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The following post was written for a fellow blogger who was dealing with a family tragedy and asked for guest posts that she could use until she felt up to writing again. I’ve waited over a month since the date she said she was going to use it and I’ve sent her a message with no response, so I’m going to share it here and hope that it helps any of you who, like me, might be using the wrong kind of knife in your kitchen.
I don’t cook. I know a lot of people say that they don’t cook when what they really mean is that they don’t cook often or don’t cook well but I, very literally, do not cook. My family and I either eat out every meal or we throw something pre-prepared on the barbecue or in the microwave. I confessed to this terrible secret on my blog not too long ago and then resolved to make changes, so I signed up for a 5-week Basic Cooking from Scratch class which started last Wednesday.
As I was chopping a carrot for my first assignment, my teacher came by and stopped to give me a correction in how I was doing it. When she picked up my knife to demonstrate proper technique, she quickly wrinkled her nose and pronounced, “This is a bad knife.”
Great, so not only am I a complete failure as a mother, wife, and woman because I can’t/don’t cook, but now my knife is sub-par, too.
Over the weekend, after discussing my in-class experience with my husband, we tootled off to a local cooking store – where I also registered for an upcoming hands-on cooking class – to choose a new chef’s knife. I thought this would be a simple and straightforward task but I learned there are several things to consider before making a purchase.
- Do you want a ceramic knife or a steel one? Ceramic knives are much lighter and almost never need to be sharpened because they are made from the second hardest substance on Earth so they hold their edge exceptionally well. They will also cut as well if not better than a steel knife. On the other hand, they are not as tough and hardy as a steel knife – if you drop it, especially tip down, it can chip, and they are not intended for cutting through tough substances like frozen foods or anything with bones. I decided on a stainless steel blade because I tend to be a bit of a klutz and I didn’t want to be in a constant state of anxiety over breaking the tip off of my knife but the ceramic knives might be a really appealing option for more experienced and confident kitchen ninjas.
- How long do you want your knife to be? The two most common sizes are six and eight inches. The gentleman who helped me at the store reminded me that the knife is supposed to be an extension of your arm so that your cutting motion flows smoothly through your whole arm. Given that I have relatively short arms – I’m a short person! – I was leaning toward the six inch, and that instinct was proven right when I tried both lengths out.
- How much do you want to spend? This is a sensitive subject, I know, but there is definitely a wide array of pricing options in the knife world and I’m not even taking into consideration the ultra-cheap knives you might be able to pick up at your local discount department store. If you choose well, you’ll have this knife for the rest of your life, so don’t skimp. On the other hand, you don’t have to spend a fortune or buy a big name to get good quality. Make sure that the grip feels good in your hands, that the same metal that forms the blade also extends all the way to the end of the blade (under the handle), and that the handle is riveted to the blade, and the rest is just personal preference. You should also shop around to see if there are any good sales going on in your city or town – my knife was less than 50% of its normal price and they threw in a blade guard at no extra cost when I mentioned that I would be toting it back and forth to class each week. (I think they might have felt sorry for me with my woefully bad knife skills!)
Probably the most important thing I learned in this process is that a real test drive is absolutely essential because the best, most expensive knife in the world is not going to be up to the job if it doesn’t work for you. Ask for a cutting board and a vegetable to be cut, and go to town. Was it embarrassing for me to put my fledgling knife skills on display in front of the sales man and my husband? Oh yes it was, but I’m so glad I did.
Armed with what I’m certain is an acceptable chef’s knife, I’m ready to go back to class next week to open myself for more learning. At least I know I’ll be properly equipped this time!
Addendum: Classes were so much easier after I started bringing my new knife – my teacher was SO right! If you didn’t spend more than $20 on your primary kitchen knife then chances are good your knife doesn’t hold a sharp edge well and is actually making your cooking tasks tougher. You don’t have to spend a fortune if you do some comparison shopping and check for pop-up sales online.
Since my last, very good check in with my doctor, things have gone badly downhill in terms of self-care. I’m binge eating, eating terrible foods that I know are not good for me (like french fries and onion rings and I’m not exercising at all. Other than the 5K I did on September 3rd, I’ve basically done nothing in months. Really, months. This is not good.
I am diabetic. I am about 100 pounds over my ideal weight, most of which is carried in my stomach, at my waist. This is particularly bad because it inhibits my desire and ability to exercise.
I told my diabetes educator, back in May at our last check-in, that I was grateful for the second chance I’d been given. She asked me what I meant by that and I told her that while I’d been diagnosed with diabetes back in 1996, I’d basically ignored that fact and my health in general from 1998 when my divorce became final and this past year. For a diabetic to ignore her blood sugar and not have any appointments with medical professionals for over 10 years and apparently avoid any major complications is a miracle, and I was taking it as a sign that I needed to get my act together again before that changed.
