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- Growing Up Bronx
As a columnist for many different websites, I have gained a decent amount of exposure over the last year. This exposure has created many opportunities for me. These types of opportunities range from press passes to radio and television appearances.
One of my most exciting opportunities to date came when I received an email from a casting firm that was looking for individuals to try out for a new television show. The casting agency wanted to leverage my social media connections to find some great candidates.
This is where it became interesting to me. The requirements were for a person that was currently unhealthy, but wanted to make a change in their lives! They wanted someone who could eat healthy food prepared by celebrity chefs, and then along with a panel of judges, eloquently discuss the meal.
Wait a minute, stop the presses! I know someone like that! This person runs a website that does exactly that! This person is trying to get their lives back together! I know just the person that is perfect for that role!
That’s how my journey with Upwave HLN hit television series “Cook your ass off” began. I volunteered for the role, underwent a few email exchanges, and eventually I was on the phone with someone setting up a live audition. I tried out for the show, my first television audition ever! Much to my surprise, I wasn’t all that nervous during the audition. I suppose that my few small roles on independent productions, along with my massive collection of YouTube videos, and live music performing all served as good preparation for that moment!
After that first audition, I had to undergo a few more rounds of phone interviews. I think that the producers enjoyed my back story, a former bodybuilding MMA Fighter, who was in the military! What’s not to love about that? Additionally, I believe that they enjoyed my personality, and they could sense my passion for achieving my goals. Shortly thereafter I was picked up for an episode on the show. The episode came to be known as “Honey Bun Wars.”
When the time came to film, I was instructed to arrive at 630am at the designated studio location. I did my best to be there on time! I gave myself plenty of time, and though I was there well before the directed time, I still managed to get myself lost and required one of the producers to help me find the location. Don’t let this tough exterior fool you; I’m just as goofy as you can imagine!
Once I was settled in I was offered some food. Next my wardrobe was examined by several folks before being approved. Then I was powdered down and made up. Now let me tell you guys something, the studio was HOT! I’m not talking about “bright lights hot!” I’m talking it was the dead of summer hot and those bright lights are hot, hot! The AC was working, but it was just not enough to counter the many bodies, equipment, and the spices in the food that I would soon be eating!
The show is called Cook your ass off, so it goes without saying that those of us who were guest judges on the show have butts that need to be cooked off! I have no shame in stating that I have some serious chunk in the trunk! That being said, I get hot very easily! Add to that the heat from those bright lights, the nerves which come due to the process of being filmed, then further push that by adding some seriously spicy foods, and you have a recipe for a very SWEATY Angel! A very, very sweaty Angel!
If you saw my episode, you undoubtedly saw that my shirt was, well, wet! No amount of editing, or blow drying could hide my level of sweat! It wasn’t due to a lack of effort though. In between takes, I was directed to remove my shirt, and one of the production crew members took a hair dryer to it. So there were periods when I was walking around in a wife beater. That’s when I decided to take a selfie with Richard Blais!
We filmed all day long, from 630am, well into the evening hours. I enjoyed the experience a lot, but it’s definitely a lot of work. Anyone who thinks otherwise, has never filmed for television before. Television is hard work, but plenty of fun!
During the show, the celebrity chefs were tasked with taking unhealthy meals that I love, and coming up with healthy versions of them. This was the best part of the show for me, eating delicious, gourmet food, that was good for you. The three chefs whom I had the honor of working with were all extremely talented and amazing culinary artists. Michel Nischan, Michael Gilleto, and Roxanne Spruance, each an amazing chef in their own right. It was an honor to eat their food.
The judge’s panel was made up of some pretty awesome individuals as well. Richard Blais, Keri Glassman, and Claudia Flemming were amazing neighbors to sit and chat with during the show. Once the studio portion was done, we filmed footage of my life on a regular day. The team could have a first-hand look at the way I ate, how I lived, and some of this made its way to the air. Filming everything was a great experience.
Since the show aired, I have dropped about thirty pounds, and I’m still going hard! I worked with Michel Nischan, a few times, and he taught me some techniques that I started applying to my cooking.
I have also been working with a personal trainer for a few months now, and have been able to maintain my focus. There have been moments where I lose momentum, but then I get right back on the wagon and keep working towards my goals. This is where having a personal trainer has proven to be extremely helpful, it creates plenty of accountability! Tom Ram is very involved in my day to day, and keeps on top of me even when I’m not at the gym.
In the past, I have been able to drop ridiculous amounts of weight in a short period of time. The problem with that is that I would take extreme measures to drop the weight, and I’d always end up gaining it right back, and even more. This time around I have decided to take my time, do it slowly so that it will actually last. These changes are not a crash diet; these are life changes that I am making here.
Balance has been a lesson hard learned, but I’ve learned it. I started weighing in at nearly 260pds! I’m currently weighing in around 230pds, give or take a pound, and I’m still working towards my goal of 180pds. Slowly, but surely I will make it, and the show Cook your ass off provided a much-needed kick in the ass!
Growing Up Bronx