After a few minutes of chatting with Juice Press founder Marcus Antebi, your head might explode. That's because the man happens to know a little bit about everything, and if you pepper him with a few questions, he’ll be off and running. Statistics regarding the total-body benefits of eating whole foods and scratching anything processed? He’s got ‘em. What really happens when we drink five cups of coffee? He knows. His stance on the benefits of veganism? Sit down, this one’s going to take a minute.
The first Juice Press opened in New York’s East Village in 2010, when Antebi admits he was still “slipping in and out of a vegan lifestyle.” At the time, he was skipping out on meat for aesthetic reasons more than anything: “I knew from my training I wanted to be lean, and eating this way gave me a better physique,” he says. As he got older, though, he was struck by a newfound desire “not to harm things.”
He’s now fully committed to the cause—and Juice Press has since morphed into a fast-casual chain that serves only plant-based, 100 percent organic nutrient-dense foods like smoothies and salads. About two-thirds of Antebi’s diet incorporates his own company’s staples, like Souper Greens soup, a F$%#ing Genius Blueberry smoothie (yes, that’s the real name), and raw oatmeal made with gluten-free steel-cut oats soaked in homemade cashew pudding.
Before he was all-in on veganism, Antebi was juggling an eclectic mix of other pursuits, which his website notes are officially in his past: “retired skydiver, retired competitive thai boxer, retired philosopher, [and] retired corporate comedian.” His Instagram offers glimpses of those days, in between shots of him contorting his body into impressive yoga poses for someone who’s 51 years young.
In an interview with GQ, Antebi expanded on the musings and life hacks from his Instagram—and revealed his secret to always starting the day off right.
GQ: What’s the first thing you do in the morning?
Marcus Antebi: When I wake up, I take two minutes before my eyes open and I go through positive thoughts, the things I'm grateful for. I've had days where I can't find anything, and I'll get up and start taking a shower feeling like my day is fucked. To remedy that, I’ll get back in bed for 10 minutes, close my eyes, and tell myself, you're not leaving here until you are grateful and positive. It really works. After that, I try to get out the door really quickly.
I generally start the day off with the hardest stuff. So when you have the most energy, you get the annoying shit out of the way. For instance, the DMV is an 8 a.m. thing to do, not a 4 p.m. thing.
Is there such a thing as a typical day for you?
For 10 years of my life I would get up and go visit stores, since Juice Press has a lot of stores in the city, but I’m not really involved in daily operations anymore. I feel like what keeps life interesting is trying to find little things to do throughout the week that are totally different from your routine, that require a little nervous tension. Go somewhere that's scary. Take a singing lesson.
When are you eating?
A lot of it depends on my mental state. If I’m stressed or anxious in the morning and feel really hungry, I’ll get a smoothie. I believe that food is not supposed to be rigid, but I do have a few rules for myself. I would surrender my flesh and my bones before I eat an animal. I'm 100 percent vegan. I don't eat fish. I don't eat chicken. I don't eat pork. I don't eat eggs. Sometimes I do a little honey. I also completely avoid processed food. I'm really careful about the time at night that I eat. I try to have my eating done at least three hours before I go to bed because I know it makes a major difference in how I feel.
In my eyes, eating is the most urgent and important meditation of the day. When we get the opportunity to sit down and eat, we can be mindful and present. I make a point of thinking about the foods I’m ingesting. I want to load up on fruits and get as much fruit sugar as possible during the day. I know that I'm going to burn it up because I'm running around. At night, I’m doing my vegetables. At five p.m. I'll need a tiny snack, maybe something that’s 100 calories. I'm not trying to overeat because that's usually the time of day where I'm getting ready to do some yoga, and I need to be very, very hungry to do good yoga.
Why is that?
Your body has to be starched out to do yoga the right way, to go into the deeper practice, because then the food you're eating is not affecting your chemistry, overall concentration, and ability to focus. So I try not to eat two hours before that. Afterward, I’ll have a salad or soup.
Do you drink any coffee or ingest any caffeine?
A little bit. I'll do a tiny shot of espresso. I think of it as a hot smoothie coming from fruit. I don't use any dairy. I don't use any sugar. Do I think that my diet would be better off without a single sip of coffee? Absolutely. I know that anything I do to stimulate my body is just making the body work harder with no real benefit.
How do you maintain your rather active lifestyle?
Practice. Anytime you ask yourself, how the hell do I do that? You just say practice. Concentrate. Then, try.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Real-Life Diet is a series in which GQ talks to athletes, celebrities, and everyone in between about their diets and exercise routines: what's worked, what hasn't, and where they're still improving. Keep in mind, what works for them might not necessarily be healthy for you.
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Originally Appeared on GQ