Today’s blog feature is particularly special because we are interviewing our very first ambassador, Rick Wells. I happened to meet Rick through a marketing class that we were both taking and through our various conversations and discussions, he became interested in Red Leaf and tried our signature product, Red Leaf Pre-Workout. He told me he had tried it and I was so excited by Rick’s personal story and his feedback that I asked if he’d like to join our team as our first Brand Ambassador. Rick is an educator, athlete, retired Marine, pursuer of excellence, and lover of living life to the fullest. We hope you enjoy learning from him as much as we do!
Let’s set the stage for our readers with this first question: Tell us how your life growing up has influenced who you are today?
Thanks for asking me. I grew up in a small town in New Jersey in a really close, tight-knit family. I knew I needed to spread my wings and see what I was made of and that’s what really led to me joining the Marines. That took me away from home and tested me in every single way, which is exactly what I was looking for. After I was trained and proved to myself that I could hold my own, the question became, “what are you going to do with it?” That was something my mom taught me. “How am I going to put all of the things I’ve learned to work to take advantage of this gift called life?” I withdrew for a while and really reflected on that question and decided that education was my adult purpose in life, coupled with fitness. I had picked up both throughout college and training as a Marine and that’s been my life ever since.
Thank you so much for your service, Rick. Can you tell us more about your career as a Marine? How long did you serve and how did that experience contribute to your health and fitness journey?
I retired in 2015 after serving 21 years. I served four years of active duty and then went on to teach for the next seventeen years in the Reserves. Prior to this, I had never really engaged in anything that I attacked in a proud way. But when it came to my military career, I wanted to finish it and finish it strong. To me that meant 20 years. I was really fortunate in my last year to work with a Colonel who I admired. He taught me so much about what it means to be a leader and it worked out that I got to serve an extra year working with him, so I had achieved my goal of 20 years of service, plus a bonus year.
There were three big lessons I learned from being a Marine that have carried me throughout my life:
- Attitude is everything. Whatever you do, do it for the right reason. Serve something larger than yourself. I wanted to express my patriotism by serving my country and taking care of the people under my charge.
- We have a responsibility to be monk-like in the study of our crafts. You’re responsible to study, practice, teach, engage and reflect on your craft, whatever that is, and keep the process going so that you become the best version of yourself. You must do things to the best of your ability.
- Health and fitness matters. This is a matter of your character. In the Marines, how you performed in a run or a PT test was a direct function of your character and I appreciated that.
The attitude piece is huge. I know you’re very disciplined in your life, but can you tell us how you’ve gone about creating a healthy lifestyle that’s sustainable?
My healthy lifestyle is about being vital in old age. And that perspective has served me very well for the last 35 years. I think a lot of the anxiety people feel about their health or fitness and/or lack of consistency, is really just a lack of perspective. Over the long haul, your health and wellness makes you more effective at parenting, in relationships, in work and feeling good about yourself physically, emotionally and sensually. If the perspective is right, then you won’t fall off your commitment to yourself because your commitment is about longevity.
As for training, I listen to my body. My rest days are called “grow days.” That’s when my body does the real work. Rest as hard as you train. You know that moment when you’re playing a sport and your subconscious takes over and you’re totally in the zone? That moment is coming from a place of rest, when you’re more focused on mastery than performance. You’re not looking to who is left or right of you, you’re invested in the beauty of the movement itself. Of course, performance is fun. That’s part of being human. But having that perspective on mastery is beautiful. Going back to that monk-like study of your craft. Mastery is the pursuit of excellence, which has more to do with you as an athlete than as a competitor. The ends of performance is a metric, whereas the ends of mastery is freedom.
I knew this interview would be fun! This is exactly the philosophy I was hoping you would share with our readers. I always get spoiled with it when we have our check-in’s. In your own words, what does “wellness” mean?
Wellness is having the vitality, fortitude, and inspiration to lead a good life in spectacular fashion. A physical fitness modality is just a means to an end. Often, folks are confused and their means becomes their end. That’s not inspiring and it’s difficult to maintain. One of the keys to fitness is consistency, which you achieve by doing things you love. I’ve come to love different types of fitness, but what I’ve found that I really love is to have the freedom to do whatever I love- whether that’s golf, playing with my kids, going for a run, or hitting a lift. And that’s my end. Freedom to do what I love.
That’s a great definition and fits well with Red Leaf’s vision for a healthy life, too. What advice do you have for someone looking to “redefine their end” or dial in their health?
To be better there are 3 areas to focus on:
- The Ambition. What type of person would you like to become? Set a magnificent ambition for yourself and make it extraordinary because that’s where the inspiration resides.
- Reflect. At the end of the day, look back over the course of the day. Where did you find joy? Where did you lose sense of time? Typically, there will be an aspect of physical activity associated with it, whether it’s being on the golf course, gardening, walking or going for a run, lifting, etc. That something will point you towards pursuing a physical activity that you can sustain. That’s called being in the zone. It’s where you find the flow. Don’t try to force yourself into pursuing a routine that doesn’t bring you joy.
- Plan your life to where you’re doing more of the stuff that brings you joy. Attend to those things that fill your cup and it will become your lifestyle. One of my turning points was when I heard Joseph Campbell say “follow your bliss.” That statement intrigued me so much that it set me on a quest to start asking that question of myself, “what is my bliss?” The beauty in that is when you’re curious, you’re not anxious. All the mental angst that keeps you from being your best self disappears when you allow curiosity to lead you toward your next pursuit. My advice, especially to young people, is start asking yourself more “how” and “what” questions. “Why” questions can put us too far into the weeds because they’re full of emotion. Asking a “how” or “what” question on the other hand will give you something to actively do.
Well said. Thank you so much for putting so much thought into these questions, Rick. So last question before I let you go, which Red Leaf product is your favorite and why?
I tried the Cranberry Lime Pre-Workout first, but you convinced me to try the Bluberry Acaí flavor and now that is by far my favorite. There is something about it that is just so refreshing. But I’ll tell you the thing that is going to send your company international is the Recovery Balm. That stuff is a magical elixir. For the last 15 years, when the weather starts to get really cold here (I live in Connecticut), my fingers start to crack really badly. It’s super painful and it usually lasts for around a month. I tried the Recovery Balm on them this year and within two days, all of the cracks were healed. That stuff is magic.
We want to say a huge thank you to Rick for taking the time to share some of his philosophies on life, health, and excellence with us! We hope you enjoyed it!