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Self (Re)Made Man: Rich Roll

  • By Matt Fitzgerald
  • Published Jan 29, 2013
Photo: Matt Harbicht

Diet Recovery

Veganism isn’t for everyone, but no matter how you choose to transform your diet, Rich Roll’s advice can help you succeed. Here are the top tips for “diet recovery” from a man who replaced cheeseburgers with kale at age 40 and has never looked back.

Rigor, Specificity, Accountability

Through blind trial and error, Roll discovered that his new and improved diet needed to have three key qualities if it was going to yield the results he sought: rigor, specificity and accountability.

Rigor means that your diet has clear, black-and-white rules.

Specificity is a definite plan of action that ensures those rules are consistently followed. “Phrases such as ‘I’m going to eat better and work out more’ are too vague,” Roll says. Instead, develop specific routines for shopping, preparing food and eating.

Accountability means putting yourself in a position where you have to answer for dietary missteps. Roll did this by blogging about his new lifestyle. At first, he says, “Nobody read it,” but even so it kept him honest with his eating habits.

Baby Steps

Rich Roll is an all-or-nothing type of person. Recognizing this, he decided to change his diet drastically and abruptly because he knew an incremental approach wouldn’t work for him. But Roll understands that most people need to take a gentler approach to diet changes.

“Start slow,” Roll says. “Incorporate a few more plants into your diet. Reduce the portion sizes of the meats and dairy products you’re eating. Relieve yourself of the pressure of having to do it perfectly.”

The Power of Now

When he transformed his diet, Roll discovered that he was able to apply many principles of alcoholism recovery, including the principle of staying in the moment to avoid becoming overwhelmed by the prospect of never having another drink, or cheeseburger, or whatever.

“Maybe I’ll eat a cheeseburger tomorrow,” Roll recalls telling himself. “But right now I’m going to eat this. All I’m concerned about is what’s in front of me to do in this moment.”

The 30-Day Rule

In his book, Roll shares a little trick called the 30-Day Rule. The idea is to promise yourself to stick to your new diet plan without any lapses for at least 30 days. This buys just enough time to start seeing benefits. “Stick to it religiously for 30 days and you’ll feel dramatically better,” Roll writes of his PlantPower Diet in Finding Ultra. Once you feel better, you’ll no longer have to rely on willpower to stay on track.

RELATED: The Imaginary Perfect Diet

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