Health and Vitality -- It's About Community

Along with eating right and exercise, Web-based communities are emerging as a third prong in a plan to not only reclaim but maintain health and vitality.
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Every night I set an alarm clock. Some mornings before the alarm goes off, I spring out of bed with an abundance of energy ready to take on the day ahead. Other mornings I just want to roll over, and hit the snooze button. This morning I hit the snooze button. There was no rhyme or reason to it, I grabbed another hour and sacrificed a visit to the gym. A visit I had promised myself the night before that I would make. Some days I live up to that promise, but most days I don't. I used to beat myself up for breaking that promise. I'd feel guilty, feel like a failure. Before I'd even had a shower, I would already have a negative outlook on my day. Not anymore.

Now I place far more emphasis on what goes into my system. What I eat and drink. How it was prepared. How old it is or more importantly how fresh it is. How colorful is it. I'm not talking about artificial color, real color, the kind mother nature dishes up for us. I don't have a bad word to say about exercise and I am all for it. I understand just how important it is and I wish I was able to be as excited about it before my workout as I am when I'm finished my workout. My goal has less to do with how I look and more to do with how I feel. I am on a quest for wellness and a life that is medication free and healthy. To accomplish that each day the investment I make is in Fruit and Vegetables.

So I got up and started my daily regime. On my best days my routine entails a fresh fruit juice of either pineapple, watermelon, grapefruit or apple. Then by mid morning I launch into a green veggie based fresh squeezed juice. This is usually heavily weighted towards kale, Swiss collard, spinach, parsley, ginger and some apple to sweeten it a touch. Lunchtime comes and I start to chew for the first time that day. A salad based lunch is usually on the menu. If I'm still hungry in the afternoon I'll grab another green juice and then by the time dinner comes along I pretty much eat like most Americans. This is how I've gone from somebody that ate a very small amount of Fruit and Veg to someone that now eats five to six times what the average American consumes when it comes to fruit and vegetables. And I don't miss my old ways at all. In fact, by the time dinner time comes around I have no guilt, no feeling sorry for myself and no negative feelings about what I've eaten that day. I've been doing this for over 3 years and I have not taken a single pill for all that time. I've been sick once and only for 3 days. I tell you this because for the previous 8 years I took pills night and day, every day just to stay alive. Forget the 100 lbs I've lost. That's a great side effect of this new way of life.

I wrote a lot about this in my last blog entry for The Huffington Post and my documentary film which premieres nationwide on April 1st Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead chronicles my journey to wellness. The film documents my journey across the USA, from pill popping 310lbs obese Joe on the east coast to a healthy disease free 220lbs Joe on the west coast.

But this is just the first part of the story. What I learned as I traveled across the country was the importance of community.

Along with eating right and exercise, Web-based communities are emerging as a third prong in a plan to not only reclaim but maintain health and vitality. These communities allow us to make real and authentic connections with other people and provide valuable support.

Every day I have to make the choice to keep my regime going. Every day I need to recommit myself to a healthy lifestyle packed with fruits, vegetables and lots of activity. But all great things in life are worth working for and I know with a little community behind me -- a support network I can lean on -- I can stay the course.

During the making of this film I talked to hundreds of American about issues of weight, diet and wellness; and during advance screenings of the film I have spoken to hundreds more. On my journey, the people I met made up MY community of support that made change possible. What I have heard over and over again from them was a desire for easily accessible information and real support that could help THEM lead healthier lifestyles. The people I met were looking for an anchor.

It's undeniable that change is more achievable with support and community. While filming in New York, I met Joe Kramer. He was 400 lbs at the age of 29. With the help of Dr. Fuhrman, a 60-day juice fast and support from me and his community, Joe shed 90 lbs and has a whole new lease on life. I met Fred Diaz at a screening for my film at Whole Foods. Although Fred worked at Whole Foods, he had not fully adopted a healthy lifestyle with lots of fruits and vegetables. Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead spoke to him and he took part in the company's immersion program. With the help of that community, he dropped 87 lbs.

Knowing community is key, led me to create "Reboot Your Life," a company centered around an online community network. Our meeting place is, an inclusive, non-judgment making place where every day people can learn how to juice and how to incorporate more fruits and vegetable into our diet. Ours is a mission of wellness not necessarily a mission for weight loss, but sometimes these things come hand-in-hand. At this site, anyone can sign up and get step-by-step instructions on how to do a customized Reboot juice program. It is supported by a nutritionist, a library of recipes, daily meal plans, research and community tools that allow you to share your stories and Reboot experiences.

I needed community to change. Most people do. Reboot Your Life and Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead are my ways of paying it forward. They help me get out of bed each morning and they can help you too. Juice on, Joe.

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