In 2012, when Kevin Curry launched Fit Men Cook, a blog to share his healthy food ideas and keep himself accountable and motivated on his fitness journey, he had no intention on building a business that would attract people from around the world. “It was a passion and I enjoyed (and still enjoy) sharing my journey in healthy eating with others. I realized that I could change careers when I started to receive opportunities to use products from major nutrition and consumer product companies. “Being paid to make recipes and do what I love?” It was a win,” says Kevin.
With over 1 million followers across social media channels, Kevin has mastered the art of creating visually appealing and mouthwatering dishes that not only educates diverse audiences but also builds communities around healthy eating.
Black Enterprise caught up with Kevin to learn more about how he quit his full time job in Communications at a large computer company to pursue his passion full time.
Describe your aha moment?
My “ah-ha” moment happened when I saw a photo of myself on my friend’s Facebook page. My initial reaction was a mixture of denial; surprise and quite truthfully, a little shame for letting myself go as much as I had. I was overweight and felt sluggish, and to compound the issue, my physician told me my blood pressure was steadily rising. So, I did what most people try to do— I started exercising to try to “out train” a poor diet.
I went to a half price bookstore, bought every single book about dieting and started studying nutrition. Shortly after, I got started cooking. I did not have much money so I started experimenting in the kitchen with different proteins and veggies in order to make simple, relatively inexpensive items, taste great. I vowed that I would never eat another boiled chicken breast again unless I had to!
Fitness is a lifelong journey and I could not imagine a life of eating boring, bland food just to be healthy.
You’ve found much success from social media channels such as, Instagram. Describe your targeted audience?
My followers are pretty diverse because finding ways to make healthy food fun and exciting crosses cultural, geographic, gender, age and pretty much all boundaries that traditionally segment markets. Healthy eating is more of a “behavioral aspect” so the “net is wide” and the makeup of the population is diverse. I’ve learned that it is a topic most people are concerned about. People are tired of feeling trapped by boring, healthy diets – they want new ideas!
Admittedly, since my accounts across social media are bilingual, I do have a significant Spanish-speaking following. While there may be language barriers, I’ve discovered we all speak a universal language – and that language is a desire to be healthy and live fulfilled lives.”
When I initially started my account, my meals were targeted to the very active individual because I thought that was who was following me. My perspective changed when “all of a sudden” I received emails from multiple individuals who were struggling with obesity and even had undergone gastric bypass surgery. Then I started receiving emails from youth in high school wanting quick snack ideas and then “soccer moms” who were wanting to cook healthy for their families and servicemen in the military needing quick, microwavable types of healthy meals. So I adapted my content strategy to make sure that I was posting recipes and information that could speak to a wider variety of people, and as such, I try to be responsible with the content and information I push across my channels.
What opportunities have emerged from launching Fit Men Cook?
I’ve been fortunate to forge multiple strategic partnerships and secure endorsements with various consumer product companies ranging from food & nutrition, to fitness and even to financial. Blogging is taking me around the US and more recently, around the world. I’ve even had the opportunity to work with high profile celebrities and athletes, consulting them on their diets and how they can make incremental changes in order to achieve their fitness goals.
In the world of social media, “creating buzz” is necessary. How do you select recipes that attract and engage diverse audiences?
Initially I posted what I ate daily, but that was time-consuming. Now, I base my weekly meals off items in my “idea journal.” I’ll think of various topics that I want to touch on and then think of meals to articulate those ideas. For instance, in the fall, people tend to eat heavier foods and crave comfort meals due to the weather.
What’s the best piece of advice that you never got but wish you had?
That I don’t have to look like a fitness cover model to be considered fit and healthy. When I initially started my journey I was set on looking like a fitness model or bodybuilder because I thought that meant I was finally healthy. Having to sacrifice so many foods that I enjoyed and maintaining a strict training schedule just to look like a bodybuilder was both challenging and enlightening. I learned that I was blurring the lines between “marketing/advertising” and “reality.” Those models were/are paid to look like that to sell products so there was purpose in their strict diets, supplementation and training. So essentially I was training and prepping for a photo shoot that was never planned.
Don’t misunderstand me –there’s absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to look like a fitness model. In fact, it can be a very healthy and motivating goal! What I am saying is not looking like them is not necessarily an indictment on your health. So, as long as my vitals are good, my strength is up and my clothes fit well and appropriately, how anyone else looks, has no bearing on how healthy I am or how I feel about myself.