Find Out Why July Cover Star Yovana Mendoza Has Over 1 Million Followers and Counting
Written By: Marissa Stempien
Photographed By: Louis Rodiger
Styled By: Bebe Jean
Hair By: Jennifer Mau
Makeup By: Karina Fonti
Makeup Provided By: Cinema Secrets
Yovana Mendoza may have discovered the perfect balance of mind, body and spirit. Somewhere between raw green smoothies and quiet meditation she has learned the secret to living a happier, healthier and more fulfilling life. Finding that balance between physical and spiritual health is what sets Mendoza apart from so many of the other fitness influencers that crowd your Instagram feed. A few moments on her site, Rawvana, and it’s easy to see that for her, a journey to better health includes not only raw veggies and side lunges, but a pursuit of mental wellness and spiritual peace.
Mendoza’s journey started five years ago after she made a New Year’s resolution to quit smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol for three months, a small, but attainable goal. “Six weeks into my detox of no alcohol I began to feel a little down, I guess you can say, just at a low point in my life,” she explains, recalling her past. “I began to ask myself questions like ‘Why am I here, what is my purpose here, what is my passion?’ I would wake up in the mornings and not really feel much passion or ready to take on the day.”
On the advice of her father, she checked into San Diego’s Optimum Health Institute in an effort to focus on healing both her body and mind. “I basically ate raw foods and detoxed. I drank green juices, I did a three-day juice cleanse, and I just began to feel amazing benefits like increased energy, my skin cleared. [I had] more peace of mind, mental clarity. I was in this place, and I was experiencing all of these good things, and I said to myself, ‘Well, I’m just going to keep on going, I’m just going to keep doing this.’”
Where others have failed, Mendoza prevailed. She began eating raw foods, juicing, meditating, exercising and focusing on herself in a way she hadn’t for years. “I began to feel a connection to myself and to a higher power again that I hadn’t felt in a long time, and it was very powerful for me,” Mendoza says. “I just felt the need to kneel down and ask forgiveness to myself, like forgiveness for not taking care of my body and for not feeding it well, for abusing substances that were detrimental to my health. I said…I need help, like from the universe, a higher power, whatever it is.”
It seems the universe answered her prayers. Five years later Mendoza is still going strong and has built a health empire of fitness programs, apps, e-books, recipes and social media pages that are followed by millions. It can be easy to lose your way when you reach the top, but Mendoza stays grounded, noting that she feels the most successful when she hears how her work positively affects a person’s life. “Honestly, being able to really make an impact by me telling my story and sharing my life, helping someone change their life as well…for me that is huge, and I’m so grateful that I can do that just by sharing my story.” She laughs, explaining that she hears from people almost daily, thanking her for helping them turn their life around. “It’s amazing, it really is amazing,” she adds, smiling. “I’m grateful for that.”
Being grateful is a part of the mindfulness that Mendoza practices when she’s working on her mind, body and spirit. Trying to find a balance can be a challenge, but she explains through physical activity and healthy eating, you can improve your mental health, just as meditation and positive thoughts can work to improve your physical wellbeing. “If you’re eating junk you’re going to feel bad. If you’re putting negative thoughts into your mind you’re going to feel just like that,” she explains. “Just like there’s junk food and healthy food, there’s junk thoughts and healthy thoughts.”
With society’s current focus on mental health, it’s important to understand that healthy eating and exercise can do wonders to improve one’s mental well-being, and Mendoza has experienced these benefits first hand. Previously suffering from anxiety, she credits her change of life to improvements in her mental health. “I definitely experienced a lot less anxiety, which was something that I suffered from,” she explains. “Once I began to live healthier, and I stopped drinking and smoking, and I started to sleep well, hydrate and eat plant foods, I stopped taking my anxiety pills,” she explains. “For me, that was huge, and just the mental clarity…I experienced. There are many cases where people are suffering from depression, but they start adopting healthier habits, and they heal. It just naturally disappears.”
