Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Weight Watchers vs. Real Food....

It's getting closer to the weekend. Isn't it sad how we wish time to pass so quickly during the work week? What I'm truly afraid of is that if I live to be 100, complete with all the wisdom I'd think I was due, I'm going to look back and say, "what the heck was I thinking, wishing time to fly so quickly!"

I don't. Not really. Just the time I have to spend at work. It's not even the time I want to pass...just the work. Am I a bad person for wanting this?

I think life would always be much easier if we didn't have to work. It would also be far less interesting and far less frustrating. Still, we need a way to pay our bills and feel like we have a purpose in life.

Ok, so I confess, I can't say my job makes me feel like I have a purpose. Yet it does pay the bills. And that...that is important too.

Nevertheless, I do think that if I didn't have a regular routine during my day, I'd soon get a little befuddled by life. For all of its negative days, my job does have its highlights.

For me, my favourite part of the day is lunch. I know, I know...this sounds rather sad. Yet since we've moved from our cruddy old building to our new State of the Art, High Tech Building, lunch has become more of an event than just something you partake in around noon every day.

Unlike our old building, our new building actually has a "kitchen". It's in quotation marks because there is no stove. As a self-declared "cook", I am snobbish to think that a kitchen needs a set of burners and an oven to be a real "kitchen". Therefore, I refer to our kitchen as "The Lunchroom."

The "Lunchroom" is nice. It has three tables with bench style seating. It has a big flat screen TV. I'd wow you by citing the size of the TV but, in all honesty, I have no idea how big it is. It's bigger than my TV at home. It's also flatter. That's all I can tell you.

We no longer have a cable box. As I might have mentioned, they seemed worried that we'd hijack the cable boxes so they hid them in our 'server' room- the same room that houses our computer serves and to which you need an access key to enter. I have no access key. Thus, I cannot enter it. I think that about 98% of our personnel is also unable to enter. When they first moved the cable boxes to the server room, they had the unfortunate experience of realizing it was actually quite impossible changing the channel with the remote control when the receiver box was nowhere within the vicinity. After a few protests (but no complaints!), they did realize it was a little futile to have two TV's that could not be controlled because the remote control's signal was not strong enough to reach the server room.

They finally installed 'eyes' on the TV's- receptors that allow us to change the channel in the lunchroom, even though the cable box is not present. Personally, as I mentioned before, I think I'd rather steal a flat screen TV than a cable box but it would be a bit pointless to lock the TV's up too.

Still, now we can change the channel which is vital to any good lunchroom experience. If I'm in there alone, I put it on the Food Network (duh!). However, if any males, whosoever, should be in the lunchroom, the TV is guaranteed to be on ESPN's "Sport's Center". If the girls get there before hand, it goes onto the Style Networks "What Not To Wear."

Honestly, I could care less. Since I'm not allowed to eat at my desk, I've taken to eating in the lunchroom. I've actually come to like it. There's a regular group of us that arrives at noon to microwave our lunches and we end up eating and socializing.

I admit, it's quite nice. It does make a brief escape. I like sitting with 'the regulars', discussing our lunches while they examine my weird 'Foodie' lunch and try to figure out what I'm eating. Today, it was penne with crimini and button mushrooms in white wine cream sauce. Tomorrow, it'll be mache salad with lardons and red pepper dressing.

Ok, so I admit, I quite enjoying stumping people. It's fun to eat. It's more fun to cook the food that will become the leftovers that will become my lunch.

I like my regular 'crowd'. We've actually sort of dubbed ourselves the 'anti-Weight Watchers.'.

I like that designation. You see...the New Year passed. With it, passed resolutions that involved weight loss and getting in shape.

This led to....Weight Watchers.

Now, as an aside, I respect the people who are trying to watch what they eat. I generally, overall, keep an eye on the amount of bad ingredients I use vs. good ones. While I tend to use a fair amount of extra-virgin olive oil and even the dreaded butter, the majority of the dishes I used rely on vegetables. As I mentioned yesterday, I've taken up yoga.

Thus, the moral of this story is that while Captain Monkeypants is a foodie who likes the good stuff, she also likes to keep a balance between health and taste.

However, the Weight Watchers are a challenge.

They've become a 'gang', you see. Once upon a time, there was one Weight Watcher. She was one of those poor souls that is constantly on a diet but genetically engineered so that no matter how many calories were deprived from her diet, she'd still never really lose much, even when she worked out constatantly. Then there were two Weight Watchers. They compared notes, swapped diet schedules and point counters.

