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Joe Cross: Life After Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead

Kerry Shaw
March 5, 2013
Kerry Shaw
By Kerry Shaw
mbg Contributor
Kerry Shaw was the founding editor of MindBodyGreen. She previously worked for the New York Times, writing for the World Business and Sunday Styles sections out of the Paris bureau. She graduated from Stanford University with a BA and an MA in English, and has published three fiction books for tweens.
March 5, 2013
Image by Tatjana Zlatkovic / Stocksy

Here at MindBodyGreen, we're thinking about transformation, and no one embodies this idea of positive change better than Aussie filmmaker and entrepreneur, Joe Cross. 

His documentary Fat, Sick And Nearly Dead tells the story of how he lost almost 100 pounds and healed his autoimmune disease by following a 60-day juice fast.

We were thrilled to catch up with Joe and learn about his adventures in healthy living.

MBG: What have you been up to since the success of Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead

JC: We’ve built a robust online community at that provides information, recipes, juicing and eating plans, support and entertainment to hundreds of thousands of people who want to reclaim their health and vitality, as Phil and I did in the movie.

We’ve produced The Joe Show, a series of webisodes on juicing and wellness. I’m in the process of finishing up my second film, which will be released this fall. And I’m getting ready to hit the road and take Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead and the Reboot message to Canada, Europe, Russia, China and Southeast Asia. So it’s been a busy two years!

But the most exciting thing is that every single day I get emails from people who are losing weight, getting off medication and feeling happier because they're Rebooting, and that gets me excited to keep spreading our message.

Did the extreme approach you took in the film (going on an all-juice fast for two months) make it difficult to transition to a regular eating plan?

Actually, my 60 days of juicing made it easy to transition to a regular eating plan. The experience reset my palate and gave me an appreciation for how delicious whole plant-foods are.

Before my Reboot, I could not imagine craving something like an apple, or a kale salad. And after those 60 days, the thought of my old “favorites” – burgers, pizza, Coca Cola and the like – wasn’t appealing in the slightest.

How do you eat these days? 

I eat mostly vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans and seeds, augmented with fish or whole grains. I absolutely have the occasional indulgence (for example, I love chocolate ice cream) but I balance that by doing a juice-only Reboot every 8 to 10 weeks for a few days, and I find it sets me right back on track.

What's your philosophy around food? 

I believe that consuming vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans and seeds can have a radically positive effect on your health and wellbeing. The typical American plate is only 5% fruit and veggies. My goal is to encourage people to move the dial and increase their consumption of vegetables and fruits.

I believe that juicing is a great way to supercharge your body with the incredible nutrients found in whole plant foods – and the volume you’re able to take in when juicing is far more than you would be able to eat. So it’s a great way to move that dial, and as that happens, your body starts to return to its natural healthy state.

You actually begin to crave the good stuff and stop hankering after processed foods. The minute you start to feel well – sincerely well, not the momentary euphoria you might experience as a junk food high – it gets easier and easier to choose whole, natural foods.

That said, I believe in moderation and I know that lots of life’s great moments involve foods that aren’t whole plant foods. I reckon that life is to be enjoyed – and I think sometimes that means a piece of wedding cake, or a Thanksgiving dinner with the trimmings, or a glass of champagne at New Year’s. But if your daily life includes lots of fruits, veggies, nuts, beans and seeds, you can enjoy those occasional indulgences and still maintain your health and vitality.

Are you still in touch with the truck driver Phil Staples, who was such an inspiring figure in your film? 

I am, and I admire Phil for his tenacity. Like all of us who have grappled with obesity issues, it’s an ongoing issue to manage but he’s doing great. In fact, he’s studying to be a holistic health coach himself – which I think is just amazing.

Also, we're in NYC, so we'd love to know some of your favorite places in the city!

Lots to choose from here! There are so many great juice bars that Rebooting in New York is easy – Melvin’s Juice Box is a favorite, as are Organic Avenue and The Juice Press. For a beautiful piece of fish or a great salad, I’ll head to Lure Fish Bar in Soho. Special occasions call for Dan Kluger’s amazing farm-to-table cuisine at ABC Kitchen.

What's your advice for someone who is struggling to get healthy and fit this year? 

I always suggest that everyone begin with the same few steps. First, plan the changes you’re going to make. Be realistic about a start date to commence new behaviors and strategize in advance what you will need to accomplish your goal – do you have to clean out your pantry? Find a farmer’s market? Start bringing your lunch to work?

Pick a time on the calendar that doesn’t have a lot of social obligations. Second, line up support. We see at that support makes all the difference in the world. Third, set small incremental goals – not some giant, off-too-far-in-the-distance target.

And finally, be kind to yourself and keep at it, even if you have the occasional slip. If I could do it, you can do it! So good luck and juice on!

Kerry Shaw author page.
Kerry Shaw

Kerry Shaw was the founding editor of MindBodyGreen. She previously worked for the New York Times, writing for the World Business and Sunday Styles sections out of the Paris bureau. She graduated from Stanford University with a BA and an MA in English, and has published three fiction books for tweens. Kerry lives in New York City with her husband and loves improv comedy and trying to be healthy. Also, she is a recovering swimmer.