Opening Up…

 In the past few months I’ve realized that I have opened up more on this blog than I have to anyone. I find it ironic in a way that I’m able to open up to however many strangers visit my blog than I can with most of the people I’ve known my whole life. These Flashback Fridays (granted this is only my third) allow me to open up more than I have in my life.So I’m about to share something with all of you that is embarrassing and I’m crying as I’m writing this. A few weeks ago, my cousin posted a picture of my on Facebook that caused me to shake my head. I was ashamed. Not at my cousin but at myself for what I looked like. Please understand how hard this is for me to share with all of you.

I have never looked like I weigh as much as I do. Two and a half years ago I went to the doctor for back and knee problems. I hadn’t been weighed in forever so I didn’t know what to expect as I slipped off my shoes and stepped on that scale. To be 25-years-old, around 5’10” (yes I don’t know exactly how tall I am) and to see 272 lbs pop up on the digital read out was heartbreaking to put it nicely. I almost broke into tears in the middle of the doctor’s office. How could I have let myself get that heavy? What have I done?

Now was the time to face the doctor. My weight had a lot to do with my bad back and bad knees. He looked at me and told me that from a medical prospective I would be placed in the category of morbidly obese. Oh my GOD!!! Somehow my heart sank even lower. I had no clue what I was doing to my body. When reality set in that I HAD to lose weight, I almost lost it. Maybe I did lose it. I don’t know. All I knew was that most people tell you that in order to lose weight, you have to eat healthy and eat more whole grains. I have a million food allergies. I already eat healthier than most and with Celiac Disease I can’t eat whole grains. I knew I had to change something but didn’t know to what or how.

June 2006

I freaked out after it settled into my brain that I had a huge task at hand. I was flipping the channels one evening and I landed on the Biggest Loser on NBC. I didn’t plan to sit there and watch an entire episode but I found my self listening. Truly listening. I have watched that show ever since. They mentioned something about The Biggest Loser Club and I looked it up. I figured nothing has worked in the past so why should this but I’d give the whole diet thing one more shot. I worked at Baskin Robbins at the time and while most would say that was not the best place for someone who was now on a diet to be working at but I could only eat one flavor so it didn’t matter. I live about half a mile from where the store used to be. When I got an iPod for Christmas of 2007, my life changed. After joining The Biggest Loser Club I realized that I CAN and WILL do this.

THE BIGGEST LOSER CLUB SAVED MY LIFE.

I began walking to work. It took me 10 minutes to walk from my front door to the store. I couldn’t give up coffee and still haven’t to this day (it’s on the bad foods list) but I managed to work the calories into my diet. The first thing they teach you is it’s not a diet – it’s a change in you life. I started making smoothies everyday out of fresh fruit and soy milk. I began dancing again (in the comfort of my apartment). I learned that so long as my heart was beating, I was working off calories.

In July last year I hit my 50 pound loss mark. Unfortunately, depression set in because my life is not where I hoped it would be. I found out the hard way how easy it is to gain the weight back. I fell into my old habits and gained about 20 lbs. It has taken me quite a few months to get back on track and start losing the weight again.

I CAN AND WILL LOSE ALL THE WEIGHT I NEED TO LIVE A LONG AND HEALTHY LIFE!!!

October 2009, photo by Stacie Klemm Photography

For more information on Flashback Fridays, please visit Christopher and Tia’s blog by clicking on the image below.

Flashback Friday Week 2

Twenty-one years ago Mindy and I met for the first time. I don’t remember that day but I do know we were in the first grade. We became friends right away. Mindy had just moved to Bishop not too long before and her parents had bought the local doughnut shop.

One day (I don’t know what year) the entire class was invited down to the doughnut shop where Dan and Debbie (Mindy’s parents) allowed each of us to decorate a doughnut however we wanted. I kept mine simple, chocolate with chocolate frosting and sprinkles. One of the guys in the class put a little of every topping they had. He didn’t like it but Dan told him he had to eat it because he told all of us in the beginning that we would only get one so choose wisely.

