This is an archival story that predates current editorial management.
This archival content was written, edited, and published prior to LAist's acquisition by its current owner, Southern California Public Radio ("SCPR"). Content, such as language choice and subject matter, in archival articles therefore may not align with SCPR's current editorial standards. To learn more about those standards and why we make this distinction, please click here.
99 Cents Store Saved My Life: DJ Drops 250 Pounds By Eating On The Cheap
DJ Papa Joe Aviance says he lost 250 lbs by eating healthy—with food he bought at the 99 Cents Only Store.
He told Yahoo he was inspired to make a change when he kept seeing himself in the video for his 2009 collaboration with Lula, “Last Night a DJ Saved my Life," which played in heavy (no pun intended) rotation on MTV and VH1.
“I was 450 pounds—I was two cheeseburgers away from diabetes or high cholesterol. I’d been drinking a two-liter bottle of Mountain Dew every day, and if I went through any local drive-thru, they knew my name—that’s how often I used to eat that stuff.” said Aviance. “I had been big for pretty much all of my life, and I was sick of hating myself. It was now or never.”
He cleaned out all the junk food and soda in his kitchen and swore off fast food. But he'd just been laid off work so he was on a very tight budget. “I was unemployed and couldn’t afford a gym membership or fancy diets,” says Aviance. “I realized that walking was the easiest exercise I could do and it cost nothing. So I grabbed my dance music and tennis shoes, and started walking.”
He also found himself shopping at the 99 Cents Only Store after a friend suggested he check it out. "Since I couldn’t afford Whole Foods or Trader Joe's, I decided to see what they had.” Aviance was surprised to see that the discount store in his neighborhood had plenty of healthy foods. “Oatmeal, raisins, nuts, bananas, apples, oranges, bell peppers, spinach, salad dressing, tuna fish, eggs… I was shocked. I was blown away,” he told Yahoo. “It was a huge savings. I literally spent no more than $50 a week on food.”
In three months, he didn't fit in his clothes anymore. “I started to take all of my clothes to a seamstress so she could take everything in. I was still too broke to go out and buy new clothes, but I didn’t care. I was on a mission.”
Aviance soon started becoming known in his neighborhood. “Since I walk every morning, people have started giving me high fives. I felt like a mini rock star in my community. I’ve even had people stop me and tell them I motivated and inspired them to start walking.” Aviance filmed his own spec ad for Fila, his walking shoe of choice. The video is on his YouTube channel.
Who knew that eating at the 99 Cents Only Store could be healthier than buying something "organic" at a more reputable chain?