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Reconnecting with the Healing Power of Plants with Joe Cross: PYP 334

Joe Cross was, in the words of his first film, “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead” when he embarked on a 60-day experiment to escape the pain and discomfort of a lifestyle-induced auto-immune disease.

His transformation story, chronicled in that 2010 documentary, has inspired millions of people to start juicing, and to add more plants to their diets.

His second film, Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead 2, highlights the stories of some of those people.

Now, coming up on a decade later, Joe is still at it. He's regained the rights to a documentary that had been languishing in the bowels of Netflix, The Kids' Menu, in which he travels around the US shining a light on the elegant and creative solutions to the childhood obesity epidemic. You can now watch it on Amazon Prime, along with the two FS&ND originals.

Joe's story is well-known and easy to find online, so I wasn't sure how I would add value to the world by having another interview with him.

I ended up following my curiosity about his life since he became a wellness celebrity. How he balances being a role model with being authentic and transparent about his foibles and failures. What strategies he uses to stay compliant with a “mostly plants” lifestyle. How he used the camera to support his journey. Stuff like that.

What shone through for me was Joe's genuine enthusiasm for helping people, and his willingness to continue growing and learning.

Read the full transcript here

Howard: Joe Cross, welcome to the Plant Yourself Podcast.

Joe: Howard, it's great to be here, mate. Very excited. And you're looking well over there in East Coast. I'm up on the West Coast today, and we've got a lucky people to have all the sunshiny.

Howard: Very nice, very nice. Hope here is this is this is your morning, so I hope you have a wonderful day in front of you.

Joe: Thanks, mate.

Howard: So we are chatting before, and he reminded me that your movie, your first movie, Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead, is eight years old at this point.

Joe: Yes, it first came out on to the distribution world like B. The launch was in 2011, although during 2010 I was in film festivals and I was traveling across America with my laptop and a screen. And I was in Whole Foods stores, I was in local churches, I was in school halls. So I did do a huge outreach sort of ground game for at least 12 months before it went to Netflix and iTunes.

Howard: I want to get into what's been happening since then, but I think for the for the nine listeners who don't know who you are, maybe you could give us a brief overview of your story.

Joe: Sure. Well, when I watch a movie that came out that we just tell them that fat, sick and nearly dead essentially chronicles my journey from when I hit 40 years of age, I'm 53 today. But

Howard: Leo?

Joe: When I. I am not. And I know that not today is

Howard: Oh,

Joe: My birthday.

Howard: Okay.

Joe: I just turned fifty three. I'm a Gemini.

Howard: Okay.

Joe: I turn I turned fifty three in May. So I'm in the first quarter I think of my fifty fourth year. Right.

Howard: Uh-huh.

Joe: Because in fifty three it means it to you fifty for the year anyway. So I basically was diagnosed with an illness when I was thirty two and right up until forties for eight long years I suffered this debilitating autoimmune disease where I had to take medication every morning and every night. And this also led to a lot of weight gain. It led to a lot of unhappiness and sadness and a lot of frustration. And a lot of other things were going wrong in my health by being pre diabetic, by having high cholesterol, high blood pressure. And as I've said many, many times, I was like one hamburger away from a heart attack kind of situation. So on my fortieth birthday, I sort of realized not not that I didn't know, but it was kind of like a wakeup call that I'd hit 40. And now that I'm 53, I don't think 40 is very old at all. But when you hit 40, you kind of think it's all right. And and I just didn't like the fact that I was up at the 330 pound mark. I didn't like the fact that I was somebody on medications every morning and every night. And I didn't like the fact that there was I was limited in many things that I could do. I this illness, which was chronic early carry of angio, edema, which was a swelling of the body and a really chronic hives all over my skin and underneath the dermis and in the joints, it really limited things that I loved to do, like tennis, like golf, like kayaking, like hiking, like just going and doing normal everyday, stop lifting weights, just anything that had pressure physically touching my body.

Joe: It was it would just cause enormous pain problems. So I decided that I needed to do a complete change on my life. And the fact that 70 percent of all disease are caused by lifestyle choices. And when you look at those lifestyle choices are it's smoking. And I was doing that. It was eating and drinking crap and I was doing that. It was not getting enough sleep. And I was doing that. It was not exercising enough and I was doing that. It's also about not being connected to friends and family know I was doing that. And then the third the last one was stress. And I wasn't handling that. So I kind of I was failing on five out of the six. So the major, major lifestyle choices that affect their health. And so I decided how would that I would sort of re address these priorities in my life. And I started out with the idea and premise that I would just return back to Mother Nature and eat only her food like plants, things like fruits, vegetables, that's been BDC whole grains.

Joe: And to kick that journey off, which I had dedicated myself to doing two years of that after kind of 40 years of hammering myself, I thought two years would be good a map to see whether or not I could cure myself of this illness. I decided to do 60 days of just drinking juice for the first two years of my journey. I thought I would supercharge my micronutrient intake. I thought that was kind of like a fast. I like the idea of putting myself into this state where I was purely just enabling the body to absorb as much nutrition as possible without doing much work in terms of digestion. And I was also close to water fasting and I didn't want to go quite that far. And then I decided right at the last minute to put a camera on myself and the rest is history. And that's the movie facts and nearly did. And those nine people listening that haven't seen it can go out and watch that on Amazon Prime. I just took it down from Netflix, so it's not there anymore. But it's on Amazon Prime. It's on iTunes and it's on the website for free. So there's plenty of ways to do it.

Howard: Great. So when you said when you turned 40, you retire, he wanted to turn this around, was that the moment in which you started trying to figure out what to do or had you sort of been flirting with the information for a while before then?

