Name: Elena Kulakovska
Birthplace: Skopje, Macedonia
Current Residence: New York, NY
Sports: pilates, yoga, running, snowboarding, hiking, tennis
Tell us a little about yourself, what you do for a living, what hobbies / interests / passions
I am a holistic health and wellness coach, speaker, writer and blogger at Kul Healthy YOU. My mission is to provide people the tools to reach optimal health through plant-based, whole-foods nutrition; and to empower them to experience happiness, fulfillment and prosperity in every sense of the word. I am also an avid runner, and huge pilates and tennis fanatic.
Why did you become vegan?
While reading the book The China Study, my dietary preferences immediately shifted towards plant-based whole foods diet. Given that this book was not just another diet fad but rather an elaborate study of nutrition and health, switching to a plant-based lifestyle for me happened overnight.
When and why did you become interested in fitness?
Fitness played an important role in my life ever since my childhood. Whether it is pilates, running, tennis or hiking, I am always trying to be physically active as I feel it is a necessity in my daily routine.
How would you describe your nutrition program?
My nutrition consists of plant-based whole foods. I try to make the majority of my meals raw foods, as food is most nutrient-dense in its natural state but also leave myself some room for deliciously prepared whole foods and occasional vegan treats, just because ;)
How do you describe your training program?
I work out between four and six times a week, depending on my work schedule, but the bare minimum is four. My workout regimen consists of running, light strength-training and yoga or pilates and I play tennis recreationally.
What kind of supplements do you use, if any, and why?
Although I believe I am getting all macro and micronutrients from plant-based whole foods directly, I sometimes use Vega Performance protein powder immediately following my strength-training sessions. In addition I also take maca root powder, which is a natural adaptogen containing an array of minerals, vitamins, essential amino-acids and enzymes.
How do people react when they find out you are vegan?
Usually people are intrigued and become interested in what my diet consists of. I think that in today’s day and age the vegan life style is widely adopted by more and more people so for the most part the reactions I get from people are pleasant or neutral.
What are some common misconceptions about veganism?
The most common misconception is that we are lacking protein rich-foods as well as missing out on delicious food. Meanwhile since discovering and adopting a plant-based diet, I’ve discovered a variety of foods which I had never even heard of before, which are nutrient dense and extremely delicious.
Have you had success in promoting veganism/vegetarianism to others? If so, how did you go about it?
I am an enthusiastic and joyful vegan and would like for others to experience all the wonderful things that come with living a compassionate and sustainable lifestyle. Primarily I promote veganism by means of sharing recipes and pictures of the vegan food I eat and cook. This has shown to be a fairly effective way as people do not feel forced as to why they should pursue a certain lifestyle, but rather see for themselves that vegan food can indeed be very delicious, along with being nutrient dense and healthy.
What do you think the most important aspect of training is?
I would say eating nutrient dense foods is the most important aspect of training. The reason behind this is simple: eating a well-rounded, whole food plant-based diet reduces inflammation which in turn allows for reduced recovery time between workout sessions, therefore allowing the body to train more frequently and with higher intensity.
What do you like best about being vegan?
The vibrant energy that a plant-based whole food diet provides can not be compromised. And the best part is that you don’t have to choose between a healthy, fun, modern lifestyle and a fair, sustainable, compassionate lifestyle…you can have it all!
What do you like best about being fit?
Being fit feels like a well-balanced state of health. It gives me a boost of energy and increased mental clarity which in turn boosts my overall productivity, allowing me to do more in less time. Being physically fit also makes me feel better, probably due to the endorphins released from exercising.
What advice do you have for people who are just starting out with training?
The key to training is consistency and often times scheduling the training sessions seems to help people be persistent. I also recommend trying different fitness activities until finding the activity that is most enjoyable to the individual. Many people misinterpret feeling bored with an activity as a sign that they do not like to exercise when nothing could be further than the truth. Boredom is just an indication that it is time to try a new activity, or to add another layer of challenge to the current training program. Also be persistent; establishing a new habit does take time, but then it simply becomes a part of the daily routine.
What advice do you have for people who are thinking of becoming vegan?
I’d recommend that they have an easy transition using the “crowding-out” approach one step at a time. By adding more plant-based whole foods to their diet, they will “crowd-out” the not good for them foods.
What motivates you in life?
I am motivated by my passion for holistic health and wellness and supporting people find their healthy balance by achieving a mind/body/spirit connection.
What do you think of veganbodybuilding.com? Has it helped or inspired you?
The website is comprehensive and can especially be helpful for people transitioning to a vegan lifestyle. Also it is inspiring to see that people leading a plant-based lifestyle not only thrive in optimal health, but are also high level athletes.
Do you have any other thoughts you’d like to share?
It’s simple => For tips on nutrition and fitness as well as plant-based recipes, head over to www.kulhealthyyou.com