How one of the fittest guys in Hollywood was inspired by Oprah

Colin Egglesfield is one of the fittest actors in Hollywood.

With roles on TV’s “All My Children,” “Rizzoli & Isles” and the film “The Space Between Us,” Egglesfield is a hard-core triathlete with three straight wins in the celebrity division of the annual Nautica Malibu Triathlon. The chiseled 44-year-old swims, bikes or runs nearly every day and makes time to run a clothing company, and work with several children’s charities.

You’re one of the top endurance athletes in Hollywood — and you look way younger than your age. Good genes?

No, I’m constantly working out — at least five days a week. I’ll jump on my bike and climb Mandeville Canyon a couple times, swim in the ocean twice a week with a meet-up group, do a 4-hour group ride in the mountains on Saturday morning, run five or six miles. Sometimes, if I have auditions or am out running around looking at houses during the day, I’ll go to Equinox at night and do a “brick” workout that includes all three sports plus some light weight training, like squats and leg presses. One of my riding buddies, an ex-pro cyclist from Moldova, told me you need to do that to keep your power in the hills. I love all the workouts — they make me feel great. I guess I'm an adrenaline junkie. Waking up the morning of a triathlon feels like Christmas morning. You've put in the work. You can feel the excitement and energy. It’s exhilarating.

Growing up, were you a competitive swimmer or runner?

Not a swimmer — I had a panic attack the first time I swam in the Pacific Ocean a few years ago and had to get a coach. But growing up in Chicago, I always was an athlete. Played all kinds of sports — football, baseball, karate, track. Played a year of football at Illinois Wesleyan University, then transferred to the University of Iowa and played rugby, a brutal sport. When I lucked into a modeling gig after I graduated, gave up the idea of med school, and moved to New York in 1994, I was looking for something athletic to keep me going. That’s when my sister called up and told me she saw Oprah running a marathon and got me inspired. After that, I ran seven marathons, in New York, Chicago and L.A. But four years ago, when that 26.2 miles got a little boring, and my little brother started doing triathlons, I got into that. It's really enhanced my life in many ways: My diet, training and my charity work with kids.

How did it change your diet?

I have a sweet tooth. I try to eat lean meats and salads, but do like my ice-cream at night. And that's a problem. Too much sugary food spikes blood sugar. I learned that when you’re training, you want to train your body to burn fat.... So I keep my heart rate below 140 bpm for a long time, which trains you to burn fat stores.

If you’re lighter, you’re faster, and I’ve found that portion control is key. You go to a restaurant and they serve huge portions, way bigger than what you need. I still eat whatever I want, but only eat half and take the rest home for lunch the next day.

How did triathlon lead to charity work?

For me, It’s fulfilling to know I’m making a difference, so I’ve always been active with charity stuff. Children's Hospital Los Angeles is a beneficiary of the Nautica triathlon. Through that connection, I got a tour from Dr. Alan S. Wayne, the hospital’s director of the Children’s Center for Cancer & Blood Diseases, and became a volunteer. My dad was a doctor and I was a biology/premed student in college. I know that staying positive is difficult for those undergoing cancer treatments. So I go to the hospital once a month and see these kids.

Many of them are just 5 or 6 years old. They're tied to chemo drips, just scared. They just want to be kids. So I play Chutes and Ladders and board games with them. We play Candy Land. I participate in a program called "Literally Healing,” a bedside reading program in which you just go room to room reading Dr. Seuss and “Curious George.” It helps take their minds off what they are going through. I give them T-shirts.

T-shirts?

It's my brand: Shout Out Clothing. I call it “interactive apparel.” I started it about 10 years ago after I saw something like it in Thailand while shooting a movie. The shirt comes with velcro letters that you can rearrange. Kids have written stuff like, "Kiss Cancer Goodbye.” It’s all about promoting literacy and self-expression, creating whatever it is you want to say and shouting it out to the world.

There a lot of time to kill on a set between takes. So I’ll use it to work on Shout Out and other things that make me feel I'm making a positive contribution.

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