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Ted Talk 135: How I Recovered My Life, Business, And Happiness After Tragedy Hit My Life

Nine years ago, Ted was doing amazing at his job, working with wealthy people and living a dream life in a condominium in Miami Beach.
Life was great, and although his purpose wasn’t as clear as it is today, Ted was all about making money, and he was making tons of it.

But then he received a phone call announcing a tragedy; his sister had taken her life. His whole life, job, marriage, and health crumbled before him, and as he stood there, powerless, hopeless, he realized how alone he was.

In this Ted Talk episode, Ted shares the story of how he regained control of his life, how he managed to recover from the tragedy that hit his life one more time, and the lessons he learned in the process. He also discusses the importance of having a clear purpose, our most valuable asset, the greatest wealth we can accumulate, and why we must always be prepared to save ourselves.


You’ll learn:

  • The phone call that put Ted on my knees
  • The sooner we realize no one is coming to save us, the better
  • Why Ted decided to create this podcast
  • There is always a way to turn pain into something positive
  • Why investing in our purpose is one of the most powerful investments we can make
  • Losing health is like losing net worth, or worse
  • And much more…


Related Episodes:  

306: Overcoming Tragedy And Living A Legendary Life with Martina Plag

What Death and Tragedy Taught Me About Living Life

314: An Inspirational Guide To Overcoming Adversity with Peter Sage


Links Mentioned:  

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Podcast Transcription: How I Recovered My Life, Business, And Happiness After Tragedy Hit My Life 

Ted Ryce: Nine years ago, I was living the dream. I was making $150 an hour as a personal trainer in Miami Beach. I was working with millionaires in waterfront mansions and luxury condos. I was dating a beautiful Brazilian woman, who would eventually become my wife. Business was growing and the future looked bright, then I received a call that would change everything—my sister had committed suicide.

And after that, my life went into chaos, along with my business, and along with my happiness, I almost lost everything. And today, I want to share the story of how I recovered all that, how I recovered my life, my business, and my happiness. What’s up, my friend? Welcome back to the show. I’m your host, Ted Ryce, Coach to entrepreneurs, CEOs, and other high-performers, and we’re on another Real Talk Friday conversation.

So, when I received that call from one of my sister’s friends, she went on to explain how my sister, Martha, was staying at her house while she was away. And when she arrived back home, she found my sister facedown in the bathroom, in a pool of her blood with a gun lying next to her. My sister had killed herself.

I remember where I was. I was in my condominium in Miami Beach. And I remember, as I got the news, I began to shake, and I had to hang up on her. I said, “Thanks so much...” I have no idea what I said. But I thanked her for calling me. I hung up, and then I started screaming. I punched the wall, I broke furniture. My heart was broken. And I was sad beyond words.

But anger was my first reaction. I mean, after my sister and I lost our mother in a car accident, and our little brother to murder, it just seemed like the universe was playing a cruel joke on my family. And I remember thinking, “Why me? Why again? Why my family? Why my sister?”

I had always believed that my sister and I—the story that I had for us was that we were going to grow old together, she was going to have a family before me, so I could be Uncle Ted and kind of test out fatherhood. I had a whole story in my head about how that was going to play out, and it all just drifted away like sands being blown in the wind.

And as hard as that day was, it was just the start of a long road of grief that had ahead of me. The growth that my business was experiencing came to a halt. I mean, how can you focus on going back and growing your business when someone that you love so much—I loved my sister so much. I mean, we had our problems with each other. I had some things I really disliked about her. But what I felt for her was love, protection. And all of that just… I couldn’t focus on business anymore.

And I was in a new relationship with that Brazilian woman who I mentioned. And for those of you who’ve been listening to the show, you know that’s Gisele, we would go on to get married. But we started our relationship just a few months before my sister killed herself. And those of you who know my story a bit more, you know that Gisele and I divorced. We’re still business partners, we still care about each other. We still are like business soulmates, but we ended up divorcing.

