Rich Roll: Rejecting Middle Age, Plant Power & Finding Ultra | 180 Nutrition

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Rich Roll: Rejecting Middle Age, Plant Power & Finding Ultra

 

Watch the full interview below or listen to the full episode on your iPhone HERE.

Guy:  This week we welcome to the show Rich Roll. A graduate of Stanford University and Cornell Law School, Rich is a 49-year old, accomplished vegan ultra-endurance athlete and former entertainment attorney turned full-time wellness & plant-based nutrition advocate, motivational speaker, husband, father of 4 and inspiration to people worldwide as a transformative example of courageous and healthy living.

He has also completed the EPIC5 CHALLENGE – a odyssey that entailed completing 5 ironman-distance triathlons on 5 islands of Hawaii in under a week….

Use Snapchat? Follow me at: GuyL180 or Click Here. 

 

Audio Version

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downloaditunesListen to StitcherQuestions we ask in this episode:

  • What were the first steps you took in making health / nutritional changes?
  • Epic5 Challenge: Five Ironman events in one week. How and why? :)
  • What are the key factors we need to consider to be able to train at an elite level, when longevity is a priority?
  • You’ve got an amazing podcast. Why start one and what episodes have influenced your life the most?
  • Tell us about ‘Finding Ultra’. Who did you write it for and what can we expect?
  • What are your non-negotiables to be the best version of yourself?

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Full Transcript

Guy

Hey, this is Guy Lawrence with 180 Nutrition, and welcome to another episode of the Health Sessions, where of course we’re cutting through the confusion by connecting with leading global health and wellness experts, to share the best in latest science and thinking, and empowering everyone that we possibly can to turn their health and lives around. This week, our fantastic guest is Mr. Rich Roll. Now, if you’re not familiar with Rich, he is a [sheer guy 00:00:31], full of inspiration, I can assure you.

He became a number one best selling author, I think back in 2012, with his book Finding Ultra. He’s got a whole amazing story prior to that as well, of transformation, that we get into, into the podcast today. He’s got a hit podcast called the Rich Roll Podcast, which is always seen the top of the charts here in Australia, and he’s doing amazing things in the USA with the podcast as well, so we’re highly recommending you’ll check that out after listening to this, no doubt.

He’s well known for doing what was called the Epic 5 challenge. Basically, it’s completing five Ironman distance triathlons on five islands of Hawaii in under a week. I think he did that. He said two years prior to that he didn’t even ride a bike, so it’s a true transformational story. It’s amazing what Rich has gone on and achieved. He’s become a phenomenal athlete, and a plant-based athlete at well. He’s also been featured in, let me think now, CNN, Los Angeles Times, Sunday Magazine, the Huffington Post, Stanford Magazine, Men’s Health Living, to name a few. He’s done whole retreats as well, all around the world, and he’s just doing great things. It was great to actually sit down with Rich for what was it, 45 minutes, an hour today, and pick his brains and discuss all these amazing topics.

We’ll get over to that. I just want to read out a iTunes review that came in recently, because I actually thought it was fantastic advice as well. That was by Penny of PB Lifestyles. Penny, I even checked out your website, mate. You’re doing fantastic things, traveling around the world, inspiring others to live a healthy lifestyle. Well done, mate. Keep it up. It basically says, “Guy and Stu, thanks so much for helping to make this world a better place. I love that you’re not [indoctrined 00:02:24] like some of the wellness communities are, and I love the variety of guests you’ve interviewed. I’m trying to take just one actionable item away from each podcast.” So are we, Penny, so are we.

“I think if everyone did that, worked on one take away from each episode, then they would help to not only make themselves healthier, but more present individuals, but contribute to a more peaceful world.” We believe the same thing, and reviews like that really give us a kick and inspire us to keep searching the globe for the best possible people we can have on this podcast, and share it with everyone, so much appreciated. Guys, if you do get the chance to leave a review, please do. It takes two minutes on iTunes, and helps us spread these podcasts, which of course are free for everyone, across and get us found globally, which is the grand plan, and we’re slowly getting there. Any feedback too, is greatly appreciated. Anyway, let’s go over to Rich Roll. Enjoy.

Hi, this is Guy Lawrence. I’m joined with Stuart Cooke, as always. Hey, Stuart.

Stu

Hello, mate.

Guy

Good to see you, mate. Our awesome guest today is Rich Roll. Rich, welcome to the podcast.

Rich

Great to be here, guys. Really excited to talk to you today. Thanks for having me.

Guy

Oh look, it’s truly appreciated, honestly. We kick off the show, I seem to be asking the same question every show lately, which is a good way to start. If a complete stranger stopped you on the street, Rich, and then said, “What do you do for a living, mate?” How would you answer that?

