduation in 2000, Ross went on to gain over 200 pounds over the next few years, which he now recognizes happened because of his unhealthy habits at the time, which included daily McDonalds.

Another major obstacle for me starting to lose weight was alcohol. I drank excessively every day for years.

Ross remembered there came a point where he drank almost a liter of whisky each night.

“I was drinking and eating close to 15,000 calories a night,” he admitted.

His diet became out of control, and like many, Ross thought his only way out was a crash weight loss plan, but to overhaul his unhealthy lifestyle, he needed more.

“At that point in my life, the only diet I had ever known was the Atkins diet,” he said.

He couldn’t train for more than 5 minutes at a time

Gardner decided to take another route though, and began educating himself on proper forms of exercise and nutrition. 

He ditched his beloved daily McDonald’s breakfasts and replaced them with white omelettes and broccoli, and traded his video game addiction for a gym membership, which was no easy feat.

At first, I could only go to the gym for five minutes at a time.

But once the weight started melting off, Ross noticed a shift.

“It really opened my eyes to the true nature of people,” he said. “My experiences certainly lead me to believe that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.”

Feeling energized and empowered, he persevered and once he’d established a routine, he was eating six to nine times a day, with small meals that averaged 1600 to 2600 calories a day, a tiny fraction of what he was used to eating previously.

Watch this Goalcast video if you need pure, unbridled motivation:

Inner work was also integral to his transformation

Not only did he give up alcohol and junk food, to become a gym aficionado, Gardner also attended behavioral therapy to explore his compulsive eating.

In just 10 months, Ross lost almost 200 pounds and once he reached a healthy weight, he underwent surgery to remove excess skin.

Today, he helps other people with their weight goals through his chiropractic practice and recognizes that it’s not always an easy process.

He keeps pushing through the negative thoughts

But Ross is very candid about the lasting effects of his transformation journey. Yes, he does feel better but he reveals that he still battles with daily struggles.

I still suffer from body image disorder. To clarify, when looking in the mirror I don’t see a morbidly obese person anymore, but certainly I don’t see what others see.

Ross Gardner on Instagram

However, he has learned to keep pushing through the negative thinking.

“I still struggle day in and day out with wanting to over-eat. If I do have a bad day or a bad meal I just move onto the next and I don’t beat myself up,” Ross said.

At the end of the day, “We only have one body. It’s very important we treat what we do have with respect.”

Give yourself a chance

Ross’ transformation started with choosing to live. It was a conscious decision that came with a lot of commitment, both physical and mental. And yes, losing the weight is only one facet of the journey–the inner work is just as important.

Whatever you decide to battle in your life, make sure to truly give yourself a chance by avoiding being too harsh on yourself.

More inspiring transformations:

This Is Why Lenny Kravitz’ Exes Still Love Him To This Day

By | Food for thought, inspiring, Inspiring Celebrities, Motivation, stories

Handsome, talented, stylish, effortlessly cool — Lenny Kravitz has been blowing our minds for over thirty-five years. He’s a rockstar through and through; just one glance at the actor today would tell you everything you need to know about his persona. But unlike other rockstars, Lenny doesn’t bother with the bad-boy act. 

He’s dated some of the most famous women in Hollywood but he’s very rarely come under controversy for his relationships. In fact, some of his relationships proved to be so solid that his exes have nothing but positive words for the singer. 

In a land where celebrities are throwing dirt on each other on the daily, it’s genuinely refreshing to see someone who’s managed to remain in the good graces of all his exes. Moreover, it’s even more common for female celebrities to recall their past relationships with horror. 

Whereas many describe their ex-partners as abusive, rude, or temperamental, Lenny Kravitz stands out as someone who truly values his romantic connections, regardless of how they pan out. Therefore, it’s key that everyone takes a look at Lenny’s behaviour as an ex-boyfriend and takes some notes for their own relationships. 

Nicole Kidman said she still “loves” him 

Many don’t know this but Nicole Kidman had dated and even gotten engaged to Lenny Kravitz in the early 2000s. They had managed to keep this fairly under wraps at the time, so when news broke out more than a decade later that it was indeed Lenny who had taken Nicole’s heart following her divorce from Tom Cruise, questions surfaced. 

Was there something that had happened between the two of them that led to the burying of the relationship? The truth couldn’t be further from that assumption. In 2017, when Nicole Kidman worked with Lenny’s daughter Zoe Kravitz on Big Little Lies, she was asked about the experience. Thankfully, there is no bad blood between the pair.

Well, I knew Zoe because I was engaged to her father. It’s all in the family! I love Lenny; he’s a great guy. 

Nicole Kidman on Porter Magazine 

In another instance, Nicole, Charlize Theron and Margot Robbie went to the Ellen Degeneres show and played ‘Who Would You Rather’ game as a way to jokingly pair up Charlize with another celebrity. When Lenny Kravitz’s name popped up, Nicole once again spoke about her love for Lenny. 

I love Lenny. I so recommend him. He’s lovely. 

The love doesn’t only flow from one side either. Lenny also said about Nicole, “She will always be someone in my life.”

Why did the relationship fall through in the first place? Your guess is as good as ours. In a 2007 Vanity Fair interview, Nicole Kidman spoke of a mysterious fiance, saying that “it wasn’t right” to get married to them because the pair “weren’t ready.” 

The fact that two people in a relationship can realize as a couple that they’re not meant for each other but still continue to have a beautiful friendship with one another proves that breakups don’t have to be messy. Sometimes all it takes is a tough but rewarding conversation that resets the boundaries in the relationship. You might take your relationship to the next level, or you might figure out that you’re better off as friends. 

Lenny and his ex-wife Lisa Bonet still profess to be “best friends” 

Lenny’s relationship with ex Lisa Bonet is unlike anything Hollywood’s ever seen. His friendship with Nicole may be pleasant and sweet but his everlasting bond with Lisa can only be described as exceptional. The two got hitched at a young age and had their daughter Zoe shortly after. They divorced in 1993 and Lisa went on to marry and have two children with actor Jason Momoa. 

