FREE JOSH LAJAUNIE

imageI am an unabashed Who Dat!! with a last name that has South Louisiana written all over it. I grew up on Bayou Lafourche in Thibodaux, Louisiana. I’m proud to be a bayou boy. I’m proud to sound like a coonass. And I am proud to be a graduate of our little Harvard on the Bayou, Nicholls State University. Growing up here has contributed to a lot of things in my life of which I am immensely proud. It has also bred into me a relationship with food, as it has with many of my bayou brethren, that I have come to realize is dysfunctional and even lethal. This relationship played a huge part in my achieving something I am not proud of: weighing over 400lbs. These are a few words about how I changed that.

When the New Orleans Saints achieved the impossible in February 2010 I was forever changed. I had a new image of “impossible” in my head. It was no longer something that was real, an obstruction, an obstacle; it became a mirage. I was forever changed because what I had been told all my life would never, could never happen (although,I, at the risk of sounding crazy throughout my life thought would and could) HAPPENED. It literally changed something in me. I wanted to know more about what it took to make it happen, so I read Coach Sean Payton’s book. It taught me a lot about not making excuses, identifying objectives, finding a pragmatic way to achieve said objectives, letting go of my normal, and forgetting about the “that’s just the way it is down here” mentality that taints this region’s logic at times.
At the time, I was patting myself on the back for getting my degree after having flunked out seven years earlier, and I was applying what Coach had taught me to that endeavor. In February of 2011, spring semester of my senior year at Nicholls State University, I began to worry about the way I looked. You see, I was seeing other seniors in suits and ties giving business presentations in front of auditoriums full of folks. It bothered me that in the fall I was going to be one of those presentation-giving seniors. Except with my shirt tucked in, unlike most of these other guys, my belly would be hanging over my belt and I’d be sweating from nerves and from being fat (not to mention I’m 10 years older than everyone, and felt kinda out of place anyway). How would I be received? I worried, but didn’t act.

That same February my lifelong friend, Jeff, called me out of the blue:

Jeff: “Hey, buddy!”
Me: “‘Sup, Jeffie?”
Jeff: “I’m getting fat, bra. I gotta do something. If I join Laroussa’s, would you come with me and help keep me on track?”
(Laroussa’s is a gym in Thibodaux. I had been a member there on and off since high school, mostly off.)
Me: “Keep you on track? Bra, I don’t even know how much I weigh these days. I got on B.J.’s [my wife]scale, and it said ‘error’. I gotta do something too!”
Jeff: “Well, I’m joining today and I’ll be at the gym at 5:00 in the a.m., you coming?”
Me: “Yes. I’ll go by after school and sign up. See you in the morning”

