Paralympic Gold Medalist, World Record Holder and Ironman Triathlete Rudy Garcia-Tolson is on the #RoadToRio, competing in his fourth Paralympic Games. Rudy will be a favorite for gold in the men’s swimming 200IM and 100m breaststroke competitions.

Since his first Paralympic Games in 2004 at the age of 16, Rudy has become an ambassador for Paralympic sport. Born with multiple birth defects, including Pterygium Syndrome, a club foot, webbed fingers and a cleft lip and palate, Tolson endured 15 surgeries by the age of five before telling his parents he’d rather have a double leg amputation.

By age 8, he had already become active in swimming, running and triathlons. At that age, he stated that he wanted to compete at the Paralympic Games and eight years later, he made good on his promise when he swam to gold at the Athens 2004 Paralympic Games. Since then, Tolson has added more Paralympic medals to his collection and accomplished more in his career, including becoming the world’s first double above-knee amputee to complete an Ironman triathlon in 2009.

He has been featured on numerous media publications and television shows, including The Oprah Winfrey Show, CNN, The New York Times, USA Today, Sports Illustrated and was named as one of People Magazine’s “20 Teens Who Will Change the World.” Tolson has won several awards, including the ESPN’s ARETE Courage in Sports Award, Nike’s Casey Martin Award and was nominated for an ESPY. He continues to make an impact in his community through his work with the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF) and as a motivational speaker.

Location: Colorado Springs, CO

Favorite Exercise: Swimming

Favorite Healthy Snack: Power Bar or Protein Smoothie

Favorite Way to Center: Hiking with my dog, Jimi.

Favorite Book: The Golden Rules by Bob Bowman

Favorite YouTube Video: Michael Phelps’ 8th Gold – 2008 Beijing Olympics Men’s 4x100m Medley Relay

Personal Motto: A brave heart is a powerful weapon.

Daily Routine:

  • 555AM – Alarm Clock
  • 615AM – Pre-workout Snack
  • 630AM – Hot Tub
  • 7AM – Swimming
  • 9AM – Breakfast
  • 1130AM – Personal Trainer
  • 1230PM – Lunch
  • 1PM – Nap
  • 230PM – Stretching
  • 3PM – Swimming
  • 5PM – Body Conditioning
  • 6PM – Dinner
  • 7PM – Spend time w/ Jimi
  • 930PM – Bedtime

What gets you out of bed every morning?

I rather chase my dreams, than sleep in and dream about them.

What is the most important part of your daily routine?

The most important part of my daily routine is to start my day positive, with a powerful and good morning practice. This way I move through my day strong physically and mentally.

What is the best piece of health advice you’ve ever received?

Listen to your body. Never underestimate your body, it is a perfect machine. If you are in tune with its signs, you will know what decision to make to stay healthy.

What is your #1 wellness habit?

Listening to my body and its needs. To perform my best each day means paying attention to my sleep needs, my food needs, my physical therapy needs, etc. I also try to balance staying in touch with nature. When I take time off practice, it is very important for me to connect with nature. I spend a lot of my weekends hiking with my dog at lakes, mountains, beach… Nature inspires me in a large way and recharges me to start strong again Monday morning.

What is your favorite part about living a healthy lifestyle?

Living a healthy lifestyle means taking care of my body to perform year after year, follow my dreams, and get stronger every time. The result I see in my performance while making healthy choices is a good feeling and is what fuels me.

Describe your sleep ritual. I take my sleep very seriously.

By the end of the day my body feels tired and sore, so I make sure to recover through sleep. Part of my sleep routine is to either jump in the hot tub at the training center or to fill my house tub with sea salt to relax my muscles. I am in bed by 9pm most days.

What’s your biggest wellness challenge?

I would say that sticking to a healthy diet is challenging for moments. To stay healthy, I surround myself with professionals that guide me through the process such as nutritionists, healthy cooks, sports medicine doctors, and physical therapists, and follow their lead to meet my goals.

If you could give one piece of health advice to your future kids, what would it be?

I would tell them to never give up on their dreams, never give in to negativity of others, even when people tell you can’t do something. All the rest will fall into place with effort, perseverance, endurance and clarity. Surround yourself with the people that have your best interest and help support your dreams.

Rudy Garcia-Tolson is a USA Paralympic Gold Medalist, World Record Holder and Motivational Speaker. For more inspiration from Rudy, follow him on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

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