Meet Jovana Borojevic! Just over a year ago, she weighed 304 lbs at the start of her journey and has lost about 120 lbs in about a year! I spoke to her about how this journey has transformed her life and how she was able to stay motivated through the tough times. Read along to see what Jovana had to say about her experience over the past year. She is truly inspirational for all of us out there who say we CAN’T DO IT! She shows why it’s important to take care of ourselves and teaches us about self love and is sharing her tips with us on how her new lifestyle positively impacted her life. She’s a beauty both inside and out!
I always set goals for myself when it came to health (ie/ going to the gym 4 times a week, eating healthy etc etc) but I always found that I would do it for about a 2 weeks and then I would fall off the wagon. If you ever felt that way, keep reading! The goal is to be consistent and create a lifestyle for ourselves that involves healthy & nutritious food combined with physical exercise. After hearing about her story, I was so inspired and motivated by her transformation that I made a commitment by getting a personal trainer 3 times a week (so that I can’t back out $$) and incorporate health as a lifestyle.
Learn how Jovana made it happen for herself. Her tips are amazing for those who always “say” and never “do”; myself included!
Tell us a little bit about yourself. (What do you do, where did you go to school & what did you study, hobbies etc)
I am 24 years old and studied marketing management at Ryerson University. I graduated in 2014 with a Bachelor of Commerce and I currently work as a Digital Strategist at a marketing agency. I love to travel and during my third year of university, I studied abroad in Austria and was able to visit about 12 other countries. I have also lived in Edmonton! In terms of hobbies, I’m really into photography and I explore that whenever I get a chance. Another one of my new hobbies is working out!
How has your life changed throughout your journey? Besides changes to your body, what other positive changes do you notice with yourself and your life?
My journey has helped me learn to love myself and my outlook on life has completely changed. I started putting myself first and I don’t feel bad about it! Once you start putting yourself first, you will actually find that you have more love and inspiration to give to those around you. I am a much happier person, and I am more pleasant to be around (I used to be a Grinch). I have actually become a more positive person overall. I look forward to life and trying new things that I was too scared or embarrassed to try before. Generally, my mental health and mood have improved drastically, and I’m never looking back.
What made you start your journey towards health/weight loss?
I have been overweight for most of my life but I never took it seriously. My doctor diagnosed me with fatty liver disease in 2014 and diabetes, high blood pressure and thyroid issues run in my family. I never really cared. I was always too depressed about having to give up the food I loved so much in order to lead a better life. In January 2016, I finally decided to weigh myself after about a year. I saw 304lbs on the scale. Seeing that “3” terrified me and it was a huge wake up call. I realized that I was way too young to let myself go to potential disease. That number, combined with fear of death to be quite honest, and a will to live a better life is what made me start my journey.
The sayings “I need to lose weight” “I should go to the gym” “I’m on a diet” are heard always. We always say we are too busy to get in some form of physical exercise during the day. What can you say to those of us who feel that way?
I want to start by saying that if you’re thinking that way; you need to change your way of thinking about this journey. You don’t need to lose weight and you’re not on a diet – you are on a path to a healthy and happy lifestyle that involves tweaking your diet and routine, and making the best choices possible daily so that you can live a long, healthy life following a sustainable lifestyle. I think that all we can do is the best we can everyday. Yes, everybody is different. Some of us work desk jobs and can only spare 20 minutes a day (and that’s by giving up 20 minutes of social surfing), and others have a more flexible lifestyle and are able to workout for hours a day. If we compare ourselves to these people, it is easy to imagine that we don’t have enough time. But just remember, even if you only walk for 20 minutes three times a week, that’s an hour of exercise you weren’t doing before! And slowly overtime you will fall in love with the process and you will do what it takes to make time for it (even if it means waking up at 4am, trust me ). So to summarize, all we can do is the best we can daily.