And just that quick I went from worrying to doing!
A couple of weeks later I was complaining to B.J. about her scale being a wuss with all this “error” junk (even the doctor’s scale only went to 350lbs., so my weight had no real starting point, no high water mark if you will). B.J., detecting my seriousness I suppose, brought a scale home one afternoon that went up to 500lbs.! That oughta do it, I thought.
I hopped on that scale, and for the first time in years I had a number: 397lbs! I looked at myself in the mirror, hands on the vanity, leaning in nose-to-nose with my reflection and said “What the [expletive]did you do? You fat piece of [expletive]! Fix this!” I literally said that to myself, I’ll never forget it. I had tears in my eyes, fear in my voice, but something told me this time would be different.
After two weeks of working out, going to school, meeting with classmates after-hours for group projects, and eating less I still weighed 397lbs. That’s a single fried oyster poboy (my favorite, by the way) away from 400lbs.!
I buried myself in school work. I did a spring semester, a summer semester, and a fall intercession class to finish my degree. I felt so proud!And by graduation in December I had lost 60lbs.
School had taught me a lot about pragmatism, preparation, and execution. And now I felt more equipped to follow what Coach had written so adamantly about in his book. I also had a great sense of just what was capable; my Saints had won a Super Bowl, and I, a flunked out ex-jock, had a degree! On top of that, I had lost 60lbs., and felt like I was making a real physical transformation, for the right reasons, the right way, for the first time.
The following spring, 2012, I wanted to run the CCC. Jeff, who was still hanging in there with me, decided he’d do it too. We began running. I modeled my stride after a Thibodaux man who ran with what I call a jiggle. It’s about as fast as a walk, but looks like a run, a light jog really. Jeff could walk next to me as I “ran”. I was just so afraid to hurt my now 340ish-pound self running and derail my progress. But, I really wanted to run. I would see people all up and down St. Charles Ave on the weekends running, touring the city on foot, I wanted that.
The Crescent City Classic came on April 23rd 2012 (I won’t even address BountyGate in detail, but you can imagine it was quite the motivator at the time…). That race was quite a feat for me. I got tired in mile three and started walking. I was cramping in mile five. And could hardly muster the energy to run across the finish line (as opposed to walking, like the ladies with baby strollers). I had finished it with a time of around 1:50:00. But, in getting ready for that race, I had gotten myself down to 320lbs.! That’s minus seventy-seven pounds! I felt like I was on a roll. And I felt that running had awakened the almost dead, smothered in fat, athlete inside me. The one I had turned my back on years ago right before flunking out of my first attempt at college.
I had a new thing now: RUNNING. Immediately after that race, I wanted to get better. I wanted to get faster. I wanted to get stronger. I wanted to get lighter. I made a new commitment to the running aspect of my workout routine now that I could see the possibilities.
Others jumped on board with ‘ol Josh and Jeffie after that race. My best friend/wife/girlfriend/podna/soulmate started to get her BEAST on by joining Pro Athletic Performance (PAP) in Houma, my brother Dustin started hitting Laroussa’s with me and Jeffrey in the a.m., and even my heavy-drinking, chain-smoking lil Irish podna Pat jumped on the bandwagon with us. I wanted us to all run the CCC come 2013. It was a hard-sell at first but I wound up closing the deal by just registering everyone. (Although, Jeff, who was starting a new career, and had his first baby on the way, had fallen off of the regular Laroussa’s meetings, my brother had stepped in and started BEASTing out with me. Who, by the way, is down about 140lbs to date)This time I had a goal: run this CCC in less than an hour. Guess what?…DID IT! BOOM! My time was 00:59:56! WHAAAT!?! And guess who else ran it that year, in a very similar time?…Coach Sean Payton! It felt good to know I had shared the course with that man.
After the CCC this time, I felt even better. I had actually run the whole thing first of all, and secondly, I had done it in under an hour. Again, blurring the lines between possible and impossible. Now it was time to go next-level. This is when I began to seek out people who have achieved in this realm, read about how they’d done it, and do my best to implement their strategies.
After a very fun and exciting Mardi Gras season, B.J. and I decided to go “clean”. This is something she had read about. I wasn’t really interested in it; I figured I could just eat “healthily” and keep achieving my goals, as I had in the two years prior. Although I had stagnated at around 285lbs. by that Mardi Gras, I still felt good about myself. I mean, I had lost 112lbs. Who can say they lost 112lbs? Not many. But, I went in with her nonetheless. We are a team, after all. After our initial pantry cleansing and subsequent “clean”grocery-run, I was prepping some of our new food and had a few minutes to spare. I turned on my Apple TV, pulled up my Netflix account, and started looking for documentaries about the subject of nutrition. I came across a documentary called “Fat Sick and Nearly Dead”. I had heard about this documentary, but had dismissed it as some things I’d never do; I like drinking and and eating NOLA-style too much. But, since I was doing this “clean” thing I figured let’s see what it’s about at least. Well, that was it. This dude’s story was a lot like mine. And he broke it down in a way I had never ever heard before. And his fact-based approach really appealed to that pragmatic college graduate that lives in my head now. So, I kept watching documentaries that Netflix suggested to me based on having watched “Fat Sick and Nearly Dead”. One of these suggested documentaries was “Forks Over Knives”. Next-level started to crystallize. I began to rethink the way I was eating, what I, and the rest of America, called “healthy”. This is where I learned about Dr. T. Colin Campbell PhD; “The China Study”; Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn Jr. MD, and his son, a retired professional triathlete that is now a firefighter, Rip Esselstyn. 
Once I learned of Rip, I said to myself “who else is a beast like I want to be, and do they eat like him?”. The answers were: Rich Roll, Scott Jurek, and Brenden Brazier to name a few, and YES they eat like him. From reading their books I heard the same things over and over: no meat, no dairy, here’s why, here’s how to stop.
Following what I learned has changed my life. I began worrying less about my weight, and more about optimal health and fitness. (And as a side note, this is what is wrong with our country. I could go on a whole tangent about that alone; healthcare costs, economy, unemployment, dependence on foreign oil, US bonds on the brink of default, etc…all goes back to us, as a whole, being very very very unhealthy because stuff tastes, and feels good. And because we feel entitled to be unhealthy because we’re Americans and have this technology to fix us after the fact, or because “oh well, it’s hereditary, gonna get sick no matter what so why not just live it up”. Our hubris and ignorance has caught up to us, really. What would the founders of the country think of us?).
Now, all that said, most people may not be interested in the running thing as much as me, I get it. But there was another book I read that kinda hit on everything. It was an awesome, frankly put, informational book: “Skinny Bastard”. These two ladies that wrote this book have put everything in one place, in one book; why is plant based the way to go, why modern society is reluctant or downright defiant, how Big Agribusiness has manipulated government to keep facts away from the public, and how to implement it into your life (grocery list, meal plan, recipes, etc.).
I also realize this way of life is a drastic departure from our “norm”, but 1.) forget the “norm” (how’s that working for us?) 2.) so is the way of life, or lack there of, after open heart surgery, cancer, diabetes, or erectile dysfunction.

