April 15, 2015
[0:01:31] Premium Channel
[0:04:18] Rich Roll
[0:07:23] How Rich Wrote “The Plant Power Way”
[0:12:03] Rich's Daily Meal Routine
[0:16:16] Rich's Morning Routine
[0:22:33] The Most Important Part of Rich's Morning Routine
[0:25:38] Rich's Morning Routine When He Travels
[0:30:45] Lifestyle Paths
[0:35:05] Movement Protocols For Each Path
[0:40:16] Raising Kids
[0:44:22] How Rich Reacts To His Children's Food Choices
[0:50:29] Kids And Exercise
[1:01:13] End of Podcast
Ben: Hey, folks. Welcome to the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast. I'm off gallivanting about the globe, and so in lieu of our normal weekly Q&A podcast, I'm bringing you a special episode with ultra-endurance, plant-powered athlete Rich Roll. Now two quick things before we jump into this episode. The first is that this podcast is brought to you by mattresses, specifically Casper mattresses.
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Now the other thing I wanted to mention to you today is that you might not be aware that we've got a bunch of super-secret Ben Greenfield Fitness episodes and we've been churning out some pretty good ones lately over in what's called “The Premium Channel”. And you can check it out at bengreenfieldfitness.com/premium. Kind of a sticker shock price, it's $9.99 for a whole year, but we've got PDFs, videos, bonus handouts, audios. Our latest two audios, one was “How To Learn Anything” with John Goodman in which we go into all the details from breathing, and meditation, and learning processes that allow you to learn anything from dancing, to a musical instrument, to a new exercise. And another recent episode that is getting released or might [0:02:23] ______ time you to listen to this is what this company called Ecolabs, which just figured out how to integrate a technology called spectrometry into wearable devices. And that allows you to do things like determine how much glucose and fat is in your blood stream, determine your heart reversibility without using a chest strap, and also determine things like full body tissue hydration using some pretty cool algorithms. So that one is kind of a propeller hat episode, but also on that you might enjoy over at bengreenfieldfitness.com/premium. So check out those two resources if you want to sleep better or make yourself smarter. And let's jump into this week's episode with Rich Roll
“I'm a guy who's happy with, I could eat quinoa and beans with salsa on it and guacamole like every day.” “I'm a very kind of like obsessive compulsive kind of person, and my default mode when I wake up in the morning would be to guzzle down a ton a coffee and immediately go on my phone, and check all my email, and get right into it, you know?” “I would be somebody who's considered very pitta, which means I run really hot. My feet get hot. My wife is under the covers at night and I'm sleeping on top of the covers. I just burn hot.” “The first thing is we never make a kid's meal. The kids eat what we eat, and that's always been the rule in our house. We don't try to create separate meals just to appeal to them.”
Ben: Hey, folks. It's Ben Greenfield, and I got to tell you, plant-powered ultra-endurance athlete Rich Roll is no stranger to the show and we've had some really good conversations before. Now before I go on, I should tell you that I'll put a link to all of the different episodes that I've done with Rich and he's done with me over at bengreenfieldfitness.com/richroll2. That's bengreenfieldfitness.com/richroll2. For example, our episode on how to be extremely active and eat a plant-based diet without destroying your body, or some of the craziest superfoods you've never heard of. I also had a couple episodes on Rich's podcast, one that was basically an exercise nutrition geek-fest, and another more epic two hour-ish episode on everything from online entrepreneurism, to home schooling, to high fat diets. And there's even a video floating around there on YouTube with myself, and Rich Roll, and Vinnie Tortorich where we have kind of a diet debate.
Well Rich is returning on this episode along with his new book, which I actually just got my hands on two days ago and went through it in detail the past couple of days in preparation for today's episode, and also just because it's a big beautiful book with cool pictures of Rich and his family, and the foods that they're eating, and Rich exercising with his shirt off. So it's called “The Plant Power Way: Whole Food Plant-Based Recipes and Guidance For The Whole Family“. So in this episode, we're going to delve into some of the things that Rich has in that book, but also just philosophies on kids, life, lifestyle, routines, and things that might go above and beyond, I know that question that you seem to get all the time that everyone still seems to ask on Twitter, Rich, which is, “Where do you get your fats and your proteins?” So we'll kind of ignore that for now. So how have you been, man?
Rich: I'm doing good, man. Thanks for having me on the show. Always a pleasure to chat with you. We've done this a couple of times. But it's been a while, so good to be back.
Ben: We have. And usually we geek out on food, and eating, and plant-based diets, and veganism, and all that jazz. But I actually want to start off asking you something that we don't talk a whole lot about on the show, and it's kind of like the inside baseball of books. Because I know, I'm just curious from a totally selfish standpoint, I've written as you have, with your book, “Finding Ultra“, and my book, “Beyond Training”, like big text-based books. But you've now got this kind of like big coffee table style book with pictures of you and your family, and pictures of food, and I'm curious how that writing process went, how that creation process went for a book like that versus like a text-based book where you just sit down and write.
Rich: Yeah. I mean it was definitely different. When I wrote Finding Ultra, I kind of just holed up at the 24 hour Kinko's, did my thing in isolation, and turned in a text manuscript. So it was very much kind of a solo effort just working with my editor. But this book was very much a team approach, very collaborative. It took us two years to put this together.
Ben: Holy cow.
Rich: We had multiple photo shoots, and we had to test every recipe three times, and so we spread the work around. I'm kind of a control freak. I don't know how you are about that. I think triathletes and typing…
Ben: The way I am when I'm writing, I don't want anybody's help. I know you worked on this book with your wife. If my wife and I would have worked on a book together, and I'm just guessing here because we haven't before, I'd be pulling my hair out the whole time 'cause I'd just like to hole myself away and write.
