The man in the mir­ror

In an odd twist, I am a fat guy who is tak­ing advice from a man halfway across the world whom I have nev­er met. It’s curi­ous thing when new ideas can have a pro­found effect on how you think about your own life. It’s even more inter­est­ing to have that per­son actu­al­ly affect your world. I am about to embark on a jour­ney that I have been on before. Well… Sort of…

I am a movie fanat­ic with a Net­flix obses­sion. In case you don’t know, Net­flix has a lit­tle of every­thing and can lead you into some great fea­tures after you have rat­ed oth­er movies that you have already seen. It bases the sug­ges­tions on what you like and what you don’t like from your rat­ings. I start­ed my sub­scrip­tion after a His­to­ry of Doc­u­men­tary class that I had tak­en in my senior year at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Wyoming. It was an amaz­ing course and I would rec­om­mend it to any­one.

My taste in doc­u­men­taries has tak­en an inter­est­ing turn on my Net­flix account. I have most appre­ci­at­ed the huge num­ber of doc­u­men­taries that high­light nature and anthro­pol­o­gy. Recent­ly how­ev­er, I have leaned more toward doc­u­men­taries about food and health (both phys­i­cal and men­tal). One of my most recent finds has led me to try some­thing that I would have thought to be ridicu­lous in the past. It is a lit­tle extreme for an admit­ted fat guy, but I felt the need to try to improve my health.


Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead

Fat, Sick & Near­ly Dead, direct­ed by Joe Cross

In the movie, “Fat, Sick, and Near­ly Dead” the sub­ject and direc­tor, Joe Cross, makes a trip from his home­land of Aus­tralia to Amer­i­ca for a peri­od of two months. Joe has decid­ed that his health is so poor, that he need­ed some­thing dra­mat­ic to help him make a pos­i­tive change in his life. He decides to make a trip to the US to talk to peo­ple across the nation about their health and food choic­es. Our sub­ject is an almost-40 man who is obese and has a chron­ic skin dis­ease for which he must take oral steroids. He had noticed that his over­all health had rapid­ly deplet­ed in recent years and he was ready to make what­ev­er changes were nec­es­sary to improve his fail­ing health. Joe took a dra­mat­ic approach with stu­pen­dous suc­cess.

Joe decid­ed to do a fast where he com­plete­ly cut out all ani­mal prod­ucts in exchange for noth­ing more than fruits and veg­eta­bles, all-day every day. In the doc­u­men­tary he talks about how, for thou­sands of years, we had a cycle that our bod­ies are still pro­grammed for. It is the win­ter fast, when meat was hard to come by and so were fruits or veg­eta­bles of any kind. In these lean times, he explains that we are meant to lose a per­cent­age of our body weight as part of a nor­mal cycle. Cross talks about how with­out this part of the year­ly cycle, our body’s rhythms can be dis­turbed and our health can suf­fer because of it. Cross decides that a cleans­ing, or fast, could poten­tial­ly reset his hay-wired bod­i­ly sys­tems and put him on the right path for a health­i­er life in the long-run.

Much of the first sec­tion of the movie explains the idea of a micro-nutri­ent rich diet ver­sus a macro-nutri­ent rich diet. Cross goes on to dis­cuss how many nations with weight issues con­sume diets that are high in macro-nutri­ents. Micro-nutri­ents are found in plant mat­ter (fruits, veg­eta­bles, nuts, and roots) while macro-nutri­ents are found in ani­mal prod­ucts (meat, dairy, eggs, and bread).

Our sub­ject pos­tu­lates that by imple­ment­ing this fast­ing cycle into his life, his body will have the abil­i­ty to ful­ly recov­er and heal itself from the many years of a macro-nutri­ent bom­bard­ment it has received. He also believes that if his health sta­bi­lizes, he will be able to wean him­self off of med­ica­tions and will no longer suf­fer from his skin dis­or­der. I thought that it seemed like a bit of a stretch for chang­ing your diet to have an effect on every mal­func­tion­ing body sys­tem, but the proof is there.