Rich

I always struggle with this question. I never know quite how to answer it, but I guess the best answer is to say that I’m an athlete, I’m an author, I’m a wellness advocate. I do lots of different things. I host a podcast, I write books, I blog, I vlog. Kind of omnipresent on the internet, but basically all pivoting around trying to help people unlock their best selves, and doing that through fitness, nutrition, and meditation and other areas of self-improvement.

Guy

Yeah, brilliant.

Stu

That’s fantastic.

Guy

You’re not the only one that struggles with that question either, mate. It seems to be the guests we’re having on the show lately. Look, I’ve got a sneaking suspicion we’re going to be exposing you to a lot of new listeners on our show, and the one thing we love doing is delving into the background a little bit of the history of Rich Roll. I’ve been certainly looking into you a lot more this week, mate, and you’ve been on a fascinating journey. It’s quite incredible. I was wondering, would you mind taking us back a bit and touching on what you used to do, to yeah, the changes you’ve been making, and the epiphanies along the way, I guess?

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Rich

Yeah, sure. I guess the best place to start is, I grew up as a swimmer. I was a swimmer in high school, and I swam at Stanford in the late 1980s. I had the privilege of being a member of quite an incredible swim team with people like Pablo Morales and John Moffet, lots of Olympians and world record holders at the time, although I was a benchwarmer. I was certainly no star, but that’s my background, swimming. My career as a swimmer was really derailed by a kind of acute case of alcoholism that crippled me for a good 10 or 15 years. I don’t feel like I ever really actualized my potential as a swimmer, as a result of that.

I got sober when I was 31, and the ensuing decade was really all about repairing the wreckage of my past, and climbing the corporate ladder, and trying to become a successful businessman. I went to law school, I was on the partnership track at a prestigious law firm in Los Angeles. During that period of time, I really overlooked my health and fitness. I really didn’t attend to that at all. I was pretty much a junk food junkie. I put on about 50 pounds around the midsection. I was never morbidly obese, but I just looked like a guy who’s working 80 hours at the law firm, and really not getting outside too much.

It all caught up to me shortly before my 40th birthday. I had a vivid moment walking up the stairs late one evening to go to sleep, where I had to pause up a simple flight of stairs, and I was winded. I was out of breath, I had tightness in my chest, and I was sweating on my forehead, and really had the fear of God that I was on the precipice of an incident with my heart. Heart disease runs in my family, and it really scared me, and it was a line in the sand moment. It was similar to the day that I decided I was going to get sober and went off to rehab, where I knew this is one of those moment in life where I can make a decision and change things, or I can pretend it doesn’t exist, and go about my way.

I really jumped on that, and that really began the process of really reconfiguring my life, and reprioritizing my time around taking care of myself. That’s what led me into plant-based nutrition, which was never by design. It was just something I almost fell into accidentally. It wasn’t a result of reading books or anything like that, but it was something that really agreed with me, and in many ways restored my vitality, and that’s what led me back into fitness. I just felt so great, I had so much energy. I wanted to get outside and get after it again, and reconnect with that part of me that I enjoyed so much as a young person, being physically fit, and training.

That’s ultimately what led me into the world of ultra-endurance, because in really a very short period of time, I was able to lose a bunch of weight and get fit again, and it really struck me how incredibly resilient the human body is. I bounced back so thoroughly that it made me want to rekindle that fitness flame, and see what I was really capable of if I really challenged myself.

Guy

Had you been doing any exercise or competing through your 30s, while everything else was going on, when [you'd driven in 00:08:27] then the corporate role?

Rich

No. Very, very limited. I did a little bit of yoga when I got out of rehab, and I was exploring meditation, and the metaphysical and spiritual path, because that’s sort of what recovery is about. But in terms of doing anything all that rigorous, fitness-wise, no. I was basically a couch potato, watching a lot of Law & Order reruns and stuffing my face with cheeseburgers for quite an extended period of time.

Stu

I think a lot of people connect with that, at least the nutritional component. The first steps, where did you start? Was it just like, “I’m just going to drop meat, and I’m going to look at eating some plants?” How did you tackle that?

Rich

Well, the way I did it was, I kind of approached it the same way I approached sobriety. In sobriety, you’re either drinking or using drugs, or you’re sober. There’s no grey area. You’re not kind of drinking, you can’t consider yourself sober. I sort of leveraged those principles that I had learned in sobriety that really saved my life, and I kind of applied them to food and lifestyle. The first thing I did was a seven day vegetable juice cleanse, which is sort of like going to detox. It’s like, “I’m going to just do this cleanse.” Not because I read a bunch of scientific journals that said I had toxins that I had to get rid of, but I felt like I needed to do something really dramatic and drastic to shock my system.

