Since he prior to the 2014-15 season as the Spanish radio play-by-play voice of the Cavs, Rafael Hernandez Brito has called almost 300 combined regular-season and postseason games.
He’s on the road a lot, and this year, his schedule got a little busier with the addition of production duties for the podcast.
When I met the affable Rafa for lunch on Monday (he’ll be featured in an upcoming feature), I asked what his hobbies were. After discussing his wide range of musical tastes, Hernandez Brito said his most significant hobby was working out.
The reason: He’s lost 100 pounds — 65 of which he’s dropped in the last year.
“I have gone through a whole lifestyle change,” Hernandez Brito said. “I was pre-diabetic. My doctor at Cleveland Clinic put me on a program. No medicine. Just diet and exercise. I reversed my pre-diabetic condition. I’ve been working out a lot, I’ve been riding my bicycle, I walk every day.”
Hernandez Brito said things really started to change for him when the Cavs were in Toronto for Games 3 and 4 of the 2016 Eastern Conference finals.
“I hit the wall and just got tired of being overweight and just dealing with all of the extra stuff that comes with it,” Hernandez Brito said. “I started changing my lifestyle. I’ve come down from like a 56 suit to 44 regular. I went from a 48 waist to 32, from 3X to extra large every now and then.
“It’s not a diet,” he added. “I never call it diet because the first three letters of diet are die, so I call it a lifestyle change. I got rid of a lot of stuff I was doing that wasn’t good for my body. I care for myself a lot more than I used to.”
A key, Hernandez Brito said, is appointments he’s had with Dr. Bartolome Burguera of the Cleveland Clinic. The solution was simple — eat better and exercise more — but the path to getting there can be far from straightforward.
“I still go (to see Burguera),” Hernandez Brito said. “I don’t have to anymore, but one of the things in the program is we meet once a month in a group. It’s like a group visit. The doctor asked me if I could keep coming. He was like, ‘You’re an inspiration to the group. Not everybody has had that result.’ It’s not easy, especially at the beginning. I always tell people at the beginning, promise yourself you’ll do it for a month. And trust me, at the end of that month, you’re going to be doing it without even thinking about it. I go to a gym now not because I’m trying to lose weight. I go to a gym now because I love how I feel afterward.”
Hernandez Brito — who has also called the Super Bowl, World Series and Final Four — said the only thing he really gave up is sugar. He still has a “cheat day” — Saturday — but even that isn’t what it used to be because his body has adapted to his improved routine.
“I’ll have a burger with only half the bun and a beer,” he said. “But eventually as the weight started coming off, my system wasn’t liking that. I was feeding my body greens and good proteins throughout the week, but then all of the sudden I had a greasy burger. So eventually without even noticing, my cheat meal became just more protein because it wasn’t working anymore. My stomach was rejecting it like immediately.”
Before, Hernandez Brito said, “When it was hot, it was too hot.”
And when it came to looking for clothing, “I always bought whatever was left on the rack.”
Now, 100 pounds lighter: “I can actually go and shop.”
There have been a couple of drawbacks.
He had to completely restock his closet, which is “expensive as hell.”
And then there’s all the time he spends on the road with the Cavs.
“Most of the time, I eat my calories,” instead of having a couple drinks, Hernandez Brito said.
“The guys don’t like that on the road,” he said with a laugh. “They say they want Jolly Rafa back. They say Celery Rafa is not fun.”
But Celery Rafa feels a hell of a lot better. And he doesn’t have to feel guilty anymore when he’s enjoying a meal on the team jet.
“I would get on the plane and I was eating next to Tristan Thompson,” Hernandez Brito said. “He had burned 10,000 calories during the game and I had burned two, and I was eating right next to him. A lot of things had to regroup and change.”
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