Guys today with have a special guest, one of the world’s leading Figure pros who some of you may have heard of! Let me introduce Eleni Plakitsi! This lady is so down to earth and she has so much knowledge for all of you to learn from!
Eleni thank you so much for coming on to FitMag! First of all can you tell us how you got into training?
It is my pleasure; I love what you guys are doing!
I remember that from a young age, I was very athletic. At school my interest in sport begun from track sprinting, which I really enjoyed and over time became rather competitive. This was most probably the first time I realized that I had a competitive streak in me. I enjoyed winning, as anyone does, but I also enjoyed the preparation it took to become the best.
By high school, I held the school record for the 100 and 200 meter runs. In addition, I was on the school volleyball team and competing against other schools. All of this took so much time with studies as well, however I loved the challenge!! After high school, I decided I wanted to live the “college experience” and chose to stop running track and also focus more on my studies. This of course did not mean I stopped exercise all together, instead I joined the local gym and started weight training. This was the first time I was properly introduced to weights, and I started to really enjoy it – also helping me mentally with my studies and focus at college. I had four great years at University earning my BA in Accounting and Finance. I made some great friends whom are still very dear to me and still very much a part of my life!
Having achieved my BA, I decided to make the move to London to further my studies. In London I studied my masters in Banking and soon after, started working and began studying for my Chartered Accountancy. This was a one period, where due to the intensity of study, and work, I was not as active physically. It was not long though, once I was more settled, where the ‘urge’ to get back in to my training began to come through! I decided to join my local gym and started working with a personal trainer which was very helpful to get back in to training – and learnt more about developing the correct technique. It was only a matter of time where I began to see results and was feeling healthier and the drive in me was coming through again!
Wow, you have come such a long way, both physically and geographically! So what were your aspirations when you first started training?
Initially, when I first started training my goal was to get a beach body for summer. However things changed once I achieved that goal. I wanted to challenge myself more and take my body to the next level. In saying this, at the time, this was all still just a little hobby until I came across on Oxygen magazine cover model Kristal Richardson - who has been my role model since then! As soon as I saw her on the magazine I wanted to get her physique and this is how it all started and I decided to enter my first competition
That is so often the case; people see someone else with their ‘ideal physique’ and then become inspired to chase it! Don’t ever underestimate the power of idols guys! What kind of physique did you have when you started training?
My physique was always athletic as I used to be a sprinter. However I never had that lean body that I was admiring... At that time I was a full time student and my main focus was to get my Masters. I still used to go to the gym and remain active but it wasn't at the same level of intensity as it is now.
Was your nutrition good at the start or not?
My diet has always been very healthy. I come from Greece and the Mediterranean diet is based on a lot of fish, chicken, red meat with lots of fresh vegetables and healthy fats. However when I decided to compete and get that lean look, I had to change a lot of things in my diet. Eating to maintain a lean appearance is different than eating to be healthy. To be lean, you must get your body into a rhythm. That rhythm is what keeps your metabolism fired up and burning food like a machine. So, eating on a schedule, ideally about every 2.5 to 3 hours, with the proper portions and the correct foods, will ultimately lead to fat loss, even with minimal exercise.
Well said, we cannot emphasise the power of nutrition enough! How important would you say nutrition is?
Nutrition is very important when it comes to competition. It’s actually 80% diet and 20% training. You may be spending hours at the gym but if nutrition is not spot on you will never achieve the optimal results you are after.
Bang on!!! What about supplementation?
Supplementation is vital especially when I am preparing for a contest. I am currently sponsored by Optimum Nutrition who have been providing me with the best quality supplements that have helped me to build muscle, maintain low body fat and keep my energy levels high. My favourite protein shake is Hydrowhey in chocolate - the best tasting and the best protein isolate. Also Amino energy is another favourite product which has helped me a lot to keep energy levels high during weight training.
Excellent, guys check out our Optimum Nutrition products out on MonsterSupplements.com! Can you tell us about your competitive background please?
I have been competing the last three years. It has been an amazing experience so far and so many good things have been happening so fast!! One of my greatest achievements was last summer when I turned a Pro. That was an amazing moment and I will never forget it.