What is the biggest struggle for you throughout your journey: food, exercise, temptation, mindset, support and how did you overcome it?
The biggest struggle for me was (and still is) temptation. I’m human! Even despite all my progress, I still crave chocolate and other goodies. Sometimes I literally need to have conversations with my brain about how it isn’t worth it! There will always be struggles, but you will become stronger each time you push yourself to work out when you don’t think you can or every time you say no to temptation. Overcoming struggles is empowering, and once you see that you CAN do it, you start feeling powerful and confident in your abilities. I am lucky enough to have a wonderful support system, but I know some people don’t. The best thing I could say to those of you who struggle with not having support is; only you can kick your butt. Even the strongest support system can’t do it for you. Don’t be afraid to discipline yourself and realize how powerful your mind and body are.
We always have those days when we want to take just that one bite of cake, one can of coke, one slice of pizza. How do we resist those urges? What tips can you give us?
Once you’ve already made progress towards a healthier you, you never want to go back. The temptations are always there, but your weakness towards them starts turning into strength. In the beginning, you definitely need to have the willpower to give up certain treats and say no, and nobody can really help you with that. You need to find the fire inside you, and remember why you started. Nowadays I think about it this way – I can either keep going and progressing, or eat all the cake and pizza I want and satisfy my taste buds. I then ask myself which sounds better and, not surprisingly, skipping the pizza wins! With that being said, this is something I am in for life, and we need to remember moderation. No food is bad food everything is fine within limits. It is a lot more important to learn portion control than it is to try and classify foods these kinds of into categories. Developing a relationship with food where we view certain foods as “bad” is unhealthy for us mentally. So, every once in awhile, enjoy that pizza or cake (within limits)!
How do you keep pushing yourself on days when you just don’t feel like going to the gym/working out?
On days when I have trouble motivating myself, I do one of two things. Some days, I literally force myself. I complain my way to the gym, I sit in the parking lot and complain some more, and then by the time I get in I know there is no turning back. And sometimes you just have to do that! No one has ever regretted a workout. Even if you don’t end up giving it your all that day, you still went and did something, and that’s all that matters. Other days, I try to envision my journey as a ladder. I tell myself that I can either keep climbing, or I can let go and fall all the way back to the bottom. When you think about it in extremes, it can push you to keep going!
What would you say is the most important factor in your weight loss? Changed eating habits? Exercise? Changed thinking? Something else?
There is no ONE most important factor. All of these work in synergy together to help create something beautiful. The number one thing is mindset for me though. I always talk about how mentally and physically challenging and exhausting this journey is, but I also say something else that shocks people – this journey is also really easy! Once you commit to yourself and I mean TRULY commit to yourself 100% (it may take a while to get there), everything else becomes easy. The workouts become an enjoyable part of your life and eating well becomes something you crave. And it all starts with working on your mindset daily. Practice positive affirmations! Every time you push yourself or convince yourself to do something you didn’t think you could, your mind becomes stronger and in turn you commit to yourself more and it just becomes a big cycle that leads to success!
What goals did you achieve this past year?
My biggest goal of 2016 was to see my weight with a “1” in front (even if it was 199). I surpassed that goal, currently weighing in at 182lbs! That puts me down about 120lbs in a year, which is a huge goal reached as well! I also experienced many non scale victories along the way (my clothes fitting different, being able to shop at any store I want without having to look for plus sizes, shrinking jean sizes), and these are as rewarding, if not more rewarding, than scale victories! My other goals were to lead a happier, more energetic and free life and to hopefully inspire others to do the same. I am happy to say I am doing all of the above, and it humbles me so much that I am able to inspire others through my Instagram @jovanafit !
What does your daily diet consist of? What foods did you stop eating and what did you add to your diet?
