How to transform your body from one of the world’s fittest men

Rich Roll went from overweight and unhappy to (years later) being named one of the world’s fittest men. Here he tells us where to start on a journey of transformation.


Rich Roll. Photo, Maclay Heriot.

In 2009 Men’s Fitness named him one of the 25 fittest guys in the world. He’s a Stanford University and Cornell Law School graduate who, at age 40, transformed himself from a sedentary, overweight father to an ultra-distance endurance athlete (and lost 50 pounds in the process). Rich Roll inspires people worldwide. He’s a living example of the power to transform. He’s had top finishes at the Ultraman World Championships, was the first of two people to complete the Epic5 Challenge (five Ironman-distance triathlons on the five separate islands of Hawaii in under a week), and is the author of the best selling memoir Finding Ultra.

Today, he’s the centre of his own brand of healthy living. He advocates for plant-based eating, hosts a successful podcast and travels the word as a public speaker. We asked him what the average person can do to begin their journey to feeling amazing. Here’s his most basic advice:

“I certainly don’t have a monopoly on feeling amazing. Everyone has the right to feel great, and it’s my mission to help people access the more vital, authentic, energized and positive version of themselves locked inside, but yearning to come out.”

1. Start your day with something green
Nothing makes me feel better than my morning green juice or smoothie. Drinking a blend (or juice) comprised primarily of dark leafy greens like kale and spinach is the true breakfast of champions.

2. Move your body
It’s not about the gym. And it’s not about suffering. But you do need to find something physically exerting that you enjoy doing, and create a daily habit of doing it. Healthy food is only half the battle. If you want to feel your absolute best — enhanced mental function and quality of sleep; improved sex, heightened alertness and overall mood elevation — then daily exertion outside in nature is a must.

3. Unplug
We think we use our gadgets to stay connected. But somewhere along the line they have become the best way to isolate ourselves. Commit to more real-life interactions with friends and make a rule that all gadgets get turned off at least two hours before bed. The result will be an increased calm and more restful sleep, which translates into an increased vitality and connection with the world during the day.

4. Be of service
Each day, set aside your problems and take a few moments to help someone else out. This doesn’t mean you have to go serve food at a soup kitchen (although that’s a good option); it can be as easy as calling a friend and checking in. You might just be amazed at how much better you feel when you get outside yourself.

Rich Roll

Rich Roll. Photo, Maclay Heriot.

5. Practise gratitude
I don’t know about you, but gratitude is not my default emotional state — I have to practise it to feel it. But when I do, I feel better about just about everything in my life. Before you go to bed each night, take five minutes to write down a list of things you are grateful for that day. It might seem silly, but it’s quite powerful.

6. Understand that true health is an inside job
You can exercise and eat a super-healthy diet, but if the rest of your life is out of balance, then you’re not truly healthy in the holistic sense. In my opinion, the key to true health and happiness resides deep within all of us. Make meditation and mindfulness a daily top priority in 2014 and you will be amazed at how much your life will change.

For more on Rich Roll’s personal transformation click here

Gillian Mandich is currently completing her doctoral studies at Western University in Health and Rehabilitation Science, with a focus on health promotion, specifically physical activity, childhood obesity, nutrition, and diabetes. Gillian is a holistic health advocate, yoga and Yoga Tune Up teacher, co-host of  “The Holistic Health Diary” podcast, and contributes to numerous print and online media. Follow her on Twitter or Instagram @gillianmandich.

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