And this was the start, because after my sister killed herself, our relationship began to fall apart as I descended into grief, I got distant, my sex drive disappeared, I started drinking, drinking heavily, workouts became quite sparse. And one thing I’ll tell you that I learned from going through my brother’s murder is that while people care, they don’t care that much. And I don’t want you to think about this the wrong way. I don’t want you to take this the wrong way. It’s not that people are mean or lack empathy; it’s people don’t know what to do to help. People are so overloaded in their own lives, overwhelmed in their own lives, that they give you some thoughts and prayers, give you a hug, maybe, if you know them, and that’s about it. And those are your friends.

The people who you pay to keep your lights on, the internet going and your cell phone working, those people need to get paid, and also felt like my clients would start looking for another personal trainer if I took too much time off. People think they hit bottom after a loss. But I’ll tell you something, there’s always another level of hell to go down to.

And so when I went to my sister’s funeral in Atlanta, a few days after I got the news about her, I took about a week off from work, and then I was back training clients. And that was one of the hard lessons that I’ve learned in life, no one is coming to save you. No one is coming to save you, no one is coming to tell you, ‘Hey, you’ve really got to get in shape. If you don’t get in shape, you’re going to have some problems with your health and those problems, they’re going to grow.

And they’re going to lead to you living your life in a way that’s going to make you extremely unhappy, extremely stressed out, and worse of all, regretful, ”Why didn’t I do something about it? I had thought I could put it off. I thought things would change.”

You must save yourself. This is the biggest lesson that I’ve learned from going through tragedy. If you’re struggling financially, no one is coming to save you, the government, Trump, Biden, I don’t care who— not going to happen.

If you’re in a relationship that isn’t going well, nobody is coming to save that relationship. And certainly, for your health, nobody is coming to save you. Nobody is coming to make your life easier and make some space so that you can get in shape. You must save yourself. So, as I went back to work, I realized—I needed to make a change. I was counting reps for wealthy clients. That’s what it felt like.

I’d show up to these mansions—beautiful, beautiful mansions, beautiful million-dollar apartments, condominiums, but I was counting reps for wealthy people. Not the wrong with that, it was a good gig. Especially when I was struggling as a guy in his early 20s with no hope. No degree, no hope, no expertise how, it saved me, that career. But the truth is, I had outgrown it. I was doing it for the money.

This is what happens when we get hit in the face with the realities of life—we start to reevaluate what’s important to us. In fact, maybe that happened with you after the Coronavirus, craziness. You’re like, what’s really important here? What’s really important for me? I was working so hard, I was so into my little world, and then this microscopic virus shut the entire world down.

Well, I went through that already, after my sister killed herself. And I knew something was missing. I wasn’t sure exactly what it was. I knew I was doing the right thing with health, but I knew that I had to help more people and it wasn’t in the privacy of my clients’ home gyms. That’s when Gisele and I, we had an idea to create something bigger. We knew we needed to get out there. We knew we needed to make a bigger impact.

So when I came back from work one day, she told me, “Congratulations, we’re starting a podcast.” I said, “Okay, I’m in.” And this podcast, the one that you’re listening to right now, became the foundation for everything good that would come our way. It’s been the source of passion, connection. And yes, profit. And that’s when I learned this second powerful lesson. That’s when I learned that there’s an opportunity in every crisis, no matter how terrible a tragedy might seem, there’s always a silver lining, there’s always a way to turn the pain into something positive.

And I want you to ask yourself with what you’re going through right now, because we’re all going through something that we don’t want. Maybe that’s age for you. I don’t want to get older. Yeah, that’s a hard one. But what can you do? What is the opportunity? Maybe you’ve been in a situation with your business going bust. Okay, but what is the opportunity? There’s always an opportunity, it’s hard to think this way. It’s hard to make the shift. I’m not saying it’s easy. I’m saying it’s possible.

So, no matter what type of situation you’re in, right now, ask yourself, how can I turn this into something positive? You might say, well, there is no way, it doesn’t exist. And I want to challenge you on that, because maybe you don’t understand or maybe you’re just not being creative enough. How can I turn my sister’s suicide into something positive? And the answer to that is to help more people. I use that fuel. I use that pain.

