Jelena Lakicevic

When Luke asked me to write about my journey, at first I was very nervous and embarrassed! Upon reflection I am very proud of my achievements and transformation so far and decided that I should in fact share that with others. If my journey could inspire others, particularly mothers, to transition to a whole foods plant-based diet and get fit and healthy then, I wanted to tell my story.

What started out as a journey and mission for my health and myself has become so much more profound. I am demonstrating to others that you do not have to harm any living beings to live a vibrant, fit and healthy life. Being an advocate for voiceless animals is something that I am very passionate about and teaming up with Luke has been a dream come true.

I recall being at World Vegan day in 2013 and from a distance seeing Luke and the Evolved Generation team doing a demonstration on stage. A vegan/vegetarian on and off since 19, at the time I was out of shape, unwell, suffering a ‘mystery’ illness, constantly lethargic with a whole range to symptoms (too many to mention!) Like many, I had held onto a dream for a long time to be a better version of myself, however so many of life’s excuses kept getting in the way and my dream kept being pushed further down my yearly to-do list. I made a promise to myself that the same time next year I would be strong, fit and healthy and a step closer to my authentic self. Fast forward to the end of 2014 and I am deadlifting 70kg! Something I thought I would never be able to do particularly considering I have L4/5/S1 back injuries.

Before starting this program I was actually unaware of how much toxic stress I was under and what that was doing to my body, and how much I was eating my stress. I am a sole parent of a teenage daughter and work as an executive in workers’ compensation. My body was lacking the nutrition it needed and I was using my ‘busy life’ as an excuse for not exercising and an excuse to reach for processed foods and sugars.

Teaming up with Luke was possibly one of the best decisions I have made. I may be biased, but Luke is the best jelena 2coach ever! From my very first contact with Luke via social media and then email, he has been my biggest supporter and motivator. In the early days I relied on his strength and courage to get me through particularly through some brutal routines. However knowing that I was doing this not just for myself also gave me the courage to continue even when I thought I had no gas in the tank. Whilst I couldn’t feel or see the benefits of what I was doing in the very early days, I trusted the process and followed it as best as I could until the results started to manifest. Along the way I could never have imagined that I would enjoy the process of becoming fit, strong and healthy as much as I have, and the best part it’s just the beginning!

One of the first things I noticed was the ability to wake up with ease, a blessing in itself after struggling to wake up for years. Within a few weeks of detoxing and removing all processed foods from my diet my IBS completely subsided. Aches and pains in my back, shoulders and knees started to ease. My stress levels reduced significantly, I felt more sustained energy, more balanced in my decisions at work, capable of concentrating for longer. I was more present for my daughter and felt more connected to her and her needs. My anxiety all but resolved and the brain fog I was living under had finally lifted. My energy levels skyrocketed. About a month into the program and a family member became very unwell, requiring extra support. Rather than use that as an excuse to not follow through or to quit, I used it to motivate me to strive to be the fittest healthiest possible version of myself so that I can inspire and take care of others. There were days that were a struggle, however the program was sustainable enough and flexible enough that I was still able to make it work. Even though my progress to date may have been slow, I have steadily kept moving in the right direction and any progress towards goals is steps in the right direction!

Each day has been a blessing. I am so grateful for Luke and what he is doing in the community, and the support and compassion he has shown me. Some of the best milestones along the way for me have been to really feel my body move, to feel connected to my spirit. Feeling the difference between an aching body that’s had no activity, to an aching body that’s had a strong workout and that’s feeling alive and strong! I read something that resonated with me and has now became a bit of a motto for me ‘Choose your hard: training is hard, watching what you eat is at times hard, being overweight, unhealthy & sick is hard, so chose your hard!’

Realising that I can lift my legs properly when I walk and not having them feel dull and numb all the time. Running up steps two at a time! Noticing that my thighs no longer rub together when I wear dresses or skirts. Losing the back fat and muffin top which meant being able to wear jeans comfortably! Having to buy new pants for work (two dress sizes smaller!) As Luke would say: “A good problem to have!” Learning how to do tyre jumps (from struggling to do 1 to then doing 60 within 3 weeks!) and my favourite, finally being able to do a chin-up, whilst still band-assisted, I now have my goal firmly in sight for an unassisted one.

I turn 39 this year and I feel stronger and fitter than I have ever felt. I’m now my own inspiration and motivation. Not only have I inspired myself I’m also inspiring those around me. Friend’s, family and colleagues all ask me for advice and guidance now, something that I am so proud of. Best part is no-one questions where I get my protein from! They see the results and know something must be working.

Be the change you want to see…such wise words and so true.

I have recently enrolled in university to get qualified as a naturopath. I hope to one day open up my own wellness studio, teach yoga, maybe even a little café making my nourishing plant-based bowls of goodness to share with everyone…the skies the limit really!

Take that first step and the rest will take care of itself. Not only will your body love you for it, but so will the animals and the planet.

Jelena Lakicevic, Australian Government Officer