I don’t count calories or measure my food (I never have). I knew if I wanted this to be a sustainable lifestyle change I needed to just learn healthy eating! I stay away from processed sugars and certain carbohydrates (white and whole wheat pastas, breads, potatoes). Other than that, my diet involves eating anti-inflammatory foods, reducing insulin (certain carbs) and optimizing digestion and nutrient absorption. I focus on eating whole foods, which include quality protein, high fiber, vegetables and plant protein, healthy fats and low sugar.
- What is your favourite health food that you make? Can you please share that recipe?
My favorite thing to make is a chia pod or chia pudding! It is high in fiber and therefore fills you up for a long time! It is totally customizable to your liking (with the bare base being chia seeds and almond milk), but here is how I make it: 2 Tbsp chia seeds
2 Tbsp hemp hearts
2 Tbsp pumpkin seeds
2 Tbsp unsweetened coconut
1 Tsp cacao powder
1 Tsp maple syrup
1 Cup unsweetened almond milkCombine all dry ingredients, add the milk, let sit in the fridge for at least an hour (best overnight). In the morning, top it with your favorite fruits (I use pomegranate and blueberries) and you’re good to go!
I get a lot of my food inspiration from Pinterest, feel free to follow my boards:
What is your best piece of advice for those just starting to exercise? Did you get a personal trainer or did you figure out your own workouts?
The best advice I can give is do not give up on yourself. Recommit to yourself every morning, no matter what happened the day before. Bad days will happen, overeating will happen, but as long as you can keep going, it will not hinder your progress. Make your changes sustainable and manageable because consistency is key. Not everyone can go cold turkey or commit to working out 6 days a week. So the most important thing is to commit to a level a change you know you can continue to do (and eventually, you will increase your commitment and it will feel natural.) If you try to say “okay I’m going to work out for two hours 6 days a week” when you know that you won’t, you are going to disappoint yourself and give up before you even get to experience change (trust me, been there done that!)I personally did get a personal trainer because I had no idea what to do at the gym in terms of weight training. Having a trainer helped my learn proper form and different exercises. But remember that there are also so many free videos and resources out there!
How did you manage to integrate a healthy lifestyle into your life? What changes did you have to make in your life?
Honestly, I didn’t integrate a healthy lifestyle into my life; I changed my life to fit a healthy lifestyle. I’m not saying you have to change your whole life in order to lead a healthy lifestyle, but in a way, you do. I went from leading a sedentary, lonely, introverted lifestyle to leading an exploratory, exciting and active lifestyle. So in a way my whole life changed. I had to change my schedule to fit working out and along the way; I honestly lost some friends and stopped associating with others! If you’re just looking to integrate a healthier outlook and make small positive changes, you will just need to find a way to integrate a schedule for getting some activity in! Weather that means giving up 30 minute of TV or trying a new sport instead of shopping with your friends, you’ll find that your sacrifices won’t seem large if you enjoy what you’re doing. On the other hand if you’re looking to make an extreme change and lose a significant amount of weight, the reality is that your life will change and you will see that it will mostly be for the better!
What are 3 of your best eating or dieting tips you would like to share?
My first tip is to not call it or think of it as a diet! This of it as a lifestyle change! The sooner you start to think of your food as a forever change, the more success you will have. Also remember, there is no bad food. Don’t let yourself build a destructive habit of categorizing food into “good” and “bad” categories. It will drive you crazy – everything in moderation.
My second tip is to keep a food journal in the beginning. A lot of us are not aware of what and how much we are putting into our bodies without realizing it. A journal will help keep you off track and will help you point out small changes you can make along the way.
My third tip is two fold. If you can, try and eat at the same times every day. This will help you control your hunger! If you’re hungry in between meals, try and snack on veggies (because typically these are unlimited). When you’re done eating for the day, brush your teeth! If you’re anything like me, the minty flavor and clean mouth will put you off from eating more.
I want to thank Jovana for taking the time out to do this interview. She has most definitely inspired me to take a step into creating a healthier lifestyle for myself and I hope her story motivates those of you reading to do the same:)
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