Monday, September 12, 2011

Day 13--Review of "Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead"

I had a bunch of reasons for wanting to blog about this thing I'm doing, and one of them was I wanted to have a space to react to books I've read and movies I've watched in preparation for and during this journey.

I first heard about "Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead" from my girlfriend, Erica.  We spent the summer apart because she had a job out of town, but we still shared a Netflix account.  (Fun and creepy, because you can see everything that the other has streamed.)  She recommended it to me, but not being in a mood to try new things pretty much all summer, I forgot about it.

Then in mid-August I had a customer come into the store where I work looking for the Breville Juicer.  I had never heard of it, and it turned out we didn't have any except our display.  The man was not surprised; he'd been looking everywhere for one, and they're nowhere to be found.  He said this doumentary had featured it and now it's so popular, Breville can't produce them fast enough.  He told me all about the movie and, maybe it was his English accent, but this time I found the concept fascinating. I went home and watched it that night.

I decided to make it my first review, because, when I think back on it, this is the movie that galvanized me into making a change.

This documentary follows Aussie Joe Cross on his own health journey.  He's overweight, a mixed product of his sedentary job and indulgent food choices--sick, a chronic auto-immune disease called urticaria--and feeling totally bogged down and in a rut (this is where I started relating to him). 

Joe decides that if the body can heal itself under natural conditions, maybe is lifestyle choices are standing in the way of the healing.  He commits to a 60-day "juice diet,"  where he reboots his system on vitamns and mierals through drinking only homemade fruit and vegetable juices.  Extreme, right?  But his commitent is amazing.  He spends the first 30 days of the fast in New York City, (God I can't imagine a more tempting place to be when you're abstaining from something) and the second 30 traveling the US.

The movie keeps a good pace throughout, even the early foundational parts were interesting--brought to life by some fun animation.  As fasinating as it is; however, to watch Joe on his journey, the film takes an amazing turn when Joe goes back to Australia and gets a call from a trucker he met in the midwest.  Phil is a truck driver, he's obese, and has the same chronic disease as Joe--he's asking Joe for help.  Joe comes back to help him, and the transformation in both men is astonishing.

The movie makes a lot of excellent points.  Even if you don't agree with what he's doing, even if you think juicing is crazy, there are some facts presented that no one can deny:
  • Our obsession with processed food is out of control--processed food makes up 61% of the average American diet.
  • The closer food is to its whole, natural state, the better it is for you.
  • Your body, if you feed it right, literally can heal itself.
Speaking of denial, though, Joe encounters a lot of that as he travels the country.  He asks people who are overweight about their eating habits, often times as they're eating, and it's amazng to see how many people will gladly say "Yes, I've had heart surgery, high cholesterol, diabetes, but I believe when your time is up your time is up!"  The most heartwrenching one was watching a father of six admit, in front of his 16-year-old-son, that he had no desire to change what he ate, even if it meant another heart attack.  If my father did something like that, I might assume he didn't love me.  It was a painful reminder to me that we don't just live our lives for ourselves.

The woman I related to the most was on camera for maybe ten seconds.   She wasn't obese, but she wasn't thin, she didn't f healthy, and she wasn't happy with herself.  She told Joe "I know I need to change, and I keep telling myself  'one of these days.'"  I do that.  Maybe we all do, I don't know.  But I do know, that the older I get, the harder change will be.

The concepts behind juicing are not without their faults, and the primary one that kept jumping out at me was that juicing is wasteful.  Depending on what you juice, you throw away 20-50 percent of a perfectly good (and perfectly good for you) fruit or veggie.  Closely related to that, jucing is expensive.  For Joe, who has money, this wasn't really an issue.  But for the rest of us, he estimates juicing to cost $14/day, $28.50 if you only use organic produce.   Erica and I have an ideal food budget of $350/month for groceries, but realistically, we're not savvy shoppers and we average $400/month.  If we both adhered to a strict juice diet (not organic), we would spend $840 for one month of groceries, not including any household nonfood items! For two people.  Not a possibility--for us, anyway.

"Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead" makes some excellent points about ways to change your life.  Its engaging, and although at times it may seem like a product pitch, it's not preachy.  It's not for everyone, and of course it's not a permanent solution, but it can be a good kickstart to finding the right balance for your own lifestyle.

I highly recommend giving this film a watch; it's a great story and some amazing food for thought!

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