Hey, welcome to our eleventh Meet the Expert blog.
In this blog, we interview expert coaches and athletes, delving into what makes them tick, what drives them to keep going, and what they believe to be the pitfalls and keys to success.
Let’s get to it!
Note: Both Coach and Athlete questions have been combined.
Question 1: What is your name, age and where are you from?
I am Milenka Sharovikj, 48 years young, married, mother of 2 sons (20 & 16), living in Skopje, Macedonia. I am both – an athlete and a coach.
Question 2: What is your occupation? Is it what you are known for or completely separate? What jobs have you done in the past? / What is your sport and at what level do you compete?
I am a pharmacist specialized in providing relevant information for the medicines from relevant sources and distilling them into usable information and clear instructions for the end-user – doctor, pharmacist, patient…
A few years ago, when I entered my 40’s, I engaged in mountaineering, which was my first sports activity of any kind… ever. Being overweight as a child, I had been involved in constant dieting and, up to that point, somehow managed to balance my weight at a decent level. However, despite my newly established sports activity and adequate nutrition according to all knowledge available at that time… I lost control over my body. I wondered how that was possible when I was doing everything right… and finally came to the realization that something had to be seriously off with the nutrition and exercise paradigm I grew up with. Therefore, I decided to use my medical education and the knowledge and experience I had in finding information about drugs and implement it in the field of fitness, nutrition, healthy and vibrant longevity… First just for myself, then for my family and friends, and now for clients as well.
My sport is high-altitude mountaineering. However, since this sport requires physical and mental strength as well as flexibility, mobility, endurance… over time, I got involved in a mixture of sports – bouldering, rock-climbing, mountain biking, running, HIIT… and paragliding as mental and physical recovery (lol).
Mountaineering is not a competitive sport… you compete with yourself only. You find or you anticipate your weaknesses, and then you work on solving them. Otherwise, you may pay with your life.
Question 3: How did you get started in the sport? Why did you choose that sport? Did you, or do you compete in other sports? / What is your primary area of expertise and why are you passionate about it?
I did not choose the sport… the sport had chosen me. I started mountaineering when I hit my 40’s, after a terrible tragedy… my brother-in-law died in a car accident. He was in love with the mountain nearby and went there almost daily. In his remembrance, the family established a local winter mountaineer track. The first year I barely finished it but promised to myself not to let that happen ever again. In the absence of any prior knowledge, experience, or contact with the world of sport, the internet provided me with the resources I needed at the beginning.
Question 4: How did you get started doing what you do? / Are you a full-time athlete, or do you do other work / run your own business? What drives you to keep training every day?
I am neither a full-time athlete nor a full-time coach. I am a pharmacist in a corporate structure with enormous eagerness to learn, distill and transform information into practical, applicable knowledge and action plan that enables me to live my life outside of the business world as an ongoing adventure. Being in good shape and having control over my body allows me to wish and dream big and act on those dreams and wishes. My spirit and body are in a partner relationship, and I nurture them both with daily exercise (not to exhaustion but to enjoyment) and mindful and meditation practices. In addition, I want everyone to feel the way I feel – curious, adventurous, waking up each day with excitement and zest for life.
Question 5: What are your weaknesses? What hurdles did you face and how did you overcome these barriers?
My first discovered weakness, the first time I tried to pull myself on a rock, was “weak arms and heavy booty” (lol). The most important one, however, was the lack of self-confidence… how could I change myself in my middle age? I mean… that was supposed to be the end… not a new beginning!?
With the internet on the rise, I became aware that everything was possible with the right information applied accordingly.
I have been heavily investing ever since in many courses, coaching programs, mentors in both, sport and personal development realm. The result is complete physical, mental, and spiritual transformation with clear understanding and self-confidence that I can achieve anything that I put my mind to, provided I let myself dream about it, wish for it, and try it out. Success builds upon success. I have come to the realization that my body is my vehicle, and I need to prepare it and maintain it accordingly. And then… let the imagination take over.
Question 6: What are your biggest strengths, both as a coach and an individual? What do you believe to be the primary reasons for your success? What do you consider to be your biggest success so far?
My biggest strength as a coach is knowing the transformation journey first hand… the good, the bad, and the ugly; helping clients navigate through the distractions, shiny objects, misinformation, saving them lots of trial-and-error, and holding them accountable to their dreams and aspirations.