Over the years Mindy and I grew as friends to the point where we were almost joined at the hip. We spent so much time at each other’s houses and running around town like the crazy kids we were, even driving up and down Main street yelling at every cute boy we passed. Mindy has always been the closest thing I have to a sister. We are so different and yet so much alike. We are the epidemy of the saying “Opposits attract.” She likes to spend as much time outside (she used to be a firefighter, what can I say?) where I’m perfectly happy most of the time indoors reading a book. I am the youngest of two while Mindy is the middle child of three.

Mindy and Me at Homecoming

At the end of fifth grade, my parents transferred me to a different school in the Bishop area. It was for the best since I was being teased so much in school that I began threatening suicide at the age of ten. Mindy was one of the many rocks I had at the time that kept me grounded without me realizing it until a very long time after. I feared that being away from her in a school I didn’t know would ruin our friendship. I missed seeing her every day in and out of class. Changing school destroyed a few friendships I had had for a very long time but Mindy and I stayed very grounded in our friendship. We may have even grew closer because of the separation. Then half way through our seventh grade year, her parents decided (after much begging by Mindy I’m sure) Mindy joined me at Round Valley.

We hiked Catalina island together with the rest of our eighth grade class and supported each other as we ventured into the unknown that is known as high school. We sat next to each other for graduation only being separated by one of our closest guy friends. I comforted her through all of the breakups while I was waiting for a guy to notice me and tell me I was beautiful. We’ve been to Disneyland together after spending Thanksgiving with my family. I cannot even tell you how many memories and experiences we’ve had together over the years.

She was the first of us to leave Bishop as she headed to Job Corps to become a firefighter, causing me to worry like a parent every time she left for a fire in who knows what city. We’ve each moved away and come back to Bishop. She now lives in Oregon while I’m struggling to get back out of Bishop. We keep in touch as much as we can by phone, text and Facebook. In the year and a half she’s been gone, I’ve seen her twice. I think the separation we lived through during sixth grade helps us to understand that it’s okay to be apart and that we’re actually not too far from one another.

People laugh at us when we finish each other’s sentences and know what the other is thinking just from a glance or when we say “I love you” to each other on the phone. I don’t care what people think of the two of us but she IS my sister and will always be. She continues to be one of the many rocks I have in my life that keep me grounded to this crazy thing we call life. She knows when I’m depressed by the sound of my voice without me uttering a single word about it. Mindy has a wonderful boyfriend who has calmed her wild, crazy self while I still have yet to be asked out in my 28 years of existence.

I think I’ve run out of memories right now as I’m trying my hardest to not cry because I’m writing this while sitting at a rickety table in the High School we graduated from waiting for Act Two of Playhouse 395’s production of South Pacific to be over and I have fulfilled my volunteering duties. I have roughly 10 minutes before the play is over.

I know that all that is left to say is:

Mindy if you read this, please know I love you with all my heart and soul. You have been the bestest of best friends I could have ever hoped for in life. I truly do believe that we are friend-soulmates. I miss you and will try to get back up to Oregon this year. I love you.

The picture I am sharing with you is from our Junior Homecoming Dance taken around 1998. My hair was down to my butt and I chopped it off up to my shoulders a few months after the picture was taken.

Cake Decorating

I’ve come to realize that I am by far the happiest when I am decorating cakes. Then it probably comes as no surprise to most when I tell them that my dream in life is to open a bakery. For as long as I can remember, whenever there was a birthday or another event, most of the time I was the one that was called to bake the cake. As the years went on, my love for baking increased. Then in August 2002, my love of baking almost died when I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease and was forced to remove gluten from my diet.

