Subscribe to The Model Health Show:
TMHS 464: The Ingredients For Greatness – With Guest Laila Ali
“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.” – Paulo Coelho
No one enjoys failing, but failure is an inherent part of being human, trying new things, and growing. If the fear of failure stops you from chasing your dreams, that’s a problem. So how do we reframe the way we think about failure, and use it as a tool to ultimately achieve more?
Today’s guest, Laila Ali, has a refreshing perspective on failure, following your heart, and creating your own unique path to health and success. On this episode of The Model Health Show, she’s sharing her journey to becoming a four-time undefeated boxing champion and advocate for health and wellness.
This episode includes compelling anecdotes about following your dreams, overcoming the fear of failure, and setting aside time each day to take care of yourself. Laila’s story is a powerful testament to what you can accomplish if you are driven, focused, and committed. I hope this episode serves as a reminder of how innately and uniquely powerful you are. Enjoy!
In this episode you’ll discover:
- How Laila became passionate about boxing.
- Why Laila’s father actually discouraged her from becoming a professional boxer.
- The importance of following your heart, even when others disagree.
- Why not fearing failure is a superpower.
- How reframing what failure means can help you reach your goals.
- What it’s like to find your own identity as the child of a famous athlete.
- The power of setting boundaries and having the confidence to find your own path.
- How getting involved in boxing helped Laila appreciate health on a holistic scale.
- What it means to understand your level of exposure.
- How getting your health under control can change future generations.
- Why pursuing health is an individualized quest.
- The three pillars of Laila’s lifestyle.
- How Laila got interested in cooking.
- Why you need to be cognizant of what you commit to, and the power of saying no.
- What Laila’s workout routine looks like.
- The value of scheduling time to take care of yourself.
Items mentioned in this episode include:
- Beekeepersnaturals.com/model — Get 15% off raw honey & other natural remedies!
- Organifi.com/Model — Use the coupon code model for 20% off!
- TheModelHealthShow.com/spiceblends — Get 20% off Laila Ali Spice Blends!
- Reach by Laila Ali
- Food for Life: Delicious & Healthy Comfort Food from My Table to Yours! by Laila Ali
- Replenish You Email Series
- Connect with Laila Ali Website / Facebook / Instagram
Thank you so much for checking out this episode of The Model Health Show. If you haven’t done so already, please take a minute and leave a quick rating and review of the show on Apple Podcast by clicking on the link below. It will help us to keep delivering life-changing information for you every week!
Shawn Stevenson: Welcome to The Model Health Show. This is fitness and nutrition expert, Shawn Stevenson, and I'm so grateful for you tuning in with me today. I want to make sure that we provide some powerful voices to remind us of how powerful and remarkable we all are, to really help us to tap into our potential, especially at times when there can be a lot of turmoil, a lot of challenges, helping us to overcome our life's biggest obstacles. And today's guest is absolutely one of the greatest of all-time. And right out of the gate, she's a world champion, boxing world champion, 24-0, 21 knockouts, she's incredibly talented athlete, but she's also an incredible TV personality as well. She's been featured on plethora of different shows, including Real Husbands of Hollywood. I know a lot of folks know about Real Housewives of here and there, Real Housewives of Atlanta, of Potomac. I don't know nothing about it, what's going on, but I hear the whispers. But then there was Real Husbands of... Real House Husbands or Real Husbands of Hollywood? And this was kind of a parody show, but she appeared multiple times on this show as the boxing nemesis to Kevin Hart. Kevin Hart's on the show, he's one of the Real Husbands of Hollywood. And she was his arch nemesis in the realm of boxing, going up against the one and only Kevin Hart.
Kevin Hart is not a big guy. And I was just sharing with my team, I actually met Kevin at my studio in St. Louis. He was coming through with the one and only Ice Cube. They were promoting their new movie. And Ice Cube strolled through and Kevin was lagging behind, and he and I were talking, walking and talking, well, we slowed our roll. And I asked him, I was like, "Kevin... “And this was years ago, this was years ago. This may be six years ago. I asked, "Why don't you talk about your passion for fitness more? Like when you're doing all these media segments, when you're going on talk shows, why don't you talk about your passion for fitness? I see you doing this stuff on social media. Why don't you talk more about it?" And he was like, "Yeah, man, I really want to," and then, "Da, da, da." And then Ice Cube was like, "Kevin, get over here." And then Kevin yells back, he's like, "No." Now, he's like, "I'm talking about health and fitness, man. Leave me alone."
Anyways, so then he went on and did some photos and all that kind of stuff, but sure enough, true story, this is true story, the next week, Kevin was on Conan O'Brien and he talked about his passion for health and fitness. Now, I'm not going to say it came from me, but I'm not going to say it didn't. And since then, he's done incredible events and movements, just getting communities together. He had this campaign of Run with Hart, where he get folks in the community together to do some fitness and run and do 5Ks and walks, and just really, it's cool. It's such a great thing because most of the time, our celebrities and icons that most people look to, they're not operating in the domain of demonstrating what health looks like, unfortunately. They might be the most incredible athlete or performer, somebody that a lot of people are inspired by, it's their role model. But then they're telling you, "Drink Sprite." Grant Hill drinks Sprite. Drake drinks... I don't know why I said Grant Hill. That's back in the day. But Drake drinks Sprite. Michael Jackson, I think when his hair got burnt up, he was doing a Pepsi commercial, I don't remember.
But anyways, so we don't typically see our "celebrities" being a voice for real health and fitness. There's not a campaign, there's no celebrity endorsement for avocados. But what if it was like that? What if we had celebrity endorsements like Arnold, the governator, being the sponsor for avocados? He's like, "You want therapy? You need avocado." He's just encouraging people to take care of themselves, nutritional therapy through avocados. And then for the Sprite and things like that, that can be the villains, it could be like Sméagol, Gollum from Lord of the Rings. It could be Sméagol doing the promotions for junk food. "My precious, preciouses. Gives it to us. Sméagol likes Funyuns." So it can creep us out a little bit, so it's got to be some balance. That's what I'm trying to say. We don't have celebrity endorsements for the good stuff, but we can make it that way. And so that just happened to happen with Kevin Hart in that instance, and I just want to see more of that. But that's the power of using our voice, that's the power of connecting with other incredible people and sharing our story because you never know who you can touch, you never know whose lives you can impact, there are some incredible...
People listening to The Model Health Show, some of the most successful people in all kinds of domains of professional sports, we've got incredible... One of my good friends who started listening to The Model Health Show that I've met because of The Model Health Show, shout out to Nick Ahmed, national league Gold Glove winner at the shortstop position two times in a row. Just an incredible athlete. But you never know who's life you can impact, you never know who's listening, you got to speak up, you got to share your voice, share your story. In today's episode, we talk about sharing stories, we talk about inspiration and impact. Ah, this is really going to knock your socks off, but a big part of right now, this time in human history, we've got to make sure that we're doing the extra. A little bit extra, especially when it comes to our nutrition and really fortifying our immune system. There's a lot of information about susceptibility, but very little about how to increase your resilience.
And one of the things that we can do right now, and literally, this is something that I give to my son, he just had today, and I utilize myself, and this was part of a meta-analysis published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, finding that propolis has antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal and anti-tumor properties. Propolis functions as an immunomodulator for our immune system, increasing our body's resilience against infections. And also, propolis-treated patients were shown to have reduced incidents in severity of asthma and allergy symptoms. How is this able to have such an incredible impact? Well, there's over 300 active compounds in propolis. The majority of these compounds are forms of antioxidants, specifically polyphenols. Polyphenols are well documented to reduce inflammation and fight disease, even more specifically, listen to this, this is very important, polyphenols have been proven to inhibit the activity of coronavirus according to a recent study published in the peer-reviewed journal, Archives of Virology.
I bet you're not hearing that on the news, but it exists, the data exists. And these are the things that have massive... This is something that's been utilized for thousands of years, dating back, the benefits of propolis were noted by the ancient Greeks, Romans and Egyptians were aware of the healing properties and protective power of bee propolis and use it extensively as a medicine. I'm going to share one more with you, this was a study published in the peer-reviewed journal, Antiviral Chemistry and Chemotherapy. And it revealed that propolis has significant antiviral effects, specifically in reducing viral lung infections. Now, this is important, you can't just go out and haphazardly get any propolis product because you could be getting a propolis that's coming along with environmental toxins, DDT, pesticides, herbicides. The only propolis that I use utilizes third-party testing for over 70 different pesticide residues that are in commonly-found bee products, including, again, DDT, arsenic, lead, bacteria like E. Coli, the list goes on and on.