And what happened instead? I had a great check-in and then completely fell apart. What the heck?
I don’t know what pushed me into free fall but I know that I’m there. And every morning I resolve to stop this crap and start taking care of myself again only to go to bed angry and frustrated with my lack of progress.
I need to stop binge eating. I need to stop eating crappy food that doesn’t nourish my body and elevates my blood sugar. I need to use the wonderful gym at work that is free for me in order to walk on the treadmill and ride the stationary bike. (I am registered for a 15 mile bike ride in November and I’m not going to be able to do that if I don’t get on a bike very, very soon.)
It doesn’t really matter, in the end, why this is happening, only that I make it stop. To that end, I’m going to a Diabetes and Depression class tonight with TCB, to start dealing with the craziness in my head. I just want to be able to make a plan and stick with it. To go through the day without feeling guilty for not being able to stop eating crap. To be able to focus on something – anything! – other than what a worthless excuse for a human being I am.
I keep thinking that I could be writing here about what’s going on in my life, but I just don’t feel like it.
The depression is so very strong right now and has been for weeks, possibly even months. I don’t want to do anything except for those moments that I want to do everything all at once, immediately. That’s the “gift” of being mildly manic except that it eventually dissolves into frustration and further depression when even limitless ambition and energy are not enough to make the changes I so desperately want and need.
I find no pleasure in my online activities now and, in fact, I find them somewhat draining. Everyone has so much energy and so many great things going on. And I don’t.
The diabetes is kicking my butt. I don’t want to count my carbs. I don’t want to take my blood sugar every few hours. Oh, it’s not completely out of control like it was just a few months ago, but it’s also not in tight control. It’s all just too exhausting and I’m fed up.
So I’m going to take a little break from my online life…at least a couple of weeks. Ironically, I’m registered for BlogHer here in San Diego in a couple of weeks; I’m not sure whether I’ll actually attend or not.
Anyway, no Twitter and no blogging for me for a bit and we’ll see if the desire to write returns. I haven’t been reading blogs for months, so I’m going to go ahead and make that part of my official hiatus, too. If something too exciting for me to miss happens, feel free to drop me a line at lottalatte (at) gmail (dot) com
I had a great meeting with my Registered Dietician today. We created three different “go-to” breakfast plans for me that I can rotate through that are well-designed for both my diabetes and my high triglycerides.
- 6″ whole wheat tortilla with two Laughing Cow light wedges + homemade skinny latte (with 8oz nonfat milk) + 1/2c mixed berries = 45g carbs, very low fat
- 2/3c Crispy Brown Rice (gluten free) cereal and 1T slivered almonds sprinkled on 1/2c vanilla organic Greek yogurt with 1/2c mixed berries + homemade skinny latte (8oz nonfat milk) = 46g carbs, low fat
- 1/2c (scrambled, with or without veggies) on 1 slice whole wheat bread, toasted and spread with 1 wedge Laughing Cow light + 1c. watermelon + homemade skinny latte (with 8oz nonfat milk) = 45g carbs, very low fat
We also discussed how many changes I’ve implemented into my life since getting the results of my last blood work and that my upcoming tests should be a much more pleasant experience. That’s when she mentioned that while the blood test measures the average of my blood sugars over a three month period that it’s heavily weighted toward the most recent results. In other words, she said, the last thirty days before my test will weighted to about 50% of the average I’ll see. So if I were to pile up thirty days as close to perfect as I can get, my blood work ought to show tremendous improvement.
I have exactly thirty-two days from tomorrow morning until my next blood test.
Thirty-two days to prove just how much I’ve learned since the dark day in May when I heard the bad news.
Thirty-two days to get very, very serious about wanting to – and committing to! – live a long, healthy life with my diabetes (instead of dying a very sick diabetic in a precious few years).
I can do this. I can count my carbs and not go over 45g in a meal. I can give up the sneaky snacks I’ve been guiltily eating in the middle of otherwise healthy days. (Doesn’t matter how natural they are, they’re still carbs and calories!) I can get 45-60 minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week.
I can’t let my diabetes team (primary care physician, endocrinologist/diabetes doctor, diabetes educator, registered dietician) who have poured so much care and concern into me down. I can’t let my friends and family who love and support me down. I can’t let all of you down. But most importantly, I can’t let myself down. I am worth it. I have value. What I do matters. And I won’t be here much longer if I don’t do this.
Thirty-two days. Bring it on.
I have an appointment with the Diabetes Educator at my doctor’s clinic this morning. I really need help with meal planning and I’m hoping she can help me, either directly or with a referral to a registered dietitian. I get the exercise part of this, it’s the food and stress management part of things that just seem to be beyond my grasp right now.
