“One of my routines is hitting the gym.” With Ming Zhao & Yamen Sanders

 I go to the gym M-F at about 6am. Keeping my body in shape and working out helps me feel better every day and for me is a bit like therapy. The gym is key! Get in there and stay consistent! At times it feels like wellness or elevating one’s wellbeing, is diametrically opposed to […]

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 I go to the gym M-F at about 6am. Keeping my body in shape and working out helps me feel better every day and for me is a bit like therapy. The gym is key! Get in there and stay consistent!

At times it feels like wellness or elevating one’s wellbeing, is diametrically opposed to high achievement and high performance in one’s career. The stress, mental energy, long hours, lack of restful sleep and preoccupation that result from a high-achievement life seem to directly inhibit wellness. And yet, in order to sustain the creativity, flexibility, mental acuity and resilience that are necessary for high performance, wellness and wellbeing of the mind, body and soul are also mandatory. So how do we achieve both? This is the question I’m hoping to answer through conversations with high-achieving leaders and influencers who are practicing their own philosophies about how to maintain their wellbeing.

As a part of our series about “Social Media Influencers Share Their Top Self Care, Wellness, and Beauty Tips, I had the pleasure of interviewing Yamen Sanders.

A former football phenomenon, Yamen Sanders is a leading social media influencer, a rising model, and one of Hollywood’s most exciting new faces! Born and raised in Los Angeles, California. Yamen thrived in football at an early age, leading him to a collegiate football career at the University of Montana where he earned his Bachelors of Arts degree in sociology before being recruited and embarking on a professional football career in the NFL with the Oakland Raiders.

Despite his tremendous success in sports and businesses, in 2017 Yamen began to explore his passion for entertainment and the arts. He quickly found success with modeling and landed national campaigns with world-recognized brands, including Apple, Gatorade and Nike, and has built an international presence securing jobs throughout Europe and South Africa.

By 2019, Yamen made his television debut as a breakout star when he was handpicked by producers as a cast member on the hit CBS reality TV show Love Island, which won the ‘Best Reality TV Show’ award at the Second Annual National Film & TV Awards that same year.

When he’s not entertaining, the new talent is often giving back to the community through a youth- focused program called ‘Dreams to Reality,’ through which he mentors children and works with school administrators to improve campus landscapes.

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 backstory of how you came upon this career path and to where you are today?

Thank you guys so much for having me! So, a little bit about my backstory and how I became a model, influencer, and TV personality. It’s pretty funny, I had never really even thought about being in this industry or doing anything related. One day, I had a manager reach out to me about modeling who said they thought I could make a splash in the entertainment industry. From there, I just gave it a shot and it’s been rolling since then.

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?

Yes, achieving success is definitely easier when you have a bit of help or really just a support system that believes in you. My entire family has been extremely supportive of all of my moves and they have been in my corner the entire way. In this industry, you for sure hear a lot of the word “no” and it’s easier to stay confident and on the right path when you have a strong support system!

At the same time, my manager was the first person to believe in me regarding this career path and has really assisted me. There was a time in my life in which I wasn’t too sure about this path and if I would be successful so, we had a pretty lengthy phone call in which he told me how much potential I have and he really inspired me to continue on and commit full-blown to this.

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?

The most humorous mistake I made when I first started was signing with a big-name modeling agency that I thought would get me a lot of work. Sure enough, they got me ZERO work for months! That really taught me a lot. It taught me that it’s not all about the hype or name of the agency. It’s about working with people who care, believe in you, and really want to see you succeed. Don’t turn down the small agency just because they aren’t very well established, they just may make you some good money.

As an influencer, you have been blessed with great success in a career path that many have attempted, but eventually gave up on. In fact perhaps most people who tried to follow a career path like yours did not succeed. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path but know that their dreams might be dashed?

What I would tell people is to believe in yourself all the way and don’t allow anyone to tell you no! Be open to criticism and always be open to learning and trying new things. Start slow and knock off goals step by step! Don’t just think it’s all going to happen at once; it rarely does, so, embrace the grind!

Can you share with our readers some of your strategies you’ve used to build an engaged, loyal, and large online community?

When it comes to building an online community, you really need to just be yourself. People love genuine and real people that they can relate to and understand. One trick that I do that works for me is posting a lot of fun and engaging posts on my story and then posting a pic in the midst of that and letting my followers know on my story. This drives my story views up and will also drive up the number of followers that engage with that new post I just made because a lot of them are on top of my story posts.

Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of our interview. In my work, I focus on how one can thrive and care for oneself in three areas: body, mind, and heart.

You are a busy person with a demanding schedule, can you share with our readers two self-care routines, practices or treatments that help your body thrive? (Kindly share a story or an example for each.)

One of my routines is hitting the gym. I go to the gym M-F at about 6am. Keeping my body in shape and working out will help you feel better every day and for me is a bit like therapy. The gym is key! Get in there and stay consistent!

Another thing that I do to keep my body right is to be sure I am getting a good amount of greens every week. The easiest thing for me has been to blend some spinach and broccoli with fruits and a little bit of juice to give it a good taste and drink it! This helps me feels clean and is great fuel after a good workout.

Can you share with us two routines that you use to help your mind or heart to thrive? (Kindly share a story or example for each.)

Honestly…the gym is also what I use to keep my mind right. For me, being active is not beneficial just for my body, but also for my mental health as well. Each day, I wake up and hit the gym, and it makes me feel as if I have already won the day before most people are even awake. This puts me in the mindset that I am getting things done and helps me do just that through the day.

Can you share 3 ideas that anyone can use “to feel beautiful”? (Please share a story or example for each.)

Once again… the best thing I can tell someone to do, based on what works for me, is to go to the gym. Getting in shape can really help someone feel gorgeous and can completely change someone’s life as well as help with health. Another strategy that I practice is to try my best to never compare myself to others and be focused on me and my body/beauty goals.

Is there a particular resource, a practitioner, expert, book, or podcast that made a significant impact on you and helped you to thrive? Can you share a story about that with us?

A lot of my friends in the industry have really helped me a lot when it comes to decision-making and mentoring me. It’s really important to have friends or people that you trust in your circle that are in the same industry as you. There have been many times that I seek feedback or thoughts from my peers regarding certain situations that have arisen.

In one situation that arose when I first started — a client was trying to book me for a shoot for 8 hours for about $500. Now, with me being new and not really being sure what I should be paid, I asked one of my peers and they adamantly told me that I should at least be getting paid $1500. I thus went back to the client and countered with my desired rate. Now, of course, all rates vary case by case, and this is only from my experience and the rate I was seeking.

Do you have a story about the strangest, most bizarre or funniest wellness treatment that you’ve ever experienced?

No, I’ve been fortunate enough to not experience anything too crazy.

As an influencer, you are a person of great influence. If you could inspire 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.

The movement I would love to inspire would-be everyone supporting one another more often. I feel like these days so many people feel as if they are in competition with one another instead of helping one another out to reach that next level in whatever it is that they are seeking.

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 with whom you’d like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this. 🙂

It would be so cool to sit down with Tyler Perry. I have the utmost respect for his work and the trail he is blazing for the Black community. Another person I would love to sit down with Grant Cardone who is a real estate guru. I have many dealings in real estate day to day and feel as if I could learn a plethora of information from him.

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

They can follow me on Instagram and Tiktok at: @YamenSanders.

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

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