Book Babble #3: My take on… "Finding Ultra" by Rich Roll!

in #bookbabble5 years ago (edited)

"Rejecting Middle Age, Becoming One of the World's Fittest Men, and Discovering Myself"

Well, that's quite a remit. But let’s see how we get on…

This is an inspiring auto-biography on a guy who had an extreme turn-around right as he was approaching 'middle age'. Overweight, out of shape, unfit and generally unhealthy, he could hardly make it up a flight of stairs without trouble. 

In fact, that is exactly what happened on the eve of his 40th birthday and he vowed to make a change the next day!

Fortunately, he had a very supportive wife who was already in to healthy living and 'alternative' medicine. She had encouraged him previously but not excessively (realising it's his decision of course) and was on hand to help with the transition. 

What happened next wasn't just a slight lifestyle shift, lose a few pounds and gain more energy kind of deal. That moment and subsequent changes catapulted him into all sorts of feats of endurance along with business success, and a change of career path. 

Rich had been fairly fit as a youngster, having trained in swimming at school etc. However, temptations took hold and he became an alcoholic and regular drug user. Although he had got clean in that respect, he was in no way anywhere near the physical condition he once was. 

The good news is that if you were a sportsperson at an earlier point in life it is still in there somewhere but you just need to coax it out!

What struck me was his complete dedication to the cause. No messing about. He pretty much jumped straight to being vegan and didn't hang about with the training either. 

Here are a few snippets from the book and my additional thoughts…

“This is not over. Now, get back on your bike and get it done.” 

This is what he said to himself following falling off his bike during an Ultraman. You fall of your 'horse', get back on! Keep going and complete what you came to do. 

I do what I have to do. I turn off that voice in my head urging me to quit. And I get back on the bike. My race, it seems, is only just beginning. 

Control of the voice. The little devil on your shoulder. And the race is long, whatever that race may be. 


That pivotal moment. Saying "enough's enough" and making a change right then. For Rich it was that night before his 40th where it had to change. For us, it could be anything. Making the decision and then making it happen.

You can stand in the light. And you can set a positive example. But you simply cannot make someone change. 

It's always, always up to the individual. You can't make someone change. They have to want it. But you can set a shining example and perhaps people look over and genuinely want to emulate that. 

“half measures will avail you nothing.” 

An AA maxim. I've also seen it as "half measure availed us nothing" (past tense). The point is, in a drinking sense, going half way won't work for most alcoholics. It has to be total abstinence. It's very difficult to succeed if you're drinking 'a little'. 

Rich mentions it as he was taking chunks of time off drinking and thought he had it handled. But those were just dry spells rather than sobriety. It's the illusion of control

The no half measures analogy can be used for life in the sense of going all the way. So it can be used in the positive sense and is actually necessary for achievement. 

there’s only one cure for fear. Faith. 

Not necessarily in a religious sense. We're talking having a complete trust in something despite their being no proof. It's a positive expectation of what's on the other side. And fear was only ever designed to keep you from danger, it's just it spiralled out of control and holds us back for none life or death situations. 

Here's a cheesy quote for you - "Fear knocked on the door. Faith answered. There was no-one there".

“The prize never goes to the fastest guy,” Chris replied. “It goes to the guy who slows down the least.” 

Just keep going. When shit's hitting the fan, it can be more a case of slowing right down and making some progress rather than stopping. 

Pursue what’s in your heart, and the universe will conspire to support you. 

Bit woo-woo for some, but correct however you want to word it. 

living imprisoned by fear only to die with regret over dreams postponed was a life neither of us was interested in. 

This was reference to a conversation Rich had with his wife, Julie, on planning their future. Pursuing your dreams. We've heard it all before, but here it is again ;). 

I was proud of myself. I’d showed up. I’d played hard when I was hurt. And I’d gotten it done. I’d crossed the finish line not just intact, but alive. Truly alive .

Showing up. Getting it done. The feeling of accomplishment. 

when the mind is controlled and spirit aligned with purpose, the body is capable of so much more than we realize. 

The body can do plenty more that we are led to believe. You need to get everything working in tandem though, and perhaps realise some of those heights!

There’s a new path waiting for you, too. All you have to do is look for it—then take that first step. If you show up and stay present, that step will eventually become a gigantic leap forward. And then you’ll show us who you really are. 


Thanks Richie! What else?

The book talks more about his endurance challenges. As well as the Ultraman, the bulk of the book talks about his pursuit of the Epic5 - 5 Ironman events on the islands of Hawaii in 5 days. That was the ridiculous task he took on with an associate and although that wasn't possible (due to logistics mainly) they managed it in 7. Here he takes you right along for the (painful) ride. 

There are also practical tips and resources contained within if you're looking to operate a more plant based diet and lifestyle. 

Something he also talks about is the importance of meeting people where they are at. Everyone has different worldviews and there is no such thing as one 'correct' path for all. If you're a vegan for example, it's no more virtuous than eating meat… it's all subjective after all. Each person has there own journey and set of discoveries. By all means discuss ideas and the positives of various paths, but most people truly aren't interested in 'vegangelical' ramblings.

It's possible I might implement this kind of lifestyle over the course of time (in fact, I have noticed changes in that direction over the years). Perhaps little by little, maybe even a sudden change. Either way, if I have a steak in the mean time, so be it. There is certainly something to be said for a plant based diet, but old habits die hard. 

One thing that is highly recommendable is to get juicing. An easy and quick way to get nutritious goodness into your body. Also a 'gateway drug' (for want of a better term) to implementing this kind of diet and lifestyle. I need to get me a good juicer and some quality ingredients and put it all to the test!

As well as his website, Rich also has a great podcast and interviews many well-known (and not so well-known) guests from all walks of life. They tend to be quite in-depth and on a weekly basis, so check that out if it's up your street!

What are your thoughts? Have you read this book or any similar? Any suggestions?

~ Adam

~ Original #BookBabble post
~ Think Like Da Vinci; End of Jobs; The One Thing; Eat, Move, Sleep
1. Shoe Dog by Phil Knight
2. Crushing It by Gary Vaynerchuk
4. Wooden by John Wooden
5. Relentless by Tim Grover
6. On Writing by Stephen King
7. Start With Why by Simon Sinek
8. The Chimp Paradox by Steve Peters



"When you cross the finish line, your life will change forever."

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I've not read the book, but it sounds like it is packed with advice, and quite the back story to go with it. I like this one:

there’s only one cure for fear. Faith.

Sometimes you just got to believe, and that's all you got. Discipline has to come from somewhere.

Thanks for the post, I enjoyed it.

Yeah, it's a good book and interesting story. Makes you think about lifestyle and dietary choices too, along with what's possible.

Absolutely, belief is everything! There's no way of knowing for sure how something is going to turn out, sometimes you've just got to trust it's going to be ok… even if it turns out a little different than expected ;). And discipline then stems from that belief, as you say…

Hey @adambarratt thats a great write up. I read the book a couple of years ago and loved it. I think even for people not into health and fitness can take something away from the book.
Keep it up

Thanks! Most definitely, plenty of take-aways for all!

I liked the book. I've read it a several years ago. It is not among my top 3 running books, but very close :)

Cool, so the question would be - what are your top 3? 'Born to Run' perhaps? I haven't actually read that one and there are probably some others I should check out…

These are my top 3:
Eat & Run written by Scott Jurek
Born to run written by Christopher McDougall
What I talk about when I talk about running written by Haruki Murakami.

Great, thanks!

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