See the pain, the way I look at it, it’s energy. And if that energy is just, oh, you’re feeling it inside you, it’s ramping up your anxiety levels, it’s ramping up your depression, it’s ramping up the negative feelings that you have, it’s because you’re channelling it inward. And when you channel it inwards, when you don’t let it out, when you don’t use that energy to create something, it’s stagnating. It grows inside of you, and ends up consuming you, destroying yourself, your health, and your life in the process.

So I took that energy and I used it to find the next level. So the podcast, something, else came from the podcast that I didn’t expect. Because starting this podcast, you think it was easy. I don’t know if you do or not, but it was freaking hard. We had to learn how to record and edit, what equipment we needed, how to reach out to potential guests, how to get reviews for the show.

People don’t want to listen to your podcast. So many pieces need to be in place to make it seem like people have to listen to it. And I would imagine if you’ve been listening for a while, that’s why you come back. Nobody wants to spend more time reading people’s books, listening to more podcasts. We’re all busy. So, you’ve got to create something so powerful that people can’t help but come back and listen over and over and over.

So, there were so many podcasts to choose from, why would anyone choose to listen to us? I wasn’t good at interviewing, not when I started. I wasn’t good at doing these solo episodes. And the answer was, we had to work hard. We had to be better than good. It was critical that we became great if we want it to survive. And to be honest, I believe we’re still working on that greatness goal.

But in the process, in that journey, we’ve built a show that receives about 100,000 downloads a month. Incredible! That’s two episodes a week. So out of all the hard work that Gisele and I have put into the show, we’ve developed something powerful – purpose. We found our purpose through this. We weren’t ready for all the people who would listen and go on to tell us that they changed their life through tuning into us every week.

And I say “us”, even though I’m the one that comes on the show and Gisele has only been on maybe less than a handful of times. But she is every bit of this show as I am. Because when I first started the show, when we started the show, we just we wanted to make some money. I mean, we wanted to help people too, it’s in our nature to do that. But we wanted to make some money. And podcasting was a good way to do that.

Well, not just money, but some recognition too, would be nice. So, when we started getting messages from people on how they ended up changing their health, changing their life, started doing things they’ve never done before, and especially after listening to my story, I found my purpose, Gisele found her purpose. That’s why, even if I’m in a shit mood, I still sound happy to be doing an episode. This is a pleasure to do.

I don’t do a podcast, because like, “Hey, guys, I’m back here, because it’s Monday, and I got to work… Friday. It’s actually Monday, when I’m recording this, I’m not going to work. I’m showing up for my purpose. And when I record an episode, I forget about everything else that’s going on in my life, and I focus on that one person who’s listening, that one person, that if I show up as my best version, just maybe they’ll start showing up differently in their life.

And if I can do that enough, I can really make a positive impact in the world. I believe that. I’m crazy enough to believe that. You know we have a coaching business, too. Let me tell you, you know, it’s not easy running a coaching business, right? I mean, how many people really want to pay money to do coaching, compared to say, let’s say buying supplements or other products?

And if you think that we do coaching because of the financial aspect. It’s definitely part of it. But it is not the easiest way to make a buck on online business. It happens to be the best way to transform people’s lives. But it’s hard fucking work. It’s not just hard work for me either. It’s hard work for the people who sign up, it’s hard work for our clients. But we’re so committed to doing that. It’s the purpose.

We’ve had so many offers for advertising as sponsors and Gisele and I have had these conversations, like, “Should we just grow the podcast really big and just advertise it?” It would be so much easier, in some ways, at least. But what we’ve created with our coaching program is so powerful that I’m compelled to keep doing it. Now I may not always… I think I’ll always be coaching, to be honest, for the rest of my life. Maybe not the rest of my life, maybe when I’m 80, but for the foreseeable future, coaching is so powerful.

And we’re so honored to be able to not create change in people, but help facilitate change, working together as a team. That’s what coaching is. It’s not about me being a guru, it’s about, we’re a team. And a lot of coaching isn’t telling people what to do. It’s about getting them to empower themselves, certainly giving them the right information. But the point of this is, I found my purpose through this.