What could’ve been a messy family situation has turned into a force of nature. Speaking on the relationship, Lenny said that though certain moments have been difficult, he’s been able to patch things up with Lisa and has been able to form a true friendship with her.

You go through a marriage with somebody, you break up and it’s very difficult. But [Lisa and I] put the work in and we took the time so that we could become best friends again. Our families are blended. 

Lenny Kravitz On The Times

Lisa Bonet on her part echoed the same thought when talking about her divorce. Their daughter was only about five when they split, so the pair had to be extra careful about parenting their daughter. That’s why Lisa chose to be amicable with Lenny — their daughter came first and they had to learn to rebuild their friendship for her sake.

Lisa said on Porter Magazine:

I didn’t want to pass on those heirlooms and this fresh wound of a divorce. … I think there are probably times when these thresholds can either sink you, or you can see who you are and rise and dust yourself off.

Lisa also confirmed that the whole family — Lisa, Lenny, Jason, Zoey — work well together to maintain their lovely blended family. “It’s fantastic. It’s full-on family love,” she said. 

Indeed, the entire Kravitz-Bonet-Momoa clan is so well-adjusted that Lenny has even been able to build an awesome, loving relationship with Jason. The pair have become friends or “brothers”, as they put it, so much so that they’re constantly posting birthday tributes to one another and have even professed that they “love” each other. 

Watch this Goalcast video on why Lenny Kravitz feared Jason Momoa:

Relationships can end but love doesn’t have to 

Here’s what your ex, and you, can learn from Lenny Kravitz: it can be worth it to maintain good relations with former partners. Of course, in certain situations, especially where abuse or disloyalty or other horrific situations are concerned, it may be best to forget your exes and leave them in the rearview mirror. But if it’s at all possible to do so, then it can be a good thing to have something of a bond with the ex. Not only do you gain a friend for life, someone who knows you to a tee, but you also get to add more love to your life. 

Relationships come and go, as they always do. Such is the rule of life but the idea of having animosity or even ‘awkwardness’ with your exes for no reason has to go. Just because the relationship didn’t work out doesn’t mean you should leave someone in the dust. The same romantic love can transform into a platonic one, and both your lives could be better as a result of that. The same attributes needed to hold a relationship together — empathy, understanding, and love — can be deployed to keep a friendship alive through thick and thin. If Lenny Kravitz can do it with ease, no one is stopping you or your ex. 

More inspiring celebrities:

Shia LaBeouf: Child Actor Gone Wrong Or Man Living His Authentic Life?

By | Food for thought, inspiring, Inspiring Celebrities, Motivation, stories

Where do we begin with Shia LaBeouf? If you haven’t been following the actor’s journey over the last couple of years, then it’s safe to say that you might have missed out on a lot of strange developments. But only amidst the strange and the wild do you find truly fascinating individuals. 

Many people would recognize Shia as a delightful child actor, wowing us with his charms and smarts in the likes of Holes and Even Stevens. Then he promptly made the jump from Disney Channel material to Hollywood franchise blockbusters, such as leading roles in the Transformers series and Indiana Jones. He was promised to be the next dashing, A-list actor; everything was in order for him to take the mantle and rule over our hearts. 

But somewhere down the line, it all fell apart. It’d have been easy enough to attribute it to one obvious factor, such as drugs or alcohol, but it was a much more gradual, unorthodox downfall.

In fact, when you truly examine the details of how his career has evolved in the last few years, you might not even see it as a downfall at all. But for all the crazy incidents and outbursts, the man’s also been able to emerge from the shambles to create a life for himself that’s as pure and wonderful as anyone else’s. 

He declared that he was retiring from public life after getting busted for plagiarizing 

As mentioned earlier, like many other former child actors, Shia has had his own share of legal troubles. The actor was first arrested in 2005 for yielding a deadly weapon in a confrontation with his neighbor. Unfortunately, that was the first of many arrests for the actor.

His alcoholism led to a trespassing arrest in 2007, a misdemeanor DUI the following year, a disorderly conduct charge in 2014, and a monumental arrest in 2017 that seemingly changed his life. 

But before we delve into those public breakdowns, we must first tackle the incident that really looks to be the tipping point in hindsight. In December 2013, Shia released a short film on the internet called that he directed himself.

He’d always shared a love for film-making, which continues till date. However, shortly after the film’s release, the internet figured out that large chunks of the film were completely plagiarized from a comic created by artist Dan Clowes in 2007.

Shia wasn’t just inspired by Clowes’ work; he was accused of ripping off the story word-by-word, leaving no doubt in peoples’ minds that Shia was a fraudster in many ways. 

The actor confessed to the plagiarism on social media but the damage had already been done. Shia’s apologies were simultaneously not enough and overboard. An outlet accused him of copying one of his apologies from a Yahoo Answers posts. And in another instance, he got a skywriting plane to write his apology on the Los Angeles skies. 

Hollywood has proved that it can handle celebrities lashing out by means of alcohol-related arrests and bust-ups with fellow actors but being a so-called ‘cheat’ and ‘desperate weirdo’ almost immediately landed a heavy blow to Shia’s career. He was even served with a cease-and-desist letter from Clowes.

On January 10, 2014, Shia tweeted, “In light of the recent attacks against my artistic integrity, I am retiring from all public life. My love goes out to those who have supported me.”

A month later, the actor showed up a red carpet event, wearing a paper bag over his head that read “I am not famous anymore.” 

He is both a witness and survivor of sexual assault 

The paper bag incident was later revealed to be a performance art project called #IAMSORRY; the project involved members of the public lining up to meet and greet the actor as he wore the paper bag.

Shia also revealed that a woman had begun to sexually assault him during one of these events. She was stopped and taken away, but the assault caused unspoken trauma for the actor, especially as the story spread like wildfire among his inner circle. 

Additionally, painful revelations about Shia’s childhood came to light after he was arrested and sent to mandatory rehab a couple of years back in 2017.