I want to talk about it more. I want to be a voice, an example of the worst offender fixing the wrong. I want to share my story…

-Here is a link to a feature story/testimonial I did for the running app I use-

I look forward to spreading the word about how doable and necessary it is for us to do adopt a naturally human lifestyle. Which, I believe is eating plants to fuel physical excursion.

Some Netflix Faves:

FORKS OVER KNIVE
FOOD MATTERS
HUNGRY FOR CHANGE
FRANKENSTEER
FAT, SICK, AND NEARLY DEAD
KILLER AT LARGE

Must-read books:

PREVENT AND REVERSE HEART DISEASE, DR. CALDWELL ESSELSTYN
THE CHINA STUDY, DR. T. COLIN CAMPBELL
FINDING ULTRA, RICH ROLL
BORN TO RUN, CHRISTOPHER MCDOUGALL
EAT & RUN, SCOTT JUREK

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50 thoughts on “FREE JOSH LAJAUNIE

  1. Josh,
    I know your brother. I just wanted to tell you that y’all both look great and reading this was an inspiration. I had a baby in March and had a hard time losing my baby weight because I had the Louisiana weight already (a lot if drinking and eating). The way that you bring all aspects of life down here, the Saints is exactly what I need to here. My husband also is bigger. Like you and your wife we are a team, but I loved the way you put y’all relationship. I find it hard to start something, it scares me to start and even more to finish. I want to be a runner. I always thought I wanted to just weigh less but I want to be fit. Keep up the great work! Please, write more of these and I will definitely look into the books that you have mentioned.

    Thank you
    Keli

    1. Keli,
      Thanks for the kind words. Running has given my weight loss a purpose. I no longer think of how I look, or how much I weigh as a goal. Now my running/fitness/health are driving, and the weight loss is merely along for the ride.

  2. Way to go!!! I just dropped 40 and 37 more to go… Your looking good, keep it up!!! Luciana is going to flip out over your picture!!!

  3. Josh!!!! I’m not even going to ask you how you are doing…your story and pictures speak for themselves!! What an amazing story!!! I am so inspired by you!! You must be so proud!
    Hope to see you around on our next visit to LA. Take lots of care!!

  4. Wow Josh, just listened to your Rich Roll podcast. Awesome; his best podcast yet. You said some pretty authentic stuff on there. You and you’re family are gonna inspire a lot of people, you should all be proud. Keep on keepin’ on.

