FAT, SICK AND NEARLY DEAD.


I was stressing about today: the holidays are in full swing, kids are at home, but there’s (shed loads of) work to be done. How am I going to do it all? Wonderwoman I’m not. If I was going to be a superhero, I’d be “Coping Woman” – with a really catchy catchphrase like “just about managing not to drown”. So, how was I going to ‘cope’ today? I set the kids up with a tonne of Lego, and said I’d sit with them and do my work, whilst they played. They delivered on their part of the deal, whilst I failed miserably on mine. I managed to turn my lap top on, big tick, but then accidentally found myself browsing Netflix, and stumbled across my ‘to watch’ list which had a doco on there that I’ve been meaning to watch for years. Ooops. I accidentally pressed play and 1.5 hours later I’ve achieved zippetysquit but don’t give a damn, because I’m feeling suitably inspired to write a blog about what I’ve just seen.

I may be the last person on the planet to watch “Fat, sick and nearly dead”, but if there’s anyone else out there who hasn’t yet, then here’s a brief synopsis…

100 pounds overweight, loaded up on steroids and suffering from a debilitating autoimmune disease, an Ozzie bloke called Joe Cross suddenly realizes the path before him isn’t a pretty one…not only does he have one foot already in the grave, the other isn’t far behind. So he sets about making a film about his personal mission to regain his health. He trades in the junk food and hits the road with juicer and generator in tow, vowing only to drink fresh fruit and vegetable juice for the next 60 days. He wants to look, feel and BE healthy…naturally. The pills to treat his illness have got to go, and Joe wants to kick start his body his body into healing itself. He sets out on a huge road trip across America, and amongst the 500 Americans he stops to talk to on his way, about food, health and longevity, he meets a truck driver called Phil who suffers from the same rare condition Joe has. Phil Staples is morbidly obese weighing 429 lbs – “a cheeseburger away from a heart-attack”. As Joe is recovering his health, Phil begins his own journey to get well.

This was my synopsis. The children (who had cleverly multi-tasked, managing to simultaneously play and secretly watch) had a simpler synopsis: “the only person who can really make you better is yourself”.

In terms of messages, I think that’s a pretty good one. I’m a happy Mum feeling suddenly very pleased with myself for accidentally exposing my children to really quite a sensible example of self help. This moment is immediately ruined by Middle Son who then pipes up: “isn’t the message also that you should go on a juice diet mummy?” Damn it Janet. No more good Mum about it, now I’m terrible Mum for putting the notion of ‘fad diets’ into my innocent 9 year old’s little body conscious mind. Argh. Guilt, guilt, panic.

There is admittedly a slightly prolonged section of the film where the protagonists (aka ex fat guys) “sell” the whole notion of juice diets, and if I could have my way I’d send the film right back to the edit suite and get that whole section stripped out. The simpler and more powerful message that Eldest Son picked up on was that when push comes to shove, the only person who can get you to change is you. What’s more, if you put in the hard graft, then that change can be not only life enhancing, but life saving.

A bit cheesey? Yep, sure it is. But as I have a summer holiday ahead of me with slightly less “Will time”, then it was quite timely to watch the film, and be reminded that I can’t rely solely on my (way too strict) Personal Trainer to keep me in the shape I want to be. I do have to take that responsibility on a bit myself. Down goes the slice of Rocky Road (the one from Juliet’s, have you tried it?) that I accidentally picked up when the laptop went on, and out instead came the packet of almonds that had been sitting gathering dust in the kitchen since the holidays began.

Along with the ‘self help is the best help’ message the film tried to convey, there are a few others if you do a bit of digging…

  • If the holidays and general busy-ness of life are getting in the way of the gym for a wee while, then don’t get in a massive panic, just pay a bit more attention to your food. You can’t out exercise a bad diet.

  • Many health problems can be reversed with dietary changes.

  • Make sustainable changes, don’t just do some fad diet that lasts a few weeks. Make changes that you can live with, ideally life long changes.

  • The closer the food is to its natural state, the better it is for you.

  • You can’t escape from the biological laws of cause and effect: you do the crime, you do the time. Watch what you’re putting in.

  • Eat more fruit and veg.

Nothing particularly new there, but it’s no bad thing to be reminded of some of these messages. The documentary’s perfectly watchable, and I’d say motivational as opposed to inspirational. Whilst Joe Cross may not be adding much to the greater conversation around nutrition, his insistence that we need to take responsibility for ourselves left me feeling that his now-healthy heart is probably in the right place.

It’s definitely reminded me to pack a few extra bits in my suitcase: no, NOT a juicer, but a little stash of ‘self-control’ that I can call on when the junk food demons start to beckon.

Sources:

Huffingtonpost.com

Nytimes.com

Politico.com

Telegraph.co.uk

Disclaimer:

I am not a dietician or a nutritionist, and make no claims to the contrary. What is written on this site should not be taken as fact or advice. It is merely an opinion blog.


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