So you're making sure that you're not getting any toxic compounds that are causative of sickness, along with your incredible medicinal thing, when we're talking about utilizing propolis. And this is from Beekeeper's Naturals. So go to beekeepersnaturals.com/model, that's B-E-E-K-E-E-P-E-R-S, naturals.com/model, and you're going to get 15% off their incredible propolis spray. They also have one of the most amazing honeys, there's this super food honey that has all of the goodies in it, royal jelly. And of course, the remarkable benefits of the honey itself, which honey is a vast source of enzymes, amino acids, vitamins and minerals, it is just loaded with nutrition, and of course, the propolis is in there as well. But pop over there and check them out, beekeepersnaturals.com/model. Get your propolis today. This is something you should definitely have on hand. Alright, beekeepersnaturals.com for 15% off. Now, let's get to the Apple Podcast review of the week.
iTunes Review: Another five-star review titled “Favorite Podcast of All-Time” by Netherbutt. “Thank you, thank you for this! I'm telling everyone about your podcast because it feels like I'm finally hearing truth, and I've been blind. It's so refreshing. I've never been more motivated to be healthy and work on my own immune system and my family's. I've been very mindful of the toxins in my home, and we have been using and trying to naturally heal several things my husband and I are going through. So far, we feel so much better”.
Shawn Stevenson: Favorite podcast of all-time, thank you so much for that, that means everything. And listen, if you get to do so, please pop over to Apple Podcast and leave a review for The Model Health Show. It means so very much. And on that note, let's get to our special guest and topic of the day. And mentioning being the favorite podcast of all-time is a perfect segue to our special guest who, in more ways than one, is connected in demonstrating being the greatest of all-time. Our special guest today is Laila Ali. She's a four-time undefeated boxing world champion, whose stellar record includes 24 wins, 21 of which were knockouts, and zero losses, and Laila is heralded as the most successful female in the history of women's boxing. And she's the daughter of the late beloved global icon and humanitarian, Muhammad Ali, who again, is largely considered the greatest of all time.
Laila is a world-class athlete, fitness and wellness advocate, television host, incredible chef, and a winner of several popular cooking shows. And she's also the Founder of the Laila Ali Lifestyle brand. And as mentioned, she's been featured everywhere from Rachael Ray to Dr. Oz to Oprah's Soul Sessions. And she's also the Founder of the Laila Ali Lifestyle brand. And as mentioned, she's been featured everywhere from Rachael Ray to The Dr. Oz Show to Oprah's Soul Sessions. And she's also been the host of the Emmy award-winning show, Home Made Simple, which airs on the Oprah Winfrey Network. And having access to people like this at a time like this is incredibly powerful because her path to greatness, contrary to popular belief, was riddled with obstacles. And so I really want to open up this conversation to remind us of how powerful we are and to tap into our own greatness and move forward with immense power and success. So let's jump into this conversation with the one and only Laila Ali. Yeah, I think Rev is coming over on Friday.
Laila Ali: Oh, nice. Yeah, I told him he needs to bless my new house. I said, "How are we going to do this? Is he going to do it by the phone? Are you doing virtual?"
Shawn Stevenson: Can you Skype bless?
Laila Ali: I know, he's like, "Both." I was like, "Okay." Any bad energy in there, I want it out. Clear it out.
Shawn Stevenson: You never know, especially with the Atlanta house. It might have been Young Jeezy's house, Boom Boom Room was there, I don't know.
Laila Ali: You never know. You never know is what I'm saying. You got to clear it out. I went online and searched how you clear out energy, some of it scared me. I was like, "Just talk to me like if you're here and you want to stay." I was like, "No, no, no, I'm not doing that. I'll just call Rev."
Shawn Stevenson: Have you seen on HBO... Oh, what's the name of it? Oh, it!
Laila Ali: Probably not, I don't really watch... Tv.
Shawn Stevenson: Okay, but it's something like that. It's all-black cast.
Laila Ali: I don't watch... Is it about ghosts and energy? Oh, I would never watch that. Oh, that scary... The, wait, Get Out?
Shawn Stevenson: No, no, no, it's a show, Love Country... Lovecraft Country.
Laila Ali: What does that have to with that... I was like, "I wouldn't watch any scary... "
Shawn Stevenson: There's like some, yeah, I'm not into that kind of thing. And then my neighbors was like, "No, it's not like... " 'Cause I've thoroughly interrogated them about it. I'm like, "I'm not like... I don't want to be scared. Life is scary enough."
Laila Ali: No, I don't... Yeah, I don't want that, I don't like that. I'm scared of the dark.
Shawn Stevenson: Yeah, I think yeah, you told me that, yeah.
Laila Ali: So I don't want...
Shawn Stevenson: You see what I'm saying? People are scared of you, and you scared of the dark.
Laila Ali: Yeah, I'm are things I can't see. I'm not scared of people.
Shawn Stevenson: Oh, I feel you, I feel you.
Laila Ali: You know what I mean? If I can't see it, I'm like would like to see some. And I'm the type that even if I thought there was a spirit, I would front like, "I will you up." I wouldn't act scared; I would put on a front, yeah.
Shawn Stevenson: Right, right. "Come out! Show yourself!
Laila Ali: I'm not the one to with!" I would go into that. Oh, I'm talking loud, I forgot you had a kid, but I would be bad, yeah. Anyway.
Shawn Stevenson: There was a little bit of that in the Lovecraft Country, but I didn't make it through very much it. But speaking of not being scared, alright... And shout out to Atlanta. Isn't Bone Crusher there, too? Never scared?
Laila Ali: Oh, man, look, I don't know who was there. All I know is I'm about to be there, so they're going to make room for me.
Shawn Stevenson: Yeah, HBO's definitely upgrading with you being there.
Laila Ali: Yup.
Shawn Stevenson: But we've got... Since we last had you on, it's been a couple years, which is crazy. So we've got tens of thousands new listeners. And your story of how you got into boxing is not what people think. It was kind of unexpected from multiple dynamics. So I wanted to talk to you about that first because of course, that's where a lot of people know you from, which is dominating that space. But how did you get into boxing in the first place?
Laila Ali: And boxing will always be my first love, so I love talking about it. Well, like you said, most people would assume that I followed in my father's footsteps, and maybe I grew up in the gym with dad and wanted to be a boxer, and that's really not how it happened at all. I never participated in sports. Was never on any team or anything like that growing up.
Shawn Stevenson: None.
Laila Ali: None whatsoever.
Shawn Stevenson: Wow!
Laila Ali: And so I didn't play sports growing up, and it wasn't until I saw women's boxing on television that I actually wanted to become a fighter myself. I was never like, "Oh, I want to be like my dad." Never even thought about it until I saw women boxing. And something within me sparked and I was like, "Oh, my God! How did I not know that women boxed? I can't believe this is a sport that I can actually do this." I had always been a fighter. Always had that fighting spirit, got into some trouble growing up fighting. So for me, it was right up my alley. But not being an athlete, not participating in sports, I had no idea how I would be able to do it; I just knew that I wanted to do it. And I went home that night dreaming about becoming a professional boxer, and then woke up the next morning telling myself, "How are you going to do this? What's everyone going to think? What's the path to even becoming a boxer?" And it took me a year before I actually decided to go for it and...
Shawn Stevenson: Well, wait, so how did you first see it? Were you at a boxing match, or was it... How did you first see women boxing?
Laila Ali: So I turned on the television to watch a Mike Tyson fight. And as I'm sitting there eating my popcorn and drinking my soda with my friend and her father at her father's house 'cause I was about 17 at the time, these women came into the ring on the undercard. So I had no idea that this was about to happen, what I was about to see, and they started... They were duking it out, it got bloody, and I was like, "I want to do that! Oh, my God!" And I remember, my...
Shawn Stevenson: Right, typical response.
Laila Ali: I know, right? And I remember, my friend's father was like, "Girl, you're crazy, those women would take your head off, you're not tough enough. You're a pretty girl." He said all these things and I just kind of was like...
Laila Ali: You know, just went in one ear and out the other. And my friend was like, "Yeah, girl, you could do it, you could do it." So but of course, I went home, dreamed about it, but then woke up thinking, "How am I going to do this?" I was in school full-time, I was an entrepreneur, I had my own nail salon at the time already, and I had this growing business, and I was like, "What's everyone going to think? What's my father going to think?" So a year later, that seed had been planted. So a year later, I decided that I was going to go for it. And I sought out a trainer, went to a boxing gym, and just started training every night after school and work.
Shawn Stevenson: Wow, incredible! And that's where it gets a little bit different from what people would think. And when you first told me, because I didn't know the story either, but when you started training, you was really keeping that on the low as well, right?
Laila Ali: Absolutely because I didn't know for sure that I had what it took to become a boxer. I didn't even know what it would take to become a boxer. So I want to make sure that I, myself, wanted to do it because I was totally aware of the responsibility that I would have, of the attention that I would have on me, and that my father probably wasn't going to like it, and everyone around me was going to have their two cents to put in. So for me, to be confident in something, I have to know that I want to do it in my heart that I'm able to do it so I can really say, "I'm going to, I ‘ma make this happen." So I went to the gym and said, "Oh, you know, I'm just here to lose some weight to train." I wasn't in shape, I wasn't an athlete. I had to learn how to run, I had to learn how to do everything that I ended up doing.
Shawn Stevenson: That's the craziest part for me is because you would... Especially you just have a natural athleticism, I always thought that you played some sports or something. That's crazy.
