#AtHome with PAUSE: Q&A with Michael Dapaah

By April 22, 2021Features
Wellness is a way of life that has washed away the age-old adjective metrosexual, which was a term applied to Men who tend to their presentation. Whilst that mostly pertained to grooming, fitness and physique has definitely moved into this category as the endorphins it releases allows one to embrace their whole being.
In conversation with Michael Dapaah today is Fashion Editor and wellness advocate himself, Rhys Marcus Jay // rhysmarcusjay


Let’s talk about all things nutrition, they say “you are what you eat” and we’d like to know what you’d consume after a typical workout of yours.

I usually have either chicken or salmon with vegetables, broccoli and some sweet potatoes, some prawns. That’s typically what I eat. Nutrition’s been the biggest challenge for me because I naturally have a sweet tooth so I always need to eat something sweet after training or I have mad cravings at night so I think that’s been my biggest challenge to overcome but I’ve kind of found a solution for it now. We’re cracking on. I also have boiled plantain.

How come you have it boiled and not fried?

It’s healthier.

And it tastes just as good?

It’s good. Plantain is actually my favourite food in the world.

I’ll take your word for that then haha.

I always say, whoever I marry if she can’t cook plantain it’s not going to work.

Then it’s on to the next?

It’s not going to work, sorry.

What is your post-workout fuel?

When I go for runs in the morning I usually run fasting. So I don’t eat anything before I go running and then I’ll eat maybe two hours before I train when I do weights later on in the day.

How do you approach cheat meals, do you tend to have them on days you train or rest days?

I think I just have a cheat meal when I feel like it, I’ll be honest with you. It’s something that I’m trying to be more disciplined with because I have a sweet tooth. I don’t really drink and the rest but that’s my weakness, there are some chocolates that I like. Those are the things I try to stay away from, I don’t really have specific days when I have cheat meals right now, I kind of have them scattered around a bit, usually, Sundays will be my day because that’s a day that I go spend time with my mum. That’s when you get that home-cooked meal, they don’t know anything about portion size, it’s doing what you want – must tuck in.

How does your day to day diet impact your fitness goals?

It’s the most important thing. I think once I started to really pay attention to my diet my body started changing more, I did a lot of damage when I was younger because I was trying to eat like everybody else but not understanding that my body structure is not like everybody else’s. If it’s 3 AM in the morning and I feel hungry I will eat, that’s what I was doing, I would have jollof rice with chicken, some coleslaw, whatever was there. Serious food, whatever’s there if it’s rice and peas or macaroni cheese. Right now, I’ve got to the stage where I try not to eat any kind of carbohydrates past eight. Even if I’m going to have a late one, I don’t really eat carbs past eight and if I ever do get hungry I might have a smoothie or a little bit of chicken. When you first start actually training you to think that it’s all about the gym but it’s not, it’s a lie. You can get into great shape just from a really good diet, right now that’s where my focus is at, the diet has helped a lot. I love Nandos so when I can’t cook I get Nandos but I’ve had to change my order there, I now get chicken with broccoli and corn instead of chips and coleslaw.

Did you find yourself having to revisit your tastebuds and think about if you really liked what you’re eating or see what you get from it in terms of nutrition?

I’ve noticed when I have heavy carbohydrates-focused meals I need to sleep. When I tend to portion the food better and it looks clean on the plate I also feel way more energised, like I’m putting something in my body to keep me going. My portion sizes have had to change by force because some of my friends that are trainers or are around me were born with abs and they’ve got muscles in their back and they don’t do anything. How my structure is set up, I’ve got to work for mine so I don’t complain. At first, I didn’t understand, I used to have conversations with God asking what happened. Now I try not to look at it as not being able to eat certain things, it’s more like this is what I need to eat. I changed the narrative in my head. That’s where my whole energy is at right now when it comes to feeding.

Those who aim to lose weight always have a six-pack as a goal, however, they don’t realise that in order to achieve this, they shouldn’t focus on just ab workouts – what are your thoughts on this statement?

To get a six-pack means you have to drop a lot of body fat, with fitness it’s about setting a target that you are personally happy with. You get to know, as you start training, some people don’t want a six-pack. A six-pack is a lot of maintenance so set whatever you want as a goal: if you have an ideal weight, aim for that weight; if there’s an ideal look you want to have, aim for it. I don’t personally think that a six-pack defines that you’re fit because there are some people with six-packs that can’t even run one kilometre. It’s just a natural thing for them, they were born with abs.

