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2012… 2013

I love a new year.  It’s a great time to leave everything from the past 365 days behind and start fresh.  January 1st is like a walk in the park on a beautiful Fall day with a slight breeze and an array of autumnal toned leaves.  It’s like washing your face on the morning of a very special day.  It marks the journey to new beginnings.

Twelve months ago, I was ringing in 2012 with mixed emotions; emotions of both joy and sadness reigned over me.  The joy came from the excitement of a new year and the unhappiness derived from the lack of change.  I’ll quickly reiterate my struggles…In all of the fondest memories of my childhood that I remember, I was overweight.  I was always the fat kid, the big one, the one losing his breath after walking up 2 flights of steps to a class on the next floor.  I was the one who tried to leave gym class a little bit earlier than scheduled just so I can get a heads up from the large crowds and take my time so I won’t be out of breath.  I was that kid who wore a hoodie on a gorgeous 80 degree Spring day just because he was embarrassed to disclose what was underneath.  The Summer weather was my biggest fear, and my shame grew as the weather got warmer.The struggles of being overweight are beyond physical. The real struggle comes from within: Lack of motivation and purpose, feeling disgusting and out of place in the world and thinking of yourself as less valuable than the people around you.

I remember earlier this year, around late January, murmuring these words to my mom, “My time is now.” I was wholeheartedly convinced that it was my time to change, my time to take care of myself and my time to take control of something that has haunted me my entire life.  I knew the journey would be long and tough, but I was ready.  I set my goal, but feared it.  The initial goal was to lose 60 pounds.  The first few weeks of the year I began making a few changes, and continued working out.  Mid March, while on the phone with a friend, I weighed myself and noticed I lost 10 pounds.  I was over the moon and in complete shock.  When I look back at it now, I laugh at how I reacted, but at that time, it was just what I needed to get motivated to continue, it was just the fire needed to light the flame.  At the 30 pound weight loss mark, I convinced myself that I could lose even more, and with my doctor’s consent, I changed my goal to lose 70 pounds.  Somewhere along the way, I became even more ambitious and I was working towards an 80 pound weight loss goal.

I accomplished it.  I surpassed it, and I continue to do so every day.

Now I’m not saying this is something easy.  I work my ass off every day at the gym, 5-6 times a week and I eat healthy and fresh.  …and guess what?  I love to do so.  In the least sexual fashion, I love being dirty and sweaty.  Initially, it was tough.  I was turning down plates of food that I could not live without.  No rice and beans?  What type of Dominican am I?  Saying no was very difficult.  Imagine your heart telling you one thing, and your brain telling you another…  Exactly.

At this point in my life, it’s not all about the weight loss, or about how I went from wearing a size 44 to 34. It’s about something beyond that.  It’s about a person who was obese.  Someone who hasn’t even lived 2 centuries and in the beginning stages of diabetes.  Someone young and ambitious whose desire was covered by living overweight.  Someone who if it wasn’t for his friends convincing him to attend his senior prom, would have missed it because he knew he was in need of bigger pants and was too ashamed to let his parents know.  Millions of people, my age, younger, older, my race, black, white, my gender, my sexual preference, with my dreams, with completely different aspirations, all face the same problem.  It’s about me.  It’s about me overcoming something huge.  It’s about me gaining confidence, a confidence that has always lived inside me but was covered up.  A confidence that makes me believe that cliché quote that filled our ears as children, “You can do anything you set your mind to.”

This brings me to the subject at hand…  2013.  This upcoming year will be a huge year for me.  For those who don’t know, I graduated high school 1 ½ years ago and took a break after.  During the break, my main focus was working with cakes (the family business) and losing weight.  Things are about to change…

Though I do plan to continue making cakes, I will be stepping back a bit.  I will start college in 2 weeks and I also plan on pursuing other artistic mediums in 2013.  I will leave it at that for now!  I will be making fewer cakes, but I will be following my heart, which is ultimately the most important thing, right?  Life is too short to even consider dwelling on the possibilities.  I proved it to myself this year, so think about it…  What can’t I do?  Give it a go, and I’ll see you on the other side.

Fat Kid No More…

For me, high school was…  High school.  That’s what it was.  Having graduated just over a year ago, the memories are fresh in my head.  This morning, I had breakfast with one my favorite teachers ever.  During breakfast, being around her brought back memories of my high school days.

Every day, I woke up nice and early, and took a 10 minute train ride.  I arrived at school, went about my day and took that train ride back home.  Walking home, I would imagine the day I’d be talking about my weight issues as if it was something of the past.  Those times of wishful thinking were thoughts I’d get for 2 minutes of my day, then I’d get distracted by a text message or one of life’s everyday stuff.

I always struggled with my weight.  I was embarrassed and ashamed.  I covered my emotions with a vibrant energy and my shiny teeth.  For an observational study, one of my classmates asked me my weight.  I would not respond.  I would not bulge (figuratively of course, because physically I was bulging); she attempted the guessing game with no success.