Laila Ali: I was too busy being bad when I was young. That's a whole another story, but I wish that's a big regret of mine that I didn't participate in sports, but that's something, as a kid, you need your parents there to take you to practice and just support you and push you in the right direction. I didn't have that. And then I myself was too busy trying to be grown, I didn't want to play sports and be disciplined enough to stick with it. So I started training six nights a week and fell in love with boxing. I was at that gym every night. It was hard, hard, hard work, but I loved it. It didn't feel like work because I really enjoyed it. And I just remember thinking, "I want to become a world champion, I don't want to just become a boxer."
Shawn Stevenson: Right.
Laila Ali: Right. So from the beginning it was like, what does it take to be a world champion? What does it take to be a world champion? I'm asking other fighters, I'm asking the trainer, I'm really filling my mind with the information that I need, but of course, I still had to take those baby steps, and I remember each and every one of them. I remember going out and running and only being able to run for 30 seconds and walk for a minute, 30 seconds and walk for a minute, and building my way up to a mile, three miles, four miles, and I can still connect with that now, so I understand when something's hard for someone, but how you have to be able to push yourself and give yourself time to grow.
Shawn Stevenson: See, I got... This is where we should put the montage, right here. So you're building up, you're taking these necessary steps, you feel like you've got something obviously, and you've got to have some kind of... There's two sides, even when you first saw boxing, you had your friend there, she was like, "Girl, you got this," and then the dad is like, "No, you don't." You've got to have that counterbalance, that voice of support, whether it's come from within, but also that external, of course. So I'm assuming working with coaches, they're inferring that you've got something special, but then you've got a voice, your name, where your name comes from. What did that voice say when he found out that you wanted to box?
Laila Ali: So my father was not happy about me wanting to become a professional boxer. He, like everyone else, was not aware that women's boxing even existed, and once he found out he didn't think women should be fighting. I remember when it got around to him, Ali's daughter's in the gym, 'cause once you start sparring... And I remember I dropped a guy in the gym that got around. Dropped this guy with a right hand, and it's like, "Wait a minute, you know this girl can punch, this girl is sparring." 'Cause you don't just train and then start sparring. That's not what you do if you're just working out, so people started kind of getting wind of that I might be trying to become a professional boxer, got around to my dad, he came in town 'cause he wasn't living in California at the time, and said, "I hear you're boxing." And I say, "Yeah, it's true." And let me just give you a little context around this, I'm the youngest of nine children. Of my dad's, I'm the youngest girl, and I've always been the one that has given him a hard time when it comes to not necessarily doing what he wants me to do, so this was something that I was already prepared for, and I was already prepared to tell him like, "Hey, if you don't like it, too bad."
You know what I mean? I want your support, I would love to have it, but if I don't, I'm still going to do it. So I was already ready for him, he was ready for me, so he was just like, "I hear you're boxing." "Yep, Dad, I'm boxing." He says, "So there's going to be a lot of attention on you. What are you going to do if you get knocked down?" I was like, "I'm going to get back up." You know, "Well, how are you going to do with all the pressure?" And I've already thought about this and I was just answering him, and then finally he just told me what was on his mind, he said, "You know, I don't want you to do it, it's not for you. It's not for women. And it's too hard, I don't want you to do it." And I said, "And I understand how you feel, but I'm going to do it regardless, and just watch me." So it wasn't a bad conversation, it was heated, but it wasn't anything that I hadn't experienced before with him, and I just went for it and he was there, he supported me. He was there at my first fight, he was at as many fights as he could come to, because he had Parkinson's and it was tough for him to get around, but at one point, I remember when I won my first title, I think it was my first title, he came to my dressing room after the fight and had tears in his eyes, and I'm like, I said, "I don't want to talk to you."
And he said, "I'm sorry, I apologize. I was wrong. You can fight. Women can fight, and I'm proud of you." And I started crying because I didn't realize how much I did want, his support. 'Cause I kind of put my armor on, I don't care what he thinks, I don't care what anyone thinks. 'Cause I had this attitude, I had to have that attitude back then.
Shawn Stevenson: Yeah.
Laila Ali: Because being so young, being 18 years old, 19 years old, those young years when you're still trying to figure life out, and you have so many people telling you, you can't do something.
Shawn Stevenson: Right.
Laila Ali: You have to learn how to shut that out. Even if it's your own father for me, and he's the greatest of all time, one of the most loved respected men in the world, and he's telling me, "It's too hard, you can't do it. I don't want you to do it." So for me to have to stand up to him and not let that resonate within me and stop me, because it was in my heart to do, and I had already been training so hard, that took a lot. So it broke me down when he said, "You know, I'm proud of you." And then he just started saying "You jab like me, you move like me," he's crying and I'm was just like, "Oh." He started trying to show me how to jab, it's like, "Dad, I already know how to jab, I'm a world champion." But you know, of course, you take some pointers, but it was an amazing feeling and don't get me wrong, he still didn't like it. He'd still rather me stop, but he respected, he showed me my respect.
Shawn Stevenson: Yeah.
Laila Ali: And came and let me know that he was wrong, so that was big.
Shawn Stevenson: This is one of the things that I really admire about you and just like... I knew you were a real one because... And this is so important, what I'm about to say, you decided that you were going to box, you were going to do something exceptional, something very rare in your demographic, and you've got the greatest of all time telling you, you can't. And you had to find enough confidence, enough will to go past that, and when people are out here right now, they're scared of somebody telling them they can't on the internet. Someone they don't even know.
Laila Ali: Absolutely right, right.
Shawn Stevenson: And so for you to overcome that, and this is why I wanted to talk to you and to ask you about this, how? Because there's an inner psychology there for you to still, again, like you've got the greatest of all time, telling you, you can't. He knows his stuff to a degree, obviously, he knows his stuff and so many different dynamics of it, but of course, there's going to be a fear there just for the connection that he has with you and just looking out for your family, that kind of thing, but when you've got this external voice telling you, you can't do something, a very powerful voice, how do you still persevere and move forward towards your goal and not just towards your goal, but with power?
Laila Ali: I think for me, I've always had some defiance inside of me, and it really works out in my favor some of the time, not all the time, but in this particular situation, especially because even though my father is the greatest to so many people and so respected and loved, I saw all of his mistakes. I'm aware of his downfalls, there's so many, and that really shaped the way I see the world, the way I see people. So you can be good at something. It doesn't mean you know everything, it doesn't mean you have all the answers for me, and a lot of times we give our opinion based off of our own perception or our own life experience, right? So I had to take that into consideration. I might ask him his opinion on one thing and listen because I respect his opinion on it, and I'm like, "You know. Yeah, he knows." I'm going to come to you for nutrition advice, but I might not come to you for some other advice, now, Shawn. But it just depends.
Shawn Stevenson: Don't come to me for surfing. I don't...
Laila Ali: For what?
Shawn Stevenson: Surfing.
Laila Ali: Okay. See?
Shawn Stevenson: A surf board. I don't know nothing about that.
Laila Ali: Right. So for my father, that defiance was there, just kind of like, "So the reason I can do it is because I'm a woman? The reason I can't do it is because it's too hard?" That right there is going to go in one ear and out the other. Now, if he would have said something to me that resonated and made sense, it made me say, "Oh, okay," Maybe I would have listened, but his reasoning just wasn't there, so... And at the end of the day, I think to answer your question, I know how to go with my... I know how to go with what's in my heart. See what I'm saying? So if I'm going to be wrong, I wanted to be wrong 'cause a decision I made off of following my own heart, not because I listened to someone else and then have regrets later. I'm not afraid to fail at something that I'm super passionate about, that I want really badly. If it doesn't work out, guess what? I'm going to try something else. I'm going to learn from that and I'm going to move on, but I'm not going to be so afraid to try something because I'm worried about failing, and not only that, if I can see all these other people doing it already, how are you going to say, I can't do it. You see what I mean?
Shawn Stevenson: Yeah.
Laila Ali: So to me it's not like, "Well, I'm the first woman ever," because I am the type of person that I'm very realistic and I don't necessarily want to be trying something that I'm not passionate about and not sure about, but I'm passionate about it, I want to do it I've seen other people who've done it before. Why wouldn't I be able to do it? So that's something I don't understand when people hold themself back and it's like, "You already see all these other people are doing it, why can't you? Why?" You know, you have to let your passion drive you, 'cause the only reason I wasn't going to be able to do it is if I wasn't willing to work hard, right? Because these women were working hard to try to knock my head off, trust me, they didn't like it. They didn't like all the attention I was getting. "Oh, Muhammed Ali's daughter, she coming in here, she thinks she's going to get all the attention, she thinks she's just going to jump all ahead of us?" And then people judge you by your looks. I do it, I see a pretty girl, I'm like "I'm going to beat her ass."
You see what I'm saying? Because you just... You naturally, you can't help it, you naturally think they're not going to be as tough, you naturally think that. And it's like, subconscious. But I'm the same way, I'm just joking. I don't care or pretty or ugly, I want to whoop your ass if you're getting in the ring with me.
Shawn Stevenson: Just be clear.
Laila Ali: Just be clear, I was just joking, but I know that people have that perception.
Shawn Stevenson: Right.
Laila Ali: So I had to work 10 times harder than everybody else, 'cause everybody fought me 10 times harder, and I was willing to do it because I wanted to be a champion so bad, so nothing was going to stop me, not even the greatest.
