50 Years Ago, They Received Hate Letters For Their Love–Today, They’re Still Together

By | Food for thought, inspiring, marriage, stories, uplifting news

Leslie Uggams is probably best known for her role in the Deadpool series, but her real life reads a bit like a movie as well!

At the heart of her life story is an incredible tale of love that has spanned over 5 decades, defying the odds of racism and prejudice.

Her family expected her to marry a black man

Born in 1943, Leslie’s talents as an actress got her into show business very early in life. At only 10-years old, she already made a record for MGM. This was only a precursor to an incredible television, screen and film career.

The time Leslie grew up in was a difficult one for anyone in an interracial relationship. In a 1967 interview with Ebony, Leslie recalls how she was expected to marry a black man.

When she dated a white boy in her teens, her aunt told her not to entertain the idea of a future with him. Leslie said:

“I remember the shock I got once when I was dating a white boy. He sent me a colour picture of himself. I showed it to my aunt. He was a good looking boy with beautiful hair. I thought he was gorgeous. But my aunt to one look and started in to lecture me. ‘Well he’s alright, I suppose,” she told me, “but only for dates, huh, honey? When you’re thinking of settling down for keeps you’ll make sure you marry a nice [Black] fella, won’t you?’”

Leslie never discriminated when she dated even she admits, “I had to be extra careful of the company I kept,” being a black woman in show business.

Then, she met Grahame

By the time Leslie met Grahame Pratt, she was already successful. Even though their first meeting in Sydney, Australia was not ideal, Leslie said she would never forget it.

“Then I came for my first appearance at Chequers night club and met Grahame.”

He was quite drunk and asked her to join him and his friends for another drink.

I don’t know why I ever agreed to join them for yet another drink but I did. I reckon I must have liked his style. I remember thinking he was English, not Australian.

Leslie Uggams in Ebony

After that, Leslie and her mother kept seeing more and more of Grahame. “I found myself really falling for him, which was quite a thing for me to realize as I was only 21.”

When she left Sydney, it would be 12 months until she would see him again.

She didn’t believe he could handle the relationship

The thing is, unlike Grahame, Leslie is American and she was way more aware of the public perception of interracial relationships in her home country than he was. So she had reasons to question the marriage and the strength of his love.

I believed he loved me and wanted to marry me, but at the same time I felt he might also have welcomed a way out of our love, if that were possible.

Leslie Uggams

“I mean it is a tremendous responsibility to take on a mixed marriage like ours,” Leslie continued. She identified 3 problems they would have to contend with: the racial tensions in America, the fact that she was not going to quit her work in show business and the necessity for Grahame to move to the United States.

So Leslie decided they would try it out at first, to make sure their marriage could withstand it.

I felt that as I was the one who would be taking him away from the sort of life he had been used to it was up to me to make sure he really knew what it would be like.

They got engaged for 5 months, during which he came to New York to meet her family.

She was afraid they wouldn’t accept him

Other than the obvious negative attitudes towards interracial relationships, Leslie also worried about her own family’s reception of Grahame. While she wanted Grahame to experience a “real sample of life” in an interracial relationship in America, she also wanted to make sure her folks would truly welcome him.

“Knowing my family’s ideas about mixed marriages I wanted to know, too, whether they would really accept Graham and not just tolerate him,” she said.

You can imagine how I felt, after they got to know one another, my father told me he couldn’t hope for a better son-in-law.

Leslie Uggams

Leslie was pleasantly surprised at Grahame’s ease with her friends and family. It turns out that being Australian gave him a different perspective and approach to the new culture he had moved into.

“He had none of the self-consciousness about the situation that a white American often has. He fitted in easily with all my friends…just because he liked them. And they certainly liked him, both the men and the girls.”

They got letters of hate–but it didn’t threaten their love

Leslie and Grahame settled into married life quite well. They lived in New York where hardly anyone made nasty remarks. “It was not as hard as I expected it to be,” Leslie toldPEOPLE. “I think the reason is that Grahame was not an American white man. But of course we did get mail.”

“Sometimes when I go on tour through the States I get anonymous letters about being married to a white man,” Leslie revealed. “I remember I got one in Detroit of all places. It came to the club addressed to ‘The Little Negro Entertainer.’ They’re always addressed something like that and they’re not pleasant to read.”

Back in that 1967 Ebony interview, Leslie wished for one thing: “I just want my children to be happy as we both are…Then they’ll have everything that is worth living for.”

Well, 55 years later, Leslie and Grahame are still going strong. The couple went on to have two children: Danielle and Justice, 42, and are now grandparents of Cassidy, 7, an aspiring actress.

