He is a man with a message, on a mission to promote healthier living. Joe Cross may be a native of Australia, but these days he sends plenty of time travelling, mainly through the United States.
“Mostly living in hotel rooms, aeroplane seats and airports,” he smiles.
“I have a media company and what we’re trying to do is promote the idea of consuming more plants via juicing, blending and eating. We do that through filmmaking, we have TV projects and published content on my website. The goal is to make it as relevant as possible.”
When the cameras for Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead” (his first film) began rolling in late 2007, you might have had a hard time digesting that message (excuse the pun). After all, he in all sort of problems heath wise. Weighing in at 148kg with high cholesterol and high blood pressure, the omens looked certain Cross was heading for an early grave. A rare autoimmune disease chronic urticarial also plagued him to a point where he could not participate in a lot of activities without feeling some level of discomfort.
But 60 days of non-stop filming saw a transformation similar to what you would see on the infomercial channels. Today he doesn’t need to take any health medication and says that he’s able to do things he previously couldn’t… like shaking people’s hands and walk on the sand to name a few.
Around 20 million people have seen the first film. Now, Cross returns with the second film. What’s different this time around?
“With the first film, I really had no idea what I was doing. This time, I had a much better idea. Not perfect, but a much better idea.”
There is a lot more personal interaction with people in the sequel. Cross spends plenty of time talking with people who have embraced the juicing diet. He does speak to health experts, but works on a less is more policy. He is always quick to remind me that he himself is not a health expert, which is refreshing.
“With the second film, one of the things we went back and said look, this juicing is not quick fix. You just don’t do one thing and everything is rosy again. We wanted to show there’s a lot of things you need to do in order to stay on top of it. Juicing is a starting point. In the second film we wanted to show people how important community was.”
One of the renewal and redemption stories from the first film is not so rosy in the sequel.
“Phil Staples, a truck driver from Iowa lost a remarkable amount of weight. While he was connected, while he was part of a community for three years, it was an incredible success. When he gets married, it’s his third time, he’s divorced, he feels like a failure and disconnects himself from the community, heads out to Utah. No one around, no accountability. Falls back to what’s comfortable. We think it’s important to show reality and truth. It’s not acting. The audience has a good lie detector radar so you have to show the truth.”
While his diet is not entirely blender based these days, he still makes sure to get as many servings of fruit and vegetables as possible. His ideal ratio is an 80/20 split of vegetables and fruit, although sometimes he will switch that around before an exercise session.
Over half of New Zealand’s younger population do not get the recommended five servings of fruit and vegetables. Cross keeps the advice tips simple. He encourages anybody who is looking to change their diet to strongly consider juicing to get their daily servings in. Otherwise “just put some vegetables on your plate. Make it a habit.”
While I won’t be juicing anytime soon, I came away feeling that little more inspired to keep my healthy lifestyle going.