And I feel like I talked to a lot of people who have money, who are doing well financially, but they’re not living their purpose. They’re not spending enough time on the things that make them feel alive because they’re chasing the dollar. Money is great. I think people are idiots who say money isn’t important. But if you’ve got money in the bank, and you’re not happy, making more money is not going to solve that problem. Money is super important. But up to a point, it doesn’t give you more, you have to invest in a different way. And your purpose is the most powerful thing to invest in.

So let’s say I didn’t have this podcast—let’s do a thought experiment here—and let’s say I was a complete mess in my life. And let’s say you and I, we met, we had a conversation, I shared the story of what I’ve been through, what my family has been through, my brother, my sister, and you saw I was a mess. You saw the way I dressed, the way I carried myself, overweight probably, broke, probably.

Would you be surprised that my life was in disarray after you heard what I had been through? You’d probably even expect it, because society gives us a pass if we fall apart and squander our lives after something terrible has happened to us. I remember a story my dad told me about another man whose son was murdered. It’s a terrible, terrible club to belong to, let me tell you, murdered family member, especially if it’s a young kid like my brother.

And this guy, my dad told me this guy spent a lot of time shooting fruit in his yard to deal with the anger and sadness he felt. And while my father felt bad for him, he also found him pathetic. And I don’t mean that in a judgmental way, and perhaps pathetic isn’t the right word. But it’s like, “man, that’s a really pathetic way of dealing with this situation.” “Oh, but that’s so uncompassionate, it lacks compassion.”

Look, it’s not about that. It’s about this. It’s about your time is limited on planet Earth, time is the most valuable resource you have. If you lose money, you can make it back. If you lose time, there’s no amount of money that can make it back. You can use time to get more money, but you can never use money to get more time. It just doesn’t work. There’s nothing that you can trade for more time. The only thing that might do that is working on your health.

And so my point in showing or sharing this with you is that many people say that you can’t come back from a bad situation, a tragedy, a divorce, a bankruptcy, a business going bust. But I believe with all my heart that’s 100% untrue. And I don’t share these stories for you to feel sorry for me, because I busted my ass to get myself at a better shot in life.

And I’m here to tell you that no matter what you’re going through, or what you’ve been through, feeling sorry for yourself, it won’t solve anything. In fact, it’ll make things worse. I’ll tell you what I mean in a second. Because it doesn’t matter whether you lost a loved one like my family did or lost several loved ones, whether it’s a divorce, whether it’s health struggles, your business, went out of business, or you lost millions in crypto, wallowing in self-pity makes you feel better while you do it, but the world just passes you by. More importantly, your life passes you by.

And then when you exit the fog of grief, you realize, “Man, I’ve got less time, I’ve got less time.” And I’m not saying that grieving is a waste of time. It’s not. We all have to go through the process of grief after something happens. It’s not a five-minute thing. And if you push it down inside of you and don’t deal with it, that’s not really something either. You’re always dealing with it. It’ll get stuck inside you, raise your blood pressure and cause you to do things that are self-destructive.

So I’m not saying not to grieve, but what I am saying is don’t indulge in self-pity so deeply that when you finally pull yourself out, you find that you have very little time left to do what truly makes you happy. Life is a gift with a surprise expiration date. And none of us know when that that date is. We don’t know when we expire. It’s a surprise. So the idea here is just, don’t waste your time.

What are you doing with your life right now? Are you happy? And happiness, I don’t mean, yeah, I’m so happy. I mean, do you feel like fulfilled by what you’re doing? You have less time than you think, that’s the one thing that’s true, because you may live to 70, or 80. But how many of those years are going to be years that you’re going to feel full of life and able to do something?

Who cares if you have a billion dollars when you’re 80 years old, because you’re not going to feel like doing much? The chances are, you’re not going to have the health energy, desire, ability to go travel the world. But in your 40s and 50s, and 60s, perhaps even in your 70s. The time is now! What do you need to do more of? Go do that! And that’s why I’m going scuba diving this week in Portugal, which happens to be a fantastic place to go diving, didn’t know when I arrived.