As for how they’ve made it work all these years, Leslie said “We laugh all the time — but it ain’t always roses. We have fun together.”

Don’t underestimate the power of love

Leslie and Grahame’s heartwarming story proves that love trancends everything from hostile environments and cultural differences. Both decided to give themselves a chance. Had they listened to their doubts, they would have missed out on their love. Instead, they tried to make it work, keeping an open mind. We can certainly all be inspired from this incredible couple.

More inspiring love stories:

Denzel Washington’s Broken Childhood Taught Him Not To Make The Same Mistakes Again

By | family, Food for thought, Inspiring Celebrities, parenting, stories

He’s one of the biggest movie stars the world has known, yet he stops, jokes and takes pictures with fans. He’s Denzel Washington, 65, beloved by all as humble, a man of substance who doesn’t sell out and is committed to quality, morality, and, in short, doing both his life and his acting career right.

But how did he start out? What many people don’t know is that Denzel had some early struggles, though he tends to keep his personal life largely out of the limelight. The reality is, if it wasn’t for his hard-ass mother looking out for his best interests (something he continually acknowledges to this day), he might not have become the Denzel Washington we know and love today.

Washington has been married to his wife Pauletta since 1983, and they have four children. But although he has painstakingly created a life for himself that puts family and good parenting before all else, his own upbringing was far from idyllic, particularly when it came to his dynamic with his father, which many would call troubled.

His parents’ divorce shaped him

Who among us is not deeply and forever impacted by our relationships with our parents? One way or another, we are all affected, whether we choose to focus on it or not.

Washington’s father, Denzel Hayes Washington Sr., was a pentecostal preacher who ran two churches, worked another job on top of that, and was rarely around. His mother owned a beauty parlour.

“My parents were like night and day,” he has observed. “She’s urban, raised in Harlem. My father was just this spirit-filled man until the day he died, a country boy raised on a farm in Virginia.”

They say opposites attract, but my parents only grew apart. I was 14 when they divorced.

Around the time his parents split, his mother sent him away to private school in upstate NY to keep him out of trouble. “That decision changed my life, because I wouldn’t have survived in the direction I was going,” said Washington. In an interview on Popcorn with Peter Travers, when asked if he was a good kid, he laughs and says,  “I was mischievous,” more solemnly adding, “My three closest friends did quite a bit of time [in jail] … decades.”

Watch this Goalcast video on Denzel’s inspirational life:

A lost connection

At the age of 18, Denzel moved out of his mother’s place and into his father’s. “And he kicked me out,” Washington told GQ. “He said, ‘You’re just bad.’” But in spite of the long and sordid history between Denzel and his dad, he acknowledges his father’s goodness.

“Everyone I grew up with didn’t have a father. I had a father. My father was a decent man. He was a very spiritual man and a gentleman.”

Yet, perhaps most tellingly, he goes on to describe how, when his father died in 1991, he didn’t cry:

He died in August. We started shooting around the time that he died. [pauses] I never shed a tear for my father. That sounds like a book or a song. I never did all through the funeral and all that. There was no connection.

Denzel Washington in GQ

When asked, “What do you see of your father in you?” Denzel responds, “I’m more like my mother. She is the toughest woman.”

Why he is his mother’s son

Denzel’s mother, Lennis Washington, was the single greatest influence in his life, and to this day he remains thankful for her strength. Lennis was a single mother after her divorce, but while her ex-husband mostly stayed away, she brought up her son with discipline and hard work. Wanting the very best for him, she saved money for private school “even when she could not afford it.” 

While some of his friends were going down a very negative path, Denzel’s mother “had enough sense to get me out of that situation before it was going to be my turn,” says Washington. “I had that Pentecostal foundation and a mother who used to say, ‘Son, you never know who’s praying for you.’ So maybe it wasn’t my fate to fall into those traps,” he told Parade back in 1999.

“I was what they call ‘throwing rocks at the penitentiary,’” Denzel told ABC years later, “but I never hit it. I never got caught … I also knew right from wrong, so I never wanted to go too far. I’d dip my toe in the water.”

So in 9th grade, his mother put Denzel in Oakland Academy, a private prep school in New Windsor, N.Y. where he excelled at sports and became interested in the arts. After graduating, he began at Fordham University where he started acting in his junior year.

As for his friends, “One did 28 years [behind bars], one did 20 and the other did 12,” he says, adding, “One is dead … the other two are out.” When asked what advice he’d give his 15-year-old self, he laughs loudly and exclaims, “Listen to your mother!” 

His own approach to fatherhood

While Denzel’s relationship with his dad was far from perfect, he has gleaned lessons from both of his parents which have ultimately influenced him as a parent.

