Thursday, March 9, 2017

Kemone's Food Fight

Kemone with papayas at Mariano's.
I’ve known Kemone Hendricks since she was a high schooler at ETHS. I led and she participated in an Evanston Arts Council and City of Evanston joint workforce development project called ArtSkills 2000, which gave Evanston kids summer jobs. She was a paid photographer with 19 peers. She and I got back in touch recently to talk about the business of photography, as well as health and wellness. This is some of what we talked about.

Q: Kemone, to me you look like the same skinny kid who I met about 17 years ago, but actually your body has gone through some big changes, besides giving birth twice. You’d gained some weight and you weren’t feeling good physically. What do you attribute the weight gain to and what do you attribute your weight loss and better health to?

KH: My weight gain started when I became depressed about the relationship I was in. I had started to eat a lot and also drink alcohol almost everyday to comfort myself. Food became a drug to me and I would eat to the point I would feel like throwing up sometimes, even if I was full I would continue eating. Eating became my happy place, the only time I would truly feel happy was while I was eating my favorite foods, but the weight gain made me even more depressed. The person whom I was in a relationship with also enjoyed eating and encouraged me to eat more and applauded my weight gain.

I always wanted to break the cycle, but wasn't quite sure how to. I was disgusted when I looked in the mirror and started hating myself. I didn't even recognize the person in the mirror anymore. I became so disgusted with myself I started searching the internet for the fastest way to lose weight. I associated losing weight with also losing the unhealthy relationship I was in. That thought made me feel free and happy, because if he wasn't around I wouldn't have anyone encouraging me to eat and promoting the very thing that made me hate the way I looked. All I wanted was to be the Kemone I once was—sometimes sad, but usually really happy, energetic, not caring what people thought of me. Deep down I knew I could never get her back the wound was too deep. But maybe somehow I could create a new Kemone, someone better than her? Someone kinda like her? Someone stronger than her? That wouldn't let this happen to her again?

So it began. A journey I'm still on this very day. I'm a all-or-nothing person, so if I commit to doing something I will succeed. But I'm also very impatient. I wanted it now! I couldn't stand the person in the mirror another day. So I got a gym membership, started taking one of the best appetite suppressant pills, worked out almost everyday, barely ate, drank lots of water and ignored everything else around me and before you new it I felt alive again. Hearing people say “OMG. You’re getting so skinny" became a drug to me.


Q: Your path to better health has included paying attention to what your body is telling you it needed, not what a diet guru might prescribe. What are some of the foods your body is telling you it wants to feel its best?

KH: So I soon realized that trying to starve myself left me with little to no energy. My body started telling me it needs fruits, veggies, something else to keep it going, but not too much to slow it down. So I would fast some days drinking green tea with 100% pure honey, water, and soup broth when craving flavor. I would do that for two days straight sometimes only one and then on the days that I did eat I would eat lots of fruits, protein (chicken breast), protein bars (no sugar added, gluten free). I wouldn't eat after 7 o'clock and if I did get hungry after that, I ate fruits only. Then I would cycle that same routine thru out the week. If I did eat something “bad” I would detox it out by drinking one of my favorite detox teas.

Green tea with a hint of mint is amazing, pure honey is amazing, blueberries do wonders for you, Fiji water best tasting water ever.
Papayas. I enjoy papayas.



Q: What didn’t work for you on your quest toward wellness?

KH: As mentioned, starving left me tired. But what also didn’t work for me was eating solid foods everyday. To me even a salad was like a gateway to wanting to eat more and something less healthy. It was all or nothing with me. Once I knew this was the days of fasting I could set my mind to eat and succeed.


Q: When you fall off the wagon, what foods do you go for? Chips?

KH: Tacos. When I fall off the wagon I go for tacos! Always. There's just something about authentic Mexican tacos! ;-)  For me, anything not made at home—I would go to a restaurant—was not good for me.


Q: What are some of your favorite sources for good-for-you food?

KH: I'm not too picky about where I buy my food and I know I should be! I do love Mariano’s, Trader Joe's, Valli Produce, Village Market Place on Dempster in Skokie and Rogers Park Fruit Market


Q: What are some of your favorite sources for solid information about nutrition?

KH: While I read a lot of things on the internet and follow a couple different health pages on Instagram, I just pretty much stick to the basics and create my own nutritional plan based on my bodies needs and vitamins that my doctor says I'm lacking.

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Got your own questions about how to eat better to feel better? Consider asking Chelle, Michelle Gillespie, that is. She and I are starting a column/podcast called Ask Chelle, so she can share eating wisdom in between Health Hacks workshops.

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