Rich: Yeah. I mean, me too. So for me, it was kind of a growth process of letting go and learning how to work with other people. But Julie is the artist in the kitchen and that's really her domain. So I really gave her the breath to really develop the recipe. We, together, sort of selected what we wanted to put in there, but it was really her kind of thing, putting together the recipes, 'cause that's what she specializes in. And I focused on the editorial content, the opinion pieces, and all the resources and tools. I'm more of a detail person and Julie is more of a big picture person. So it kind of worked nicely. There were intense moments, but I think that that combination served the book well. I mean we both have a very specific design aesthetic and we worked with a graphic designer, I mean I think the thing that people might not know is that our original intention for this book was to self-publish it. So we created the entire book. We put together our own team and basically self-financed it, and hired photographers, and worked with a graphic designer, and bought a bunch of books, and kind of identified the layouts that we found were most appealing, and tried to come up with a design key that everything could kind of fold under, and went that way. And ultimately we ended up going the traditional publisher route, but rather than sort of present a book proposal to them, we actually delivered a finished book. So the book that ends up in the store is really, I would say the book that we originally presented to our publisher, Avery, is about 85 to 90% of what ultimately is the finished product.
Ben: Okay. Gotcha. It's really interesting. I was just curious, kind of like how that process goes of creating this photo-rich cookbook-style manual instead of the print-based books.
Rich: Yeah. A lot of moving pieces. It's like trying to make everything fit, and then you change one thing, and that pushes the photo over to the other page. It was a lot more complex.
Ben: And I can see that you probably had photographers and stuff kind of popping into the house and taking pictures, and Jessa and I went through the same thing when we did the Inner Circle and kind of launched our website is basically we had like photographers and video people following us around for three days. There were a few kind of odd moments where they'd make us get up at like 4:30 AM to go do yoga in the sunrise. And I'm like, “This is totally not something we would do, go do yoga in the sunrise on a cliff top.” It's all…
Rich: Right. It's like a glimpse of what it would be like if you had your own reality show.
Ben: Right. Kind of like that, yeah. So I want to actually kind of pivot and just go straight into some of the things as far as the meals that are in your book. Because one of my issues is when I'm reading a cookbook or when I'm going through a series of recipes, I'm one of those guys who has like staple foods. Like I eat almost the same thing for breakfast 365 days a year, like my big green smoothie. And I have almost the same thing for lunch every day, what I call my “big ass salad”. And then we kind of switch dinner up a little bit, but I'm really a creature of habit with food. And I'm curious for you, do you actually eat all of the recipes that are in this book or do you kind of have like your same staple daily meal routine? What's the ritual daily meal routine look like?
Rich: Yeah. I mean that's a great question. I would say, I'm much like you. Left to my own devices, if I was a single guy, I'd move into a cabin in the woods, and just like train all day, and eat the same thing, and live kind of a stoic lifestyle of sorts. And I'm a guy who's happy with, I could eat quinoa and beans with salsa on it and guacamole like every day.
Ben: I'm right there with you. I'm podcasting, I'm recording us right now from my hotel room in Las Vegas. And I've been in Las Vegas for three days now and most of my meals have literally been salad with white rice, sardines, and an avocado with a little lemon juice. That's just like every single breakfast, lunch, dinner. That works for me.
Rich: Right. That would be a very short cookbook.
Ben: Exactly. That's the problem is you can't make that into a cookbook. But what do you do?
Rich: To your point, I mean, I'm spoiled because my wife is such an unbelievable chef. Throughout the day, like I kind of do my own thing when I'm working and out in the world, but we always have our family meal, and that's when she's always whipping up these insane creations. So I think that what you see kind of in the wellness universe is a health professional or advocate will kind of get to that point where it's time for them to put a cookbook out, and generally they kind of have to partner with a chef or somebody who is expert in the kitchen to kind of cultivate some recipes that would make sense for a book. And our book I think is different in the sense that these are all the recipes that we eat, that my kids eat, that Julie started developing eight years ago when I made this transition to eating plant-based and she had to figure out, “Okay, I need to figure out a way to prepare a meal that is going to satisfy my husband who just got back from some ridiculous training experience.” But it also has to be something that my kids are going to eat. I can't be too weird. My kids have to like it. And I love good food,” saying in Julie's mind. “And I also am busy.” She's doing a million things, I'm doing a million things, so it's got to be fast, it's got to be convenient. And those are kind of like the marching orders in terms of all the recipes that we create. And so it's kind of… whereas Finding Ultra was really my personal story and very much a memoir, this book kind of is our family's story. Finding Ultra had some nutritional information in it, but didn't have recipes. So it was sort of like, “Okay, well what's the next thing?” Like, “Alright. Well, I'm down with what you're saying, Rich, but how do I begin and what am I going to eat?” And this book kind of is an effort to address that.
Ben: So if you're stuck on a desert island, what would your breakfast be? If you could pick one thing.
Rich: Am I allowed to bring a Vitamix?
Ben: You could bring anything you want.
Rich: And a generator?
Ben: Okay. Now we're going overboard.
Rich: No. I mean I think that I would have, my breakfast is a green smoothie every morning. That starts with dark leafy greens, kale, spinach, half a beet, the beet greens, and kind of builds from there. Some berries, like blackberries, berries that are high in antioxidants, hemp seeds, chia seeds, ground flax seeds, maybe a little spirulina or chlorella, some coconut water, and I'm pretty much good for the morning.
Ben: Yeah. Just basically a superfood smoothie.
Ben: Yeah. I've had some days where I have that for breakfast, lunch, and dinner also. You've also talked a lot, I know that most people who are listening into this show probably know that you have a podcast as well, “The Rich Roll Podcast”, and I've heard you talk about things like yoga and meditation on that show. And I'm curious what your personal routine is. Like when you get up in the morning, do you have a specific series of activities that you go through that involve things like yoga and meditation, and if you could get into the nitty gritty for our listeners? ‘Cause people are really interested in the practical aspects of the morning routine.