Moving on to the show, what is the casting process like?

For me, I feel like I really wanted to collaborate with people I find interesting, people that I think are on a fitness journey themselves, that I find creative, who I think the public need to see in another light. In the most recent episode with OFB, everyone was saying in the comments how loose they are, they’d never seen them happy, laughing, so engaged and so free. For me, I feel that the most important thing for people like that, when you actually connect with them just on a human level as bro’s, everyone’s just the same. Sometimes it is about being able to bring that to the world and show that behind this facade that you guys think these guys put up they’re just nice guys themselves. For me, it is very important to bring that to the forefront and to put people in situations that you haven’t usually seen them in. Straight away if you saw those guys in the gym you’re going to want to find out how they perform, that’s the process. I wouldn’t say there’s one thing in which I decided the casting process for the whole show, the team that I work with are amazing. I like to really connect and bump heads with the team that I’m blessed to work with so that we can collaboratively do stuff. I think it’s important to always seek the opinions and wise counsel from those around you because it’s a collective vision. It’s not just about me winning, it’s about all of us together. The team has been a big part of the casting process just like I have.

It was nice to see OFB be humanised, seeing you tear down that wall, especially being that they are black men, the show really allowed them to just be them and not have to live up to the masculine stereotypes or anything of the sort.

Sometimes when people go on these kinds of platforms it’s a thing where people are trying to protect them as well. Everybody comes from somewhere and everybody has had different experiences due to their environment and some of the ways that different people grow up, people end up choosing and picking different things. For me, the most important thing is making people feel comfortable, once they feel comfortable they forget they’re even filming for a show and we can just connect on a human level. That’s when we’re able to get the best work out so that’s what’s important to me.

You’ve expressed that like most of us, keeping fit has been a struggle and we’re keen to know how you arrived at the turning point of realising that it was time for an improvement physically?

I’ll be honest, I feel like it’s a journey that I’ve been on and off for two and a half maybe three years. I fluctuate depending on scheduling and stuff like that but then I’ve realised how mentally stimulating exercising is for me. It’s now gone from being something I do because it’s cool to train a few times a week to a necessity. Every time I train it energises me, I feel good mentally, there’s that release of dopamine. I went to Dubai and I went to Ghana at the end of last year going into this year and I was training very heavily before I went but then I let myself go while I was in those places and coming back I said that have to get myself back into proper shape. I’ve run 16 times this month, tomorrow will make it 17. I’ve built it into my routine so I would have run today but I need to rest my legs. I did Saturday, Sunday, Monday so I needed to rest.

What inspires you to continue training?

I have a target of how I want to look, where I want to get to and for me, it’s mentally what it does for me. Fitting it into my routine helps a lot, it really energises me when I train. When I don’t train I see that I am a bit more sluggish, I feel a bit lazy, I drag my feet when it comes to work, those are the things that keep me motivated when it comes to training just the fact that it really does energise me. When I don’t run or exercise I feel like I’ve messed up badly.

Like you’ve taken a Jenga block out and everything collapses.

Trust me.

How would you describe the feeling that comes with wellness?

It’s motivating, liberating, refreshing; you just feel good. And it’s mentally stimulating, those are the best phrases I would associate with wellness.

Has your perspective of wellness been impacted by the pandemic?

Yeah, 100%. Being a regular gym go-er, when the gyms closed it was like ‘what are you going to do?’ I didn’t have any weights or anything in my house, you’re so used to going and doing the machines. The pandemic I saw in two ways: I’m either going to put on a bunch of weight and make hella excuses or I’m going to try and find a solution to this. What we’ve had to do is adjust and it’s helped because it’s got me into running, I prefer running outside now to a treadmill. It’s just knowing that you have a target which you’re running to, you meet other runners and you meet other bikers, you see the same people when you’re running around the same times and you continue to connect with those people and it’s great. The pandemic has helped me to really look at exercise and fitness in a different way, running 17 times or 16 times this month has now become a part of my routine, it’s a part of me. I have the pandemic really to thank for that because before, sometimes going to the gym you can make a bunch of excuses but there’s nothing like waking up and just going for a run.

If you were a workout, which one would you describe yourself as and why?

That’s a really good question. Star jump. It works the whole body-ish and reach for the stars, I don’t even know!

Like in the Big Narstie episode, “I’m a star and I jump.”

Yeah. I’d say skipping or star jumps, one of them

An all-in-one situation?

Yeah because skipping it just works everything. I would say skipping it works everything in one. That’s what I’d probably say.

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