Everyone loves a good buddy road flick. You know, Easy Rider, The Blues Brothers, Sideways. Now another one is cruising across the country. The only difference in Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead, a documentary by Aussie Joe Cross, is that the “buddy” is a juicer. Yes, a juicer. An overweight Cross, loaded up on steroids and diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, decides to road trip America, vowing to regain his health by drinking only fresh juice. An odd concept, yes, but juicing fruits and vegetables for two months, Joe loses 100 pounds while talking to hundreds of people about their food, health and longevity issues. And goes on to win a bunch of indie film awards. Call it Super-Shrink Me. We asked Cross—who kindly supplied a sweet $150 Breville juicer to give away, click here for details—to break it all down.
MADE MAN: How hard was it to juice for 60 days?
JOE CROSS: Very tough. When you’re forty years of age, you’ve had forty thousand meals without a break. Those first few days I really had to convince myself that I was going to be all right. But after three days, you’re no longer hungry. You have cravings, no question, but you’re not hungry. That’s the big thing that people are shocked about. Furthermore, as long as you’re having four to five twenty-ounce glasses of this juice every day, you still have enormous amounts of energy.
MM: Why do people—Americans and Aussies—eat so much junk food?
JC: We eat it because it tastes good for that moment in time. It’s cheap. It’s convenient. And the advertising makes it incredibly attractive. The “real estate” in your stomach is very valuable, and you’ve got lots of big corporates chasing it. And they are trying to plant their flag, or their burger, or their pizza, inside you.
MM: In the film, you mention that the body can heal itself from the inside. Do you really think this is true?
JC: Without any doubt. We are this self-repairing machine—we get sick and we get well. We graze our knee. A scab forms and then heals itself. But if you snap your femur, that is not going to repair itself. There is a limit to how much can be repaired. We’re the ones that are bombarding our livers, and our kidneys, and our spleens, and our bladders with all of this high-fructose corn syrup. Our poor systems are sitting there going, ‘Well gee, Joe. You want to hit me over the head again? Keep it coming, buddy, but eventually I’m going to crack.’
MM: What advice do you have for people with no willpower?
JC: Ask for help to get through it. And that’s where you have to use the support groups to help you through. I started a community website, jointhereboot.com, that is designed to help people as well. We want to give people the tools, and the community, and the support, and the inspiration to make that happen.
MM: In the movie, you help another big fella lose weight. How can a guy get a friend or girlfriend to slim down without simply pissing them off?
JC: I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t know they’re overweight. Never. Every single person I’ve met has not needed me or anyone else to come up and say, “Hey, guess what, buddy. You’re a hundred pounds overweight. What?? You’re kidding. Thank God you told me. I never knew that.” The boyfriend who wants his girlfriend to do it has got to do it with her. He’s got to lead by example.
MM: Do you notice chicks looking at you differently now that you are literally half the man you used to be?
JC: I do, actually!
MM: Diet vs. exercise. What’s more important, and what’s the ratio?
JC: I think diet hands down, because it’s what you put into your system, which is what the body lives on and plays on. The exercise is the use of that energy. So if you always eat Big Macs, processed food, and exercise, that is no way near as good as eating a plant-based diet only and not exercising. I like to think that it’s a percentage of both. But I put 80 percent of the emphasis on what I eat and 20 percent emphasis on what I do in terms of exercise.
MM: Are you on the juice for life now, or have you switched back to normal food?
JC: I do what I call my 10-day Reboot once a quarter.
MM: What’s the secret to having a good, healthy life?
JC: My message is simply, ‘Let’s try and eat more fruits and vegetables and we’ll feel better and be happier.’ Health is just absolutely integral to happiness. I don’t know anybody that is constantly sick that’s constantly happy.