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The 6 influencers of life: How Joe Cross will make you happier

The 6 influencers of life: How Joe Cross will make you happier

Want to feel happier? Want to have more energy? Want to feel and look better? Then keep reading, and if you like the sound of it, watch the movies.

Our health is incredibly complex, but it is made up of 6 main factors:

  • Whether you smoke
  • What you consume (food and drink)
  • How much you exercise
  • How much sleep you get
  • How much stress you have
    and last, and definitely not least:
  • Your network and sense of belonging

Joe Cross has just released his second movie (Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead 2) which I cannot recommend more (but watch both!). In the first instalment he went on a juicing journey losing a load of weight, in the process he came off all of his medication and became happier, more energetic and started to think more clearly. The story is about happiness, something we can all relate to. The theme of weight loss can be off-putting for many who can’t relate to being “fat”; but for me, the whole experience shows how important diet is related to happiness.

Before Joe’s first movie, a statistic that stuck in his mind was that 70% of illness is caused by lifestyle choices. This means that 30% is just bad luck: genetics; wrong place wrong time; you can’t do much about it. But wait, a huge amount of illness is caused by those 6 factors – so he said lets see if life improves by sorting out some of those external factors for at least a few months.

After an extreme 60 day juice fast (consult a doctor before attempting anything like this), he lost a load of weight and was already seeing clear improvements in his medical conditions – weening himself off of all his medication after just a few months of more good eating. He felt better, looked better, and most importantly he was clearly happier! What a fantastic and inspirational journey.

This second movie shows many more success stories, and it follows what happens after you lose the weight…then what? People say you look great, you feel fantastic and most important – you are healthy…job done right? Well, not quite. There isn’t an issue of people losing weight in the world, but it is keeping it off and staying happy that is difficult. It is difficult because life still gets in the way – stress, work and relationships can play a huge factor. This is where it is more obvious that the movie isn’t about a diet, it’s about life.

Joe’s method of documenting is “fly on the wall”, he shows what the world is like, what people say and think without “preaching” a certain perspective. Joe confesses to not being a doctor and not knowing enough about science to make claims, but he can share his personal experience, he can exhibit other success stories. He wants to promote the “When Harry Met Sally Moment” – I’ll have what she’s having.

Over the past few years, I have shown his first movie to about 50 people and watched it over 10 times myself. Almost everyone being inspired by it, but there are some more skeptical reactions, e.g. “a juice diet can’t be good for you”. If you watch the movie, you will see case studies that show how it has worked for a load of people – but you yourself obviously don’t have to go to such extremes. The main lesson is that increasing more fruit and vegetable intake is clearly good for you.

Joe is a great advocate because he has experienced the whole journey first hand, he used to live the unhealthy lifestyle, and of course still desires it. He doesn’t preach that everyone should eat vegan all the time, he knows that isn’t achievable for most people, and its not fun! In fact he himself enjoys spending 20% of his life in the “fun part of town” whilst maintaing a diet that promotes an increase from 5% to 40% (of calorific intake) from fruit and vegetable to boost the body’s micronutrient intake.

Still unconvinced? On social media I have seen and heard so many testimonies of people curing their clinical depression through diet, curing migraines and curing arthritis. Many regular pill takers are now clean off their meds. Simply from increasing their fruit and vegetable intake – helping to boost the power of their body.

Joe has simply saved many lives.

So, if you are interested in having a happy life worth living, then you should watch his films: Fat Sick and Nearly Dead 2 is now out on iTunes.

Joe Cross, my friend Ata and myself at a talk in London 2014 by Joe
Joe Cross, my friend Ata and myself at a talk in London 2014 by Joe
London to Auschwitz: Day 23, Ústí nad Orlicí to Opava, 140km today, 2075km total

London to Auschwitz: Day 23, Ústí nad Orlicí to Opava, 140km today, 2075km total

Yesterday was a tough day and a long one. I remembered a 10 mile section that stank of manure and the whole area was covered with flies which kept latching onto my legs. You learn to keep your mouth closed in places like this and breathe only through your nose. The people were so miserable throughout the whole day and it really was quite painful with the strong headwind. It was all just rubbish.

But somehow when I reached the hostel for the night I was fine, everything felt good. The long and tiring day which made me want to throw the bike away and get on the next train was over. Somehow the memory of the pain had fallen away. I felt good and the suffering was forgotten. I was living life at that moment in the evening and everything was great.

