Mike Braca

Hi my name is Mike Braca and I'm a recovering exercisaphobic. Well that's not quite true. While I worry a bit about hurting myself- I actually hurt my shoulder swimming once- my problem is really that I'm an instant gratification-oholic. For me that is incompatible with any form of motivation to exercise because I don't get an instantaneous "high" from exercising. Exercising is certainly not something I think I could get addicted to. Also I don't have any history of athletic prowess; in my prime, the "sports" I participated in (softball and bowling) involved simultaneous consumption of mass quantities of beer. The nearest I came to real sports was from behind a camera on the sidelines. 

So how did I end up at 212? About a year and a half ago, I got on a scale and saw 230. I'm not sure why that was a trigger point, because even at 225 I was in "obese" territory on any height/weight chart I'd seen. In any case, I decided at that time to invest the considerable time and psychic energy that would be needed to get into some kind of reasonable shape. Now, I'm not very goal-oriented; I'm more of a "let me try this strategy and see where it takes me" kind of guy, so I didn't have a specific weight target in mind.

The first thing I did was to join Weight Watchers. Having been a member before, in the 70's, I learned two things then: (1) if I follow the program closely it works well for me, until (2) I hit a plateau and it appears to have stopped working, and I'm still putting in the same amount of energy, but the semi-instant gratification of the scale number being lower than the previous week is gone. My strategy this time around was follow the WW plan until I hit a plateau, then start up some heavy-duty exercise program to jump start the weight loss again. Most importantly, I was expecting to plateau and I was committed to persevering through it.

When the time came to pick a gym, it actually was a pretty easy choice. I had belonged for a time to the Punch Kettlebell Gym that was in a tiny storefront in Wayland Square in Providence, mainly because my son was on the cross-country team in high school and wanted to improve his strength and stamina, so we attended classes there together. I hadn't made a longer-term commitment at that time, so stopped going after he graduated. It was pretty much all kettlebells and planks in those days, so not as much variety, but I enjoyed going there. I figured a regular gym would probably not work out for me, so I was happy to hear that a Punch Gym had opened up in Rumford (now 212), and I asked for and got a 3 month membership as a Christmas present from my wife, Cindy (who has been extremely supportive for me throughout this whole process). I got hooked up with Sean and loved working with him, so I was sure I had made the right decision.

There's not really direct instant gratification for me that comes from exercising, but somehow I'm still motivated to show up at 212 day after day. As others have said, part of it is the wide variety of exercise activites- you never know what to expect from a particular session. I'm such a fan of variety that I'm a regular at the Zumba and Yoga classes as well! But most of all it's the people of 212 that make it an experience I look forward to. The trainers give me faith that I'm on a course to all-around improvement even if I can't get an exact readout of my progress (there's nothing like an enthusiastic "Great job today, Mike!" from Kim to brighten my day). And there' nothing like sharing the experience with fellow members and feeding off the collective energy of the group.

So far my strategy is working well- as of this week, I'm officially down 52lbs! That sounds somewhat impressive, but to be really impressed, try picking up one of those 50lb dumbbells and imagine walking around with it strapped to you 24/7! I haven't felt this good physically in decades; I feel good about being well on my way to being actually fit and am very happy that the people at 212 Health and Performance are doing a great job helping me stay motivated.