After being overweight for 20 years, man gets new lease on life

August 09, 2016 | by Edward-Elmhurst Health
Categories: Healthy Driven Heroes

Jovan Ivancevic, age 44, was overweight for at least 20 years. After trying to lose weight on his own, Ivancevic accepted the fact that he might need some help in order to reach his goals.

Ivancevic was active when he was younger, but became overweight in his teen years. At about age 24, his doctor diagnosed him with chronic sleep apnea and high blood pressure.

He tried different forms of exercise to lose weight, but admits he was “flying blind” as he worked out on his own. He joined gym after gym, but never reached the results he wanted.

In September 2013, Ivancevic met with his doctor and was given a couple of directives to lower his blood pressure. At this point, his wife’s aunt and uncle, who were both overweight, became avid runners. Ivancevic decided to give it a try as well.

When he started, Ivancevic was able to run a mile in a little under 23 minutes. In October 2013, he ran his first 5K, but was disappointed when he didn’t break one hour.

In the summer of 2014, Ivancevic worked with his doctor to begin the process that would lead to gastric bypass surgery. This procedure typically involves reducing the size of the stomach and reconnecting it after the first portion of the small intestine in order to restrict food intake and reduce the amount of calories taken in.

The procedure took place on Dec. 15, 2014, and went smoothly. One month later, Ivancevic resumed full activity and exercise. He decided to run in a St. Patrick’s Day 5K.

“I ran it in under 39 minutes,” says Ivancevic. “I knew at that moment I was never going back to the way I was.”

With new motivation and confidence, he began his own workout program by running and training for the three half marathons that he ran in 2015. In 2016, he ran two more half marathons in Wisconsin and Rockford. Ivancevic has taken off 95 pounds. He credits exercise as a major contributor to the weight loss.

Following his gastric bypass procedure, Ivancevic went to the Edward Health & Fitness Center at Seven Bridges in Woodridge with the goal of learning the proper way to exercise and lose weight. The medically-based facility offers state-of-the-art free weights, strength-training machines, treadmills, elliptical trainers, stair climbers with integrated audio/video equipment and more. There are also fitness experts who are degreed and certified at the facility ready to answer any questions or concerns.

Ivancevic’s trainer, Dave Smith, has been “very helpful and instrumental” in creating a workout regimen. Smith’s lessons include how to exercise with proper form to prevent injury and how to diversify workouts to make the most out of a weight-loss program. Now, Ivancevic has a variety of ways to exercise, such as bike riding, swimming, weight lifting and core exercises.

“I have done things I never dreamed of,” says Ivancevic.

There are two ways Ivancevic stays motivated and on the right track to eat right and exercise. First, he keeps photos of himself before gastric bypass as a constant reminder of how his life used to be.

Second, he attends a weight loss support group, which consists of pre-operation and post-operation members. The meetings give Ivancevic a chance to provide insight about the gastric bypass procedure to people who are in the same place he was in 2014, as well as an opportunity to emphasize the importance of exercise and physical movement afterward to maintain the benefits of the procedure.

In the future, Ivancevic plans to continue running and staying healthy. His long-term goal is to keep his “stomach as light as possible, and heart as healthy as possible.”

Learn more about workout options at Edward-Elmhurst Health & Fitness.

Learn more about Edward-Elmhurst’s weight loss services.

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