Two small deer ran across the field ahead whilst climbing one of the hills
Two small deer ran across the field ahead whilst climbing one of the hills

However today also started badly. There was something wrong with the bike. I stopped to oil the chain and pump up the tyres by the side of the road, but back on the bike, my speed was still cripplingly slow. I had somehow destroyed all the muscles in my legs and I was just unable to pedal anymore. I spent a good 2 hours at this 12kmph speed (7.5mph – not that much faster than walking). I figured I just had to press on and knock off as many miles as I could.

I was in a lot of pain both physically and mentally. I had a long way to go and my legs were having none of it. I tried to stand up and push harder, but I couldn’t sustain it for more than a minute – maximum.

Suddenly it became clear what was wrong with the bike and my legs. I reached the crest of a hill. I had been climbing a gradient for several hours, but was unable to tell by the landscape as it was consistent and continuous. I was so relieved to suddenly be zooming at about 50kmph downhill without pedaling for almost 30 minutes before stopping to buy many more energy bars.

The roads had a lot of switch backs like this!
The roads had a lot of switch backs like this!

Alas the hills didn’t stop. Suddenly I found my speed was back to the snail pace of earlier in the day. I was climbing again but this time I knew it. I spent about 2 hours and 20 kilometers doing nothing but slowly climb through the trees on a lonesome road. Pulling into a parking area, I sat on the grass verge with my head hanging low. I wasn’t at the top, it was endless.

I was not enjoying myself. I was not happy. I contemplated why I was doing this. Surely I could have just driven here? Or taken my motorbike? Or even taken the train, or better yet flown? The whole motivation of the trip crumbled away in my mind. What was the point? Why should I be on my pushbike suffering like this? I was mentally defeated. I tried to motivate myself back up by thinking about the pain I had overcome just yesterday. Surely it will all be better once I get there? Thinking about my original keenness I had for the trip and remembering of the highlights so far, I managed to pick myself up and get back on the bike.

Eventually I reached the top to find myself not needing to pedal much for a good 30 kilometres. The sun came out and I was singing again.

Sunset on the open road
Sunset on the open road

When I first arrived in Germany a couple of weeks ago, I didn’t know what to expect in terms of cycling. The roads were perfectly smooth and the drivers a lot more courteous. Now I have been in the Czech Republic for almost a week; the first couple of days I was incredibly frustrated at the quality of the roads, despite them not being that different from English roads I’m used to. I was just used to the smooth German roads and it was annoying to be back on the bumpy broken tarmac. Today, however, the roads were the worst they have ever been but I was expecting it, I didn’t even think about complaining.

My point is that we, as humans, get used to things. Whether they be the quality of the road, perhaps living with your parents at home and having a full fridge, or just always having loved ones around you to support you. Putting yourself in a situation where you don’t have these things is tough. Unfamiliarity is difficult. This is a lesson I personally learn again and again, and of course humanity learns it over and over.

There are so many analogies that you can create from familiarity: having a loved one pass away, moving to a new town perhaps for university, if you live in the South of The United States of America then it might be rare to encounter a homosexual. These things might be tough at first, yet somehow we can get used to them.

I have had uncontrollable emotional responses throughout this trip – both good and bad. When rationalised, I could overcome the challenging ones, but it wasn’t easy.

I have tried to relate these human feelings to the World Wars: I imagine that if you are used to fighting all day it becomes strangely normal. If you are an SS guard then perhaps seeing and inflicting suffering unfortunately becomes normality. From some accounts I have read, people in concentration camps manage to put aside the poor treatment and take pleasure in other small things.

We are all adaptable creatures but remember there are always limits. If you are a good person then there is only so much pain you can inflict on others; if you are being tortured there are limits to how much you can take before you give up. Regular evaluation is always valuable to work out whether these limits have been reached – but you need to push through the limits to know where they are. Mine was probably a few days ago but it’s valuable that I now know that.

I have just a couple of days left of this trip. I have had to overcome low points of pain but lived some incredible highs (probably endorphin related!). The lessons learnt from this trip don’t have to just be in regard to a physical challenge, but they can relate to any challenge. Whether it be a project at work, a personal project, completing a course or just reading a book. Something that you know is good for you but sometimes hard to get up and do. I hope that you reading this can relate it to something in your life and hopefully this can spur you on to do something you know you should do, but it’s just difficult right now.

Get up. Do it. Be happy.

