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April 09, 1985

W\o7 hat about diet programs? Margaret Turney, 55, is a local lawyer and graduate of Forever Thin, offered through Scripps Clinic in La Jolla:

"I think it's marvelous. That guy (Morton) Shaevitz is great. I didn't lose all the weight I wanted--I think maybe I lost eight pounds. Several months later, I enrolled in the Well Being program at Scripps Hospital, taught by somebody named Candi Cummings. That totally turned me off. She was so ... condescending, like everyone was at a kindergarten or first-grade level. She really insulted my intelligence. She tried to make it, it seemed to me, a little bit like religion.

"Shaevitz appealed on a more intellectual level. I learned so much from him. Those (low-calorie) meals we had were marvelous. Since then I've bought dietetic stuff and, you know, it does taste just as good.

"The problem is, I gained back all the weight I lost and then some. I know what I need to do--I learned that from him--so why don't I do it? He told me they had a recidivism rate that was high--tremendously high. He said the only ones who really make it are the ones who become exercise nuts, the ones who park the car at the farthest end of the parking lot and walk.

"I enjoy walking, I feel better after I do it, so why don't I? I think it's because I was raised in a setting where books and learning were the most important things in life--all the rest was garbage. My leisure has always been books and reading. I'm a lawyer, I work at home and often the work never gets done. On weekends I'm here doing work, rather than walking or running. And the fact that I don't--that certainly isn't Shaevitz' fault."

Martha Grant, program director for The Well Being, disputes Margaret Turney's criticisms. "I personally don't perceive Candi as someone who talks down to people at all," she said. "I should say some of the approaches used in The Well Being are gaining. That is, we do activities simple in nature. They're designed to help people make changes. I can see where they're not successful to people who don't enjoy that kind of thing. Maybe those are the types who internalize information delivered in a lecture. Others like activities that are easy to understand. We have to design programs for all people.

"We have a behavior modification program called Weight Wizards for weight loss, taught by a registered dietitian. It meets Monday evenings in a nine-week series (at University Towne Centre). It's designed to help people be aware of foods most commonly eaten.

"Most people eat 50 different kinds of food, we've found, rather than the 200 they think they eat. If they love tortilla chips, we teach them to be aware of the number of calories in a bag and eat half the bag, say, instead of the whole bag. We teach awareness of likes and dislikes, eating patterns, the time of day we like to eat, and so forth. We advocate losing about one and one-half pounds a week. We don't advocate massive caloric decrease. We do advocate--we preach--exercise."

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