Scale back on winter weight gain

February 16, 1993|By Daniel M. Amdur | Daniel M. Amdur,Contributing Writer

The room is dark, but that's no escape -- you've been hearing it calling you all day. Whispering, challenging, you can almost see the sneer in that taunting tone.

"Step right up . . . come on and try it . . . it's not going to hurt," it says.

A magnetic force pulls your eyes down, down, down, until they come to rest on the numbers displayed on the scale.

Aaaaaaaahhhhhhhh!

Yes! Once again springtime is almost here, and according to the Calorie Control Council some 48 million Americans are going to be hitting the scales this year and realizing, just like the government, that changes will have to be made.

However, dieting is a weighty proposition and should not be taken lightly. While some people who are carrying a few surplus sandwiches tucked under the belt may try to tackle weight loss )) on their own, many will venture out to the world of weight-loss programs seeking a little professional guidance to steer them down the road to reduction. What follows is a brief road map of some of the area's diet centers and the requirements of their various weight loss plans.

The Diet Workshop

Baltimore area locations: 11

Hours: Times vary at different locations.

Food: Purchasing company food optional. Sauces and dressings along with microwaveable meals, soups and snacks are offered. Different menus provided with each diet.

Weight loss plans:

* Flexi-Group: This program is for people who like a variety of foods. Dieters set a weight goal when they start the program and attend hourlong classes at least once a week. During class, topics such as nutrition, exercise and lifestyle are discussed, and patrons weigh in. Average attendance for the classes is 25 people.

Price: Five weeks, $36; 12 weeks, $75; or $23 initially and $9 every week for as long as desired.

* Quick-Loss: Behavior changes are stressed during a six-week, pre-registered and pre-paid program. Sixteen people attend each class, which meets an hour every week with the same group. Participants are required to keep a journal, while the diet offers fewer food options.

Price: Six weeks, $75.

* Lifetime maintenance program: After the weight goal has been achieved, customers pay $9 a week for four weeks. Dieters check in once a week for a weigh-in and to receive informational materials on keeping the weight off. If they are within 2 pounds of their weight goal, they can return once a month free.

Jenny Craig Weight Loss Centres

Baltimore area locations: 8.

Hours: 7:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m. Monday-Friday; 7:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Saturday (may vary with location).

Food: Must purchase company food. Choices range from microwave meals to shelf and canned foods. Average price is $3.50 per meal.

Weight loss plans:

* Basic program: Customers set a goal weight and each week they meet one-on-one with a counselor for 30 minutes and attend a lifestyle class for about 40 minutes. Counselors discuss behavior changes and weigh dieters during private meetings. Average class size is 12 people. Educational videos are shown and at-home assignments, like getting rid of tempting foods, are given to help change eating and living behavior. Dieters start off eating Jenny Craig food products seven days a week, and then switch to five days a week after they are halfway to their goal weight.

Price: $49 spring special for as long as it takes to lose the weight. Food not included. Clients can also pay $9 a week.

* Maintenance program: A one-year program with counseling and classes once a week. For the first two months, customers buy Jenny Craig food twice a week and then switch to their own food.

Price: $125 for a year's program. Food not included.

* A series of walking tapes are available with music on beginner, intermediate and advanced levels to determine walking speed. Also, 16 educational audio tapes are offered to reinforce the lifestyle class.

Price: $94 for both sets of tapes.

* Success plus program: Includes the basic program, maintenance program and tape sets. Unlimited return privileges are included with no fee, and if weight is kept off for one year, half of the success plus program fee is returned.

Price: $268. Food not included.

(Prices may vary depending on location).

Nutri-System Weight Loss Center

Baltimore area locations: 11

Hours: 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Food: Company food must be purchased. Snacks, drinks, dressings and microwave-ready entrees are offered at the centers. Average meal price is $3.50 per meal.

Weight loss plans:

* Basic program: A 12-week program for people who need to lose between 20 and 25 pounds. There are one-on-one, once-a-week meetings with counselors lasting about 20 minutes, including a weigh-in, and optional educational classes once a week. Audio tapes of dieting strategies are also available to take home. Customers are required to buy Nutri-System food seven days a week until halfway to goal weight when they switch to company food five days a week. Sample menus are provided to help dieters create their own meals.

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