He was arrested for public drunkenness, disorderly conduct, and obstruction in Savannah, Georgia. But that wasn’t all — gossip publication TMZ secured bodycam footage that depicted Shia hurling out a provocative, obscene and racially-charged tirade towards the arresting officers.

Things turned from bad to worse for the actor, and he was given probation for one year and was sent to a rehabilitation facility to manage his anger management and substance abuse issues. 

I just looked at capitalism as the reason my family didn’t work out and the reason their marriage failed. I looked at it as an economic thing. They loved each other deeply, and all of their fighting came from money, and so I just thought, ‘Well, if we had money, there’d be no fighting and I’d have a family. This is what created this hustle in me.

Shia LaBeouf to Hollywood Reporter

That may have been his lowest point but it was a major wake-up call for the actor. He subsequently learned some key lessons about himself and his behavior during rehab. 

When Shia was a child, he overheard his mother getting raped by a man. He has to listen to his mom describe horrid details of the rape in a sheriff’s office, an experience that plagued him for a very long time. It paved the way for massive anger-related offenses to substance abuse issues on his part, ranging from picking fights in schools to knocking out Tom Hardy in a movie set. 

Shia revealed he was diagnosed with PTSD as soon as he arrived in the facility. His time there allowed him to get in touch with himself and realize that not all hope was lost for himself or his family. It wasn’t just possible to find himself again and turn his life around; he could finally begin to understand himself as a product of his upbringing and circumstances. 

I’ve got to look at my failures in the face for a while. I need to take ownership and clean up my side of the street a bit before I can go out there and work again, so I’m trying to stay creative and learn from my mistakes. I’ve been falling forward for a long time. Most of my life. The truth is, in my desperation, I lost the plot.

Shia LaBeouf to Esquire

His rehab treatment helped him become his most creative, honest self

Witnessed his mother’s rape made Shia incredibly protective and trigger-ready when it came to confrontations but his fraught relationship with his alcohol-abusing, heroin-addicted father may have played a part in his addictions too. 

But there always comes a point in a person’s life when they have to decide whether or not they’re going to continue letting their trauma define and affect every single aspect of their behavior. The same violent frenzies that allowed him to shine as an actor also produced immense pain and suffering for himself and his loved ones. 

A whole set of new insights emerged during his therapy exercises. These thoughts flooding into his head invoked him to reach down into his creative mind, and thus he wrote a script based on his own life.

The script follows his complicated relationship with his father; it specifically sheds light on key moments in Shia’s childhood that have led to the man he is today. The script was adapted into a feature film last year called Honey Boy, based on a nickname given to Shia by his father. Shia himself played the role of his adult father in the film. 

Finding your authentic self is hard work but worth it

Shia has seen and been through a lot in his life, and there is no doubt that his trauma and struggles will haunt him in some way or the other for the rest of his life. Like most of us, he too was subjected to incidents and experiences that were largely outside of his control. And unfortunately, his worse impulses kicked in and he took to violent behavior as a way to mask his most inner vulnerabilities. 

But between the strange performance projects and the rehab-influenced screenwriting, Shia finally discovered what it means to be a human.

Our lives are riddled with complications but that doesn’t mean that we can’t find a way to release those powerful emotions into healthy positive behaviors that actively help us and those around us. It’s really beautiful and rewarding to be able to acknowledge and work through those negative impulses and come out on the other side with a renewed sense of appreciation.

Being able to turn our lives around and live as honestly as possible is one of the most phenomenal aspects of humanity if you really think about it.

More inspiring celebrities:

The Hidden Role Kobe Bryant Played in Richard Sherman’s Super Bowl Comeback

By | Food for thought, inspiring, Inspiring Celebrities, Motivation, stories

Richard Sherman is a fiery, at times controversial figure in the world of the American football but he there is something to be said about the 49ers’ cornerback’s inspirational tenacity.

As we dangerously approach the 54th Super Bowl, it is worth taking a look at Sherman’s comeback on the scene after invalidating Achilles injury in 2017. The truth is, the man’s strength extends beyond his prowesses on the field and we can learn much from his outlook on overcoming sometimes debilitating obstacles.

The recent passing of Kobe Bryant, the legendary basketball player, was especially hard on Sherman. The news found at him at what was supposed to be a happy, celebratory time. He had just arrived in Miami, where the Super Bowl is to take place, with the rest of his team and was sleeping when the 49ers’ general manager John Lynch broke the news to him.

But in the light of the upcoming, long awaited Super Bowl, Sherman still found a bittersweet strength in his mourning for Kobe, who was a friend and mentor to him.

A childhood in a rough, violent neighborhood

Sherman grew up in the midst of inner city poverty, in Compton, California. The streets were unpredictable, as an old neighbor told NBC Sports. “The Shermans never knew exactly what they would see outside their home at any hour of the day or night,” he said.

Richard’s father, Kevin Sherman, worked 27 years as a refuse collector truck operator. His job allowed him the time to be coaching sports to kids in the afternoons. Both him and his wife Beverly, never sheltered their kids from the realities of their environment.

Our kids saw all of [violence]. In return, those people we call friends are helping us teach our kids the ins and outs of what is not to be done out here. The streets have a different way of life, so we want to make sure you know both sides.

Kevin Sherman to NBC

Perhaps, his parents’ approach to his upbringing has allowed Richard to become the bold force that he is today. The uncertainty of life in such a neighborhood was something Richard refused to allow in his mindset.

“He had his own little world going on,” said Veretta Elmore, mother of Jason President, an old friend of Richard’s. He just knew what he wanted from the time he was young.”

Richard always wanted to be a professional athlete and despite the obstacles that faced inner city kids, he never lost track of his goal. At school, he was a high achiever. He knew he needed to score a scholarship, as his parents would not be able to afford paying for all of their three children.

