We had the privilege of hosting Joe Cross when he came to town for his Fully Charged book signing tour! I sat down with him to find out what he's been up to.
Check out the full video interview below!
Tracee: Hi I'm Tracee from JuiceRecipes.com and today I'm with my friend Joe Cross and we're here to talk about his new book "Fully Charged." So Joe I just thank you for joining me today, and it's right before a big event tonight and you just squeezed it in a little bit early so we could talk about this book.
Joe: Absolutely Tracee, It's great to be here and lovely to meet you in person. I love your site, and it's fantastic what you're doing, spreading the juicy word!
Tracee: Yes! Ha-ha!
Joe: All over the world.
Tracee: Yes! Thank you very much. You know I have to admit I fell in love with this book right away.
Joe: That's very kind.
Tracee: I did. I was expecting to just glean some new information and learn something new, but you surprised me. I was taken aback by how personal this was, and by how it spoke to me. Your story, and you just bared your heart, and I really appreciated that. You said some things that really hit home, like your life principles.
One of my favorites was when you talk about honesty. You said, "I try to live my life according to a few basic principles. The first of which is that honesty will set you free." I just wondered if you'd expound on that a little bit. How has it?
Joe: Yeah well I think that when you talk about honestly or the truth, sometimes it can be difficult to face the truth, or speak the truth. But it gives you freedom. There's a certain sense of not being held down, and I think that what I do talk about in the book is how a lot of us are our own speed humps to our own success, and our own pushing forward.
I think that when I got in front of the mirror at the age of 40... And sure I've been honest with lots of things in my life, that maybe the most honest conversation I hadn't had was with myself about where my health was. Where the state of my priorities were. So I would say that if you adopt that philosophy of, "The truth will set you free," I think that having that conversation that I was basically responsible for outsourcing my health to some other people (doctors, nurses, medical experts), and it was more about insourcing it. That honest conversation, getting into the house of mirrors and having a good hard look at myself and saying, you know what? Your priorities have been out of whack. You've been focused on wealth and not health, and you've got to stop procrastinating! We have an expression in Australia, "Do it or you get off the pot!" I had to make that decision, was I going to do it? I think that's where that happens.
I think also in other parts that the more truthful, the more honest you are, I think that people are pretty good at picking up when someone is telling the truth or when someone's not. And when you make movies, and when you write books, you're not doing that to crowds, you're doing that to individuals. People watch movies. People read books. It's a personal thing. So I think you can't lose sight of the fact that if you're honest you're going to invoke a connection with the reader or the viewer.
Tracee: Right, and it's honest about today too; about now. Sometimes I think we feel like, okay if I'm getting into juicing and if I start eating healthier then I have to be perfect. I can't go have a piece of cake every once in a while if I get invited to a birthday party.
Joe: Well that's not my rules. I love cake so, Ha-ha!
Tracee: I know, exactly! So I appreciate your honesty about that too!
Joe: Yeah, look I think that the one thing with the world of social media blowing up, we are getting and inside look into many peoples lives that we would have never had a look into before. You know, I think a lot of people's Facebook page or Instagram page, it's a lot healthier on their page than it is in their real life. What I think is important is to sort of say, "Hey look, nobody is perfect. There is no "good" or "bad" when it comes to eating." I talk about that in my book, this relationship to food. I'm very big on this idea of saying you know what? It's not a moral judgment. Dr. Dean Ornish, who I met while filming Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead 2, speaks to this and those are his actual words, that it's not a moral judgment. I think that's something that I'm very passionate about. I even catch myself saying, "Is this good for me or bad for me? Oh no no I've got to stop that Joe!" It's got to be that some foods are more nutrient dense, and others are less nutrient dense. The ones that are less, their kind of like the more fun foods. So in order to have those, we need to earn the right to have those. We have to spend a lot of time with our nutrient dense foods. Then we can enjoy the cake or the ice cream or the chocolate or whatever it is that you love from that fun part of town. So I'm a big believer in having this relationship that's healthy with food, not a negative one. If you think a food is bad for you, and you have it. What's going to happen? You're going to feel guilty when you have it. Then you're going to say, "you know what? I've had two scoops of ice cream, I'm a loser. I might as well eat the whole tub." That's generally what happens because you spiral down.
Tracee: Instead of just enjoying it and saying, "That tasted great!" you know?
