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10 things I learned from the world’s fittest man

It was a flight of stairs that changed it all for Rich Roll. On the eve of his fortieth birthday, Rich stood panting half way up the stairs to bed. It was then, sweat forming on his head, he realized it was time to change.

by
Finding Ultra, Rich Roll

Random House Canada

It was a flight of stairs that changed it all for Rich Roll. On the eve of his fortieth birthday, Rich stood panting half way up the stairs to bed. It was then, sweat forming on his head, he realized it was time to change. Overweight, uninspired and fearing he wouldn’t live to see his daughter get married, Rich decided enough was enough. Finding Ultra is the inspiring story of his dramatic change from, “a fat, out-of-shape, and very unhealthy man hurtling into middle age,” to being named one of the world’s 25 fittest men.

Here, 10 things I learned from Rich about making transformation:

1. You don’t need a diet. You need a regimen. Rich makes it very clear he not only changed his eating habits but his whole life. You need to feel different to make real change. Expecting to stop eating cheeseburgers and drop 50 pounds just isn’t going to cut it.

2. You can’t make someone change. True transformation only comes when a person is ready to make their life better. No gym membership, pep talk or amount of support will help someone who’s not ready to say goodbye to their old self.

3. Change comes from balance. Cutting out caffeine, dairy, eggs and alcohol in the first week of a diet will only make you grouchy. Find a plan that is reasonable for your life and allows long term change, not flash-in-the-pan weight loss.

4. Be your own support. Family and friends’ support is paramount, but relying completely on other people isn’t going to work. Trust and be kind to yourself. Those people already love you. It’s you you need to impress.

5. Take it day by day. Rich’s story is an inspiring one, but it’s also rare. If you start a program only focused on the end goal you’ll never make it. Set daily objectives to ensure success. Take the stairs one flight. Try and do 10 push-ups. Focusing on the small accomplishments will motivate you to stick with it.

6. Manage life. Ensure you’re not alienating family or responsibilities. Long hours spent at the gym are great, but not if they’re hurting your personal life. Take a step back and evaluate your schedule. Make use of inefficiencies and prioritize.

7. Keep it simple. Overcomplicating your diet is exhausting. Though Rich’s vegan lifestyle works for him, the main message is to stick with the basics: fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains. Counting calories, weighing portions, avoiding carbs, it’s not sustainable. “Don’t eat things with ingredients you can’t pronounce or aren’t found in nature,” he advises.

8. Don’t define yourself. Too old, too heavy, too busy — we’re so quick to reason why we can’t do something. You wouldn’t tell a friend she’s too old to take up swimming, so why say it to yourself? 

9. Do your research. You’ve decided to make a change. Now what? Talk to doctors, read books, find out what will work for your success. If you’re changing your diet, how and where will you shop? Get the knowledge you need to ensure you’re spending time, and money, efficiently.

10. If you’re not growing, you’re not living. There are going to be obstacles, and moments of doubt, but nothing great ever happens plopped on the couch. Take the first step. Then take another.

Have you made a recent transformation in your life? What inspired you?

Finding Ultra hits shelves May 22, Random House Canada, $30