Images of
Raphael Calzadilla

Height: 5' 4"
weight: 145 (competition) 165 (off season)
chest: 42 biceps: 15
waist: 27 quads: 22 1/2

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In January 2001 I decided I was going to finally compete in my first Natural bodybuilding show. I had worked out for years and wanted to see exactly how I stacked up against other competitors. The last few years had been quite difficult for me. Several years ago I was living in Northern California and enjoying my life. However, my father developed cancer and his doctors told me he had only about 18 months to live. Within a relatively short period I was back in CT acting as his caretaker. He died almost 12 months after I returned to CT. The next 18 months for me were quite difficult because I was drained from taking care of him and obviously still grieving.

Finally, in January of 2001 I decided I needed to start challenging myself and really start living life again. I felt competing in a show would be the prescription I needed. I started monitoring my diet, training harder, and consuming natural supplements all while designing a plan to compete in the June 2, 2001 Mr. Connecticut. I started at a weight of 165 and a bodyfat level of 15.5%. I realized I needed to get to 5% or below, so a strategic plan was critical. After finally finding my "maintenance" calories as well as what breakout of protein, carbs and fats made me feel good, I then was able to start the manipulation process. Everything I did from a training, diet and supplementation perspective was strategically mapped out before hand. Nothing was random. I remained flexible with my plan and changed any aspects of it if I felt it wasn't working, but nevertheless, there was systemic plan. This stuff cannot be random.

In addition, I realized I needed to start getting my mind stronger. This may be the most important element when competing. Many people realize that training hard can be a lot of fun, but how many people can really train hard for six months and never miss a workout? How many people can diet intelligently and consistently for six months and never go off the diet? How many people can stay consistent and mentally strong throughout the entire process? We all know that the answer is...not many. That's why the Bodybuilding Community is such a strong "tight knit" community. One of the things I realized during the process was that the more consistent I was, the stronger my mind became. It really has a magical effect on the mind and also the self- esteem.

The plan worked like a charm! Each week I made great progress and always maintained a good energy level. Many competitors feel awful during the weeks preceding a show, but I didn't. I had my carbs, proteins and fats at the perfect ratios throughout my training for my body's chemistry.

All aspects of my training and preparation for my training became therapeutic. I must also point out that life goes on when you're competing. I work as a Personal Trainer in New Haven, CT and still had many clients per day that I had to train, motivate and help get to there goals. It's not like I took a sabbatical or any time off. Ironically, I found that as I started to make gains in my own training, I actually became a better Personal Trainer and Nutrition Coach. On top of this, I had to move during the process. Moving is always a hassle, but moving when you're competing for a show is just awful. Even during this process, I never missed a training session, never missed a cardio session, never missed a "clean" meal. My
point again is that life doesn't stop because we have decided to compete.

In fact, those "things" that you must take care of in life while you are competing actually made me stronger. I ended up realizing there is nothing you really can't accomplish if you put your mind and heart into it. I also started monitoring my thoughts . I wanted to make sure that my thoughts always remained positive no matter what I was doing. If a negative
thought crossed my mind, I would re-frame it and turn it into a positive. There is no way one can effectively compete while thinking negative thoughts. It's like a disease to the entire body.

Everyone started noticing my progress. I was even getting more Personal Training clients because they wanted to learn and understand how I was going through the process. By June of 2001 I was ready! I came in at 4.5% bodyfat at the age of 43 years old and I was beating guys 20 years younger than me in the "open men" classes. You have no idea how wonderful that feels. Nothing makes me happier than killing the myths that people have about. Aging and what we are "supposed" to look like and feel like at a certain age.

I actually competed in several shows in June and had an absolutely wonderful time. I exceeded my own expectations! It was probably one of the greatest emotional and physical experiences I've ever had.

After I competed in my shows a friend who had also competed in the Mr. Connecticut told me that there was a photographer who wanted to do a photoshoot of me. I was highly skeptical to say the least. What was the reason?

Who is this guy? Well, after a lengthy conversation with the photographer, I realized that I had nothing to worry about. I had the pleasure of working with photographer John Mitchell. John did an absolutely professional and outstanding photo shoot with me. I found him to be extremely personal, polished, respectful and efficient. I was most impressed with his
artistic taste for outstanding bodybuilding pictures as well as his quick follow up. This was the ultimate! John had really captured everything I had worked so hard to achieve!

It was an outstanding, wonderful six months. My goal now is to compete in 2002 with five-six more pounds of muscle at competition time. If you have never competed, I would encourage you to take the plunge. You will become stronger and achieve things you never thought possible. You will not only discover more of your own character, but you will begin to create a stronger one! A stronger body, stronger mind, stronger thoughts and stronger actions. Best of Health!

Professional Accomplishments
AAU 2001 Mr. Connecticut "Men's Open Short Class" Champion
AAU 2001 Mr. Connecticut "Masters Class" Overall Champion
AAU 2001 Mr. Connecticut "Overall Crowd Favorite" Winner
INBF 2001 Mr. Connecticut Natural "Masters Class" Overall Champion
INBF 2001 Mr. Connecticut Natural "Best Poser Masters Class"

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Raphael's Photographer: BBpics.Com
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