DAY 24, OPAVA, CZECH REPUBLIC TO KATOWICE, POLAND, 105KM TODAY, 2180KM TOTAL >>

London to Auschwitz: Day 13, Engleheim to Frankfurt 50km today 1250km total

London to Auschwitz: Day 13, Engleheim to Frankfurt 50km today 1250km total

Today was a very relaxed day. Only needing to complete 50km before my friend Mathias got off work at 1900 led to a chilled pace on the bike. Waking up at 6am I saw the weather forecast updated from being an absolute downpour expected when I went to sleep, to no rain at all for the entire day! I decided a lie in would be acceptable and went back to sleep relieved.

Yesterday was very reflective and yet filled with extreme happiness. Perhaps I have an endorphin addiction (in fact a few of my friends say I do) and that kicked it all off; or perhaps it was a real experience. Either way, today involved a slight come down from it all. I had expected heavy rain and was ready for it last night; this morning’s forecast caused a complete change of mental state expecting it to be completely clear. Feeling great I set off wearing more than sufficient clothing to stay warm. Then the heavens opened and it started raining cats and dogs; within an hour of setting off I was drenched to the bone, leaving me feeling a bit crap.

Rain isn’t really an issue by itself. When you exercise in the rain you stay warm (think football or rugby); also things dry out and no worry about my possessions locked away in waterproof bags; as long as you don’t sit in wet clothes for an extended period it is absolutely fine for your body. However there are still a few issues whilst cycling:

1) Brakes don’t work so well which can be an issue if you ever need to stop.
2) Manhole covers, painted road markings and of course the many tram lines in Frankfurt all become very very slippery. In fact Loren (my American friend) managed to fall off his bike on one of these very tram lines and scrape his whole leg.
3) When travelling fast you get a big line of water (or in my case mud) up your back. It also comes off the front wheel to hit you in your face: so it’s difficult to see.

These things lead to quite an unpleasant experience even when prepared for it. Nonetheless I shall not be broken!

An eagle statue overlooks the oncoming clouds on top of a vineyard
An eagle statue overlooks the oncoming clouds on top of a vineyard

After reaching Mainz I stopped for a cappuccino at a busy breakfast bar. I managed to sit next to a lady who told me she met an Englishman who had cycled through her town a month ago. He was from London and on his way to Istanbul (she said he was called Jake M…). I wonder how many conversations like this are missed because we sit one seat over or go to a different breakfast place.

Continuing on in the rain I shortly arrived at the skyscraper filled Frankfurt and immediately met heavy traffic. Snaking my way through the cars I narrowly avoided several close calls on the slippery tram lines by regaining control of the rear of the bike. Eventually I reached a cafe where I would immediately disrobe and put on all new dry clothes stored away in my panniers.

I then met Mathias at his apartment; after a quick shower we headed out for a traditional Frankfurt meal. Applwoy is a cider like drink that is a little sour. Normally mixed with Fanta, or in our case fizzy water, we took a 5x300ml jug (1.5L for those who can’t math). This accompanied our Frankfurt schnitzel with special herb and cheese sauce which I inhaled.

Applwoi and Mathias in Frankfurt
Applwoi and Mathias in Frankfurt

Mathias is a friend of a friend who I only met today; however it is extremely nice to meet someone so friendly and hospitable. Travelling alone is difficult when in a different place each night, but this was a great change of routine. We got on really well and because he has a rugby match in the morning we can both get a much needed early night. Interactions like this make travelling worthwhile!

DAY 14, FRANKFURT TO ASCHAFFENBURG 45KM TODAY 1295KM TOTAL >>

Mackerel and Vegetables

Mackerel and Vegetables

Mackerel is a healthy fish that contains lots of good oils including omega 3 fatty acids.

It barely needs anything added to it (especially if it is pre-seasoned). A bit of seasoning: some salt, pepper, chilli sprinkled over it.

I have got into a routine of adding vinegar to the mackerel before heating in the oven at 180 degrees for about 10-15 minutes.

Vinegar is supposed to break down the fats and I find it also brings out a great flavour. Generously pour regular vinegar over the mackerel before putting into the oven.

Before grilling the Mackerel and Veg

 

 

I also chopped some carrots and parsnips together with some broccoli. Poured over some olive oil, added some salt and pepper and popped in the oven for about 30 minutes to bring out the flavour of the veg.

Some people were a bit sceptical of grilling broccoli, but it frays the “leaves” and finishes them with a nice crispy taste (almost like seaweed in Chinese restaurants).

Seasoned Veg

 

The final meal is lean and healthy for a small lunch/dinner main meal. I recommend having this with the broccoli soup to start and it allows you to use up the stalk of the broccoli too! Server Mackerel and Veg