“5 Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing”, With Dr. William Seeds & Leandro Carvalho

I want to start a movement to connect people, encourage them to reach out and talk to one another in person instead of connecting through their phones or through technology. I’m almost 52, and I see the younger generations don’t socialize as much anymore. Loneliness is predominant now. People feel lonely in their marriages, in […]

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I want to start a movement to connect people, encourage them to reach out and talk to one another in person instead of connecting through their phones or through technology. I’m almost 52, and I see the younger generations don’t socialize as much anymore. Loneliness is predominant now. People feel lonely in their marriages, in their friendships. They need an outlet to form real bonds and devote more time to one another, even if it’s just by getting together in the afternoon to have tea, coffee, and cookies.

As a part of my series about “5 Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Leandro Carvalho, AFAA, NASM, ACE. Leandro is an acclaimed fitness expert who is certified by the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America, the National Academy of Sports Medicine, and the American Council on Exercise. As Wellness Coach at Mountainside alcohol and drug addiction treatment center, he leads dynamic, gender-specific fitness classes designed to strengthen individuals’ cardiovascular health while encouraging them to cultivate a positive mindset in recovery. Leandro also conducts art and music therapy sessions that allow people in recovery to express their emotions and achieve overall well-being.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the story about how you first got involved in fitness and wellness?

Igrew up in Brazil and when I was 12, I had my first role in a musical where I played a crazy professor. From that moment on, I developed a passion for dancing. At the age of 15, I went to a school for dance, where I focused on classical ballet. It was then that I knew dance was what I wanted to do with my life.

I went to college and majored in physical education and health because they didn’t offer a degree in dance. While I was in school, I started teaching aerobics classes. Because I loved to dance, I incorporated it into my classes. Dance was separate from fitness back then, so this was new and different.

My dream was to work in New York City, so I moved there and earned a Master’s degree in Recreational Therapy at New York University. In addition to my studies, I taught fitness classes for the students. After graduation, I taught at Equinox, Chelsea Piers, and many other gyms throughout the city, and my signature class was Latin aerobics. The Latin explosion had just hit so my classes were popular.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

When I was in Los Angeles in 2000, I was introduced to Sting’s wife, Trudie Styler. She hired me to teach a dance class at their Malibu beach house and I had no idea anyone else would be there. Then, about 15 celebrities showed up and we all trained on the beach. The party was covered in the press and I started to get publicity for my unique classes.

My popularity grew and I started training actors and models, including Victoria’s Secret supermodel Alessandra Ambrosio. She wanted to focus on toning her butt and legs, and as a result of training her, I created the Brazil Butt Lift series. I went on to train about 30 other supermodels, including Giselle, after that.

Can you share a story with us about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson or take-away did you learn from that?

I was flying to Miami to train Victoria’s Secret models for a show and I had my ankle weights with me. In Brazil, we love to work with ankle weights because they are great for the butt — they reshape it without making the legs thick. They’re very heavy — maybe 10 or 20 pounds. At the airport in New York, I had to go through the metal detectors and the TSA stopped me. Luckily, one of the agents recognized me from my Brazil Butt Lift videos, and I ended up teaching the TSA agents some exercises. It was pretty funny teaching security officers those moves. A lot of people in the airport were laughing!

Unfortunately, I was late, and I left my laptop behind. From that, I learned to always check the contents of my bags after a screening and make sure I have everything with me.

Can you share with our readers a bit about why you are an authority in the fitness and wellness field? In your opinion, what is your unique contribution to the world of wellness?

