WELLNESS & WANDERLUST WEDNESDAY with featured holistic nutritionist & intrepid traveller, Lana Jankovic

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JUST GO!

If holistic nutritionist and passionate life-lover, Lana Jankovic, doesn’t inspire you to want to step away from your computer, venture out into the wilderness and embrace whatever comes your way, I am not sure who will. An intrepid explorer, wordsmith and natural by example-style inspirer, it feels pointless to try to sum up in a paragraph how Lana makes her way through the world or her ultra-positive outlook on life and her spectrum of experiences. So I’ve picked just a fragment of one of many captions attached to one of many gorgeous images from Lana’s Instagram gallery:

“Bagged a few summits, chased the most insane sunrises of my life, skinny dipped in glacial waters, met the most incredible humans, had my heart broken repeatedly in the worst/best possible ways, woke up on mountaintops, accidentally got left floating alone in the middle of the Indian ocean, took massive leaps of faith, got dirty, danced around in pleather and blue lipstick in front of a few hundred people, got attacked by a monkey, ran barefoot through the streets of Asia, embraced the crazy adventures, co-piloted a plane through some epic ice fields, hit a few road trips, left my job on a whim, came home to my true nature, refused to settle for anything less than amazing, and raised the bar in every way possible.”

Intrigued? So am I! So let’s meet with Lana and find out more…

Marisa: As a holistic nutritionist, one assumes that you would have some travel-friendly food favourites. Any tips/hacks for travelling and eating well?

Lana: Yes! I pack my own food whenever possible, but to be honest, I’m not fanatical about it. I used to be a lot stricter with what I ate, to the point where it would cause me unnecessary stress and defeat the purpose of trying to stay healthy. Now I stay prepared as much as possible, but often when travelling I just go with the flow and adapt to what’s available around me. In Bali I (gratefully and graciously) ate heaps of local food and fried rice, because that’s what was on offer at the warungs (small, modest family-owned restaurants) around us. I balanced it out with extra water and vegetables when they were available, but didn’t worry about it too much. For weekends away and day trips around here, I’ll pack my own food – apples, homemade granola bars (I find store-bought ones always have questionable ingredients or too much sugar), healthier sandwiches (there’s not that many convenient things you can lug up a mountain for lunch), and trail mix. I’ll buy raw unsalted seeds and nuts, then add raw coconut shreds and my own dark chocolate in rather than the cheaper chocolate that usually comes in pre-made mixes – because what’s trail mix without chocolate, really.

I always suggest that if there’s something convenient to pack that you know you love and crave, like muffins, make a double batch of a healthier version at home and stash ‘em in the freezer so they’re ready to go rather than buying them at some questionable stop on the side of the highway. It’s easier to substitute with heartier, homemade versions of our favourites when first attempting to switch to healthier choices rather than depriving ourselves of everything we hold dear in life, right? When I’m travelling outside of my hometown, if all else fails I can get a simple salad with a basic vinaigrette, some vegetables, and some protein at just about any restaurant. Stick to the basics when possible (focusing on getting in a wide variety of nutrient-dense whole foods), scope out better options around where you’re staying ahead of time so when you get hungry you have a game plan decided already, and just do the best you can with what you’re given so you can feel really good and enjoy your time away. But I mean, sometimes you just need a burger or pie, you know?

Marisa: Are there 5 items you simply cannot be without when on the road?

Lana: All the snacks! Most definitely. I’ve got a thing for dark chocolate, snap peas, and tortilla chips on road trips, so there’s always ample snacks in the backseat. My iPod comes with me everywhere, because what’s an adventure without epic tunes? I basically live in leggings, so you’ll never find me anywhere without ‘em (you can wear the same black leggings to cycle around the city then out to a bar that night, right? #sorrynotsorry). My GoPro is always with me as well – being so small, portable, waterproof, freeze-proof, and basically Lana-proof, it’s been my favourite purchase this year!

Marisa: And what of packing hacks? I may be jumping to conclusions, but you strike me as a woman who knows her way around a well-packed bag!