“It wasn’t like it’s been for our children,” he says, “where you take them to all their events. It was a different time. Once they were separated, I was in school. So 70 percent of the year, I was away. In the summer, I wasn’t looking to track him [my father] down. I was ready to hit the streets. So you just kind of fade…. Not to say that I didn’t love him like a dad. But we didn’t play ball, those types of things. Next thing you know, you’re at college.”

As for his own approach to fatherhood, “Life is family,” he says.

You know, rushing to get home because my son’s got a football game, and I’m going to be there. We drive to the game and watch him and discuss it afterward. That’s life. Acting is not life to me. It’s making a living.

Denzel Washington

Although he loves making movies, Washington says he doesn’t watch or analyze his films. “Once you make a movie, it belongs to the people,” he says. “So, I don’t look back. I might see a scene if it’s on TV or something.”

Unsurprisingly, he has tried to instil the same brand of humility in those of his children who chose to act, John David and Olivia Washington, who both saw success early on in popular TV shows.

And as far as black fatherhood goes, Denzel tells GQ, “One of the things that saddens me the most about my people is fathers that don’t take care of their sons and daughters. And you can’t blame that on The Man or getting frisked. Take responsibility.

“Look in the mirror and say, ‘What can I do better?’ There is opportunity; you can make it…I’m not telling you what religion to be, but work on your spirit…Imagine—work the brain muscle.

Keep the body in tune—it’s your temple. All things in moderation. Continue to search. That’s the best part of life for me—continue to try to be the best man.

More inspiring celebrities:

What We Can Learn From Jennifer Aniston And Brad Pitt’s Final Vacation Pictures

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

Let’s face it, there has been no shortage of attention paid to both the romantic coupling and uncoupling of Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt (1998-2005), in part because they’re both shining stars, and in part because the usual narrative is that, ‘Brad left Jennifer for Angelina,’ and when anyone leaves their partner for someone else, the story is always a hostile and dramatic one, right?

The tabloids thought everything was fine

The reality of any divorce is usually a trillion times more nuanced than the tabloids would have one believe—and less dramatic too. Take this famous photo of Jennifer and Brad, one of the last ever taken of them as husband and wife.

In it, they’re depicted taking what appears to be a romantic stroll down a beach in Anguilla in 2005. At the time the picture was taken, the Angelina cat was well out of the bag: he had not planned to, but yes, he had gone ahead and fallen for another woman. The tabloids (simpletons as they are) saw these photos as evidence that Brad and Jen were doing great and that the ‘scandal’ wasn’t based in truth.

Ironically, what the photo actually shows is a loving couple breaking up with one another; this was to be their last getaway.

To recap, the media erroneously thought that rumors of Brad’s cheating were a made up scandal. It was a scandal, sure, but the clincher is, it wasn’t hostile, negative, dramatic, and there was never any bad blood.

In short, it wasn’t sensational—but try telling that to your average celeb reporter. Divorce isn’t necessarily what the tabloids make it look like—actually, it almost never is. Sometimes, what the people involved say is actually the closest thing to truth you can hope for. I think that in this case, that’s certainly resonant. When they announced their divorce to the world in 2005, Jen and Brad issued the following joint statement:

“We would like to announce that after seven years together we have decided to formally separate. For those who follow these sorts of things, we would like to explain that our separation is not the result of any of the speculation reported by the tabloid media. This decision is the result of much thoughtful consideration. We happily remain committed and caring friends with great love and admiration for one another. We ask in advance for your kindness and sensitivity in the coming months.”

If there’s anything the 15 years’ worth of coverage of their relationship, their breakup, and their subsequent friendship has taught those of us who pay attention, it’s that this statement was truer than anything that came out afterwards. 

While Jen is human and was naturally not thrilled by Brangelina’s decision to share stories of how they got together while he was still married to her, she has ultimately stuck to her guns through the years, insisting, “…we wish nothing but wonderful things for each other.

Nobody did anything wrong. You know what I mean? It was just, like, sometimes things [happen]. If the world only could just stop with the stupid, soap-opera bullshit. There’s no story.”

Jennifer Aniston in The Hollywood Reporter

Why Lady Gaga knows a thing or two about breakups. Read here.

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Jennifer would go through yet another divorce

Jen eventually re-married in 2015, this time to Justin Theroux, whom she’d been dating since 2011. But by early 2018, it was their turn to announce they’d be calling it quits. Guess what? Contrary to what mainstream media would have us believe, their joint statement revealed that their decision to break up was “mutual and lovingly made at the end of last year,” and went on to say, “We are two best friends who have decided to part ways as a couple, but look forward to continuing our cherished friendship.”

