You might know Joe Cross from his documentary Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead, which followed his personal journey from sickness to health. When he made the film, he was 100 pounds overweight and dealing with a debilitating autoimmune disorder. In this interview, he takes us back to the night before he embarked on his 60-day juice fast and offers advice on how he stays on the healthy path.
Omega: How did you make the transition from a stock trader and investor to health expert?
Joe: Well, I don’t necessarily think of myself as a health expert. I would say I’m more someone who is on the journey to learn by taking information from smart people and trying to disseminate it in layman’s terms. Like anybody, I started with small steps, and experimenting on myself and seeing if I could improve my own health.
Omega: Can you take us back to the night before you started filming Fat, Sick, & Nearly Dead? Were you scared about going on a 60-day juice cleanse?
Joe: I was nervous. I didn't know what to expect. I was very frightened about not eating. I really went to town that last night. I ate enough food for five people. It was probably not the smartest thing in the world, knowing what I know now. I should have prepared myself a lot better.
Omega: Was that your rock bottom moment?
Joe: No, the rock bottom part for me was when I turned 40 and had that moment of looking in the mirror and saying, “Enough is enough. I’m just tired of being sick and tired, and tired of being fat and sick.” I was just done with it, over it. I was at the end of the road. Basically, that was when rock bottom hit.
Omega: You call your “cleanse” in the movie a Reboot, defined as a period of time where you commit to drinking and eating only fruit and vegetables, herbal teas, and water in order to regain or sustain your vitality, lose weight, and kick-start healthy habits. What types of people have the best results with it?
Joe: I think you need a number of factors. You need to be well-organized. I think you need to have support, whether it’s a loved one or as part of a community. You need to be kind to yourself and forgive yourself, so to speak. You also need to have perseverance. In other words, if you fail the first couple of times, don’t give up. There are no failures in a Reboot. Anyone who attempts to Reboot, if they can just get through five or six hours of eating plants when they previously weren’t, that’s a bonus.
Success to me is not losing weight. It’s actually the people who can reverse disease, who just feel better, happier, and more confident moving forward to make smarter decisions when it comes to the type of food they’re going to put in their body.
Omega: What would you say to people who just don’t like the taste of fruits and vegetables?
Joe: Well, I don’t think there are people out there that don’t like the taste of fruits and vegetables. I do think there are people who don’t like the taste of fruits and vegetables compared to processed food. So what we need is to persevere through that time in the beginning where your taste buds are adjusting and you’re coming to terms with it. As sure as the sun will rise and set the next day, you will get used to it.
Omega: How do you stay motivated with your healthy diet, especially as someone who travels so much?
Joe: First, you have to get to know what I call Human 2.0. Many, many people don’t know what it’s like to be human. They think that waking up in the morning with a sore knee, sore ankles, pains and aches, or having cloudy, foggy ideas is normal. It’s not normal, and it’s caused mostly by lifestyle choices. So once you actually eliminate those lifestyle choices and start to supercharge your body with the right fuel, you get the experience of what it’s like to be human and that feeling becomes kind of addictive. When you can’t find good choices, don’t beat yourself up and get all upset. You just wait until you get better options and you hop back on the healthy train.
Omega: Why do you hate the word “moderation” and what should replace it?
Joe: It’s not that I hate the word moderation. What I hate is when people use the word moderation without understanding how difficult it is for most people. It’s actually not a bad word; it’s what everybody’s trying to achieve. I’m trying to achieve a balance in my life of getting more plants into my system, more exercise, more sleep, and more laughs.
Omega: Do you ever feel alienated from old friends or family members because of your new lifestyle? Do they ever say things like, “You’re all good now, just relax and enjoy some pizza.” How do you navigate those kinds of questions?
Joe: I do get that and I still do enjoy pizza. I think that there’s a bunch of friends that would like to see me get back to that party mode or see that old Joe back in action. But right now I haven’t put him out there because I’m still working on getting to a place where I’m really confident and strong in my balance. I’m still very much a work in progress.
© 2014 Omega Institute for Holistic Studies