Lana: Hilariously I’m the worst packer sometimes, as evidenced by my recent attempt to rummage through my backpack with frozen hands for my warm layer wedged right under my sleeping bag and mat, along with literally everything else under the sun {nailed it!}. I do my best to pack the things I’ll need the least or less likely at the bottom and stack up from there, but that system fails me sometimes when I decide that it’s an epic idea to go swimming in a glacial lake and my swimsuit is at the bottom of my bag, ironically right beside my jacket (who swims in 6 degree water anyway? Canadians, I guess). A friend of mine just introduced me to packing cells, which is BRILLIANT, and I’m definitely hopping on that bandwagon stat. When travelling, I pack only things that have multiple uses – all my fashion forward people, forgive me, but I’ll pack leggings that I can wear actively outdoors and can also pull out at night with boots – and not pack too many similar items. Do I really need two basically identical black t-shirts and more than one dressy outfit on a one week trip? Probably not. I’m all about rolling vs. folding clothing as well, it makes it so much easier to economise on space in a suitcase!

Marisa: Somehow, in amongst all your tales of adventure, you manage to weave in themes of self-esteem and body positivism. What motivates you to do this? And do you think that your passion for advocating the emotional health of women influences the way you travel and experience life?

Lana: Such a spicy question, LOVE it! When I was younger, I used to miss out on a lot of life because I was afraid of what others would think of me, often too self-conscious to wear a swimsuit in public or let people see me without makeup. It was easier to cancel plans and stay home, thinking that one day things would be different and only then could I really truly live my life – once I deemed myself more worthy, thinner, more this or that. I struggled with a lot of self-esteem and body image issues, disordered eating and the sort, and I would often sit out instead of getting amongst it and experiencing life to the fullest extent I possibly could. And I don’t want that for anybody. I want to see women (and men!) empowered, healthy, confident, out there in the world doing whatever it is that sets their soul on fire, knowing they have the right to take up space and don’t need to water themselves down for anyone or anything. The world needs more of that.

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We live in the age of endless pursuit of perceived perfection, especially in the realm of social media, and it’s chipping away at us. I do my best to fight back as much as I can, posting photos of myself living my life as I actually am – without smoothing over cellulite, editing out rolls of any sort, or worrying about what my hair looks like after 8 hours of hiking. I want to bring the focus back to what our bodies are capable of doing and who we are as humans, rather than what our exterior shells look like. Because you know what would be heartbreaking? Looking back on our life and thinking, damn, I missed out on so much because I felt I wasn’t good enough exactly as I am to show up and claim what’s mine in this world, to share all my talents and gifts, no matter what I look like or how much I weigh. It would shatter you. So I do my best to share transparently, remind people that they’re badasses and can go after whatever they dream of, and bring back a little real-life grounded humanness into the online world. It definitely has influenced my life in more ways than I ever could have thought possible, because sharing all of this and having others come back and say, hey, I’m doing the same and I’m totally onboard with this, just continually inspires me to go bigger, harder, and deeper.

I’ll bookend that with sharing a realization I came to this year that, when we look back one day on all the things we’ve accomplished and the epic things we’ve experienced, we’re going to remember the feelings above all else – the accomplishment, the joy, the awe, the love, the rapture, the trials and tribulations – we’re not going to remember if we weighed 5 pounds more than we wished we did, or if things jiggled a bit while we ran. So always go, and don’t take a backseat on your life waiting for the day when you think you’re worthy of your dreams. You’re worthy now.

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Marisa: Right on! Bold (and awesome) statement! And, on that, you’ve made some pretty bold decisions when it comes to exploring the world. Have you ever had any close calls with danger? Care to elaborate on the “monkey attack” referenced in the quote, perchance?

Lana: The most recent one that stands out to me was back in August, when I was hiking Mt. Yamnuska in the Rockies with a friend. What should have been a straightforward hike ended up a bit scary for a hot minute when we accidentally veered off the trail and found ourselves on a rocky downward slope of the mountain, wet after a sudden downpour an hour before. At a certain point we looked around, realized we had gone off course, and that the safest (hah!) way back to the trail on the top of the ridge was, well, straight up. Everything was slippery, and we were free climbing a rock face with no solid hand or foot holds on terrain that probably should have required a rope. I remember clinging to the rock, desperately grasping for the next hold to pull myself up, but every nook I found disintegrated when I pulled on it, sending shards of rock bouncing down the mountain behind me. Listening to the distant sound of rocks falling, it was the first time I was ever truly scared in the wilderness, knowing that if I slipped and lost my footing the way down wasn’t going to be so pretty. The fact that we had only seen 2 other humans off in the distance that entire day also made the fear that much more real. Eventually we made it back up to safety, and the two of us lay down on the ridge laughing off the nervous jitters for a while, thankful we hadn’t ended up in a heap on the bottom of the mountain like the bits of rock we’d sent down. It was a bold and humbling reminder of how powerful mother nature is, and how beautiful yet belittling mountains can be.