Rich: Yeah. For sure. That's been an evolution for me. I mean I'm a very kind of like obsessive compulsive kind of person. My instincts, like my default mode when I wake up in the morning would be, if I had my way, would be to guzzle down a ton of coffee and immediately go on my phone, and check all my e-mail, and kind of just get right into it. That practice does not serve me well. So it takes me a tremendous amount of effort to combat that instinct and do something different. So what I do is I wake up, I immediately drink a tall glass of water, generally with a squeeze of lemon in it or a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. And that kind of hydrates me, and as I understand, will help alkalize my body. And then from there, I will prepare some tea, usually like a Pu'er tea. And then after I've made my tea, I settle into a meditation practice. And I found great success using the Headspace app. I've really been enjoying using that. I've been playing around with meditation for 15, 16 years and always struggle with finding a groove. I think momentum and consistency are my biggest problem with that, and so the headspace app has really helped create kind of that consistent practice that I've always sought. And so I do that, I do one of the guided meditations for 20 minutes.
Ben: And so the Headspace app simply comes packed with preset meditations of varying lengths? Is that how that works?
Rich: Yeah, exactly. It's a company that was founded by this guy, Andy Puddicombe, who's a British dude. He's kind of become the Jamie Oliver of meditation in some respects. But he was a Buddhist monk for 10 years, and kind of lived in isolation, and then re-entered the world, and is now this wildly successful entrepreneur with this company Headspace. And essentially it's a free app. It comes with 10 pre-loaded guided meditations. And if you kind of do that and dig it, you can upgrade to an annual membership. There's literally no end to the number of programs that are available on. And they're oriented around different interests. Like if you're looking for balance, if you're having trouble with sleep, or if anxiety is your issue, he has guided programs that address all of those.
Ben: Do you bounce around from meditation to meditation or do you have the same one that you do each day?
Rich: I'm still playing around with it. Like I went through a period where I was working so much and I was juggling so many things that I was having difficulty sleeping even though I was training every day. And so I did like a 30-day one that that kind of helped calm me down for that kind of thing. And anxiety is a big thing with me, so I kind of do that program as well. But I'll try to see a program through for 30 days before I move on to the next one. And it's been great. It really has helped me quite a bit. So for people out there that are listening, you might want to check that out.
Ben: I'll put a link to it in the show notes.
Rich: Yeah, cool. I put it on my iPhone, I put the Headspace app down at the bottom dock. Like I replaced my Mail app and put the Headspace down in the lower right hand corner. So my thumb naturally will gravitate towards pushing it, and that's been kind of a neat little, tiny little thing that I've done. So I'll do that meditation program. And then after that, I have a little Moleskine notebook and I'll do a quick gratitude list, like 10 things that I'm grateful for that day. If I have a little bit more time maybe, I'll do a little bit of journaling like right out of The Artist's Way Morning Pages kind of routine, which is something I've done in the past, the whole Artist's Way program, which has been really helpful.
Ben: I'm not familiar with that. Can you explain?
Rich: Oh, yeah. It's fantastic. There's a book called “The Artist's Way“ by Julia Cameron, and basically she wrote this book to help people kind of unlock their creativity. And it's essentially, it's like a 30-day program, but then you can kind of just build some of these practices into your daily life. And it kind of lays out some things to do throughout the week. But the cornerstone of it is to do what's called “Morning Pages” every morning where you get a notebook out and you just write out in long form, not typing on your computer, but actually writing out three pages. And there's no agenda for those three pages. It could be a hate journaling, and I don't want to do this, and I have nothing to say, and there's nothing on my mind. But the point is that you do it. And what I found in creating a consistent practice around that is it really helps me unlock new ideas and get in touch with what I really want to do, it helps me kind of prioritize what's most important. And it's really been a key thing. And I've gone in and out of, I've done the full program a couple times, but I try to build in some of the key practices into my daily life. So I'm not doing the actual program now, but I've learned so much from that and it's been really, really helpful in kind of understanding what it is that I really want to spend my time doing.
Ben: Do you run into the issue of, and I get this from folks sometimes too when I describe my morning routine, and what you're talking about from making your Pu'er tea, to your meditation, and then going through this writing process, and making the smoothie, we're talking 30, 45 minutes and in some cases even longer. And a lot of times, people are like, “Hey, I have five minutes right to like get out of bed quickly, get a shower, and say goodbye to the wife and kids, and head off to work,” or “Say goodbye to the husband and kids, and get off to work or whatever.” Like if you could choose one thing that you think would be like the biggest win for someone who's just basically got a traditional 8 to 5, or 9 to 5, or whatever, what would you say would be the most important thing?
Rich: Well the first thing, maybe two things I would say. The first thing is you've got to understand that your mental and emotional health is equally as important as what you put on your plate. So it is a question of priorities. And if you understand just how crucial it is and how transformative it can be, then maybe you should make some choices about how you're spending your time and go to bed half an hour earlier so you can wake up early or maybe not watch that evening show. It really is like when people say they don't have time, they have time. What they're really saying is it's not as big of a priority to me as it is to you. So there's that. The second thing is if you really do, and listen, I don't do it perfectly. There are days when I wake up and I'm like, “Oh, crap. I'm late. I've got to get going.” And it doesn't happen. So I'm certainly not perfect in it by any stretch of the imagination. So if you only have three to five minutes, one thing that I think is really a cool thing that you can do, and I was taught this by a sports psychologist named Michael Gervais that I had on my podcast, and he's the guy who works with the Seattle Seahawks under Coach Pete Carroll, and he was instrumental in getting Felix Baumgartner settled in his suit so he could make that jump, that Red Bull jump, the stratus jump.
Ben: Yeah. Exactly. From way high up.