Joe: So I tried many things out. I mean, this is the incredible thing about being fat and about being sick is that you're reminded about it every day. It's not like someone in the street comes up and says a joke. Guess what? You're 100 pounds overweight. You go, you're kidding. I never knew that. Oh, thank you for telling me. Like people who are overweight know it every day. They live with themselves when they get in the shower, out of the shower and they get dressed when they're trying to get into the trash. Try and see the plane seat, whatever it is, they know it. So it's not like I didn't think about things I could do to try and improve my position. I guess what I hadn't done, Howard, is I hadn't committed to it. I kept procrastinating. I kept putting it off to next week. Next month. I said, I'm going to get around to that right now. It's just not good timing. I'm too busy. So to me, it was a it was a priorities thing. I was having priorities out of whack.

Howard: Mm hmm. So. So before you said that priority, were you still thinking like, I'm going to do Mother Nature's Foods?

Joe: No. No. So. So that's a good question. No, I. I kind of knew in the back of my mind if I wanted to be in their house and mirrors and get really honest. Deep down that the food was a problem. But I loved it so much. I just didn't want to give it up. Right.

Howard: Mm hmm.

Joe: So I kept trying to avert that personal one on one Joe Cross to Joe Cross conversation. So I think deep down I knew it, but I it wasn't in. It hadn't been verbalized. If that makes sense.

Howard: Gotcha. I'm really curious about the decision to do the, you know, to put the camera on you because your life took a very different turn. Based on that and I'm you know, I'm curious whether you think the camera is what made you successful this time in part.

Joe: Yes, that's a good question. And I've been asked that many times, and I do believe that the camera was incredibly helpful. I think that the camera enabled the camera was my community. If you look. Wasn't it wasn't I state it was more a carrot. It was more the fact that these people out there that would be watching this, I'm gonna be really backing me and wanting me to succeed. And so it was something that I felt. I actually I actually started to imagine the type of people that would be watching this. And I created this this this image of a woman working at an AT&T call center that, you know, is just this is a true story. It's quite incredible. I had this vision of someone. I just thought about her working in an AT&T course. And I don't ask me why AT&T calls and it was just something that came to mind. I have enough have them. But I just had this imagination and I would think about her watching the movie and willing me on and really wanting to see if I can do it so that she can do it. And as it turned out, I ended up meeting someone, many, many people from call centers who did not know in 1881, but just one call centers. And it's funny out of that that that came about. But I was it really was the community. And the idea of the camera on myself was more. It was a two way street. It was for support. And also that I wanted to give something back. My father was a doctor. My brother is a doctor. My sister is a nurse. My mom was a nurse. I've been in financial services and really done a lot to support, you know, my fellow human beings with my mum and dad and brother, sisters been giving a lot back. So I thought that by doing this and sharing it, it was sort of also part of life, a long overdue payback.

Howard: And so you wish you were in financial services and you were a success successful trader. That was on the Sydney Stock Exchange. Hey.

Joe: The futures exchange

Howard: Futures

Joe: Outward

Howard: Exchange.

Joe: Died Friday before it was cool.

Howard: Ok. So this is something that that really fascinates me around the people that I work with very often. You know, I mean, around their health, they have no self efficacy, like, oh, I couldn't resist this or I don't know, I'm too lazy for this. And yet when I look at like, what do you do for a living? Oh, I'm an astrophysicist. I am. I'm a successful patent attorney. Like, how did you understand the fact that you were really competent and successful? And I imagine that being in financial services and being a day trader before school required discipline, required research required stamina, required saying no to certain things that you'd want to do in the moment because of the later payoff. How did you navigating your mind? Joe Cross, successful business person, successful in life broadly and a failure at this one area that you keep procrastinating the most important thing.

Joe: Yeah. Okay, so clearly I navigated it pretty poorly until I was 40. Right. So I wasn't navigating it. And the the idea of actually what I thought, how it is, I thought that I'd been successful at startups and building things and creating things. So I moved from the futures exchange world into other areas of business and did successful startups. So I kind of. You know, I thought. I think there's a part of the success of in business which led me to be the way I was. In other words, you're fearless. You don't think anything can beat you. You're just optimistic, optimistic, optimistic. Time gaming. Now, that can work in business, that confidence level that like no matter what happens, will push through. OK. So when it comes to your health, you can't ignore the biological laws of cause and effect. And just pushing through on health is different to building a business or creating a company. So I think that the two are quite different in the skill set that you're required to navigate through both. And what I did was, is I used to go to the doctor and say, Hey, doc, I'm sick. Fix me. Here's some money. So I was outsourcing my health and well-being and I was putting the controls into somebody else's hands. So what happened on my fortieth birthday is I decided to reclaim that responsibility. I decided to become the CEO of my own health. I decided to be accountable to myself. And that was the shift. The shift was that. Oh, hold on a second. My health is something that I'm actually capable of controlling. You know, 70 percent of all disease is caused by our own lifestyle choices. Just think about that. That means there's there's two types of people out there.