That was a painful couple days where I [can remember 00:10:03] laying on the couch and just really feeling like I was detoxing off drugs. I had no energy. By the time I got to the sixth and seventh day, I started to feel incredible. I felt the life force returning to my body, and it was very powerful. I wanted to figure out a way that I could go back to eating real food, but feel that way all the time. I ended up playing around with a bunch of different diets, and ultimately I was vegetarian for a while, but that devolved into a junk food vegetarian diet that wasn’t doing me any good, wasn’t do anybody any good.

I decided to try this 100% whole food plant-based diet, really as a last ditch effort. I was like, “All right, I’ve tried everything. Nothing seems to be really clicking in and giving me that feeling, so I’m going to do this.” Not because I think it’s going to work, or I even wanted it to work, because it sounded so extreme, but it was almost like, “All right, I’ll check this box, and if this doesn’t work, then I can go back to eating cheeseburgers and say I tried everything.”

Guy

Yeah, right.

Rich

What I found was that within seven to ten days of really just eating plants, I did feel like I felt on that seventh day. It was an epiphany moment of, “Wow, eating plants is really agreeing with me.” It was so contrary to everything I’d been taught my whole life. Beef is what’s for dinner, and milk does a body good, and all these messages that I’d been intuiting, and been seeing my entire life. Here I was feeling better than I had in as long as I could remember, without eating a bunch of foods that I was told previously were important to health. Once I had that feeling, I was like, ‘All right, now I’m going to educate myself and try to figure out how to do this right, because there’s something about this that is really working for me.”

Guy

Yeah, amazing. I was thinking then, prior to your moment where you said you had a scare on the stairs, and you felt you might even had a heart attack, had you made the food-health connection at all prior to that, or was it just something that wasn’t even in your consciousness kind of thing?

Rich

Yeah, I never really thought about it before. I never really spent too much time thinking that the food had that much impact on how I felt, although my wife a couple years prior had developed a thyroglossal duct cyst on her neck. It was a golf ball sized growth, and she decided … All the doctors, all the surgeons said, “This is never going away. You’re going to have to have it surgically removed. We’ve seen this before. That’s the only solution.”

She didn’t want to get cut, and she decided she was going to take matters into her own hands, and she sought out the advice of an Ayurvedic doctor, who put her on a very specific diet that was predominantly plant-based. There was a bunch of lifestyle rules about reducing stress in her life. It wasn’t fast, and it took a deep level of commitment on her part, but after about 9 months, it went away and it’s never come back. She had had that experience, and that was something that was in my memory bank, and so when this moment happened to me, I was like, “I’m going to do my version of what she experienced.”

Guy

Yeah, awesome, awesome. I only raise it because to this day, just being an observer, you see so many people in that position where they haven’t made that connection yet. I always wonder what the tipping point is to get them to make a change of some kind. It’s normally pain.

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Rich

Pain, yeah. Pain is the only thing that’s ever gotten me to change all of my errant ways.

Guy

Amazing. Look, for our listeners, if somebody … Again, I kept using the street analogy, but if somebody came up to you and was very confused about nutrition, which seems to be a lot, because obviously there’s mixed messages, how could you distill it into a simple message for someone that was curious for the first time about making some changes?

Rich

I think the most fundamental, easiest rule of thumb is to eat whole foods, eat real food. Eat foods that don’t have nutrition labels on them, because they come right out of the ground. It goes back to Michael Pollan’s infamous statement, “Eat mostly plants, not too much.” I eat all plants. That’s too severe for a lot of people, and I can understand that. I think what happens with people is they know they need to make a change, or they have some level of motivation to make a change, they go online, they get confused by all the information that seems conflicting, and until they have it completely figured out and they know the answer to every single question, there’s a paralysis, and they don’t do anything differently.

My message is always, don’t overcomplicate it. Just keep it simple. Just eat real food. Begin there, and start to pay attention to how those foods make you feel. Write a journal out if you have to, but don’t try to get caught up in the minutia or the details, and get crazy with superfoods and all this kind of stuff. You can go down the rabbit hole on all kinds of … Chase your tail with that kind of stuff, and the truth is, it’s really pretty basic.

Guy

Yeah. It’s funny, I had a conversation just the other day with a guy in Melbourne, at the retreat. He was saying the human body is such a complicated thing, but the solutions are actually quite simple. We always seem to be gravitating to the complicated stuff, when we could just simplify it and apply it.

Rich

Absolutely.

Stu

I think what I’m interested in is that you’re not really Joe Average, in terms of the stuff that you do. When you’re fueling your body, your demands for recovery, and nutrition, and nutrients are going to be more than say, Guy or myself. I noticed there’s a little poster behind you called the Epic 5, and I just wanted to raise that because as far as I can see, it’s five Ironman events in one week, back to back.