Rich: You got to meet this guy. He'd be phenomenal for your podcast. He was so great. He's a guy who is super into mindfulness. And he's been able to teach these guys in the NFL and the Olympic athletes that he works with the importance of mindfulness practices in terms of performance enhancement. And the one thing he said is like he's not a guy who likes to meditate. So what he does is when his eyes open and he's laying in bed, he will make a very conscious decision to just lay there, and take one big breath, try to clear his mind, focus on something that he's grateful for for that day, and then exhale very slowly. So that's about 20 seconds. And then yes how he starts his day, by making a conscious decision to just be in the moment that he's in and direct his thoughts a little bit. And everybody's got time for that.
Ben: It sounds a little bit like the quick coherence technique that you'll find at heartmath.org where you just think of one thing that you're grateful for, you become very aware of your heart, the area in the center of your chest, and then you imagine breathing that thing that you're grateful for into that area in the center of your chest, and you're literally doing like 10 seconds. And they've shown some really interesting data for as like an increase in your heart rate variability and alignment of your nervous system when you do something as quickly as that, the centering of the coherence. So that's really interesting. Now what about when you, this is obviously a topic that's fresh on my mind right now because I'm in Vegas. I'm traveling. What about when you travel? Do you find that your morning routine just gets disrupted? Did you have specific things that you do when you travel to kind of keep yourself grounded?
Rich: Yeah. I mean, definitely. Sometimes, I don't know if you've experienced this, but sometimes it's easier when I travel because my house is insane. I've got four kids, my nephew also lives with us, there's a million things going on. It's easier for me to get thrown off my game at home because there are so many people with different things and different needs that need to be attended to. And when I travel, it's just me. So I actually can know a little bit more focused. But you are in a different place and I don't always sleep so great the first night in a hotel because it's different from my bed, and the time zone changes, and all that kind of stuff. So a couple things that I do is, like yourself, I know you're staying in a hotel that has a little kitchen I think that's really important to the extent that you can always find a place that has a little kitchenette or something like that, that can be a game changer.
Ben: AirBnB. It's a lifesaver.
Rich: Right. The other thing is I will just spend five minutes before I go out of town to figure out where either the Whole Foods is or some kind of market where I can pick up food. And oftentimes when I land at the airport, I will go straight to that market before I even check into my hotel. And that way, I can pick up just the essentials. So if I get into trouble or there's no place where, I find there's no restaurant, like I will always have what I need to make a dinner, or breakfast, et cetera. And then beyond that, the morning routine remains the same.
Ben: So you do the same morning routine? You do the meditation, and some kind of a tea. Did you say that you do any type of movement? Like are you exercising at all before you get your day going? Do you have yoga, or a swim, or anything like that?
Rich: Yeah. So I mean after I do that little routine that I explained, then I train. So I usually train in the morning. Not this morning because I'm talking to you.
Ben: Sorry about that.
Rich: Yeah, but it's cool.
Ben: I don't know, man. I trained this morning. My thing when I travel is I do a hypoxic swim. Most places I travel to have a pool, and my morning routine is basically swimming underwater. It's very relaxing. I put on a podcast or an audio book, and I just go back and forth, holding my breath. It's not like full-on lap swim, but it's really relaxing. It's just like being underneath the water and staring around, nobody's in the pool that early. And that's my thing right now.
Rich: That's cool. That's sort of like a meditation practice in some respects.
Ben: It's very much like that. It's very relaxing and you move very slowly 'cause you're trying to hold your breath, and it's almost like an underwater tai chi type of practice.
Rich: That's cool, man. Maybe I'll try that.
Ben: Anyways though, so I interrupted you. What do you say your kind of morning thing is?
Rich: Oh, yeah. So after my morning routine, I mean I go out and I train. So at home, it's swimming, cycling, running, sometimes I'll hit a yoga practice in the late afternoon. But morning is kind of my time to go outside and do a trail run, or get on my bike, or go to the pool. It's generally one of those. In the winter months it's more indoor gym time. I'm not a gym rat. I really don't like being, I get claustrophobic inside. I don't like indoor pools. Like I really like being outdoors. I try to not, I'm self-employed, so I have some control over my day, and I try not to schedule meetings, or podcasts, or conference calls, and things like that in the morning hours so that's kind of like my sacred time.
Ben: So for you, what time, for me, it's about 9:30. That's about the time, and obviously this is out of the ordinary for both of us, it sounds like, for us to be podcasting at 8:30 AM. But what time for you is the time that you're willing to kind of begin to let others into your life and let others run your schedule?
Rich: It depends on the day. Every day is different. I try to not actually schedule firm things until like noon. And I don't always succeed in that. That's kind of like a thumbnail rule that I try to adhere to. And that doesn't mean that I'm not working before then, but I try not to have sort of social commitments before that time. So there's this block of time in the morning. So if things are calm that day, maybe I can get out to ride my bike a little bit longer, maybe do a two and a half, three hour ride as opposed to a short ride or something like that before I have to really settle in and focus on what I'm doing for the rest of the afternoon.
Ben: Right. Gotcha. Well let's go ahead and get out of the morning routine and talk about something really unique that you have in the book. You have this section in the book devoted to lifestyle paths. I haven't really seen this concept before and I don't think I'd seen you discuss it at all before. You talk about the “Lotus path”, and the “herbivore path”, and the “transformation path”. Can you explain what those paths are and where they came from?
Rich: Yeah, sure. I mean the idea behind this book was to, listen, it's 120 plus plant-based recipes. It's very much a plant-based cookbook and also kind of how-to lifestyle guide. So it's the eating cookbook. But at the same time, I didn't want it to be pigeonholed to just people that are vegan or want to be vegan. Like I really wanted to write a book that would appeal and be a pleasurable to just the average modern American family who is looking to make healthier choices and looking to kind of help their children get on a healthier trajectory by fostering lifestyle habits that will serve them well in the long run. And listen, whether you're paleo, or you're on the Mediterranean diet, whether you're on a plant-based diet, whatever your kind of health preference is in terms of your dietary protocol, the one consistent theme throughout all of these healthy diets is that they focus on a preponderance of plant foods in your diet, lots of vegetables, et cetera.
