AfterParty Hero: The Recovering Addict Who Pulled a Health 180

AfterParty Hero: The Recovering Addict Who Pulled a Health 180

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This post was originally published on August 14, 2014.

For Marcus Antebi, sugar was a gateway drug. Growing up in the 1970s, before most of the country had heard of chia seeds or quinoa, he was a confirmed carb addict by the age of ten. As he describes his youth in Brooklyn and Beverly Hills, “I remember feeling depressed and lethargic unless I had my fix of Hostess Fruit Pies, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, hamburgers, Coca-Cola and my all-time favorite, vanilla ice cream.”

Despite a deep love of sports, Antebi constantly thwarted his athletic ambitions with his unhealthy habits, which quickly expanded to include pot, alcohol and cigarettes. By 15 his substance abuse had gotten so extreme that he knew he had to check into rehab—which, lets be honest, demonstrates way more self-awareness than most 15-year-olds I’ve ever met.

But cleaning up was only the first step for Antebi. He was still hooked on his original addiction—fake gross food—and it made him depressed. It took a tip from a gym trainer to turn him on to the power of greens. After testing out a strict regime of salads and juice, he was so floored by the results that he began to devote himself to healthy eating.

Armed with a new commitment to raw foods, Antebi could finally tap into the athletic life he’d always dreamed of. A renaissance athlete, he excelled at everything from tennis to Ultimate Frisbee. From an early passion for rock climbing, he later became obsessed with skydiving, completing over 2,300 successful jumps and even starting his own equipment company. At 34 he discovered Thai boxing and fought competitively for several years.

He never stopped evolving. Muay Thai had made him more conscious than ever of what he put into his body, and for his next business venture he decided to launch a juice store. The first Juice Press opened in Manhattan’s East Village in 2010, and now 20 stores have cropped up throughout New York. With the help from his mentor, raw food guru Fred Bisci, Antebi has become something of a legend in the world of true whole foods. All Juice Press juices are 100% organic and squeezed the night before they hit the shelves. The brand has picked up powerful endorsements from pro athletes like Mike Teixeira of the Yankees.

Now 28 years sober, Antebi is also an outspoken advocate for nutrition awareness in public schools. He believes processed foods are the enemy, and no matter how many veggies you eat, nothing will help more than adhering to a raw, unprocessed, vegan diet. It may seem like a lofty, even impossible, goal for some of us Dorito-munchers, but remembering that Antebi himself was once as hooked on junk food as the rest of us is inspiring.

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Erica Larsen AKA Eren Harris blogs at Whitney Calls and Clean Bright Day. Their writing has also been published on Salon, Selfish, Violet Rising and YourTango. They live in Los Angeles with their husband and their enormous cat.