Exercise can fuel the mind and allow for better connection between mind and body. It’s been widely known to improve self-esteem and cognitive function. So whether it’s as simple as deciding on nutrition- to add whey or whey Isolates or whether to hydrate with plain water or add antioxidants to your daily water intake (I personally love the Rebellious Infusions flavored line), exercise can really help take your mental levels up a notch.
As a part of my series about “5 Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing,” I had the pleasure of interviewing Ramona Braganza.
Celebrity trainer and global fitness expert, Ramona Braganza, is best known for sculpting some of Hollywood’s hottest bodies, Jessica Alba, Halle Berry, and Dakota Johnson to name a few. Beyond Hollywood, Ramona’s message of transforming the world one person at a time by blending body/mind/spirit captivates her audiences. Recognized as one of the top personal trainers in the entertainment industry and across the globe, Braganza’s recent success includes being a live-in life coach for actor Michael Weatherly on BULL, shaping and toning the stars of Fifty Shades of Grey, and helping new mom Ashlee Simpson Ross drop 50 pounds of post-pregnancy weight in five months.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the story about how you first got involved in fitness and wellness?
Fitness has always been a part of my life from ages 8–18. I was a competitive gymnast and then tumbled my way onto Football’s Fabulous Females the Los Angeles Raiderettes as an NFL Cheerleader for over a decade from 1985–1996. It was during the mid 80s and the start of the fitness industry in California that I first discovered a passion for lifting weights and began competing in fitness contests. Supplementing my income with fitness modeling that included appearing on the cover of Muscle and Fitness, an opportunity arose to teach a young actress some gymnastics for her upcoming role — 17 year old Jessica Alba. I became her personal trainer for over 12 years and kickoffed the official start of my business as a fitness professional.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
I’ve had many interesting moments since starting my career, but what resonates the most with me in my fitness journey is the first time I met the young survivors of human trafficking at the safe house Naunihal, in Mumbai India . Coming face to face with girls ages 8–18 whose young lives had been so challenged from birth, who now were so excited to try exercise that I led. I showed them how to do the basics — from pushups to cardio moves to stretching — things that had never been introduced to them. It was hard to imagine a childhood without exercise since exercise had played such an important role during my young years. In many ways, I had come full circle in my journey and I recognized my role was to help these marginalized young girls empower themselves with health and exercise.
Can you share a story with us about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson or take-away did you learn from that?
The most humorous mistake I made when I was first starting out (only after the fact) is I lost a client on a trail as we walked around famed Stanley Park in Vancouver. That 21 year-old client was Jessica Biel. I called her co-star Ryan Reynolds to come and help me find her. We drove around the park in the dark for an hour until we found the scared cold actress. I learned a big lesson that day (before cell phones) — having a back up plan was essential and something I now incorporate whenever I take a client anywhere.
Can you share with our readers a bit about why you are an authority in the fitness and wellness field? In your opinion, what is your unique contribution to the world of wellness?
I consider myself an authority in fitness and wellness mostly because I walk the walk daily. At 59, I’m not allowing age to define me, my health and fitness levels. I am also mindful that wellness is not just a physical need, it is also important to embrace our mental and emotional /spiritual health. Being in some form of exercise for my entire life, I have gathered great wisdom in working globally in the fitness industry and in dealing with a variety of people.
My unique contribution to the world of wellness, would have to be my charity I have started called 321Empower. This 501c3 helps girls that have been saved from trafficking become fitness trainers. It is through empowering these young women, from India and North America, with an education and future career opportunities, that they have a chance to live independent lives in the health and wellness industry. This charity is how I know I have found my calling.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Besides my parents who have always supported my dreams, if I were to mention one person who I am eternally grateful to it would be my 4th grade physical education teacher, Sherril Mitchell, who helped me get started in gymnastics. She was the first one who encouraged me to push to my limits, think and achieve outside the box goals, and learn the art of focusing my mind. She taught me to believe I could achieve anything I wanted to even though I was a minority growing up in a predominantly white town in the 70s.
Gymnastics and the principles of that sport became my vehicle to success. Everything I attempted, from auditioning and becoming a member of Football’s Fabulous females — NFL Cheerleader for the LA Raiders, to tumbling in and wining fitness contests, to small parts in the movie Weird Science, and landing my first fitness job training actress, Jessica Alba, I owe to my gymnastics background.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. We all know that it’s important to eat more vegetables, eat less sugar, exercise more, and get better sleep etc. But while we know it intellectually, it’s often difficult to put it into practice and make it a part of our daily habits. In your opinion what are the 3 main blockages that prevent us from taking the information that we all know, and integrating it into our lives?
We believe our bodies are Invincible, we are fine until we are not….most of us are not in harmony with our bodies and we ignore warning signs until it’s too late. Being proactive with our health before disaster strikes is something we need to grasp.
We are creatures of comfort for the most part seeking the easiest way to do everything, ordering everything on line, removing the need to move our bodies on a daily basis, driving everywhere and sitting a lot. Convenience is slowly killing us making us as we expend less energy but continue to consume more food.
We in the West have yet to accept and live in a way that balances our energies, of yin and yang. Our Daily habits are geared for fast pace and productivity rather than living a life with equal down time that includes nurturing our emotional and spiritual sides of life.
Can you please share your “5 Non-Intuitive Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing”? (Please share a story or an example for each, and feel free to share ideas for mental, emotional and physical health.)