So we wanted to create delicious recipes that would be appealing to everybody who's just looking to do that. We're not asking you to be completely plant-based, but here are some great plant-based foods that can kind of dial up your day. And to do that, we had to create recipes that would be appealing across the board for everybody, even the carnivorously-inclined person in your family or extended family. And along these lines, it was kind of understanding that people are going to come to this book from different places. There's going to be the person who is sort of really overweight and maybe has been diagnosed with hypertension, or high blood pressure, what have you, and realizes like, “Okay. Now is my time. Like I really need to make some changes.” So we wanted to create a lifestyle path that would serve that individual with recipes that are very specific and oriented around kind of weight loss, and disease prevention, and reversals. So that's the transformation path.
So every recipe is key coded according to one of these paths so that you can kind of create your own program that's going to work for you. The performance path would be a path that would be something that would be more applicable to a guy like you or me, somebody who's super active, they're training, they're fit. They're looking for some recipes that are going to help them dial in their athletic performance, their recovery, and the like. So there are recipes key coded around that. And then the third path is really around balance. Like somebody who's already pretty healthy, kind of like somebody like my wife. Like she's always been pretty healthy. She wants to dial it up a little bit, but it's more about just balance. And so through those three paths, we're hoping that that will sort of capture the interest of the vast majority of people by saying, “Okay. Well, fall into this category, so these are the recipes that are going to be the ones that I'm going to want to focus on a little bit more.” Not necessarily to exclusion of everything else, but just more like guiding principles.
Ben: How did you choose which recipes correspond to which path? Is it the actual nutrients in the recipes themselves or something else?
Rich: It's more about kind of, yeah, nutrient density, volumetrics, and fat content. Like somebody who really is needing to lose a lot of weight and maybe they've been diagnosed with heart disease, well those are going to be the recipes that are much lower in fat, not a lot of the oils. There are going to be oil free or oil free options for that person. The performance oriented ones are going to be more oriented around the super food smoothies and the kind of foods that are maybe a little bit more satisfying, post-workout that are going to help you recover, things like that.
Ben: Okay. Gotcha. And are there specific movement protocols associated with each path too? Like is one path more like yoga, tai chi, and one path more weight training or intense exercise?
Rich: Yeah, definitely. We have in the back where we kind of explain what these three lifestyle paths are, we do “A Day In The Life”. So it's like if you really want to step by step throughout your day, here's what a typical day would look like on one of these paths. And so the performance path is going to be, it's going to talk about stuff that you and I like to do, and the transformation path is going to be a lot more gentle in terms of the physical exertion aspect of it, and the balance oriented path is going to be about kind of just what you said, it's going to be more focused on mindfulness, meditation, and kind of the more yogic kind of aspects of living a balanced, healthy life.
Ben: It reminds me a little bit of ayurvedic medicine. Are you familiar with, I believe they're called the vedas in ayurvedic medicine, or…
Rich: Yeah. My wife is huge in ayurveda. She actually healed a thyroglossal duct cyst in her neck using ayurveda, consulting an ayurvedic doctor, and we tell that story in the book. So she's totally down with that, and that has to do, it's the doshas.
Ben: Yeah, it's the doshas.
Rich: It's Pitta, Vata, what's the third one? I forget what the third one is. And it's kind of basing principles of diet around foods that fall into one of these three categories because ayurveda's all about balance, finding balance in your lifestyle and in your diet. So for example, I would be somebody who's considered very Pitta, which means I run really hot, like my feet get hot. My wife is under the covers at night and I'm sleeping on top of the covers, like I just burn hot. And so it's foods that are to help balance me out and make me a little bit more Vata, as opposed to Pitta, like less spicy foods. I didn't buy into it at all at first, but she kind of got me on board. And when I was having this sleep issue, she's like, “You need to eat foods that are going to balance you out a little bit more and get you out of this Pitta.” I have to say, like it was really helpful in calming me down and helping me sleep better.
Ben: Yeah. I find ayurvedic medicine fascinating, and I haven't had a chance to delve into as much as I'd like. I first kind of started to discover the whole like body typing and these doshas when I was writing my Get-Fit Guy's “Ideal Body Typing” book, which is just a very basic book where you put in your height, and your weight, and your metrics, and it identifies your body type and kind of gives you an approximate workout and diet plan based off of that. But what I was reading as I was going through that was a lot of these ayurvedic body typing books that dealt far more deeply into that than I want. What would you say is your favorite, well let me say this: I found that a lot of the ayurvedic books I was reading were a little bit difficult to understand maybe not palatable for much of the population. If you could choose a good resource for people to delve into ayurvedic body typing or ayurvedic medicine, what would be one of your favorites?
Rich: That's tough. That's a great question for my wife. Maybe I'll email you that and you can put it in the show notes 'cause I don't know…
Rich: Yeah. She's got a library on that kind of stuff, and it is really fascinating. And like I said, I would not have believed it, but she had this cyst on her neck that was the size of a golf ball and all the surgeons said, “There's no way this is going away. You're going to have surgery.” And it took her like nine months, but she cured it with all these crazy herbs that she was taking in consultation with this ayurvedic doctor who just was this modest little guy who had a tiny little office in a strip mall. And she would brew up this crazy stuff, and this was a long time ago before I had made my transition, and I just thought it was insane. And she healed herself, sure enough. And she did what all these doctors said was impossible, and that was very illuminating for me to see.
Ben: Wow. Everybody knows that kind of stuff doesn't happen, right?
