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MINDSET with James McLeod

by Lisa Malin
November 20, 2018
This is Grounded

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JAMES MCLEOD, ALSO KNOWN AS @THATVITILIGO_GUY, GREW UP IN PEEKSKILL AND NOW LIVES IN OSSINING. JAMES IS A DJ, CERTIFIED PERSONAL TRAINER, STUDENT AND MOTIVATIONAL SPEAKER. HE IS ALSO A MODEL, AND HAS BEEN FEATURED IN “CR FASHION BOOK” AND “VOGUE ITALIA”ONLINE.  JAMES IS ALSO WORKING ON A CHILDREN’S PICTURE BOOK BASED ON HIS EXPERIENCE GROWING UP WITH VITILIGO CALLED “THE BOY BEHIND THE FACE.” HE SPEAKS AT SCHOOLS AND YOUTH PROGRAMS THROUGHOUT WESTCHESTER AND THE BRONX TO SPREAD HIS MESSAGE OF POSITIVITY AND SHARE HIS STORY OF “BEATING THE ODDS”.

JAMES TAKES THE QUESTIONS:

YOU’RE A PERSONAL TRAINER, MOTIVATIONAL SPEAKER, DJ, STUDENT, AND MODEL. SOUNDS BUSY! WHAT’S A TYPICAL DAY IN THE LIFE OF JAMES MCLEOD LOOK LIKE?

 Coffee + morning inspiration with James

COFFEE + MORNING INSPIRATION WITH JAMES

NO TWO DAYS ARE ALIKE, WHICH IS ONE OF THE THINGS I LOVE ABOUT MY LIFE!  SOME DAYS, I TRAIN SIX OR SEVEN CLIENTS IN A ROW. OTHER DAYS, I SPEND A COUPLE OF HOURS WITH CLIENTS, HEAD TO A SCHOOL TO SPEAK TO A GROUP OF STUDENTS, AND THEN HEAD TO NIGHT SCHOOL, WHERE I AM A STUDENT!

YOU HAVE AN INCREDIBLE PERSONAL STORY. WOULD YOU MIND SHARING SOME OF IT?

I HAVE HAD A SKIN CONDITION CALLED VITILIGO SINCE I WAS 18 MONTHS OLD.  I WAS BULLIED A LOT AS A CHILD BECAUSE I LOOKED DIFFERENT. I HAD A LEARNING DISABILITY AND GAVE UP ON SCHOOL AND MYSELF. AS A TEENAGER, I MADE A LOT OF POOR CHOICES, AND I CONTINUED MAKING POOR CHOICES INTO MY EARLY ADULTHOOD. MY CHOICES LED ME TO FEDERAL PRISON.  WHEN I WAS RELEASED FROM PRISON, I MADE THE DECISION TO TURN MY LIFE AROUND, AND USE MY EXPERIENCES OF BEING BULLIED AND MAKING POOR CHOICES TO HELP OTHERS. I DO THIS BY SHARING MY MESSAGE OF POSITIVITY, HOPE AND SECOND CHANCES.

HOW HAS YOUR STORY INFORMED YOUR WORK?

I TRY TO SPREAD POSITIVITY WHEREVER I GO AND IN WHATEVER I DO. I ENCOURAGE MY PERSONAL TRAINING CLIENTS NEVER TO GIVE UP ON THEMSELVES, OR TO BE EMBARRASSED BY WHATEVER THEY THINK THEIR IMPERFECTIONS OR FLAWS ARE. NOBODY IS PERFECT!  WHEN I AM DOING PUBLIC SPEAKING, MY STORY IS THE INSPIRATION FOR MY MESSAGE. WHEN I GOT INTO MODELING, IT WAS ANOTHER WAY FOR ME TO EMBRACE MY DIFFERENCE, RATHER THAN BE EMBARRASSED BY IT.

ONE OF YOUR STATED MISSIONS IS TO HELP PEOPLE OVERCOME THEIR INSECURITIES AND FEARS. HOW DO YOU HELP OTHERS LIVE THEIR BEST LIVES?

