*For Immediate Release*
Families First for Mississippi and Mississippi Department of Human Services Team Up
with Paul Lacoste, Fitness Guru and All-American SEC Linebacker, to Bring Free
Fitness Programs to Mississippi
By: Jenny Cox Holman
A new year brings forth dedication to goals for refreshed and renewed exercise routines and healthy eating habits. Each year, Mississippians resolve that “this year” will be “the year” a healthy lifestyle will happen. As creatures of habit, though, the comfort of living in the same routine of the past creeps back into our daily lives even as we eagerly hope to make a change for this year. It is our habits that hold us back; and as the days move into weeks and pass into months, those resolutions and vivid plans for the new year slowly fade away and never happen.
Could it be the mindset of being comfortable with what is easier from unhealthy eating habits and sedentary lifestyles that brings Mississippi to the forefront as one of the fattest states in America? Mississippians are part of a state where over 1.5 million adults were overweight or obese in 2015, according to the Mississippi State Department of Health.
Beyond the statistics, Mississippians are known to strive for success in the face of adversity and provide a helping hand to others in need. With the right opportunities and voices of encouragement, Mississippians can move beyond the bleak statistics with tailored obesity-reduction initiatives. Families First for Mississippi and Mississippi Department of Human Services have teamed up with Paul Lacoste Sports to offer the Next Level Mississippi fitness program for compassionate support and an accessible avenue for renewed, healthy lifestyles for Mississippians.
Fitness guru and All-American SEC linebacker Paul Lacoste has lived a life centered around the importance of physical fitness. With his passion and true beliefs in a healthy lifestyle, Paul provides fitness programs to motivate and transform the lives of Mississippians. His no-nonsense approach, coupled with his Christian faith, have enabled him to meet people where they are on their fitness journey and create transforming results. “I share with those I train that I want your F.A.T., and F.A.T. stands for fears affecting transformation. Don’t let anything stand in your way that keeps you from being a better you,” Paul said.
Paul Lacoste’s own story, seasoned with tragedy, transformation, and humility, is grounded in his Christian faith to provide a firm foundation to his mission to motivate and help others. “When I was a junior in college, my brother died in a car accident on his way to watch me at my football game. I didn’t know how to deal with death and it took me down a dark, dark road. Although I was very successful at football and getting awards and contracts to play football, I was living in darkness. Going through the peaks and valleys of life as a young adult and in my thirties never caught my attention. It wasn't until I faced the diagnosis of the West Nile Virus in 2012 that had me lying on my deathbed and a separation and divorce months after my diagnosis that I realized the way I lived my life had to change. I had to start living my life God's way because He has a purpose for me,” Paul Lacoste recalls.
Through his personal experiences, his message to motivate others is that suffering can be overcome with the help of others and reliance on God. The transformative moment came as Paul was waking up from a coma in a Jackson hospital suffering from life-threatening effects of the West Nile Virus. Paul said, “It was when I was in the hospital that it was made very clear to me that either I change or that I was going to die. I had my last rites read to me as everything in my body was shutting down. When I woke up two days later from being in a coma, my doctor said, ‘Paul, you are the one percent that lives from this strain of West Nile. God has got something that He wants you to do because you are not supposed to be here.’”
Learning to walk again, enduring over 15 different surgeries on his legs and being diagnosed with kidney cancer in 2016 believed to be a direct result of West Nile, the mission for the future was clear to Paul. “I know the only reason that I am alive is to help people and it’s through fitness, nutrition, education and motivation. I heard Former Dallas Cowboys’ coach Jimmy Johnson speak when I was at Indianapolis and he said, ‘You can’t let fatigue make you a coward.’ At the time I was only thinking about physical fatigue, but I have grown and God humbled me. I’ve realized there are many different kinds of fatigue - spiritual fatigue, nutritional fatigue, mental and emotional fatigue.”
Through the Paul Lacoste Sports Next Level MS training program, powered by Mississippi Department of Human Services and Families First for Mississippi, Mississippians are given an opportunity to train for free in an atmosphere that offers motivation for creating a healthy lifestyle. Currently, Paul Lacoste Sports Next Level MS training program is taking place in Pascagoula, with plans to be in the Brookhaven/McComb area and the Mississippi Delta, along with other locations throughout Mississippi during the year. “My mission is clear: I love coaching and training people. I am here to motivate and inspire the people of Mississippi and educate them through physical fitness. Our journey in life is one of emotional, mental and spiritual change and growth. I can now honestly stand up and represent that,” Paul Lacoste said.
Mississippians are known for resiliency and overcoming hardships and suffering in the face of obstacles. From the personal tragedies and triumphs of Paul Lacoste’s own life, coupled with his extensive success in the field of physical fitness and with the statewide services of Families First for Mississippi and Mississippi Department of Human Services, the goal is unified to implement obesity prevention and healthy lifestyle fitness training programs that are accessible to all Mississippians.