Rich: Right? I know, I know. And you know what? There's probably some Western medicine doctor who's going to give you some explanation as to how that happened…
Ben: I always get comments, yeah. You're going to kill people with this show.
Rich: Right. But that was the first indication in my kind of path where I kind of was able to look at that equation of food as medicine, and really understand it for the first time, and go, “Wow, it really is more powerful than I had previously considered.”
Ben: You mentioned earlier about your kids and how you need to sometimes choose meals that you're kids are going to be okay with or open to. Would you say, when I look at your book and I see Adzuki bean, edamame fettuccine, or hash browns that are made with portobello mushrooms instead of potatoes, are your kids pretty on board with most of this stuff or have you found that you need to give them alternatives? What was and is your approach with your children?
Rich: Yeah, I mean they're totally on board now. But it has been a very long, non-linear evolution to get them to this place. And a big part of the book is kind of instructional, kind of roadmap for how to help your kids kind of arrive in a healthier place with food. And with us it kind of boils down to a couple different principles, and the first thing is we never make a kid's meal. The kids eat what we eat and that's always been the rule in our house. We don't try to create separate meals just to appeal to them. And the other thing is we've always been very focused on bringing them into the food equation in our house from a very early age. So when we go to the market, whether it's the farmer's market or just the Ralph's Supermarket, they come with us. Every kind of food item that we choose or we're not going to get is an opportunity, it's sort of a homeschooling opportunity to have a discussion about different kinds of foods, what they do why we're choosing this one and not this one, and allow them to ask questions and participate in the choices that we're making. And then when we get home, they help put the food away. They are instrumental in preparing the evening meal. And so at a very early age, we taught our little girls how to make certain recipes that they like. The first recipe that they learned how to make was chia seed pudding, which is just a healthier, kind of delicious dessert food.
Ben: That's so funny. One of the first recipes I taught my kids how to make was avocado chocolate pudding.
Rich: That's the same thing. I mean our chia seed pudding, it's avocado which has got chia seeds in it. Yeah, and it's delicious.
Ben: And a little Magic Bullet blender.
Rich: Right. Yeah. And what happens when you do that is they're stoked. Like they know how to make something that they like to eat, there's a self-esteem component that comes with that, and there's an emotional connection to food and food preparation that occurs, and then they want to make that. And then once they learn how to make that, they want to learn how to make something else. And so they become more connected to food. Look, the other thing is we don't create rules around what they can or they can't eat. Like when they go to a birthday party, if they want to have pizza or cake, we don't tell them they can't have that. We allow them their own process. Because for us, it's much less about what did you eat in that moment, it's more about trying to cultivate long term habits so that when they're older, they have the information and the education to make their own choices. And by not creating rules, we don't create anything to rebel against. So it's not like, “I'm finally out of the house and I can eat what I want.” Like they're always allowed to eat what they want. In our house, all we have is healthy food and this is what we serve them. And my wife is such an amazing cook that that's what they prefer. But it's taken a long time to get to this place. And the Adzuki bean pasta is actually delicious and it tastes better than the sort of lousy pasta, spaghetti that you would get at a restaurant. So they would rather have the kind of foods that we make in our house.
Ben: Your approach is very similar to ours. We have no separation between what the kids eat and what the parents eat. We're very into the educational component, we talk constantly about the nutrients that are in foods, and our kids come to the kitchen and help prepare many of the meals. But a question that I have for you is we also have the same philosophy that we don't tell our children when they're at birthday parties that they can't eat the cake or they can't have the candy. We simply give them the option and try and educate them as much as possible. How do you feel when you see your kids making choices that you might not have made? Like maybe grabbing the big slice of birthday cake at a party, or maybe on a Halloween, or an Easter, or something like that, eating way more candy than you'd ever yourself. Like how do you feel about that?
Rich: They're just being kids. I don't have judgment about that, you know what I mean? That's what kids do, and it's okay. And I think to the extent that you can stay out of that judgment and that kind of shaming mentality, you're going to be better served. So if they do that, usually they're going to have a stomach ache afterwards or they're going to lay on the couch and go, “Ugh, I feel terrible.” And then you go, “Okay, well that's my window of opportunity to talk to them about it.” Like, “Okay, you feel lousy now. Like let's review what you ate.” And not do it in a way that makes them feel bad, just, “Okay, that was interesting. You ate that and this is how you feel. So maybe next time, think about that a little bit more before you make that choice,” and really leave it at that so that they're, at the end of that conversation, they don't feel bad about themselves, but maybe they have a little bit more information to make a better choice the next time. And maybe they're not going to make a better choice next time, but you just keep at it. You keep at it. Very often it's two steps backwards, one step forward.
But the more that you can just surround them with healthy choices in the house, prepare them by giving them healthy choices when they go out into the world so they have that with them, they're going to make better choices long term. Another thing that plays into this that really kind of merits discussion is the social aspects of it. Like you don't want your kid to feel socially marginalized because he or she is in the corner eating carrots when everyone else is eating cake, and they feel like they're not part of what their friends are doing. That's an important thing, like you want them to feel included and feel good about the company that they're keeping. And in order to do that, sometimes you gotta maybe make a choice you wouldn't ordinarily make. So you're always balancing those things.
Ben: Are your kids home schooled?
Rich: Yeah. So it's easier, we don't have to deal with the school lunch aspect and we have a little bit more kind of dominion over their daily choices. So that's helpful. And I understand that not everybody is in that, most people are not in that situation.
Ben: What's homeschooling look like for you? Are you doing more of the teaching? Is Julie doing more of it? Do you guys have tutors who you bring in?