    Ant

    1. Keep grinding.
      I am new at this blog thing, but I want to be able to share the little things I’ve learned with mine. I am glad to hear I could be of help to you. I felt like I was leaving a brotherhood, a fraternity of sorts, when I started to get fit and slim. The fact is I kinda did. You see, I still love my [BIG] brothers and consider myself part of their ranks for life. The fact is though, living the way required to achieve that physical appearance is dangerous. I dream of one day creating a run group with just former big dudes who have figured it out too. I can dream…

      1. Big guys are a special breed, but at this point I’d rather be a big guy at heart and not a big guy in size. People who don’t live it can’t necessarily see how dangerous it can be because they don’t feel it. That’s where the fear comes in, I think. You feel the physical and mental strain of being that big and it scares you. I’m moving away from that slowly, but surely. Unfortunately I lost my love for running as I got bigger. I’ve always been on the heavy side but at the same time I ran track and cross country in high school and loved every minute of it. So, I share your love for running, it just became harder and harder as I got heavier, because the strain on my body showed itself in the form of injuries. Now its an effort to get back to that place where I can run and not injure myself while doing it.

  5. I just posted on Facebook last night about motivation and inspiration and how I’ve been grasping to find and keep it. Rich Roll’s Facebook post led me here and I’m glad I had some free time at work to read through your story. I’m a big guy as well and your story is incredibly inspirational. I’ve felt the fear you mentioned creep into my mind looking at myself before, and although it’s a slow road and motivation isn’t always there I think I found what I needed here. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Great job! That is so awesome you are now healthy! I have a friend who is 5’6″ and she has weighed about 280 at one point; I think she weighs about 240 now. I hope she can do what you did and become healthy again.

  7. I just finished listening to your Rich Roll podcast and am just blown away. I was glancing through your facebook pictures while listening and was truly moved by your transformation. You’re so likeable and relatable and I could totally relate to your story. I have been working on being 100% plant based for a couple of years now and I appreciate you sharing how you managed to do this surrounded by the people and food in your culture. I am more determined to make this work and want to thank you for inspiring others to follow this path.

    1. Thank you for taking the time to share that with with me. I know being 100% plant based presents challenges, and that’s why I want to share my story. It can be done, and, I truly believe now with all my heart, it should be done.
      I’m just a guy who realized he had found some things that could help his cause, but was hesitant to implement change. I was reluctant to get outside the box. Not only because I might become alienated, but because my getting out of the box might make some of my peers feel uncomfortable-which it does actually. But I decided that because my wife was with me, and she was all I needed, being alienated sounded romantic. And putting others in the uneasy chair because I’m not drinking or eating things this body is not designed to use as fuel…oh well.
      Again, thank you for taking the time to look me up and offer your kind words. I am truly inspired by all the wonderful responses we’ve gotten. Simply amazing.

  8. I just listened to your interview on Rich Roll’s podcast and wanted to say, nice work! Keep it up and keep being a role model. You said something in the interview that resonated with me, something like “what was normal” in regards to the eating and drinking culture. There is always time to redefine normal!

    1. Creating new normals is the American forte’. We have sorta gotten away from it, and fallen into a rut of status quo. But it doesn’t have to stay that way. Thanks for listening. It means a lot to me that people are taking the time to reach out to me. And it means even more that my message is resonating with folks from such broad spectrum. I was just trying to get word out to my fellow “coonasses” about the error of our culinary ways, and stumbled upon the fact that my story has some meaning for people across the globe…mind officially blown, lol.
      Thanks again for listening and taking the time to offer some kind words.

    2. That process of getting comfortable outside my current box or “normal” and redefining that place has been very important to me in my running, diet, and life in general. It takes a leap of faith sometimes, and takes courage and will power that, I realize now, can’t be honed.
      Thank you for taking the time to give me a few words of encouragement.

  9. Josh, just listened to your Rich Roll interview, and you are a special dude with a unique perspective, major heart, and timely message that is needed in this world! What is super special is how aware, intelligent and articulate you are in describing your world and your path. Wow!! I hope you write a book!

    1. Thanks for for those kind words. I agree that it IS time for us to take head of some glaring problems, undergo hubris reduction surgery, and come to grips with what food should be: an asset. What we call food now is a massive liability to our country and the fix is in each on of us, not congress. Don’t get me started…a book, hunh? maybe you just did.
      So glad you enjoyed the interview, and was able to get something from it. Rich is an awesome interviewer!

