Ece Vahapoğlu is one of the best-known media personalities in Turkey. With her TV shows, best-selling books and healthy lifestyle, she has been a great role model for the people of Turkey. Although she has always been the sporty type, as she puts it, doing fitness and yoga, she didn’t start running until the age of 35. That was when she discovered she was a great runner and when she started her mission to get Turkish people moving more.
You came to running quite late. What would you suggest to women who think it is ‘too late’ to start sports?
I never believe in excuses. You can start anything at any age in your life when you truly want it. Of course, when you are young, your metabolism works faster and you feel more energetic. But in my experience, I can say that what you eat and what you do determines your real age and energy level. I feel more energetic and fit now than 10 years ago.
I suggest that women believe in themselves, motivate themselves, visualize the good results of a workout and then just take the first step and begin.
I’ve been doing fitness for at least 17 years and yoga for 2 years. Through my work, I found myself running a race last year and did very well for my first time and discovered my running talent. Afterwards, I started working on my technique, I read about running, I started to use mobile apps, and I made time for running. When you put in the time and effort, the rest comes on its own.
How and when did you realize that a healthy lifestyle was what you needed? How did you start?
After finishing high school in Istanbul, Turkey, I went to Brussels to study at an American University with students from all over the world. I observed that many students were going to the gym after classes, so I signed up at a local gym near my apartment. Since then, I have been working out in gyms. In recent years, I have been doing more outdoor sports, enjoying running anytime of the year anywhere in the world, or doing yoga on the green grass.
Even though I have been doing regular exercise for years, I was not satisfied with my muscle definition. I wanted more defined and lean muscles. So, I changed my diet, I read a lot, I wrote my first healthy lifestyle book, I got a wellness trainer certificate from Sports for All Federation in Turkey, I started to work with sports brands, and I switched from writing articles on serious business topics to ones on wellness and a healthy, active lifestyle. People were more interested in me when I honestly shared my wellness experiences and knowledge with them. I have an excellent followers profile on social media.
You have run many 10Ks and a half marathon. What were your biggest challenges during these races and what is your advice to women preparing for a half marathon?
I have run many 10Ks in Turkey and all over the world and I ran a half marathon once, too. To be honest, 10K or half marathon, they all feel the same to me. Your brain decides before your body. So, whether it’s 10K or 21K, it’s your mind that decides how you are going to run. You basically make a target distance in your mind and then just breathe properly and run. Of course, you do a lot of training and preparation before the actual races. I run three times a week before a race, I eat well to get the energy I need, and I stretch my muscles before and after running.
What are your 5 musts and 5 non-negotiables?
My 5 musts:
- Run early in the morning
- Drink lots of water
- Run one day, do fitness or yoga on the other day
- Meditate and work on your breathing
- Eat clean and well
My 5 non-negotiables:
- Don’t consume white bread/flour
- Forget about sugar (get sugar from fruits)
- Don’t eat late
- Avoid animal products that are high in saturated fat
- Alcohol is hard to digest and kills your abs
You lead a very busy life. What are your top 3 tips for managing to eat healthy?
I try to plan my day in advance, so I know more or less what I will eat during the day. I try not to go crazy at all-you-can-eat buffets when I am travelling. I eat a good, healthy breakfast, a moderate lunch and a light dinner. I have my healthy snacks in between main meals.
- Plan in advance
- Eat frequently
- Choose clean, healthy, and preferably organic food