Dr Akilah El is a Professional Natural Bodybuilder and owner of Celestial Healing Wellness Center in Atlanta, Georgia, USA and Munich, Germany. She is a Naturopathic Doctor, Master Herbalist and Certified Personal Trainer spreading the message of holistic health and veganism all over the world. She teaches holistic health, fitness and vegan-based nutritional classes online through her website as well as in person.
How and why did you decide to become a vegan?
I became vegan for health reasons only. As a vegan, my body is at its healthiest.
How long have you been vegan?
I was vegetarian for over 13 years, now vegan for over 4.
What has benefited you the most from being a vegan?
Six months after going vegan the dark circles from under my eyes vanished. Veganism has definitely made my skin look younger and healthier.
What does veganism mean to you?
Health and longevity. It also means a quality of life for the rest of my life. No pain, misery, illness or disease. My health is wealth and veganism will keep me rich for the rest of my life.
What sort of training do you do?
At the moment, I am focused on weight resistance training but when my bodybuilding competitions are over, I will go back to Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu training.
How often do you (need to) train?
I train six days a week.
Do you offer your fitness or training services to others?
Yes, in addition to being a Naturopathic Doctor I am also certified fitness instructor.
What sports do you play?
At the moment none because I’m too busy.
Strengths, Weaknesses & Outside Influences
What do you think is the biggest misconception about vegans and how do you address this?
The biggest misconception about vegans is that we are all anorexic hippies. I don’t shove PETA flyers in people’s faces and I don’t preach to folks about throwing their beauty products away because it’s been tested on animals. I get along with everyone and I don’t “rock the boat”. Once people discover that I’m vegan, they are shocked. I usually hear “But you’re too cool to be a vegan” or “But you don’t look like a vegan” and this is what I’m going for. If I’m going to convert people to veganism it’s best that I lead by example. I want to show people that they can be vegan without alienating their friends and family.
What are your strengths as a vegan athlete?
My strength has doubled as a vegan. I’m amazed at how extremely heavy I can lift as a vegan. I'm really strong - thanks kale! My workouts have been so mind-blowing that I had to record my lifts on video because my friends refuse to believe that I could lift that much weight. I was never this strong as a vegetarian.
What is your biggest challenge?
My libido. It has never been this high until I turned vegan. This is a big challenge that has turned into a huge problem. I’m a very busy woman so I don’t have time to have sex two, three or even four times a day. I recently created an herbal supplement to help calm this down. I’ve been taking it for two months and so far so good.
Are the non-vegans in your industry supportive or not?
Neither, they are neutral. The non-vegans in my industry practice the vegan version of “don’t ask don’t tell.” They don’t ask me about being a vegan and I don’t volunteer any information about veganism.
Are your family and friends supportive of your vegan lifestyle?
Yes, they are very supportive and accepting of my lifestyle.
What is the most common question/comment that people ask/say when they find out that you are a vegan and how do you respond?
I don’t get the typical, “where do you get your protein?” question. When they look at my arms and abs it’s obvious that I don’t have a protein deficiency. Therefore, they usually ask, “you’re able to build muscles like that without eating meat?” My response is usually “Yup!” before walking away.
Who or what motivates you?
My progress always motivates me. This year I decided to outdo myself from last year. Every year I’m going to upgrade my health and body to the next level. Right now I’m Akilah 3.5. Next year I’ll upgrade to Akilah 4.0.
Food & Supplements
What do you eat for:
Breakfast – An abundance of fruit or 32 ounces of fresh homemade fruit smoothie.
Lunch – Raw greens, vegetables with TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein) and quinoa.
Dinner – Split-pea soup with tempeh and vegetables wrapped in romaine lettuce.
Snacks (healthy & not-so healthy) – Raw nuts and seeds or almond butter with celery sticks.
What is your favorite source of:
Protein – Tempeh, TVP and Quinoa
Calcium – Spinach, Kale and Almonds
Iron – Seaweed, Spinach and Beets
What foods give you the most energy?
Fruit always gives me energy. This is why I eat so much of in the morning prior to going to the gym.
Do you take any supplements?
Yes, spirulina, creatine monohydrate and tongkat ali extract.
What is your top tip for:
Gaining muscle – Lift heavy weights, eat high amounts of plant based protein, and moderate amounts of healthy fats.
Losing weight – Daily cardio, eliminate processed foods from your diet and eat 70 - 100% raw vegan.
Maintaining weight – Find a balance between training and eating.
Improving metabolism – Eat a small meal every 2- 3 hours while the Sun is up and stop eating when the Sun is down.
Toning up – Same tip for gaining muscle as for metabolism.
How do you promote veganism in your daily life?
How would you suggest people get involved with what you do?
Feel free to visit my new website
. I offer services that will help people transition to a vegan successfully in addition to in-person, phone and online personal fitness training.
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Published: 26 September 2013