He finished high school with a 4.2 GPA. And yes, he did more than beat the odds of inner city upbringing–he was granted an athletic scholarship to attend Stanford University where he pursued an undergraduate degree in communication. Evidently, Richard joined the Stanford Cardinals football team and played with them from 2006 to 2010.

Not long after, in 2011, he was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks. The rest is history.

How Kobe Bryant taught him the ‘Mamba Mentality’

In 2017, Richard’s season with the Seahawks was interrupted by a rupture of his right Achilles. It was the end of his time with the team and the beginning of a process of recovery that paved his comeback.

Surprisingly, a large part of his coming back is owed to Kobe Bryant. Richard had seen Kobe finish a game with the same injury.

I saw him do it. I saw him make two free throws with a torn Achilles. And once I tore mine, I knew I had to walk it off.

Richard Sherman to San Francisco Chronicles

Sherman even attributed his perseverance, at the time of the injury, to Kobe Bryant, who was known for his relentless drive to win and excel.

Richard grew up watching the Los Angeles Lakers and he was a huge fan of the team. As he watched the basketball games with his grandmother, he soon elected Kobe Bryant as his idol.

The first time he met the legendary Kobe Bryant was for a Nike photoshoot, after the Seahawks won Super Bowl XLVIII. They bonded at that time but Richard’s injury is what brought them closer.

Since Kobe had gone through the same injury, he was able to help out Richard throughout the rehabilitation process. He received a call from the Mamba himself.

When I first called to check on him I said, ‘Are you all right, I want to make sure you are not being a baby about it?’

Kobe Bryant to ESPN

Richard took Kobe’s advice to heart–after all it was the advice of a legend–and he admitted how helpful it was to ESPN.

He gave me some pointers and things I needed to do early on in the process to make sure that I expedited the healing process and I was more proactive than reactive. I think that was one of the big things.

Richard Sherman

Not only was the healing process successful, it represented the paving of Richard’s great comeback. His career with the Seahawks over, it was time for a new phase. He surprised everyone by negotiating a $39 million contract for himself as a free agent, only aided by his wife, with the San Francisco 49ers. He joined them in 2018. Most people frowned at this bold move.

Two years later, he is playing the Super Bowl.

Two different sports but the same spirit

Being his own agent and negotiating his own contract raised many eyebrows; there was skepticism surrounding his risky power move. Yet, Richard didn’t see it that way.

You talk about risk like I’m out there being reckless. If I decide to jump a route or bait a quarterback, it’s something I’ve studied, thought about and weighed the consequences long before doing it. Don’t call it risky and assume that just by being an athlete I got away with it. I trust what I know.

Richard Sherman to The Washington Post

The thing is, the man is both “street-wise and book smart, “savvy and stubborn” as Jerry Brewer, a columnist for The Washington Post who has been covering Sherman for years, affirmed. It is easy to see him as just any other athlete but as we know by now, the truth of his story is much, much different.

And this difference was recognized by no other than Kobe himself, who saw in Richard, the same fire and determination that had moved the legend throughout his career.

His mentality is what separates him. From being overlooked, from being kind of thought of as someone who won’t be able to maximize his potential, I think he uses that as fuel to drive him and propel him. I’m excited for him to come back and show the world what he’s got, man. It’s going to be awesome.

Kobe Bryant to ESPN

Yes, Sherman managed to overcome all the odds perceived to be against him. What Kobe saw in him manifested in real life and ended up being proving that these two friends had the same strong will in common. As Sherman said, “We’re different animals but the same beast.”

The ‘Mamba Mentality’ lives on

Needless to say that Kobe’s death, only a week before Super Bowl LIV was to take place was a blow for his friend, Richard. “He was a friend of mine,” Sherman said on Super Bowl Night. “He was a mentor. He meant a lot to this world. He made a positive impact, and there is nothing that I can say to really quantify his impact on myself and on others.”

On Instagram, Richard honored the late Kobe Bryant through a touching post, whom he considered a “genuine human being.”

However, he found one glimmer of light through the grief, inherited from Kobe’s friendship and the strength of his character.

I was kind of down, I was in the dumps, and then I just thought about what he would tell me. He would tell me, ‘Stop being a baby. And man up.’ And play it, and do it in his honor and win this game for him. And that’s what we’re going to try to do. I’m going to go out there and try to play some dominating ball, just like he wanted. The Mamba Mentality lives on.

Richard Sherman to ESPN

Whatever the outcome of the Super Bowl LIV, we can count on Richard Sherman bringing his full potential to the field. With his own determination, the same trait that has catapulted him into the unquestionable force that he is today, and the will to honor his late friend, it is impossible to doubt his upcoming performance.

While he may no longer be with us, Kobe’s impact on the world, whether friends or fans, is undeniable. He left an indelible trace on this earth and his legacy will continue to impact generations.

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Jennifer Lopez Didn’t Settle for Being Backup — and Neither Should You

By | Food for thought, inspiring, Inspiring Celebrities, Motivation, stories, success stories

What’s Jennifer Lopez’s secret to success? Hard work. We’ve seen this lady singing, dancing and acting for almost 30 years. She didn’t stop when she was overly criticized and she’s definitely not going to stop now.

We see so many entertainers come and go. In the entertainment industry, if you don’t bring on your best game and keep it at a high level as years go by, you’re doomed to fail. A lot of artists sparkled for a brief moment and then they just disappeared, like they never existed in the first place. One day we’re singing their song, and the next we don’t even remember the artist’s name.

Well, this is certainly not the case with Jennifer Lopez. She started where many others did, people told her to quit, but she’s striven harder than many to prove her worth, and now her efforts are highly rewarded. She went from backup dancer to a Super Bowl performer.

The beginning of a blossoming career

Some people just know what they want to do for a living, but the secret is to stick to your ambitions. Young Jennifer took up dancing and singing lessons ever since she was five years old. She grew up in the Bronx, sharing a bed with her two sisters and her family couldn’t afford to offer her too much.

Jennifer had to take her fate into her own hands.Against all obstacles, she commuted downtown to Manhattan on the 6 train to take dance lessons. She moved out of her family’s apartment, took a job at a law firm while she took dancing jobs at night.

