Jovana Borojevic
July 11, 2017 12:07 PM

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.

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.

“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.

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.”

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