Joe: Yeah. I think that being healthy; people say to me, "What is healthy?" I think that's a very difficult thing to describe, what is healthy. There are so many things that come into it. But I like to think about it in a very simplistic way. I'm able to do the things I want to do with ease. So that encompasses having a good mindset. A Healthy mind, healthy body, exercise, a healthy heart; all of those things that come into it will enable me to do the things I want to do with ease. Sometimes I want to have ice cream while watching a movie. I love it! I get excited and I'll laugh and I'll have fun! See I think that's actually healthy, doing that. I don't think that just because I've had maybe 300 calories of some chococolate ice cream that's got xanthan or whatever the people get all excited about. If I have that rarely, I think my body can handle it.
Tracee: Yeah. Now this reminds me of something that Dr. Ornish said to you about, if you put a "no" in front of somebody...I'm just kind of paraphrasing this a little, but if you tell somebody they can't have it, oh my goodness, you are just opening it wide open!
Joe: Red rag to a bull! People do not like being told what to do.
Tracee: Well yeah! You know what; I was just listening to this CD. This made me laugh because I was listening to it right at the time I was reading your book. There was this guy, and he thought, you know, human nature being what it is, I'm going to do this little test. So, his little boy was out playing in the back yard with a bunch of friends, and they were just hitting a baseball having a blast. He said, "Hey, you guys, I know you're out here, you're being really good and having a lot of fun, but whatever you do, do not spit on this flower." And he pointed at the flower and said, "Do you understand me? Do not spit on this flower!" So he went back inside and started watching out the window, and one by one those little boys walked up and started spitting on the flower.
Joe: And they wouldn't have done it had he not mentioned it!
Tracee: No! Ha-ha exactly! And so I thought that was such a great point. If you have a list of "Don'ts" then you're going to be going one-by-one knocking them all off. Do them all, because that's our nature.
Joe: I agree, and I think the philosophy that I've tried to maintain and tried to talk to is not about what NOT to have. It's about having MORE plant food. Let's work out ways to get more fruit, vegetables, nuts, beans, seeds, and whole grains. You know what? Juicing, smoothies, and salads, and sides, making them the star of the meal, that's a great way of doing it.
Tracee: Yeah! Now you mentioned something else that, to me it was just a light bulb moment. I thought, I think this might be part of the root of the problem. You talked about how you used to look in the mirror, and you used to say ugly things to yourself. I mean, if somebody else had said them to you, you'd be like, "hey! don't you talk to me like that!" But we say it to ourselves.
Joe: We do it to ourselves.
Tracee: And we have to pull that out at the root. I had to do that. I had to look in the mirror and just say, "I'm not going to say that to myself anymore." As a matter of fact, my daughter gave me a mug, and it says, "Hello Gorgeous!" and I'm left-handed, but I hold it with my right hand so that I can see it every morning.
Joe: Look, I think that if you're say, over the age of say 35, and you're living in the western world, I can't know for sure, but I think more than half of the people, when they wake up in the morning and they're in their birthday suit, and they get out of the shower, and they look in the mirror, I think the conversation is a pretty negative one. Maybe it's not an outspoken conversation, but it's thoughts. It might only be for the briefest of moments, that conversation internally, but it's negative. It's, "You're ugly, you're fat, you're a loser, you're a no-hoper, you're never going to amount to anything." And this, I mean this is not a great way to start your day. This is not the best pep talk that you can give yourself before you go and face the family, face your friends, face your loved ones, face your co-workers.
So to me, I think this is a really important point, this relationship with yourself, which I talk about in one of the keys that I think of staying healthy, is this personal conversation that we all have. We all have them, and have them all the time. It's about keeping them honest, yes, but positive. Focusing on all the good things about us, because there's lots of positive things about each and every one of us. We don't always have to focus on the negative things, the things that aren't working out so well. If we focus on the positives, and then bring some of that confidence to the negative ones, you know, if you're overweight or battling a chronic disease, there are steps you can take that you can move in the right direction. It's not going to happen overnight, but you can do little things that over time can amount to big things.
Tracee: So, do you think that you've conquered that? As far as, what you say to yourself now?
Joe: Oh no, no, I haven't conquered it, but I'm a lot better. I would say that, you know, most of the time, I live by principles, in terms of my lifestyle principles, that I'm very proud of. When I say most of the time, I'd say 80% of the time I'm very proud of the way that I live. I can go to bed at night and say, you know what Joe! Good day today! You did really well. You got the plants in that you wanted to get, you treated people the way that you felt that they should be treated. I wouldn't say that 80% of the time I could go to bed saying that I did the amount of exercise I would have liked to do. That's probably down at about 30%, but everything else from a lifestyle point of view apart from exercise is about 80%.
