Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead

Posted on November 1, 2011

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Disclaimer: No one is paying me to do this and I don’t have any stake in any of the film companies which produce the films.  No one has ever sent me a free copy of a documentary to view or review, and they probably never will.  The views and opinions I’m expressing here are entirely my own.  Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get started:

Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead

The official website: http://www.fatsickandnearlydead.com/

The filmmakers: Joe Cross

The studio: Reboot Media

Watch it: You can see the film on streaming Netflix, or rent it on Youtube or buy it on Amazon.  This is the trailer:

Original Release: 2010

While many food/health/environmental documentaries can be a bit depressing, Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead is a breath of fresh air.  Given the title, that may sound a little odd, but it’s true.  Though the protagonists, first Joe and then Phil, are not well men, the overall tone is optimistic.  As the film begins we are introduced to Joe Cross, a sick and overweight Australian man, who has decided to embrace the idea of a healthier life by driving around America while on a 60 day juice fast.  That’s right, he’ll consume nothing but juice for 60 consecutive days.

Now, going two months without eating might not sound particularly healthy, but Joe isn’t drinking any ordinary juice.  Most of the juice we find on the average American supermarket shelf is really nothing more than colored sugar-water.  It’s been refined, concentrated, and preserved until there is little to no trace of the fruit (or occasionally vegetable) from which it was made.  Joe’s juice is made from fresh produce just moments before he drinks it.  There is actually a juicer (his is a Breville) hooked up to a battery in the back of his car.  I’ve had fresh juice made in this way (on a counter top though, not in a car) and I can tell you that it is really satisfying, very tasty, and leaves you feeling very refreshed.  Joe spends a lot of time pointing out that juicing makes the micronutrients in fruits and vegetables much more available to your body than having them as a mushy, processed side dish.  In addition, cutting out all the fats, sugars, and processed carbohydrates that used to make up his diet allow the body to detoxify and release built-up toxins.

You begin to see the difference in Joe’s face first, both in his expressions and the color and health of his skin.  Over the course of the fast he looses quite a bit of weight, and his cholesterol/blood pressure/etc. return to normal healthy levels.  But the really important thing is what he does after the fast is over.  Instead of saying, “Wow, I feel/look a lot better now, I can do what I want again,” Joe maintains a healthy lifestyle.  He continues to eat well and exercise regularly.  Unlike many people who embark on fad diets or fasts, he uses this 60 day exercise in willpower as a springboard to create a new version of himself.  I really respect that.

While on this two month journey Joe met a man named Phil.  Phil was a morbidly obese trucker enduring many of the same health issues as Joe.  They exchanged contact information and then the film moved on.  Sometime later, after Joe has completed his fast and returned to Australia, we learn that he has gotten a phone call from Phil asking for help with a transformation of his own.  Then we get to know Phil a bit better, we meet his family, and something really astounding begins to happen.  Where Joe’s transformation is impressive, Phil’s is astounding.  I won’t tell you too much about it though, because you really need to see it for yourself.

I really liked this film.  It’s engaging, upbeat, and hopeful.  The overarching message seems to be that anyone who is willing to put in a sustained effort can transform their health and their life.  It isn’t aggressively ethical or dogmatic, and it is made clear that this isn’t an all or nothing prospect.  Any improvement or effort is better than none at all.  I would recommend this film both to those with a long running interest in health/juicing/plant-based diets, and as an interesting introduction for those who are new to the subject.

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Posted in: Reviews