Joe: If they're listening right now, if they're sick, there's the group that's just bad luck. And there's the group that are doing it to themselves that that's not Jani. They're the only two alternatives that you can be in. If you're sick and 70 percent of that group, 70 percent of the illness is the ones do to themselves. So that's the mindset that I took into it. And navigating forward from that, it doesn't mean that I'm an expert at it now or I'm like super successful it now because I'm not. I do my best. But I certainly have my moments and times where I relapse and I fall off the wagon and I've got to pick myself up, dust myself off and get back on. And, you know, when it comes to these deep, deep in, you know, embedded emotions that are connected to food, you know, not for everybody, not even for half. But for a really good percentage of the population, probably call a 25 or 30 percent. I think there is a deep seated connection to our food and that relationship with food. And that could be sugar. It could be fat. It could be salt. It could be any of those sorts of flavors, those days, makeup of what makes food that deep bonds that go back to our earliest days on this planet that are strength mainly hard to break. And they are extremely hard to gain perspective on. And I know myself that if stress comes, you know, if I if I'm under enormous stress, I don't choose alcohol, I don't choose nicotine, I don't choose fat. I don't choose salt. I choose sugar. Yes, sugar is sugars. My go to safety, you know, it's my it's like my safety blanket, if

Howard: Yeah,

Joe: That makes it.

Howard: Yeah,

Joe: So

Howard: Yeah.

Joe: You better unpacking all of that is is a is a challenge and it takes a enormous amount of focus and belief. And so there were some skills I had from business that were useful and there were others I had to let go of.

Howard: Mm hmm. This soldier took so many notes or so many threads I want to follow up on, but one of them that comes to me is the the idea like you put a camera on yourself, like you're saying, I'm. This journey is going to ideally make me a role model for other people. And and knowing you and you said like, you're not perfect. Yes. Slip ups, like my question is like this, there's a set and maybe you didn't think about it so much of the time. Or maybe you did. But the idea. Like when we set ourselves up as examples for other people, it makes our own slip ups and failures very fraught because there's no there's there's things that I share out of vulnerability with people and there's other things that I don't share. And I'm not entirely sure if it's because I'm ashamed of it or if I think like if they thought if they heard that I did, that it would give them license. And

Joe: Joe?

Howard: I'm wondering how, you know, it's been eight know 10 years now. You since you've been a public figure and you've had ups and downs. How do how do you think about navigating that?

Joe: It's a really it's a really tricky situation because you'll want to be as transparent as possible, but you also want to be the role model where you don't want to let people down. So, you know, I am just I don't know how I can explain what I've done, but I've tried to be as honest as I possibly can be on my in my world of posting, I don't post a lot of food, nude photos. And the reason for that is, is that I always feel that is somewhere in the world. Somebody on day seven, day eight, day ten of a reboot, which is just drinking juice only. And they're doing that because they saw my movie. And so they don't want to go to my Instagram or Facebook or Twitter feed and see me eating, you know, a big meal because it's like, ah, I want, you know. So at the same time, I also want to show people what I eat and how it's okay to eat this sometimes. So I do a lot of that navigating in the public speaking environment when I've got a couple of hundred people in a room. And that's that's my chance to be more honest and more transparent. I think on social media it's very difficult because people hide behind, you know, you are ill, you know, handles. There is no accountability. And I try a little bit more control, but certainly in public or in my films when I'm controlling the narrative in the film and I can go into a lot of detail sometimes on social media, you're putting a photo of you're putting a three sentence thing. You don't have the time or the ability to explain it. I've just been in Europe for a one month vacation.

Joe: All right. And during that one month vacation, I enjoyed myself. You know, I had a great time. Did I eat everything I wanted to eat and do anything I wanted to do? No. I had constraints on me. I had, you know. All right. I'm going to like I'm still focused on what I'm doing. But on a days like I give you an example, a thing call of a crank. You know what? Chocolate crepes are in the teleprompter. They're very big in Europe. So this whole trip for the whole 28 days, I was in Europe. I had two of them. To me, that's a great achievement from where I was 15 years ago, where if I'd been away 28 days, I would have at 28. So I look at it in this perspective. And so on a personal level. If I mean, if I'm explaining on a podcast or I'm in a room talking, I can count. To say that that's my treat. It's an exciting moment. It's it's a it's a time to really enjoy and celebrate. So that's that's how I I counted that. And the slip ups. I think people understand. I think the more honest you are with your audience about your values, I think the better they can associate and connect with you. As I've always said, you know, I'm not going to be on a series of Baywatch running down the beach with the washboard stomach. That's just not who I am. But I'm also going to be someone who sort of classifies being healthy as being out to do the things you'll want to do with ease. That's how I think about being healthy. And so far, you know, touch on a lot of wood. I'm able to achieve that.

Howard: And again, because you had you know, obviously this that auto immune condition is almost like a gift now because like as long as that's not reemerged, it is like, you know, you're on you're on the right track. So a few pounds here or there doesn't seem to bother you as much as if

Joe: Very.

Howard: The urge to carry it came back.

Joe: I didn't do this to lose the weight. That's the whole thing. I didn't go on this journey to lose the weight. I did it to get off the medication. And so, you know, losing 100 pounds and now and now being 50 pounds back on. So dropped 100 and now 50. So having a net 50 loss for where I am, I'm still happy with that. You know, if you go and do 60 days a juice, anyone's going to lose a lot of weight. Once you start adapting back into a normal lifestyle, it's just normal that you're going to gain muscle mass and gain fat depending on what your diet is.

Howard: Hmm. So, I mean, what is so one of the, you know, the controversies about a long juice fast? Is that it is it is extreme and it's not like the rest of your life. So I'm curious, like when. So when you started on yours and I know you had all this extraneous stuff, you had a film crew, you had, you know, presumably plans for this. But during those 60 days, what was the sort of mental, psychological, spiritual work that you did or didn't do or discovered later? Like what if someone's watching this and goes, OK, I want to do this juice fast? Like you can do a juice fast. And then at the end of the juice fast, you're the same person, except you did a juice fast. Like what's what's the inner work during that time, do you think?

