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An Interview With An Old Friend (And A Give-Away)

Posted Oct 15 2012 1:14pm

I met Raphael Calzadilla (RC) back in 2005 when I joined a once-popular dieting website. He was the moderator and chief fitness and motivation expert on the Exercise & Fitness board.

Back then the site was an incredible source of support and inspiration, and RC made it his mission to keep it that way. It was a place where anyone could fit in and feel safe – those just starting out on a journey to health and fitness to those who were much farther along, perhaps running marathons or becoming body builders, and everyone in between. It was RC who instilled in me the idea that I can, indeed, “do this” when it comes to fitness.

Since leaving that company he has gone on start his own training and coaching business, Fit By Raphael .

One of the most enduring lessons RC taught me is the concept of what I now call compassionate objectivity – the ability to be compassionate with one’s body  in order to improve it as desired. He lives this concept as a competitive all-natural body builder. He would write about his competitions and how his body either measured up or didn’t quite measure up and he never once got disgusted with himself or hated himself. It was just data for the next time.

RC has written a new eBook, The Power of Healing Through Fitness & Nutrition: 8 Weeks To Lasting Weight Loss . The book comes in two versions: one for those who work out at home, and one for those who work out at a gym.

As someone who uses kettlebells as her main source of both strength training and cardio, I know how important proper form is and that is why I have chosen to highlight this book on my blog. One of the most valuable parts of RC’s eBook is the fitness section, which includes links to videos that show how to do each exercise, where proper form is used and emphasized. Videos can be watched on a computer or mobile device. Each exercise is also described fully in writing.

What prompted you to write these books? Months ago I was having a discussion with another trainer in the gym where I workout about how the majority of people in gyms have extremely poor exercise form. Some people concerned me because they were putting themselves at high risk for injury and not even working the targeted muscle group correctly. I told her just about everyone I observed needed a personal trainer. And, they could also use an easy to follow, enjoyable nutrition plan because people don’t do well with canned diets and hate dieting, yet they’re forever trying to lose weight! I also recognized that both of those things are out of reach financially for most people based on the current economy.

What makes the program presented in these books different than others? I wanted to provide a solution that was low-cost, yet still addressed a comprehensive workout and nutrition solution. I wanted to give people as much as I could so I designed the 8-week workout program and created a private video library that anyone purchasing the eBooks can access. There are two separate workouts in each book to keep things fun and to prevent the body from adapting, and each week the workout challenges the reader to progress. The exercise videos provide instruction on proper form in order to affect the muscles being targeted, and to reduce the risk of injury. I also wanted to provide an enjoyable nutrition solution with a lot of realistic options. Exercise alone simply isn’t enough, but too often standard diets are mundane and limiting. They just don’t take into consideration the way people really lead their lives. That’s why I created a complete meal plan with meals you cook at home, convenience options, fast food and on-the-go options, and quick and easy snacks.  I even include Weight Watcher Points Plus equivalents for each meal for those using that program.

Tell me about your background? Did you ever struggle with your weight or with body image in general? I’ve been a personal trainer for 21 years, an online coach for nearly 10 years, and I’ve been working out for 40 years. I’ve worked with a lot of different types of people from the person who is always trying to lose weight but struggles to stay on track, to the person who has never exercised, to athletes, special populations, and kids. But I’ve always enjoyed working with women who struggle with weight loss.

I struggled with body image my sophomore year of high school. My ah-ha moment came about as a result of a specific incident, which took place in my teens and ultimately brought me to my vocation. I played football in high school my freshman year and was always very active and in shape. But then I decided I didn’t want to play anymore and stated to gain weight. At 5’4” I’m not in a position to carry a lot of weight on my frame. I gained somewhere in the area of 25 pounds and felt extremely uncomfortable. But I wasn’t doing anything to change it until one specific incident took place.

My parents bought me three pairs of dress pants for Christmas. They bought a larger size because they knew I had gained weight, but even the larger size didn’t fit me. In fact, I could barely get them on. I’ll never forget that feeling. They said they would return them and buy a larger size. I adamantly refused. I said I would fit into the pants within a few months by exercising more and eating less. And, that’s exactly what I did. I developed my own little plan and strategy. I laid out each of the pants on my bed stand and kept them out every day until I reached my goal.