As an athlete and individual, knowing that everything in our life is a journey… we may have one destination in mind, but arrive on another… maybe not the one we wanted but the one we needed. This may be my primary reason for success and my biggest success… I trust the process. I trust that the Universe has my back covered, and I do my thing… I take the step as it reveals before me, and the next and the next. My journey now… is a never-ending story (lol).
Question 7: Where do you think a lot of people go wrong and what general pieces of advice would you give to those looking to excel in areas similar to yours?
In general, should you feel that you are doing everything right and yet you don’t feel, achieve or look the way you want to, you don’t perform up to your potential, or you get injured often – probably there is something wrong with the information and knowledge you act upon.
I would advise everyone not to take anything as absolute truth. Learn, experiment, try new things and see what works for you. However, “facts” are changing so rapidly these days, so it is difficult to navigate and handle this overload of often conflicting information. This could turn into trial-and-error that can take many years. The better one is of course, hiring a coach that can distill and customize the knowledge into an action plan that you both design and agree on.
I have learned this first-hand. Had I not resisted paying for guidance for way too long as I did, probably I would have succeeded much sooner. There is a saying, “Free advice is worth every penny you pay for it.” And that is how we all treat it.
Nowadays, the only people whose advice I consider are the people that I pay and the people that pay me.
Question 8: Are there any rules or quotes that you live by?
“The idea is to die as young as possible as late as possible.” Ashley Montagu
“It is nonsense to extend the old age. The youth is to be extended instead.” Ivo Andric
“When was the last time you did something for the first time?”
My mentor asked me this question prior to my 45th birthday… and I turned it into a challenge to myself… each year to do something new, something for the first time… not necessarily as a sporting endeavor… anything that expands my comfort zone. And so far, I am overachieving:
At 45, I discovered paragliding and became a paragliding pilot.
At 46, I climbed Mont Blanc – the highest peak in Western Europe on the Alps.
At 47, I jumped with a parachute and climbed Elbrus in Russia, the highest peak in Europe.
At 48, I did my first Facebook Live (lol).
At 49, I had my first TEDx Talk.
Question 9: What are your plans for the near future? What goals do you currently have?
Climbing Lenin Peak (7.134m) on Pamir in Kyrgyzstan this year and climbing Mt. Everest as my 50th birthday accomplishment in 2022/2023.
Question 10: Where do you see yourself in 5 Years? What is your ultimate goal?
The first quote that I live by… “The idea is to die as young as possible, as late as possible.”
As an athlete, I will continue with what I have been doing for nearly a decade – daily physical activity of any kind, involve in various sports, and enjoy the ride. I am in the best shape ever, and I expect to fulfill my dream, climbing Mount Everest, in the next 2-3 years.
And after that?
Hike and fly is my ultimate goal! There are so many mountains to be climbed, so many beautiful places to be visited and seen through birds’ eye view, so much life to be enjoyed…
I hope I will inspire many to join me on this journey called Life.
As a coach, I see myself transforming people’s lives on a larger scale. My ultimate goal is to make people understand that they need to rekindle and nourish their inner child, let themselves be curious, courageous, adventurous again, let themselves wish and dream big and make them aware that all of that is possible, almost inevitable. It all starts with proper care and nourishment of their mind, body, and soul.
CHECK OUT MILENKA’S CONTENT
Email: [email protected]
If you have any questions, feel free to contact Milenka, subject “MTE”.
YouTube: TEDx Talk: https://youtu.be/r1kEl4w_1DI
A WORD FROM THE AUTHOR
Wow, this was an incredible MTE blog. This definitely made me want to put my boots on and climb a mountain – both a physical mountain and the metaphorical mountain that is the fitness industry.
I also watched Milenka’s TEDx Talk, and it was absolutely brilliant – if you haven’t already, click the link above and give it a watch.
Thanks for completing the MTE interview Milenka, that was really inspirational – maybe one day, I can join you up a mountain… Maybe not Mount Everest though – good luck with that. I can’t wait to hear all about it!
If you are keen to feature in our Meet the Expert Blog and Newsletter, drop us an email to [email protected] and we will send you an intro pack.