Inspiring Personal Stories
2 Jun 2017
Josh LaJaunie
Long Distance Runner

Josh LaJaunie was 420 lbs in 2009. A childhood friend (Jeff Thibodaux) asked him if he wanted to join the gym. Josh accepted and started working out. Soon, he was flipping through issues of Runners World and learnt that running was a fat burning workout. Something clicked in him and he started running! Seven years later, he was preparing for a 100-mile race!

Josh's personal story is recounted inRunner's World Cover Search Winner 2016. Some excerpts from this article:

"LaJaunie and Thibodaux first took it outdoors one particularly swampy summer day, alternating running and walking from one telephone pole to the next. "It was more jiggling thanrunning," LaJaunie says about the half-mile workout. Before long, they were running three miles at a time. LaJaunie got his business degree in December 2011, and he and Thibodaux ran the Crescent City Classic 10K in New Orleans the following spring, finishing together in 1:43. He still weighed 320 lbs."

"LaJaunie was running three days a week, but the radical change to diet — which radically changed his body — wasn't sparked until the spring of 2013, when he and B.J. decided to avoid all processed foods for the 40 days of Lent. During this time, LaJaunie also read Christopher McDougall's best seller Born to Run, where he learned about the vegan ultrarunning legend Scott Jurek. He blazed through Jurek's book, Eat & Run." I didn't know it was humanly possible for people to go hundreds of miles on their feet, and not only is this dude doing this, but he doens't eat meat and dairy," LaJaunie says. "I was totally blown away." "

"Almost immediately, LaJaunie cut out meat and dairy. He broke an hour in the Classic weighing 285 pounds and kept racing, getting faster, going longer, and getting thinner. By the summer of 2014 he reached his present weight of 190. The great-grandson of a Mississippi Baptist minister had become a true disciple of the plant-based-diet movement and, before long, was a full-fledged evangelist. Today, meals are simple: raw oats with fruit, or kale and salsa mashed into a baked potato; instead of Cajun spices, he tosses nutritional yeast onto just about everything."

"Mutual Rescue"

Mutual Rescue is a beautiful, 6-minute short film about Eric O'Grey and his dog Peety. Eric was over 300 lbs, taking several drugs for diabetes and obesity. A naturopathic doctor advised Eric to make two changes: (a) switch to plant based diets, and (b) adopt a dog. A strong bond developed between Eric and his dog Peety. They went for two walks together, every day. Over the course of an year, Eric lost 140lbs. He then went on to train for and complete a full marathon!

Oprah covered the story here. The doctor who helped Eric is Dr Preeti Kulkarni from Sunnyvale.

Ruth Heidrich

The video above is from 2016. It is a 30-minute interview with 81-year old Ruth Heidrich.

Another great video by Ruth Heidrich is her 50-Minute Talk in 2005 in which she narrates her life story. Her talk is both funny and informative. She appeared in the documentary Forks Over Knives.

Ruth Heidrich pursued her career as a military logistician. In 1982, when she was 47 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was taken by surprise. She'd been a runner for 14 years, had run 3 marathons and ate what she believed was a very healthy diet — lots of chicken, fish and low-fat dairy.

While recovering from breast cancer surgery, she chanced upon a 2-line advertisement in the newspaper seeking breast cancer patients to participate in a clinical study. Ruth immediately called and was connected to Dr John McDougall who convinced her to switch to a low fat plant-based diet. A key factor that helped Ruth get convinced was the mountain of data that Dr McDougall presented from research papers. Dr McDougall continues to write many articles at his website.

While Ruth was pursuing a plant based diet, she also decided to train for the Ironman Triathlon. She added swimming and biking to her daily runs. Since 1982, Ruth has completed the Ironman 6 times, run 67 marathons and has won over 800 racing trophies.

More details of Ruth's journey are available this article. Her 50-Minute Talk in 2005 is also awesome.

Ruth has also written books on running and senior fitness: check out her Author page at Amazon.

Heather Shenkman
Ironman Triathlete and Cardiologist

Dr Heather Shenkman is an Ironman triathlete and cardiologist. The video above narrates her personal story. Also described in words here (Forks Over Knives). Excerpts from the video:

“I have been a vegetarian since I was a teenger. I was 16 when I went vegetarian. During my cardiology fellowship training, I was looking more at some of the literature from Dean Ornish and from Caldwell Esselstyn. Looking at how plant based diets could prevent heart disease. And it kinda clicked to me at that point that it wasn't just the meat; it was also the dairy and the eggs. And I gave both of those up at that time. I went vegan about seven and a half years ago.”

“It is not common for a cardiologist to talk to patients about diet.”

Dr Garth Davis
Bariatric Surgeon

The video above is a short, fast-paced interview with Dr Garth Davis who turned vegan in 2009.

Dr Davis is a bariatric surgeon who performs surgeries for weight loss. Americans have become obsessed with protein (8:12) is an excellent video by him for prevention of obesity.

In his 20s and 30s, Dr Davis used to be a "proteinaholic", going to the gym regularly and consuming lots of proteins. However, his life insurance company didn't place him in the healthiest bracket because his cholesterol levels were too high! He was 35.

Dr Davis realized that doctors in USA study nutrition for very few hours in their entire career: 24 hours on average; 25 hours is the minimum required by National Academy of Sciences. After scouring literature connecting food to health, he switched wholesale to plant based diets in 2009.

In 2016, Dr Davis authored the book Proteinaholic (400 pages, 2016).

More Stories

Forks Over Knives: success stories.

Dr John McDougall: writtenvideos.

Dr Neal Barnard: success stories.

Dr Joel Fuhrman: success stories.

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