IN EVERYTHING I DO, WHEN I SHARE MY STORY, WHETHER IT BE WITH CLIENTS OR A GROUP OF 200 KIDS, I TRY TO LET IT BE AN EXAMPLE OF HOW TO LIVE WITH INSECURITY, YET STILL SHINE BRIGHT.  IF I CAN SHOW PEOPLE THAT I CAN WALK INTO A ROOMFUL OF 200 KIDS WITHOUT FEAR OF HAVING THEM JUDGE MY APPEARANCE, AND IF I CAN WALK THE FLOOR OF A HEALTH CLUB INTRODUCING MYSELF TO EVERYONE I MEET WITH A SMILE ON MY FACE, THEN I HOPE I AM SETTING AN EXAMPLE OF HOW TO LIVE YOUR BEST LIFE.  

WHO OR WHAT INSPIRES YOU?

I’M INSPIRED BY OTHERS WHO SHARE THEIR STORIES OF OVERCOMING ADVERSITIES AND TURNING THEIR LIVES AROUND.  ONE PERSON WHO REALLY INSPIRES ME IS @INKYJOHNSONMOTIVATE. HE WAS A COLLEGE ATHLETE WHOSE HOPES AND DREAMS WERE SHATTERED BY AN INJURY THAT PARALYZED HIS RIGHT ARM.  HE HAS SINCE BECOME A POWERFUL MOTIVATIONAL SPEAKER.

DO YOU HAVE A LIFE PHILOSOPHY?

ONE OF MY MOTTOS IS “SMILE AND LET YOUR HAPPY SHINE!”  THE MORE YOU SMILE AND PUT POSITIVITY OUT INTO THE WORLD, THE MORE HAPPINESS AND GOOD THINGS COME BACK TO YOU.  WHAT YOU GIVE YOU GET. A SMILE HAS THE POWER TO CHANGE SOMEONE’S WHOLE DAY.

WHAT ARE YOUR NON-NEGOTIABLE WELLNESS HABITS; THE ONES THAT YOU TRY TO PRACTICE EACH AND EVERY DAY?

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EVERYDAY, NO MATTER WHAT, I AM PHYSICALLY ACTIVE IN SOME WAY. THAT DOESN’T NECESSARILY MEAN RUNNING OR STRENGTH TRAINING OR CYCLING. IT MIGHT MEAN DOING YOGA, OR JUST GOING FOR A WALK.  ANOTHER NON-NEGOTIABLE IS MEDITATION. EVEN IF IT’S JUST 3 MINUTES A DAY. IT IS MEDICINE FOR THE MIND.

WHAT GETS YOU UP AND EXCITED IN THE MORNING?

LIFE!!  IT IS A BLESSING AND A GIFT TO BE ALIVE! WHEN I WAS IN PRISON, I HAD NO FREEDOM; MY LIFE WAS NOT WHOLLY MY OWN.  THE LIFE I HAVE NOW EXCITES ME!

DO YOU HAVE A MORNING ROUTINE? OR, DOES IT CHANGE DAILY?

EVERY MORNING BEFORE I GET OUT OF BED, I SEND “GOOD MORNING” MESSAGES TO FAMILY AND FRIENDS.  SO MANY PEOPLE HAVE TOLD ME MY MESSAGES HELP THEM START THEIR DAY WITH THE RIGHT ATTITUDE.

COFFEE OR TEA? HOW DO YOU TAKE IT?

COFFEE. BLACK.

WHAT’S IN YOUR BREAKFAST BOWL?

SOMETIMES OATMEAL WITH WALNUTS & CINNAMON, SOMETIMES GREEK YOGURT WITH BLUEBERRIES.

WHAT’S ON YOUR LUNCH PLATE?

LUNCH IS USUALLY GRILLED CHICKEN OR SALMON OVER SPINACH, WITH TOMATOES OR OTHER VEGGIES ON THE SIDE.  SOMETIMES I’LL ADD BROWN RICE OR SWEET POTATO.

