Day in the Life:
Since graduating from Harvard in 2009, Henrik has been competitively rowing internationally in pursuit of Olympic gold. Henrik lives in Princeton with his wife Abra and dog Kona (an American Eskimo). Henrik’s wife is pregnant and by the time you read this she will probably have given birth to his first kid, Oliver!
Henrik was born in Denmark, lived in Sweden and then moved to USA in 2000. He was named First-Team All-Ivy League in 2007 and lists his most memorable sporting achievement as sweeping the Harvard-Yale Regatta in 2008 and 2009. The most influential people in his sporting career have been his parents because they always supported him in his professional aspirations and actually first signed him up for the sport.
Location: Princeton, New Jersey
Favorite Exercise: Beach Volleyball
Favorite Vegetable: Brussel Sprouts
Favorite Way to Center: Tetris
Favorite Book: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo series, by Stieg Larsson. Once I started I couldn’t stop!
Favorite YouTube Video: Sail Cat
Personal Motto: Hit splits or die.
Describe your ideal day:
Ideal day is getting up and win rowing race early in the day. Then I head out to play frisbee golf with my friends, wife and dog. After winning that too, I head to the beach in the afternoon and play some beach volleyball with my wife. After we win that, we have a BBQ at home with our friends and make a bonfire in our backyard. This isn’t a very achievable day, but it would be perfect!
What gets you out of bed every morning?
When my alarm goes off in the morning I’m instantly awake. It’s rare that I linger, I’m out of the bed and dressed in 30 seconds. As far as motivation, I generally have practice in the morning and my sole thought is having a good practice, going fast, firing on all cylinders, and hitting our target speed splits throughout the practice. I try to always be moving the boat as well as I can.
What is the most important part of your daily routine?
My efficiency in the morning. I used to work a full time job while training, and it required me to get very good at minimizing downtime, and getting up and moving immediately. Since then I’ve kept those skills and they make the mornings much easier now!
Whose “O” would you most love to see?
I would love to inspect the daily plan of other athletes from different sports who are at the top of their game and see what they do similarly and what I could take from their habits.
What about your “O” do you think is unique or special?
I’m good at prepping ahead of time, so my bags are packed and food is made that I need to bring the next day, so i don’t need to do as much in the morning before I’m out the door.
What is your #1 wellness habit?
No soda! I stopped drinking soda in 2003 and haven’t looked back. I don’t miss it at all, and now it just tastes bad to me.
What is the best piece of health advice you’ve ever received?
Don’t sweat the small stuff. When something throws me off, I generally try to think “does this matter?” “Could I have controlled this outcome?” And “is this situation improved by me being angry or worried?” Most of the time the answer is “No…”, and I can just relax about it and this makes me a happier person.
Describe your sleep ritual.
I take a small dosage of melatonin almost every night. I’m very bad about falling asleep without it. I generally fall asleep around 10pm and try to get 8 hours a night.
What’s your biggest wellness challenge? How do you address it?
My biggest wellness challenge is probably just making sure I don’t eat too many treats. My wife and I like our desserts, and they can pile up sometimes. I just try to consciously not eat as many for a few weeks.
Tell us about a time you were stuck in an unhealthy cycle and how you got out of it. What was the main inspiration for positive change?
In college I had a period of time where is was drinking a lot of alcohol and it was getting bad. I realized it wasn’t good for my rowing at the time and cut way back my senior year.
What is your favorite part about living a healthy lifestyle?
It makes me feel better. I feel sluggish if I’m not doing the things I know are making me healthy, and I hate feeling sluggish.
If you could give one piece of health advice to your future kids, what would it be?
Don’t drink soda! It’s so easy to cut out sweets from your drinks and it adds almost nothing to your day. Simplest way to lead a healthier life in my opinion.
Henrik Russel is a USA Olympic Rower and Harvard graduate. For more inspiration from Henrik, follow him on Instagram.
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