I wanted just to talk a little bit about that, because from my perspective, the Ironman, or at least the Hawaiian Ironman, is right at the top of the scale of ultra-endurance. This is one of the hardest things you can do. You put your body through such demands, but this Epic 5 seems to tie five of those together. I just wanted to ask you, can you tell us a little bit about it, and how can you possibly do that? Also, perhaps, why? Why would you want to do that?

Rich

Well, the first thing I would say is, I want to disabuse people of this idea that I’m some kind of super athlete. I’m actually relatively pedestrian, and the things that I’ve accomplished in sport are really more a function of the level of commitment and dedication that I put into the training, and less about any kind of innate talent. I do have a background in swimming, and as a youngster, I learned very well the equation between hard work and results, and I know how to train my body. That definitely came into play, but it’s not like I’m some freak of nature.

That being said, prior to Epic 5, I specialized in a race called Ultraman, which is a double Ironman distance race. The world championships is in Hawaii every year, Thanksgiving weekend in November. I did quite well in that race in 2008 and 2009, and I thought I was ready to hang up the ultra-endurance hat, and it was really my friend Jason Lester who came up with this idea, of this crazy challenge of trying to do five Ironmans on five separate Hawaiian islands. The original goal was to do it in five days. He was going to do it.

I was just going to be cheering him on, but he talked me into doing it with him. The sort of mental calculus in deciding to do it was really that it was such a cool challenge. It seemed amazing to me that no one had ever tried it before, in a world where it seems like every crazy challenge has already been done. Because I was going to do it with him, it just seemed like a really amazing fun challenge that I couldn’t pass up.

In 2010, we embarked on this insane journey, and we got it done. It took us a little bit longer than five days. We had all kind of crazy mechanical problems and setbacks, and we really were holding this whole thing together with Scotch tape. We had a couple volunteers helping us out, but it was really by the skin of our pants that we were able to do it at all. We came up against some unforeseen obstacles with flights and all that kind of stuff. The difference between Epic 5 and perhaps Ultraman or Ironman is that we weren’t racing every day, we were just trying to get the distances in.

The difference is then that it becomes this game of trying to parse out your energy, and work efficiently, and conserve as much energy as possible. But as you know, the longer you’re out in the heat of Hawaii, then the less sleep you get, and we’re always chasing the clock to the make the last flight off the island to get to the next island. Some of the biggest difficulties with that challenge were really logistical, and sleep deprivation became a big thing. We were only getting two or three hours of sleep a night, and that started to catch up to us on day four.

But yeah, we got it done in seven days. No one had ever done it before. Jason and I were both plant-based doing it, and it was a really crazy, amazing experience. I think it goes to show that the human body is capable of so much more than we tend to allow ourselves to believe. Once you break through and do something that no one had ever done before, then other people realize, “Hey, I could do that too.” Last summer, the Iron Cowboy did 50 Ironmans in 50 states in 50 days. He took what I did and [10x'd 00:20:00] it, but it’s gratifying for me to know that perhaps he saw Epic 5, and that was part of his inspiration to do that, and that’s what beautiful about sport.

Guy

Amazing. Look, a thought occurred to me as well. Do you mind just explaining what you were doing in the one day, so people can grasp what the Ironman is?

Rich

Yeah, absolutely.

Guy

Yeah.

Rich

An Ironman is a very long triathlon, which over the course of one day you swim 2.4 miles … I don’t have my metric system in front of me, so I don’t know what that is.

Stu

That’s good enough for us.

Guy

It’s a long way.

Rich

2.4 miles, and then you ride your bike 112 miles, and then you run a marathon, 22.6 miles, all in one day. We did that every single day on five different islands, in under a week.

Stu

Unbelievable. Tell me about your recovery strategies for something like that, because I get it for one of those, you’d really want to be dialed into letting your body rest and repair. Given the fact that you were sleep deprived as well, what did you do?

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Rich

Well, the most important thing is to understand that when you’re out on day one, day two, you have to be consuming calories all the time even if you’re not hungry, because you’re not necessarily eating for that moment. You’re eating for the following day. No matter what you’re doing, you’re running a calorie deficit, so you’re going to playing catch-up no matter what. It’s just about trying to be on top of making sure you’re getting basically 150 to 200 calories in your body every hour, and a lot of that is through liquid nutrition, to make sure that you’re not upsetting your gut, and everything is super easily digestible. That’s in the midst of the event.