Then December 2005 the cake decorator at our Baskin Robbins went on a two-week vacation and I was allowed to fill in while she was away. After just a few days, I thought to myself, “What have I gotten myself into?” and I almost gave up. I’ve given up on a few things in my life and wasn’t about to do it again. I pushed through the stress and time-consuming, hectic life that comes with being a cake decorator. I began experimenting and really started to fall in love. Those two weeks flew by and I was sad when I had to give the position back. Shortly after, the cake decorator gave her two-week notice and I fought to convince Richard, my boss, that I could do it permanently. Needless to say he gave me the chance. While there were times that Richard and I didn’t see eye-to-eye, he was one of the best bosses I think I could have ever asked for.

Now became one of the difficulties of taking on the position: all the cakes were made from wheat. Could I actually do what I fought so hard to get without getting sick? I think in the two and a half years I was the cake decorator, I almost killed my hands because I washed them so much, but that helped with the gluten. I didn’t have to bake any of the cakes, but I did have to cut them and potentially breathe in any crumbs that could have flown up in the air. I managed.

Irene's African Grey

Shortly into my new position and responsibilities, I began documenting my work. I also found myself watching more and more of the Food Network, especially the cake challenges and Ace of Cakes. I also began pulling out my long forgotten sketch pads and colored pencils and let my thoughts fly onto paper. Getting those designs from paper to cake became the hardest part but I managed. When at first I doubted myself, I began looking at napkins, invitations, clothing (oh, yes, you heard me right: clothing) people brought in and saying, “I can do that” with a big, confident smile on my face. Each of my regular customers began challenging me with every order they placed. My designs became more detailed and to the point where people couldn’t believe I could do it with nothing but cake, ice cream, frosting, icing (yes there is a difference in my eyes) chocolate and/or sometimes figurines of some sort. I began having more confidence in myself that I never had before. My mom, grandmother, brother and I are artists in our own way. They have their mediums of pencil, crayons, paint and charcoal. My main medium is cake and icing.

I decided to enter a wedding cake in our local Fair. Almost all of the entries are done on a cake dummy (a styrofoam base to decorate in place of actual cake). I had never done a wedding cake let alone work on a cake dummy. Being me, I wanted to do something out of the ordinary so I chose to do a Tim Burton’s A Corpse Bride themed wedding cake. I had many first with that cake because I also had never worked with fondant. I was pleased with the final cake I produced. I knew it wasn’t my best but it was also my first time entering and I had to enter as professional. I received 3rd place and was so excited to have received any ribbon. So many people said that I should have won 1st but honestly I was just proud of the fact that I didn’t give up. Richard even let me display the cake at work for everyone to see and to announce that he now had an award-winning cake decorator. It’s a small award, but an award nonetheless. I entered once again the next year and did research before hand and almost screamed when I saw the blue ribbon placed by my name. I played it safe but it payed off.

When Baskin Robbins closed in July 2008, I cried. I worked there three times for a total of just over 6 years and I’m only 28 years old ( I was 26 when the store closed). With the hopes that a new owner would take over, all of my supplies that I inherited from all of the decorators before me was left in the empty building. The owner of the building screwed everyone over on their leases and I’m pretty sure all of my trusty (and some not quite so trusty and ready to retire) equipment went into the dumpster. I don’t know if any of it is still there since the windows are now boarded up and the building, unfortunately, has become an eyesore of the town.

Acacia and me with her 18th birthday cake. (3/7/10)

To this day, I still have people come up to me and ask if I’m still decorating cakes. I try but most people don’t know how to get a hold of me and my free time is limited. I’m more than willing if my schedule allows it. I continue to decorate the cakes for my family and friends. I’m working at getting a plan into place to open a gluten-free bakery in the San Diego area of California. My dream is to have a place where anyone can enjoy a goodie with everyone and not worry about what the food will do to their bodies later. I have worked very hard to get my recipes to the point where you can’t tell they are made from rice, not wheat. I know now that I can’t let anything get in the way of me reaching my dream.

And just so you know, my email address is caitlyanna@yahoo.com. Drop me a line sometime. I’d love to hear from you.

Acacia's 18th birthday came (3/7/10)

Ben's Pirate Birthday

Macie's Hannah Montana inspired Birthday Cake.