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Sometimes, inspiration barrels at you from the unlikeliest of sources. For Josh LaJaunie, who once weighed 420 pounds — his aha moment came when his beloved New Orleans Saints won the Super Bowl in 2010.
Suddenly, LaJaunie wrote on his website, he was “forever changed because what I had been told all my life would never, could never happen” actually did happen. Turns out, that was just the motivation he needed to make serious changes in his life.
When LaJaunie, a former college football player undone by injuries and bad habits, married his wife B.J. in 2008, he wore size 54 pants. Thanks to the Saints, he decided that now was time to revamp his entire life, from his diet to his level of physical activity.
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"I was disgusted and disappointed, because here I was, I had already spent months tryin' to fix this thing, and the scale I did have... just said 'error,'" he recalled.
Motivated by achieving the impossible, as the Saints had done, in 2012, LaJaunie decided to the run the Crescent City Classic race, a 10K in New Orleans. It was no small feat given that he weighed 340 pounds at the time. He started slow, doing a light jog. But he finished the race in April 2013.
“That race was quite a feat for me,” he wrote. No kidding.
Today, he follows an entirely plant-based diet. That surprised LaJaunie's brother Dustin, who himself had maxed out at 425 pounds, five years ago, and thought the new eating regimen was a bit far-fetched.
"He said, 'I think it's not more meat. I think it's no meat is the way to go.' And I thought he was crazy, because we had just had a discussion before about how not to take everything you read or come across as all of it being fact," recalls Dustin LaJaunie, who has lost 175 pounds and counting.
In addition to changing his diet, LaJaunie decided to keep lacing up those sneakers and pounding the pavement — losing 230 pounds along the way and becoming a devout runner. He appeared on the cover of Runner’s World and his story inspired so many people that LaJaunie started a private Facebook group called the Missing Chins Run Club. It has 52 members who have — wait for it — dropped a combined 4,000 pounds together. Because it's always better to get fit together. The group is about real-world advice and motivation, plus accountability.
His close friend Josh Turner joined the club and lost 100 pounds.
"I had tons of medical issues that have went away, and I'm out there running where I couldn't even run before. It's really given me my life back," he says.