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“You are a Baker”

December 31, 2012 by Nina Spezzaferro

I’ve dreamed of this moment all year – when I would sit down to write a long reflection on the year in which I baked 52 cakes.

The magnitude of this journey didn’t really come into focus until this past August when I discovered another hobby I fell in love with. I took up running. I started out of necessity. By June I had packed on a whopping 10 lb. Baking a cake a week will do that to you. Weight gain was my biggest fear and challenge when taking on the task of baking with such frequency. It was hazardous to my health! Faithful readers may recall when I hurt my knee a few days before Valentine’s Day. I wasn’t running when I hurt it. I was baking!

I was lamenting to my friend and honorary cousin Joey, over cake batter, that my project had become “Weekly Weight Gain”. And we got on the topic of running 5ks. “I run 5K a few times a week,” he said. I asked more questions. I knew he’d lost a significant amount of weight over the course of a few years by running. I gave it some thought.

joe and nina

A week later I was on a red eye flight from LA to NY thinking “I have to get my life together”. A couple days later I committed to running a 10k with Team ASPCA in October and I made an aggressive fundraising goal.

That saying, “Leap and the net will appear” – It’s true. I leapt and the net appeared and then some.

By August I got up the nerve to start running. I made a training calendar. My first run occurred on the afternoon of August 11th. I was too scared of running outside so I did 1.5 miles on the treadmill. My face turned red. I wanted to stop halfway through. But I finished, even though I had to sit down and recover immediately afterward. A running friend had passed on some wisdom she had received and it’s what got me through. “Whenever you feel like you need to stop, you’re probably just uncomfortable.”

I saw a quote  by John Binghamin one of my running newsletters.

“If you run, you are a runner. It doesn’t matter how fast or how far. It doesn’t matter if today is your first day or if you’ve been running for twenty years. There is no test to pass, no license to earn, no membership card to get. You just run.”

Non-runners would ask me, “How do you run that far? That often?” It was easy, I would explain, “You just put one foot in front of the other until you finish.”

And I though the wisdom should be applied to baking as well.

If you bake, you are a baker. Doesn’t matter how much or how often. It doesn’t matter if today is you’re first day or if you’ve been baking for twenty years. You just bake.

I kept at it – baking and running. If each cake were a mile, I was in the process of “baking” nearly two full marathons. And running helped me get down to a little less than what I weighed when I started the project

I ran my first race, 10k, on October 13th. It wasn’t easy, but I crossed the finish line. It was exhilarating. I wanted to do more.



I signed up for another race and then another. And then some more. It took many weeks to really fall in love with running. But I fell for it and hard.

When the end of the year started creeping up on me, I had a lot of cake to catch up on. But it was important to me that I completed the project and finish it on time. And based on my running experience, I had no doubts I’d be able to cross the finish line.

What’s next for me? My birthday is this week. I don’t want a birthday cake. Maybe I’ll enjoy some birthday pie or birthday cookies. Maybe I won’t have any sweets at all. After all, I’m running a 10K 3 days afterward and in a birthday tiara! I’m training to run my first half marathon this St. Patrick’s Day. I want to learn how to cook fish and pork. I want to knit more, another hobby I discovered earlier this year. I’m looking forward to taking a break from baking. But I’m still a baker. And if you bake, you are too.


  1. Joey says:

    “I knew he’d lost a significant amount of weight over the course of a few years by running. I gave it some thought.”

    You wouldn’t know it from that unflattering (and fatt-ering) angle, but so honored to be a part of your year-end unwind!

  2. Martta Kelly says:

    Congrats, Nina, on both your running and baking. I was 13 lbs. heavier before I took up running. I have no plans on going back to being fat ever again! :-)

  3. Aunt Silly says:

    You’re a baker; you’re a runner and you’re a winner!
    Happy New Year! Happy Birthday!

  4. Linda Carlson says:

    Brilliant to find running to ameliorate the sides effect of those 52 cakes.
    I wondered when you sratted if a cake a week…..unless you gave them all away….would be fattening. I know they would be for me!
    You are a problem solver, a baker and an inspiration.
    Thanks for sharing the journey.
    AND Hippo Birdies 2 Ewe,

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