Senior center dieters won't be ruled by the scales or latest reducing fads ANNE ARUNDEL SENIORS


Doris Butler is fed up with counting calories and measuring grams of fat.

She's been overweight for all but 11 of her 67 years, she's tried diet after diet, and she's done with it. Now, she runs a program at the O'Malley Senior Center in Odenton called Before Another Diet (BAD).

"We're not drinking eight glasses of water unless we're thirsty and we're not spend ing one more penny to lose weight," she tells the other 12 "BAD girls" each Friday.

Mrs. Butler encourages the women to forget about diets and think more about portion control and a group of supportive friends with the same problems.

"We don't need to give up our favorite foods. We're too old to do that," she says. "I've been on so many diets and I've been up and down -- so I say now let me be a leader, let me lose 100 pounds and let me lose it with everybody else."

Mrs. Butler teaches seniors what she calls the "common sense" method of eating. "Just cut everything in half and read labels," she says. She updates the group every week on recent diet plans, methods of exercise and what's fat and what's not.

She also discourages competition weight loss, common in popular diet plans, and encourages her charges to aim for a comfortable weight in a comfortable amount of time.

And she doesn't charge for her program, she says, because seniors already have spent too much time and money on diets.

So far the program has been effective.

Within BAD's first six weeks, 20 people lost a total of 90 pounds, she says.

Jeanne Plato, 71, who blames her weight problem on diets and physicians who gave her the wrong information about nutrition, says she comes to the meetings to update herself on how to eat right.

Mrs. Plato, who has been on diets since she was 11, has spent up to $75 a week on diet plans.

"It's changed since I was growing up. Women didn't exercise then, and when they dieted it was radical," she says. "I've actually gone a whole year without eating one potato."

But now she says she's learned that she can eat four meals a day and can have that candy bar as long as she watches the size of the portions.

Mrs. Plato, who lives in Odenton, refuses to weigh herself but says she already feels better about herself.

Pat Borosky, 57, who has spent 30 years testing just about every new fad in diets, says BAD was the first effective means of weight loss for her.

She says she never misses a meeting because, "we're like one big family here."

"I just got tired of paying for something that wasn't working," Ms. Borosky says. "I feel comfortable here with Doris and everyone else, and now I'm eating different."

She said friends like Mrs. Butler and Mrs. Plato have helped comfort her through depression caused by the scales.

Mrs. Butler will continue meeting every Friday at the O'Malley center for as long as other seniors need help, she says.

And even though they may never become svelte, Mrs. Plato reminds them, "the world is not made up of women who wear size four."

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