Then there's probably 20% of the time that if I divide that into half the time, say 10% of the time I could do better. It wasn't bad, but I could do better. Then there's probably 10% of the time where I go, Okay, we're going to forget about that day. That day is not going to be one that we're going to try and repeat too often. And I'm okay with those days. It's not like I think negatively about myself. I just know that was a day that I enjoyed, and overindulged, and I had fun, and I did these things. So that was good, and I enjoyed it, and I earned that because I've been so good. But you know what, we're not going to have another one of those tomorrow. So it's that kind of thing. So definitely I haven't conquered it, but I'm much better at it now, and I find that it's a momentum thing. That the more you do it, the more you practice, the better and easier it comes. You stop yourself. You can find yourself when you're being negative on yourself, and it becomes more of the minority rather than the majority.
Tracee: Right, and I guess I'm asking that because that's something that I've had to work on. You know, I think that sometimes things take root. Maybe a teacher said something to you and you took it to heart when you were 6 years old, and you don't realize years later that it grew into a big ugly weed and you had to pull it out and replace that thought.
Joe: Sure...Sure...Yeah I think in my last book I talked about this thing called "cultural DNA." We all know what DNA is; you get passed on from generations. But cultural DNA is what actually you pick up in your own environment, who you communicate with, all conversations, all actions, they have some meaning or they go into the makeup of who you are, how you behave, and how you react. Most people don't take too kindly to being put down, and being told that they're no good. But a lot of people have experienced that in their life, whether it's from family members, whether it's from school, working, they experience that. And nobody likes that. Nobody likes being told they're not worthy. And so it does have a big impact.
Joe: I think if you look at what plants can do for you, plants can really fill a big hole there. They can really help repair a lot of these relationships by giving you strength, making you look good, making you feel good, giving you confidence. That enables you to deal with some of these problems in a much more positive light. So, plants are incredibly important in our life. If they weren't around, (I mean, they were here before us, right?) we wouldn't have the C02 being taken in in the evenings by the trees to 02. They give us shelter with their structure of building things, they give us warmth, they provide nutrients from their vegetables and their fruits and their nuts, their beans, their seeds. I mean this is an incredible partnership, the unity between mother nature and humanity. If you show me someone who's broken, i.e. chronically ill, obese, how I would define they're broken. There are probably two relationships in their life that are broken, their relationship with plants, and their relationship with themselves. So let's start mending those two. Let's start getting those back on track, because they're within our control. We don't need to be worrying about what's going on with Isis or what's going on in Syria. We can't do much about that. There's a lot of worry, people are running around worrying about the price of oil and all of these things. I mean, we can't control that, but you know what we can control? We can control our relationship with our self and we can control our relationship with plants.
Tracee: Yes! Something you said in your book, you said, "the last two feet of freedom is between your hand and your mouth." I like that! That's the first time I've ever heard that was from you.
Joe: Yeah and it's true! This is our domain. There's not too many things that I'm an expert on, but there's one thing I am an expert on, and that's me. I'm an expert on me. So, I can speak with more authority on me than anyone else. So that means the things that are to do with me, fixing me, or dealing with me, or improving relationships with me; I can take a front row seat and get involved in that. I'm front and center in that conversation. I think there are things I have observed, and I talk about it in the book, that these two relationships are key to happiness, and key to be healthy, and key to stay strong, and be productive.
Tracee: Yeah! And something that you said too is that we know what to do, we do.
Joe: Yeah, I mean we have an expression in the office called "KIVDI," which is an acronym for "Knowing it verses Doing it." So, I'm fascinated by this sort of phenomenon that's going on in the world, where people know it, but they don't do it. Why is it that some people do it and others don't? What's that gap? How do we bridge that gap? So that's something that keeps me up at night thinking about things. Why do I do things, some things I know I do really well and others I don't. It's interesting stuff.
Tracee: Different things motivate us, don't they? I mean, for one person you could put an award out in front of one person, and they might jump through hoops to get that. Then for another, they may not care about that.
Joe: Yeah, absolutely! We're all different. But there are certain things when it comes to knowledge about your own health, I mean...If there were twenty of us in a room and a big tiger came running in, and it hadn't eaten in a month, I guarantee you, no one would be sitting around just taking it easy, everyone would be ducking for the exits. We have this instinct that there's danger. There's that fight or flight where you have to get out there because we can't fight a tiger. We want to protect ourselves. We want to live longer. In that instance, we all do the same thing. If we had the same twenty people in a room and we all bring in say, 20 pizzas, a bunch of soda, a whole bunch of trans fats and whatever, people would dive in to eat it, but not realizing that in the long-term it's a similar outcome to the tiger. Their life is going to be less productive, and they are going to have pain and suffering. So, you can tell people that's going to be the outcome; obviously not if you have it once or twice, or every now and then, but if you live on it; if you decide to get your nutrients from that part of town; if that's where you decide to get your energy in your body, you're going to break.