Both Jen and Justin have spoken extensively about the challenges that go along with navigating post breakup rumors and gossip, with Jen telling InStyle:

The misconceptions are ‘Jen can’t keep a man,’ and ‘Jen refuses to have a baby because she’s selfish and committed to her career.’ Or that I’m sad and heartbroken. First, with all due respect, I’m not heartbroken.

“And second, those are reckless assumptions. No one knows what’s going on behind closed doors. No one considers how sensitive that might be for my partner and me.”

The bottom line is that Jennifer Aniston, mainstream famous though she may be, has actually proven herself time and again to be a maverick in the realm of love. Having continually defied expectations on what breakups look like (hint: not war, and not failure), we all stand to learn a thing (or ten) from her.

As she so eloquently told Elle, “I don’t feel a void. I really don’t. My marriages, they’ve been very successful, in [my] personal opinion. And when they came to an end, it was a choice that was made because we chose to be happy and sometimes happiness didn’t exist within that arrangement anymore.” 

Jen remains friends with both of her exes, and although some of us diehard Jen and Brad fans would love to believe the torrid and titillating tabloids when they hint at new flirtations between the two, People reports, “She is happy to have Brad back in her life as a friend, but that’s it.” To me, this sounds like a grown ass woman living her life to the fullest—drama be damned.

More inspiring celebrities:

Woman Raises More Than $140 000 For Girls Who Needed Taco Bell’s Wifi For School

By | Food for thought, stories, uplifting, uplifting news

Many families are currently opting to do remote classes in lieu of sending their kids to school amid the continued risk of coronavirus. However, this hasn’t been an easy adjustment for everyone. For some, there are difficulties to worry about, such as “how can you do remote learning if you can’t afford the proper technology?”

While most of us take our Internet service for granted, it’s sadly not the case for everyone.

Last week, the Internet quickly responded after a photo was taken of two young girls in California who were using the free WiFi in a Taco Bell parking lot to do remote school work.

The photo showed two girls can be seen sitting on the sidewalk outside a Taco Bell in Salinas, California.

An employee noticed them

The girls were working on laptops, when a Taco Bell employee went to talk to them. They were doing their schoolwork, sitting outside of the restaurant.

The picture caught the attention of the Salinas City Elementary School District. They “immediately provided the family with a hotspot,” as Richard Gebin, public relations officer for the district, told USA TODAY, so that they wouldn’t have to use the free wifi to connect to their lessons.

One woman decided it wasn’t enough

Moved by the picture, Jackie Lopez decided started a fundraising campaign for the family after learning the family was going to be evicted from their home, according to a GoFundMe.

She managed to track down their mother, Juana, a migrant worker. The picture is a drastic reminder of the divide in incomes and how, for many migrant families, daily life is a constant struggle.

“I asked her if I could get her girls a desk for distant learning and she mentioned there was no space in their home for that,” Lopez wrote on the GoFundMe page.

She then said she shared a small bedroom with her 3 girls in the home she was living in.

Lopez started the fundraiser after she learned the family was going to be evicted from their rented room. The fundraiser has since raised more than $140,000 and the family is working with an accountant to manage the funds.

According to Jackie’s update on their GoFundMe page, Juana is incredibly touched by the kindness of strangers and has plans for her daughters’ future.

She has a lot of plans for the future; she plans to use some of the funds to purchase her first vehicle. She will also use part of the funds to rent a home while they look for their forever home. Another part of the funds will be used for College Funds for her three girls because education is one of the most important things to them.

Watch this Goalcast video for a less negative outlook on life:

The school district responded too

“The digital divide is very real and delays in
receiving needed technology are a statewide concern,” Amy Ish, president
of the Salinas City Elementary School District, said in a statement. “We
are grateful the State is making technology a priority and look forward to
receiving these hotspots in our District.”

The Salinas City school district is currently in full distance learning mode, according to Gebin and they have distributed 8,245 Chromebooks and 1,500 hotspots and are now waiting for 2,500 additional hotspots to be delivered.

“This is California, home to Silicon Valley…but where
the digital divide is as deep as ever,” Kevin de León, president pro
tempore of the California Senate said in a tweet Friday. “Where 40% of all Latinos
don’t have internet access. This generation deserves better.”

Monterey County Supervisor Luis Alejo also shared the photo on Twitter Wednesday saying, “we must do better & solve this digital divide once & for all for all California students.”

Taco Bell also stepped in

A spokesperson for Taco Bell Corp. called the photo “a
tough reminder of basic inequalities facing our communities,” in a
statement emailed to USA TODAY.

“We and our franchisees have always been passionate about supporting youth education, and the owner of this restaurant is looking into additional ways to support these students and the broader community,” a spokesperson said in an email.

