Despite a car accident leaving him wheelchair-bound, IFBB Pro Adelfo Cerame Jr still excels.
TRAIN: What physical effects has your accident had?
I was involved in a car accident with my best friend. I fell asleep and our car veered off a cliff. I was ejected from the rear window of the vehicle and was thrown against a tree. One positive thing from that night – and am very thankful for it – is my irresponsibility didn’t cause of someone else’s death or paralysis. I was diagnosed as a T12 paraplegic and told I’d probably never walk again.
What were your biggest obstacles afterwards?
My biggest mental obstacle was fear of what people would think when I started going to the gym again. Physically, it took a while to get my balance and sense of mobility back in a wheelchair, so I started slowly on machines as they were stable. Once I gained confidence, I started using free weights. I graduated from using the Smith machine press to the barbell bench press. I learned with experience how to translate exercises to be wheelchair adaptive. Sometimes you have to use some ingenuity.
What was your fitness history before the accident?
I was always into training because I was a firefighter. I didn’t get into bodybuilding until after my spinal cord injury. Initially, lifting weights was therapy. I was able to forget everything and get lost in training, but eventually it became my saving grace.
How did it affect your diet?
My occupation as a wild land firefighter was physically demanding – running and hiking 5-7 miles daily, working 16 hours, 14-21 days straight – and it helped mitigate horrible nutrition. I ate whatever, whenever and drank too much. After my injury, this calorie expenditure was taken away and bodybuilding helped me understand nutrition.
How are you motivated?
I don’t need fancy quotes or to idolize people to get inspired. My inspiration comes through faith, a positive aura, my family and close friends. When you’re surround by a positive force, inspiration comes naturally
What are your current and future goals?
To have a forum to share my personal life experience with my paralysis and the struggles and successes. I’d love to be able to help others with disabilities, whether through adapting exercises, nutrition, or day-to-day advice about the challenges of being paralyzed.