You simply cannot picture J Lo standing in a corner and just singing. No matter how slow the rhythm is, she’ll still find a way to show us her dancing skills. And if the song doesn’t allow it, well… there’s no such thing for Lopez. She’s got the moves for any type of song.

Even though she is a complete artist, most people refer to her as a singer, but her breakthrough was actually as a dancer on the popular Fox comedy television series In Living Color. She was one of the “Fly Girls.”

There’s tape out there somewhere, for sure., J Lo told Jay Leno in 2011.

She was also a backup dancer for New Kids on the Block and Janet Jackson. Anybody would have found the opportunity to work with Janet Jackson a career highlight but it was not enough for Jennifer, who knew she deserved the centerstage.

She was supposed to do the entire tour with Janet Jackson, but instead, she decided to opt out because she knew she could do way better than that. Had she not taken that valiant decision, the world may never have known the Jennifer Lopez that we have today.

Acting and singing

Before she was releasing her own music, Jennifer Lopez portrayed the Latina superstar Selena in the classic biopic. The role was uniquely emotional since Selena had died only two years prior to the film. This musical lead became Lopez’s breakout role and paved her way to a long lasting music career. She seized every opportunity and leveled it up.

My business philosophy is that you have to work harder than everybody else. I always tell my kids and they’re like, ‘Yeah, we know you work hard.’ I’m like, ‘No, it’s not just that I work hard. I put in harder work than everybody else. I work harder and harder and harder and harder. When everybody is sleeping, I’m doing more.’ It’s just a relentless pursuit of creativity.

Jennifer Lopez to Variety

Her first music album, On the 6 (1999), was a massive success and we really don’t need the charts to prove it. Twenty years later, we still know all the lyrics of If you Had my Love or Waiting for Tonight, and we still dance like crazy on Let’s Get Loud. The album’s success allowed Lopez to evolve into an icon of pop culture in the years after its release.

Lopez also had to overcome discrimination and double standards on her way to stardom. Very early in my career I dealt with a lot of stuff like that,” she told Variety. “Not getting the passes that men get when they’re misbehaving or doing whatever.”

I was never someone to misbehave, but you’re late and you’re chastised in front of the whole crew and you’re the lead of the movie. The male lead is late and nobody says anything.

Jennifer Lopez to Variety

Despite Lopez didn’t stop to take a break — she constantly improved and reinvented herself showing us that age is just a number. The woman can sing, dance, act and she’s just as fiery as she was 20 years ago.

How the ‘Google Image Search’ was born

Remember the iconic green chiffon Versace dress Lopez wore to the 2000 Grammy Awards? Probably yes, since she recently wore it again at SNL looking just as gorgeous as she did 20 years ago.

Now, we don’t want to just mention a dress that Jennifer Lopez looked stunning in, since she’s had so many other iconic outfits. But back in 2000, the photograph of her wearing the dress was the look that launched a thousand Google searches. And that, was how Google Image Search was born.

At the time, it was the most popular search query we had ever seen. But we had no surefire way of getting users exactly what they wanted: J.­Lo wearing that dress. Google Image Search was born.

Google’s executive chairman, Eric Schmidt to GQ

Not even a tumultuous love life could stop her

While Jennifer is now in a beautiful relationship with Alex Rodriguez, a former professional baseball player and couldn’t be happier, her love life was not always picture perfect.

Back in 1997, Jennifer was married Ojani Noa, a relationship that eventually sent her into a wave of legal troubles. After their divorce, Noa threatened to release a book about their marriage, which would violate their confidentiality agreement. Noa’s actions were vindictive, as he had been fired from the restaurant Lopez owned. Eventually, her lawsuit to counter his actions was successful.

In 1999, she met the rapper Sean Combs, known as by his stage name P Diddy. His association with the rapper inadvertently put her in trouble as the couple was arrested in connection with a shooting that happened in Times Square. While Jennifer was eventually exonerated, having had no connection with the crime, their relationship did not last.

Between Sean Combs and her next, perhaps most memorable to the public, relationship with Ben Affleck, Jennifer was briefly married to a backup dancer named Cris Judd. The marriage did not even last a year before she moved on to the well-known Ben Affleck.

The two were revered as a super couple, being both extremely successful in their respective lanes–she in music, and Ben in the movie world. The word “Bennifer” was popularized and entered into the urban dictionary. But unfortunately, Bennifer was not meant to last and the highly publicized breakup represented Jlo’s first major heartbreak.

I lost my sense of self, questioned if I belonged in this business, thought maybe I did suck at everything. And my relationship self-destructed in front of the entire world. It was a two-year thing for me until I picked myself up again.

Jennifer to Vanity Fair.

She then married her close friend and singer Marc Anthony, with whom she had 2 twins. Once again, her marriage was not meant to last but this time, Jennifer was ready to handle the pressure. She went on to reinvent herself creatively once again, something she has never stopped doing since the inception of her career. This is why she has been a dominant figure in the world of show business

From music icon to judge on American Idol

The singer, who is also an incredible businesswoman, made the decision to become a judge on the incredibly popular show American Idol. She was inspired by every contestant and brought to tears by many of their life stories. But most importantly, she knew she had something to contribute to since music is such a big part of her life. Right now, she is the producer and judge of World of Dance.

Working for free?

It might come as a shock to you that a star like Jennifer Lopez would ever agree to work for free. Yet she did it, and not only once. She believed that taking some career risks might actually help her advance. For Hustlers, Lopez didn’t get paid on the front end for acting in and producing the movie. And now she was just nominated for best supporting female actor for her role in it.

Never accepting to be a backup is the key

If there is one thing we can learn from Jennifer Lopez’ incredible trajectory in her career, it is that one should never settle for the backup role.

You should invest in yourself, believe in your dream and know that hard work and ambition will always take you where you want to be one day. Don’t wait for someone else to do it for you.