Joe: So I did the juice fast for that length of time, really to try and get off my medication, and I felt that it was one of my last things left after trying so many other things that were not addressing this. This is what food I was taking on my body. Could I have done just eating fruit, vegetables, nuts, beans and seeds? Probably. I don't know. I don't know if it would have worked either. As it turned out, I did 60 days of juice and then 90 days of fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans and seeds. And then I was off all medication. So I was five months later. I was gonna go to two years as you as I said earlier in our check. I didn't need to go to two years. It ended up completely medication free after five months. I don't know if I'd just done the plants, only whether that would have worked or not. I kind of have a gut feel that they're 60 days. A juice really was required to do a deep cleanse on my whole system. Spiritually. I got into a zone after about 15 days. You know, I'd say it was more round day 18 or 19. If I'm going back and being precise that I felt like I was. Running I was always at a different level of likeness in my head in a spiritual zone of, you know, when you got. I use the expression of you have a stick shift car. You go from one to two to three to four to five and six. And then you're going so well, you're actually looking for that next gear to go to.

Howard: Yeah.

Joe: Well, around 18, 19, I found it and I was in complete overdrive. And it was an incredibly spiritual step space to be in my sleep. My thought process, my sense of smell, all of my senses, the colors, the brightness of color. Just it took my breath away. Just this this this connection to nature. And so that really was the turning point where I felt that I was sort of pushing into the wind, where the wind swung around and was at my back and it was when I got to day 60, I'll be honest with you. I wanted to go longer, but it was because of the film crew I couldn't afford to go on any longer, had to shut it down. So I feel that if I hadn't have had the camera crew and it got past that day 18, 19, 20, I probably would have gone longer because I was in such a great space. So I was a very different person at the end of that 60 days, just from a sense of accomplishment, from a justice self gratification, of achieving something that you set out to do, just from the fact that my my printing design was down from 60 mgs to 2.5 milligrams a day. It still took another three months to be completely clear of those so that, you know, you've got to come up slowly. But just generally speaking overall. I was it it was an incredible feeling. Now, the navigation of that during it. Were there tough times? You bet there was. But I sort of had this vision that if I don't do this now, if I don't sacrifice this time now, I am going to not have a lot of time at the end. I'm gonna I'm gonna be departing this planet a lot earlier than what I wanted to. So I really put that fear and hate convinced myself that this was my real, you know, I'd hit rock bottom. I really needed to do it.

Howard: So what strategies did you use and learn and develop and practice during those tough times? I'm imagining like a craving for a burger on day 31 and the crew might be not there. And OK, here I

Joe: Are

Howard: Am.

Joe: The fruit eating and they come into the restaurants and on their breath. I could tell you every night. So, OK, so some of the strategies. One of the ones that I would do a lot of was. I would imagine that my body was self eating itself and because my body in your body out and everyone listened listening. Their body is a lot smarter than they'll ever be. It knows what to digest, to give up for energy. And it keeps the good stuff. It doesn't go and eat your eyeball. It doesn't eat your liver. Will you keep it? It eats dystopic at night. So it's almost like the body gives up. Hey, Joe, go and digest this. Go on, eat this. Go and have that. Use this for fuel. All right. We're good here. Use this. So I would imagine that going on. I would imagine maybe a little tumor that was getting started being blown up and disintegrated and my body getting rid of it. I would imagine that my military we've all got a military inside us. We've all got a Navy and Army and Marines and Air Force. We've got this incredible fighting machine that's there for us. But like any military, if you cut the supplies, it ain't gonna perform for you. So I would imagine the green juice, the red juice, the orange color, the juice, the purple color juice, that these juices were coming down full of nutrients and they were a supply chain for the information and the energy required for my military to go to work and beat the disease and beat the bad guys, so to speak, if you like. So this was something that I would use a lot, this power of visualization, to sort of say, you know, that burger can wipe that taco can wipe that, you know, a cheeseburger that def cheese pizza, whatever can wipe. You can all wiped. And I'm in rebuild mode, so that was the sort of example of something that I would employ.

Howard: So I'm curious to when you say like that could wait as opposed to that's off limits. I don't do that anymore. You know, if.

Joe: Well, the idea of eating. I knew I had to eat again.

Howard: Mm hmm.

Joe: So the exposure, the idea of eating and so I don't like, for example, for example, there are certain things that that journey for me was twelve years ago. It's coming up, too. It's coming up. It's coming up. Twelve year anniversary of when I started that journey back in October. So I have not had alcohol since. I have not had a cigarette since. I have not had soda. He seems to accept the ginger ale. It's the only soda I've had is like my it's like my treat is a ginger ale. I have a round of golf and people have to be whatever ginger ale. So I haven't had fast food restaurant chain. I haven't gone to a fast read, fast food, you know, McDonald's, Burger King, pizza. I don't eat that food. So there are certain things that are gone. But at that moment in time, Howard, I wasn't thinking that I'm never going to have that again. That was a little bit too much

Howard: Mm hmm.

Joe: For me. It was more like, let's just take this one step at a time. Let's not set these parameters too high just yet. As it turned out, for the next four years, I was basically biscuit area and I only had Danny. The only animal product I consume was from the seed for the next four years. I didn't know that going in. I didn't know that on day 22, for example. You know what I mean?

Howard: Huh. All right. So it's interesting because, you know, when I asked you about strategies you mentioned like this, this imagery of what was happening in your body. And I've never thought about that. I mean, I coached people all the time. But like we know that that imagery in and of itself can be healing. Right.

Joe: You bet.

