Donuts & PR’s

I am fortunate enough to have the opportunity to meet most of the 500 members at Paradiso CrossFit. All of you have some truly unique hobbies, passions, jobs, perspectives and personalities. Getting to know the Paradiso CrossFit Community is the highlight of my job.

I also realize that you probably have only met the people who regularly attend the classes you frequent each week. For that reason, I want to help you get to know some of the awesome people in this gym that you may not otherwise meet!

This week I interviewed Nicole Dimascio, a Venice Barbell Club regular and donut aficionado. This past week, Nicole made s’mores, raspberry rosemary, and blackberry lemon donuts for the Venice Barbell Club max out night. I indulged, and WOW!

Here is Nicole’s story:

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I’m Nicole, I’m 24, I make homemade donuts, and I have depression.

When I started at Venice Barbell Club in July 2015, completely new to weightlifting, I never expected it to help me cope with my depression. It has taught me that failure is part of the process, and it has given me something positive to focus on. Most of all, learning this sport has helped me climb out of some dark places–when I wake up every morning and something inside me tells me that I’m not good enough or I’m worthless, walking into the gym every night to feel my body getting stronger reminds me that I am good enough, and I have the potential to be great.

Now for the donuts…

I have a long history with donuts–I grew up in Providence, Rhode Island where there was a Dunkin’ Donuts on every street corner. My mom and I ate donuts at the beach, and my dad and I would have hot cider and donuts before Black Friday shopping. In college when the first Dunkin’ in Pittsburgh opened, my friends and I lined up at 4:30 a.m. to be the first customers, eat our favorite donuts, and pass out for the rest of the morning. I have so many memories that have been made around donuts, but I had not started making my own until about 6 months ago.

Something shifted when I made the move to Los Angeles in August 2014. I quickly became homesick–where were all the Dunkin’ Donuts out here?! I was finishing my masters program at a very prestigious school, pursuing a career in the stressful and competitive entertainment industry, living in a part of Los Angeles that didn’t feel like home, and struggling to find my passion.

I tried CrossFit, but the community at my old gym pales in comparison to Paradiso, so I still felt alone. I tried going to church, but I’m not religious and felt out of place. I tried to train for my 2nd marathon, but running around North Hollywood only made me miss the incredible running community back in Pittsburgh.

I was feeling so lost, and though I have had depression since childhood, it started to hit much harder over the last year. I decided to teach myself how to make something that reminded me of home, so I made donuts. The first time I brought donuts into my office, people were so impressed that I had made them. Perhaps it’s my Italian heritage that makes me love feeding people, but it makes me happy to see people get excited over something as simple as a donut that I made.

Donuts are so much more to me than delicious, carb-heavy treats. They’re nostalgic, and they’re an expression of my creativity (I never use a recipe–all of my donuts are experiments with different flavors). Since my journey started at Paradiso just four months ago, I have learned to embrace food and strength. A few extra calories may mean a few extra pounds on my body, but that translates to added kilos on my bar, and that’s the fuel to my fire. Being able to eat a lot of nutrient-rich food to prepare my body for training means never being afraid of what a donut might do to my figure.

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Nicole’s Brioche Donuts with a Hibiscus Glaze…

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