Even if she’s already at the top, Jennifer Lopez never let her career get stale and she’s constantly pushing herself to be the best at whatever she does. From Janet Jackson’s backup dancer, Jennifer is now performing at the Super Bowl, proving that by never accepting second place, we can achieve our wildest dreams.

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20 Hero’s Journey Quotes That Will Fuel Your Next Adventure

By | challenging, Food for thought, Motivation, Quotes

Being a hero doesn’t necessarily imply wearing a cape and having superpowers, although that would make things a lot easier. There’s a hero in each one of us and the challenges we face and overcome every day are proof of our strength and courage.

In narratology, the hero’s journey is also known as the monomyth and it’s basically a template for all the hero stories you know: the hero goes on an adventure, faces many trials, takes risks, wins a victory, and then comes home wiser and stronger than ever. As an expert on mythology, Joseph Campbell laid out the basic elements of this concept in his book The Hero’s Journey.

The hero’s journey did not originate in fiction. It is simply who we are as human beings. If you take a step back and think of all the things you’ve accomplished by now, the way you managed to overcome every situation that almost made you quit, and the kindness you’ve shown to others, you’ll come to realize that you’re the hero of your own story.

But your journey is not over yet — your obstacles will be your greatest teachers and hope, your best friend.

Here are 20 hero’s journey quotes that will fuel your next adventure:

A hero is someone who, in spite of weakness, doubt or not always knowing the answers, goes ahead and overcomes anyway.

CHRISTOPHER REEVE (more Christopher Reeve quotes)

Every time you are willing to say ‘Yes’ to everything on your path, you express the hero inside of you.


Though nature be ever so generous, yet can she not make a hero alone. Fortune must contribute her part too; and till both concur, the work cannot be perfected.


The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.


And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in.  

HARUKI MURAKAMI (more Haruki Murakami quotes)

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.



MALCOLM X (more Malcolm X quotes)

True heroism consists in being superior to the ills of life, in whatever shape they may challenge us to combat.

NAPOLEON BONAPARTE (more Napoleon Bonaparte quotes)

Life has no meaning. Each of us has meaning and we bring it to life. It is a waste to be asking the question when you are the answer.


The only thing that is ultimately real about your journey is the step that you are taking at this moment. That’s all there ever is.

ALAN WATTS (more Alan Watts quotes)

When the hero is ready, the mentor appears.


Man is capable of every great heroism; it was man who found a means of conquering the formidable obstacles of his environment, establishing himself lord of the earth, and laying the foundations of civilization.


We must embrace pain and burn it as fuel for our journey.  


The most beautiful people I’ve known are those who have known trials, have known struggles, have known loss, and have found their way out of the depths.  


The great mission of our day is not conquering the sea or space, disease or tyranny. The grand quest which calls to the hero in every one of us is to become fully alive–to stand up and claim our birthright, which is inner freedom, love and radiant purpose.


The hero journey is inside of you; tear off the veils and open the mystery of your self.


Be of good cheer. Do not think of today’s failures, but of the success that may come tomorrow. You have set yourself a difficult task, but you will succeed if you persevere, and you will find a joy in overcoming obstacles.


When we least expect it, life sets us a challenge to test our courage and willingness to change; at such a moment, there is no point in pretending that nothing has happened or in saying that we are not yet ready. The challenge will not wait. Life does not look back.  


The world breaks everyone, and afterward, Many are strong at the broken places.  


I believe that life is a journey, often difficult and sometimes incredibly cruel, but we are well equipped for it if only we tap into our talents and gifts and allow them to blossom.


Woman Loses 175 Pounds After Quitting Her Sugar Addiction

By | Food for thought, inspiring, Motivation, stories, success stories, transformation story

Molly Carmel struggled with her weight most of her life, and it wasn’t until she started to closely examine her relationship with food that she finally got a handle on the problem.

She tried every exercise program and diet in the books, and even underwent bariatric surgery, but nothing worked for her in the long term.

At only 23, she weighed 325 pounds.

The root of her issue is only too familiar

Molly eventually pinpointed the cause of her unsuccessful efforts to lose weight. “I would turn to sugar — of course I would. It soothed me, it numbed me, it comforted me,” Molly told TODAY.

It was my great love… I thought it was my solution when it was really my problem.

Molly to TODAY

Like many, her unhealthy relationship with food dates back to childhood. She remembers going to the amusement park and running straight for the churros stand, and whenever she went to a friend’s house, the big motivation was eating cookies.

Worried that Carmel was “chunky”, her family put her on a diet when she was only 7, which turned out to be the start of a lifelong cycle of failed weight loss attempts.

It became harder to do perform daily tasks

At her heaviest, Carmel couldn’t tie her shoes and became short of breath after taking just a few steps.

“It was terrible,” said the CEO and founder of The Beacon Program, an eating disorder treatment center in New York and author of Breaking Up With Sugar.

Her weight soon became more than a physical obstacle. Her mental space took a toll, and she felt it too difficult to find the motivation or pleasure in life.

I was hopeless, I stopped seeing my friends, I stopped traveling, I was very reclusive at that time.

That’s when she decided to undergo bariatric surgery. The procedure helped her lose 100 pounds, but it wasn’t the answer to what Carmel described as a deep behavioral and emotional issue. Even after the surgery, she reached back to food for comfort.

She decided to do her own research

Inspired by her brother, who in the late 1990s had given up sweets at a time when low-fat diets were all the craze, Carmel started doing her own research into sugar.

After she realized she had a sugar addiction, she made up her mind drastically and gave it up cold turkey. 

Having a track record of failures, she was afraid it would be just another fad diet, but when she started seeing positive results, she persevered.

Carmel avoided sugar for about a year and lost a total of 175 pounds, which she’s been able to keep off for almost a decade.

I don’t think I recognized what a true enemy sugar was. That’s the bait-and-switch that comes with sugar — the short-term. I never recognized that in the long-term, it was incredibly abusive and holding me back from virtually everything I was trying to do.