Each week I would try all of them on in order to fuel my motivation and check my progress. I wanted to be reminded of my goal every time I walked into my bedroom. No weight scales for me. My only goal was to fit into those pants. I worked hard and tried the pants on every week as I inched closer and closer to a perfect fit. 

I will never forget the feeling of those pants fitting perfectly. And then I had my ah-ha moment. I was feeling really good, very proud of my accomplishment and I thought, “Oh I see! The elated emotion has connected with the body.” It was a very unusual moment. I just understood. Sometimes I struggle to put it into words. For some it may not sound transformational and that’s because there isn’t a way for me to describe what happened in that brief moment. I just knew. I knew on an emotional level and it’s the closest thing I’ve ever experienced to a genuine mind-body connection. I was at the beginning stages of gaining an appreciation for managing the stuff that rolls around in your head. 

Physical transformation is my first love because I know what it can do for people. I know it can change someone’s life.

Tell me more about your philosophy in regards to the emotional component of weight loss and fitness? Weight loss and fitness is about finding what works for you, and sticking with it is a lot about addressing the stuff that happens inside your head. Your thoughts, your emotions, your relationships – it’s all encompassing. It’s about the relationship people have with themselves; the inner dialogue that takes place all day long can be a very good thing or a very challenging thing. That’s one of the things that fascinates me about my clients and about people who are successful at losing versus not successful. That’s what I try to get a real handle on. Nothing excites me more than helping and watching a person go through a physical, emotional, and mental transformation. It takes time but it can be done. Everyone I’ve ever helped who has lost significant weight can attest to that. That’s why I named my blog The Power of Healing Through Fitness & Nutrition. For most people, this journey really does require a healing, which takes time and work.

How would you describe your coaching “style”? I like to find out as much as I can about a person. That’s why I provide a comprehensive assessment form that asks not only exercise and nutrition questions, but also questions related to the individual’s lifestyle, stress levels, time constraints, what  triggers overeating or stress eating, what foods they gravitate towards, etc.

Any trainer can design a workout program, and any trainer can help a person with nutrition, but to try and really understand how a person emotionalizes and therefore reacts to specific situations is really the glue to all of this. I am always paying attention to what my clients say and I like to use a guiding, directing and steering coaching approach as opposed to a dictatorial type style. However, there are times to push on people a little when they truly need it. I always pay attention to what someone sends in an email or tells me in person. Listening very carefully is part of what I do and that goes beyond me just wanting to receive an email that reads “I did my workout today and I was on plan.” I listen for subtle cues that tell me about energy, motivation levels, distress, etc.

What tips would give someone (like me hahaha) who tends to resist plans and programs? Most people resist nutrition programs and plans because it makes them feel caged-in, trapped, limited, or deprived. However, it is also a proven fact that people who have the highest success rate for weight loss do in fact track calories. Only 9% of the population can accurately assess how many calories they consume per day. So clearly we hate to diet and we approach food with a “just wing it” style. But for those who have a “just say no” policy towards formal plans, I recommend writing down all the foods you’d like to eat on a regular basis including healthy foods with lots of fiber, lean protein sources, but also fun foods such as tortilla chips, frozen yogurt etc. Then build one of those treats into each day. Doesn’t have to be a lot, but just enough to make it enjoyable (in fact, I just did a short video blog on this very topic!) Then, separate your meals and snacks into about 4-5 feedings a day and then run with it.

It’s also a good idea to ask yourself why you tend to resist plans and programs. Have they ever been effective for you? Why or why not? Is it the plan/program itself, or is it how you feel when you follow it? Are you depriving or limiting your choices? Also, you have to ask yourself how you really feel when you don’t follow a program and you don’t feel comfortable in your own skin. And the answer does take brutal honesty.

Any other words of wisdom? Yes, just a message to any one struggling and who feels they can never get this weight loss thing right: stop beating yourself up. Stop the debilitating, self-sabotaging thoughts. I know it’s hard, but seek out support. Whether it’s me, another person like Karen who’s been down this road, a group, an exercise class or anything that gives you access to other people who can support your journey, find support. It’s really hard for a lot of people to go this road alone. It doesn’t have to be this way and you can make progress. More than you realize. And, you are stronger than you think you are.

Karen, thank you for this opportunity to discuss my eBooks and to talk a little about me, my background, and philosophy.  And thank you for everything you do to support others. That’s what it’s all about! 

If you’d like to win a copy of RC’s book, please leave a comment below. I will choose a winner via random number generator and announce it 10/17/12.

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