An interesting thing happened during Epic 5 though, which was that I actually got progressively more bloated, and my body was starting to hold onto liquid and food. It was almost like my body thought I was trying to kill it, and it was trying to save itself. When the whole thing was done, I had blown up a little bit. It was a bizarre thing. Then two weeks later, all the weight dropped off and I got super skinny, once my body figured out, “Oh, this is over with and I’m not in survival mode anymore.”

Guy

Wow, yeah.

Rich

We didn’t have recovery in the midst of that event. There wasn’t a lot of time to recover. It was really just getting into the hotel room and getting as much sleep as possible, which is the ultimate recovery tool, and making sure that you were eating as much as you could. During training periods, I turn 50 in another couple months, and so for me recovery has become much more important. It takes me a little bit longer to bounce back, and nutrition has to be dialed in even more rigorously.

Guy

How long did it take you to recover after that, doing the [inaudible 00:22:47]?

Rich

After Epic 5, it wasn’t as long as I expected, and part of that is because the training going into that had a lot to do with acclimating the body to always being in motion.

Stu

Right.

Rich

Learning how to go running in the middle of the night when you don’t have any sleep, and all of that. It was less about muscular fatigue than it was about literally catching up on sleep. Two weeks later, I felt fine. It wasn’t really even sore two days later, because it was a different kind of endeavor. Now, Ultraman is different. That’s a race, and in that race is … It’s a three day race where the first day, you swim a 10k in the ocean and ride your bike 90 miles. The second day, you race your bike 171 miles, and the third day, you run 52.4 miles, a double marathon. The recovery from that was a very extended period of time. I had trouble walking around for several days after that, after that double marathon run.

Guy

Wow, wow. That’s interesting, because you touched on the point, you’re turning 50 and you’re focusing a lot more on recovery and things. For all the endurance athletes that would be listening to this, what would be the key factors, do you think, to perform at [the elite 00:24:01] level, but keeping longevity in mind as well, so you just don’t burn yourself out? What would you say to them?

Rich

Right. I think the most important thing is consistent, being consistent in your training and always applying pressure. It’s less about the big monster workout that you did on Saturday, than it is about the day in, day out boring grind of just getting out there, and getting the couple hours in a day that’s required to stay on top of it. Especially as you age, you take a couple days off and it starts to slip away a lot more quickly. It really is about the consistent pressure.

In terms of longevity, I think it’s important to find the joy in what you’re doing. I think especially with triathletes, they get so serious about what they’re doing, and they’re so tied to the Garmin, and their data, and all of that, that they lose sight of what attracted them into it in the first place. When you get too caught up and too goal-driven, it starts to drain the fun out of it. The more fun you can have, and the more community that you can cultivate around it, going out on runs with groups or being with friends, then I think the more emotionally invested you are in continuing the journey.

Guy

Yeah, fair enough. Are you finding there’s many endurance athletes following the plant-based diet like yourself as well, are getting similar results?

Rich

Yeah, there’s a lot of plant-based athletes in multisport. You’re seeing quite an uptick in that, which is really great to see. There’s a bunch of athletes in Rio right now competing in the Olympics, that are plant-based. That’s exciting. It’s one thing for some skinny runners and cyclists to profess the benefits of a plant-based diet, but when you see weightlifters, and MMA fighters, and NFL football players experiencing the benefits of it, that’s even more exciting, because those are masculine sports where speed, and power, and agility are important. I think they stand as an example and a counterpoint to conventional ideas about wisdom, and are helping people really unshackle themselves from a lot of the [mists 00:26:16] around nutrition, and it’s opening a lot minds. I think it’s a really exciting time, right now.

Guy

Yeah, fantastic. It creates conversation as well, because people can get so dogmatic about nutrition, and this is the way forward, and so forth.

Rich

Well, start talking about vegan stuff and people get pretty spirited pretty quick.

Stu

Yeah.

Guy

Good on you, mate. That’s awesome.

Stu

It’s like religion and politics.

Rich

Yeah. It’s emotional, for sure.

Guy

Yeah.

Stu

With the ultra stuff in mind, tell us a little bit about your book, Finding Ultra. For all those that haven’t heard about it, what can we expect if we dig into that?

Rich

Right, so Finding Ultra is my memoir. It’s essentially a memoir, but it also balances between my personal story, and my entry point into ultra-endurance sports and plant-based nutrition. It’s part memoir, part plant-based nutrition manifesto, and it’s also a recovery story, because there’s a lot about addiction in there. It’s three different kind of genres [mashed 00:27:21] into one. I wrote that book, it came out in 2012, and it’s been a great journey with that book. When I wrote it, I thought, “Who’s going to want to read this? I’ve never even won a race. It’s not like I’m a world champion, or a gold medalist, or anything like that.” I questioned whether people would be interested, but it’s definitely done really, really well, and it’s touched a lot of people. It’s been a very meaningful thing, to have that book out there.