As for the monkey debacle, oh my. We were at the Monkey Forest in Ubud, and as we were leaving I saw a little guy playing with an empty aerosol container. Completely forgetting that you’re never supposed to take anything away from a monkey, I attempted to verbally reason with him (as one does with animals, right?) and grab the container from him with my foot. Worst. Idea. Ever. He came after me and lunged for my foot, baring his teeth, and I freaked out and jumped back, trying to run away quickly as he chased me down. Luckily he didn’t get me, but I was mildly traumatized for a few hours after, haha! Not all adorableness and cuddles, those ones, hey?!

Marisa: No, I guess not! It’s actually a fear of mine (being attacked by a monkey, that is 😛 ). And expanding upon the previous question, have you ever second-guessed a decision you’ve made or ended up somewhere in the world thinking, “What am I doing here?”.  And in hindsight, do you have any travel regrets?

Lana: I tend to err on the side of impulsiveness, so there have been many days where I’ve spontaneously ended up running with some wild ideas (understatement of the year). It’s never been in a negative sense though, and I have no regrets about any of it. At the end of the day, even the stickier situations I’ve landed myself in can always be chalked down to an accumulation of experiences. I mean, take for example me clinging to those rocks on Mt. Yamnuska. Sure, a part of me was mentally tapping myself on the shoulder repeatedly to point out how nicely I had messed up, but my rational mind was reminding me, alright, we’re here now, and we need to stay calm, figure this out, and deal with it.

Any regrets I’ve had with regards to travel, people, and experiences could all be boiled down to those times where I didn’t end up doing what I wanted to do for one reason or another. 5 years ago when I had spent 9 months living in Brisbane, I kept putting off visiting Melbourne, Sydney, the Whitsundays, etc. – waiting for better timing, better weather, all my stars to line up, and any other excuse under the sun. My stay in Australia got cut short suddenly, and when it was time to go, it was time to go, regardless of the fact I hadn’t seen all the things I had planned to. I still to this day kick myself for sitting on those plans and not pushing to make them happen while I was there. I think about it often, and it taught me to always go, always do the thing, always get gone. Even if conditions aren’t perfect. Because they never will be.

AND JUST QUICKLY…

  • Ski fields or waterfalls? For a Libra who can’t ever make decisions, these questions are ROUGH. I’ll go with ski fields! (But seriously, can I have both?)
  • Food truck or fine dining? Food truck, hands down. Did someone say tacos?
  • Temple or botanical garden? Temple, always.
  • Your favourite destination: Croatia is my favourite place on earth I reckon! But the mountains, oh, they will always have my heart. I’ll call this one a tough tie.
  • Best healthy food spot in Vancouver: I love Tractor, this amazing little café with a salad bar, soups, all kinds of healthy choices for a quick lunch that isn’t fussy. Endless options, whole food goodness, and you can pick and choose exactly what you want and how you want it (again, for a Libra, that’s just brilliant isn’t it?!). Also: their grilled avocado. Next level.
  • Somewhere you haven’t been that you long to visit: I couldn’t even begin to list all the places! Visiting the Yukon and Alaska are high on my list, I’ve been aching to see the Northern Lights. And the sheer amount of untouched wilderness, majestic mountains, and endlessly awe-inspiring landscapes up there? Total dream! I also have heaps more exploring to do locally in our Canadian Rockies and around the PNW. That said, my heart has a soft spot for Europe, especially the Balkans {my motherland}, so I have a feeling I’ll be finding myself back around those parts to explore more thoroughly very soon.

I sincerely thank Lana for taking time out of her busy schedule to answer my questions. And I truly hope you enjoyed reading and that you too feel inspired by what Lana shared!

Again, if you have any suggestions for questions you’d like me to ask upcoming health/wellness/travel professionals for this blog feature series, please feel free to let me know. 🙂

To connect with Lana and to find yourself transported on adventures, thoroughly entertained and greatly inspired, visit:

9 thoughts on “WELLNESS & WANDERLUST WEDNESDAY with featured holistic nutritionist & intrepid traveller, Lana Jankovic

  1. Hello from Vancouver!! I am 5 blocks away from Tractor as I write this comment. Marisa – you must come to Vancouver. You can visit both Lana and me. Wonderful, life affirming and revitalizing post!!! Have a wonderful day.

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