Name: Angel Bravo
Location: Long Island, NY
Why I decided to transform
When I was 32, I weighed 165 pounds, felt fit, and was pretty athletic. This was a particularly momentous time for me because my daughter had also just been born. I found myself skipping the gym to help take care of her; it wasn't long before I fell off of the fitness wagon completely. When I think about it, it's amazing how just three or four pounds of weight gain per year can turn into sixty pounds over fifteen years. At age 48, I weighed a hefty 231 pounds.
To be honest, I had noticed the weight creeping on. I had to keep buying new pants with a larger waist size every two years. I became very self-conscious about wearing clothing that clung to me; removing my shirt in public was definitely never on my mind. Even though I noticed, I just made excuses and wrote it off as a side effect of getting older. I had several health issues: loud snoring, sleep apnea, borderline high cholesterol, and a fatty liver. Still, I chose to truck on and ignore these weight-related issues.
I finally received a rude awakening last summer when I went in for my yearly physical. My doctor sat me down and told me that if I did not do something about my weight, I would develop liver disease and enter the point of no-return. He said that I was well on my way and that I really needed to lose 20 pounds asap! That day, I finally got serious about fitness and nutrition, and joined a gym the next.
I coach 5th and 6th grade basketball. It's very rewarding to me because I can help inspire my kids and instill in them an interest in fitness. During practice, I teach them how to do pull-ups, push-ups, and burpees. They love it, and so do I. When I'm not training or coaching, I can be found in my work room tinkering with one of my model airplanes or helicopters.
How I accomplished my goals
I found an old photograph of myself and pinned it to my workspace, where I could see it daily. I researched current fitness and nutrition protocols and started keeping a food journal of every morsel I ate. I joined Platinum Fitness, a gym near my home and commenced training the way I used to train when I was a much younger man, using very heavy weight with minimal warm-ups. Training this way led to one injury after another. I didn't let this derail me. I simply trained around the injury until it healed.
I started doing 30 minutes of cardio before each training session to thoroughly warm up. I checked my ego at the door, dropped the weight way down, and stuck with compound movements and little to no rest between sets and exercises. After a month, I weighed myself and cried out in surprise: I had lost ten pounds! I was getting stronger, and most importantly, I was no longer getting hurt.
I went to the gym six days a week and trained intensely for 45 minutes to an hour. It was around this time that I started to keep a training journal. I documented exercises, sets, reps, pounds, and rest periods. Each week I would strive to add weight or an extra rep or two.
What aspect challenged me the most
Following these training and dietary protocols was no easy task. Most days I debated whether or not I would go to the gym. But once I got off from work and got into my car, I would always end up parked in front of Platinum Fitness. (I have to thank my car for somehow knowing the way and not letting me slack!)
I got a lot of attention from the other regular attendees at the gym. Everyone praised me for my hard efforts, as evidenced by my sweat-drenched clothing. This helped keep me motivated and coming back for more. My nutrition plan was easy to follow. I did crave sugar pretty much daily, but I satisfied the craving with fruit or a handful of almonds with a couple of figs or dates.
Most importantly, I never went hungry following this plan. When I felt especially hungry, I would just add more veggies and protein to my plate.
My future fitness plans
I would like to enter a physique competition next year for my 50th birthday. More importantly, I want to help others realize their potential for undergoing their own transformation as well. I suppose I see a training certification in my future.
Suggestions for aspiring transformers
Here are some rapid-fire tips that I learned and helped me on my own fitness journey:
- Educate yourself by reading everything you can get your eyes on.
- Start your workout program off slowly and increase duration and intensity as your fitness level improves.
- Find healthy versions of the foods you enjoy so that you don't feel deprived.
- Keep food and training journals and track your progress.
- Increase your water intake slowly until you are drinking a gallon daily.
- Eliminate table sugar and processed foods from your diet.
- Prepare meals ahead of time. This keeps you from grabbing junk when hungry.
- Surround yourself with supportive people, not someone constantly offering you junk food and encouraging you to skip your workout.
How Bodybuilding.com helped me reach my goals
Early on in my journey while researching fitness and nutrition, Bodybuilding.com would always pop up in response to a Google search. I found the site by accident and just fell in love with the vast, varied, and complete library of fitness and nutritional information available.
Much of what I have learned came from reading Bodybuilding.com. It is truly the one-stop shopping location for all of your educational, how-to and supplement needs. It is simply the best.
Angel's Top 5 Gym Tracks
- "Forever" by Lil Wayne & Eminem
- "Hard" by Rihanna (feat. Jeezy)
- "Move It Like This" by K7
- "Fine China" by Chris Brown
- "Show Me" by Kid Ink (feat. Chris Brown)
I would like to thank IFBB athlete, Alesandro Savi, for all his encouragement and for helping me get my nutrition plan dialed in. Alesandro frequents Platinum Fitness and is always helping folks work towards their fitness goals. A more humble, genuinely nice man would be hard to come by.
I would also like to thank my photographer, Rosetta Mortati. Rosetta is a fitness model, athlete, and a professional photographer. I am grateful to count her as a friend who has offered me encouragement throughout my journey.
Lastly, I would like to thank Gianna Capri at Platinum Fitness for allowing us to shoot these photos in the facility.
Special shout out to my comrade, Vinny Mastro. Thanks for everything, my friend.