- Ramp Up to a New You with Nutrition — Nutrition plays an important role when it comes to your overall wellness.Eat plant-based 3–4 days a week. Reset your body by becoming plant-based a few times a week. Not only is this environmentally friendly but it’s also great for your gut health! Cutting out the excess from dairy and meat improves gut health allowing you to absorb nutrients more easily from your food which is key in supporting your immune system while also reducing inflammation. Going plant-based also means added fiber — which can work to help lower cholesterol. Add a Protein Smoothie most mornings as the first snack of the day (add in Rebellious Wildberry infusion for added antioxidants). additions like 100% plant-based Rebellious add functional benefits to flavorfully help a natural immune boost. Protein Smoothies will reduce your appetite, boost metabolism, increase fat burning and will be used to build valuable muscle tissue.
- Restore the New You with Hydration- Hydration and the role it plays in ramping up to a new you in the new year. Before you go to bed, be sure to leave a liter of water at your bedside so you can begin your morning by hydrating with room temperature water. In the morning try to drink as much of it as you can, Water therapy improves digestion, hydrates all organs including your brain and your skin and it improves digestion and elimination! For added function and benefits, add in Lemon or Blood Orange Rebellious Infusions for flavor and 300mg of antioxidants per serving — the highest you can find on the market. Be sure to use two packets of Rebellious infusions if you’re going for 1 litre of water. Continue to drink water all day carrying a bottle around with you, to work in your car and when walking around.
- Reinvigorate the New You with Exercise — The thought of exercising might exhaust you but exercising actually reinvigorates your mind, body and soul. If 2020 has left you feeling depleted, then get back on track with this simple but fun way to get Courageous again! For an added boost, think about adding in tasty antioxidant-based, liquid infusions like Rebellious Pure Energy Courageous — with up to 100mg of natural caffeine per serving. Just add to your water and dance to your favorite song or brave the cold with a walk or hike for function and natural energy! Bonus — the cold weather is said to transform white fat, specifically belly and thigh fat, into calorie burning brown fat!
- Rejuvenate to a New You with Sleep — Sleep is the most important aspect to any wellness journey. Most of us do not get enough quality sleep and more often that not — it’s challenging after a long day to actually fall asleep. Here are three easy tips on how to wind down from your day! Three hours before bed stop eating, 2 hours before sleep, stop working, and 1 hour before bed stop all screen time, as this inhibits the production of sleep hormone melatonin. Instead, right before bed, curl up with a book you love, and add Sangria or Wildberry Rebellious Infusions to a cup of warm water for a 200 mg antioxidant-filled, caffeine-free soothing drink that works to reduce stress and calm the nervous system to help initiate a good night’s sleep.
As an expert, this might be obvious to you, but I think it would be instructive to articulate this for the public. Aside from weight loss, what are 3 benefits of daily exercise? Can you explain?
- Empowers you Mentally — exercise can fuel the mind and allow for better connection between mind and body. It’s been widely known to improve self-esteem and cognitive function. So whether it’s as simple as deciding on nutrition- to add whey or whey Isolates or whether to hydrate with plain water or add antioxidants to your daily water intake (I personally love the Rebellious Infusions flavored line), exercise can really help take your mental levels up a notch.
- Promotes Better Sleep — exercise improves your productivity during the day and allows for a more restful sleep at night.
- Improves your Overall Mood — endorphins released through exercise can work to relieve depression and anxiety symptoms.
For someone who is looking to add exercise to their daily routine, which 3 exercises would you recommend that are absolutely critical?
- Walking Program — Get out and walk, 30 minutes, five days a week — one of the most natural and effective ways to get your body moving.
- Core Exercises — Most of us have a weak core from sitting all day, try planks to start and then venture into something more advanced like pilates!
- Backpack — Try a home workout of functional exercises that mimic daily lifestyle movement.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story?
A book that made a significant impact in my life is the Bible. God has always been an important part of my life and even if I just read the Bible sporadically, it provides me with a blueprint for how to live my life with continued hope and gratitude.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I believe we all can pay it forward, if we have been gifted the luck of the draw and have grown up with any sort of privilege, it’s up to us to pay it forward at some point. My parents had a harder upbringing in India than I did, which inspired me to create my charity, 321Empower and help girls there first.
At 50, I realized how blessed I was and thought how could I make a difference in a young girl’s life? This began my mision to start a program that helps survivors of human trafficking in India become fitness trainers to help give them a future career. As I continued my work, I discovered that the same problem exists in our backyard, so I branched out and am working to get similar programming for girls in North America.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
I have created my own life lesson quote:
We don’t choose where we are born, if we are lucky enough to be born in a life of safety, comfort and privilege, it is our duty to find a way to give back to another who is suffering, and to do so in this lifetime.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
I have been fortunate to meet many interesting celebrities however, if I could present my charity and the work it does to one person that understands the need to give back — I would like to have breakfast, lunch or even give a workout to Oprah Winfrey. She is one powerful woman who has and can make change happen. As a trainer who wants to see girls off the street and employed in a field of wellness, I would love to have the opportunity to speak with her and Michelle Obama!
What is the best way our readers can follow you online?
Readers can follow me and my charity on the following:
IG @ramonabraganza and @321Empower
FB @RamonaBraganza321Fitness and @3–2–1Empower
Twitter @ramonabraganza and @321Empower
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!