Even at her heaviest, Jovana Borojevic was always happy and confident in her body. But she felt that her size was holding her back — and causing health problems.
“I have always loved myself, and I never felt negative feelings towards how my body looked,” Borojevic, 24, tells PEOPLE. “In terms of how it functioned, though, I felt very lethargic and very sad and depressed that my body was too heavy and big to participate in everyday things. I always loved myself, but I felt very restricted in what I could enjoy.”
The Toronto native was heavy growing up, reaching over 150 lbs. by age 12, thanks to a habit of binge eating. And by age 22, she had developed fatty liver disease from her fast food-heavy diet, all while dealing with Polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS.
“Even when my doctor told me that I had fatty liver, I laughed it off and thought I would be okay because I was too upset and unwilling to give up the foods I loved so much,” Borojevic admits.
I went through old photos last night, and it was honestly very difficult for me👎🏻. I wasn't expecting it to bring back the emotions it did – but it really made me feel like I was back at the beginning of my journey. I felt the hopelessness and struggle of the girl in the photos…me. And then I got to a point where I said … "who was I?" I really find it difficult to recognize my old self in photos. I know it's still me, and I am the same person, but through this journey I have changed SO much not only physically but mentally as well🖤. It's sometimes scary to look back and think … how could I not notice what was happening to me? I never saw myself as the pictures show. I was loosing a battle to fatty liver disease and was on the road to disaster. I am SO HAPPY that I woke the eff up and changed my life for good. Looking through old photos really solidifies to me that I can NEVER look back. Never be embarrassed of where you started, and always love yourself, but also remember that the most loving thing you can do is to put yourself FIRST☝🏼. There will be struggles, bumps, and set backs but keep moving FORWARDS. That's the only direction that makes sense 😊🖤😘
After going two years without stepping on a scale, Borojevic saw a photo of herself and decided to find out her weight, expecting it to be around 250 lbs. But the scale instead read 304 lbs.
“I never in my life imagined that I would see a ‘3’ in front of my weight,” she says. “From this day forward, something clicked in me and I changed my life around cold turkey.”
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The digital marketing strategist went all-in with her revamped lifestyle, and immediately cut out starchy carbs, refined foods, sugar and most packaged food. In a month she dropped almost 20 lbs., and started hitting the gym four to five times a week for weight training and cardio workouts.
Now a year and a half into her weight loss journey, Borojevic is down to 165 lbs., with a goal weight of about 150 lbs. — but she’s not worried about the number.
Same girl, new fight 👊🏼 Same heart, new passion ❤️ Same mind, new perspective 🙃 New body, same skin 💁🏼 Same smile, new found happiness 😊 Same excuses, new reasons 🌷Same capabilities, new confidence 💃🏼 Don't let your obsession with this journey change who you are completely. You need to stay true to yourself and focus on loving who you are at every moment. Yes, I've changed a lot (both physically and mentally) but at the end of the day, I am JOVANA and no number on the scale is ever going to change that 💖 LOVE YOURSELF.
“It is SO IMPORTANT to focus on non-scale victories like how your clothes fit, how you feel, how many health issues you’ve reversed and saved yourself from and how happy you are!” she says.
And even though she was happy at 304 lbs., Borojevic says she’s found a whole new level of joy.
I wish for all of you to love your body at every stage. It is hard, trust me, I know. But do you realize how blessed you are to BE in this body on this earth? Live for your health, too, not just for the mirror. Please don't forget that the mirror cannot show you your internal beauty and strength. You are strong and can beat the odds and live a healthy, fulfilling and beautiful life. But not if you don't love yourself. I love you, so you need to love you too…or else!!! 🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤 I am in awe of my own transformation recently. I am so proud of shocked at how far I've come. And I'm excited! Excited because there is SOO much more I want to do in the future and I can't wait to continue sharing with you guys! 🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤 ALSO, it isn't too late to join my DietBet (you can join until May 23rd). The link is in my bio babes!😘
While Borojevic still has to manage her PCOS, she says “I have a new zest for life.”
“I sometimes sit there and think about how badly I treated [my body] before and how much it has worked with me and changed. Sometimes I complain about my little ‘pooch,’ but then I remember how patient my body has been through all these changes, how much healthier it is, how much stronger it is, how much it has supported me, how much better my digestion is and suddenly the pooch doesn’t matter so much.”