Inspirational film Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead finished filming about three years ago. It’s from Australian entrepreneur Joe Cross, and is about his odyssey across America. He speaks out on the virtues of juicing to any and everyone who would listen to his story. Along the way he meets a downtrodden trucker, Phil Staples, in Arizona who happens to suffer from the same uncommon disease, called chronic urticaria.
Part of the mission that Joe Cross set out on when he began filming his documentary was to discover if the foods he was eating were connected to his disease. <Click here for interview.> As he travels along the US from East to West, learning and sharing with everyday, average Americans, we meet Phil.
He’s a big guy. He’s so big, in fact, that he doesn’t really walk, he sort of shuffles from truck stop greasy spoon to his semi-truck. Cross interviews him and discovers that he also suffers from the same illness and is taking many medications. You easily get the feeling, watching this real-life person in the film, that he is suffering and without much hope. When Cross offers him help, you just know he’s not going to take it. He drives away in his semi with a sample of the green juice as a parting gift from Cross.
For those like Phil, who have a lifetime of bad choices and forty years behind them, those bad choices add up. I remember watching the film and thinking, that man will never pick up the phone. He’s too far gone, too sad, and just worn out.
Time passes in the real world, but in the movie it’s a matter of minutes. The film shifts direction, and if you have already watched FS&ND then you already know that Phil makes that call and accepts help. He transforms his life by losing a tremendous amount of weight.
In the real world,Â the film and the juice re-boot are really taking the US by storm. I wanted to know what happened to Phil? Did he get off the meds? Did he keep the weight off? How much did he end up losing? How long did it take? As a film watcher I wanted to know more about this guy, and below is what I discovered about the man that is Phil Staples.
Allie Hanley: So it’s been almost four years since Joe Cross started his film and the movement behind FS&ND.
Phil Staples: Well a little over three years for my section.
AH: After watching the film, it’s apparent that you are the real heart and soul of the film. Go back to that moment in the movie where you’ve met Joe, he offers you his help, and you pull away in your semi-truck.
PS: To be honest, he had told me that he talked to a bunch of people and I thought that we did our thing, and that was the end of it. So, I kind of drove off thinking that was a great guy. He was very honest, and caring. But I figured my section would be on the cutting room floor and I didn’t think that that much would be made of it.
AH: As you pulled away and I was watching the film I thought, “that guy will never call Joe.” So were you thinking, yeah that guy was nice, but I’m just gonna keep doing what I’m doing? Or, yeah I should call him. I’m very interested in what took you from being someone who was thinking about it, to someone who acted on it?
PS: Well, I thought that maybe I could do it on my own like he was doing. I kind of figured I wouldn’t make it into the documentary. His personality, his heart, and the fact that he was caring about me out there in the parking lot, kind of sparked something.
Before I had talked to Joe I was feeling really dark and morose. I was over-weight, I was sick, and I didn’t think a whole lot of people cared about me. So my life was just going from city to city in a semi. I loved my family but I don’t think they thought about me. It was just my own dark thoughts.
So I kind of thought, well, at least one person cares about me. A stranger in a parking lot from Australia. And it was weird that we had the same condition when I was driving away. Here’s this Australian gentleman, that has the same thing as me, and he’s getting off his medication. So I thought that maybe I could do the same thing.
I left with that. I figured I had my little bag of junk food, but I didn’t really want it anymore after that. I actually had the cup of free juice for a couple of hundred miles. I was nursing it along, and I thought that it was pretty good to me. It was different, it was fresh, it was good. It was not the stuff I was use to buying off of truck stops.
AH: So you drove a couple hundred miles drinking the mean green?
PS: Yeah, I actually thought it was pretty good. I drove quite a while sipping on it. I drove from Winslow Arizona, until I got to the border of Mexico, because I was headed to Denver with the load. I was actually sad that it was gone. I didn’t have a juicer to make more.
AH: So the film FS&ND came out almost two years ago in very limited distribution. Now, it’s being offered massively to the public from several platforms, including Netflix. A few weeks ago when I reached out to you, the re-boot program being handled by Joe had like 40,000 members, now it has way over a 100,000. While at the same time, when we connected you had maybe 300 friends on Facebook. Now I see it’s more than 3,000 in just a few weeks. People are stopping by from all over the world thanking you for being an inspiration. What’s that like? You are an average-Joe American, and suddenly you are thrust into this spotlight of praise.
PS: It makes me feel great. It means that this film is reaching people in a way that they know that they can do it. It’s not a boring documentary. It does have facts and information in the beginning. But it has a heart. And people can feel that. Seeing people friend me and wanting to say “Hi” is humbling to me. I love it. Actually the film has now reached the Walmart store that I work at.
This guy came in to purchase paint. And he kept looking at me. He said, “You look awfully familiar, are you sure I don’t know you from somewhere?” I had my name tag on, “Phil.” He just kept going on about it. So I told him how I use to drive truck for about twenty years, and he told me about how he use to drive truck too; and we talked about the possibility that maybe we knew each other from that. And then he asked me, “why did you quit and start working at Walmart?” So, I told him how the truck driving got to me and my health. I told him about how I had gotten to 429 pounds and a light went off in his head and he said, “you’re not Staples are you? You weren’t in that film, FS&ND were you?” And I said “yes.” So he called his wife to come down and get a picture. So, it’s reached Walmart, and there’s been a few people who have recognized me here in town. So it’s starting to reach everywhere now, and it’s great. I’ve got all these messages from people telling me about how I have inspired them, and how they’ve lost so much weight.
I’ve been able to show that every man and every woman can do this. It really makes me happy.
AH: So tell me more about your results.
PS: So in the first ten months, it was 204 pounds.
AH: And it’s been another year and a half since then. Tell me about your current weight loss and your health regimen.
PS: I’m still working out six days a week in the morning. But I still have a few pounds that I want to lose. I’m hanging out around 250 pounds. It might be because of my workout. I do weights three times a week, and cardio three times a week.
AH: Wow! You really lost a lot of weight. People are reaching out to you with praise, but at the same time I see question after question on your Facebook wall from fans that are asking many many questions. Some are along the lines of, “Do you add lemon to that drink?”. Just basic questions. There is no way that you can get to all of them and have a regular life. What are you doing to field those questions?
PS: I refer them to the re-boot site and then I sometimes refer them to a few sites. Like if they want to know about recipes, one of the rebooters has a group where all these people share their recipes. I also give my recipes. Mostly I prefer the green, a lot of the time. But I do have my sweet drinks, my green drinks, my spicy drinks. I usually send them to the reboot site.
AH: With all the people coming to this film right now, and you’ve already been through the beginning, the middle, and now the end of this journey that of course keeps going, what can you say to the new people who are just discovering this?
PS: I get a lot of people that are a little depressed on themselves. The reboots can show you that you can do it if you put your mind to it. There are a lot of people atjointhereboot.com that are willing to help you, and answer your questions, so you can do it!
AH: What’s your favorite juice?
PS: The mean green is kind of one of my favorites. I borrowed a recipe from Joe that I saw on one of his interviews, I think it’s watermelon, pineapple, and kiwi. It’s a breakfast drink. I also add oranges to it. Which gives it more body. It’s a lot of sugar but its a great way to start your day.
For more on juicing and a plan to reboot your system, check out Jointhereboot.com – and for inspiration watch Phil transform himself in the film Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead, now playing on Netflix and for sale at many retail locations.