By Joe Romano,
Joe and his physician, Dr. Reilly Coch, having fun with the smoothie bike at the Borg Warner Wellness Fair.
The story starts in a dark place. I was 56 years old, and had lived a life of eating and doing what I wanted. What I wanted did not include fast food joints, or buckets of high fructose corn syrup, nor did I subsist on TV dinners and mac-and-cheese. I actually ate organic food almost exclusively, but I ate my share of meat, dairy, fat, and sugar. Yes, it was farm-raised beef and organic butter and organic sugar and much of the time I would choose even the "best" versions of those categories — I usually ate lean meats like chicken, only used skim milk, and tried to use agave or other alternatives to refined sugar. Even so, a sedentary life of such eating had me tipping the scales at almost 300 pounds! But as it was pretty evenly spread, I was able to do a lot and I did.
Eventually, I found myself in a situation where, after a particularly stressful few weeks, I was waylaid by my own body. The first notable symptom was an inability to raise my left arm. Soon, torturous pain had spread to all my limbs and I could not get up off the couch unassisted. Visits to a series of doctors — general practitioners, rheumatologists, gastroenterologists, and other specialists — and dozens of blood samples would yield no cause for the pain; I had no arthritis, gout, Lyme disease or anything that would explain it.
I could not sleep; searing pain in my shoulders kept me up all night. I was taking 16 Advil gel caps a day to try to ease the pain. Nothing was working; nothing helped; I wept most days and secretly thought I was slowly dying.
I went to a local chiropractor, who, after a brief but thorough consultation, suggested changes to my diet. He pointed me toward a movie — "Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead" — that chronicled the journey of two men as they embarked on long-term juice fasts to relieve a rare illness and lose weight in the process. I committed instantly and declared that after the holidays, on January first, I would embark upon a fast of my own.
I did exactly that. While the folks in the movie had undergone a 60-day fast, I committed to at least that, but left it open-ended. I had done long-term water and cleansing fasts in the past, so I knew I could do it. I also knew how to listen to my body; it would tell me when it was time to stop.
Armed with a juicer and a mission, I juiced every day for 75 days without a single bite or taste of solid food. Soon the weight began to drop from my bones. The effect of providing such concentrated plant nutrients to my body, while withholding all of the toxins and other additives found in many foods, opened my body to the work my chiropractor was doing. Soon I was feeling relief from the pain, then increased range of motion. I was never hungry and I felt better every day.
I took advantage of the release from my shackles and began to walk for at least 45 minutes a day.
By the end of the 75 days I had lost 80 pounds. I was a new person, so while I began by reintroducing food very safely, after a few months the imp inside me wanted to really test the waters. I reintroduced dairy and meat to see the effect. I experienced almost instant pain and contraction!
I had learned enough, so very quickly I became what I called a "reluctant vegan." It continued to work and I continue to follow the vegan path to this day, with no reluctance whatsoever.
After a few months, I realized that I was still overweight — in fact, obese — so I decided to try a juice fast again. This time I went for 60 days. After losing what I had gained back during my "experimental" period and some muscle I had gained through exercise, this second fast netted me a total loss of over 100 pounds!
My new body was incredible. Newly able, I decided to try running. Since I had been walking 45 minutes a day, I decided I would try to jog for something close to that. I was able to, and found out at the end that I had run (with some short walking breaks) for over three miles. I had run a 5K!
For the last few months I have been running this distance every single day; I even entered a 5K race. Just last week, I ran my first 10K. As I run, sometimes a song from the 70s or 80s will cycle through my playlist, reminding me that I couldn't run like this even 30 years ago!
Join me on Thursday, Nov. 15 at GreenStar, and I'll talk about what I've learned, what worked for me, and what might work for you, too, whether you're considering going on a long juice fast or simply adding juice to your current diet. In this class, I'll discuss all aspects of juicing — from nutritional concerns to types of juicers — and offer many tips for ways you can make juicing a part of your healthy lifestyle.
Also, during this class, GreenStar will inaugurate its Juicer Loan Program. We realize that investing in a juicer can carry a steep cost for trying something new. Attendees will get the first chance to borrow a juicer through this innovative new program.