Howard: Right. Like that

Joe: I mean.

Howard: Was a double a double dose.

Joe: And you know, I like golf. I like playing golf, and I had read somewhere in like Scientific American magazine or something where they had taken a group of people and I forget how many it was, but they divided them into three groups. And for 30 days, one group played golf every day and they golf improved. Another group didn't play any golf at all. And their golf didn't improve. But another group had to visualize playing a game of golf every day, but never pick up a stick. And their game improved. And I always remember that as sticking out to me. That, wow, that's pretty incredible that if you just imagine your playing a round of golf like every shot, just think about going around 18 holes and just think about that and what you got to do in the swing. And that can help your game. So I remember being on the road and in thinking about that little story and therefore employing it the way I shared with you.

Howard: Mm hmm. Right. And that is that something you've taught other people?

Joe: Oh, well, I don't know about. Well, I share it, so I think sharing his teaching, I mean. Oh, I'm a big believer, Howard. Not many people like being told what to do. People love telling other people what to do, but that I don't like being told what to do. So I'm very careful with my language in words to try and sort of say, hey, this is what I did. If you're interested, I'm happy to answer questions. If you don't want to do it, don't do it like eat. It's all going to come from within. These sorts of changes, these sorts of situations have to start deep inside. Nobody nobody could tell me what to do. My mom and dad were worried about me for many years, but all they worry all of their conversations with me. It wasn't enough to make it happen. It had to come from a deep down inside me.

Howard: So they were worried. Your mom and dad were worried about your your health. I mean, that year you grew I imagine you grew up eating a certain way. Was so you mentioned, you know, you were failing on five of the six pillars of lifestyle. The one you were succeeding on was social. And

Joe: Oh,

Howard: For

Joe: Good at that.

Howard: For a lot of people, the social while the oh, there's all the other love and belonging and all that. But there's also all the social behaviors. Like it's almost like having us having a strong social group can be an obstacle to change.

Joe: I couldn't agree with you more. And you know, there are certainly friends of mine that were friends of mine back then that are no longer in my circle of group anymore because they don't like Joe not drinking. They preferred Joe to be the drinker and and the guy with the laughs and the fun. And that's okay. I mean, I'm I'm cool with that. I think, you know, I've had many people, men and women tell me that their marriages had to end because they're trying to make these changes and their partners weren't supportive. But in the end, they had to do it. You know, there's there's there's just choices we need to make on that front. I think the point I was talking about with the lifestyle choices of people who are lonely, people who are disconnected, people who don't feel like they're part of a community anyway. That is a huge impact on their health. So. So that I was sort of saying I was at least felt loved. I at least had a support group. I at least had people around me. But your point about social impact? Absolutely. I mean, there's a lot of study, you know, a lot of research shows that if you eat if you sit down at a table with two people to eat versus a table where there's eight or ten or twelve, you will eat more calories at the table would be more people than you will table with two people.

Joe: Right. Where it's family style and all the foods in there. And also, if you think about it, just think about all the number of times you had a big table with 10 people. It's harder to get moving. It is to have your meal and get going. It's like I want coffee. I'll have a dessert. If you're having a dessert all over dessert and all of a sudden you're there, it's it's a much more environment to consume more calories. So that I think your point is well taken that yes, some people who are very social are always out and about. And how often do we do things without as we're calories on? You know, involved next party with a friend. Just go down the beach or get in the park and go for a walk and take a glass or a bottle of water with you. People will be like a bit freaked out. Like, we're not having coffee, we're not having a burger, we're not having a sandwich. When I have a lunch or dinner, we're not having breakfast now. Let's just go and do something where we have water, you

Howard: Yes.

Joe: Know?

Howard: Yes. So, you know, the fact that you chose juicing, which, you know, in the movie we see it's a pretty it's a time intensive thing. It's labor intensive. You need a place to plug it in. You have all the. It's almost like I'm thinking about, like, you know, I'm Jewish. And, you know, so like people who are Orthodox Jews, they have all these rituals that kind of keep them fit together in a small community and from interacting casually, socially with with non Jews. It's almost like the juicing creates that kind of a separation. I wonder if if if that was like on purpose.

Joe: No, that wasn't on purpose, I think. I think it comes down to this, right. I think that that my my. First of all, I agree with you that it's a tool and it takes time. And you. But I also got back to no pain, no gain. So, you know, we live in a society where we all want the easiest rat to get from A to B, and that hasn't served us too well as a society. Just picking the easy. Right. You know, if everyone's got one of these now, everyone's got a smartphone. Excuse me. And. You can press a button now and you can get ten thousand calories delivered to your door. Basically, yeah. All you gotta do is get on a catch and walk to the front door, you know. So maybe you got to walk five yards. So this is a world now where we have created elevators. We have created cars. We have you know, we have so many technological advancements that reduce our output of energy and supercharge our input of energy in the form of highly processed food. So that technological mismatch is what got brought me and down the guy when it comes to a lot of a lot of my health. But I don't think it was being overweight. That was my problem. It was the absence of the life of real information that is found in food. And I say that would not. Not likely. I use the word information rather than energy. See, in my mind, the carbohydrate, the fat and the protein that the energy,

Howard: Right.

