Interview by Maliika Walker
Kamila McDonald is a wife, mother, Honors graduate from Stanford University, Master’s graduate of UC Berkeley, certified personal trainer, and sports nutritionist. She is also an official Adidas Ambassador of Jamaica who is a passionate advocate for preventing chronic non communicable diseases, like Diabetes. Kamila is also the founder of 10poundpledge.com and Kamp Kamila.
I attended Kamp Kamila in August 2015 and it was a life changing experience. Kamp Kamila is a workout and nutrition session like no other I have attended. Participants work up a sweat for one hour then Kamila goes right into a very informative nutrition session. Kamila pushed our bodies to the point where we were just dripping in sweat. I felt so accomplished and that I could push harder in my workouts. She is motivating and encouraging. I was a little overwhelmed at first during the nutrition session. Once Kamila began breaking down the effects that processed foods can have on our bodies, I immediately understood the need to change my lifestyle to a healthy one.
I had a chance to speak with Kamila about her vision for Kamp Kamila and her passion around children’s health.
Maliika: I love how you inspire people during the Kamp Kamila workouts.
Kamila: When I do Kamp Kamila I come alive. I wouldn’t consider myself a public speaker. It is still something I am working on but I still do not come to work out/train people with a script. I say a prayer before each Kamp Kamila session. I know I am doing this for the greater benefit of the people that are coming. Maybe some people in the crowd will walk away with some information that will bring positive change into their life. If I encourage someone in a way that can lead to healthy/positive change, then I feel like my job is done. Kamp Kamila is here because I feel like I was put here to do this work. You telling me that you enjoyed the session tells me I had a positive impact on you. The mission of Kamp Kamila is to reach as many people as possible and inspire a healthy lifestyle for all.
Maliika: You are definitely a catalyst for change.
Kamila: Sometimes people don’t understand when you are forging a new path. I’m definitely going against the grain because I believe in it. I know if I continue to believe in my vision I will get there. I will continue to spread the message of healthy and positive change.
Maliika: I loved that you included a Kiddie Kamp segment. I know you’re a mother of a three year old. More children are more sedentary than ever and developing diseases like Diabetes.
Kamila: Yes you just touched on it. Yes ten olds are getting Type 2 Diabetes and this is usually a disease that affects our grandparents because these are chronic diseases. The decisions we make over time will eventually affect us. We will eventually see the effects of poor decisions if we do not work on correcting our decision making with regards to not only our health but the health of our children. The food we are eating has become so horrible because of food manufacturers. When we start feeding our children this bad food from say three years old, they are feeling the effects of it seven or eight years later with diseases like diabetes. When it comes to the eating habits of children, parents are totally responsible.
As a parent I believe in balance, not cutting off things like candy completely. Once they are around their friends they may eat it anyway. I allowed my daughter a piece of candy before a meal, which is rare. My daughter began throwing a tantrum, demanding more candy before eating her meal. The easy response would have been to give her more candy, and then she would have been full from eating candy. I had to tell her she had to have her meal and told her she could go into the naughty corner or get the candy taken away for good and she began to cry. Yes the happy morning we were having was over but as parents we have to make the decisions that are right but may not make your child happy for at that moment. We have to put our feet down. We as parents are creating the habits for our children. It’s very important that they start thinking about healthy living from a young age and that begins with us. Kiddie Kamp is for kids but it is really for parents. Parents need to understand their responsibilities and the need for the family to adopt a healthy lifestyle. Children are going to do what we are showing them, what we are telling them. It’s important for parents to lead by example. The focus of Kiddie Kamp is on the responsibility that we have to show kids the right way. So the nutrition information during Kiddie Kamp is for a child.
Maliika: What type of information do you share during the nutrition session of Kiddie Camp?
Kamila: We have been conditioned that kids need to have calcium. When we think of calcium, we think of milk. Calcium is very important because children are still developing their bones. What we don’t realize is there are so many ways to get calcium, outside of milk. Vegetables are also a source for calcium, examples like broccoli and cauliflower. Parents should understand the importance of vitamin D for calcium absorption. The nutrition portion of Kiddie Camp is nutrition with a child focus. Having my daughter has awakened my passion for children’s health. In the future I see myself writing a book focused on children’s nutrition. Eventually I will have a day where the focus will just be Kiddie Kamp Kamila. The more I research and discover new information, the more passionate I become about children’s health.
Maliika: My mother would pile my plate with things like macaroni and cheese and fried chicken. Yes a vegetable was included, but was the smallest part of the plate. Food was her way of providing for me and showing me love. She would also make sure I was active and exercised.
Kamila: See that is why I want to expand Kiddie Camp in the future. I want to inform parents about the importance of nutrition and what unhealthy food is doing to our children. Parents may not be aware. Kiddie Kamp is meant to shed light to those parents who may not be aware. We are all guilty of celebrating around food. When we want to reward our kids for something good they may have done, the first thing we do is take them for a treat like ice cream. We develop this need for children to have sweets and processed foods early and they carry that into adulthood. The pattern of unhealthy living starts early so we have to educate parents so the cycle does not continue to repeat itself. We are going to have a lot more unhealthy people walking around if we don’t.
Maliika: What advice do you have for parents to get their children moving? Children are more sedentary than ever before thanks to television and video games.
Kamila: Parents can see this as a bonding opportunity with their child. You can have exercise with mommy time. It’s not about building muscle it’s about instilling a habit. Instead of a child coming home and turning on the TV after completing their homework, they can have workout with Mommy time. If you come home later, you can set a time exercise together. It’s important not to treat this time like they have to do it but create excitement around it. Engage in outdoor activities if there is good weather, like Frisbee.
Maliika: Have you spoken one on one with any of the parents who attended Kamp Kamila or Kiddie Kamp?
Kamila: I actually had a meal with a Kamp Kamila participant in NY and I ended up going to her house. She has a three year old and four year old. It was the sweetest experience. We gathered in her living room and had a workout with the children. The mother was sweating like crazy when we were done. She promised she would continue working out with her children three to four days a week.
Maliika: Can you share your thoughts on the joys of motherhood?
Kamila: I was just away from my daughter for eight days recently. That is the longest span I was ever away from her. I cannot fully express the joy I felt coming home to her. Loving her and seeing her just fills me up. Noticing the little idiosyncrasies she has developed in the eight days I was gone. I am responsible for her life, her development. I think every woman should become a mother if they could because it forces you out of that selfish way of thinking. Once you become a mother you are responsible for every move your child makes. It forces you to create the balance you need in being responsible for another life. My daughter is only three years old now and she has taught me so much about myself. Motherhood has been a blessing and I thank God every day. I am so excited about the future, seeing her continue to develop and grow. Every day she is just so happy about life and that makes me happy. It’s amazing to see what my husband and I have created. She’s a miracle.
Maliika: My niece gets so excited to go run and play in the park. One day I said to myself it’s nice that going to the park gives her so much joy.
Kamila: We often forget the meaning of life and how we are supposed to live it. Any time you forget look at a child. Look how they take everything in and just live. They can fall down and get right up and keep going. Children have a complete zest for life.