Rich: Julie is much more of the day-to-day in that. But I think when the subject turns to homeschooling, there's this idea that we're sort of lording over them in a taskmaster kind of way, and that's not really what it looks like. For us, it's very much an “unschooling” method, which is allowing the kids a lot of space, and a lot of free time to be kids, and really get in touch with who they are, and allow them to come to you with things that they're interested in, and then as a parent, figuring out a way to support that. So we bring mentors in to kind of fill in the gaps on the things that they really want to learn about. So for example, 11 year old, she got super into fashion design. So we got this sewing instructor, this really cool girl who comes over to our house and taught them everything about pattern making, and how to sew, and create designs, and taught my 11 year old how to use Photoshop, and, what's the other one, Illustrator. So from that, Mathis, our 11 year old has started a fashion blog, started a fashion line as a business, has created these amazing garments and a garment line that she sells. And so through that experience, which is something that she's passionate about and interested in, she's learned business, she's learned writing, she's learned math, she's learned sort of art. All of these things kind of come into play. So what we do is we orient the learning experience through something that they're inherently interested in, and so the level of engagement tends to be a lot higher.
Ben: What are your children's major social outlets?
Rich: Well, our house is like a clearing house. There is constantly people coming in and out of our house. So there's tons, like that's the big thing people worry about, the socialization…
Ben: That's the way of my house was growing, I was homeschooled K through 12. And we constantly had people over. Like almost too much, almost to the point where we could barely even be together as a family. So that's the way your home is, huh?
Rich: Yeah. I mean there's always interesting people coming in and out of the house and the like, and the big thing people ask is, “Oh, don't you worry about the socialization?” Like that's the last thing that I'm worried about. My kids are very socialized. My oldest, Tyler, who's 20 now, he's so mature in his ability to carry on a conversation with people that are several years his senior, he's very poised socially because he's used to being around our friends, and our friends are his friends, and he has plenty of friends his own age. So I really don't worry about that. I mean I think for me, I'm somebody who was reared in a very, very traditional educational structure and went to these certain prestigious universities and all that kind of stuff, so my biggest thing is like, “We've got to make sure that at least we're covering the bases in terms of the things that they need to know to be prepared in the world, and to have the college option should they choose to pursue that.” But in terms of like socialization and experiential knowledge, I feel good about what we're doing. And again, we don't do it perfectly. This is like an evolving experiment and we're learning as we go.
Ben: Yeah. As far as the activities that you do, obviously in an ultra-endurance athlete, people who may not be familiar with you who are listening in might not know you did five Ironman triathlons in five days on the five different islands of Hawaii. You obviously do a great deal when it comes to, especially endurance and like chronic repetitive motion. What’s your take on kids and exercise? How have you managed that?
Rich: All our kids are active in different ways. I certainly don't push what I do on to my kids. My daughters couldn't be less interested in swimming, which was what I did when I was a kid. I have a monofin, so they love to put the monofin and play around with that, but they're not really sort of competitively inclined in swimming.
Ben: Do they go out and do half marathons, or marathons, or things like that?
Rich: They're really not into it. They're really not. But I will tell you this, my 11 year old, the fashion designer, I just thought, “Well, she's not really interested in sports.” And that's okay as long as we, she likes to go camping and hiking. And then this year, she decided that she wanted to play hockey. And so now she's on a hockey team with the full gear and she's obsessed with hockey, and we go to Kings games, and I would have never imagined in a million years that I would be a hockey dad to a daughter, but that's what's going on right now. And Tyler, my oldest, he likes running. So he runs. And Trapper, although he was homeschooled, we did it in sort of conjunction with the local high school where I live, and he was able to, my boys are in a band. That's their thing. Like music is their thing. They're getting ready to lay down their first album with my nephew, who also lives with us. And that's their passion. But Trapper, he's graduating from high school this year. He played varsity soccer with the high school team and he has played soccer his whole life.
Ben: And the state of California allows homeschooled kids to participate in public school sports like that?
Rich: Yeah. So the way it works is California is extremely liberal in terms of the requirements for homeschooling. And the boys started out in the public, well they were private schooled earlier on, and then they both were at Calabasas High School for a couple years, and they were the ones who said, “This is not working for me. We need to do something different. I'm just not learning on the level that I would like to.” And so the homeschooling experience for them, the girls were already doing it, but then they really wanted to explore it as well. But they were doing the curriculum through the public school system, and they had a mentor at the high school that they would have to turn their work into, but basically they could do it in their own time. And so that allowed Trapper to continue, essentially on some level, he was enrolled. So he could play varsity sports. So his social outlet and his athletic outlet has been through soccer at his school and then club soccer outside of school.
Ben: Gotcha. And did you guys using kind of like standardized curriculum? I homeschooled my kids for two years and now, well just real quickly, now my take on it is I try and have all my work done by 3:50 PM when they get home from the private school that they're going to because I consider that to be a process of outsourcing some of the things that I'm not good at or that aren't my best purpose, like teaching reading, and writing, and spelling, and grammar, and math, and all that jazz, and kind of giving them a chance to learn how to work with a group. And then when they get home in the afternoon, I spend the next three to four hours homeschooling them, teaching them music, dance, wilderness survival, whatever. We do deadlifting, and squats, and workouts, and we shoot the bow, and just everything that I want to teach them that goes above and beyond what they're learning in that group environment. But up until that point when we started them in private school, we were using a curriculum. Like we used one called “Five in a Row”, where you read the same book for five week days in a row and you learn all your lessons from that one book, and you learn about characters, and resolutions, and plot development, and all that jazz. But did you guys use a formal curriculum at all or did you just kind of bounce around?
Rich: Well first of all, now you're making me feel bad 'cause that's amazing that you're doing that. Wow. That's impressive, man. That reminds me of, did you see that movie, Lucy?
Ben: Where she swallows the drugs?
Rich: No, no, no. It was, who was it. It's sort of this guy, this sort of wilderness dude who raises his daughter in isolation and teaches her to be an assassin.
Ben: That makes more, yeah.
