Former tennis star Jelena Dokic on how she transformed her life, inside and out.
Jelena Dokic is looking the best she has in years but the former tennis star isn’t focusing on numbers when it comes to discussing her staggering weight loss.
The 36-year-old, who reportedly reached almost 120kg at her heaviest, says what really matters is she is feeling the best she has her whole life, and that came ahead of shedding the kilos.
Speaking on the phone during a recent holiday in Croatia, where Instagram posts of her bikini body attracted plenty of praise from fans, Dokic says mental and physical wellbeing go hand-in-hand.
“I was really good mentally even while my weight was kind of higher than where it should be but that’s where it kind of started. For me, being mentally healthy, I was able to get the physical part,” she says.
“I’ve lost a huge amount of weight but it’s a lot more than numbers, it’s more about being able to take control of your life and leading a healthy lifestyle and just feeling good because for someone that was a professional athlete, not being
able to just do normal things like going for a run was really difficult.”
Dokic has made no secret of her long battle with depression, which resulted in substantial weight gain through comfort eating.
“It’s not an overnight fix. So for me, I tried a lot of differen things and I failed a lot of times,” she reveals.
She admits there have been times she doubted she could ever get her weight under control and lead a healthy lifestyle.
“So I think it all kind of starts with dealing with ment illness and trying to get better and then everything else falls into place,” she says.
“Just to be able to enjoy certain things again, enjoy lif and, again, not feel depressed about it all, it's been great. An yeah, look, it makes me feel really kind of proud of being able to do that because I was a long way away from that.”
She will be speaking about her 15-year struggle with mental illness at the WA Mental Health Conference in Perth next week, which includes almost committing suicide at just 22 years of age.
In her 2017 book Unbreakable, she documents
‘I think it all kind of starts with dealing with mental illness and trying to get better and then everything else falls into place.’
years of abuse she was subjected to by her father but says that is a chapter of her life that is over and she sleeps well at night knowing she made an effort to make peace with him.
“I’ve tried to make that relationship better and to give it a chance and maybe down the road fix it and it’s impossible with a person like that,” she says.
“It’s important to move on and just have people in your life that are not going to drag you down, that are not going to be toxic, and that are going to be basically there for you, and they’re actually going to be healthy for you.
“And I think I’m getting older as well and the closer I get to having my own family, I realise just how important it is. I’ve done everything. I’ve tried.
“I think that’s also been a very important part of getting better mentally, I think you’ve got to get rid of all the bad stuff in your life.”
Dokic now focuses her energy on spreading the message and raising awareness of mental illness.
“Sometimes when you’re battling mental illness, you feel like no one will understand, you feel like sometimes maybe it’s even shameful to talk about that — I know I felt bad at times,” she explains.
“Sometimes, just by talking about it, we can help so many people but I think it’s just as important for even people that aren’t going through mental illness to listen up and see what you can do and how you can help because for sure you’re going to meet people that do.”
Although she says the awareness around mental illness has vastly improved from the time she was first going through it 15 years ago, there is still a lot that can be done in that space.
“It’s that first step saying ‘I’m not OK, I need help’, that’s where it starts and very often you feel very lonely and like there’s no one out there that understands you, so that’s where the whole mental health conference in itself is very important to spread that message.”
Lifeline 13 11 14.
Jelena Dokic. Picture: Simon Santi Left: Dokic playing in the Australian Open in 2009. Picture: AP
Dokic during her playing days in 2009 (right), and with Mark Philippoussis when they won the 1998 Hopman Cup in 1998 (far right). Picture: AP
For more information on the WA Mental Health Conference see waamh.org.au. Dokic shared this before-and-after on social media earlier this year. Picture: Instagram