Today we spend some time catching up with the travel-obsessed, fitness-loving, adventure-chasing bon-vivant, Amy Hopkins aka @amy_hoppy!
She is the owner of Amy Hopkins Media – her content and digital marketing business and, when she’s not traversing our countries gorgeous landscapes, she’s a recipe developer, food stylist and cookbook author. She is Amy Hopkins! Let’s get to know her a little better.
You are actively involved in many things, from fitness to food, to travel and so much more. What has inspired you to show such dedication and passion towards these aspects of life?
I am passionate about them all! I love fitness because moving my body makes me feel alive and strong and free. Food is crucial for nourishing ourselves well and it’s kind of like a love language for me – I’m a bit of a feeder. As a curious cat by nature with a deep longing to explore and connect places and cultures different to my own, I’ve always been drawn to travelling. Forget fancy shoes and handbags, give me a plane ticket!
If you had to choose only one out of food, travel and fitness what would it be and why?
DEATH! How can you even ask me this! As it’s impossible to choose one I will have to be uber practical and say food. Mostly because I get super hangry and because you can still travel with your palate. Does chewing count as a workout?
You have travelled all over our beautiful country, South Africa, what were some of your favourite places to visit?
South Africa is such a rich, diverse country. There’s something enrapturing about the dry, expanse of the Karoo and the red dunes of the Kalahari. But what I’m really drawn to is forest or woodland areas. Because I live in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, Cape Town, I seek what’s not typically found on my doorstep. It doesn’t mean that I don’t worship the ocean, but I love the quiet lushness of a forest with cascading streams and the crunch of leaves beneath my feet. Yes, it’s been a long lockdown! And right now, being immersed in nature is a priority! Book a log cabin in the Magoebaskloof valley, about 65km east of Polokwane – it’s a little-known mecca for trail running and hiking. I also love the forests in and around Knysna and Tsitsikamma region – I’ve had some of my best mountain biking adventures there. But if I want a quick escape from the Mother City, Franschhoek is my favourite village.
As a woman what advice would you give to the woman who wants to travel on their own?
I’ve travelled alone a lot for work. Locally and internationally. I always pack like I’m not going to be near a pharmacy – all the extra emergency tablets and treatments in case you find yourself sick somewhere where people don’t speak English. I make a list of restaurants or markets or good coffee shops to visit and spend my days working around them. Add to that a local yoga studio. If you’re somewhere exotic, book a cooking course to learn more about the cuisine! I’m an extrovert, so I’m always introducing myself to people – it’s worth it! You never know who you’re going to meet! Download maps of the area you’re visiting so that you can always access them.
What are some travelling essentials that you think everyone should always keep on hand?
Besides the two most important: passport and credit card, the 2021 travel essential list includes: sanitiser, a good book, charger, sunscreen, face wipes, medical kit, extra socks and panties, plug adaptors, running shoes (best way to see a new place!), lip balm (I love DCT) and a snack for emergency hunger pangs.
You are the author of your very own cookbook, Love Food, which is inspired by your food intolerances. How long did it take for you to create this pro-health cookbook, and what has that process been like for you?
I was the managing editor and food editor of Women’s Health for many years and so, I felt like I was constantly building up a collection of recipes in my head! I’m constantly trying new things in the kitchen or even reworking, tweaking and adapting recipes I’ve made for years. So, the book is a collection of some of my favourite recipes and the focus of the book is also to share healthy recipes that are easy to make. There is a perception that healthy means intimidating or difficult or expensive – and it doesn’t have to be. Especially if you’re not eating meat at every meal. It’s flexitarian, so it’s also a way to introduce some plant-based recipes into our very meat-eating nation. The actual process of putting a book together is a lot of writing and editing and dropping recipes and playing Tetris with layouts. I love it – it is just time-consuming.
How long did it take for you to adapt to your lifestyle, and what advice or words of encouragement can you give to all the foodies out there who have to restrain themselves for health reasons?
It’s actually not that difficult today. Nine years ago, it was. Today we have alternatives and substitutes for everything. Dark, dairy-free chocolate is better quality and damn delicious. Vegan butters are amazing. The only thing I’d say that I really miss is cheese – good stinky blue, creamy cheese. And I think that’s also because many of the vegan cheeses I’ve tried are so processed and don’t taste great. I eat the way I do because my body feels a million times better for it. I’m allergic to dairy, but many humans are actually lactose-intolerant and get all kinds of skin problems, bloating, tummy issues etc. from dairy, but people just live with it as if they don’t know that their quality of life could be better. Some people don’t have a choice – diabetic, allergic, heart disease, cancer etc. But for those who have a choice and are looking to make healthier choices, I say this: live an 80-20 rule. Choose healthy, whole foods that nourish your body and leave you feeling good 80% of the time and then treat yourself to whatever you want 20% of the time. No one wants to live a life of complete deprivation – but we also want to live a good-quality, healthy long life!
You also have your very own club for running and cycling, called The Hoppy Club. Due to the pandemic, we understand that it is now on pause, but when did you start this club of yours, and why?
A few years ago, I noticed that a lot of girl friends would stop running in winter because they didn’t want to run in the dark and cold alone. In Cape Town, in June, the sun was rising at 7.50 am – it’s crazy late! So, I thought I’d start a group as a safe space for women to run together and I’d lead a casual 5km that was inclusive. Eventually, we had quite a few regulars that would split up and take other newbies and sweep at the back or front. Coffee is a little treat/reward for getting up and moving your body, plus a nice way to actually socialise after the run and meet like-minded people. One of my best friends today is a girl I met because she came to the running club. I then introduced the same thing with cycling in the build-up to the Cape Town Cycle Tour in 2020 and it was very popular! There’s safety in numbers! And we’ll do it again soon!
When it comes to self-care and health, what do you think are the most important things that people should do or look out for?
Everyone is different and has slightly different needs, but the one thing we can all do is check in with ourselves regularly. Take five minutes to just be still and without distraction, ask yourself how you are feeling. Take this time to focus on your breath and do some meditation. Journalizing is also a good practice that helps to ease stress and anxiety. And then, move your body a little every day! You don’t have to be a “runner” or “gym bunny”, but go for a walk. Exercise and moving your body helps to change your energy, creates endorphins and boosts your mood!
You also happen to be the owner of your very own media company, Amy Hopkins Media. What inspired this venture and what has it taught you?
I’d been encouraged by peers to go on my own – which is a terrifying thing! But also, so rewarding. Managing your own time takes discipline but gives you so much freedom. And besides that, I like being my own boss!
Having such a strong background rooted in the media, what advice can you give to young writers, media personalities, influencers and so on?
Never stop learning, never stop upskilling yourself. I have always done extra online courses while working and this can only stand you in good stead for the future. Our landscape – media, technology – is constantly changing and you need to be able to “tell your story” across any kind of platform, using the latest tools. The advantage of having the internet like we do today is that everything is available to you at the touch of a fingertip. So if you don’t know how to do something, research, watch videos, practice, check out forums etc. And remember to think about the audience.
What are your goals for the future?
Next goal: to hire an assistant! Future, future goals: to have my own cooking show!
Words: Thuveshnie Govender | Photography: Courtesy Images