October 29th, 2010
07:59 AM ET

Human Factor: Rich Roll's 'experiment' in fitness

In the Human Factor, Dr. Sanjay Gupta introduces you to a survivor who has overcome tremendous odds. Confronting a life obstacle – injury, illness or other hardship – they tapped their inner strength and found resilience they didn’t know they possessed. Be inspired by their successes, as we have been.

Very late on the eve of my 40th birthday just four years ago, I was blessed with a precious moment of clarity.  Face to face with an unforgiving mirror after a losing battle with a simple flight of stairs that left me buckled over and seeing stars, I was shocked out of a long-held denial and forced to confront an uncomfortable truth more painful than my heaving lungs - that I was woefully overweight, terribly unfit, and facing a certain future of heart disease – a trending topic in my genealogy.

It was time for a change.  A line-in-the-sand, life altering kind of change.  Seizing the moment, I awoke the next day to formulate a plan and put it into action.

A plan I like to call The Experiment - a journey in nutrition, fitness and wellness that has drastically and forever altered the trajectory of my life.  A journey that over time has divorced me from everything I previously held true about food, age, fitness and health.  A journey that starts with an average overweight middle-aged guy and culminates with feats of athletic endurance I had no idea I was capable of.

It all began when I decided to adopt a 100 percent plant-based whole food diet.  A discipline that involved removing all animal products (and most processed foods) from my diet.  No chicken.  No fish.  No dairy.  Nada.

At the time, my expectations were limited and my goals modest – lose a little weight; maybe feel a little better.  That was it.  In fact, I secretly harbored hope that The Experiment would fail so I could resume my predilection for pizza and nachos - free of guilt and knowing I had tried everything.

But to my surprise, I was amazed at just how fantastic I felt after only 10 days on this regimen.  My energy skyrocketed, fueling a return to a modest exercise routine.  Gradually, I started to shed the pounds.  Slowly, the fitness returned.  And my energy levels continued to improve.  Then came the desire to pursue an athletic challenge.  Nothing was overnight, but a mere few years later I found myself almost 50 pounds lighter with a 10-minute lead and Day 1 stage victory in the 3-day double-ironman distance triathlon known as the Ultraman Hawaii World Championships.

How was this possible?  I am not overstating the case to say that everything I have accomplished as an endurance athlete over the last few years, including two Ultraman World Championships and EPIC5 – an endurance odyssey in which I completed 5 ironman distance triathlons on 5 separate Hawaiian Islands in under a week – begins and ends with my plant-based whole food diet.

But what about protein?  Aren’t you anemic?  How can you stand all that bland food?  You’re harming your body!

I field questions like these on a daily basis from all types of naysayers, including doctors, trainers and nutritionists.  But I have answered them all.  Contrary to conventional wisdom, I am fully fortified on a surprisingly delicious routine of very nutrient dense plant-based foods and recipes that have enhanced not just my overall health, but my athletic ability as well.  In the last four years, I’ve had nary a sniffle.  And at 44 years of age, I am the most vital and physically fit I have ever been in my life.  It’s not an inconvenience.  And its not an impediment – it’s my secret weapon.

We live in the most prosperous nation on Earth, and yet we have never been more unhealthy as a society.  Obesity, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and a vast array of very preventable diseases plague us unnecessarily.  Rather than redress the underlying causes of these diseases, we place too much focus on the treatment of symptoms with pharmaceuticals, thus prolonging and exacerbating very solvable problems.  Just watch television for an hour, count how many ads you see for extraneous prescription medications, and you get the picture.

If we want to heal, truly heal, then we must keenly redirect the national health debate on one thing – preventive medicine.  Simply put, and backed by balanced scientific studies, a plant-based whole food diet has been shown to prevent and actually reverse heart disease (America’s #1 killer) and impede or even arrest the development of a litany of other maladies, including the growth of cancer cells.  And overall, it is the easiest, most cost effective (as well as environmentally conscious) means to vastly improve the health and environment of not just America, but the world at large.