Joe: The micro nutrients, the phytochemicals, the vitamins, the minerals, the phenolic acid, the enzymes. This is not energy. This is information that. And needs to be able to keep its communication skills. It's let's put the potassium in so that the cell can function how it's supposed to function, you know. So what I was doing is I was supercharge needy energy, the carbohydrate, the fat and the protein. I had plenty of that going in that I just had it mostly coming from a processed world where it was void of the micronutrient value, some 5 percent. 5 to 8 per cent is probably a good indication of where we are as a society in the United States, at least in Australia and Great Britain and a few other developed countries where about 5 to 8 per cent of all calories are just plain food and the rest is animal product and processed, that is too low. And that's why we have so much chronic illness and disease and unhappiness and sadness in the world. I believe it needs to be much higher. I don't think it needs to be 100 percent. If you want to go 100 per cent like I went 100 per cent for five months because I needed it because I was I was on fire and I needed to address the situation. But in terms of living your life, I think if you can get that number up to 50 and keep it in the 50 per cent number, I think you're doing ten times what the average person is doing. I think you're in a great state to maintain a very good health and be strong and healthy from someone not getting sick. Point of view, you know, 12 years I have I rarely get sick. I think I've been sick maybe three times in 12 years. And so these are the these are the winds that that I'm I'm very big about. And I forget the question now is I went off on a tangent with information, but.

Howard: It was about “no pain, no gain.”

Joe: You to the juicing being being like this on the community and being isolated like like like the juice, right. Said. So I think that I didn't do that on purpose. What I did is I set about rectifying the the the the scoreboard, the scorecard, if you like. I had turned my back on Mother Nature and I needed to reintroduce myself to it. And I found the best way to do that was to supercharge with juice, because when you juice, you are extracting the water that's trapped in the plant. Most of our planet is water. Most of us is water. Water is life. We know know that there's very few things that I'm confident about saying that all humans need. Water is one of them. Water and air, I think is a pretty safe bet that we both we all need those, right? Not all of us need fish. Not all of us need animals. Not all of us need a tomato. Not all of us need an eggplant, but we all need water and air. So I wanted to go as close to that as possible, and when you juice. You are extracting out that micro nutrient values from the plant that's trapped in the water. So whether you eat five sticks of celery and pass through the fiber through your bough and if you can eat five 6 a celery. Good luck. Or put five sticks of celery through a juice to where you extract out that nutrition and drink it quickly without having to go through the chewing as long as you're getting enough fiber in your diet. If you're having a if you're not too suddenly and this is just part of a habit, then you're fine to do that.

Joe: What you don't want to do is you don't want to go and juice like seven oranges and supercharge and overload your body on a much glucose and fructose. Right. You don't want to do that. You don't want to buy juice. That's at ambient temperature. It's in the middle of a supermarket. That's basically water and flavoring and sugar. You don't want to do that. You want to have stuff that's alive. Can you juice it and keep in the fridge for three days? I do it all the time, so long as it's sealed in a jar. So my habit of juicing is maybe two days a week. I devote an hour and I put the music on a TV show on. I'm just happy in my kitchen. It's like prepping a meal. I chop everything up. I put it through, I get on my mason jars. Anyone who follows me on social media would have seen me doing this. And that way I've got juices in my fridge, grab and go whenever I need them. So I don't feel like it's a lot of labor intensive work. And you know, I'm working with a very smart company in Southern California for powders and extracts and ways that you can take that great nutrition so you can just add water to it. So it's a lot simpler and a lot easier. And I think that we're starting to use technology, whereas technology's been sort of a problem for someone like me. Now it's starting to be exciting. Like great technology and machines, great technology and nutrition products that you just add water to and shake hands. So I think that we are where we're crossing that and I'm starting to turn it around.

Howard: Mm hmm, mm hmm. Yeah, there's a couple of things I really like about that approach. One is I like the idea that you used to you start out by saying no pain, no gain, like the fact that you're you're saying like, I'm doing this thing that's uncomfortable. I have to spend a lot more on food. And, you know, I'm getting a lot less calories, but I'm spending more like, oh, I must I must care about this. It's like you can you can look at yourself and make a judgment about yourself that's different. Based on what? Just watching what you're doing.

Joe: Yes, 100 percent. No, I totally agree with that, and that's that's a real a really good point.

Howard: And the other thing is that when you said, like, I wanted to listen to nature for the first time, like, you know, I'm friends

Joe: Also,

Howard: With life.

Joe: Another listener may just that it actually happened to me. For the first time,

Howard: Yeah.

Joe: Because when you eat crap food, Howard, you can't breathe very well. You know, like my sense of smell had been lost on me.

Howard: Mm hmm. Yeah. I mean, I'm thinking like I have a lot of friends who are environmentalists who are, you know, and they'll go on camping trips. And yeah, and there's like this environmental festival near me every July 4th weekend. You know, save this river in an urban area and buy tracts of land around it. And the festival is like waste free. So, you know, it's either compostable or, you know, reusable, no plastic, anything. And yet when you go to the food court, there's funnel cakes, Coca-Cola, video giant turkey legs. You know, it's like people don't understand that, that their bodies are also nature. And I love

Joe: Yeah.

Howard: I love these like this is this is nature's information in the most intimate sense. Like you can go out into the woods and still be separate because you're you're full of processed stuff.

Joe: Yeah. Yeah. Whatever you eat becomes zero, right? So that's something that I'll always remember. And when I go and have my crate with Nutella on it in Europe, I know it's gonna become me. But those days are gonna make sure that I have my healthy, beautiful Greek salads, my green juice in the morning when I was in Greece. And I kind of feel that that that balance is something that is really achievable for those that have got to a point mentally to do it. Just taking a step back with your nature. Thing I always look at this is that, you know, I believe that if you're broken how I'd like you know what I mean by the word broken is it. I'm quite a binary person when it comes to these things. I know there's a lot of gray in the world, but I'm quite black and white. And when it comes to your health, you're either you're either broken or your whole. And some days you might feel broken and that's okay. Does it feel hollow or some people feel broken for quite a long time. And everyone listen, can asks, ask that question. Are you all at this moment or are you broken? If the answer is broken, I think it comes down to two relationships in your life that are broken. And he does that to you both.