Tracee: Right! Every 6 months we are a new set of cells, and so what are those cells made from? They are made from what we put into our mouths. So if that is sub-standard material, then we are going to suffer for it a few months down the road.
Joe: Sure. The way that I like to think about it is that, we are life. And if you want to sustain life, you've got to eat life.
Tracee: Right! Yeah definitely! Now you brought Phil into the book. And I really like that he actually wrote in here, and just shared his heart, and talked about what it was like. I don't know what it is, but there's something inside of me that roots for Phil. I just want to see him figure it out once and for all. I just appreciate the honesty about that. I saw that he was missing something in his life and he's trying to get that back.
Joe: Yeah, look I think that Phil was incredibly successful at maintaining his position of good health (the weight loss plus being healthy) for a good 3 years, and then he had a crisis in his life, and his third marriage broke down. He felt helpless, and he felt like he had failed, and he regressed. Look, I understand that. You know, I get it. The thing with Phil was that he had a community there that was there for him, but he didn't utilize it. Instead of going and putting the hand up and asking for support, he cut himself off.
So that's a big lesson. When we were first talking about this movie (Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead 2), we were talking to Phil when he was in great shape, and we wanted to showcase Phil in great shape. We didn't realize that this had happened because he didn't tell us either. So, there was no question about showing Phil being in great shape, or showing Phil where he was. We had to be honest with the audience because you know, as much as it's sad what happened to Phil, it's also given other people knowledge to say, "Wow, if I do this, and make changes, I've got to make sure that I've got those connections in place, so that if I do struggle I can put my hand up."
Tracee: Definitely, I mean, something like that happening can be equally as Inspiring; sometimes even more so because again, you talk about the honesty. We're being honest about what we need, and what others can share with us and give to us. You know, it was inspiring, even though it was sad.
Joe: Look, it is unfortunate. I'm not going to lie, it's disappointing for Phil, but I look at this and I go, well, there's still opportunity and hope for Phil. He can get it back.
Tracee: Yeah. He said he's lost 280 pounds or something?
Joe: Yeah. The community and the support group is there for him. So he's got the opportunity and people care about Phil, and we care about Phil. But, you know, it's like anything, like I was saying earlier, the relationship between Phil and Phil, with himself, that has to be a strong one.
Tracee: So, in this new book, if there was one thing that you wanted somebody to read and hope that they would take away from it, what would that be?
Joe: *takes a deep breath* Well, I think that's different for everybody, and I talk about this you know, we've got 7 keys that we've got. You know, the relationship to food, your diet and changing that and altering that more towards plants, we've got changing habits, a whole chapter on community, we've got mindfulness, maintain the machine (that's exercise), respecting yourself and loving yourself, and so, I think I just mentioned 7. I might have missed one. I think that was 7. But they're the topics, and so it may be that you can get some value out of two of them, but five of them, I'm pretty good. Thanks for the advice Joe and it was an interesting read but I've got that one licked.
So I don't think there's like one thing, I think that there's nuggets of gold information. If you were to ask me what's the one thing I would take out of my own book, it's probably more of 'Maintain the machine,' it's more about the exercise, it's more about creating this muscle memory, and getting more movement. I have a busy lifestyle. I have a crazy schedule. I'm always on the move. I wake up in different places all the time. I don't have a local gym that I can go do and I can work at it on a schedule. I'm just constantly trying to juggle things around. And of course when you're doing that, the things that get lost or get marked off the list first, is your own "Joe" time. So whether that's golf, I used to play a lot of golf and I don't play golf much anymore. You know, the exercise gets crunched, the family time gets crunched. So it's about trying to get a balance, and so maintaining the machine one is probably the one that I've got to work harder on in my own book because no one's perfect.
Tracee: I understand, there's things that I think that, juicing is easy for me because I have to. It's part of my job I mean, I have to create new juices for people, so that part is good, but when you talk about having a sugar addiction, from my earliest memories I've been hooked on sugar. I just kind of have to treat it as though it's an addiction. I just have to stay away from it as much as possible, and like you say, keep the "good stuff" coming in.