I am not alone in this belief.  In fact, plant-based nutrition has now entered the zeitgeist as a legitimate mainstream phenomenon.  From successful professional athletes to high profile cultural influencers, more and more are opening up to the advantages of living “plantstrong.”  Even former President Bill Clinton recently joined the fray, a bold move that created a media frenzy and will, I hope, catalyze profound, long-term positive effects on our national health dialog.

We all know fad diets don’t work.  But greater lasting health always remains within one’s grasp, regardless of age or condition.  Everyone has the power to change.  It just takes a decision.

They say that the enemy of wisdom is contempt prior to investigation.  Don’t take my word for it; do your own research.  Still not convinced?  That’s fine; just do me one simple favor – eat more plants.

But if you decide you want to feel as good as I do, then join me – I dare you.

How to Connect with Rich

RICH ROLL WEBSITE & BLOG: http://www.richroll.com

TWITTER: http://twitter.com/richroll

In addition, Rich and his wife Julie Piatt recently released their first plant-based e-cookbook titled JAI SEED.  For more information and to purchase for simple download, visit:


Post by:
Filed under: Exercise • Healthy Eating • Human Factor • Nutrition • Obesity

soundoff (642 Responses)
  1. Social Media Marketing Jobs

    bookmarked!!, I really like your website!


    May 15, 2021 at 17:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Social Media Marketing Videos

    Right here is the perfect web site for everyone who wants to understand this topic. You know so much its almost tough to argue with you (not that I actually would want to…HaHa). You certainly put a new spin on a subject that's been written about for decades. Wonderful stuff, just great!


    May 15, 2021 at 20:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Local Marketing Firms


    May 15, 2021 at 21:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Seo Marketing Ideas


    May 15, 2021 at 21:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Seo Marketing Firms


    May 15, 2021 at 21:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Content Marketing Studio


    May 16, 2021 at 00:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Internet Marketing Review

    Right here is the perfect website for anyone who wants to understand this topic. You know a whole lot its almost tough to argue with you (not that I personally will need to…HaHa). You definitely put a new spin on a topic which has been discussed for many years. Excellent stuff, just excellent!


    May 16, 2021 at 01:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Content Marketing Orange County


    May 16, 2021 at 01:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Digital Marketing Agency Orange County


    May 16, 2021 at 02:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. boba near me


    May 16, 2021 at 09:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Local Marketing Associations

    Hi, I do believe this is an excellent web site. I stumbledupon it 😉 I may come back yet again since I bookmarked it. Money and freedom is the greatest way to change, may you be rich and continue to guide other people.


    May 16, 2021 at 09:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. riverside collision repair provo

    I enjoy reading through an article that can make men and women think. Also, thanks for allowing for me to comment!


    May 16, 2021 at 09:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. rv solar installation los angeles


    May 16, 2021 at 10:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Mercedes Sprinter Repair Near Me W Ratings


    May 16, 2021 at 10:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Maserati For Sale By Owner

    I could not refrain from commenting. Well written!


    May 16, 2021 at 13:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Mercedes Benz Sprinter Repair Shop


    May 16, 2021 at 13:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Sprinter Mechanic

    When I originally commented I seem to have clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and from now on every time a comment is added I receive four emails with the exact same comment. There has to be an easy method you can remove me from that service? Thanks a lot!


    May 16, 2021 at 16:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Approved Sprinter Repair Shops Near Me

    I need to to thank you for this fantastic read!! I absolutely enjoyed every bit of it. I've got you bookmarked to check out new stuff you post…


    May 16, 2021 at 20:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Mercedes Sprinter Repair Near Mee


    May 16, 2021 at 21:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Sprinter Van Repair In Huntington Beach


    May 16, 2021 at 21:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Mercedes Sprinter Van Repair Motorhome


    May 16, 2021 at 22:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Van Meter Auto Repair

    Hi, I do think this is a great web site. I stumbledupon it 😉 I will come back yet again since I book-marked it. Money and freedom is the best way to change, may you be rich and continue to guide other people.


