Sunday, February 6, 2011

Weight Watchers in NOLA is an oxymoron

I just learned from checking the dictionary that there is an adjective, oxymoronic. That word describes it perfectly!

Yes, there is quite a large gathering at the Audubon Zoo for the Thursday morning Weight Watchers' meeting - dozens of people trying to the stem the trend toward obesity in the land of jambalaya, Oysters Rockefeller and Bananas Foster. After the meeting, they'll power-walk around the park and subtract activity points from the daily total so they can eat more.

A few weeks ago, you read about king cakes - that annual indulgence of sugar and butter, sprinkled in purple and gold. At our weekly meeting, we were warned one slice could cost you 6 points. Six points!! The crowd gasped. That's the equivalent of a steak dinner. Surviving Mardi Gras sans king cake is an impossibility. But, our fearless leader advised, Randazzo makes a king cake with fewer calories. Whew! another crisis averted.

Our WW leader is a lifelong New Orleanian, as evidenced by her accent, and probably a West Banker - and I don't mean a financial institution. She is constantly reminding us of the challenges we face that other unlucky Americans do not. (Jewish, Italian and Polish mothers - and even San Franciscans - might disagree here, but would be vehemently denied.)

"I cannot live without my french bread," she says practically every week. "But you don't have to live without your favorite foods on the new Weight Watchers Plus diet." Who wants to live in a world without fresh, warm french baguettes? She goes on to explain how it is possible to dig out the soft inside of a po-boy sandwich and still experience the crunchy crust. She regularly weighs and measures her french bread to get a taste while making sure she stays "on plan."

These meetings are a lot like AA, ACOA, Al-anon and other support groups where the courage to go on is boosted by the successes experienced by others who face similar obstacles.

It's a tough road we travel here in the Crescent City. I noted last week that the food editor for our daily newspaper was among the crowd. I'd spoken to her at the newsroom Christmas party a couple of years in a row and recognized her outside her milieu. She was much slimmer than in her published photo. "Are you undercover?" I asked. No, she wasn't planning to write about Weight Watchers. There's some other reporter assigned to write about good health. It is somewhat disappointing to think she's e-tracking too - or perhaps it is reassuring. Difficult to know which.

The editor is just another soul trying to survive the challenges of living in New Orleans.

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