Like many moms, Leslie Graham started gaining weight with each pregnancy and found it increasingly harder to take the extra pounds off – even after her children were born.

But the goal to be healthier was more important than the numbers on the scale – and led her directly to a new life and career path.

Today, Graham is 90 pounds lighter than she was just three years ago and is the owner of 3:8 Juice & Eatery on Windward Parkway in Milton where she helps her customers meet their health goals as well.

“Our mission at 3:8 Juice is to promote wellness. We want to [help] our customers learn to take control of their health,” Graham said of her business model.

Graham was first introduced to the concept of juicing four years ago when she came across a television documentary, “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead.” The film chronicled the life of an individual who lost considerable weight by drinking only fruit and vegetable juice which he made himself.

Graham was immediately hooked on the idea.

“I called my husband [who was working in California] and told him that when he got home, we were going to start juicing,” laughed Graham. “He said, ‘we’re going to do WHAT?’ and almost didn’t come home!”

But Graham was adamant, and over the next year her husband, John, lost 50 pounds, and she lost nearly double that by doing short juice fasts along with a mostly whole food, plant-based diet.

“John was able to go off his high blood pressure medicine, gout medicine and acid reflux medicine,” Graham said. “A nail fungus I had been unable to clear for the past four years went away on its own after I started feeding my body the nutrients [it needed].”

The idea to take her journey to others began when Graham starting sharing her experience. A friend from church heard her story and knew it could be the answer to medical problems he was having.

“His father had passed away about a year ago and he had been on high blood pressure medicine from his early 20s,” Graham said. “He was now 30 with a family and knew that if he didn’t make some changes in his diet, he would not be around long for his family.”

Using Graham’s model of nutrition, her friend lost weight and was able to go off medication he had been taking for the past decade.

“It was at that point that I knew I wanted to open a juice bar,” Graham said. “I wanted more people to know about the power of food and how it can heal us.”

Her husband was cautious at first, urging her to try working at a juice bar before opening her own. She did exactly that, and within one year the opportunity to open 3:8 Juice & Eatery presented itself.

The name refers to the Bible verse from Proverbs, Graham explained, adding if you put good things in your body, you are protecting yourself from many diseases and costly medications.

John and Leslie Graham opened their store on Jan. 20 (Inauguration Day, she laughs!) with no advertising or promotions simply to get the kinks out before the formal opening. She was shocked at the number of customers who stopped in that first day.

“It was an amazingly busy day! It exceeded our expectations and everyone loved walking in, ordering, sitting down on the couch and hanging out,” Graham recalled.

3:8 Juice specializes in cold pressed juices, flavored with lots of herbs and spices to create unique blends. Graham points to the Taste of Mexico juice which includes pineapple, green apples, limes, cilantro and jalapeno – ingredients that are high in vitamins, mineral, antioxidants and help boost your metabolism.

3:8 Juice also offers salads and soups, along with a wide variety of smoothies and bowls. She listed the most popular smoothies, including the

Rejuvenator which contains kale, spinach, pineapple, peaches and fresh pressed apple juice.

The store’s customer base ranges from those who are seeking tasty, healthy, wholesome food, to those who want the juice to help them “reset” their taste buds, to those simply looking to lose weight.

“Other individuals may want to supplement their diet by replacing meals with healthy smoothies or bowls, or possibly juices,” Graham said. “We listen to our customers’ needs and then suggest or create a plan just for them.”

While smoothie locations and juice bars are relatively common in the metro area, Graham said 3:8 Juice is far more than just a juice and smoothie bar. A knowledgeable staff can answer all your questions, information resources abound on site, and customers can even create their own juices based on their individual preferences.

To stay up to date on emerging trends, the Grahams attend multiple conferences by Remedy Food Project that brings together physicians, dietitians, athletes, leading researchers, cook book authors and celebrity chefs in the world of plant-based nutrition.

Looking to the future, for their second store, Graham said they hope to open a second location for their second store and are fielding numerous requests to franchise.

“We think this is a concept that is ready to be implemented in other markets,” Graham said. “Every year, more and more people are choosing this lifestyle to bring health and vitality back into their lives.”

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