It’s not everyday, you meet someone like Old Soul Jim.
“I grew up a porch chop eatin’ Republican, I hunt, I fish, but I have a liberal side too, I’m opened minded.”
There’s a quality that’s familiar about Jim. He seems like the guy you’d meet at the gym, the one who sticks to the weight room and manages to do fifty reps to our ten and rocks a daily bench press routine that lasts longer than our stint on the treadmill.
“I played football in high school and college and worked construction for awhile” he says, describing how fitness (and we’re presuming Muscle Milk) were always a part of his life and like all active athletes there was a time when he functioned as human garbage disposal.
“I’d eat all food in all shapes and sizes, pigeon, snake, deer, I’m very omnivorous.”
When he stopped playing football was when he took up another sport, ping-pong. But this had nothing to do with paddles and Forrest Gump matches but with the dramatic roller coaster his weight would take and the classic “yoyo” approach to fad diets.
“I started gaining about 20 lbs. a year and went from 250 to 390, then I’d go on programs to lose 30 and end up gaining 40, lose 50 and gain 60. Last year I hit the wall, clocked in at 380, that’s when I knew I needed to jumpstart and do something different.”
It wasn’t just the weight. Jim was poppin’ four ibuprofen a day for joint pain, inflammation and becoming increasing self conscious of his swollen ankles and calves because of carrying all the extra cargo.
“My wife turned to me one day and said oh, wow, your ankles… “
So Jim went where no ‘land of the bbq’ South Carolina raised man had gone before. He committed to a thirty day, Raleigh Raw juice cleanse.
Expecting the usual rollercoaster of weight loss, weight gain, Jim prepared for the typical tug of war struggle of ravenous cravings and will power induced deprivation. Even with this wall of anticipated starvation ahead of him, he swore he’d stay committed.
“Here’s the thing, the first couple days of the cleanse my joints felt great, I was having no trouble, going down the stairs, and by day three and four, I walking down the steps just fine without any meds.”
But every weight loss adventure starts out strong, so listening to Jim’s story we were ready for the rock bottom, the day when he chewed up food and spit it out just for the taste or locked the cupboards to keep from eating, as juice pushers in the health community here in the triangle, we’ve heard it all.
“Man by day five I was craving the juice, the biggest shock was over the course of that month, I never got tired of the juice. I made a promise that I’d stop when I found myself choking down a Regulator or Ion Lion Zion but over the thirty days that never happened. “
And here’s when Old Soul Jim drops a bomb us, we’re hoping to take the credit that it’s the juice that has made him so wise.
“Health, even life, is about progress over perfection. I can’t say I kept all the weight off after the thirty days, but my habits have changed, my palette is reset and juicing is a part of my life.”
Progress over perfection. Now that’s deep.
Because how often do we make our goals, our health, all or nothing? Our hands are raised over here. If we skip a day at the gym, the internal dialogue becomes, “why go at all”, we veer off and head for the couch and sweat pants instead.
Here Jim has us inspired and his story isn’t just about him, it’s got a ripple effect. This “meat with every meal” guy who grew up with the American mantra of “clean your plate” found a simple way to change his story, legacy and eventually we imagine, the family genes all with a 17 oz bottle of greens.
“My kids will now eat hummus and smoked salmon over mac n cheese.”
And why not? After watching dad lose thirty eight pounds in four weeks, and strut around the house with a new playfulness and energy, these new habits had become contagious.
“ I started to go to bed at 10pm and would fall right into a deep, I had no lags in afternoon, my energy levels were great, man, I couldn’t believe how energized I felt, and on such a little bit food! The equivalent of about 1200 calories a day.”
It’s the perfect Cinderella story, except we couldn’t help but wonder, what happened when the thirty day fairy tale ended? We know the juice is addicting, but we wanted the truth, the juicy details. How good did that burger and fries taste once he was off his liquid adventure?
“Its so weird, what I REALLY wanted was sushi, I was dying for a seaweed salad for my first meal off the cleanse, and the next week I was craving the juice, I needed my juice. A week later I did a three day cleanse, took one sip and said, OMG I FORGOT HOW GOOD THIS STUFF WAS.”
Don’t worry, Jim hasn’t lost his flair and still knows how to maintain balance with his food choices and stay true to his roots on special occasions.
“ I made a smoked brisket for new years and it was amazing, marinated it in Worcestershire and beer, I still like to indulge but it’s not the same.”
And what about the hot dogs he used to pick up at 7-11 on road trips? Did he just cast them to the side after all their years together in the car while he was traveling for business?
“I had that first greasy meal and after a few bites, I couldn’t even finish it. It didn’t even taste good.”
Even when he does crave a indulgence meal or soda, his relationship to the food has changed, his tastes are refined and portions are minimized.
“After my third child was born I went for one of my favorites, ginger ale and it tasted like drinking pancake syrup, to this day I can’t drink straight coke. I’ll now mix eight parts water to two parts cranberry juice and it’s just the sweetness I need.”
We can’t get enough of this charming Texan, though we did have to call him out on his “pretentious’ palette.
“Ha, the cleanse totally MADE ME A FOOD SNOB, why would you eat a cheeseburger when you could you have a fresh salad and whole variety of foods. I just love produce.”
Now we’re starting to get worried. He’s drinkin the Kale-me-maybe kool aid hard core, but there’s something about this brisket reformed with a three juice a week habit man that we can’t shake. His energy is intoxicating.
“You know what I realized? If I could do thirty days on a juice cleanse, I can pretty much do anything. It’s not a juice cleanse it’s a whole freakin paradigm shift.”
The vibrant Raleigh Raw crew is unanimously humbled and speechless, this lighthearted right winged southern man has touched our soul.
Continue James' journey with him on Instagram @oldsouljim