In January 2014, Just was hovering around 300 pounds. He was diabetic, relying on an insulin shot twice a day to maintain his blood sugar. He had high blood pressure as well, and was taking four pills a day for his varying medical conditions.
“I had to make this change,” he said.
So he and his wife, Tuesday Just, decided to start losing weight and living a healthier life. But he wanted extra motivation for losing weight.
He decided that for every 20 pounds he shed, he would get a new tattoo.
“That was kind of my goal for losing weight,” he said. “Besides the obvious things like feeling better and everything else, I wanted more tattoos.”
Just had always liked tattoos, but for most of his life had never gotten them. He liked how nearly all of them had special meanings to the people who wear them. They were a work of art in Just’s mind.
It wasn’t until the autumn before he started his weight loss journey that he got his first one. At the time, he was 46 years old.
“It’s probably unusual for someone to get a tattoo at that age, but I always interested in them and had always wanted to get one,” he said.
With his unusual motivation, Just said he earned the full support of his friends and family.
“It helped me keep going,” he said. “It’s kind of hard to get up and go to the gym all the time, but when you have a goal at the end, it makes it a little bit easier.”
Just lost his weight by exercising two or three times a week and adjusting his diet. He used the My Fitness Pal app to help him track his calorie intake.
He started aggressively, limiting himself to 1,800 calories a day, and slowly reduced that to around 1,500.
“The app kept me honest about what I was eating, and it kept a record of what I was eating every day,” he said. “That was really important in helping me reach my goals.”
Just said losing the weight was difficult, but the help of his friends, family and coworkers helped him succeed.
He’s attempted to make other changes to his entire lifestyle.
Just, who works as a senior system technician for Restaurant Technology Services in Grand Forks, spends most of his days sitting at a desk and troubleshooting problems on a computer. Now, he works at home and keeps a healthy stock of healthier food — now opting for an apple over potato chips.
In total, Just is down 105 pounds, and he weighs less than 200 pounds for the first time since 1988.
Just has added five tattoos to the one he got before he started losing weight some 16 months ago.
Four of his tattoos are on his legs and two on his upper body. All of his tattoos have been done by Fargo artist Stephanie Mont, and each of them have special meaning for Just, with many dealing with mortality and featuring Celtic crosses.
“It’s been an incredible journey,” he said.
Though he’s happy with his weight now, Just said he would ultimately like to get down to the weight he was at when he was in the military — 175 pounds.
That, however, would leave room for Just to get only one more tattoo, something he isn’t OK with.
“I might have to adjust my goal so that every time I go down five pounds I get one,” he said. “I want to get more. I really like them.”