Joe: And it could be just one of them's broken. But generally it's both. And those two relationships are their relationship with yourself. The love of yourself and the love of your plants. So what I mean by that is, is that in order to be strong and whole, you really need to love yourself. And I'm not talking about me in self these I'm talking about a true deep love of yourself and a respect and an honor which really sort of comes when you're when you reach that peace with yourself. That's where you nourish. Look after yourself. Take it easy and not so hard on yourself. Your you your mental state can change rather than waking up in the morning, looking in the mirror and saying, you're ugly or fat, you're a loser, you're a hopeless person. You start to say, you know what, Joe? You're a good person. You are great. You can do great things. And then your choices for what you're going to eat that day are buoyed by more love. And therefore, I love myself. I'm gonna have a green juice, not I hate myself. I'm gonna eat a box of Oreos so that love with self. And there is the little with plants. If you think about this relationship, how the plants have had with us as humans. Just think about it.

Joe: They were here before us. I don't care if you believe in Adam and Eve or you believe in. In the other one, which is the one I believe in, which is the evolution. We're just escaped my mind for a second. We have plants. We hear first what those plants do. They gave us shelter. We chop trees down, protected us. What else did they do? They gave us firewood so that we could keep ourselves warm. Yes. They gave us these beautiful fruits and vegetables and nuts and seeds and beans, gave us all of these things to eat. But also that beautiful dance of breath we breathe that CO2, they take it in and give us back out to. So this connection with us and plants, it is so strong that if you turn your back on that connection, if you cease to understand how intertwined we are with nature, you will break. So that's what happened to me. I'm speaking from experience. I turn my back. I was eight and just you know, I was eight and white, black and brown food. I wasn't eating food with real color. So those two relationships guarantee that you are someone who's broken at least one or both of those are broken. People who are whole people who are really healthy have a pretty good relationship with themselves and with nature.

Howard: Mm hmm. Oh, there's the others. There's so there's so much to unpack in terms of what you said about like our relationship with plants in terms of like they're their information. It's like, you know, it's not scientific to assign like intention and consciousness to non humans. But it seems silly not to like plants love us so much.

Joe: Yeah, I know, but I think that people who got it and people who had the plants in their homes. I think they understand that. I think they. They get that connection, you know? Yeah. There's a lot of doctors and a lot of thought where people are seat that some plants shouldn't be eaten, that we eat, you know, nightshade, for example, because they think that they fight back and cause inflammation. I've got many friends that that have read that book, The Plant Paradox, and are operating that way. And that's cool. You know, it works for them. Great. You know, I do. I do feel that when food is made with loudness, it taste better. I can't I can't I can't. Explain to you why, Howard. But it just does.

Howard: Yeah, I've gone to retreat centers in and I asked for the recipe and then I make it and I go, oh, this is just regular. This isn't like, you know.

Joe: That was good. That was and that was it as good as the brochure.

Howard: Yeah, it was I was like eating you like Buddha’s tears.

Joe: Yeah. No, I said so. Look, I always say that what we know how it is like two inches. What we don't know, you can go to the moon and back 10 times. There's so much we don't know and don't understand. We are just mere species on this little planet, in this huge solar system. There's so much going on. And, you know, don't get me wrong, I'm not being down on us. We've done incredible things. We've been pretty amazing and what we've achieved. But we really are you know, we really are very small. And and what we what we what we don't know is so vast. So I never I never I used to be the old Joe in my 20s was I don't believe in any of that kind of stuff. But now I'm open to all of these possibilities because, you know, fifty three. I don't think I'm old, but I'm not. Yeah. I'm somewhere in the middle. And I feel that that I did have that understanding that that we have so much to learn. It keeps me curious. And a lot of people sort of, you know, if there's one gift I think you can give people is a gift to be curious. I think curious people can can find can find you if you're curious. It's not that difficult to be happy. It's quite interesting. I think there's a connection between that.

Howard: You know, if you're curious and you have a decent relationship with yourself, you can find the right way. Even if you're lost.

Joe: Yeah. Yeah. I think happiness is all about being useful, but I think being curious leads you to being useful.

Howard: Mm hmm. Nice. So before I let you go, you've got a new film that you've been working on about kids. Can you talk about that for a few minutes?

Joe: Sure. Sure. So a while the movie came out on Netflix in twenty seventeen. And so it's not new new, but Netflix had it buried there, which is why took it back. So we've got some exciting plans for that coming into 2020. What we're going to get that movie out for free around the world. So everywhere I went, we might made fact see nearly dead one. And then I made the second film, which was all the people that had been touched by the first bill and showcasing them around the world. Everywhere I went, people said, Joe, what about the kids? What made the kids? You know, my movies that I try to make. I don't like pointing out the obvious or the problems because there's a lot of problems in the world and that's easy. Going around saying problem on problem 2, problem 3. What I wanted to do was showcase what incredible things have been done around America and the world. For that matter, on people that are really changing and making a big impact when it comes to the next generation. And so what we did is we went around United States because I didn't have a budget to go worldwide. I just went in the US and we found organizations and foundations and individuals and programs that are really making a difference. Programs where doctors are subscribing fruits and vegetables in Harlem to people that they can go and get from the farmer's market produce for free because that's what they need. We had a wellness foundation out there in East Hampton that is changing a whole community. Ten thousand people have been affected by the way that they're going through and teaching to simple wellness goals and ideas into the kids. So, you know, getting into schools. So we went and did that. And I'm very proud of the movie. I think it's I think it's one of my best piece of work yet. And yeah, just just super blessed to be able to have a platform where I can go and tell stories and people will

Howard: Hmm,

Joe: Listen. Howard.