So far I have competed and won The Fame Fitness Model in 2009 in UK and last year in Canada where I won the Fitness Modelling and Figure category and also the overall in both categories which gave me the opportunity to earn two pro cards which has never happened before in the federation!!
Competing is not an easy sport. You have to have the right mind set. It takes long time to get the perfect physique and be on stage. As the diet gets stricter you still need to train which can be quite tiring. Standing on stage in front of many people and being judged for your physique can be quite stressful. But it’s all worth it!
What would you say to women who feel they cannot use weight training in case they become ‘too masculine’ like men?
One of the biggest fitness myths is the fact that lifting weights will make you look bulky and too masculine. This is totally wrong. When it comes to increasing muscle size, testosterone is key. Men have 20 to 30 times more testosterone than women, which is why they can bulk up so noticeably. In fact, strength training will help you lose weight faster and keep it off in the long run. If you also incorporate cardio after weight training, it'll help you retain muscle as you drop fat, as well as prevent your metabolism from slowing. So don't focus all your efforts on the elliptical machine -- some weigh training could actually help you reach your ultimate goal.
Great advice! Ladies, Eleni’s physique is the ULTIMATE figure for a nice toned, athletic female figure, so listen to her!!! What kind of training do you use at the minute?
At the moment I am training heavy but focusing on high repetitions as I am getting ready for a contest and my diet is quite restricted and low in calories so I don't have a lot of strength to lift as heavy as in the off season. But I still lift as heavy as I can in order to maintain that 'hard look' which is necessary to present on stage for my class. I train weights 5 days a week followed by 1 hour cardio and I have two days off weight training where I incorporate 10 minute HIT cardio.
Awesome stuff!!! What would you say to women who will only eat salads and who follow ‘crash diets’ often found in fashion magazines?
Eating salads only is not healthy and I wish women stop following what they read in all those fashion magazines! Unfortunately there is such a lack of education on nutrition for women. Protein is the main source to build muscle and should be included in every meal! Salads, greens, complex carbs and fats are equally important to maintain a healthy diet and they should all be incorporated in our daily diet with the right portions of each nutrient.
Exactly! Muscle helps burn body fat, and it gives that lovely toned curvy figure! Do you mind us asking what kind of diet you follow?
I typically eat five to six meals a day (about two and a half to three hours apart) consisting of lean protein such as chicken, fish, turkey, lean red meat or egg whites and slow digesting carbs, such as oatmeal, brown rice and sweet potatoes. I also eat lots of fresh veggies to help fill me up and add fiber. When I'm trying to gain muscle in the off season, I'll up my intake of healthy fats, such as peanut butter and avocado, but avoid combining carbs and fats together. Instead I'll eat protein with fats and veggies and carb load, avoiding fat, about every third day. During off season I don’t measure my food; instead I eye the food.
When I am in season I divide my food into six meals and I measure everything to avoid over eating. I also incorporate the carb cycling approach where I am on low carb for 3 days in a row and I up my carb intake (I go up to 3 times my weight in pounds) every 4th day. This prevents my metabolism from slowing down and is the best way of burning fat.
A typical in season day will be:
Meal 1 oats and protein shake or egg whites
Meal 2 Chicken and brown rice and veggies
Meal 3 Turkey and veggies and 1 tablespoon Udo’s oil
Meal 4 Lean steak and veggies
Meal 5 Hydrowhey protein shake by Optimum Nutrition after training
Meal 6 Casein protein by Optimum Nutrition in chocolate
Excellent, take note guys! So what are your goals as a competitor now?
My goal is to win my next show and at some point soon step on the Olympia stage!
I am sure you will! What about as an individual?
I would like to build my own business around fitness, advising men and women on how to get fit and healthy while living their busy lifestyles! I would like to educate and encourage people to be fit and healthy at all times no matter how busy lives we all have!
Sounds great, that is exactly the message we want to get across! Prioritise your health and fitness!!! Where will you be in 5 years?
Hopefully I will still be in London running my own gym, helping people to get in shape and preparing girls for contests!
Married with kids but I will still be competing :))
That sounds great Eleni! Thank you so much for this great interview, I am sure everyone can take so much away from this and use this as motivation!!! We will certainly be in touch again soon to get an update, and to learn more off you! Take care and good luck with your goals!
Thank you so much! I LOVE the FitMag!