My classes aren’t just about becoming physically fit — they are about total wellness. I include positive affirmations to remind people they are strong, powerful, and in control of their lives. We shout, we let our guards down, and we dance around the room together. We aren’t afraid to look silly. It’s all about having fun and being ourselves. The energy is truly infectious, and everyone leaves feeling empowered. If they leave class smiling and knowing they are part of something larger than themselves, they will carry that confidence into other areas of their lives. As someone recovering from addiction, I know how important it is to have a fun outlet to relieve stress and feel connected within a group. I try to cultivate this energy in all my classes at Mountainside treatment center, where I now work with people who are in different stages of recovery.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

A former boyfriend and I were watching a TV show about extreme makeovers and surgeries that transform people. And at one point the doctor on TV said, “Now we’re going to do the Brazilian butt lift and tummy tuck.” And my boyfriend said to me, “That would be a great name for your class.” I am very grateful that he gave me that idea. “Brazil Butt Lift” was an easy concept for people to understand and it caught their attention. Soon after, I became known as the “Brazil Butt Lift” guru.

I am also extremely grateful for Alessandra Ambrosio. She opened so many doors for me in my career.

Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. We all know that it’s important to eat more vegetables, eat less sugar, exercise more, and get better sleep etc. But while we know it intellectually, it’s often difficult to put it into practice and make it a part of our daily habits. In your opinion what are the 3 main blockages that prevent us from taking the information that we all know, and integrating it into our lives?

Where nutrition is concerned, I think one big problem is that people have a hard time reading food labels. There are about 60 different names for sugar on the market that people aren’t familiar with. And the nutrition facts are written in such a small font that they can be easy to miss. Knowing what to buy at the supermarket can be tricky, but in general, it’s best to choose foods that come from nature over ones that are manufactured in factories. Staying hydrated is equally important and it helps with portion control. You can boost your overall health by carrying a water bottle throughout the day.

In terms of sleep, I think people get distracted by their surroundings and forget how much they need it to function. I use my phone to remind myself to go to sleep on time. At 9:30, I have an alarm set to let myself know that it’s time to start getting ready for bed, because it’s easy to get caught up in a conversation or a TV show.

Another obstacle that prevents people from incorporating healthy habits into their lives is their environment. In order to build a fitness routine, people need to feel motivated. It’s harder for a person to understand the value of exercise and healthy eating and integrate them into everyday life when their family and friends don’t have the same priorities.

Can you please share your “5 Non-Intuitive Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing”? (Please share a story or an example for each, and feel free to share ideas for mental, emotional and physical health.)

One tip is to create a home wellness practice and stick to it. When you wake up in the morning, set a positive tone for the day. Listen to happy music, go for a walk, do yoga, or sing in the shower — whatever works for you. When you have positive energy in the morning, most likely that energy will continue throughout the day and it will be easier to navigate challenges that may pop up.

It is important to find something you love to do. There are so many options: swimming, surfing, hiking, yoga, aerobics. By finding a passion, you can improve your physical and emotional well-being.

At the same time, it’s important to respect your limits and be consistent. If you push yourself too hard, you will have trouble keeping up with a routine. You can start by working out for 20 to 30 minutes, for example. Consistency is the key to achieving results.

You should also create a quiet corner or personal sanctuary, like a window with a view overlooking nature. Having a peaceful space can help you take mental breaks and connect with your inner self or higher power. Often, people overthink or think in circles — meaning they aren’t present in the moment. To develop mindfulness and gratitude, practice meditating or journaling in a quiet area. It can be so powerful when you take the time to write down goals and what you are grateful for.

Another tip for improving well-being and developing accountability is to find a companion who keeps you focused on your goals. If you have trouble completing tasks — like going to the gym –you may feel more motivated to go for your friend’s sake. Going with a friend can also make a commitment feel more fun and less like work.

As an expert, this might be obvious to you, but I think it would be instructive to articulate this for the public. Aside from weight loss, what are 3 benefits of daily exercise? Can you explain?

First, when you work out, you feel better about yourself — which is the key to having a good life. Exercise pushes you out of your comfort zone, so you feel like you can reach any goal.

Daily exercise also helps you concentrate and not think about your problems. When you focus on exercise and what your body is doing, you can disconnect from your worries.