  10. Like most folks, I listened to the Rich Roll podcast and heard your story. I finished listening to it while cooking dinner and immediately told my wife about it when she came home. I connected a lot with the issue of living in a small community that is stuck in that southern food culture. I’ve often said the same thing when reply to my plant based diet with “I couldn’t do that”. You CAN, but you won’t. Thanks for sharing your story. Another great online community you may be interested in is No Meat Athlete. Its a great resource for everything running and food related.

    1. So glad you got it, and can relate. That’s exactly right about the attitudes of people when confronted with plant-baseddom; anyone CAN do it, but they WON’T. I think it’s kinda absurd that we are willing to accept the current state of health in this country ‘cuz shit tastes good (excuse my French). I loved and love sharing my story, especially when it leads to exchanges with folks that get it. Thanks, man.

    2. That’s right, man; folks can do it, but they won’t. I can’t believe we are willing to accept the current state of health and healthcare in this country because shit “tastes good” (excuse my French).
      I love #nomeatathlete. I follow him on Social media and heard his interview with Rich Roll. I have his book on deck in iBooks on the ol iPad.
      Hey man, thanks for taking the time to reach out. I love having exchanges with folks like you who really get it. Keep the faith. Peace.

  11. Josh! I am a huge fan of Rich Roll and have listened to all of his podcasts. But, by far yours was my favorite!! You are such an inspiration! I am running my first 1/2 marathon in April and I am grateful to have listened to your story as I begin my training! I am totally inspired by your story! Way to GO!!

    1. Ditto on the Rich Roll fandom; dude’s beast! I have listened to all of his podcasts as well. They are great for long runs and just getting good, solid knowledge and motivation. The fact that the one I was on is your favorite really means a lot. I still can’t believe he had me on his show. The fact that he did, and the beautiful responses it has induced, speaks volumes to me about where to direct my efforts. I really want to be a part of the solution after having been a part of the problem for so long.
      So pumped for you on the 1/2 marathon! Crush it!
      Thank you for those kind, kind words

  12. Josh! Awesome story man! I have a story of similar nature. Would love to tell you about it one day. Keep on being great – everyday!!

    Matt

  13. Josh,
    Listened to your podcast with Rich Roll and it was amazing! My definite favorite of all of them! Your story is so inspiring and you break down all excuses so well. One of my favorites quotes is when you said, “Me and Po Boy, we don’t talk no more…” Love that because I need to break up with the breadbasket myself! 🙂 I am working towards vegan and had back-slide last month but you provided an extra boost of motivation that was very welcome.

    Best wishes for your marathon, and I have a feeling we will see you attacking an Ironman in the not-too-distant future!

    1. So glad you enjoyed the interview. Breaking up with Po’boy was hard, I can’t lie. But what helped was the knowledge I’d amassed in my own head about what these foods were doing to me. Armed with facts, it’s up to you to either ignore or act. It took a minute, but I acted on the facts I’d gathered.
      Keep perusing. Don’t give up because you slip. We have years of bad practice to undo. We can’t expect it to happen overnight.
      Thanks for your well wishes on my marathon, and we’ll see about that ironman😉.

  14. Congrats and great interview! Awhile back I went vegan and felt awesome, then all the sudden I woke up one day after about 6 months and had noticed I had lost 15 lbs. of muscle and was ‘skinny-fat’. I was lethargic and a blood test revealed my hormones were all jacked up. Reluctantly I switched to the no sugar-no grains diet. Lots of healthy fats (coconut oil, organic butter) and plenty of organic meats, fish, shrimp, etc, and loads of veggies and have never looked back. Regained my muscle back and I’m ripped again. It’s basically low carb, lots of healthy fats and some organic meats. I felt great for awhile as a vegan, I feel even better on nsng. I eat po’boys just no bread and saute the shrimp or oysters in coconut oil or butter.
    Check out Rich Roll’s buddy Vinnie Tortorich’s podcast “America’s Angriest Trainer” for more info. Oddly enough I found Vinnie through Rich. I still love Rich but have never looked back.
    Just a cautionary tale to a fellow southerner.
    Again, congrats!!!! You da man.

    1. Thanks, man. I know how I feel, and how my running has progressed. I know that, so far, I’ve been able to keep and build muscle. I’m stronger than I’ve been in a loooong time. I’ll keep your words of caution in mind. Thanks for the heads-up.

