To fast or not

My Breville juicer purchased in April 2012 for $99

My Breville juicer purchased in April 2012 for $99

The most compelling segment of the 2010 documentary, “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead,” begins at a Winslow, Arizona, truckstop.  That is when the filmmaker, Joe Cross, accidentally runs into morbidly obese Phil Staples, an Iowa truck driver who weighs in at almost 430 pounds.

It is the middle-aged and beaten-down Staples, not the effervescent and 100 pounds overweight Cross, who quickly becomes the star and inspiration of the award-winning film on losing weight and regaining health by juicing vegetables.

I saw the film for the first time a few days ago.

I am neither fat nor sick.  Nor nearly dead.  Not that I know of  anyway.  I am getting up there in years.   But nonetheless, the film renewed my enthusiasm to juice and hopefully become healthier.   At the same time, I am not eager to jump into the world of fasting as Cross did.

An Australian, Cross comes to America with a goal of fasting for 60 consecutive days.  And cameras are rolling.

I’m guessing the film would’ve come to The End with Cross’s return to the Land Down Under having lost his weight and rejuvenated his life.  And I would not have cared much.  He is, for me, too full of life, too full of positive thinking, too full of himself, too much the salesman.  And he calls nearly everybody, “mate.”  Impersonal to say the least.

But Phil Staples is different.  I cared for him from the get-go.  Besides being overweight, Phil is sensitive and  intelligent.  And he is so depressed about everything.  He is “trying to eat himself to death,” his father says.

Phil is crippled by his weight.  He can barely walk.  Once a champion swimmer, his only exercise now, he says, is walking from his truck to the truckstop restaurant.   His sole purpose is to eat and eat and eat.  That is until the chance meeting with Cross in Arizona.  It is not until after Cross returns to Australia that Staples calls him in desperation.  Cross flies back to Iowa to get the shuffling Phil into the juicing lifestyle.  And to film it.  To Cross’s credit, he knows a great story line when he sees one.

The film’s last part focuses on Staples as he begins to juice under the guidance of his physician.  He begins a walking program.

I marveled as he progressed.  He measures his weight-loss in a unique way.  “I lost six bowling balls,” he tells a group in his hometown after a recent drop of 90 pounds.  Phil’s demeanor changes.  He is happier and more out-going.  He becomes closer to his son.  The two are seen together throwing a football, a feat Phil would not have been able to do in the past.

His story will make many viewers tear-up.  He overcomes the odds and recovers a life gone awry.  He has an auto-immune condition that leaves his skin blistered and his joints painful.  He takes tons of pills.  In the end, he is jogging and holding community meetings to discuss the joys of juicing.  You hardly recognize him anymore.  He has become a hero.  I actually clapped as his story unfolded.

As for me, I bought a Breville juicer about a year ago and have juiced irregularly since then.  Now I am thinking I should try a short fast of maybe a week or 10 days.   But I am not going to jump into it.  I am leery for the film is all one-sided like you would expect of propaganda.

“Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead” does not tell you about the downside of vegetable juicing.  It does not tell you that without fiber in your diet, you may have to take laxatives to have bowell movements.  It does not tell you about the loss of salt in your body.   It offers little guidance as to what vegetables to use, how to clean them and how often to juice during the day.  Juice every time you get hungry, I assume.

Neither does the film show you the work involved.  Constantly going to the grocery store to purchase fresh vegetables.   And cleaning the juicer after every use.

The film shows Cross and Staples often pouring glasses of juice from a large container.  But I’ve read that to get the most benefit from the juice, you should swill your concoction as soon after making it as possible.  How can you then have a supply on hand?  It can’t be freshly made.  Sure, it saves time if you juice once a day.  But how much nutrients remain?  The film doesn’t say.

So, as inspirational as “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead” is, I am first going to study juicing a lot more.

Fasting will have to wait.


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