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After Nearly Giving Up, This Man Lost 245 Pounds By Learning The Value of Patience

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

At 350 pounds, Luis Trigo gave up his job to focus on his health, after he could no longer work.

“I couldn’t even stand at work. My job was in warehousing and I could barely handle it within a couple of hours. I was constantly sluggish and tired,” he told the Steel Shredded Podcast.

Around the same time, his long-term relationship ended, sending him spiralling downward into depression and led him to gain an extra 50 pounds, in just two months.

Worrying symptoms were a wake-up call

It wasn’t until he began experiencing heart palpitations and was rushed to the hospital, that he got the ultimate wakeup call.

Before then, his diet consisted of whatever was cheap and convenient – mainly sugary drinks, fast food and alcohol. In hindsight, he recognizes his bad habits at the time were his way of coping with negative emotions.

Obese since high school, Luis said his weight got out of control once he started college, and later entered the workforce.

I didn’t pay attention to my nutrition because I was paying attention to my grades. I didn’t pay attention to my health, before I knew it, I was in the 300s.

But that all changed when he was wheeled into the ER

Luis was diagnosed as pre-diabetic and after ordering an EKG and ultrasounds, the doctor told him:

If you don’t change now, you’re gonna die. You’re 24 years old and you’re 400 pounds.

It was April 2011, and he decided to start his weight loss journey right then and there.

“I gave up all fast food, and then I cut out processed carbs such as bread, pasta, and rice. I also quit sugar from non fruit sources like soda and fruit juices,” Luis said.

Exercising was challenging at first because he was so out of shape, but he was determined not to give up, so he started slow. 

“My exercise at first was very humbling. Basically I walked up and down the hill by my house because that’s all I could really handle,” he said.

I barely could even get to a mile of exercise. At first it was just a very slow, steady journey.

Patience was the hardest part

Once walking around his neighborhood became easy, Luis got a gym membership and eventually fell in love with endurance workouts.

His transformation journey came with setbacks, including some weight loss plateaus, which he taught himself to overcome.

It was just learning to accept that I needed to be patient. That was the biggest hurdle.

Luis Trigo

Now that he was focused on reaching his full potential, Luis practiced being more patient and continued to show up for himself.

After losing his first 100 pounds though, he realized he still had a long way to go, and it was difficult to accept at first.

“I was so happy but then I looked in the mirror and I got really sad. I was really upset because it was like, ‘man, I can’t believe I gained so much weight to the point that losing 100 pounds didn’t do anything,”” said Luis.

It took 3 and a half years, but he persevered until he was down to 180 pounds, and today he is a personal trainer.

Watch this Goalcast video for an instant boost of epic motivation:

Mindset is everything

Luis’ transformation journey has taught him that mindset is key when it comes to successful weight loss, and it’s a lesson he shares with his clients.

The game is 90 percent mental. If you can get your mind in the right focus, you can accomplish anything you want.

Luis Trigo

More inspiring transformations:

After Leaving Her Abusive Husband, This Woman Lost 525 Lbs And Won Back Her Life

By | Food for thought, motivating, stories, success stories

Christina Phillips weighed 708 pounds and hadn’t left her house in two years before she decided to regain control of her life.

“Before I couldn’t walk eight feet without feeling like I was gonna die. Now, I could do just about anything I put my mind to,” she told People.

Christina was 22 when she first appeared on My 600-Lb Life, and had become completely dependent on her family and husband Zach to help meet her most basic needs.

On the show, Dr. Nowzaradan prescribed Christina a strict diet plan and recommended exercise, before she could qualify for gastric bypass surgery.

By the time Christina was 12 years old, she weighed 286 pounds

Growing up, Christina witnessed her parents arguing all the time, and turned to food to cope. By the time she was 12 years old, she weighed 286 pounds. 

By the time she signed up for the popular TLC program, Christina was bedridden and unable to care for herself, so when she lost enough weight to be approved for the life-saving surgery, she became empowered.

“At the beginning I had a lot of people doubt me,” she explained.

An abusive relationship had enabled her

As she continued to make progress, Christina realized her husband was threatened with her newfound independence and that he’d been enabling her throughout their marriage.

I was in a really abusive relationship. And that definitely, I think, has had a negative impact on me. It hurt. In my heart, in my head.

So Christina decided to divorce Zach, who had become unsupportive of her happiness and transformation.

Despite the heartbreak, she went on with the surgery and lost 525 pounds, but instead of celebrating her hard earned success, she began to struggle with her body image.

