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“Fixing the way I thought about myself and what is possible changed my life—more than plants, more than running, more than any of these things—it’s what went on inside my mind.”
Josh LaJaunie is perhaps the most inspirational everyman example of healthy, transformative living I have ever met.
After 151 episodes of the podcast, our first initial conversation back in December of 2013 (RRP 63) is to this day one of the most popular, most downloaded episodes in the history of the show. If you missed it, please make a point of listening to this amazing exchange here.
That conversation transpired on Skype. We had never actually met. Now we have. At Healthfest in Marshall, TX a few months back I had the opportunity to spend an entire weekend with Josh. It was a memorable experience that left me more impressed than ever with this fine young man. Not just because he has overcome tremendous obstacles to restore and maintain his health. Not just because he continues to impressively evolve as an athlete and runner. But because of the exemplary human being he has become. A big spirit who continues to grow. A giant heart and shining example of service — constantly educating and inspiring his loved ones and community at large.
The story — as laid out in his self-penned manifesto “Free Josh LaJaunie”— goes like this:
In November of 2013, this guy I had never heard of called Josh LaJaunie tweeted me his before and after pictures. The change was so astonishing, my first thought was, can this be real? The 400+ pound guy on the left bore almost no resemblance to the guy on the right, a super fit, handsome young man running with a big smile on his face.
Chris Farley had morphed into Bradley Cooper. But how?
On a lark, I invited him on the podcast. I had no idea his story — more importantly his ability to own and tell his story — would be so extraordinary. The experience left me and everyone who tuned in indelibly changed. Ever since, I have felt inexplicably bonded to a guy I never actually met.
In short, Josh accomplished what some would deem impossible, dropping over 200 pounds and a life-long addiction to unhealthy foods & lifestyle habits to discover a passion for running. A journey that led him to completing multiple marathons and more recently his first ultramarathon. He didn’t just lose weight. And he didn’t just keep the weight off. He became an athlete.
A real athlete.
Most impressive is how he faced, battled and overcame astounding, impossibly entrenched cultural obstacles to change everything about how he lives his life. A gift he now freely and quite joyously shares, permanently transforming the lives of everyone who crosses his path.
Born & bred in southern Louisiana, Josh is a 100% genuine, authentic, self-avowed “swamp dweller” from Bayou Lafourche. A big kid with an even bigger heart surrounded by a loving nuclear and extended family united by their shared adoration of food. Josh was a standout high school football player, recruited to play college ball. But disillusioned by college life in Arkansas, he dropped out of school, only to return home, aimless and unmoored. He found work in the family construction business, but lived for the weekend – time spent hunting, fishing, cheering for his beloved New Orleans Saints, feasting on his favorite local delicacies — po boys, jambalaya & barbeque. And partying. Lots of partying. It’s just what you do down in Bayou Lafourche.
The weight escalated. As did the despair. His embarrassment and shame escalating in equal measure to his declining self-esteem and overall well being.
Then something happened. In 2010, Josh’s beloved Saints achieved the impossible, winning the Super Bowl. It seems a small thing. But to Josh it was everything. Forever altering his perception of what is possible, he began to question the limits he imposed upon himself. Empowered, he began to “let go of his normal” and dismiss the embedded “that’s just the way it is down here” mentality he was starting to understand often taints the logic of his region.
A chain reaction of events ensued that set Josh on a new trajectory. A path that involved a return to fitness and the adoption of a 100% plant-based diet. A path that changed everything about his life in impossibly unpredictable ways.
It’s one thing to “go vegan” in Santa Monica, California. But it’s another thing entirely in Thibodaux, Louisiana. No plant-friendly restaurants. No Whole Foods Market. Essentially zero community support. An environment where unhealthy food isn’t just a choice, but a celebrated cultural imperative. Some might even say a religion.
That Josh cut against the grain is an understatement. To embrace the plant-based lifestyle didn’t just mean an open invitation to ridicule. It meant risking complete social ostracization.
I am proud to once again give Josh a well-deserved microphone to share his powerful, continually evolving story. But I am more proud to call him a friend.