Joe: Yeah, and that's a good way to handle it, if it works for you. Some other people, like me, I don't think I could go just no sugar because that restriction would be too much for me and I would probably splurge too much. So I try my best to regulate it. It's not easy, but I try my best. So far it's working out okay, as I said, I'm not perfect, but I do my best. So, you know, I think that what you were saying earlier before we started shooting, we're a similar age, I'm still older than you but, the age that we grew up and the time that we grew up, those years in the 70's and 80's, there was a lot of sugar out there. It was not talked about. It as like, have fun, enjoy, and just knock yourself out. So, we didn't really didn't know, and our parents didn't know. And we were just out there doing what we do. That's life. Now we are aware. Now we're conscious. Now we've got to, as I talk about in key #3, (which is) change some habits, and if I get stressed, I've got to work out a way that I don't go to sugar, I've got to maybe try something else. Have some grapes, yes I know there's sugar in them but, the grapes can help me just as much as the chocolate can.
Tracee: Ha-ha yeah! When you said that you'd sit and eat a bowl of cereal with 5 spoonfuls of sugar and watch Gilligan's Island and Brady Bunch, those were the two shows that I watched!
Joe: Oh yeah. I Dream of Genie, Hogan's Heroes, I mean, the list goes on, Bewitched. You know, the list goes on.
Tracee: Those were all the ones I watched too!
Joe: They were big in Australia.
Tracee: Oh really!
Joe: Very big.
Tracee: Yeah, well they were in America too.
Joe: Well it was like a 51st state there back in those days.
Tracee: Ah okay, so, similar background there. I did the same thing. Those were my shows.
Joe: Yeah. I would get a whole bunch of wheat bix, which I don't know if they've got them here, they're like a vita brick, and I would get like ten of them, put milk in, put all the sugar on and mix it all up. This is like an hour and a half before dinner and I'm eating all of this. I'm a growing lad.
Tracee: *laughing* Your Mom let you, huh?
Joe: Oh I was as thin as a rake but I was a growing lad. I mean, I ate alot when I was like 14-15. I think I set my parents broke even with how much food I ate.
Tracee: Ha-ha! That's funny! Your Mom, you said that she missed seeing you. This must be hard on her, for you to be traveling like this.
Joe: Yeah well my Mom and Dad, through the power of social media they can follow me on Instagram and Facebook and actually see me more there than they do in person. What I'm doing is a global thing. I spend a lot of time in the U.S., Canada, and the UK; as well as Australia. I'm going back to Australia for a short period soon to do some book tour work, and I'll always carve out 3 or 4 days if I can. But there's also lots of friends down there, so, it's a balancing act between family and friends, and in the old days when I had a girlfriend it was even harder because you're trying to balance everything. So it was all very, very very tough. And it still is tough.
Tracee: Yeah. Well, you know, sometimes when, I suppose you didn't see when you were making the movie for the first time, that this is, to me, I look at it as part of your destiny, what you're doing right now. You probably had no idea going into it that, sometimes when that happens we answer destiny's call and we end up having to make sacrifices that we didn't expect to have to do. And you've done that and you probably have done a lot more than you realize. I mean, just trying to put this event together, I couldn't believe just the overwhelming support in Tampa, and everybody just wanting to jump onboard, like what can I do, how can I be a part of this? Just having, in such a short time, just so many people that it's like, oh my goodness, how are we going to fit everybody in?
Joe: Yeah. It amazes me when I go all over the world at how many people are aware of my film, and I pinch myself because I don't view myself that way. I'm still just Joe from the old days. I don't think about it in any way differently, so I have to short of shake myself sometimes and I go, oh yeah that's right, I do that now, you know?
Joe: Yeah, so, look I think that destiny is possible. I think that a lot of people are trying to be happy in their life. And to me, happiness is, you know that's fun, happiness is good, but I think a lot of it's about purpose, because the more purpose you have then you can achieve happiness. So I certainly would agree with you that right now I have a purpose, and I'm enjoying that purpose. I'm hoping to spend more focused energy and concentrated time and create more content that can help people, inspire people, educate people, but above all entertain people because at the end of the day, if you can entertain them, and they can feel good about it, then you've got a much better chance at connecting.
Tracee: Yeah, definitely. Well I just thank you, for spending this time with me today...
Joe: Ah you're very welcome!
Tracee: I just really enjoyed this book. I couldn't put it down.
Joe: That's very nice to hear. It takes about 6 months to write a book. It's a lot of work and I've got a good team behind me that helps me with it. But it's always nice to hear when someone like you actually appreciates it and enjoys it so, that means a lot so thank you.
Tracee: Yes you're welcome and thank you so much.
Joe: Juice on!
Tracee: You too!