Speaking of exercise, I finished up the week strong with tough walks on Thursday and Friday after work then a great performance in the Phillip Rivers 5K on Saturday. I’ve been working since Fitbloggin to improve my walking speed in preparation for the Disneyland 5K over Labor Day weekend due to their requirement that all walkers finish in 48 minutes or less. My finish time for the Fitbloggin 5K was 59:58. My finish time for this weekend’s 5K was 52:03. I took almost eight minutes off of my 5K time in three weeks – holy moly! (No wonder I could barely catch my breath at the end of Saturday’s event!) This is definitely a step – pun intended – in the right direction.
I’ve just registered for the Disneyland 5K in September. I was reticent about signing up because they have a pacing requirement that you be able to maintain a 16 minute mile, and I’m doing something closer to 20 minute miles at this point. However, with encouragement and participation from the same folks that are making my crazy idea of riding a bicycle 30 miles to cure diabetes a reality, I’m convinced I can do it. To cement that resolve, I’ve registered AND booked a non-refundable hotel room at Disneyland. In for a penny, in for a pound, right?
It’s funny to think about the fact that I’m a Project Manager at work – leading projects with lots of intelligent people involved – and a Committee Chair for the Junior League – leading a team tasked with planning a very large fund raising event, and some mornings I question whether I should even bother taking a shower. Depression is such a soul-sucking disorder and, even though I’m apparently bi-polar, I spend much of my life as it stands now fighting just to keep myself on the rails, much less helping others get where we’re supposed to go.
And yet I do. I get up every morning, cry or scream or kick my feet or whatever it takes to make me overcome the desire to get back in bed and cover my head with the coverlet, go in to work, and do some pretty decent work in terms of getting important projects finished on time with good quality and reporting status to those interested.
I do similar things with the various positions I’ve held for the Junior League, too, but tonight is the first meeting of my new committee and I’m fighting the urge to run anywhere except my meeting. I need to pick up dinner for the three of us (the small size of my team in comparison to the size of the event we’re putting on probably has something to do with my ennui), plus grab my personal computer from home (I have several important documents for the committee stored only there – gah), then run down to San Diego (I live about 15 miles north of San Diego) to get things set up and lead a meeting for which I haven’t established a goal/objective yet. I do have an agenda but I don’t really know what I want to accomplish other than meeting the other committee members, making sure they know what we need to do this year, and see how motivated they are to contribute to everything that has to be done this year. Maybe that’s enough of a goal for now? Gosh, I hope so.
On a completely unrelated note, I have to share that I am SO MUCH happier now that I’ve pretty much stopped visiting weight loss blogs. I think it was Ginger who gave me that advice and, as always, she was right. No more feeling guilty for not living up to what other people are doing, I’m just living my life the very best way that I can and letting that be enough. On the other hand, I did just register for FitBloggin’ 11 and hope that some of you might do so as well. (Can’t link to Lori because I don’t want her to be the victim of drive-by trolling, but I want her to go, too!) The lovely and talented Shauna will be there, I have a room that will accommodate at least four of us…don’t you want to come, too??? I know we would all have a really good time and Baltimore is just chock-o-block full of opportunities to get out and about, so give it some thought?
I remember so clearly back in the first week of April, 2003 when I started this journal. I was single, hopeless, and closeted in my little house with a small, uninspired life, and I didn’t know how to get from there to…somewhere, ANYwhere else. It took months before I received my first comment and, thanks to having switched comment systems like eight times since then, I can’t tell you who it was that commented first. I will tell you that Lori was the first one to give me the excellent advice that I needed to comment on other people’s blogs if I wanted to gain new readers for my own. There were others along the way, too, kind people who took time out of their lives to help me begin to live mine. Truly, that’s what this blog has done: helped me step out of my head and into the world.
In the nearly six years since I started writing here, my life has changed drastically in some ways (met and married a wonderful – albeit absentee! – man, joined the Junior League and learned that , and became a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for a (then) 13-year-old foster child) and hardly at all in others, including:
- I’m at the same weight I was when I started this journal (260ish) after having lost as much as 60 pounds at one time. I’m not necessarily upset about the weight because I’ve stopped hating my big stomach and we’re trying to be friends, but it’s still not much progress for quite a bit of effort
- In the nearly 20 months since TCB* left, I’ve cut myself off from most of the world, shrinking my world down to first my condo and now our lovely new townhouse. Doesn’t matter how lovely it is, no friend is going to continue to make the effort to do things with you after the 10th refusal, Denise!