Shawn Stevenson: I love this so much. Okay, so to recap for... And this is purposeful, because I think we're at a time right now where so much is in flux and a lot of people, their livelihood, the thing that they're doing with their life energy, the work that they're doing, whatever it is that they're doing each day. Right now is showing a very clear opportunity, but also just showing how things are never certain. They never were certain. We just have an illusion of certainty now, today, more so than ever, we don't have careers where somebody gets on at the company and then they work their way up, and they're there for 50 years and retire. That's a rarity.
So I'm bringing this up because all the doubt that we have, that comes up in our mind, a little voice that comes up and starts telling you, you can't, and we start to look for affirmation in the world as to why we can't too. And so when we start to gather a little bit of courage to say, "This is something that I want to do," which number one that you talked about is that internal guidance system, like this was something you wanted to do in your heart and you really felt passionate about and I think passion is one of the most underrated characteristics of any endeavor, so number one, listening to your internal guidance system, I want everybody right now, give yourself permission to want what you really want. Think about this, we spend more time... Like you were selling shoes to selling your massive collection of shoes to 150 pairs of shoes.
Laila Ali: Not selling, giving away.
Shawn Stevenson: Giving away, my bad. Giving away. Giving away because you're moving. Just to be clear, you're giving them away, but we'll spend more time doing something like that, or planning a vacation. Somebody'll plan a vacation for a month, but won't take a day and just figure out what they want. So I'm asking people to be clear, start to be honest about yourself, what you really want. Number two, perspective. And this goes back to you having that first-hand experience with your dad, and realizing, you're a person, you are the greatest of all time, you've made such an impact on not just boxing but the world, which I want to come back and talk about in a minute, but to understand, you don't know everything, especially you don't know about me, and what I'm capable of. And so to be able to have that perspective of something so close, I want everybody to, if you can, start to cultivate that too. When you're worried about a parent or your spouse, which I've had this happen. Or maybe it's your brother or your sister, or a teacher.
I remember Kevin Hart shared a story that he went to, that he got on to the stage of that particular night club in New York. Lucius was the guy. He put Jerry Seinfeld on. He put the stamp of approval on Eddie Murphy. If you get his stamp of approval it, you made it. He got off stage. He told Kevin heart, "This is not for you. Find something else to do. I'm sorry, but you know, this is not for you." If he would have listened to him, we'd never know him, so have some perspective know that the people who might not be on with you right now, they don't know everything and they don't know what you're capable of. Last piece here in the recap is, and I love that you said this, not being afraid to fail. I think this is one of the biggest reasons why we have fear around doing the thing that we are passionate about is we're afraid of not making it, and so what do you say about that piece specifically?
Laila Ali: I've failed so many times. And everyone has a different idea of what failure is. People don't even like that word. So if you're not reaching your goal and the way that you want to. Then we see that as a failure. But people say, grow from it, learn from it. And for me, I have this belief in myself that if it's up to me, I'm not going to fail because I'm going to do the work that it takes. If it's something that is within my power, but depending on what your goal is, if it involves other people, it involves other people doing things for you, saying yes to you, you may not have control of that situation. So certain things I don't put my heart into. For example, when I did Dancing with the Stars that was a competition I wanted to win. I was like, "I'm in this to win it." But I knew there's judges and the audience, I'm not going to, at the end, feel like a failure if I don't win, but I'm going to go hard, I'm going to do my absolute best, and I'm going to pray and I'm going to say, whatever is meant to come out of this.
I wanted to come out of it, I went to the finals, and even though I didn't win the show, I felt like I won, because that was right when I decided to stop boxing and I need to show a different side of myself, and I had 40 million viewers every week, and I made it to the last week and then I went on to do show hosting and all these other things that I was able to do off of that platform, so sometimes you have to just say, "I'm going to put my all into this, and I'm going to let God and whatever is supposed to come out of this, come out of it." I'm not going to see it as a failure because I didn't win, 'cause I can really look around and have gratitude and say, "Wow, look how this has changed my life as planned," but I did what I need to do, I earned it, and I got what I need to get, and people have got the opportunity to get to know me in a different way outside of the ring. So for me, like I said, again, it's perspective and understanding that not everything is going to go exactly the way that you want it to...
Boxing is very different because I get in that range, you're either going to win or you're going to lose, there's only two people, and I'll be damned if I don't win. 'Cause she has two hands, I have two hands. That's it. Nobody's going to hit me from behind, there's no army, it's on. That's a different situation, but... So you really have to go into every situation with the right mindset, I think is really important, but... Absolutely, I've been told no more than I've been told yes. When you talk about just ideas and things that I want to do, ambitions that I have. There's so much more that I want to do. I have my bio, when people go, "Oh my God, you've done so much, you've accomplished so much," but I want more for myself. I want more, I have more than I want to do that I haven't done yet, and that's what my passion keeps me going, I don't sit and go, Oh yeah, I... Been there done that? It's like, what more can I do? I wake up excited, how many more people cannot help, how many more lives can I touch... It's wonderful to be seen as successful and for people to look up to you and to be a role model, but that's not what I think about every day, I think about living my life accomplishing my goals and have an integrity along the way, and then we can talk about the bio on the legacy later. You know what I mean?
Shawn Stevenson: Your bio, the legacy you're creating. It's just crazy. Once I really started to dive into your world, like you mentioned, Dancing with the Stars, you does so many... So many times I turn on TV and you're on there. There's an adventure show, like they're going all the different places.
Laila Ali: All in with Laila Ali.
Shawn Stevenson: Yeah. We just turned it to, "What is Laila doing with this?"
Laila Ali: And where's my check for that, by the way?
Shawn Stevenson: Cut the check.
Laila Ali: It funny, I recorded that like five years ago, and they just start a replaying it. People are like, "You're on this Saturday show," I'm like, "Oh, they're replaying that again?"
Shawn Stevenson: Right. That Saturday after cartoon show that comes. But you've got the cuteness and the adventure, but I was just like, Laila don't do this stuff too, they out there mountain biking, jumping over...
Laila Ali: No, I was just in studio. No, in studio on the green screen.
Shawn Stevenson: You brought it, you made it more tangible for us. So I think, again, reframing failure because that term is toxic in a sense. I remember Michael Jordan saying, "I missed 60,000 shots. That's why I'm successful," or something like that, and just... I think that even the process of going towards your dream is going to land you closer to something special, like you said, not winning Dancing with the Stars, and this is another point, is controlling the controllables. You can't control everybody and what everybody does, the judges, all this stuff, but that's what's different with boxing, there's much more controllables. Once you get into the ring it's up to you, unless you leave it to the score cards, and that's another thing.
Laila Ali: I don't like to do that. That's why I got 21 knock outs.
Shawn Stevenson: 21 out of 24, right?
Laila Ali: Yes.
Shawn Stevenson: And that's another thing is to control the controllables, do your best, don't worry so much about the things that you can't control. We're experiencing that right now as a nation, really, so many parts of the world, there's so many things that people are frustrated about what they can't control, and there's so much within your control, if you just put more attention on that, it can empower you and also within that landing you closer, all the things that developed in you by doing Dancing with the Stars. Like it developed qualities and capacities and things that we're able to help you pivot into other things that you didn't even realize probably at the time was going to happen.
Laila Ali: Absolutely. I remember when I became a boxer, it was always, "Oh it's because she's Muhammad Ali's daughter, or that "Because she's Muhammad's daughter", especially obviously people have no idea what it takes to get in a ring and fight. When that bell rings, nobody cares what your name is, and in fact they fought me harder, trained harder for me, because it was the opportunity to get rich or to get famous or to make a name for yourself.
Shawn Stevenson: Right.
Laila Ali: But for me, I felt like I had so much to prove. I always had an attitude about myself, which I don't regret, because like I said, I think I needed that exterior roughness, but it put me in a box, 'cause every time you saw me, it was like, hair French-braided, talking about knocking somebody out, it's kind of intimidating. But there's so many other things that I wanted to do, so many other gifts that I have. Like I said, I had a nail salon before I started boxing, and people were like, "How do you go from doing nails to boxing? Where is the correlation?" I'm like, "Well, I'm my own boss. I like to be in control."
That's the thing. And even now with the businesses that I have, I like to take my ideas and feel like I'm in control of whether they're going to be successful or not, and be an entrepreneur. But the point that I was trying to make is, is that I have been able to prove to myself that all the successes that I've had outside of the ring don't have anything to do with my name or anything like that. I've been able to forge my own path. And that is in itself... A lot of children of famous people have a hard time finding their own identity. And again, the foundation was laid in the very beginning. I remember when I was 18, 19, 20 and doing press interviews and them saying, "Are you going to rope-a-dope like your dad? Are you going to call out the rounds like your dad?" And thank God, back then I was like, "No, I'm not. Because I'm not Muhammad Ali, I'm Laila Ali," And I knew, I had the wisdom back then, thank God, to know that if I started off trying to be like my dad and trying to please people, I was going to forever have to do it, I was never going to be able to come out of that.
