Everyone’s mental health journey to healing comes in many forms. For Kevin Curry, he came to this realization back in 2012. Following a job loss, breakup, and lack of financial resources, trying to grieve so many losses at one time led the wellness entrepreneur to experience bouts of depression. Additionally, his weight cycling habits of going through periods of being overweight and then being in shape for a short time took its toll.
That was the Dallas native’s turning point, as he made the ultimate decision for a complete lifestyle change. Equipped with the knowledge of understanding the power of food and its effects on our everyday lives, in his quest to stay motivated and accountable, he took a leap of faith and began a Tumblr blog aptly called “Fit Men Cook.” The brand “is my journey with food and my journey to health and happiness. It’s a continued way of living that has lasted more than seven years,” he said.
Appearing on The Today Show, Men’s Health, and BuzzFeed, to name a few, Kevin has built an online community that touches millions’ of lives. With the ongoing success of his two apps, including MealPrepPro, the launch of FIT COOK spice blends, and the release of his book, Fit Men Cook: 100+ Meal Prep Recipes for Men and Women: Always #healthyaf, Never Boring, the social media maven’s evolving force in the health and wellness space is evident. With the ongoing effects of COVID-19, it was important for BlackLove.com to speak with the fitness expert about immune-boosting meals, at-home date night ideas while exploring culinary cuisines, and self-care practices to stay mentally and emotionally fit.
BlackLove.com: Can you walk me through your relationship with food growing up?
Kevin Curry: I had one of those love, hate relationships. I loved the way food tasted but hated the way it made me feel. I grew up with a lot of good cooking because my mom was from Louisiana, and my dad from South Carolina. I grew up knowing a lot about good flavor, but I didn’t know how to prepare foods to make me feel better.
BL.com: What drew you to establish Fit Men Cook?
KC: Desperation because I was trying to change my diet and lose weight at the same time. I was at a point where I was depressed, and I struggled with it for a while. I was tired of weight cycling, going through periods of being overweight, and then maybe being in shape for a short time.
I went to visit a trainer, and he tried to charge a crazy amount of money. I knew I couldn’t afford it, so I took my health into my own hands and started reengineering my diet. I began re-creating the recipes I enjoyed and deconstructing them by reducing the calories by up to 40 percent.
BL.com: Do you still suffer from depression, or has your lifestyle change completely transformed your mental and emotional well-being?
KC: Although it had a huge impact, it doesn’t cure depression. I was diagnosed with clinical depression, where sometimes it can be mostly circumstantial, but it’s often just seasonal. The cool thing about Fit Men Cook, and this journey is that I’ve taught myself how to manage it.
I have my down days like everyone. Some days you get up, and you’re just not feeling it. I’m the same way, but I know the algorithm to snap myself out of that. That’s what healthy eating and a healthy lifestyle have done for me. They’ve shown me the tools to get past that hump.
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BL.com: What is the most significant misconception people have about the power of food and its effects on our everyday lives?
KC: The biggest misconception is that everything can be solved or unraveled in one meal. Life is about balance. We quickly connect the results to one meal, not realizing that our lives are made up of an aggregate of eating habits and decisions made over time.
BL.com: Can you offer a piece of advice to someone who wants to sharpen their culinary skills while quarantined?
KC: The easiest thing is to start cooking. I tell people to embrace the journey. One day you’re going to make something that’s great, and the next day you may create something terrible. I know for millions of Americans, it’s not as comfortable anymore, which reminds me of how Fit Men Cook was started. I lacked financial resources, and I was depressed. I was laid off from my job, and my girlfriend, who I thought I was going to marry broke up with me. But the hope in situations like this is that our creativity kicks in, in this fight or flight mode.
BL.com: What’s your idea of an immune-boosting meal to potentially strengthen your system to combat the health risks and effects of COVID-19?
KC: Although it sounds good in marketing, there are no foods that will boost your immunity. But incorporating more raw fruits and vegetables and eating a variety of vitamins and minerals helps build a robust immune system. That’s how you win and boost your immunity.
BL.com: What’s a self-care practice you’ve incorporated to stay mentally healthy during these times?
KC: Daily, I make sure there’s a checkout time when I get off of social media, but also, I think the best thing is sticking to a routine because you know what to look forward to. With everything going on, we frequently feel like we can’t control what’s going on. But one thing we can control and take ownership of is our schedules, which reduces the amount of depression we feel and its weight.
On the weekends, I put the phone away, log out of Instagram, and enjoy life. It’s been so helpful because often we feel that fear of missing out. I convinced myself people would stop following me, or my social life would end if I didn’t post every day. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves, but it’s part of our generation.
BL.com: What are some at-home date night ideas or creative ways for couples to strengthen their bond and intimacy while in quarantine?
KC: Roleplaying is so much fun. Tell your partner, “Hey, let’s go on a picnic today,” or “We’re going to Italy,” and set up an Italian dinner. Exploring new cuisines and cooking together is an amazing way to discover new cultures, and build bonds and friendships. It also helps you make new memories with food.