She needed to adjust to her new reality

“Lately any time I see the scale go up, I tend to freak out and I stop eating for a couple days,” she admitted on an episode of My 600-lb Life: Where Are They Now?

At this point, Christina was ready to go under the knife again, to remove excess skin but her doctor recommended she consult with a therapist to address her fears, instead.

He thought she was being too hard on herself.

I know I’m not 700 lbs. anymore, but I still feel that way. And I don’t know how to change how I feel.

After putting on extra pounds to be eligible for the procedure, Christina eventually got the surgery and was down to 172 pounds.

Christina wasn’t at the end of her challenges

“When I was 700 lbs., I felt worthless, and like I didn’t deserve anything better than the life I had. And now my fear of gaining weight has crippled me. But I have to move past that fear if I want to live my life,” she said.

Her fear of gaining weight led to her developing an eating disorder, but she’s been able to work through her demons and has recently completed her second 5K run.

This Goalcast video will give you pure, unbridled inspiration:

Despite being met with obstacles throughout her transformation journey, Christina has been determined to maintain her physical and mental well-being, and looks forward to the little things now.

“The simple things in life are enjoyable to me. I know that seems silly but it’s the honest answer,” Christina said. “Just walking and being able to go to the park with my nephew. [It’s] the most simple thing like taking him to the park or going shopping or driving.”

“I’m so much more happier now. Being able to wake up in the morning and get out of bed without feeling like I’m gonna die, I thank God every morning for that,” she continued.

I am so blessed to have a second chance at life.

Christina Phillips

Take every win as evidence that you can do it again

Going from 700 lbs. to a healthy weight was not a straight journey for Christina. Along the way, she realized there were other obstacles that needed to be dealt with too.

It is important to be aware that there will always be setbacks along the way to your objective but every time you overcome an obstacle, you gain the knowledge that you’ll be able to do it again.

More inspiring transformations:

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.

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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. 

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Are You a Placeholder for Your Partner or Turning Yourself Into One?

By | dating, Food for thought, goalcast originals, inspiring, stories

We know that getting involved in a romantic relationship requires taking some risks. You hope for it to last, but you can’t predict whether or not it actually will. However, there are some signs that can tell you how serious your partner is about your relationship — red flags that might indicate you’re just a placeholder. Before diving into them, let’s get familiar with the term.

Place-holding happens when two people are dating — one of them is committed to the relationship while the other is still waiting for “the one” (consciously aware of that fact or not). Obviously, the first one is the placeholder.

As a placeholder you are there for your partner and you do all the things you normally do in a relationship, but you’re only holding the place until someone “better” comes along. You can date for a really long time, but your partner knows that you’re not that special person. So the relationship will end sooner or later.

It might sound harsh, but we’re partially responsible for what happens to us because we sometimes allow people to use us. Maybe it’s time to really look into your situation and take some serious action.

Watch this Goalcast video on how Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton found true love after betrayal:

Here are a few major signs that you might be a placeholder:

1. Your partner makes it clear that they don’t want anything serious

Some people will be honest about this from the get-go. This is probably the clearest sign that you shouldn’t continue dating them. When someone tells you that they don’t want anything serious, it’s kind of obvious that they won’t commit to the relationship and that you’ll serve only as a placeholder.

2. It’s a rebound relationship

It’s unlikely for someone to tell you that you are a rebound so you’ll have to figure it out yourself. Most people that recently got out of a relationship think that dating someone else will help them move on faster. It’s selfish but it happens a lot. These relationships rarely blossom into commitment and in this case “rebound” is just another term for “placeholder”

3. Your partner avoids making plans for the future

If the person you’re dating avoids or even refuses to make plans for the future, you might be a placeholder. If you’ve been together for more than six months and they still can’t discuss anything that isn’t directly in front of them, this is a major warning signal.

Plans are part of a serious relationship so if your partner can’t make at least short-term ones or doesn’t commit to them, you’re clearly not a priority.

4. You only date when it’s convenient for them

You always try to “fit” their schedule, but they never do that in return. If you only meet when they want and where they want — without even realizing, you become the whenever-is-convenient partner.

Think twice if your boyfriend/girlfriend is always so busy and they only make time for you when they need you (usually for sex). The other person should also put an effort into seeing you, so when they don’t, your relationship is obviously not that important to them.

5. Your partner doesn’t introduce you to important people in their lives

For a relationship to have a future, you should know the people in each other’s lives. If you feel like your partner is hiding you from their friends, he/she probably is.

When it comes to parents, it’s normal to meet them later in a relationship. But if your partner doesn’t even talk on the subject, it’s because they don’t even plan on introducing you.

