Do the Opposite - Finding Ultra, No Sweets and Processed Foods, Running, Gratitude

Hello friends,

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"Finding Ultra" by Rich Roll

I've been reading this fascinating book for the past week - and I must say, it's leaving an imprint on me. I first learnt about Rich Roll from watching interviews with David Goggins on YouTube. One of the interviewers happened to be Rich Roll, and from reading the comments I've understood that he is also an ultra-athlete, much like David.

What's fascinating though, is the path Rich took to become an ultra-athlete. He was a pretty good swimmer in high school and college, but then struggled with alcoholism during both college and the first 10 years or so of his professional life. He eventually got it under control (reading about his path towards that was very interesting) - and lived his thirties as a normal person - continuing his work as a lawyer and building a family.

When he was 39, he had a "wake-up call" - by then he got comfortable in his life and was eating lots of fast food and doing no exercise. When walking up the stairs in the house with his little daughter, he got winded about half-way up the stairs: basically his cardiovascular system was not in a good shape, to say the least. Rich also has history of heart problems in the family. In that moment, he understood that if he continued living the way he did, he would die prematurely of a heart attack or something similar, and would not be able to see his daughters grow up.

He has made a lot of changes since then - first starting with going on a "Plant-powered" diet. It's basically a vegan diet, but "vegan" is a loaded term and Rich doesn't want to scare people away by saying that, so he found the term "plant-powered" which works. He also touches on the fact that it's very easy to eat vegan junk food - things like vegan muffins, Tofurky, chips etc. - and that he recommends eating whole foods instead of processed. With the new diet, his health began to improve. He added exercise to his new regimen. However that wasn't enough - he needed enough motivation to stay fit for a long period of time. Then he signed up for the Ultraman - an ultra-triathlon in Hawaii: which involves a 6.2 mile (10km) open ocean swim, a 261.4 mile (421km) bike ride, and a 52.4 mile (84km) ultra-marathon run, all done in 3 days.

The rest is history - Rich has run lots of ultra-races and is a very famous ultra-athlete, who promotes a plant-based diet. (Much like another ultra-athlete - Scott Jurek)

P.S. If you want to start with a shorter version of Rich's story, watch this video.

Personal Updates:

Since discovering David Goggins' work, I've become excited about running again - I used to run in college but not recently) - and signed up for my first ever real running races. I've signed up for the famous Terry Fox run on September 15th, and 2 more in October: one local and one huge Scotiabank Waterfront Marathon we have here in Toronto. I've picked the 5km options in all three races, but now realizing I have probably chosen too conservatively, and I am trying to change the 2 races in October to 10km. Will definitely share my experiences here in the newsletter :) To this day, I've never run a race with other people - usually I ran alone and did a couple runs together with my wife - so these experiences will be totally new.

I am still going strong with the No-Coffee challenge - #100DaysWithout Coffee. Here's one of my latest updates on twitter. Today is Day 25. I am going to finish this one on the 10th of August. 100 days is such a long time that I have now completely adapted to this new, 'tea' lifestyle and I have no cravings for coffee whatsoever, which is very surprising to me. I've always been a crazy coffee drinker, literally obsessed with it. Now I think I will be drinking coffee occasionally, but I don't feel like "I have to drink coffee" anymore - now it will be a choice.

The next challenge I've been planning for a while is going to be #100DaysWithout Sweets and Processed Foods. I will publish the rules I'm setting for myself here in the newsletter. I am going to start it on the 1st of July because I found having the start date on the first of the month makes it really easy to count the days even if I forget to.

Link to the DTO letter on Meditation
In the last issue of Do the Opposite I referred to one of the past letters in which I talked about meditation (my personal story of solving issues with it) and shared some resources on how to start meditating, but I forgot to add the actual link. :) So here it is!

1) "Gratitude to Cure the Impulse to Buy More Stuff" by Leo Babauta
I believe gratitude is one of the most powerful forces you can tap into. Here, I like the idea of not just 'stopping' - because that leaves us with the feeling of an internal void, but of replacing the consumerist impulses with gratitude. That way we don't lose anything, but gain a lot.

2) "The 21 Best Stretching Exercises for Better Flexibility" by Amy Marturana, C.P.T.
As I am interested in running more, I've also began looking for good plans for stretching - since I am very very inflexible. This article is so nice in that it shows exactly what we need to do - it's very visual and the website has almost no clutter in terms of ads and popups and such.

1) Become A Savage & Live On Your Own Terms | David Goggins on Impact Theory
As you know from the previous Do the Opposite letters, I've become quite fascinated and influenced by David Goggins, and I have been watching quite a few (as much as time allows:) interviews with him. This, by far, was my favourite one. The interviewer is very informed (kudos to Tom) and asks great questions - that help pull out "golden nuggets" of insight and wisdom from David as he answers them + as well as more personal stories.

Again, cussing disclaimer. There is much less of it in this video than in the previous ones I shared, but still quite a bit :)

If you enjoy this episode of Impact Theory, you will probably also like another interview Tom did with David, 2 years earlier (before the book was written). Here is the link.

Tech Corner
This is a new section that will appear from time to time. It's targeted toward those of you who are working in tech or want to get into tech.

Codeland Conference - 20% Discount!
Codeland is an amazing conference organized by the creators of Code Newbie, held in New York. You will find that it is a friendly and welcoming event, where you can meet other developers, make friends and learn a lot. by Codeland Conference organizers offer in the #100DaysOfCode Community a 20% discount on all tickets! Use the promocode: 100DaysCodeland to get the discount!

Disclaimer: this is not an ad, It's #100DaysOfCode is partnering with Codeland to give more people a chance to attend the conference. I am happy to help spread the word as I know how high the quality of the conference is: the choice of speakers, the community, the learning topics, and more.

Tweet that resonated with me:


"Normal is not something to aspire to, it’s something to get away from."
— Jodie Foster

Do the Opposite

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Keep doing the opposite,
Alexander Kallaway