“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,
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.
Production, music & sound design by Tyler Piatt. Additional production by Chris Swan. Graphic art by Shawn Patterson.
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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