Getting in shape can feel like starting a hike on a huge mountain – staring at the top, knowing that there’s a long hard climb before reaching the top to see the beautiful view.
A lot of planning, scheduling, and consistency goes into a fitness regimen that actually produces results. Throw a vegan diet into the mix and forget about it! Sounds impossible, right?
Well, Obakeng Makapane has devoted her life to teaching people that committing to fitness goals doesn’t rule out being vegan – no matter how intensive your workouts may be.
The South African fitness trainer is famously known for her plant-based blogs and popular virtual work-out classes.
When she first started her fitness journey, she didn’t have access to a gym and relied on the limited information available to her through Facebook to guide her work-out routines.
Now, she uses her experience and the knowledge she’s gained to create content for others around the world so that they can look and feel their best too.
She dives deep into wellness on social media and shares valuable tips for getting started and maintaining a rock-solid fitness plan while following a vegan diet.
Meal prep inspo, plant-based recipes, and guides for both home and gym workouts are posted daily on her Instagram page. She even offers online nutritional courses.
Motivating people to live healthier lifestyles, she’s become a prominent figure in physical wellness. She reaches audiences around the world and collaborates with global brands, like Puma.
“I believe that all of us are unique in our bodies, lives and journeys. It's important that we practice kindness towards each other.
My journey may be different to yours but that does not invalidate your struggles or achievements. Let's celebrate our beautiful bodies and enjoy living healthy,” she says.
To find out how can vegan diet supports and fuel your body for grueling work-out routines, read the exclusive interview below!
G: What sparked your passion for fitness and living a healthy lifestyle? Was this always important to you, or did a certain instance in your life inspire it?
Obakeng Makapane (OM): My passion for fitness started after I gained weight due to losing my gran.
I lost my gran at the age of 12 and between the ages of 12 and 14, I ate my emotions away.
Everyone in my life commented on my weight and this bothered me a lot, but I did not do much about it because I was still grief-stricken.
At the end of my grade 8 year, I decided to start running. At the time, I did not know much about fitness or weight loss. I did a bit of research and incorporated it into my routine.
Back then, Facebook was the most popular social media but there was a limited amount of information about fitness on it.
When I reached varsity, I finally had access to an actual gym for the first time and I started sharing my journey online.
G: What is your fitness mantra/philosophy, and how has it evolved?
OM: Right now, my mantra is: "Take care of your whole being and you'll never have to worry about your physical being".
This is something I've adopted recently. I used to look at my fitness journey through the lens of physical appearance.
But after going through some mental and emotional challenges, I've learnt that it is important to look at wellness holistically.
We cannot have strong looking bodies if we do not have a healthy relationship with our bodies, and that starts in the mind.
G: What workouts do you foresee trending big in 2021, and why?
OM: Before gyms closed, I saw a lot of people going towards cross-fit. But now, with lockdown restrictions still in place, I think people are leaning towards HIIT.
HIIT was popular in 2020 and I think it will continue to be popular in 2021 because HIIT can be done anywhere, with or without equipment, and a lot of trainers are aware of the benefits so they’re likely to recommend it.
I recently did my HIIT instructor course and enjoyed it.
G: What is your current fitness regimen, and your nutrition plan you use to stay in shape?
OM: At the moment I train 5-6 times a week with three 30-minute runs, two leg sessions (one light and one intense session), one upper body session, and two full body sessions.
I also use one day a week to rest or do some yoga. In terms of nutrition, I am plant-based so my diet is mainly vegetables and fruits.
I have been moving towards intuitive eating, listening to my body and making sure I eat enough in a day.
I start my day with green tea or a glass of green juice. For breakfast, I have oats or scrambled tofu, depending on my training schedule that day.
I snack on grapefruit, berries, or nuts mainly and for lunch/dinner I have stir-fry or veggies with beans or chickpeas. It really varies – check out my Instagram food account for more @vegan_fitobi
G: How has your routine changed to stay fit in quarantine? What can people do to still get the same challenge/burn that they would in the gym?
OM: My workouts have been less intense due to the limited amount of workout equipment.
Initially it was challenging for me to train 5 times a week but now I have gotten myself into a routine and found that morning workouts work best for me.
I would suggest investing in home gym equipment, such as dumbbells, resistance bands, jump ropes, and ankle weights.
These help intensify your workouts. Also, don’t be afraid to switch things up! Try something new from different platforms.
The beauty about media is that we have unlimited access to all kinds of workouts. Use what you have and push yourself.
What one thing do you never skip in your workout?
Warm up and stretching – those are very important!
What is your best advice for people who want to get in shape in 2021, but don't really know how to stay on track?
Keep a planner to help you plan workouts and meals. Do things that you enjoy; that way it does not feel like extra effort is required.
Take it one day at a time – fitness and healthy living is a journey not a destination. Lastly, the best time to start is now; don't wait for a new month to begin.
Start now with commitment, discipline and consistency.
G: What's the biggest mistake that fitness newbies make?
OM: Intensity over consistency. People want to see results quickly, so they will copy workouts from someone who has been at it for years and expect results in a week or two.
The most important thing about fitness is consistency, that goes a long way.
G: One of the key elements for staying consistent with working out is accountability. Who keeps you accountable for working out consistently?
OM: My online community keeps me consistent. I also hold myself accountable using a fitness journal.
Tell us about why veganism is important to you, and why you promote plant-based fitness?
Plant-based fitness is important to me because it has taught me the importance of balance. Before, I used to think that meat and vegetables were the only important elements in nutrition.
However, being plant-based has given me a broader understanding of food and the relationship between my body and what I consume.
Beyond that, it has forced me to be creative. When I started a plant-based diet, my food was bland.
But as time goes on, I learn more and try out new recipes. I would recommend it to anyone and everyone!
G: As a vegan, what do you eat before workouts to make sure you have enough protein and nutrients in your system?
OM: More often than not, I train in the morning, on an empty stomach. This has always been the case.
One days where I feel a little hungry, I grab a banana and five almond nuts. Post workout I drink my plant-based protein shake.
I know people worry a lot about protein, especially when doing intense training, but I eat enough protein in every meal.
I make sure to include a source of protein in each meal; chickpeas, tofu, black beans, red kidney beans, chia seeds, almond nuts, quinoa, plant-based protein mince, plant-based protein powder or lentils.