And I, from the beginning, was like, "No, I'm not going to do that." And it was okay. So I didn't let anyone push me in that direction. I've been able to be comfortable being in his shadow. I'll always be Muhammad Ali's daughter. A lot of times you will bring up my father's name, and I have no problem with it, I really don't, because I see him as such an amazing human being and there will never be another one of. Thank God I wasn't trying to live up to try to be like him, 'cause I don't want to be, I love being me. I'm a lot like him, in that way. He wouldn't want to be me if it was the other way around, he would have wanted to be him. But I also have a tremendous amount of pride of having that same DNA. You see what I'm saying? But I also have been able to create my own lane outside of my father, which I'm very comfortable with. And I started to say, let me bring it back around, that in boxing I felt like I had something to prove, but with everything else I don't feel like I do.
And even now, a lot of times people would think, "Well, are you going to do some of the things your father did it outside of the ring?" Like a lot of people want me to get involved with Parkinson's or things like that. I have sisters who that's their passion. My passion is health and wellness. So it's like I also want to give back and make my contribution, but not in the same way that my father did. And I'm inspired by him, and I do it a lot, I mean when I speak... Let me say that again. A lot of times when I do public speaking, I share this story and I talk about just how I want to do something profound, and my father has been an example and a role model to me, but at the same time I want to do what's in my heart to do. And that's okay. And I just wish everybody could feel that way, in terms of having the confidence to follow your own heart, your own path, regardless of what anyone thinks, even if it was your parents. Your parents are human beings and individuals too, but we have a hard time sometimes knowing how to set boundaries with people, and I learned that at a very young age, and it's something that comes even easier to me now.
Shawn Stevenson: Right, I bet, I bet. So good. And I want to talk more about your passion about health and wellness and your venture into that, and just all the incredible things that you've done, and we're going to do that after this quick break. Sit tight, we'll be right back.
Researchers at Yale University School of Medicine, the research has found that one of the biggest culprits behind our obesity epidemic is neuroinflammation. Brain inflammation increases the propensity of obesity, and obesity increases the propensity, the likelihood, of neuroinflammation. They go hand-in-hand. So we've gotta address this. One of the things that's been proven to help to reduce neuroinflammation is cited in a study, published in PLOS One, in Public Library of Science One, revealed that the super green algae, spirulina, has a potential to, one, improve neurogenesis in the brain, so the creation of new brain cells, specifically the hippocampus is where we get a lot... And the hippocampus is the memory center of the brain. This is kind of important. And two, the study revealed that spirulina is able to directly reduce neuroinflammation. It's incredible, right? It's helping the structural integrity of this master gland, this master organ controlling everything about us. The most complicated object in the known universe is also one of the most fragile, we've got to protect it.
This is why for myself and my family, spirulina, chlorella, ashwagandha, all of these powerful foods are put together in the incredible blend at Organifi, and this is a regular staple here in my family for good reason. Spirulina, being one of the highlighted ingredients, not only does it have this benefit for neurogenesis and neuroinflammation, but it also has rare nutrients like phycocyanin, and the same thing with chlorella as well, phycocyanin is one of the few things that can trigger the stem cell genesis, the creation of new stem cells. Very few things have been found to do that. And then chlorella's in the formula as well. And that growth factor, the chlorella growth factor is just remarkable, and also its benefits in helping your body to metabolize and eliminate heavy metals and the list goes on and on. It's incredible. But the bottomline is this: It tastes good. It tastes good. I've experimented for at least about 15 years of all these different green formulas, different green superfood blends, many of them are not very good, okay. Many of them...
They shall remain nameless, but I've tried them back in the day before. Tasting good was an option. It's just like, just get it in by any means necessary. If you got to do the whole pinch the nose and get it done... Whatever. But now, pleasure leads to longevity. Pleasure leads to taking a practice on it and embodying it and making it part of your routine, your habits, your daily life. So this is why I appreciate the fact they created a formula that actually tastes good, all organic, cold process, so you actually retain and get the nutrients that we're looking for in Organifi. So pop over there, check it out. It's organifi.com/model. That's O-R-G-A-N-I-F-I.com/model. And you get 20% off, 20% off their green juice formula, their red juice formula, and also their gold as well. So they've got some incredible blends all done the right way with integrity, again, organic, low temperature-processed and yummy. Alright? Organifi, you got that yummy, yummy. Organifi.com/model. And now back to the show.
Alright, we're back and we're talking with world champion, entrepreneur, best-selling author, Laila Ali. Before the break, I'm going to ask you about health and wellness. This is your passion. And I want to know what sparked that, because some folks don't realize boxing isn't necessarily a sport that's built on a foundation of health.
Laila Ali: Absolutely not.
Shawn Stevenson: So probably you're interested in real health and wellness, didn't start then, so when did this come about? When did you start to get interested in nutrition and things like that?
Laila Ali: It did start during my boxing career for me. As I told you before, I started boxing, I just never was an athlete, I didn't even work out, I just was average person, eating what I wanted when I wanted. And when I decided I wanted to become a world champion and started on the quest to figure out what it would take, it's not just what you do in the ring, it's what you do outside of the ring. And it's like, "Okay, well, how do I need to eat? How do I need to sleep?", all of that. How do I need to be spending my time and energy, the mental side of it? So I started researching, hired a strength and conditioning coach, he was really into nutrition, started learning how food affects my performance, food affects the way that I think. So there's levels to it, as you know. So I was just on my beginning journey, so it was like, "Oh okay, I need to have oatmeal for breakfast, 'cause that's going to give me energy," "Oh, I need to have my egg whites," "Oh I need to have my protein shakes because after I work out, that will give my body energy without having to digest food. I'm going to put all of these nutrients into my shake and my supplements and things like that." And then when I had children, I decided, "Oh, okay, I need to take a step further," started researching organic food, non-GMO food, all these different chemicals that you don't even know the name of that's in the food.
Then I started looking into the fact that our skin is our largest organ and it absorbs everything that we put on it, and you don't think about that in your colognes and your lotions and your skin care and your make-up, and these plug-ins and candles and sprays, all these different things that mess with your brain. So as the mother of the household, I'm thinking about all of that and my family, my children, but of course, food is so important, the quality of the food that we eat, and then, of course, we get into the supplements and things like that, because a lot of times now the food just doesn't have the vitamins and nutrients that it used to have, it's not as rich and all of those things, so we need to supplement. So those were just basic things to me, but there's levels to it, because it's like, okay, well, drinking water is great, but what kind of water you're drinking? What kind of container is it in? It's how far we can go with this. And for me, it really comes down to the level of exposure, because there's levels to all of it. I try to reduce my exposure as much as I can.
I'm not a fanatic. I eat a doughnut. In fact, I'll eat three. I will go get... And so I'll be like, "Oh my God, that's fried, and it's sugar and it's white flour," yeah, and it's okay, it's not going to kill me 'cause I'm stronger than that, to have things every once in a while. I'm not going to think I can't ever have something. It's just not what I'm going to do day-to-day. So what I do 80%, 85% of the time is the main thing. And then I also cleanse. I don't drink, I don't smoke, I don't use a lot of different products. It's like the level of exposure that you have is really important and just being consistent. So I became passionate about this because I realized that especially in the African-American community, but all over the world, people are dying from heart disease, diabetes, obesity, from our lifestyle choices. And yeah, I see all this stuff about killing each other and this is happening, and that's happened in the street, and I'm like, wow, again, we talked about things that we can control. We're dying at the highest rates by... From the things that we can control, not from what's going on in the community and who's trying to do something to you.
It's like what you're doing to yourself and what we're allowing to happen to our children and what we're not teaching our children, and we want to... We rather buy name brand shoes and buy quality food. Even my spice blends are priced so well, organic, non-GMO, something that you're going to keep for three months, but you'd rather go buy a coffee drink for $7 instead of buying, spending $10 on the spice blend that you're going to season on your food on a daily basis. So it's just really about trying to encourage people to get their priorities in order. I think that we sometimes forget that our bodies are living organisms. And the food that you eat, what you put in your body becomes your brain and becomes your blood and becomes you’re... All of your organs. But people don't see themselves that way, and they don't understand the importance of it, and that just 'cause you're getting away with it now, it's going to catch up with you later. They don't understand that being big isn't just something that... When I say overweight, being fat isn't just a look. When you're fat on the outside, that fat is wrapped around your organs, and that visceral fat is deadly. And these are things that...
It's just like, wow, just in the way that we eat and our activity level and things like that. So I am passionate about and trying to encourage people to take control of their health to help change our future generations, so they can be better than we are, and to just be aware, be aware that there's choices that you can make now that can affect the future by purchasing organic food, by going to the farmer's market, by voting with your dollars, you're letting these companies know that "This is what we want and we want you to provide more of this type of food for us." And unfortunately in some of the lower-income communities, the quality food isn't available. But the more that we show like, "No, we respect our bodies, we care," then we can get accounted for, and then it'll bring the price down for everybody, because now you're going to have more options. So we're all connected. And again, that to me is such a game-changer, if people would just wake up in terms of the power they have over their own health and the future for themselves and their children and healthcare and all these different things. It's like we have such a broken system. People are so worried about healthcare and all that because everyone's sick.
