Our From the Vault series examines episodes from The Art of Charm’s past more deeply; we invite you to revisit them — or discover them for the first time — with us. This From the Vault recalls Rich Roll’s advice to embrace the journey of personal improvement rather than obsessing about shortcuts to the end.
Episode 366: Finding Ultra and Rejecting Middle Age featured self-proclaimed “former fat guy” Rich Roll, and originally aired in January 2015. Rich’s story illustrates how taking that first step towards positive change opens up so many opportunities as you continue on that path. His conversation with Jordan celebrates that journey.
Rich Roll Is an Advocate, Not an Expert
“I’m an advocate, not an expert,” noted Rich. “I’ve been there, I’ve done that, I’m on the journey with you.” Jordan noted that many of these so-called experts have never been fat, and do they know what the experience is really like? They both agreed that the most credible people in any field are the people who have lived what they are preaching.
The Breaking Point
Rich was 39. He was halfway up the stairs, on his way to the bedroom, and he was winded. He could barely make it up a simple flight of stairs. This was the moment when everything changed for him. But how did he get here?
He was “living the dream.” He had a great wife, had built his dream house in Malibu, and was on the track to partnership at the law firm where he worked. He was doing everything he thought he was supposed to do. The problem was that he was very discontented. One of the clearest ways this discontent manifested itself was through his “window diet.” This referred to all the food he could get through a drive-through window, including burgers, nachos, and fries, to say nothing of the Chinese takeout that he ordered when he was working late night at the law firm. Rich was so miserable at his job that one of the bright spots of his day was the comfort he got from the fatty comfort food he would order for takeout.
Jordan, having lived that corporate lawyer life once upon a time, commiserated, but also pointed out something he’s learned from people who eat very well: “Everything you eat is a choice.” Even if you have a off day and eat something terrible, you shouldn’t trash the whole day because you made one mistake. Rich agreed and noted that often people set up unrealistic expectations for themselves, whether it be with dieting or career goals: the minute they fall short, they put themselves into a shame spiral and often quit over one weak moment, instead of seizing the opportunity to create a teachable moment for themselves and to keep moving forward.
In fact, the idea of a temporary diet with goals is something Rich disagrees with entirely. He never set about the change in his life that way. He wanted a new, sustainable way of life, and he just started, willing to make mistakes along the way.
Stop Hacking, Already
Shortly before this interview with Jordan, Rich had written a piece that had gone viral on Medium which called out the idea of “hacking.” Jordan, willing to call himself out, noted that “biohacking” was a term listed on the masthead of the Art of Charm podcast at the time and wanted to know what we should be willing to reconsider when we look at any kind of “hacking.”
While Rich does enjoy the idea of identifying efficiencies (modern life can be busy, after all), he firmly believes that “we can’t shortcut our way to good things in our life.” The hard-fought journey is what will bring you to those good things, and it is the person you become in taking that journey that will be best equipped to enjoy those good things.
Remember that From the Vault is just an overview of a few highlights of any given episode. If you’d like to hear more from Rich and Jordan, including how to use the “power of story” to your advantage, why there’s such a thing as “fast food vegetarians,” and the real reason people are afraid to ask coaches for help, listen to the entire episode here.
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