And the last thing I want to share with you is health is wealth. One of the most frustrating things I see people struggle with is the obsession with money like money is the most important thing. I am a big fan of money. I’m a big fan of capitalism, although it has a lot of problems. I’m a big fan of achieving financial success. Cars and yachts and that type of thing aren’t really for me.

But let me tell you, having more room when you’re sitting in business class, that’s something I want to experience, or first class, something I want to experience. Some incredible experiences are available to you if you can afford to do them. That said, health is the foundation. One thing about health is, I think one of the biggest shifts that I’ve made is I look at it as an investment.

Investing into your health is an investment in your future. Everyone’s saving for their retirement. But they’re in their 40s or 50s, they’re overweight, blood pressure is high, sex drive is low, energy is low. It’s good to invest financially, you need it. It’s a reality. It’s the way the world works. But you’re not investing in your health, it’s crazy. Here’s the thing: losing health is like losing net worth. Losing muscle, it’s like losing net worth.

I worked with a client recently, made an incredible transformation. Shout out to you, Trevor, if you’re listening. Julie, Trevor’s wife who actually listens to the podcast and got Trevor to join. I don’t know how much Trevor actually listens, to be honest. But his wife Julie does. So shout out to you, Julie, if you’re listening. And we were talking about his transformation. I can’t wait to share with you the incredible physical transformation Trevor’s gone through.

I mean, the guy looks amazing. And it’s been a short time. And we were talking about it. And I was like, “Well, how do you look at this…” Because Trevor’s a real estate broker for commercial real estate. And I was asking, “Well, how do you look at this?” He’s like, “Well, I’m investing in myself when I’m investing with you, Ted.” And I’m like, “great. And how do you see the return on this in terms of financially?”

He said, “Well, listen, it’s a little bit hard, because some of the things that I do, they pay off a year later, two years later, but I’ll tell you, since I’ve worked with you, since I’ve transformed my body, I just have more energy. I’m working hard, the quality of my work is better, and it feels less stressful to do. I’m sleeping better, my mind is more clear.” That’s what investing in your health is. And if you want to enjoy your life, you’ve got to invest in your health.

There are so many things that are trying to rob it. Number one is age, the older you are, we all want to say that, oh, if I eat the super fruits and the super greens and do the Zone 2 cardio and do weightlifting, and sleep seven to nine hours a night and meditate and journal, and live my purpose, like I’m going to live for a really long time.

Well, here’s the thing: age, it’s going to get you, it’s going to start taking away from you. You’ve got to hedge against it. If I’m using that the right way. You’ve got to build as much health as possible. Money, you can make more of as you get older. You can be a billionaire when you’re 70 – you know what I’m saying. If you make the right investments, you get more money, more money, more money, you end up with so much money, you don’t even know what to do with it. You’ve got to give it away.

But health, it doesn’t work that way. It’s like prime time to invest now, but it’s going to go away. I’m hoping for some major medical breakthroughs. But let me tell you: don’t be expecting that. Because even if they happen, you’re going to need to do some work. So it’s like an investment, you can make it while you’re younger, but eventually it gets taken away completely. It’s a big mindset shift that I’ve made. That’s why it’s like, health is the number one thing for me.

Why do you think I’m a zealot with health, I’m a zealot with this idea? Sure. I care about relationships; I’m not going to sacrifice my relationships. I believe that that’s part of health. And I believe that financial health is part of health. But you can’t just say, well, I’m healthy financially, my wife loves me, but I’m about to have a heart attack or get cancer.” It doesn’t work that way.

And that’s probably the biggest shift that I’ve started to make. And I’ll tell you, the only reason we’re not talking about that right now is because our culture hasn’t caught up. But what I’m saying now, it’s going to be so obvious in a few decades from now. All right, maybe more, maybe five decades or 100 years. We’ll see. But it will be that way.