It's like, you can really change your health right now today. So that's what I'm passionate about, and I know you are too. And I don't know half as much as you know, but my audience, I'm trying to reach those people because there's levels to it, and that's what I mean. Like you said, there are so many levels. It's like I was healthy 10 years ago and I'm healthier now.
Shawn Stevenson: Yeah.
Laila Ali: Because I was just doing the basics, and I've learned more since then. And what worked for me 10 years ago isn't going to work now because I'm older and my body has changed. And what works for me may not work for you, and vice-versa. So you really just have to be on that quest. And I try not to overwhelm people like Laila Ali lifestyle. My website is a place I want people to come to find inspiration to start their own journey. That's it. Just be on the journey. 'Cause there's literally people, and it's crazy to me, but there's people who just don't even wake up and think about how to better themselves at all. You know what I mean? They might be thinking how they can get money, but it's 'cause they want to buy a certain bag or drive a certain car and not because "How I can start living a better lifestyle and with vitality and actually enjoy life, and really figure out what my purpose is for being here." 'Cause everybody has one. You don't have to be Muhammad Ali to make a difference in the world. Muhammad Ali was just a little boy from Louisville, Kentucky, whose father was a painter or artist, you know they don't make much money.
I think Grandma Bird cleaned houses. And he just was a little boy who stumbled upon the boxing gym 'cause somebody stole his bike, and he was mad and was like, "I'm going to get them, I'm going to beat them up," and the guy comes out, the amateur boxing trainer was like, "Well, do you know how to fight, young man?" "No." "Well, come on in here." And he learned how to fight, and then he became a boxer. But even that, he figured out, 'cause he was always special, obviously, and he figured out like, "This is going to be my platform. Boxing is going to be my platform. The money, the Rolls Royce, the gold watch is going to get the people to listen to me and listen to what I have to say, 'cause that's what people respect." And he knew that. He had the wherewithal to understand that, but it wasn't important to him. He was willing to give that all up. Remember when he went through what he went through? So at the same time, like I said, you can be the mother of that next little boy who's going to become a Muhammad Ali, but you got to nurture him, and you have to be focused and present, you see, or you can become that person and you can make...
If you can make a difference in just one kid's life, I don't care if it's your neighbor or that kid in the neighborhood or your friend's son, whoever, we all have a part in this. And it's like, I just want people to see themselves that way. So through my Laila Ali lifestyle, it's about your health, your mindset and your purpose. Those three pillars are so important.
Shawn Stevenson: Yeah, so much good stuff there. Listen, you said the most... There's so many things, I can't say it's the most important, but when you said your level of exposure, man, that really strikes deep for me. I talk about that so much on the show because, like you just said, you never know who that kid might be or you never know who you might impact just by giving exposure, just... Somebody reached out, invite him into the boxing gym, and they changed the world. That person changed the world.
Laila Ali: Absolutely.
Shawn Stevenson: And so there's so many stories like that. I was in Ferguson, Missouri, one-bedroom apartment, and navigating my way through just that kind of... It's complicated just getting to school from there, and from all manner of... It's become famous or infamous now, but all manner of obstacles just to get to school. And through that process, just seeing... When I walk out my door outside the apartment complex, the Woodlands, shout out to the Woodlands, somebody listening right now, they might be in the Woodlands and they're like... They made that connection like, "If he can do it, I can do it." And all I needed was somebody just to show me. I just need to know that it existed. I didn't know what health was. I just thought if I kind of had that Chad Johnson, my son just showed me a podcast yesterday, he's heavy on McDonald's, he is this incredible athlete that we... Ochocinco.
But I just thought, you eat whatever and you just exercise it's all good, I do some push-ups, but I'm making my body out of these things, I'm making my brain out of these things. Shout out to Chad Johnson, I don't know about the decisions. But this is the thing is once I realized that, like you just said, there are things in my control. And somebody asked me the other day, I was doing a media thing, and they asked me about, "What about the expense? What about the expense, Shawn?" Any eating healthier in that environment, you said... I literally said that, I was like, "You know what, I was getting Jordans." My next door neighbor got every Jordan that came up. We had... It's just a matter of priorities. There's always a... Especially if you need to get it, you find a way. And early on, I was buying things that were exotic once I found out about them. So I was like ordering goji berries from China, because it wasn't just a rounded store, this is like almost 20 years ago. And so... But when I... Now, here's the craziest part, I'm just being 100 with everybody, over a certain amount of time, first of all, investing in myself and my health, I started to make more money, I started to feel better, I started to think clear, I started to have better ideas, because food isn't just food, it's information, number one, and number two, over a few years’ time period, all of a sudden these companies start giving me stuff, right?
Shawn Stevenson: So now I don't even have to... So it's just like... And that's exposure as well. What are you immersing yourself in? And this is what I really love about what you do and what you're saying. And I want to ask you now, this is a perfect segue too, because there's a certain dynamic of health and wellness that you do better than just about anybody for real. My mouth is watering. I had your food myself, but to be able to have your cooking, and there's a magic that you make happen in the kitchen. Where did that come from?
Laila Ali: Food is, like you said, information, it's energy, it's love, when you put in it, those things. So that's why I like to cook at home, 'cause I know what's in my food, and I know what kind of energy is in my food. So I started cooking when I was about nine or 10 years old, 'cause my mother did not cook, and I've always loved to eat. I was that greedy kid, if I had come over your house to visit, was friends with you, I'd be like eating, like "What do you guys have to eat?" They'd probably be like, "That girl always is eating." I was that kid.
Shawn Stevenson: Shout out to our neighbor Avery. We buy food just for him.
Laila Ali: See what I'm saying? I was that kid. I was that kid, like "Laila's going to come over and get her grub on." So my mom didn't cook. I got in the kitchen, started cooking for myself. And this is a long story, I wrote about it in my book, "Reach! Finding Strength, Spirit, and Personal Power". I had a very dysfunctional upbringing. We actually had a separate kitchen, like a guest house, and my sister and I lived in the guest house. So I literally had my own kitchen and started cooking. And my grandma is from Louisiana, so she knew how to cook obviously. I shouldn't say obviously, not all people from Louisiana know how to cook, but a lot of them do.
Shawn Stevenson: Right, stereotype, close enough.
Laila Ali: Yeah, she could throw down. So I'm like, "Grandma, how do you make this? How do you make that?" She taught me how to make roux for gumbo over the phone, and of course I cultivated over the years. But that's how I started cooking. And I've always been really good at seasoning food well, because it's always come down to the seasoning, right? Something that look good and the flavor is just not there, and vice-versa. So I'm definitely not a chef, trained chef, although I did go to culinary school for a minute, but then I decided I just couldn't stick with it. Competed on Chopped, won few times.
Shawn Stevenson: Oh.
Laila Ali: Oh yeah. And I just cook every day for my family. And I love comforting meals, I love soul food, but I'm like, I am always... It's a challenge for me. How can I take this and make it healthier, but make it taste good? So when I do go to a restaurant and my husband likes something, I can make that." I can make that for you at home. Like Shrimp Scampi, okay, let me go home and let me use some quinoa pasta and let me use some grass-fed butter and let me just hook it up.
So with the spice blends, it was... I created Laila Ali's spice blends because I started realizing that all these brands have all these chemicals in them and fillers in them, and I'm like, "What is this that they're sprinkling on your food every day?" So at the same time, the flavors aren't always right. So I wanted to make cooking for busy people like me, 'cause I still, with all that I do, I cook like five times a week. I wanted these perfectly balanced flavors and seasonings that you can mix and match and put together and that just are going to make your food taste amazing without a recipe that all you really need is simple ingredients, you just need to go get your chicken and your broccoli, and even if you know how many onions and all that, you don't feel like doing the chopping, guess what, all you got to do is use the spice blends. Now, if you want to put more ingredients and use a spice blend, even better, but you don't have to. Because I know for me, I love cooking, but I don't always have time for a recipe, you're going to be chopping up a bunch of stuff.
But that's what I do, Shawn. The magic comes from, I think, my love for food, knowing good flavors, and the passion that I have for putting energy and love into my family, I like to take that time to prepare a meal. And I think that's what the term "soul food" came from, is like families in the kitchen together, cooking. And back in the day, we used to grow our own food and you harvest the food and chop the food, and everyone comes together and spends that time and they sit around the table, which many people don't do anymore, they eat without even thinking, we're not even chewing our food nowadays, we're just like swallowing the food, and you already know, I need to even work on that, sometimes I eat too fast, and it just makes it harder on your body to digest the food.
Shawn Stevenson: They say your stomach doesn't have teeth.
Laila Ali: No. It's like... I even watch my son, I'm like, "Do not pick that fork up again until you chew what's in your mouth." But you have to train yourself. So yeah, it's a lot, but who doesn't love good food?
Shawn Stevenson: Oh my goodness. But... Well, there's some nuance there, because in our culture, some people are led to believe that good food isn't good for you.
Laila Ali: That's true.
Shawn Stevenson: Right? And so to have incredible food that also brings so much life energy to your body, meeting your nutritional needs, and just the process of eating, that's why food tastes good...
Laila Ali: Absolutely.
