Interview with Joe Cross, filmmaker and juicer extraordinaire

This week I interviewed Australian businessman and filmmaker, Joe Cross. In 2010, Joe released a documentary Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead, which recorded his epic 60-day juice fast. During his fast, he traveled across the US interviewing and inspiring overweight Americans. I stumbled across Joe's film whilst Googling 'juice fast' earlier this year when my clothes were getting a bit tight. I must admit I wasn't expecting to be inspired by this documentary. In fact, given Joe's CV (disgustingly successful Australian stockbroker and entrepreneur) I wasn't expecting to like him very much.

 
Oh, what I stupid Pig I was. Not only did I end up watching the doco several times over because it was so entertaining and touching, I was charmed and inspired by Joe. He's honest, funny, kind and generous, and when he agreed to be interviewed on this blog, I nearly fell off my swivel chair. Dear readers I'm honoured to introduce to you Mr Joe Cross, the man who inspired me to stop stuffing my cakehole for five whole days.
 
Here in the UK we have an obesity crisis and we're very nearly as fat and sick as you Australians and the Americans. Yet we also have a 2-billion-pound diet industry (and in the US it's a 70-billion-dollar industry!). If juice fasting is so cheap and simple, why don't people just do it? In your film, 'Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead', one man explained, 'I'm just a happy fat man'. Do you think we're happy being fat?
 

The UK is grappling with an obesity problem similar to what we’ve seen in the US and Australia, and that problem has certainly created a lucrative diet industry. Some of those diets are very effective and I think that’s great. For me, what worked and what I documented in Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead was juicing – I reckon that if you can just supercharge your body with the incredible nutrients in fruits and vegetables, it can regain its balance. I lost weight and got off the medications I’d been taking for a chronic illness, and I haven’t looked back since. What’s more, the more than 5 million people who have seen the film in the US and Australia have started juicing too and we hear amazing success stories of lives transformed every day at rebootwithjoe.com. We’ve created a movement of people who want to feel really well and vital, and it’s amazing. We’ll be bringing the movie to the UK in May, and I’m excited to see its impact.

 There’s certainly short-term happiness that can be gained from overeating – if there wasn’t something fun about it, people all over the world wouldn’t be doing it! And some of it relates to our biology, which evolved over millions of years to encourage us to eat and put on weight since food wasn’t always available. But I don’t know very many people who are obese or grappling with some of the illnesses like diabetes, heart disease and autoimmune disorders who would say they are happy to feel unwell.  

 
Fasting and American road trips don't tend to go hand-in-hand. How on earth were you able to resist the pull of the food culture during your fast in 'Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead'? Describe the mental battle for us. What were the highs and lows?


At http://www.rebootwithjoe.com, we talk about the first three days as being the hardest, and that’s true for almost everyone. I was no exception! I think of myself as a pretty tough bloke, but let me tell you that I spent most of the first few days curled up in my bed. But after that, it got much, much easier and by the end of the first week, I was starting to feel so well that the temptation to revert back to my old ways was gone.

 
During your 60-day juice fast, you lost about 90 lbs. Have you kept it off to this day? What kind of diet do you have now? (God, please don't tell me you're a vegan!) 
Like most people my weight fluctuates a bit, but I have indeed kept most of it off. I’ve done that by following a plant based diet of fruits, veg, nuts, beans, seeds and occasionally some lean animal protein or fish. I do a Reboot every 3 months or so where I just juice for 5-10 days, which keeps m on track. But I will also indulge in a treat from time to time – live is about enjoyment, not deprivation!
 
You've described the America you encountered during filming as a nation of 'honest, hard-working, friendly and caring people willing to engage in conversation.' (I really like Americans too because they're polite and have good values. Manners and morals really lacking in the UK at the moment.) Is this why you decided to film in the US rather than in Australia or somewhere else? 
 
 I’ve always loved the US – I lived there for a year as a child – and I also thought that if I was going to engage people in conversation on this topic, they would be receptive since the problem there is very much on people’s minds.
 
Your film has been critically acclaimed and has won a number of awards. Were you expecting it to be well received?  
I had no idea it would be seen by so many people and change so many lives. It’s humbling, really. 
 
I know you're working on another documentary at the moment? Can you tell us about it?  
 
We’re wrapping up our filming now, and it will be released in the September or October of this year. It comes at the issue of nutrition and diet from a different perspective than Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead, but I hope people are going to be entertained and educated by it. Juice on!
 
Thank you Joe for your time and insights. 
 
Piggy xx
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