I sincerely hope you enjoy the conversation, which picks up where we last left off. A conversation certain to erase whatever obstacles and excuses you rely on that perpetuate bad habits, keep you stuck, and reinforce denial. A conversation that explores:
- Creating a Mindset to Make the Impossible Possible
- Combating Self-Deprecation to Confidence
- The Preeminence of Mental, Emotional & Spiritual Growth
- Overcoming Unhealthy Food Culture
- Setting Goals and Seeing Them To Fruition
- Plant-based/Weight Loss Journey With Familial Support
- Marathon Training and Logistics
- Positive Dynamic Shifts During Crisis
- Encouragement in Marriage
- Service/Ambassador of Health
- Natural Progression/Serendipity
- The Importance of Self Love
By listening, my hope is that you will realize that no matter what your circumstances or environment, we all have the power to implement profound personal change beyond our collective imagination in miraculous and fantastic ways.
You’re a good man Josh LaJaunie.
Peace + Plants,
Listen & Subscribe on iTunes | Soundcloud | Stitcher | TuneIn
Thank you to this week’s show sponsors:
Harrys.com: Type in my coupon code “ROLL” at purchase for $5 off your starter set and get an entire month’s worth of shaving for just $10.
Quickbooks: For 50% off QuickBooks Self-Employed, visit TrySelfEmployed.com/richroll
Production, music & sound design by Tyler Piatt. Additional production by Chris Swan. Graphic art by Shawn Patterson.
Find Josh LaJaunie: Blog | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter
Background, Context & Reference:
- FREE JOSH LAJAUNIE: Josh’s manifesto
- Home Team: Coaching the Saints and New Orleans Back to Life* by Sean Payton
- Thibodaux Running Group / Louisiana Running Company
- Born to Run* by Christopher McDougall
- Eat and Run* by Scott Jurek
- Finding Ultra* by Rich Roll
- Thrive * by Brendan Brazier
- The Engine 2 Diet * by Rip Esselstyn
- My Beef with Meat * by Rip Esselstyn
- The China Study * by T. Colin Campbell
- Whole* by T. Colin Campbell
- Fork Over Knives* (film)
- Comedian Tim Minchin UWA Address
Notable People Discussed:
Past Episodes Relevant to Today’s Conversation:
- RRP 63 – Josh Lajaunie
- RRP 101 – Brendan Brazier
- RRP 103 – Preston Smiles
- RRP 140 – Robert Ostfeld, MD
- RRP 79 – T. Colin Campbell
- RRP 134 – Preston Smiles
- RRP 56 – Chef AJ
*Disclosure:Books and products denoted with an asterisk are hyperlinked to an affiliate program. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.
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Such a moving conversation. What a lovely man! Great podcast!x
Great show, Josh sounds as authentic as they come.
Be a lighthouse for truth, upon the safe hilltop God’s grace delivers you.
Love Josh! So glad that you interviewed him again. Another excellent interview 🙂
Josh is such a cool dude, thanks for bringing him back! The theme of epiphanies is so attractive, but I think they may happen mostly in the compressed timelines of movies. Especially for those of us who struggle with behaviors that have side-effects less severe than drug/alcohol abuse, change often happens more slowly. I think Josh’s story is like this–a thousand small battles fought day after day, eventually coalescing into visible movement. The trick is in the perseverance, applying yourself as best you can, again and again. And what he said about learning to love yourself is key–I think we don’t know our dreams because we don’t believe they (we) are worth paying attention to.
I listened to this yesterday on a long 7 hour drive from Northern Sweden to Stockholm. The two hour podcast went by way too fast and I wish the two of you could have kept on talking the entire 7 hours! I shed a few tears and laughed lot. Great podcast! I loved it. Thank you!!
Loved this one as much as I loved the last one. Speaking of Scott Jurek, have you seen that he is trying to set the fastest hike of the Appalachian Trail? He’s not quite halfway yet. You can see details here https://www.facebook.com/ScottJurek/app_190322544333196
I look forward to your podcast each week; your guest list is quite impressive and each has given me a take-away that I try to include in my daily life. Josh is, to say the least, one of my favorites. He’s as authentic as they come, and has achieved incredible accomplishments for someone with the odds stacked not so much in his favor. Good on ya, Josh!! I’ll be following you with the same enthusiasm that I follow Rich Roll and his podcasts! Thank you!
