How Actor Boris Kodjoe’s Has Made Wellness a Family Priority

By Lindsey O'Connell

Boris Kodjoe has had a thriving career in Hollywood. The award winning actor has played a congressman (House of Cards), a doctor (Code Black), a fireman (ABC’s Station 19), and even a god (Luther). But while he continues to land dynamic roles that are the envy of many in his profession—what’s most important to Kodjoe above all is his family, wellbeing, community and health

Understanding the importance of giving back, he’s dedicated much of his life to philanthropy. In 2018 he and his wife, Nicole Ari Parker, launched The Kodjoe Family Foundation in honor of their daughter Sophie who was diagnosed with Spina Bifida at birth. Wanting to support her, they changed their lifestyle and found ways to address her mental, physical and medical needs. 

With exercise and nutrition as the core of their family values, they wanted to share how putting your well being first doesn’t have to be a chore—and can actually be something enjoyable for your kids to participate in (Kodjoe’s kids get in on the workouts in the app, too!). So they created KOFIT, a health and wellness app that optimizes your time and energy to stay fit, without sacrificing your schedule.  They believe in simple, sustainable practices that allow you to enjoy your life, your body, and your loved ones more wholly. Sign us up!

As we continue to stay home and self-quarantine, Kodjoe and his family are giving back by launching the #HelpOurHeroes initiative that donates directly to healthcare personnel and frontline heroes. As an extension, their company GymWrap is  donating masks to those in need of protection with every mask sold. “ We have given away over half a million dollars’ worth of free masks to our front-line heroes,” Kodjoe tells Nutritious Life. “Every time somebody buys masks, we are able to give away more to those who put their own safety and health on the line to protect us.” 

He sits down with Nutritious Life to share how he and his family have created a system of prioritizing wellness. His simple ways of reframing how we think of motivation will help you to get up, get moving and actually accomplish your goals

How have things changed for you since COVID-19 hit? My family is blessed to have a home and food to eat. Our focus has been mainly on trying to stay active mentally and physically while in quarantine. Finding new ways to interact with each other, come up with games at home, get fresh air daily, ride our bikes, exercise, dance, read books. Not to succumb to our phones and social media has been a goal, too. It’s easy to fall down multiple rabbit holes and get swallowed up for hours, become reactive instead of being active. The pandemic has touched millions of lives and forced us to reexamine our physical and mental health. The impact of COVID-19 will be felt for years to come.

What are some of your tips to stay focused…especially now. It’s hard to stay focused in the current climate of the pandemic and our ongoing struggle for social justice and equality. The economy is in free fall and people are fighting for survival every day. It feels like everything is out of control. I try to focus on little things I can control, like creating a schedule for myself around work, exercise, meditation, reading. Even the task of making your bed in the morning can give you a sense of accomplishment when the world seems crazy.

How often do you exercise, and what’s your workout of choice? I exercise daily, mixing it up between riding my bike, doing HIIT workouts, yoga, lifting weights, and playing tennis. My objective is to feel healthy and strong. A combination of cardio, resistance, and mobility work does the trick for me.

How do you motivate yourself to work out? There is no such thing as automatic motivation, so I challenge myself each day to stick to my schedule. I set my alarm to a certain time and plan to be in the gym 15 minutes after I wake up. Once I take my first steps, put my shoes on, turn on my music, I’m ready to go. I generate my own motivation by taking action. If you wait for motivation to kick in, you will wait forever.

If you had to name your healthy diet, what would you call it? My way of eating would be defined as INTERMITTENT MODERATION. I eat everything, but at certain times and in moderation. Depriving yourself of foods you love, in my case ice-cream or mashed potatoes, isn’t sustainable. Diets don’t work because they force you to alter your way of living. You have to slowly adjust your habits to affect real change. Baby steps. One day at a time.

Has it been hard to stay on track with your nutrition while in quarantine? It’s harder for me to stick to my healthy habits when I don’t have an incentive, like on-camera work. During phases like that I allow myself to relax and eat whatever I want. I don’t eat unhealthy foods so I’m not in danger of hurting myself, but I have indulged from time to time.

What’s your go-to breakfast? I usually skip breakfast when I’m doing intermittent fasting. But when I eat breakfast, I enjoy a great Muesli (yoghurt, granola, berries), dark German bread with real butter, Swiss cheese, a few hard-boiled eggs, or avocado toast.

Your go-to workday lunch?  A nice mixed salad with some protein on top. I’m primarily plant based, so I enjoy lentils, tofu, eggs, chickpeas, and beans.

What’s the one food you always have in your fridge?  We always have tons of fruits and veggies in our fridge, and of course Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough.

What causes you stress? The whole world is stressful right now. The news outlets, social media feeds, all contribute to our daily fight or flight impulse and put us in constant survival mode. It’s putting tremendous strain on our physical and mental wellbeing. I try to be mindful of my time spent online. I force myself to unplug and spend time with my family and myself. Meditation, exercise, being outdoors, reading a book, sleeping, are all ways I reduce stress.

How do you pamper yourself when you need it? Spending time alone with my wife, staycations, getting massages, doing nothing, are ways I pamper myself and her.

How do you express and spread love? Love is consideration, empathy, and service. I try to apply all three of these daily.

(photo credit: KOFIT)

About Lindsey O'Connell
Former Editorial Director, Nutritious Life

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