DINNER IS NORMALLY?

WHATEVER JENNY (MY GIRLFRIEND) COOKS!  SHE MAKES VERY HEALTHY DINNERS: A LEAN PROTEIN WITH LOTS OF VEGGIES.  TURKEY CHILI, HOMEMADE SOUP, ALWAYS HEALTHY STUFF.

SNACKS?

MY GO TO SNACKS ARE MIXED NUTS, FRUIT, ORGANIC PHARMER’S POWER PROTEIN BAR.

YOU RECENTLY COMPLETED THE ORGANIC PHARMER “FIVE DAY JUMPSTART” PROGRAM I HELPED CREATE. HOW WAS IT? BE HONEST!

YOU DID A GREAT JOB!  OVERALL, IT WAS AN AMAZING EXPERIENCE. IT GAVE ME A CHANCE TO EXPERIMENT WITH DIFFERENT FOODS AND SEE HOW MY BODY WOULD RESPOND.  SOME OF MY FAVORITES WERE THE ALPHA GREEN, THE POWER PROTEIN BAR, THE KALE & CAULIFLOWER CAESAR SALAD, THE FALAFEL, THE HUMMUS, THE CURRY CAULIFLOWER SOUP, AND THE ASIAN SALAD. SOME OF THE MEALS LEFT ME A LITTLE HUNGRY, SO I ADDED BOILED EGGS, AVOCADO, AND NUTS TO TIDE ME OVER.

LOVE THAT! THOSE ARE ALL GREAT ADDITIONS, AND I ENCOURAGE ANYONE ON THE JUMPSTART MEAL PROGRAM TO ADD IN CLEAN HEALTHY PROTEIN, AVOCADO, NUTS, SEEDS, AND GREENS AS NEEDED. IT’S ABOUT TUNING IN AND LISTENING TO YOUR BODY. THIS IS NOT A CALORIE RESTRICTIVE PROGRAM.

YOU DON’T NORMALLY EAT A FULLY PLANT-BASED DIET. DO YOU THINK YOU’LL INCORPORATE MORE PLANT-FORWARD MEALS IN YOUR DIET NOW THAT YOU’VE COMPLETED THE PROGRAM?

ABSOLUTELY! I’VE BEEN RESEARCHING SOME VEGETARIAN RECIPES FOR THE COLD WEATHER MONTHS.  I CAN DEFINITELY SAY I FELT REALLY GOOD WAKING UP IN THE MORNING AND ENERGIZED DURING THE DAY WHILE FOLLOWING THIS PROGRAM.

WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOU? I KNOW YOU’RE INCREDIBLY BUSY AND SUCCESSFUL, BUT SOMEHOW I FEEL LIKE YOU’RE JUST AT THE BEGINNING OF YOUR JOURNEY…

THAT’S EXACTLY HOW I FEEL TOO!  I ALWAYS WANT TO KEEP MOVING FORWARD.  I’M DEFINITELY NOT SATISFIED, THERE’S SO MUCH MORE TO ACCOMPLISH, AND SO MUCH MORE TO LEARN!  I WANT TO KEEP CRAFTING MY MOTIVATIONAL SPEAKING MESSAGE, I WANT TO SHARE MY STORY WITH THE WORLD!  I WANT TO KEEP INSPIRING AND HELPING OTHERS!

WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO SOMEONE WHO IS READING THIS AND NEEDS A LITTLE INSPIRATION?

IF I CAN DO IT, YOU CAN DO IT!  YOUR ATTITUDE IS YOUR CHOICE, AND YOUR ATTITUDE DETERMINES WHAT KIND OF DAY YOU’LL HAVE.  A GOOD DAY LEADS TO A GOOD MONTH, WHICH LEADS TO A GOOD YEAR, WHICH LEADS TO AN AMAZING LIFE!

THANK YOU JAMES FOR SHARING YOUR STORY, WELLNESS HABITS AND POSITIVE MESSAGE WITH US!