Tuesday, July 05, 2016

COLUMN: Juicer

Bad things can happen when you're bored and have Netflix. The other day I stumbled upon a documentary I probably should've stayed away from. As documentaries go, "Fat Sick and Nearly Dead" is a fairly inspiring one. It's the story of an Australian guy named Joe Cross, and the film documents Joe's transition from someone who looks like me into someone who looks like a vaguely muscular stick.

This is the kind of motivation I need. I'm sick of being fat. "Chunky" I can live with. "Out of shape" is pretty much my credo. But around a decade ago, my nerdy frame took a dramatic shift from "pudgy" to "morbidly obese," and it doesn't seem to be stopping. For a while, I just ignored it, kept buying baggier clothes, and pretended that the me in the mirror was still the me of my twenties. But let's be honest -- the me of today looks like it ate the me of my twenties.

I'm never going to be the guy who runs marathons. I have neither the will nor desire to become an American Ninja Warrior. But I'd like to be able to climb a flight of stairs without being out of breath. I'd like to be able to sit on the floor without worrying about how I'm going to stand myself back up. I'd like to be able to button the necks of my dress shirts. I'd like to occasionally see my feet.

I've been trying to make small changes for a while now. I've cut way back on sugary cola and I've been trying to make smarter food decisions. My problem really isn't over-eating, but when I DO eat, I make super bad choices. The other day I saw an article on the news about a guy in Oregon whose "life was saved" by his local pizza chain who called 911 when the customer missed his DAILY ORDER. People are calling the pizza staff heroes, but something tells me the guy wouldn't have needed saving had he not ordered pizza every day of his natural life. I'm not QUITE that bad, but I'd reckon there isn't a fast food place in Rock Island that doesn't know my car on sight. Yesterday I went to the gas station at 11:30 p.m. Why? Because I was sitting on my couch and my brain said, "You need a Hershey bar. Right now." THAT'S a bad sign. It's time to make serious changes.

So when I spotted a documentary about a guy who drops 100 lbs. in a year, I was curious enough to watch. As it turns out, the solution to fast weight loss is simple: simply stop eating for two months. Yes, "Fat Sick and Nearly Dead" follows Joe Cross as he goes on a two-month long juice fast. No food whatsoever, just fruits and veggies thrown into a juicer for two months straight. I'm capable of many things, but a juice fast like that is NOT one of them. If I go more than four hours or so without protein, I get shaky and light-headed. I don't really understand how you can survive two months on liquified carrots and spinach.

That said, there's nothing wrong with adding some healthy juices to my diet. Anything's got to be better than a can of soda, and let's face it: the only vegetables I eat regularly are the pickles on my cheeseburgers. Sure, I like fast food because it's delicious, but I mostly eat it because it's FAST. I hate taking time out from life in order to eat. If they came out with a pill that could replace meals, I'd be one of the first to sign up. I mainly don't eat vegetables because I can't order vegetables at the drive-thru. But if I could slug down a few swallows of vegetable juice, I just might be able to add nutrients to my diet after all. I needed a juicer.

Immediately, I learned a few interesting things: (1) Juicers are crazy expensive. Even a lower-end model like the one I bought will easily set you back $150. (2) Juicers are super hard to find. The first two places I went were sold out of most models. Clearly, I'm not the only one who watched that documentary. (3) As is turns out, the documentary is more of an infomercial. Every model of Breville juicer I came across was adorned with a giant "AS SEEN ON FAT SICK AND NEARLY DEAD" sticker. Some even came with a DVD of the movie. Something tells me Joe Cross is doing alright for himself as king of the juicers.

Armed with my new juicer, I immediately went to the store and bought all the ingredients that Joe recommends for his trademark "Mean Green" juice. Then I got home and realized that the cucumbers I purchased were, in fact, zucchini -- so then I went BACK to the store. Eventually, though, I made it home, set up my juicer, and prepared for instant health and magical weight loss.

You can find Joe's recipe just about anywhere: 2 apples, half of a lemon, a cucumber, an inch of ginger, 4 celery stalks, and 8 leaves of kale. Joe says its refreshing. In retrospect, I wonder if perhaps "refreshing" means something different in Australia. The actual juicing was simple yet incredibly violent. It's less a juicer and more like an annihilator. I actually felt bad for the innocent apples as I shoved them down the chute and watched them get obliterated like the wood chipper scene from "Fargo." When an apple went down the chute, it would violently shred the poor thing and then spit out a wee trickle of juice. But when you put the kale down the chute? It was like a veritable sea of "refreshing" green goop.

Kale is considered a "super food." It's called this because you have to be SUPER delusional to believe that it's food. As far as I can tell, kale is a bitter and inedible weed that just happens to be really good for you. This still isn't enough reason to endure the taste of it.

If you like the smell of freshly cut grass, maybe you'll love kale juice, because that's exactly what it tastes like. Maybe my taste buds just need to acclimatize to something other than french fries. For now, I'm scaling back and sticking to tamer fruits and veggies to obliterate. Carrots and apples might not be superfoods, but they're certainly betterfoods than what usually goes down my gullet.

So wish me luck on my juicy new adventure. If you know any good recipes that DON'T taste like the weeds in my back yard, e-mail me. Once I'm all svelte and buff, maybe I'll give you a shout-out. Or maybe I'll tell the world how disgusting your weird juice is. What's to lose, other than a whole lot of weight?

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