Shawn Stevenson: Is to get you to eat it. And your spice, of course, we use them all the time, but what's so crazy is that, what you mentioned, and I didn't really think about this before we go up, so we had Aldi spice blends, Aldi little spices that we use, but then we had the Lawry's seasoning salt, it's got the fillers in there, the anti-caking agents, all of these different things, these synthetic chemicals that are just in the product. And I think they took MSG out of it more recently, but there was one of our popular seasoning salts that had monosodium glutamate, which is one of those in the category of these kind of cytotoxins. And earlier on, we had a lot of anecdotal evidence, but now we have some peer-reviewed evidence that it does potentially stimulate your brain cells to the point that it can kill cells.
Laila Ali: And it's addictive. A lot of these things are addictive. Yeah.
Shawn Stevenson: Right, right, they're designed that way by processed food companies.
Laila Ali: Yeah, absolutely. And it's funny that you mentioned that brand because that's one of the brands, I said, "I have got to create a seasoning salt." And I'm telling you, my seasoning salt is so much better, not only because of the ingredients, it tastes better. I remember my husband was hooked on Lawry's. He was like, "I got to have the Lawry's And I knew I won, I knew I killed it when he was like... We ran out of my Soulful seasoning, he was like, "Where is it? Where is it?" And at one point I was like... He was so on my nerves, I was like, "I'm getting more, it's not here yet," 'cause I was in the process of making it. It wasn't available yet. We were testing it. I was like, "Just go get some Lawry." He was like, "I don't want that. I don't even want it anymore." Because now when you taste it, you taste the chemicals, but you become so you used to it. And then now I was just like, "Oh, that's not how it's supposed to taste," plus my Soulful Seasoning Salt has only 73% sea salt, opposed to 95%, like a lot of these... And then there's herbs and spices in it that really bring out the flavors.
Shawn Stevenson: Which are all organic...
Laila Ali: Yeah, all organic.
Shawn Stevenson: In your seasonings.
Laila Ali: Yeah, and I love it. I'm telling you it's so good, I can't get enough of it. I literally use my own spice blends and I can't wait to create more flavors. It's so exciting and fun, and I'm like, "What do the people want? What am I going to create next? 'Cause I do it, I do it in my own kitchen, I test them all for probably three or four months just cooking different meals. I always want them all to work together and separate, so I have to try all these different combinations. So yeah, I got some good ones coming out next. You all make sure that you get them all.
Shawn Stevenson: Of course... Oh, please, please do book. Alright, now I'm going to put on the spot. Alright. So number one, we're going to hook you guys up with a special discount. I didn't talk too about this. Can we get 5%, 10%? What can we get?
Laila Ali: Let's do 20%.
Shawn Stevenson: 20%? Oh.
Laila Ali: Why not?
Shawn Stevenson: Laila, come on. Listen, this is not pre-scheduled thing where you're 20% off. So listen, so we're going to hook up to your spice blends, go to themodelhealthshow.com/spiceblends. And you're going to get 20% off, apparently. I appreciate that, really. Thank you. Everybody, definitely go pop over and check out the spice blends, they're phenomenal.
Laila Ali: I'm 100% confident in these spice blends, just as confident as I was in the ring, honey. Absolutely.
Shawn Stevenson: That's big. And you have the GOAT Seasoning as well, the Greatest of All Time Seasoning.
Laila Ali: Oh yeah, the Greatest of All Times is one of my newer blends and I decide it to my father because I... It's funny, my dad loved soul food. We had a cook. We had a cook named Edith growing up when my parents were still married, and she used to make the most amazing food. You know a lot of people can cook, but some people can really throw down, that was Edith. And he used to also take us to this burger stand, I remember it was like a little hole in the wall, but as a kid, I remember the burgers had so much flavor, a lot of times you're gonna get a burger and the meat isn't really seasoned. This meat was seasoned. So I said, "I need to create a blend and dedicate it to my dad." So again, I'm super proud of that blends particularly, because I started with nothing, like "What am I creating here?" So I wanted to capture the flavors of the soulful meals he loved, but also his burger. So a lot of times when you say, "Oh, I'm going to do a seasoning salt," you kind of know what ingredients go in there and you mix them up and come up with your own, but this one I had to create from scratch, and it turned out so well, I love it on beef especially, but anything, and it's become one of my best sellers.
People love it. It's all-purpose seasoning. And all of my seasonings, like I said, I use sea salt, but a lot of them are just low in salt or no salt, and that's what I'm going to continue doing from here on out, 'cause again, they're meant to mix and match, because you can always add more salt, I want people to be able to use as much flavor as they want without the food getting salty, then you can come back and use the Soulful Seasoning Salt or just regular sea salt.
Shawn Stevenson: Yeah, I love this so much. Again, this is... I love this because you hit on many different things, and you're working in these different spaces as well, whether it's skin care, but we need to upgrade these things that we've come to accept as normal. It's not normal to have unnecessary chemicals coming along with the food that you eat. And so we need to upgrade our spices. Upgrade your spice cabinet. Check out the spice blends, Laila Ali's spice blends. Go to themodelhealthshow.com/spiceblends right now, get 20% off, and I just appreciate that so much. And I can't have you here without asking you about this, so obviously, food is a big deal for you and your family and just what you bring to the table, literally bring to the table is just so incredible, but that's just one side. There is of course, there's a sleep component, there's a stress management component.
What do you do right now? Because we know you as an iconic boxer. What do you do for yourself? And I'm going to preface by saying this, what I love about you as well is that you know everybody is different. And this is not about having some kind of perfect idea of what a body should be or what health should be, it's your own personal model of health so what do you do right now? What are you up to with your fitness regimen? What do you do to stay fit?
Laila Ali: Well I like to mix it up, I really do. I have a home gym, and I like to hit the heavy bag, so I hit the heavy bag for like three or four rounds, 15, 20 minutes as a warm-up, then I like to get on the treadmill and do some sprints. So for me, if I have... If I'm short on time, then to me it's like, "Okay, I'm going to do a 45-minute workout," 'cause I really like to be in the gym. So I'd like to be in the gym like, if I had it my way, it's an hour and a half, I just take my time, I put on my music. But if I'm doing something quick, I'm going to hit the heavy bag, 15 minutes, I'm going to get on the treadmill for 15 minutes, do some sprinting, and then I'm going to do some sit-ups and push-ups, basically. I will tell you the first thing to go for me when I do get really busy and stressed is working out, and that's something that I'm going to try to avoid doing, 'cause even I fall off. And Curtis, my husband, is always on.
He always... He never... He does not sacrifice his workout. But as mom, and I wear so many different hats, it's like everybody's pulling, everybody's pulling, we're getting ready to move, we all this going on, and I only have so much energy and sanity, and a lot of times working out, that I'll go and then... But I tend to stay on with the eating. So if I have to choose one or the other, I choose the food. But fitness is so important. But for me as an athlete, I think because I know that it's just a matter of me just saying, "I'm going to work out, and it's so easy for me to get back on," it's okay. But I definitely love mixing it up. HIIT workouts are great. But if I had it my way, I would definitely be going on a five-mile run, you know what I'm saying? Just going out there, 45, 50 minutes, like a 10-mile run on the road, because the treadmill is so boring to me. It's so boring. But a distance run is my favorite thing to do, I feel like I'm in my great shape, I get a lot of thinking done, I do a lot of the fresh air, all of that, and the time goes by so fast.
And then of course, the free weights, free weights, three to four times a week, it was definitely a go-to for me as well. And I love cycling when I have a Peloton, and every time I do it, I'm like, "I need to do this more," but I'm just not consistent with it. But I love cycling. I used to love going to class, but you got to get used to just kind of, when you're at home on the Peloton, it's a little different, but it's still great.
Shawn Stevenson: Now, this is where we should insert the montage, the Laila Ali montage. Do you have a montage?
Laila Ali: Look, I some stuff we could work with, depending on what you want. It depends on what you want.
Shawn Stevenson: I'm just thinking Creed. What do you think about the movie Creed?
Laila Ali: There was two. Both of them?
Shawn Stevenson: Right, right, right.
Laila Ali: They were good. I liked it, I liked it. Yeah, it reminded me a lot of myself, with him and his father and all of that.
Shawn Stevenson: Yeah yeah.
Laila Ali: I was like, "They're trying to take my story?"
Shawn Stevenson: Shout out to Michael B. Jordan in Creed and Sylvester Stallone, of course.
Laila Ali: Michael B. Jordan's doing... I think he's co-executive producing a film or something on my father.
Shawn Stevenson: Yeah, I just saw that too.
Laila Ali: Yeah, I saw that.
Shawn Stevenson: Incredible, yeah, yeah. So listen, you just said something really important, and this is the last thing I want to ask you about. Like you said, when life starts to happen, the first thing to go for different people is going to be different things. For you it's the fitness side, but the nutrition is still a cornerstone. Shout out to your husband, C-Way, Curtis Conway, incredible wide receiver, Chicago Bears. I remember I told him this, I knew about him before we met. I played him... Literally, I would draft him on Tecmo Bowl, Super Tecmo Bowl. When I was in high school, he just made it to the league, incredible. But that's his cornerstone. And I've seen this in my clinical practice more so the tendency is with women to really take on a lot, and to also be very gifted in suppressing that it's a lot, and having this mindset of like, "I'll get to me later." So if you could, and I know, again, this is not about being perfect, but what can you say to folks, especially the women, especially the moms listening, when life is starting to take over the importance of having yourself some kind of sense of priority and an anchor for yourself, just so you don't lose yourself?