Rich, I’m a Sports Science student from the UK and I’ve just started working over the summer to save a few pennies. I use the hour long trip there and back to listen to your podcasts and it has become a great part of my morning ritual (something I know you think is important!). I have only been tuned in for a couple of months now but you have already shifted my thinking extensively on so many topics. I feel a little alone on this journey to conscious revolution but I remain optimistic that it will spread quickly. I’m having serious thoughts about starting a plant-based diet, I find it amazing how quickly my tastes buds and preferences can change with a slight altering of mindset! I don’t want to make the leap until I feel fully educated on how to do it healthily so I’ve ordered your book as I’m sure that will do the job. I’ll try my best to spread your words over the other side of the pond. Take care mate and keep doing what you’re doing. Thomas (P.S. I’d absolutely love to see you and Sam Harris do a podcast!)
Rich, I’m a student from the UK and I’ve just started working over the summer to save a few pennies. I use the hour long trip there and back to listen to your podcasts and it has become a great part of my morning ritual (something I know you think is important!). I have only been tuned in for a couple of months now but you have already shifted my thinking extensively on so many topics. I feel a little alone on this journey to conscious revolution but I remain optimistic that it will spread quickly. I’m having serious thoughts about starting a plant-based diet, I find it amazing how quickly my tastes buds and preferences can change with a slight altering of mindset! I don’t want to make the leap until I feel fully educated on how to do it healthily so I’ve ordered your book as I’m sure that will do the job. I’ll try my best to spread your words over the other side of the pond. Take care mate and keep doing what you’re doing. Thomas (P.S. I’d absolutely love to see you and Sam Harris do a podcast!)
Thank you for this powerful, intimate podcast. So refreshing to see such honesty and vulnerability. You are both amazingly beautiful human beings, please never stop sharing! It was also fun to see this side of Rich, less science-y/sophisticated talk and more down to earth fun! Love you guys!!
I could listen to you and Josh talk for hours! I look forward to hearing about all the amazing new things happening in his life and how he keeps inspiring people to change their lives for the better.
Thank you for the great podcast with Josh. His enthusiasm for life makes me smile. I can identify with his hanging back send not committing fully. I have been doing that too. I think it’s time to go clean. Keep sending out these great podcasts and encouraging those of us who aren’t quite there.
That was a fantastic podcast. Love hearing about the transformation and the journey.
What a wonderfully inspiring story, told by such a genuine character. I don’t know what is more amazing…the fact that Josh has been able to transform his own life so dramatically or that so many of his family & friends have also adopted this healthy, plant-based lifestyle as well. What an amazing role model. Thank you Rich for giving prominence to Josh’s story, and for getting Josh to clarify bayou/southern Louisiana culture for us people listening from Australia!!!
Inspiring and touching podcast. This is why you are doing what you are doing Rich. This is your calling, you are on the path you are supposed to be.
What a great podcast Rich. I never get tired of hearing Josh’s story. What a lovely guy he is.
I just listened to this episode on my run this morning. Josh’s story is so inspiring, and I love his genuine, open style. Great show! Thank you for continuing to inspire!
Yeay for Josh again! Thanks for bringing Josh back for another interview–better sound quality and deeper this time–great work! Thanks Rich for introducing this wonderful guy!
This was one of the most inspirational podcasts to date. Thanks Josh for the advice to “fall in love with yourself”, and thanks Rich for bringing Josh back on the podcast!
I heard the podcast and loved it. I didn’t know that’s what he looked like. I thought he was exaggerating. Good for him!!!
Hi Rich! I absolutely LOVED this podcast episode. I listened to it twice! And I’ve recommended it to soooo many people. It is so incredibly inspiring and I’m so delighted to now be following Josh and and his story. Thanks much! Cheers!
Thankyou for interviewing Josh again. He is just amazing and it was great to hear more of his story.