And I’ll tell you, I came here to Portugal about a month ago, I guess three weeks ago now. And I got sick as soon as I got here. Is it COVID? I don’t know. I didn’t even get the test. I just stayed home. I’m finally pulling out of it. But whoa, was it rough. And I’ve been sick before, and I wasn’t even that sick. But it just, I had this bad cough. I was sleeping poorly. I had all these plans to be in Portugal and it just kicked me right on my ass.

And the key to getting back from being sick was to rebuild my health, was to start exercising again, eating the right foods, dialling in my sleep. Even if I was having some trouble, what could I do to improve my sleep quality? So many things tried to steal our health from us. The long COVID, what do you think that’s about? I just saw a study about it the other day, long COVID. Out of shape. unhealthy people got COVID, they were already unhealthy, they got even worse, they got even more unhealthy.

That’s what sickness does to us. It robs us of our health, and we need to build it back. Or you may have been healthy and got sick, and you haven’t quite built it back yet. Or you got injured. You were doing really well and got injured, had to stop everything. Health went away, muscles shrunk, cardiovascular fitness went away, resting heart rate started rising. You’ve got to get it back.

Health is the foundation for success in every single area of our life. I can’t emphasize that enough. It only takes getting sick to really realize that, to get that through your head, it only takes getting sick, or even worse, your first heart attack or a diabetes diagnosis. I had a client, her husband had a heart attack while going through the program, and he’s in his 60s, you think he’s worried about finances and all the other stuff? He’s worried about that, I’m sure. But he’s worried about in the way like, what do I need to do? How much money do I need to make to take care of my health so that I don’t die?

Heart attack’s a big deal. That’s a huge health red flag. And that’s not even a red flag that’s like a… what would you call it? Like air raid siren, like red alert, like you’re about to die if something doesn’t change. And luckily, he’s the type of guy who took charge, made big changes. He lost fat, went through cardiac rehab. But again, health is where it’s at. If you don’t have that, nothing else really matters.

And as you get older, the risk of the types of health challenges you have, they get greater. It’s not just a heart palpitation, it’s a heart attack. It’s not just a high blood sugar reading, you got diabetes, it’s not just the flu, it’s pneumonia. So, I could say more about it. But I’ll tell you, the number one thing that’s happened to me after all these tragedies that I’ve been through is I’ve had to build back my health every single time, after my brother, after my sister, after my dad. It’s the way forward, it’s the most important thing you have. And that’s all I have to say about that.

So just to wrap up here, just the lessons is no one’s coming to save you. You’ve got to save yourself. Now you can ask for help. You can get help, but understand, it’s on you to take action first.

Number two is opportunity in every crisis. The example I just used with my client’s husband who had a heart attack, there was an opportunity for him and he made a big change, lost fat, got his diabetes under control, went through cardiac rehab—could have just given up.

Number three is find purpose. Money’s great, relationships are great, but especial, if you’re a man—now, I can’t speak for women—but if you’re a man, we need a purpose in our life, we need a purpose in our life. The next one is time is the most valuable resource you have. With time, you can accomplish a lot. The problem is it runs out and you never get it back. How are you using your time?

And last, health is your greatest wealth. Time is our most valuable resource, a good bit of that needs to be spent on investing in our health. That is it for today. If you enjoyed this podcast, I got tell you, share this with someone who you think would benefit from listening. Does someone need a kick in the pants, when it comes to getting out of a funk, whether that’s from something negative that happened or whether it’s just a rut they’ve slowly dug themselves into over the years, share this episode. It’s best way you can pay a compliment to the show. So that’s it for me. Hope you enjoyed this. Hope you took something powerful way from listening today. Have an amazing weekend, and I’ll speak to you soon.

Ted Ryce is a high-performance coach, celebrity trainer, and a longevity evangelist. A leading fitness professional for over 24 years in the Miami Beach area, who has worked with celebrities like Sir Richard Branson, Rick Martin, Robert Downey, Jr., and hundreads of CEOs of multimillion-dollar companies. In addition to his fitness career, Ryce is the host of the top-rated podcast called Legendary Life, which helps men and women reclaim their health, and create the body and life they deserve.

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