Imagine this…  Gym class comes around.  Gym was supposed to be that time of day to let go, stretch and excite your body.  We’d do exercises, learn how to play sports and play games.  Playing games were the least fun.  Being physically inactive was the least of my problems.  Not only was I the last guy chosen to play the games in gym class, I was one of the last people in general.  The girls who had no athletic bone in them were chosen before I was.

Just a few weeks ago, I uploaded pictures from an old camera my family had from 2 years ago.  What did I find?  Not one picture of myself.  I hated pictures with me in them.  I took my graduation pictures in high school, just so I wouldn’t be listed in the “Not pictured” portion of my yearbook.  Did I give my parents the option of ordering pictures so we can savor the memories?  No I didn’t.  All I needed were the watermarked proofs that were sent to me.

Senior year arrived and passed and I was far from being on top of my game.  I lacked motivation, was uninspired and I felt physically disgusting.  Did anyone know this?  Not at all…  My friends fueled on my positive energy and my smile was always on.

Let’s fast forward after high school, to October 2011.  My parents decided to test my blood sugar level and it registered in the mid 200’s.  For those of you who don’t have family members living with both type 1 and 2 diabetes and aren’t too familiar with diabetes, 252 is a bad number.  Some days, I’d register at 207, while some days I’d be at 336.  A healthy, non-diabetic person registers at 120, at most.  My grandmother has lost most of her vision because of her struggles with type 2 diabetes.

This year was my year to take care of myself. In January 2012, my mind was completely set on what I needed to do.  I took the gym more seriously and began eating correctly. In March 2012, while on the phone with a friend, I decided to step on the scale. I had lost TEN pounds! I was so excited! I stepped on the scale 5 times and recalibrated it each of the times. That sudden weight loss, was my motivation.

Inner growth comes with struggle, that’s a lesson learned.  Why do I say that?  I started this year with a goal.  An ambitious goal that many set, but a few succeed.  Though I haven’t reached my year goal of losing 80 pounds, I have lost 55 pounds and it shows and feels. I weighed 285 pounds. I can happily say that with pride. The struggles that I’ve gone through, all of a sudden become worth it.

I work out on a daily basis. It is an addiction! I don’t work out, I WORK out. I changed my lifestyle completely. I’ve abandoned foods that a year ago, I couldn’t live without.

Why talk about it and put it out in to the universe?  It’s a form of self-empowerment and motivation to continue.  Think about it…  I have wanted this for a long time.  my weight affected me in ways beyond imaginable.  I have conquered it and continue to do so.  What can’t I conquer?

I was always the fat kid.  It’s a title I have always had.  It’s far beyond a physical thing.  It’s an emotional state of sadness, bitterness, denial and depression.  Overcoming that stage feels amazing.  With lots of hard work, dedication and utmost desire, I am happy to say these words…

I’m a fat kid no more.

For the love of passion fruit…

Wether it’s a key lime pie, or  mangu covered in onions and vinegar, I have always loved tart flavors.  If you know me, you know nothing beats passion fruit.  If I see anything on a menu with passion fruit, I have to order it.  It’s a strange addiction.  My adoration is so intense, that I created a passion fruit buttercream a few years ago, and my customers love it.

A month ago, I wouldn’t have been able to write the paragraph above with authority. Now, “I own that shit.”  That’s the best way I could put it.  Vacation in the Dominican Republic was mentally relaxing, a sightseeing spectacular, a humbling experience and probably the most important, a culinary adventure for my taste buds.  I’ll cover a lot of my vacation in future blog posts, but lets focus on what really matters here, passion fruit. 

The passion fruit I’ve been used to my entire life, has been a bag of frozen passion fruit pulp in the freezer section of my local market.  Don’t get me wrong, what I use is a quality product and quite delicious, but man oh man…  During vacation, I had fresh passion fruit for the first time, and I had A LOT of it.

Running your knife through a thick-skinned fruit, thinking of the inside as hallow, until you separate the fruit into 2 parts.  The sight of  black speckles covered in a bright orange, slightly gelatinous pulp is an intriguing one.  Grabbing a spoon, releasing any bit of pulp attached to the skin just so you won’t miss one drop of juice.  Inserting your spoon deep in to the small half to get as much pulp as you can, lifting your spoon with hanging seeds, and treating your taste buds to a flavorful pucker.  Close your eyes and savor the moment. Repeat until no orange pulp remains.  …and that my friends, is euphoria.

Change.

Sometimes, change is good.  This is my new and improved, still as awesome but better blog.  I am a cake designer and cakes will get posted, I guarantee.  Though I tend to forget, I am also an 18 year old living in Philadelphia whose mind never stops thinking, generating, producing and dreaming.  This blog will include all of that too, and maybe more.  If you’re ready, I am too.  Buckle up bitches, it’s going to be a good one!  (See?  I can say things like that here.)