Rich: It reminds me that. No. I mean to answer your question, like we do, yeah, some of it is structured. We use a lot of Khan Academy. It's less structured than what you're talking about. We've gone in and out of a couple different programs with varying degrees of success, but we're exploring different options. Like right now, my youngest daughter is spending the day at Muse School, which is a new school. It's actually really close to our house, and that's the school that was started by James Cameron and his wife. It's kind of amazing. They took over this summer camp and turned it into a school, and they're growing their own food, and they teach the kids about perma culture, and it's a very experiential kind of thing. And so we're exploring the possibility of doing kind of a homeschool hybrid where our daughters attend that school on some level so they have that group experience, but then we also are able to do kind of what you're saying, which is control other aspects of their education.
Ben: Yeah. It's really interesting. I don't think that there's one perfect way to do it and I think it depends on the schools that you have available where you live too. Because it took me a very long time to find a school that I was comfortable sending my children to and that was actually open to the idea of things like me buying standing desks for the classrooms. And they do things, like Crossfit is their PE and they're kind of like a little bit more of a free thinking school. My only beef with the school is it's a college prep school and I'm not necessarily enamored with the idea of my children going to college unless they want to be an astronaut, or a physician, or something like that.
Rich: Yeah. That's a whole other conversation I would have.
Ben: Potentially be a waste of time. We could totally rabbit hole down that. And I know we're coming up on time here too. So well for folks listening in, I've been taking notes furiously and you can go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/richroll2. The reason you can't hear me taking notes is because I'm literally standing in a closet right now with my microphone sandwiched between two large pillows from the hotel bed. This is just the way podcasting works. But I'm also going to link to Rich's new book, “The Plant Power Way: Whole Food Plant-Based Recipes And Guidance For The Whole Family”.
I get questions all the time about how I do things when it comes to using vegan and plant-based resources like this, and I am indeed one of those guys who's diet, if you look at my diet, appears to be largely plant matter with small amounts of meat thrown in here and there, and of course the occasional 20 ounce rib eye. But either way, this book is chock full of good recipes, cool photos. I love the section on that's influenced by the ayurvedic medicine that we discussed with the different lifestyle paths. And it really is a cool book and obviously far different than your other book, “Finding Ultra”, but a good read in and I'll be sure to put all these links for folks over at bengreenfieldfitness.com/richroll2. That's bengreenfieldfitness.com/richroll2. Rich, anything else you want to share before we part ways here on this episode?
Rich: I appreciate your time and we are pretty excited about this book. It comes out April 28th. I don't know when you're going to post this podcast, but we're…
Ben: In about two hours.
Rich: Okay. Cool. So here's the deal. It's about, it's a little under two weeks before the book comes out. And for everybody who preorders the book, we have tons of bonus gifts and giveaways. We have over $300,000 worth of stuff that we're giving away. So you can go to my site, richroll.com, and click on the green band at the top that says “The Plant Power Way is now available for preorder”, and you'll see all the things that we're giving away. Like nine extra recipes, discount codes to Thrive Market, which is kind of an online Whole Foods where you can buy a lot of those more expensive food for like 25 to 40% off, 20% off Omega Juicers, they're the company that makes those insanely awesome masticating juicers, like all kinds of really cool stuff. So you can do that, and also we have a Thunderclap campaign to help get the word out about the book and we're sponsoring weekly giveaways on my podcast for people. All you have to do is join our free Thunderclap, which is kind of a crowdsourcing platform where you donate a social media post in support of the book. So this week we're giving away five products from Soma. They're the ones that make these really cool water filters. We're going to be giving away free memberships to Headspace, we're going to be giving away a couple Vitamixes, and a couple of Omega juicers over the next couple weeks. So you can learn more about that on my site or through my podcast.
Ben: Sweet. Well this has been awesome. I'm going to go download the Headspace app and possibly even try that tonight before I go to bed.
Rich: Awesome, man. I'm putting out, I did an interview…
Ben: And if I'm up all night, I'm going to blame you.
Rich: I did an interview, podcast interview with Andy Puddicombe, the founder, that I'm going to be putting up next week. He's a really amazing guy. He's another guy you should have on your show. I'm happy to introduce you to him.
Ben: Cool. Actually, yeah. That would be great. I'd be fascinated with learning a little bit more about what he does. Well, cool. So again folks, thanks for listening in. Go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/richroll2. I'll link and go over to Rich's website as well so you can go get in all those goodies that he's given with the book. And Rich, thanks for coming on, man.
Rich: Yeah, man. Thanks for having me. Always a pleasure. Got to have you back on my show sometime soon.
Ben: We'll do it.
Ben: Alright, cool.
Rich: Have fun in Vegas, man.
Ben: Alright. Talk to you later, man.
Rich: Alright, man. Peace.
Plant-powered ultra-endurance athlete Rich Roll is no stranger to the show.
Previous episodes with Rich have included:
In this episode, Rich Roll returns, along with his new book entitled “The Plant Power Way: Whole Food Plant-Based Recipes and Guidance for The Whole Family“, and in this episode, you'll discover:
-The unique process of creating a photo rich, cookbook style manual instead of a print based book…
-The one food Rich would take with him to a desert island…
-Rich's exact morning routine (and his biggest barriers when it comes to squeezing in that routine)…
-How Rich meditates…
-The crazy story of how Rich's wife healed a golf-ball sized cyst with Ayurvedic medicine…
-How Rich gets his kids to eat things like adzuki bean edamame fettuccine or hash browns made with portobello mushrooms…
-How Rich and his wife manage homeschooling their kids…
-Rich's take on kids and ultra-endurance…
Resources we discuss in this episode:
Do you have questions, comments or feedback for Rich or I about this episode? Then leave your thoughts below, and be sure to check out Rich's new book “The Plant Power Way: Whole Food Plant-Based Recipes and Guidance for The Whole Family“.