* Stands for The Cute Boy, a nickname I gave my (now) husband after we met…just in case there might be new visitors who weren’t around way back then
Much/most of the backsliding can be put down to the fact that I suffer from depression. Actually, make that Depression with a capital D because it’s not, “Oh, wow, I feel sad today,” it’s like, “Oh my gosh, getting out of bed today is more than I can handle but I have to get up and go to work anyway, so let me just throw some clothes on and shlep myself through the minimum day’s activities until I can come home and zone out with food and mindless TV.” Seriously, I don’t know that I will ever be able to adequately convey what Depression feels like from the inside. I know that it closely resembles Laziness from the outside and that I sometimes berate myself for it, too, but it’s an illness and I wouldn’t beat myself up for not being able to use my arm if I’d broken it, so why is mental illness any different?
Anyway, I’d considered medication to deal with the Depression and have decided it’s not for me. I’m the type of girl who doesn’t take cold medicine and rarely takes anything for a headache because, if it’s not going to cure whatever ails me, I won’t put some foreign substance in my body to mask the symptoms. Depression is going to be with me for the rest of my life in some way or another, so I need to understand that and work with it.
It also probably wasn’t the best planning to change my life radically through getting married and then send him off to live and work 5,000 miles away for two years, either. To make myself vulnerable to someone else after many years of living independently was no easy feat for me, and then we decided to buy a house and move – then merge – two households, all while he was gone. The resultant upheaval left me wondering where my life was and who this weak-willed woman who can’t even get the boxes in the garage unpacked after nearly a year was.
Enough. I’ve had enough. Enough tears, enough emptiness, enough loneliness, enough grief. Life is meant to be lived, to be savored like a fine wine, to be ENJOYED…and that’s what I intend to do again. I said at New Year’s that my Un-Resolution for this year was to cry less and enjoy life more in 2009, so, to that end…
- I’ve signed up for a Project Management course at UCSD Extension. It’s 9 weeks, will help my career, and will allow me to take the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification exam, making me far more marketable. It will also be a great networking opportunity!
- I’ve signed up for several volunteer shifts with Junior League projects that sound fun and will let me get out and do things with my friends, many of whom are members, too
- I’ve registered to walk 60 miles in Washington, DC over my birthday weekend to raise money and awareness for breast cancer, of which my mother and grandmother are both survivors. (Shameless Plug: Have you clicked on the little widget to the right to make a donation?) This will not only help me feel as though I’m doing something to fight breast cancer, it will also make me more physically active which should help restore my energy and general sense of well-being
- I’m volunteering with Just In Time, an organization dedicated to helping newly-emancipated foster youth thrive as they go out on their own into the world. This is a cause that I am passionate about and something that gives me great satisfaction
So, as I end my 1,000th entry, I am imbued with a new sense of hope, of drive, and an expectation that 2009 and beyond hold much promise and even greater joy for me. Cry less and enjoy life more, friends! The journey continues.
Alright, fess up: who else is watching last.fm to check out the music track…now I’m hooked on it, too. Get the application and search on “tag=swingtown”. OK, perhaps those of you not alive in the ’70s won’t appreciate it but I love that it makes me remember summers spent as a kid listening to my transistor radio over the long school holidays.? It looked so cheesy when I first saw the previews while TCB was home but then I thought, “What else is on over the summer? Give it a shot.” And I’m hooked. It’s actually really clever, both acting and writing, and I count the days between episodes now. And then I decided to fire up my laptop and go to
Dorothy Hamill hair, tube tops, flip flops, and cut-off jeans shorts. I was eight years old in the summer of 1976 and I remember it so clearly…it was a great time to be a kid. I was Gerald Ford’s campaign manager in the mock election we held at our school that year (some things never change) as well as being all wrapped up in the Bicentennial hoopla. Our huge, wood-encased TV brought a whopping 5 channels into our living room. (I was the remote control: “Denise, change the channel.”) Our phone (we only had one) was avocado green to match the appliances and it had a circular dial mechanism. I don’t think video games existed at that point and certainly the personal computer did not, so we spent our time riding bikes, running through the sprinklers, and playing with my Bionic Woman/Six Million Dollar Man action figures. (I also had Barbie’s Airplane…my cousin had Barbie’s Cruise Ship – did anyone get the Barbie Star Traveller motor home? I wanted that SO BADLY but it was like $75 so that just wasn’t in the cards.) Life was simple and it was good. I wonder what the kids that are eight years old will think of their childhood when they’re 40?
In closing, I have to mention that my husband totally ROCKS. He’s been asking me to email or (at least) update my blog for the better part of a week, so, when he reiterated that request yesterday via instant message, I told him to check my blog. About 15 minutes later, he told me that I should go to BlogHer and that he’d transfer money to my account to make it happen. Isn’t he the sweetest man ever? I did explain that I’d already given away my opportunity to be one of the few allowed to register after the cutoff and also thanked him for being so kind. Honestly, I knew I could have made it happen financially but I also knew that, in this economy with necessities of life becoming so dear and layoffs all around me, it just wasn’t the right decision for me to make. Sort of like not buying the shoes that I want. I guess I’m growing up.