Howard: Yeah. It's like that's my favorite thing about the podcast is just the people I can connect with. Like having this conversation with you so I can just imagine the joy and like, look at all these bright spots and let's go hang with them.

Joe: Yeah, and I think that you know what you're doing with your podcast and others. I think this is a really important time in the ME video world because, you know, we've been chatting for, you know, just under an hour and a lot of people don't get a chance to deep dive today. Everything sort of so sound body. And, you know, it's it's hard to go deep. And I really think that that's something that's been lost on society, that ability to go deep. And we need to have the places where it's the right time, either on a long walk or doing housework or on a journey in the car or on a plane trip. I listen a lot of podcasts on plane trips myself. I don't like watching TV on plane. I close my eyes and just listening this into a podcast and I think that's important. So well done to you for pushing that information out there and sharing that with the world is very important.

Howard: Well, thank you. And for folks who want to follow what you're up to and stay in touch, where do they go?

Joe: So for now, go to That's my Web site. My Instagram is JoetheJuicer, the same with Facebook. And we've also got Reboot with Joe Instagram. And you know, the newsletter is probably the best way to stay in touch with me. So when you go to the website to sign up for the Joe Cross newsletter and I put that out once a week and that has lots of information about what we're doing next and all the exciting stuff. We'll just released a brand new juicer, which I'm super excited about. So there's a lot of stuff happening. And, you know, I'm just I'm just doing the best here at this, you know, take each day as it comes along, as I get my fruits and veggies into me, I'm happy.

Howard: All right. Well, thank you for for everything you've been doing for the, you know, the tens of millions of peoples whose lives you've changed. And I think it's great as I said, it's a great honor and, you know, I love telling stories. I'm going to keep telling them and I'm just really appreciated that people like to listen so fantastic. And as I as I always sign out, “Juice on!”

Howard: All right. Thank you so much, Joe, it's great talking with you.

Joe: Bye now.

Howard: Bye bye.

Here's a PDF of the machine transcript of our conversation. (Lots of funny mistakes, which I had to work really really hard not to spend hours correcting.)

I hope you find this conversation useful and inspiring.

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The Plant Yourself Podcast theme music, “Dance of Peace (Sabali Don),” is generously provided by Will Ridenour, a kora player from North Carolina who has trained with top Senegalese musicians.

It can be found on his first CD, titled Will Ridenour.

You can learn about Will, listen to more tracks, and buy music on his website,


Thanks to Plant Yourself podcast patrons – Kim Harrison – Lynn McLellan – Brittany Porter – Dominic Marro – Barbara Whitney – Tammy Black – Amy Good – Amanda Hatherly – Mary Jane Wheeler – Ellen Kennelly – Melissa Cobb – Rachel Behrens – Tina Scharf – Tina Ahern – Jen Vilkinofsky – David Byczek – Michele X – Elspeth Feldman – Leah Stolar – Allan Kristensen – Colleen Peck – Michele Landry – Jozina – Sara Durkacs – Kelly Cameron – Janet Selby – Claire Adams – Tom Fronczak – Jeannette Benham – Gila Lacerte – David Donohue – Blair Seibert – Doron Avizov – Gio and Carolyn Argentati – Jodi Friesner – Mischa Rosen – Michael Worobiec – AvIvA Lael – Alicia Lemus – Val Linnemann – Nick Harper – Bandana Chawla – Molly Levine – The Inscrutable Harry R – Susan Laverty the Panda Vegan – Craig Covic – Adam Scharf – Karen Bury – Heather Morgan – Nigel Davies – Marian Blum – Teresa Kopel – Julian Watkins – Brid O'Connell – Shannon Herschman – Linda Ayotte – Holm Hedegaard – Isa Tousignant – Connie Haneline – Erin Greer – Alicia Davis – Heather O'Connor – Carollynne Jensen – Sheri Orlekoski of Plant Powered for Health – Karen Smith – Scott Mirani – Karen and Joe Crabtree – Kirby Burton – Theresa Carrell – Kevin Macaulay – Elizabeth Rothschild – Ann Jesse – Sheryl Dwyer – Jenny Hazelton – Peter W Evans – Dennis Bird – Darby Kelly – Lori Fanney – Linnea Lundquist – Emily Iaconelli – Levi Wallach – Rosamonde McAtee – Dan Pokorney – Stephen Leinin – Patty DeMartino – Mike and Donna Kartz – Deanne Bishop – Bilberry Elf – Marjorie Lewis – Tricia Adams – Nancy Sheldon – Lindsey Bashore – Gunn Marit Hagen – Tracey Gulledge – Lara Hedin – Meg from Mamasezz – Stacey Stokes – Ben Savage – Michael K – David Hughes -Coni Rodgers – Claire England – Sally Robertson – Parham Ganchi – Amy Dailey – Brian Tourville – Mark Jeffrey Johnson – Josie Dempsey – Caryn Schmitt – Pamela Hayden – Emily Perryman – Allison Corbett – Richard Stone – Lauren Vaught of Edible Musings – Erin Hastey – Sean Owens – Sagar Naik – Erika Piedra – Danielle Roberts – Michael Leuchten – Sarah Johnson – Katharine Floyd – Meryl Fury – for your generous support of the podcast.


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