Guy

Yeah, mate. What inspired you to write a book? Because it’s no easy feat to get that, and to start churning out the chapters every week.

Rich

Yeah. It all happened kind of organically. It wasn’t like I set out with this big goal of writing this book. Just some pieces fell into place, and I got introduced to an agent who expressed interest in it, and before I knew it, I was writing a proposal. Then I was signing a book deal, and thinking, “Oh wow, I guess I’m writing a book.” It happened like that. Part of it going into it was I’m not a big span of sports biographies. I think most of them are terrible, and I think that’s because a lot of them are written by ghost writers, and they’re written by athletes that are in kind of the twilight of their career, and they’re really vehicles to extend a brand and squeeze a little revenue out of an athlete, as they’re closing out their career.

What I wanted to do is invert that, and really make it as personal as possible. I knew very early on that the only way anyone was going to be interested in what I had to say was going to be directly related to how vulnerable and honest I was willing to be in it, so I had to write it like it was a private diary that no one was ever going to read. That’s a scary thing, but I think that the vulnerability comes through, and I think that that’s why people are able to emotionally connect to it.

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Guy

Yeah, no, fantastic. It’s so true, Rich, because listening to your podcast as well, there’s this complete transparency and honesty that comes through. It certainly takes courage to do that, which leads me to the next question regarding your podcast, because I think the podcast came after the book. Or before?

Rich

Yeah, it came, I think … I don’t know, eight or nine months after the book came out, I launched the podcast.

Guy

What inspired you to start a podcast?

Rich

It was a couple things. The first, the real reason was that … Well, I guess when I was doing all this training, I fell in love with podcasts because I would listen to them on super long rides, because I can’t listen to music for that extended period of time. I just really fell in love with the medium, and had thought about whether or not I had something to offer in that context. I kind of surveyed what was going on in the podcast world, and this is pre-Serial. I certainly wasn’t an early adopter of podcasting, because it’s been around for a long time, but it was pre-podcast boom that we’re experiencing now.

At the time, there didn’t seem to be anyone who was really doing long-form, mature interviews in the health and wellness space, and I felt like I could contribute to that. I had met a bunch of interesting people, and it just seemed like I wanted to take a stab at it. At the time, my family and I were living on the island of Kauai, on an organic farm, and I was getting a little stir-crazy. I had a little island fever, and really just needed a creative project. The book was out, it had been out for a little while, and it was like, “All right, well, what’s next?”

Stu

Yeah.

Rich

The podcast really was an opportunity to continue the conversation that the book began. I had no high hopes for it, I didn’t have any expectations. I had no idea that it would develop the audience that it has, and it’s been crazy, amazing journey. I just love everything about doing the podcast.

Guy

Yeah, we hear you. Go ahead, Stu.

Stu

Any standout guests, perhaps, that have led you to make some pivotal changes at all?

Rich

Yeah, sure. It’s hard to pick amongst my babies, you know?

Stu

Yeah, yeah.

Rich

I think for me, it’s fun to have famous people on, like I just had Steve Case, the guy who founded AOL, and I’ve had Arianna Huffington, and Russell Simmons, and Moby, and Steve-O. These are people that a lot of people know, but for me, the heart of the show and what makes it special to me, are when I find people that aren’t famous, that maybe no one’s ever heard of, and I get to share their journeys. I think guys like Josh LaJaunie stand out to me. He’s a guy who lost 200 pounds. The guy weighed over 400 pounds, and has really reinvented himself, and became an athlete, and tackled his first half-marathon, then ran a marathon. Now he just won an ultra race. The guy’s a beast now. Being able to blow a little wind in his sail and introduce him to people, I think has been meaningful to me.

Every guest that I have on imparts some wisdom that I try to incorporate into my life. I know you guys just did the Wim Hof retreat. He had so many amazing things to share on my show that have made me think, and that I’ve started to put into practice. The breath work, and the cold exposure, and all of that, it’s just life transformative stuff, and it’s the beauty of this medium where there’s no intermediary, there’s no corporation telling you what you can or you can’t say. It’s just an opportunity to really get to know people that I think are really shaking things up, and helping us develop into the best version of ourselves. It’s awesome.

Guy

Yeah. It’s certainly been an exploration. I think we’ve been doing it for about four years. Wim Hof is a perfect example, because we had him on the show last year, and we’re like, “Right, I’ve got to find out more.” Prior to that, being able to sit down with him for an hour and have a chat first. It really is a privilege. I wanted to raise something as well, Rich. You touched on meditation earlier, you mentioned it, and I was wondering, is that big part of your life now, meditation? How long have you been doing it? Yeah, if you could share a bit, because we bring it up on the show now and then. I meditate regular, Stu is kind of flirting with it, so it’s always good to have people’s opinions.