While Rawvana doesn’t tote recipes for better mental health or claim to improve your spirituality with a green smoothie, the intention is evident in everything Mendoza does. Well-rounded, positive health is at the apex of what she teaches. Fans follow her social media feeds for her personality, her honesty and perhaps, in part, to find some of that harmony within their own lives. “I show them the way that I live my life,” she smiles. “I just share my life with them, and I hope that through them seeing how I live they can apply it to theirs and see what works for them.”
Everyone has their own fitness goals—better mental health, spiritual wellness, dropping a few pounds for swimsuit season—but Mendoza stresses the importance of listening to your body, educating yourself on what you need and discovering what is best for you. She admits it was one of her fallacies when she started. “I remember at the beginning I was just wanting to do everything super perfect and do it by the book and I neglected listening to my body and what it wanted and what it needed,” she notes, matter-of-factly. “Listen to your body and eat intuitively.”
Mendoza suggests that when we focus on what is best for our bodies and mind, the benefits will naturally follow. “Food is connected to our body, mind and spirit. What we eat has an impact on how we feel, what we think and even how we act,” she explains. “Everything affects us. What thoughts are we having, are we talking to ourselves, how do we see ourselves—and that has an impact on our performance in life and how we feel.” She believes everything we surround ourselves with, from the food we eat to the people we interact with, is interconnected. “The decisions that we make are not just going to impact our own life—they’re going to impact the world around us. Energetically it has an impact on everyone else, so we are responsible for others in our own thoughts and actions.”
She finds that as trends in health and wellness develop, she’s beginning to see this consciousness of character within the people around her. While food trends are ever-evolving, she notes a slow progression of health trends that are focused on understanding not only the change in nutrition but the change in lifestyle. “People [are] eating less processed foods and turning more to plant-based foods—more foods from the earth. People are just becoming more conscious of how they’re talking to themselves,” she explains. “Meditation and exercise are becoming a lot more popular, so I think that the new trends are going to be just conscious people. They’re going to be more conscious of what they’re eating, just more conscious of how to live a healthier lifestyle.”
It’s this consciousness of mind, body and spirit that Mendoza tries to live daily. Even with her success, she is always working to improve herself. “My personal goal over the next year [is to be] more conscious every day. Be more assertive in perception checking—checking my perception towards life, or towards anything really, because sometimes I feel like it can be easy to assume things,” she explains. “Just very conscious of how I’m acting. I feel like I’ve had this goal for a while, just becoming the best version of myself every single day in any way that I can.”
Bilingual Babe: Born to two Mexican parents, Yovana Mendoza speaks fluent Spanish. With a second site dedicated to the Spanish-speaking community, she estimates 50-60 percent of her followers are Latino.
Time To Splurge: Everyone likes to indulge in a little treat now and then. Her guilty pleasure? No-oil fries. “It’s not really a cheat meal,” she laughs, noting she adds a little tahini dressing and truffle salt for flavor.
Study Up: Mendoza recommends doing your research before starting a new diet or fitness program. “Watch documentaries, read books, watch YouTube videos and get really educated on what your needs are,” she stresses.
Mom Was Right: Don’t forget to take your vitamins. Mendoza recommends a B-12 supplement for everyone but notes that it’s particularly important for fellow vegans.
Travel Tips: Mendoza travels all over the world but doesn’t let it affect her diet. Her tip? “Always pack your food!” she laughs. “Take an apple with you or any local fruit that you can find. It’s the best fast food.
Go Green: Mendoza’s go-to recipe for super healthy eating is a green smoothie. Made with celery, cucumber, apple, lemon, ginger, spinach and coconut water, she considers it one of her healthiest (and favorite!) drinks.
Native Knowledge: Mendoza makes it a personal goal to hit 10,000 steps a day whether she’s going to the gym or hanging out with friends. She suggests getting an app so you can keep track and watch those numbers soar!
Laguna Beach Boardwalk