    May 16, 2021 at 22:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Mercedes Sprinter Maintenance Service Near Me

    Saved as a favorite, I really like your site!


    May 16, 2021 at 22:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Maserati Spyder

    Nice post. I learn something new and challenging on blogs I stumbleupon every day. It will always be helpful to read content from other writers and use a little something from their websites.


    May 17, 2021 at 05:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Los Angeles Sprinter Repair

    This is a topic which is near to my heart... Cheers! Exactly where are your contact details though?


    May 17, 2021 at 06:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Diesel Sprinter Engine Repair Service


    May 17, 2021 at 12:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. RV Mechanics Near Me


    May 17, 2021 at 13:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. RV Wraps Orange County

    Hi! I could have sworn I’ve visited this website before but after going through many of the articles I realized it’s new to me. Anyhow, I’m definitely pleased I discovered it and I’ll be bookmarking it and checking back frequently!


    May 17, 2021 at 13:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. orange shop near me

    You are so cool! I don't believe I've truly read through a single thing like this before. So good to find someone with some unique thoughts on this topic. Really.. many thanks for starting this up. This web site is one thing that is required on the internet, someone with some originality!


    May 17, 2021 at 16:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. 2016 Maserati Granturismo Interior

    Hi! I could have sworn I’ve visited your blog before but after browsing through many of the posts I realized it’s new to me. Anyhow, I’m certainly delighted I discovered it and I’ll be bookmarking it and checking back frequently!


    May 17, 2021 at 17:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. oc body shop


    May 18, 2021 at 06:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. what type of business license should a hair salon have


    May 18, 2021 at 15:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Glasses Near Me Same Day


    May 19, 2021 at 00:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Social Media Marketing Programs


    May 19, 2021 at 00:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Maserati 1990

    This is a topic which is close to my heart... Many thanks! Where are your contact details though?


    May 19, 2021 at 02:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Eye Optometrist Near Me


    May 19, 2021 at 02:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Best Roofing Companies Near Me


    May 19, 2021 at 04:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Video Marketing Ideas

    Way cool! Some very valid points! I appreciate you writing this article plus the rest of the website is very good.


    May 19, 2021 at 05:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Internet Marketing Company Near Me


    May 19, 2021 at 17:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. rv parts riverside ca

    This is a topic that's near to my heart... Take care! Where are your contact details though?


    May 19, 2021 at 22:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. SEO Marketing Consultant

    Excellent web site you've got here.. It’s hard to find high-quality writing like yours nowadays. I seriously appreciate people like you! Take care!!


    May 19, 2021 at 23:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. RV Interior Designer Near Me

    Pretty! This has been a really wonderful article. Thank you for providing this info.


    May 20, 2021 at 00:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Internet Marketing Agencies


    May 20, 2021 at 02:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Digital Marketing Consultants


    May 20, 2021 at 02:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Video Marketing Specialist

    Hi there! I could have sworn I’ve visited this site before but after going through some of the posts I realized it’s new to me. Anyways, I’m certainly happy I stumbled upon it and I’ll be bookmarking it and checking back frequently!


    May 20, 2021 at 02:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Local Marketing Companies Near Me


    May 20, 2021 at 03:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Local Marketing Consultants


    May 20, 2021 at 03:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Google Marketing Experts

    Right here is the perfect webpage for everyone who hopes to find out about this topic. You realize a whole lot its almost hard to argue with you (not that I personally would want to…HaHa). You definitely put a brand new spin on a topic that's been written about for years. Excellent stuff, just great!


    May 20, 2021 at 07:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Digital Marketing Firm


    May 20, 2021 at 09:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Content Marketing Business

    Good post! We will be linking to this particularly great content on our site. Keep up the great writing.


    May 20, 2021 at 10:05 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13

Post a comment


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.