Stu

Stu doesn’t. I’d like to. I always say, it’s really tricky. Meditation, it’s got to be so personal, as well, and I do stuff that puts me in that kind of state. I love my mountain bike, and I like my ocean swimming. When I’m doing that kind of stuff, I’m in the zone, and I don’t feel or think about all the stuff that keeps me up at night. That’s the way I do it, whereas Guy will wander down the beach with a cup of coffee, with his Ugg boots on, and sit there and om to the sunrise.

Rich

Yeah, yeah.

Stu

Yeah, so I do and I don’t.

Rich

Well, meditation is … It’s essential. It’s super duper important, and I’ve gone through my own journey with it. I was first introduced to it in rehab. Basically, I was in a mental institution. It wasn’t something that I wanted to do, but it’s one of the 12 steps. It’s something that I’ve flirted with over the years, and have practiced it consistently, and then fallen off the wagon, then gotten back into it, but I would say in the last year and a half, it’s become an absolutely non-negotiable essential part of my daily routine.

Like yourself, I’ve gone through extended period where my meditation was an active medicine, trail running or cycling and things of that nature. What I’ve come to discover is that that is a form of meditation, but it is qualitatively different from the kind of benefits and experience that you get from a more formal meditation practice. I do both, but I do think that it is crucial to really take that time, when you’re not doing anything else. As hard as it is to just sit still, it’s the easiest thing in the world, and then yet it’s the hardest thing to get yourself to do.

It’s been transformative in my own life, and after having so many guests on my podcast speak to the benefits of it, I just had no more excuses. Doing what we do, you have to walk your talk, so I committed to it, and I do my best to live up to it, and I’ve made it a part of my daily morning routine, and it really has changed my life. I can’t overstate the benefits of it. It’s basically enhanced my performance in every aspect of my life, professionally, athletically, my relationship with my kids and my family, and the people that I interact with throughout the day.

It’s really been an amazing thing, and I would say that to anybody listening, your audience, stop making excuses about it. You know it’s good for you, and just start doing it. You don’t have to do it perfectly. Everybody says, “Oh, I’m a terrible meditator because I keep having ideas pop into my head.” Well, that’s the human condition. That’s part of meditation. You’re either doing it or you’re not, and you can’t fail. If you’re doing it, you’re doing it.

Guy

Yeah.

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Stu

Yeah.

Guy

Have there been any tools that have helped you, for meditation? Or do you just sit in silence, or do you use binaural beats, or transcendental meditation?

Rich

I’ve tried a couple different methods. Just basically, I try to simplify it as much as possible. Just focusing on my breath has been very effective to me. The Headspace app is very, very helpful. I have it right on the dock of my iPhone so it’s staring at me all the time, reminding me. Andy, who’s the founder and voice of Headspace, he takes all the woo-woo out of it. He makes it very easy to follow, and it’s a very welcoming kind of approach to introducing your to the practice. I would recommend everybody check out Headspace. If you download the app, you get ten free ten-minute sessions. You don’t have to pay any money, and you can subscribe after that if you like, but it doesn’t cost you anything to jump on [with 00:37:40] it and check it out.

Stu

No, it’s a good one. I have it on my phone, and I haven’t tried it. I’ve actually been through the ten days about three times. I can see that there’s huge value, but it’s just conditioning, really.

Rich

It is.

Stu

It’s creating that routine, making it habit.

Guy

Yeah, we actually did a lot of meditating at the Wim Hof retreat, and I’m finding the breath work, because we normally do about three rounds, which can take up to five minutes to do, which is time consuming, but when you do them and then meditate, it’s a different experience altogether. It’s much more powerful, yeah. Very interesting. If you explore more of Wim’s work, I look forward to seeing what you think, Rich.

Rich

Well, I think Wim is like an ancient yogi who’s sort of disguised himself as a crazy Dutchman.

Guy

Yeah.

Stu

Yes.

Rich

Everything that he preaches and practices, you can trace back to what the yogis in the Himalayas were doing millennia ago. He’s very well-versed in all of those practices, but he’s very careful about how he articulates and messages people, so that it’s digestible for a modern audience. I think that that’s a great approach to have.

Guy

Yeah, like he says, he’s crazy but not stupid.

Rich

Yeah.

Guy

Which is fine. Next question, mate. What are your non-negotiable practices these days, from everything that you’ve learned, applied, [going 00:39:03] through this amazing journey in your life to get to [the point 00:39:06] now?

Stu

You touched on your daily routine, and I can see light bulbs everywhere, saying, “I want to know what that daily routine is.”