Today, she’s dedicated to helping others overcome their own battles with emotional eating and food addiction. Having undergone her own battle against it, and beaten it with success, she knows how difficult it can be. But she also knows that it is possible to come out victorious.

Before she went cold turkey…

It may have taken a long time for Molly to identify the real issue behind her inability to lose weight. Therefore, the important thing to do before making any change, whether it is big or not, is to take the time to research and understand the underlying issue.

Molly was able to reach her goal and a healthier lifestyle after taking the time to thoroughly understand what was at the root of her problem. When we want to achieve a goal, however impossible it may seem to us, it is always a good thing to do some introspection.

When we analyze our past, our responses to stimuli and events and what leads us to make certain decisions that do not benefit us, we have a clearer view on the solutions we need to implement.

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Father Lost 40 Pounds To Save His Son’s Life From Rare Genetic Disease

By | everyday heroes, Food for thought, Motivation, stories, uplifting

Many reasons can motivate someone to lose a few pounds. Perhaps, we want to fit into that new outfit or look great for a specific occasion. Or, we want to be generally healthier and prevent complications in the future.

But for Sean Kelley, losing weight was about saving a life. And no, it was not his own.

A rare disease struck close to home

New Yorker Sean Kelley decided to lose the extra weight when he knew he needed to do so to qualify as a living liver donor for his baby son Sawyer.

The newborn received the devastating diagnosis of Alagille syndrome at birth and needed a transplant to survive, according to WYFF News 4. Alagille syndrome is a rare genetic disorder that causes liver damage and can also target other vital organs such as the heart. The only thing that could save him would be a transplant.

Kelley’s wife, Josie, also suffers from Alagille syndrome, which made her ineligible to donate any of her liver, making Sean the best, and maybe only, viable candidate.

“There’s no reason that I can’t get down to the weight that I need to see if could I be a match as well,” he told Good Morning America.

I didn’t know if I would be a match for Sawyer or not, but to even go through the evaluation process, I had to get my weight down to a certain point.

Sean Kelley to Good Morning America

Sean and his wife have six other kids. The condition already affects three of them. It was no difficult decision for Sean to make, when Sawyer’s condition was declared to be drastic enough to require an organ transplant.

“You want to see them thrive. You want to see them happy,” Sean said. “You want to give them every chance to succeed in life that you can. And this was an opportunity to do that.”

But was he a perfect match?

Sean started working out more in August 2019, and ultimately dropped 40 pounds, all the weight he needed to lose to qualify for the testing needed to become a donor.

Not only did he manage to lose the weight, but it turns out that he was a match for Sawyer. When he received the news, he almost couldn’t believe it.

She said, ‘Guess what? You’re a match. The surgery’s scheduled.’ And I literally had to sit down.

The transplant surgery took place on December 19 2020. It was “complex and challenging,” as Dr. George Mazariegos, the chief of pediatric transplantation at UPMC Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh, told Good Morning America. However, the prognostic is positive.

“He will be much healthier, we believe, with this liver, and be able to withstand infections and withstand things that right now were really big setbacks for him,” the physician said of baby Sawyer.

The power of a parent

Sean hopes that his story will inspire others to donate. Even if the process was undoubtedly stressful, he still feels that there was also a lot of hope and positivity in the process.

It’s an incredible thing to even consider being evaluated and going through the process to see if you could be a match for somebody.

Sean Kelley

Sean’s story proves that we should never underestimate the difference one can make on oneself and others. Becoming a donor can save someone’s life, but also help others connect forever. Sean will be able to see his son grow up but so will the others whose children, spouses, family members or friends have been saved by organ donors.

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Rihanna’s Transformation from Music Icon to Business Mogul Was A Long Time Coming

By | entrepreneurs, Food for thought, inspiring, Inspiring Celebrities, Motivation, stories

You know Robyn Rihanna Fenty as a beloved singer and incredibly successful businesswoman, but do you know how she managed to rise to this level of achievement?

The journey wasn’t as smooth as some may think, but it’s a story demonstrating how determination and belief in yourself can push you to new heights.

Even during her teenage years, Rihanna accomplished feats many people dream of. The singer’s trials and tribulations are a testament to not letting life hold you back from the things you want and deserve.

How it all started

Marred by her father’s addiction to crack and her family’s struggles with money, childhood was a rough time for Rihanna. The stress of these issues manifested in intense migraines. It also exposed her to bullying from her peers, which surely did not help with the migraines.

Despite these hardships, Rihanna maintained a love for singing. She started a girl group with two of her friends. But she was ambitious for success and that eventually led the group to audition for Evan Rogers, a major music producer.

Rogers was immediately swayed by the Barbadian beauty’s looks and vocal abilities. He set out to work on helping her produce her first album. Rihanna burst into the music industry at the young age of 16, releasing her debut record called “Music of the Sun.”

The single “Pon de Replay” became a fast hit, peaking at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart — a significant triumph for a new artist. In a short amount of time, she went from island tom boy to platinum pop sensation.

Her success continued to grow as her image changed from the girl-next-door to the seductive songstress. For years, music and acting were her claims to fame until she decided to channel her love for makeup into a lucrative avenue.

Rihanna was very calculating with her timing and strategy because she knew she needed more than just passion to win. Credibility mattered too.

Social media marketing and video communication played a huge role in her stirring up interest in her business pursuits. These tried-and-true tactics have worked for countless other companies — the more interactive, the better. After all, fans want to know everything about the celebrities they love.

The beginning of Fenty Beauty

Rihanna released Fenty Beauty, co-owned by her and the French luxury group LVMH, in September 2017. The brand practically skyrocketed to fame overnight, becoming an instant hit — especially among people of color who often struggle to find makeup for their skin tones. With an impressive release of 40 shades of foundation, Rihanna’s new venture was groundbreaking.

Society already knew her well for how relatable she is as well as her clapbacks and her sharp sense of humor but Fenty Beauty connects with fans on a new level.