Joe sets off for Amer­i­ca for 60 days to prove that any­one can reju­ve­nate their health by hav­ing a whole foods diet, with­out any processed food. Cross plans on fast­ing by juic­ing large amount of fruits and veg­eta­bles (most­ly green). He decides that his jour­ney will have two parts. For the first 30 days he stays in New York City and talks to a wide vari­ety of peo­ple every day about their own health and what kind of foods they eat on a reg­u­lar basis. He also keeps some of his juice mix­tures on-hand for peo­ple to sam­ple when he inter­views them on the street. Large­ly, peo­ple are not inter­est­ed in the health juices but some of them give it a taste with mixed reviews in regards to fla­vor. On the sec­ond 30 days, he gath­ers his juicer and heads out on the road. He leaves NYC on a mis­sion to reach the west coast and spread his sto­ry to all of those whom he meets on his cross-coun­try jour­ney. In this sec­tion, he meets a mor­bid­ly obese man with the same chron­ic skin dis­ease whom he offers to help after a lengthy and friend­ly con­ver­sa­tion.

In the first 30 days Joe makes many com­ments on how he is feel­ing dur­ing each day of his expe­ri­ence and he takes the time to ask seri­ous ques­tions to com­plete strangers. As with any change in diet, his body puts up some resis­tance as he begins his two-month adven­ture. Despite what I had expect­ed, his new diet shows mas­sive results in a short peri­od of time with rel­a­tive­ly lit­tle exer­cise oth­er than walk­ing.

Joe Cross meets Phil River­stone at a mid­dle-Amer­i­ca truck­stop

The sec­ond half of the jour­ney sends him on the road to see the coun­try and talk to peo­ple about his quest to con­trol his own health. Halfway thru his jour­ney he meets Phil River­stone. Phil is a truck­er who was once a scrawny kid but when he met Joe he tipped the scales at over 400lbs. Phil is a spe­cial case for Joe because he is the only per­son that he has ever met with the same chron­ic skin dis­ease. After the men have a heart-to-heart, Joe offers his new friend Phil any help that he might be able to con­tribute. They both leave to fin­ish their jour­neys, but Phil will soon play a major role in the film as a sep­a­rate case with even more pro­found effects from Joe’s fast­ing process.

Phil was not the only per­son that found some form of heal­ing from Joe’s meth­ods, but his expe­ri­ence is the most dra­mat­ic. Anoth­er woman, who suf­fered from chron­ic, debil­i­tat­ing, migraine headaches, finds some relief from her symp­toms after a 15-day peri­od with micro-nutri­ent rich juices. She con­tin­ued to enjoy the juices twice a week after she had fin­ished her ini­tial 15-day fast and she was able to kiss her migraines good­bye.

The sto­ry picks up a few months after Joe has returned to Syd­ney, Aus­tralia. Phil decides that he needs help and asks for help from Joe. Joe feels as though he can’t refuse to help some­one that has the same prob­lems that he had. Joe heads back to Amer­i­ca in an effort to make Phil’s tran­si­tion to a health­i­er lifestyle eas­i­er. The new friends head to a neu­tral loca­tion where Phil can relax, fol­low the pro­gram, and increase his phys­i­cal activ­i­ty. Phil jumps in with­out giv­ing it a sec­ond thought and his results show his deter­mi­na­tion to have a health­i­er life.

At the end of the film you see, with a fresh eye, two men who have decid­ed to change their lives for the bet­ter and have done so vic­to­ri­ous­ly!

This ciné­ma vérité style of this film makes the view­er a part of the entire jour­ney that Joe has under­tak­en. As a mem­ber of the jour­ney, I think that the film has the poten­tial to have a much stronger effect on the audi­ence. I too believe that there is a nat­ur­al order to our health that has been altered by our envi­ron­ment and our food intake. There­fore, I have decid­ed to try and take a jour­ney of my own to find myself with a bet­ter qual­i­ty of life then I cur­rent­ly pos­sess.

I am tak­ing steps to change where I cur­rent­ly stand in regards to a prop­er bal­anced diet. I didn’t think that this change would be all that dif­fi­cult since I enjoy fruit and near­ly all veg­eta­bles. I am just get­ting start­ed on my new jour­ney and would like you to come along for the jour­ney too. So please, stop back by — as I will be keep­ing tabs on my jour­ney to bet­ter health over the next 60 days. I am not div­ing in head first into the deep end like Joe and Phil, but instead eas­ing into it from the shal­low end. I fig­ure that eas­ing into it will give me a fighter’s chance at leav­ing my fat­ter days behind me.           Day 1 – 245 lbs

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