Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead, 1 & 2
I recently watched the documentary Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead. It was made by Joe Cross, and documents his weight loss. At the beginning of the documentary, he tells the viewer he is from Australia, weighs 309 lbs, and is on various medications. He realizes, at the age of 41, this is no way to live. So he decides to take drastic action.
In the first documentary, he travels to the U.S. to get away from the temptations at home, and goes on a 60-day, juice-only diet. As he does so, he speaks to doctors, nutritionists, and regular-old-people.
In the second documentary, which was created six years after the first, he travels back across the United States to see the changes that have occurred in people and places since the release of the first film. His film had a serious impact on people, and many around the world took action.
I thought the documentaries were fascinating. Seeing regular people talk about the way they eat - which is mostly for taste and convenience - was interesting. So many of us get joy out of food, and the taste of food, that we pile in globs of things we don't need. This excess sits on our bodies and we carry it with us, every day.
This interests me for many reasons, on many levels. One, I care about schools and think diet and exercise should be taught there. Many students eat terribly: sugar for breakfast, (basically) fast food for lunch, but are expected to behave properly and perform well on tests. Adults know that the rush of sugar leads to lulls, and sitting around after eating sugar leads to weight gain. What do we expect when we set this model from K-12th grade? 'Gym' class is an isolated hour within a day, and even there students often aren't moving. This must change.
Food - good, healthy food - comes naturally from the earth. That is amazing. The benefits of eating it are undeniable. We must make this a daily practice, show the benefits of that practice, and begin this from a young age. Doing so benefits us all.
Another thing I found so compelling about the movie was that many of the people looked and reminded me of family members. Joe interviews a lot of people, and their reasons for eating the way they do basically boil down to one of these three things: happiness, taste, or enjoyment. Basically, it's more fun to eat a double cheeseburger, fries, and a shake than it is to eat a salad. This is true. We all know this. Order a salad when everyone else is eating a steak, and you'll get some eyes. Our society has made it okay to tease people for being healthy. My own family would do this; my sister has always eaten healthy, and while the rest of us would chow down on some crap, she'd eat a salad. I remember her food always looked good, and she's always been cool, calm, and maintained a good weight. The rest of us fluctuate.
Also, I used to go to Northern Michigan with some extended family for a weekend each fall. When I'd come home, I'd always feel depleted. They don't each much green food, and consider butter to be a spice. My body always felt the effects of this. When I returned home from that weekend, I'd feel off and blah. Yet over the past few years, I've become one of the unhealthy ones; this feeling became my new normal. I became one of the people that accepts feeling badly - tired, down, and moody - in exchange for the joy that comes with taste. What I've seen, personally as well as in the film, was that people that eat badly are constantly justifying; they say things like, 'that's what I like', or 'I'd rather live to 65 and be happy', or 'Other people...' It's so interesting, to me, that people use these justifications and we accept them as normal.
In the documentary, and in life, people say these things until it is them. People will take 6 medications a day, for years, and think they're treating their bodies. It takes something major, like a near death experience, to wake them up.
The second part of the documentary shows people that have woken up. People that were set in their ways - eating shitty, sleeping a lot, set in their routines - that hit a point where it had to change. They realized that the medications were not a supplement for activity, for health, and they did something about it. They started classes, juice bars, gardens, and created awareness. They started helping other people on their journies.
That's what I loved about this film so much: people helping people. We all have choices, each day, on how we live and act. We can elect to think of ourselves only, or we can elect to think of those around us. When we turn our energy to the world, much like the earth giving the gift of food, we reap the benefits - all of us.
I would encourage watching the film (here are all the ways), thinking about your diet, about the diet of those around you, and considering the steps you can take to live your best life.