Hers isn’t the first cosmetics company to offer 40 shades, but the range of hues is a major upgrade compared to other brands like Make Up For Ever and Tarte. The darker shades completely sold out soon after the initial release, which indicated how the company effectively fills a gap for those unacknowledged by the beauty industry.

According to Forbes, the makeup brand has helped the business-savvy singer establish a $600 million fortune, which will undoubtedly grow as she branches out. As of now, though, she is the wealthiest female musician in the world — a mind-blowing achievement on its own.

A shift towards fashion with Savage X Fenty

Rihanna’s entrance into the world of business isn’t even close to being finished yet, and her fans couldn’t be happier. After establishing her cosmetics line, it was time to conquer the lingerie world.

In May 2018, she dropped her brand of underwear and lingerie called Savage X Fenty, after weeks of swirling rumors and excitement. Much like Fenty Beauty, the brand offers a range of options for people of numerous shapes, skin tones and sizes.

In September 2019, she held a fashion during New York’s Fashion Week, and impressed on the whole world, the inclusivity of her brand. Her show featured models of various skin tones, ethnicities and body types, which was revolutionary especially when we consider Victoria’s Secret and their controversial attitudes towards diversity.

Inclusive marketing has become increasingly popular — and even necessary — as marginalized individuals are also consumers and should be represented in media. This strategy has no doubt paid off, with Savage X Fenty receiving $70 million in funding from investors, according to the Wall Street Journal. The WSJ also reports that the company earns nearly $150 million annually.

And of course, this article won’t be complete without mentioning her fashion house, Fenty. She is the first black woman to lead a house at LVMH, adding her creation to a portfolio containing the likes of Givenchy and Dior. Hers is also the first label the luxury group has created since 1987. How’s that for history-making?

But why does it work?

Fans and casual observers alike know the business mogul for her ongoing messages of self-love and confidence. If you’re not doing it yourself, who are you doing it for?

She never fails to emphasize how important it is for everyone to find happiness within themselves, no matter what that looks like for them. Applying this philosophy to her own life is part of what makes her plans so successful.

Her lifelong love for cosmetics and beauty led her to create Fenty Beauty and her two fashion lines. Much of these brands’ popularity is due to her dedication to inclusivity. There’s something for everyone, and each person can feel content and loved within their skin. Division often leads to hostility and hate, but inclusion fosters understanding and appreciation.

And she has no plans to stop, as she even has plans to start her own furniture line.

Rihanna’s story shows the importance of taking a chance on your passions and doing it with a witty edge. Uplift yourself while acknowledging and empowering the communities you care about. Networking and working hard at your craft can take you a long way.

What you can learn from her accomplishments

Everyone has a dream, no matter how small it may seem to you now. If you’d known Rihanna as a teenager, you might have doubted her chances of leaving her island home and making it big.

But she proved everyone wrong. She listened to her heart’s calling and stayed true to her desires along the way. Every person’s journey is different, but you can take a cue from her and other stories of success to find ways to nurture your biggest hopes.

Furthermore, she proved to us that we don’t have to stay in one lane for the rest of our lives. By taking a chance on her other passions, she has redefined herself and challenged our expectations on success. It can come from many avenues, so long as we put in the time and passion into it.

You will never know until you try, and if your first attempt doesn’t pan out, you can always try again. When one door shuts, another opens. Hardships along the way don’t define you, and they don’t have to rule your mindset. Be kind to yourself and know that your life is yours to celebrate and no one else’s.

Shaping history and culture on a broad scale

Many would agree that Rihanna is an incredible source of inspiration for achieving goals and trusting yourself, especially for young black women.

She is proof that your present situation doesn’t have to influence the rest of your life — you’re always growing and evolving. Rihanna continues to prove her past doesn’t limit her ideas and goals. There are bound to be more groundbreaking achievements for her in the future.

More inspiring celebrities:

Man Loses Over 100 Pounds By Making One Simple, But Radical Change

By | challenging, Food for thought, Motivation, stories, success stories, transformation story

A self-proclaimed workaholic, Aaron Leupp often worked over a 100 hours per week as he built his career. While he invested all of his time and energy into his work, he neglected his health.

His ran on little sleep and spent most of his time behind a computer. As his weight crept up, he tried fad diets and even went to the gym, but nothing seemed to work.

“I was over 310 pounds,” he told Men’s Health. “And never in my life did I think would ever get that big.”

At first, nothing seemed to work

As Leupp grew tired of feeling rundown and unhealthy, he took to YouTube, podcasts and spent hours researching different approaches to weight loss. However, despite his efforts, nothing stuck.

Not only did he want to feel better, Leupp also wanted to look better, so that he could feel more confident about getting back into the dating scene.

After many failed attempts, he wasn’t ready to give up so he tried again, and decided to drastically scale down his diet.

A motivating habit

Leupp started eating one meal a day, and only after he’d complete his daily workout—a habit he’s been able to maintain and that he says still keeps him motivated.

“Every day I wake up to check my emails to see if there are any fires or urgent matters,” he said. “If not then I go straight to the gym.”

Trust me, you find motivation quick when you’re hungry.

Over the span of one year, Leupp has lost over 100 pounds and has noticed his productivity go up. 

“I feel better than I ever have,” he said. “I have way more energy and have more confidence.”

He keeps track of his transformation

He’s been documenting his transformation journey by posting daily accountability photos online, which encourages him to keep going.

He hopes that by sharing his story, he can help inspire others to take action if they’re feeling stuck.

“I will continue to do this until I get fit and then for the rest of my life.”

We can all learn accountability

Aaron’s journey towards a healthier version of himself has taught him the power of accountability. Without it, the achievement of our goals, whether they are health or career related, would take a longer, more rocky trajectory.

Learning to make ourselves accountable means that we will depend on nothing else, no other person, to validate our progress and victories. We can start one step at a time and implement a system where we hold ourselves accountable for small things at first and then applying it to more significant projects.

Once we have mastered the skill of holding ourselves accountable, there is no stopping what we can accomplish.

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