Rich

Right. I have four kids, and also my nephew lives with us, so we have a crazy household. Part of my non-negotiable daily routine is to remain flexible about certain things, because I don’t always get what I want, and that’s okay. That’s part of being a dad and all of that, but I would say that I’m pretty strict about the meditation practice, which we already talked about. I do my best to not schedule appointments, or meetings, or conference calls for the first part of the day, preferably not until after 12 noon, and I use the mornings to train.

For me, if I don’t get out and get after it in the morning, it’s very difficult for me to then make deals with myself in the afternoon when work stuff catches up, so I try to get that out of the way in the morning. That’s really based on the fundamental premise that you can’t take care of anyone else unless you take care of yourself. As selfish as that may sound, my life is about service, and I can’t be of maximum service unless I’m tending to myself. That’s kind of how the morning goes. I start my day with meditation and a green smoothie or a cup of tea. Meditation, some journaling, time away from screens as long as possible in the first part of the day, and then getting outdoors and taking care of my physical being. Then I can settle into my work day. I find when I do those things, I’m much more productive and functional.

Guy

Yeah, fantastic.

Stu

Excellent.

Guy

That’s amazing. Mate, we’ve got one last question that we ask everyone on the show.

Rich

Yeah.

Guy

That’s, what’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Rich

The best piece of advice that I have been given, that I share with everybody, is mood follows action. Mood follows action. In other words, if you want to shift your consciousness, or you want to change your mental or physical state, you have to take an action. What we do as human beings is we kind of decide we’re going to wait until we feel like it. Like, “Well, I’ll do that when I feel better.” If you’re like me, that doesn’t always work out so well. That’s kind of my mantra, and that kind of kick starts me out of whatever funk I’m in, or whatever kind of plateau I find myself in, to shake things up and change my mental state and my physical state.

Guy

Yeah, perfect. Perfect, mate. I had just a random thought come in there, because you talked about routines and stuff. I noticed, you came back from a retreat recently. Is that correct, [you guys 00:42:01]?

Rich

Yeah, my wife and I hosted our first retreat in Italy, in May. It was called Plant Power Italia. We took 40 people to this incredible villa in Tuscany, and it was seven days of just an incredible experience of life transformation. It was yoga, meditation, trail running, [chi 00:42:23] practice, Ayurvedic medicine. We did workshops on creativity, and relationships, and fitness. It was remarkable, and we’re going back in October. We’re doing another one, so if anybody’s listening and they’re interested in joining us, it’s going to be an extraordinary experience. You can find out about that at ourplantpowerworld.com

Guy

Yeah, you obviously had a rough time, so you’re going back [in 00:42:45] the second one.

Stu

Yeah.

Rich

Here’s the thing, we’re looking at doing another one in I think February of 2017, in Western Australia.

Guy

Oh, wow.

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Rich

Yeah.

Guy

Wow, beautiful part of the world.

Rich

Yeah, yeah.

Stu

Well, absolutely keep us in the loop there, because we would love to connect, if you’re over this way. Western Australia, any more details on the actual location?

Rich

Not quite sure yet, we’re looking at a couple different places. Our producer for these retreats is Australian, and I was like, “We’ve got to do one in Australia, because I know I have a big audience there.”

Stu

Yeah.

Rich

She was saying, well, the Australian audience, a lot of the kind of wellness holistic retreats are all in your area, right? Around Byron Bay?

Stu

Yes, they are.

Rich

Australians are always looking for an excuse to go to Western Australia, but they never do.

Stu

True.

Rich

So, let’s do that. I’m like, “All right.” I’ve never even been to Byron Bay. That’s why we’re looking at Western Australia, to create something maybe a little bit more exotic for people that actually live in your neck of the woods.

Stu

Got it.

Guy

Yeah, awesome. Awesome. Yeah, definitely keep us in the loop, man. For anyone that wants to learn more about you, Rich, where’s the best place to go? Also, what’s the name of the podcast?

Rich

I’m pretty easy to find online. You can just Google me, or go to my website, richroll.com. I’m Rich Roll on Twitter, and Instagram, and all those places, and it’s the Rich Roll Podcast. You can find it on iTunes, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Guy

Brilliant.

Stu

Right.

Guy

Brilliant. We’ll be sure to share this out once it goes lives. I have no doubt everyone’s going to get a great deal of benefit from listening to this today, Rich. [crosstalk 00:44:31] Really appreciate it, yeah.

Rich

Yeah, thanks so much, guys. It’s really fun talking to you.

Guy

Thanks, Rich.

Stu

Thanks, Rich, and we will see you when you are over this side of the world. Looking forward to it.

Rich

All right, man. I’ll let you guys know. Take care.

Guy

Cheers.

Stu

Take care.

Rich

Cheers.

Stu

Bye-bye.

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