03 August 2014

Double Feature, Double Trouble

I was browsing through the Documentary section of Netflix a while back and my attention was drawn to the title Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead. Released in 2010, the description read, "Two men whose bodies have been trashed by steroids, obesity, and illness, document their rigorous healing path in a bid to regain their health". I thought that it might be interesting to watch, saved it to my list, and went to bed. Last night, I watched the film. When it was over, I watched it again. Then I watched it again this morning.

Oh. My. 

Joe Cross is an Aussie who skipped college, made his fortune in business, and enjoyed the fruits of his labor -- so much so that at, in his early 40s, he was morbidly obese and suffered from a rare condition in which his body's histamine reaction had gone haywire. He went to a number of physicians, specialists, "... even a witch doctor...", as he says, looking for relief. He found none. 

So what does he do? He goes to New York City for 30 days, armed with a juicer and a goal. Under a doctor's supervision, Joe goes on a 30-day juice fast. Three large glasses of green juice each day. That's it. No solid food at all. His reasoning: juicing allows one to get a higher amount of nutrients than by attempting to eat the large amounts of fruit and veg that it takes to make the juice. In essence, your body is supercharged with vitamins and minerals, and is spared the trouble of having the body work to break down the food. 

The results were amazing. In thirty days Joe dropped 47 pounds! In addition, his dosage of Prednisone, prescribed for his condition, was cut from 15mg to 7.5 mg. Over the next thirty days, Joe continues his juice fast, or "reboot" as he calls it, while making his way across the country. In Iowa, he convinces a woman who suffered from constant migraines to try the fast for 10 days, with great success. As he travels, though, most of the people he meets aren't really interested in his ideas. Some say they don't have the willpower. Some (who have already had health problems) say that they aren't concerned about their diet ("I'll eat what I want..."). Only a few think that this plan might work for them. In Arizona, Joe meets Phil, a long haul trucker with the same rare condition. Joe convinces him to try the juice and pledges to help him in anyway he can. Phil doesn't take him up on it and they part. 

Six months later, Phil contacts Joe and asks for help. Joe flies back to the US and sets Phil up on the plan. We follow Phil on his journey and literally watch a man bring himself back to life! It is an amazing film -- one I highly recommend that you watch. 

After watching that, I looked in the "also recommended" section and came across  Hungry For Change. Since it listed Joe in the credits, I hit play. This film details how major food producers use science and marketing to convince us to buy their products. It discusses how our modern lifestyle, in many instances, is leading us to early graves. It also details the weight loss journeys of several people who were once obese but reversed their conditions by eschewing processed foods for a more natural diet. It is another fantastic documentary and I think everyone needs to see both of these films.

Why am I writing about them?

Well, for one, I work for one of the largest supermarket chains in the nation. As such, part of my job (even in my department, Dairy) entails stocking and merchandising processed foods. Flavored milks, cream cheeses, refrigerated dough, yogurt, the lot. While I'm no longer a huge user of these products (since my girlfriend has Celiac Disease, most processed foods are off the board), I rely on selling those items to pay my bills. It does affect me when I see someone pushing a cart full of frozen pizzas, canned soups, chips, cookies, and gallons of sugar laden drinks. The feeling is even worse when there are kids in or around the cart. Do they have much of a chance to learn healthy habits?

The other reason I have chosen to write about this does actually pertain to my yoga practice.

I love being able to practice yoga. It has meant a lot for me. True, I lost 45 lbs by doing back to back 60 day challenges in my first year of practicing. True, after a lot of struggle, I believe I have smoked my last cigarette. True, through this blog I have re-discovered my joy for writing (no matter what the quality).

The films, however, brought out something that I must finally learn to face and conquer: my own diet.

Just today, I've had processed breakfast cereal (two bowls), four cups of coffee with processed non-dairy creamer, two 12oz processed sodas, a bacon-cheeseburger and fries (I was traveling and stopped at a roadside joint), two gas station taquitos, a handful of graham crackers, and one forlorn liter of water.

Not good, eh?

At work, it gets worse. In the break room there is almost an endless procession of pre-made, heavily processed sandwiches, cakes, cupcakes, and donuts. When there is some type of gathering, it's pizza or nachos or ice-cream sundaes. Even before I get to work, there is the daily ritual of a 20oz. coffee. And a burrito. Or two. With hash browns.

So, while I'm a guy who does yoga, I'm also a guy who has no willpower and is back on the road to obesity just as my mom was along with her father and brother. When I first started, I was so much more disciplined than I am now. I don't know what happened. and it is really fucking hard right now to right the ship. I must find a way because I do not need diabetes, broken hips, or cancer to deal with. Watching those films struck a chord  -- now I must find a way to build on that. I don't want to do yoga just to say "I do yoga". I want it to be a cornerstone of a healthier, happier life.


1 comment:

  1. I LOVE both of those movies. In fact, Hungry For Change was huge in getting me to go vegan. There is so much to take away from both of the movies!