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'Juice gave me back my life'

1322375478 51 'Juice gave me back my life'

Juicing helped Joe Cross lose 37kg and fix his health problems. Picture: Supplied. Source: Supplied

A DIET shake-up helped Joe Cross, 45, recover from a devastating illness. As told to Liz Graham.

“when I was young, I was one of those guys who never got sick, except for the odd cold. I was a real athlete in my teens - I played rugby, I rowed. in my 20s, I was still physically active, but that changed when I started my own financial services business at 28. I started focusing on my wealth, not my health. I was 90 kilos when I started my own business, but very quickly, within four years, I weighed 110 kilos. It was then, at age 32, that I got sick. “one day I woke up with itchy hands and feet. Then I noticed that I had a rash of welts that went up my arms and torso. when I looked in the mirror, I saw the elephant man. I was put in hospital for a week. They did tests, and eventually I was diagnosed with chronic urticaria, or chronic hives. “my hives could get into my joints, so they were incredibly painful. They were triggered by pressure on the body. If I shook your hand firmly, it would swell up like I jammed it in the door. one of the worst things was that I couldn’t walk barefoot on the beach anymore, something I loved to do. “I had to take prednisone, a strong steroid, every day. That enabled me to do things like sit in a chair, walk around, lie down, but doing anything more strenuous than that would cause a flare-up. The drugs weren’t curing me, they were just carpet-bombing symptoms. “for several years I saw different doctors and had countless tests, to try to find a cure. I went all over the world, trying different things, including non-traditional medicine. none of it worked. The whole time, though, I didn’t think I was the problem. I was still smoking, still eating hamburgers and pizzas, still running my company.

>> Moment of truth“by my 40th birthday, I was 141 kilos, and also had high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Then I had an ‘aha!’ moment. I looked in the mirror one morning and thought, ‘Who are you?’“I knew for years I should be eating more plant-based foods, but I hadn’t done anything about it. Now, I wanted to do an experiment on myself - I wanted to see what would happen if I consumed only plant foods for 60 days. my priority wasn’t only about losing weight, it was about getting well and getting off my medication. That’s why I chose to have my plants in juice form. I felt I needed to repair my body, and give it a break. when you have juice, it’s easier for the body to digest, and you absorb the nutrients more quickly. “my family were very supportive. They had lived with me through eight years of pain. my dad, who’s a surgeon, was particularly concerned the medication I was on could lead to osteoporosis.  “To make all this happen, I reprioritised my life - I sold most of my businesses and I quit smoking. I decided to do my experiment in America, while travelling around the country, and make a film out of it, called Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. my thinking was if it worked - and I didn’t know if it would - my story could inspire others. being in America would help reach the widest possible audience.

>> A new way of eating “I started in mid-October 2007. I had six juices a day, 350 millilitres each. I started with fruit-based juices. As the day went on I would switch to juices with green and cruciferous vegies, lemon, carrot, beets. I tried to have as much variety as possible.  “one or two days in, I felt like someone had put a chainsaw down my chest, put rocks in and zipped me back up. I was really doubting myself. But by day six, I no longer had joint pain. I looked better than I had in a long time.“by the end of 60 days, I’d lost 37 kilos, and had significantly reduced my medication. I went through a big emotional change, as well. I became much more relaxed - driving across America, I didn’t get road rage once! I also realised that I have to love myself, and put myself first. without our health, how can we be there for others? “I felt great, but I wasn’t cured. my hands still swelled up during tests. so instead of just juicing I also ate fruit and vegetables, as well as nuts, beans, seeds and extra-virgin olive oil. “It took three more months, but I did it - I came off my medication. I could finally walk on Bondi Beach with no shoes again, too, which was a phenomenal moment.

>> A plan for life “these days, I have two juices a day and eat plenty of plant foods. I also have some seafood, a little bit of dairy and rice. I haven’t eaten red meat or chicken in four years. my tastebuds don’t want it. I also don’t have alcohol, cigarettes, caffeine and soft drinks. I try to get an hour of exercise a day. I go the gym, I like to go hiking, swim and play tennis. “I created the Reboot community after we did the first test-screenings of the movie, because our audiences wanted the juice recipes. We’ve now got over 165,000 members. I want to stress that juicing’s not a long-term diet, but I believe it will get you kick-started for a healthier life. It’s great if you can juice for just a few days. “People say what I did was extreme, but I think not eating fruit and vegetables is extreme. I want to be playing tennis when I’m 95, and I know that my choices today will determine whether that happens.”

Joe’s mean Green Juice

1 bunch kale4 stalks celery1 cucumber2 granny smith apples1/2 lemon1 thumb-sized piece ginger+ The Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead DVD ($19.95) is available at Woolworths or online at www.jointhereboot.com

'Juice gave me back my life'

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