Laila Ali: We've heard the saying that, "Women need to learn how to say no," 'cause we're always saying yes, yes, yes, yes. And what I have to remind women is that every time you say yes to something, you're saying no to something else that might be important to you, such as yourself or your family. Because it's happened to me where I'll say yes to something that's a couple of months out. I don't really want to do it, I'm not passionate about it, I'm not interested in it, but I'm going to say yes. So what I remind women is, is that every time you say yes to something, you're saying no to something else, something that is important to you, such as something you need to do for yourself, for your family and you fill your schedule up, I had to remind myself that, I'll say yes to something that's a couple of months off, and then here it comes, and I'm like, "Man, I don't even want to do this." You said yes because you were doing it for someone else, so you didn't want to say no, or whatever at that time, but now you don't have the time for yourself, for your family or...
For me, it's like the spin with the kids or the husband, or my me time, whatever it is. So I think that we need to stop worrying so much about what other people think and what we can do for others and put ourselves first, even if you have to schedule time. And that's what I had to do for myself. I actually have to schedule time for myself. 'Cause you look on your calendar, if you use a calendar, and you don't see anything, so sometimes you got to even put personal things on your calendar and it's like, "No, this time is taken, or this time is put aside for me." Because so often, you'll be like, "Oh man, my side hurts, I don't know what's going on with that," and then you just kind of forget about it and move on, and again, "Oh, oh man, my side hurts," or whatever the case. Something's going on inside of your body and your body is trying to give you this message, or your skin's breaking out, is something going on in the inside, that's showing on the outside or whatever the case may be, or you're just tired, you're not getting enough rest. You need to schedule more time for yourself. You need to go to bed earlier. You need to start toning things down in the evening.
And it's like, what one thing can you do for yourself right now today instead of... It's very overwhelming when we think of just this idea of just, "Oh, I have to do more for myself." Okay, what does that mean? How do I actually start? So if you say, "I'm going to take a bubble bath every Sunday, I'm going to light some candles," if that's what you would like to do, then you need to schedule that and actually do it for yourself. If you're like, "I need a massage," then schedule a massage for yourself. If you want to start a new health and wellness regimen, you need to go buy the things that you need, and you need to make sure every morning you wake up and your supplements are sitting right there on the table, right in front of you in your face, or you might forget to do it. It has to become a habit.
Shawn Stevenson: Yeah.
Laila Ali: And then trust me, the more you get used to saying no and not feeling like you have to give a reason... I did it this morning, somebody reached out to me for something and was like, "Oh, we have this great thing and we want you to... And we think it'd be great." And I was like, "Well, actually no, I'm not really interested in doing that. You don't be mad at me. I just told you the truth, I'm not interested in doing it, but I wish you all the best. I wish you all the best."
Shawn Stevenson: Yeah.
Laila Ali: You see, but it's like just 'cause you're excited about something, you think I'd be great to do it, it doesn't mean that I have to do it. I'm about to move, I'm moving my family, and I'm not about to fill up my schedule, 'cause guess what? Something's going to come up that I want to do, but I'll be like, "I said yes to this other thing that I didn't even want to do." So yeah, we just have to really be cognizant of that and just start... Especially as women, just remember every time you say yes, you're saying no to something else, you're going to have to say no. You may not do it now, but you're going to have to.
Shawn Stevenson: Exercise that no muscle.
Laila Ali: Yes.
Shawn Stevenson: Yeah, that's powerful. Laila, listen, again, I know you're about to move and it's just the energy is going to be different without you here in the city, but I just look forward to hanging out more and to connecting. I think you guys are amazing. I just... You and your husband are just, man, some of my favorite people here. And I just want to continue to see you... I just... I don't know what you're going to do next. There's so many cool things that you are a part of, that you're creating, and I love that spirit that you have. And a lot of folks don't realize how hands-on you are with everything. If it's got your name on it, like really take it seriously. And these are the things that I just really connect with you on because it's just like, there can definitely be a lack of integrity in the world and with different things and different ventures, and you're just somebody who's standing up for what's real, presenting opportunity and exposure, and just continuously, you're an inspiration and just putting yourself in position to win and taking chances as well, not being afraid to fail. And I just appreciate you so much. You're just such a great light for us right now and a great role model, so I just appreciate you.
Laila Ali: You know I appreciate you and your family and everything that you do. I remember reaching out to you years ago when I was doing a podcast, and I was like, "Man, I wanted to get some pointers," and you absolutely took time with me. You're real straightforward with me. You told me what it would take to be successful. And I decided at a certain point, I was like, "This isn't for me. I really rather put my... “I did for a year, I did it well, did it consistently, did everything, but I was like, "I think I've had enough of this," and that was okay, because it just wasn't for me to be doing. I was like, I'd rather people see me and cook and put more time into a cooking show with my spice blends and then interviewing people. But what you're so amazing at doing, and I'm so glad you do, the podcast is really honing in on specific things that I said and expanding upon them. You see what I'm saying? And that's really special because a lot of people just listen and wait till it's time for them to talk again and just keep pushing, keep pushing, pushing, pushing. But you allow the things that I say, and then you say something that makes me think and expands upon it. So I think it's wonderful.
And we're all a part of this puzzle. So you got a real big, big, big piece, and I highly respect you, and so many more big things to come for you, your family, both of us, all of us. We're all in this together, right?
Shawn Stevenson: Absolutely, absolutely. Laila, again, you're amazing, and it's been such an honor. I hope that everybody got as much value out of this as I did. And listen, you got that DNA, you got that go DNA. So we're definitely going to stay up-to-date with you. Can you let everybody know where they can follow you? And of course, one more shout out to the spice blends, themodelhealthshow.com/spiceblends.
Laila Ali: Yes, they can always visit my website, lailaali.com. I'm @TheRealLailaAli on social media, so they can reach out that way as well. So I have a free downloadable email series, Replenish You, and I talked about health, mindset and purpose, just getting started on that path. But I know your listeners, a lot of them are ahead of the game already, but it's a great start for anyone who's just inspired to become the best version of themselves. So I invite them to invite someone else maybe that needs it, to visit the website and download that. And of course, get the spice blends. I love when people are cooking with my spices, it really puts a smile on my face.
Shawn Stevenson: Yeah, so when you do, make sure that you tag Laila, and say your handle again on IG?
Laila Ali: I'm @TheRealLailaAli. Can you believe there were so many Lailas... There were so many Laila Alis, I had to put "the real" in front of mine.
Shawn Stevenson: We can't get the domain on our own name. But tag her and let her know what you think about the spices and let's go. I appreciate you so much.
Laila Ali: Thanks, Shawn.
Shawn Stevenson: Awesome. That's Laila Ali, everybody. Thank you so much for tuning in to the show today. Again, I hope you got a lot of value out of this episode. One of the things we close with is one of the most powerful things, especially right now, especially when we have a lot of things on our plate, asking yourself each day, "What's one thing that I can do for myself today? What's one thing that I can do for my own health, my own sanity, my own wellness, each and every day?" It's a simple question that we can ask. And also she mentioned scheduling time. For some people, if it's not scheduled, it's not real. So putting some, "me" time on the calendar, even if there's 20 minutes of sacred time that you have each day, maybe this is a time when you're doing your walking or your journaling, or your meditation, whatever the case might be, it doesn't... You don't have to do everything. That's one of the big misconceptions.
You don't have to have the perfect Optimus Prime morning routine and the perfect Megatron evening routine, alright? It's just about having a few pieces, or even just one thing that's your anchor. So asking yourself, "What can I do for myself each day?" And listen, I appreciate you so much for tuning in, so many incredible insights in this episode, and it's just such an honor to be able to provide different voices and perspectives, and really to remember and rekindle that thread of greatness that we all have within us. And so again, I hope you enjoyed this episode. If you did, please share it out with the people that you care about on social media. You can tag me and tag Laila as well. And we've got some epic shows coming your way very soon, so make sure to stay tuned. Take care, have an amazing day, and I'll talk with you soon.
And for more after the show, make sure to head over to themodelhealthshow.com. That's where you can find all of the show notes, you could find transcriptions, videos for each episode, and if you got a comment, you can leave me a comment there as well. And please make sure to head over to iTunes and leave us a rating to let everybody know that the show is awesome, and I appreciate that so much. And take care. I promise to keep giving you more powerful, empowering, great content to help you transform your life. Thanks for tuning in.
WANT TO MAKE A BIGGER IMPACT ON THE WORLD?
Take Your Passion For Health And Wellness And Turn It Into A Lucrative Career.
Helping others to transform their health is one of the most rewarding things you can do. No matter what level you're at, or where you are on your own health journey, there are countless people who can benefit from your support! Here you'll learn from the very best instructors in the world in health AND in business to create a fun, thriving career and live life on your terms.