6. They’re not giving you enough attention or disrespect you

They don’t really care how you feel or how your day was. Whether you’re in or out of the room, it’s all the same for them. They always talk about themselves and never seem to remember what you tell them. These are all signs that you might be a placeholder.

Also, respect is vital for a healthy relationship. If you’re not a placeholder, your beau will always treat you with respect. He or she will make you feel included and important.

Are you allowing your partner to turn you into a placeholder?

Well, there’s no point in debating this too much. If your partner does the things described above and you still decide to continue the relationship, you allow them to turn you into a placeholder.

You should carefully weigh the pros and cons. And if you can’t feel secure about your partner’s interest in you or feel that your relationship isn’t going anywhere, maybe it’s time to end it.

How to avoid a placeholder situation

First of all, don’t get involved with someone that clearly states that they’re not ready for a relationship. Don’t fool yourself thinking that they’ll change their mind after they get to know you better because this rarely happens. Do you really want to sacrifice time, energy and feelings just to see if you’re the exception?

Secondly, avoid dating someone that has recently gone through a bad breakup. That person won’t be able to focus on you and your needs. You’ll eventually heal them, but end up hurting yourself.

If you’ve been dating for a while, you should at least know his closest friends. If you’re important to your partner, they’ll make sure to introduce you to everybody sooner or later. And you won’t have to specifically ask for this to happen.

Also, you should be able to make plans together. This should come naturally, but if it doesn’t, don’t force it. If you find it hard to plan anything because he or she loves “staying in the moment,” think twice about continuing seeing them.

Don’t allow anyone to treat you like an option. If someone wants to see you, they will, no matter how busy they are. Let them know that your time is just as valuable as theirs. Don’t become the whenever-is-convenient partner or the “filler” for when they don’t have something better to do.

Last but not least, don’t find excuses when someone doesn’t treat you as a priority and especially when they don’t treat you with respect. If you keep finding excuses, you will just reinforce their bad behavior.

To conclude…

Sadly, if your partner is a really good actor, they can fool you. But sometimes the signs are clear and you might allow him or her to use you as a placeholder. Learn to read those signs and get out of that relationship before it gets the best of you.

A healthy relationship can’t be built on broken promises and disappearing acts. Don’t waste yourself on someone who thinks you’re disposable.

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Arnold Schwarzenegger Reveals The Truth About His Secret Son

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

There’s no denying that Arnold Schwarzenegger has had one of the most unique journeys in Hollywood. From professional bodybuilder to Governor of California, the man has been through it all. While he’s admired by most people for his memorable performances in film, much of his career has been marred by controversy. 

One of the most-discussed controversies that took place in Hollywood in recent years was undoubtedly that of Arnold and his “secret son.” In 2011, the Los Angeles Times blew the lid off a huge secret between Arnold and his housekeeper. The two had had an affair in the nineties and went on to have a secret child. 

The secret son’s identity was kept under wraps for over a decade, so naturally, the scandal shocked the public to no end. Jokes and opinions abounded as Arnold’s reputation took a hit. His wife Maria Shriver moved out of the family home and the pair filed for divorce shortly. It was certainly a tough time in the Schwarzenegger household. 

Nearly ten years after the scandal, it’s worth noting that Arnold is in a much different place, both in terms of his career as well as his family situation. His turnaround could help a number of us battle our own share of controversy, gossip, and turmoil when the time comes. 

He kept his family in the dark for years until a dramatic therapy session

From the get-go, Arnold has been upfront about his mistakes. The Austrian celebrity wilfully pursued an affair with his housekeeper, knowing full well that it was both unethical and disloyal. His housekeeper, Mildred Baena, had been pregnant with Arnold’s child at the same time as Maria was expecting her fourth child with Arnold. 

And yet he didn’t come clean at any point during the affair or the pregnancy. Instead, Arnold found out about his illegitimate son years later when the boy was eight. The young boy was exhibiting features similar to that of Arnold, which prompted the then-Governor to begin putting the pieces together in his head. Yet he remained mum and didn’t utter a word. 

It took Maria to bring up her suspicions during a couples’ therapy session years later for Arnold to finally confess to his infidelity. In fact, the confrontation at the therapist’s office took place a day after his term as governor ended. 

The minute we sat down, the therapist turned to me and said, ‘Maria wanted to come here today and to ask about a child — whether you fathered a child with your housekeeper Mildred.’ I told the therapist, ‘It’s true.’”

Arnold Schwarzenegger on Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story

He took full accountability of what happened and admitted he “screwed up”

Though Arnold could have easily refuted the claims and used his position of power to drive out the housekeeper and the son, he chose to own up to his mistakes, no questions asked. Not only that but he did say that his divorce with Maria was the lowest point in his life.

