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Meet Rich Roll: The Guy Who Went From Overweight Alcoholic to Vegan Ultramarathoner

There’s something about Rich Roll and Julie Piatt that I can’t quite put my finger on. It’s not because they’re vegan—that’s hardly shocking anymore. But they’re captivating and I don’t know why.

On one hand, they’re an average, American family. They work, play and enjoy dinnertime at 7 pm. On the other, they lead a life very different to most. Rich sleeps in a tent outside, the kids are home-schooled and Julie also goes by her spiritual name, SriMati. They’re intriguing and it’s because they’re authentic…and they make the whole thing look seriously glamorous.

But this wasn’t always the case.

“At 39 I was an overworked, overstressed & overweight attorney subsisting on a junk food diet that left me 50lbs overweight and teetering on heart disease. It was time to make a change.

That change began by overhauling my entire relationship with food, lifestyle & career. It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t overnight, but two years later I had completely transformed, going on to achieve athletic feats in my mid-40’s I previously thought impossible and creating a self-styled, out-of-the box career I never believed was within my reach,” says Rich Roll via @richroll.

Today, Rich is an ultramarathon runner, named one of the fittest men in the world and Julie is a yoga and meditation teacher, musician, and plant-based chef, with two (soon to be three) books under her name. They’re modern day hippies that make veganism more worthy of Vogue than vandalism. They’re the kind of people you just want to be friends with. We chat to the couple about their life transformations, going vegan and living an authentic existence.

Meet Rich Roll & Julie Piatt

A post shared by rich roll (@richroll) on

Talk us through a typical day in the life of Julie Piatt & Rich Roll

Julie: I’m up at 4:30 am for meditation, then I drive my girls to MUSE, the first plant-based environmental school in the US. At 9 am I begin working on creating recipes and content for social media. I break at midday to practice JAI yoga, my own series level 2 yoga asana practice.

The afternoon is dedicated to recording podcasts or working on music, then I pick up the girls and take them to acting camp.

In the early evening, I have a two-hour writing session at Soho (Little Beach House in Malibu). Dinner for the whole family is served at 7 pm, followed by meditation, then sleep.

Rich: I sleep in until 6:30 am and then head off to train for a good three-hour morning session of running, swimming and cycling.

After filming a vlog and photography for social media, I then work in my container office which is located on the land adjacent to our home. I record and produce my podcast late into the night, breaking for some Daddy time with the kids and dinner with the family.

How about a day on your plate?

Julie: Full glass of warm body temperature water upon rising followed by three cups of ceremonial puer tea and a warm bowl of porridge. One-Bowl for lunch which is sprouted brown rice, quinoa, black beans, yams and sauteed greens smothered in a warm tahini green sauce, or a plant-based nut cheese spread from my new book, This Cheese Is Nuts! (released June 2017). Dinner is usually a recipe from our cookbook, The Plantpower Way. An example is the delicious Butternut Mung Bean Fettuccine Alfredo alongside a Caesar Salad. Thirty minutes after dinner, we will each have a piece of whole local fruit. Warm herbal tea before bed.

Rich: Black organic coffee post training. Epic five-ingredient smoothie from The Plantpower Way. Hula Kale Salad for lunch along with a Juicero beet juice. Family dinner as above with Julie and the kids.

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How is this different from your lives pre-ultra marathon/plant-based diet?

Julie: For Rich, this is drastically different. He used to just get as many calories as possible in his body—an old habit of training and swimming as a youngster. This bad habit included cheeseburgers, doughnuts, fast foods, fried foods, and loads of processed and packaged foods in huge quantities. For me, it was a refinement of my already healthy, Ayurvedic diet, with which I healed myself of a large cyst in my neck.

What instigated the change? Rich, why did you compete in your first Ultraman race?

Rich: I had a health scare that I write about in my memoir, Finding Ultra. I was buckled over in pain after climbing a simple flight of stairs. I thought I was having a heart attack. I had seen Julie heal herself of disease by adopting a primarily plant-based diet and I wanted to embrace this journey of healing for myself. I was finally ready.

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What made you both decide to be vegan?

Rich: Julie put me on this amazing cleanse that—after some hard days of serious detox—gave me an energy level I hadn’t felt since my childhood. My body simply came alive and I performed well in this double Ironman race called Ultraman. It was crazy as I had never done a thing prior to that race. We had been struggling financially for many many years, barely making ends meet and Sanjay Gupta, the medical correspondent for CNN, picked up my story. It ran the morning of Julie’s birthday so she decided to go vegan in solidarity with me.

How long was your journey of self-discovery?

It’s still ongoing as we are both alive! But this part of our transformation was nine long years.

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Talk us through your training routine.

Rich: For me, it is a set program of six days of training with varying intensity in running, swimming and cycling.

Julie: I practice my own Jai Yoga that I have developed over 20 years of practice. It’s a strong, level 2 asana series that I do 3-5 times per week at varying levels of intensity.

What are your goals at the moment in work, life and love?

For both of us, the ultimate goal is to live authentically and by living this truth, to spontaneously be in service to the greater force that is breathing through us all and our fellow humans.

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As an Ultraman, you must have to ensure you are receiving adequate nutrients and a good macronutrient breakdown from your meals. Talk us through this process when creating your meals.

Rich: We don’t overthink this part. If you eat a lot of whole foods like local organic fruits and veggies, nuts, seeds, legumes and gluten-free grains, you are going to get everything you need to thrive. Rich doesn’t take any supplements except B12.

Do you have a handful of dinner meals on rotation or are you always experimenting? What are your family favourites?

Rich: Julie is always creating and coming up with new recipes but we love a ton of recipes from The Plantpower Way like Caesar Salad, One Bowls, Lasagna, Veggie Burgers, Torre De Nachos, Fettuccine Alfredo, Peanut Butter Cookies and all the raw pies.

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What do you find is the biggest challenge about living your lifestyle in a modern world?

Fielding the repetitive question: “Where do you get your protein?!!!!”

I know you’re both advocates for sustainability, explain how you implement this into your daily lives.

We know that the greatest single action you can take to live sustainably and make a meaningful contribution to healing our planet is to choose plants on your plate at every meal. Living a plant-based lifestyle far surpasses any other action for sustainability by saving 1000’s of gallons of water, acres of land, animals lives, and the health of our oceans.

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Quick Questions

Wake up time: Julie: Thank Creation that I woke up! Rich: Unzip my tent

First thing I do in the morning: Julie: Drink Body Temp Water Rich: Coffee

Last thing I do at night: Julie: Dedicate my sleep to transformation Rich: Netflix

Most people probably don’t know this about me, but: Julie would have been an extreme skier in another life. Rich: I sleep in a tent outside and I’m happily married

If I were a fruit or vegetable I’d be: Julie: Mango Rich: Pineapple

I never leave home without: Julie: itablapro app Rich: My Go Pro

I’m inspired by: Julie: Ananda Mayi Ma, Rich: Casey Neistat

My guilty pleasure is: Julie: Cacao Rich: Coffee

My pet peeve is: Julie: cigarette smoke  Rich: people trying to over- serve him as in asking him too frequently if he would like something or quite simply “tea”.

Advice I would give my 20-year-old self: Julie: Meditate Rich: Stop Drinking

3 foods I couldn’t live without: Julie: Lemons, Mint, Tacos; Rich: Potatoes, Brussel Sprouts, Kale

I binge watch: Both of us -“The OA”

If sugar was a superfood, my diet would consist of: Julie: Natural Coke; Rich: hates sugar

Our go-to date night is: Independent films

A post shared by rich roll (@richroll) on

 

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