  15. Listened to your great interview on Rich Roll’s podcast. I believe you have a future as a motivational speaker – you’re a natural! Good luck with your marathon.

    1. Thank you so much. I just love to talk about what I’ve learned. I feel like what I’ve found could serve so many, especially among my fellow Louisianians.
      The marathon training is going well. I have an 18mile run planned this weekend. This will be my longest run yet.
      Thanks again for those kind words and vote of confidence. I hope you and yours have a magnificent new year.

  16. Hi Josh, I’m very grateful that i found your featured interview and story on the Rich Roll Podcast. I’m curious about your plant based food intake (not weight loss diet) and what your consume – I’ll go search the rest of your site for this.
    Several months back…. because of major back pain and psoriasis (skin diseases) I began cutting way back my animal product intake and candies -I used to consume lots of Chicken, diary, hydrogenated coffee creamers, Redvine licorice, Jelly Beans, Gummy Bears, etc. I became aware of the Anti- inflammatory benefits of High Alkaline and low acidic nutrition . My body has responded by eliminating back back pain (major stiff back in the morning) and my skin condition has improved. Based on this major health improvement I’m committed to learning the art how to change my lifestyle to 100% plant based food intake.

    I’m looking forward to following your journey.

    Thank you,
    Byronious Chingchonious in California

  17. Josh, I heard your podcast with Rich Roll and read this “manifesto.” Your hard earned wisdom was so heartfelt and enlightening. Your story is inspirational I wish you and your family the best, and appreciated hearing your techniques for success (like “pre-eating”).

  18. Josh – what can I say man. I’m a expat been living over seas for 5+ years in Australia and Germany. Love the Rich Roll Podcast and usually is in my ear buds for long runs and cycling or just travels. Your interview was out of this world. I ended up running that day twice the planned distance as I was so engaged in your interview with Rich. I could go on and on with praises on your story, how you have gone about it and most importantly, your attitude on it. You are an inspiration bro…. continue doing what you do down there in the Bayou!

    1. Thanks, Jason. I just wanna do ME. And I’ll reach my hand out to anyone else (especially the Big Men) that is truly interested in making the changes necessary to get where I am now.

  19. I’m SO inspired by you! I live in Alabama surround by friends and family with obesity and disease. I feel like I’m a lone voice here being the only plant based person I know! My book list and Netflix list would be exactly the same as yours. It’s hard, though, when everyone thinks I’m the crazy one for eating plant based which I’ve done for about two years now. I’ve gotten to where I feel like I have to hide it from people, and sometimes I even “cheat” when I’m out with others, not because I crave that stuff, but just to not be criticized. You’ve inspired me not to loose hope!

    1. Let ’em hate is what I say. Be a rock.
      I’m there are folks watching you, and getting curious about adopting this way of eating themselves. Don’t give them a reason to quit. Be their lighthouse. That’s what keeps me going.

  20. Hi Josh! I listened to your chat with Rich Roll and was very impressed! I am currently an omnivore who wants to make the transition to a vegan/plant-powered lifestyle, but like you, I live in a southern town with limited options. You discussed how you make it work for you, which made me optimistic, but do you have any cookbooks/recipe sources that have helped you? I have tried a few vegan cookbooks but usually strike out because so many ingredients can only be found at whole foods, or they are waaaaay more complicated than my current skills. I dont want to make excuses anymore so I’m looking for all the resources I can get my hands on before I start the process. Thanks and many congrats on everything you’ve accomplished!!!
    Diana

  21. Outstanding! I am on the far west side of Cajun land (aka southeast TX), so I know what you mean about the food and drink. You are such an inspiration!

  22. Hey, Josh! You are an amazing inspiration. Thank you for taking the time to encourage others by sharing your story. I recently signed myself up for a plant based diet program run by a mutual friend named Anthony who, just like yourself, has made an incredible life transformation. I appreciate you sharing your journey with us and all of your much needed insight and advice 👍💪

    1. Once you’re living it, it’s just life. The longer one keeps it as a thing one does to lose, the less likely it is to stick.
      I love sharing my experience with others. And I’m do proud of Anthony for teaching people how to get started.
      Thanks again.

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