An important part of self-reliance is taking care of yourself; that is, making an effort to live a healthy lifestyle. In my opinion, we have delegated the responsibility for our health to the hospital/pharmaceutical complex. They aren’t doing a very good job. There is simply too much chronic illness; too many people on too many meds.
Food is key to health. Our food system produces unhealthy foods full of chemicals, preservatives and synthetic flavorings. Garbage in; garbage out. Most of the 17,000 items one finds in the local supermarket are garbage without sufficient nutrition to support or maintain good health. In fact, most processed food (and by “processed” I mean anything in a can, package or wrapper) is counterproductive to good health. It is a testament to the human body that we can eat horrible things consistently and continue to live.
Unfortunately, there are a good number among us who are fat, sick and nearly dead, victims of addiction to unnatural food. It’s hard not to have some sort of food addiction, e.g. sugar as we are bombarded with opportunities to eat poorly. Most of us are in denial about our atrocious eating habits as in, “I don’t eat that much sugar.” Or, “I don’t eat that many carbohydrates.” Or, “I don’t drink that much pop.” Or, “I don’t snack that much.”
This is what makes the film Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead so fascinating. It’s the case study of two overweight, unhealthy fellows who make a decision to turn things around. In their case they decided on juice fasting as the method. The first guy is a wealthy, young Australian who is making this film about his 60 days of juicing. For the first 30 days he lives in NY City and wanders about looking for juice bars with his camera and sound man interviewing people he runs into on the street, people who are often overweight. People were generally not receptive to the idea of fasting of any type. And, let’s face it, fasting is not easy. One is uncomfortable for the first several days. The body begins to detox and throw off waste which often causes headaches and flu-like symptoms. Thinking about food becomes an obsession.
On Day 31 our hero, now somewhat thinner, gets in his car which has a battery powered juicer in the trunk and heads out across the USA stopping occasionally to share juice and talk about diet and health. People are sympathetic but, for the most part, unwilling to change their eating habits even to the point of acknowledging that they could die early deaths. He finds one woman willing to try it for ten days. She does so with good results. And, at a truck stop in the mid-West he meets at 420 lb long haul trucker who suffers from the same chronic illness as our filmmaker—urticaria, or chronic hives, a sign that the immune system is totally out of whack. He shares a glass of juice and offers help to this large young man who is obviously fat, clearly sick and on his way to being dead.
The filmmaker completes his sixty days having dropped from 309 to around 220 lbs and returns to Australia to continue his health makeover by exercising and eating healthy foods. He gets a phone call. The trucker wants to take him up on his offer to help. He returns to the USA, takes the very fat man to the doctor for a physical and then to lodge on a lake so he can juice without distraction. At this point our trucker can hardly walk, is depressed, but committed to get his life together. He begins to juice. He finishes ten days and decides to go thirty. After thirty days he has become a fixture at the local health food store and is giving classes in juicing. He demonstrates his weight loss by displaying six bowling balls. “This is what I’ve been carrying around,” he tells them.
He decides to go sixty days on juice and his body begins to return to its former shape, the shape of the swimming champion he had been in high school. He becomes an evangelist for a juice fast. He shifts from a dog paddle in the lake to a crawl stroke. He throws a football with his son. His older brother has a heart attack and he mentors his brother through a juicing program. By the end of the film he is unrecognizable as the fat fellow from the truck stop. In the last scene, he is running, not jogging, down the road.
Dietary changes are possibly the most difficult lifestyle modifications one can contemplate. If requires swimming upstream against family and society. It will result in fewer dinner invitations. It’s obvious that most people will opt for diabetes and heart disease before changing the way they eat.
It’s hard to beat a couple of good case studies for motivation and I have to confess to wiping away a tear as our former trucker, virtually half the man he was at the start of film, ran by the camera, a look of determination on his face.
My knees are telling me its time for some juice fasting.