I had personal setbacks, but this was, without any doubt, the biggest setback and the biggest failure. Without any doubt. Not only failure, but you feel like, ‘I’m to blame for it. It was me that screwed up.’ And you can’t point the finger at anyone else.

Arnold Schwarzenegger on The Howard Stern Show

He admitted that while it’s easy to imagine being “smart in hindsight”, mistakes were made nonetheless. When you’ve come upon such a tricky scenario and your skeletons are coming out of the closet, you can’t do anything but fight through it with the best of your abilities rather than obsess over past errors. 

Arnold said that he and Maria tried out therapy while going through their divorce. Arnold didn’t initially want to go through with it because he knew he was at fault. “I know I screwed up. I don’t have to go through anyone to have to explain to me anything. I apologized to Maria. I apologized to the kids.” 

At his lowest point, he took inventory of the most valuable aspects of his life and unsurprisingly, chose to make amends with his family first and foremost. 

Arnold now has a great relationship with his love child

Though things fell apart in a rather brutal manner at the time of the scandal, Arnold has done well to build a relationship with his love child Joseph Baena. Speaking about the relationship he has with his children, Arnold said, “It is fantastic including my fifth child with Mildred.” 

[Joseph]’s terrific and he totally understands the situation. So, it all has worked out… It’s a very tough situation for him. It’s a very tough situation for my kids. Very tough situation for my family. It was tough for everybody. But it has happened and now we have to figure it out, right?

Arnold Schwarzenegger on The Howard Stern Show

Seeing that his mother was a housekeeper at their mansion, Joseph practically grew around his father and his half-siblings. Once it emerged that Joseph was indeed Arnold’s son, the Terminator star assumed full financial responsibility and continues to support him. He even bought a four-bedroom house with a pool for Mildred and Joseph. 

And it’s not just financial support that Joseph receives from his father. The father-son duo has been spotted out and about in public many times. Arnold’s met his son’s girlfriend, attended his son’s birthday celebration and even attended Joseph’s graduation from college. “You have earned all of the celebration and I’m so proud of you. I love you!” he wrote as a caption to a social media post featuring the graduation. 

In another post, he referred to Joseph as a “fantastic son” and a “great training partner.” The whole situation between Arnold, Maria, and Mildred may have been a nightmare of a scenario but the famous actor is trying his best to do right by his secret child and parent him the best he can. 

Watch this Goalcast video on Arnold Schwarzenegger’s insane resilience in the face of adversity:

He finally mended fences with Maria and his kids 

Divorce is never easy on the children, particularly not when there are extramarital affairs and secret love children involved. Arnold had a hell of a task ahead of him in the wake of the scandal. If he wanted to fix relations with his children and their mother, it was going to take a special sort of patience and resilience. 

Thankfully, through the strength shown by Maria during these challenging circumstances, Arnold was able to retain a bond with his four children with Maria. “It has worked out really so well with the help of Maria, with the help of the kids,” said Schwarzenegger. 

Arnold also shared an anecdote about how his kids surprised him with an adorable present at the premiere of one of his films. 

My kids are a straight 10,” he gushed. “I am so proud of them and I’m so in love with them […] There was a note — ‘You’re the greatest dad, you’re the greatest this. We love you daddy’ — all this kind of stuff. It really made me feel so good, each one sent a card. Each one sent a little gift, so that’s the relationship I was looking forward to have after this complicated bump and this screw-up. 

Arnold Schwarzenegger on The Howard Stern Show

Arnold and Maria themselves have built a functional co-parenting relationship. They’ve been spotted getting dinner together multiple times and even reunited to celebrate Arnold’s 73rd birthday most recently. There’s no way of telling whether they have become genuine friends but it’s safe to say they’re willing to put aside their differences for the sake of their unified family. 

Taking accountability is the first step to righting your wrongs 

Some mistakes are bigger and more consequential than others — there is no getting around it. Arnold’s transgressions took place over many years, if not decades, and there was no way he’d be able to get in everyone’s good graces as if nothing had happened. But instead of pointing fingers or diverting from the accusations, he successfully completed the first step of righting one’s wrongs: taking accountability and owning up. 

To be able to admit you were wrong, that you made some incredibly poor choices that led to colossal damages for your family takes more strength than you think. When everybody in this world is so keen on deflecting blame and getting themselves in the clear, it takes guts to be vulnerable enough to acknowledge your severe mistakes.

Accountability is the first and possibly the most important step to gaining forgiveness. It doesn’t depict you as a weak person, it doesn’t paint you as someone who has no will; it simply shows others that you are willing to change. And there’s no way someone can’t change unless they confess why they need to change in the first place. 

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