Then there were three. Now there are five. They have taken to conversing in the kitchen while us "anti-Weight Watchers" eat our lunches. The sad fact of the matter is that people on diets become obsessed. They compare calories, protein, fat grams, sugar content and overall health of an item. When they find a fellow dieter, it's exciting for them and two become one. When one becomes five, as in the case of our Weight Watchers, it's a bit of a nightmare.

Now, don't get me wrong: Captain Monkeypants is not against dieters. She could certainly stand to watch her own diet far more than she does now. Once upon a time, Captain Monkeypants was skinny. Then she became slender. She's currently hovering on curvy...on the cusp of being either flabby or moving back towards slender.

I'm not overweight by any doctor's scale but compared to the figure I had ten years ago, I've gained a lot of weight. The problem is, I'm ok with that. I want to be skinnier...who doesn't? Yet...I also like food. I'd rather enjoy what I eat than be miserable and have to count every calorie.

Which leads me back to our Weight Watchers.

They're not happy. It's obvious. On my birthday, they took me out for lunch. It was lovely of them. I enjoyed it. Yet listening to the Weight Watchers have to examine the menu and 'point it out' was exhausting. They couldn't read the menu and think "hey, that sounds good!" They had to manually calculate fat vs. calories vs. their point schedule.

It was no fun.

As I said, I understand it. I just can't do it. To me, it's pretty obvious that cappellini pomodoro is pretty safe. I mean, yes, it's pasta but it's angel hair. It's just flour-based pasta, fresh tomatoes, basil, pepper and a touch of olive oil. It's healthier than, say, fettucine alfredo which is usually egg-noodles, cream and cheese.

Yes, I'm a foodie. Yes, I know the ingredients that comprise many dishes. Yet does it really take a foodie to know that fresh tomatoes and basil vs. cheese and heavy cream is really a contest as far as healthier options go?

That being said, the Weight Watchers don't care about their instincts. Even though 100% of them know that fettucine Alfredo is bad, they still pull out their little guides to 'point it out'. Then they determine that, indeed, the cappellini pomodoro is MUCH better for them.

So they order it and act like they're happy even though they're looking at the non-Weight Watcher's fettucine Alfredo and wishing they ordered that instead.

I'm not lying. I've seen this at least a couple of times. I admire the Weight Watchers' resolve. It takes strength to resist the temptations of the food that makes us happy. Me, personally...I can't do it. I love the taste of half and half as the finishing element to a soup. I'm a cheese addict. There's not substitute for butter, as far as completing a flavour profile.

Thus, I'm doomed. I know this. Yet I also balance the bad stuff with the good, as I've said a few times.

What I don't appreciate is the Weight Watchers' need to "point" my lunch for me. I know they see what I'm eating in the lunchroom and compare it to their Smart Ones/Lean Cusine Frozen meal and wish they had my lunch instead. After all, I've eaten my share of Lean Cuisines. I know that while it might make me feel good to eat that cute little dish full of microwaved nutrients that has few calories and fewer grams of fat, an hour later, I'm going to be STARVING.

It's the way it works. It's the same thing I've said before about those 'healthy' lunches like Progresso Soups. Sure, they look healthy and say they're healthy but that's only if you only take a sip from the actual can of soup. If you eat the whole thing, you're apparently feeding at least two people and the healthiness is significantly reduced.

Which is why those Weight Watchers are to be found, all afternoon, rotating shifts at the popcorn machine, trying to find ways to fill the hole of hunger while not padding their thighs. Yes, they've taken to using the popcorn machine rather than the microwave because apparently the popcorn machine is healthier, even though it uses vegetable oil and they pile on the seasonings and salt.

What I'm really annoyed about is the need for the dieters to tell me how unhealthy my lunch is. That's just downright rude. Ok, so I know that eating my cream based pasta-sauce is not the same as eating steamed broccoli. Yet, I made it with fresh mushrooms and half-and-half. It might not be a Lean Cuisine but it's not that bad. I don't WANT to know how much fat is in it, how many calories I might be eating.

What I do want to know is "does it taste good reheated?". Yup, that's the extent of my "diet".

As I said before, I do respect when people are on diets. It's a challenge, an accomplishment. What I don't like is when that diet becomes an obsession to the point that they're clearly miserable and therefore finding pleasure in making non-dieters feel bad about what they're eating. I'm actually a pretty healthy eater. Just because my leftovers don't have a label regarding the calories and fat, doesn't mean I'm not trying. I do not appreciate knowing how many points everyone's lunches has, including mine. I really just want to eat my lunch and enjoy the taste. I like to sit with the coworkers I like and chat. That's what lunch is for me. When mathematics is involved, lunch loses its appeal.

Yet when the Weight Watchers invade the kitchen we're all doomed.

Still, it keeps things interesting. Even if I don't agree.

Happy Thursday.

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