Exercise is also a great way to get engaged and meet people in a healthy social environment, like a group fitness or yoga class. You don’t just look forward to your class — you look forward to seeing the friends you met there. In my current job and from my own experience, I know that connections are very important to marginalized populations, such as people who are in recovery. Isolation is one of the biggest causes of relapse and can be the reason many start using drugs or alcohol in the first place.

For someone who is looking to add exercise to their daily routine, which 3 exercises would you recommend that are absolutely critical?

Anyone who is looking to begin a daily exercise routine can start with five to ten minutes of cardio as a warm-up. Start by working the chest through pushups and chest presses. Then, strengthen the back muscles through bent-over rows or a pulley. Third, work on the leg muscles by doing squats, lunges, or side-lunges. Incorporating core training by doing crunches is even more effective because combined, these exercises work the four major muscle groups and provide a full-body workout.

In my experience, many people begin an exercise regimen but stop because they get too sore afterwards. What ideas would you recommend to someone who plays sports or does heavy exercise to shorten the recovery time, and to prevent short term or long term injury?

To prevent injury, it’s important to warm up first and raise your heart rate to between 120 and 150 beats per minute, depending on your age and fitness level. This boosts blood circulation throughout the body, which prepares it for more vigorous exercise. Also, stretching after exercising is critical because the muscles contract during a workout, so stretching afterward helps to prevent muscle pain and shorten recovery time. Awareness of form during a workout is also important. Most of all, people need to be patient with themselves and allow their bodies to recover.

There are so many different diets today. Can you share what kind of diet you follow? Which diet do you recommend to most of your clients?

I don’t follow a specific diet and I try to eat healthy every day. However, I like to do a cleanse that I call “green and white.” “Green” is for green vegetables, such as lettuce, kale, collard greens, spinach, asparagus, broccoli, and green beans, along with green fruits, like pears and green apples. “White” stands for white proteins, such as fish, egg whites, white pork, white turkey, and white chicken. Drink plenty of green tea and water to stay hydrated. I wouldn’t recommend doing this for longer than a week because the body needs carbs for energy. After a week, start introducing lactose, and then gluten, like whole wheat bread.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story?

Esther Hicks is one of my biggest inspirations, and her book The Law of Attraction: The Basics of the Teachings Of Abraham had a huge impact on my life. It taught me that I am responsible for my life, and what I send out into the universe comes back to me. When you believe in and follow this principle, you get back your power and manifest your destiny. You can make your dreams come true. You are energy connected to the source, and through your thoughts, visualizations, and actions, you can be part of creating your future — or more specifically, you are co-creating your future with a higher power.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I want to start a movement to connect people, encourage them to reach out and talk to one another in person instead of connecting through their phones or through technology. I’m almost 52, and I see the younger generations don’t socialize as much anymore. Loneliness is predominant now. People feel lonely in their marriages, in their friendships. They need an outlet to form real bonds and devote more time to one another, even if it’s just by getting together in the afternoon to have tea, coffee, and cookies.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

I like Patrícia Moreno’s motivational statement, “Every day in a very true way, I co-create my reality.” Before I heard this quote, I thought that life happens to me. Now I understood that life happens for me. That made a big difference because now I am responsible and in charge of my life. I know that all my thoughts, words, and actions will determine my future. Therefore, every day matters because it is a new opportunity for me to do better and become what I am supposed to be. It pushes me to strive to fulfill my potential as a human being.

I love this quote so much that I use it in my classes at Mountainside. I want my students to connect to their higher selves, whether it is through a vigorous exercise class, meditation, or art therapy.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

I would love to have lunch with Michelle Obama. I admire her character, and her passion for tackling a big American problem: obesity. Good habits start young, and her Let’s Move initiative encourages children to exercise, eat healthy foods, and connect with each other. She and I share the same goal: to help vulnerable groups bond with one another and boost their overall health through fitness.

What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?

To learn more about me, follow me on Facebook!

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!

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