Measuring Success on the Health & Happiness Scale—with Joe DiStefano – EP127

 In Podcast

As endurance athletes, we have ambitious fitness goals. But few of us stop to consider what’s driving us or exactly WHY we chose a particular target. Fewer still understand how our current habits fit into the bigger picture around long-term health and wellbeing. What if we quit using the sweaty and sore scale—and started measuring our success in terms of overall health and happiness?




Joe DiStefano is a global authority in the realm of optimizing wellness and longevity while improving fitness and sports performance. After a traumatic brain injury, Joe dedicated his life to finding health again, and the experience informs his holistic approach to training and coaching some of the world’s top athletes. He spent eight years as Head of Sport and Training with Spartan Race before founding RUNGA, an experiential lifestyle brand that empowers people through sustainable practices that fuel health, wellness and performance.

Today, Joe joins us to explain why he sees his traumatic brain injury as a gift, describing how it led to his understanding of ‘cumulative stress load.’ He shares how he got involved with Spartan Race and discusses his difficult decision to leave the team to serve people in a different way. Joe also shares what a RUNGA experience looks like, explaining how attendees are empowered to take care of themselves and why his retreats don’t involve drugs of any kind. Listen in for Joe’s insight on measuring health and happiness and get his advice for starting your day by working IN.

Topics Covered

[1:29] Why Joe sees his traumatic brain injury as a gift

  • Made hypersensitive to things that undermine health
  • Led to understanding of cumulative stress load
[11:21] What made Joe realize he was doing too much

  • Saw cumulative load in face + posture
  • Issues in neck, jaw, vision and walking
[14:04] How Joe got involved with the Spartan team

  • Took undergrad classes with Dr. Jeff Godin
  • Invited to Spartan race after recovery
[17:47] Joe’s difficult decision to leave Spartan

  • ‘Given all I had to give’
  • Want to help people on different level
[22:39] How Joe knew RUNGA could be a business

  • Started as off-the-grid experience for friends
  • Sold out even in 3 hours
[25:15] Joe’s insight around the RUNGA experience

  • Wellness event to get in touch with what’s driving you
  • Know exactly how to take care of self (tools born with)
[30:49] Why RUNGA doesn’t employ drugs of any kind

  • No spiritual bypassing
  • Leverage energy work instead (mobility, breathwork)
[34:42] The healthy, high-quality food at RUNGA events

  • Rent private estates, hire own chef + bring own food
  • Meticulous planning to serve what hosts eat at home
[38:47] Why RUNGA only hosts one or two public events per year

  • Attention to detail makes business challenging
  • Grow carefully to maintain purity and authenticity
[46:02] Joe’s health and happiness scale

  • Measure wellness based on impact on others
  • Happiness = attitude toward life, default
[49:57] Joe’s top tip for Ali Fitness listeners

  • Start day working IN (don’t touch phone first hour)
  • Take control vs. shift into reactive state

Learn More About Joe DiStefano


Joe’s Website

Joe on YouTube

Joe on Facebook

Joe on Instagram


Spartan Race

Paul Chek

JP Sears

Dr. Jeff Godin

Joe De Sena

Joe De Sena on Ali Fitness EP025


Ben Greenfield

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