In reading the recent article about the Biggest Loser challenge at David’s Restaurant, part of me wanted to applaud, but part of me was also concerned (“Weight watchers,” Feb. 16).

As someone who lost 130 pounds and kept it off for eight years, I understand the difficulty of significant weight loss.

From that perspective, I commend David Turin for providing a supportive environment for his employees. As he noted, that sense of camaraderie is extremely helpful, since everyone knows who is taking part and can be a cheerleader.

What concerns me is the approach. While Turin said that he is making sure no one is using starvation methods, some employees mentioned that they felt like they were starving. As far as their bodies are concerned, they probably are; you would have to go into something like a famine to lose nine pounds in one week. Approaches like this can lead to cravings and incredible feelings of deprivation. This often results in the dieter later overeating and regaining the weight, often with additional pounds.

The key for me was changing my relationship to food in a sustainable way. That meant no diets, no restricted foods, no feelings of guilt. I did exercise and try to eat healthy foods, but it was more about recognizing when I was truly hungry and eating then, instead of simply when I felt like eating.

That’s why I’ve become a licensed facilitator for the “Am I Hungry” program created by Dr. Michelle May, which advocates the same type of approach I took.

I hope that Turin’s employees will be able to sustain their changes without feeling constantly miserable or hungry or deprived.

I just think they would have a better chance of doing that if the challenge had been offered differently.

Erica L. Bartlett

Portland

Public employee pension cuts a matter of debate

With all the publicity that public employees’ pension systems of other states are receiving, I think it is important for Maine’s citizens to understand how Maine’s state retirement system is different.

First, Maine teachers are required to participate in this system and have their “contributions” withheld from their paychecks, just as Social Security is withheld from those in the private sector. These deductions are taken at a rate equal to or more than the Social Security rate. So Maine teachers receive a “pension” instead of Social Security.

Second, if a teacher worked enough other jobs to be eligible for Social Security, his Social Security benefits will be reduced by 60 percent because of his Maine pension. This happened to my husband.

In what other job does a person lose Social Security benefits because he receives a pension?

Third, Maine’s retired teachers pay 55 percent of their health insurance premiums although retired state employees reportedly pay nothing. In addition, for those like me who do not receive a Social Security check, we must pay for Medicare quarterly, in advance, and do not benefit from the freeze in Medicare premiums.

Social security recipients are guaranteed by law that their January check will be no less that the December check.

Therefore, when Medicare costs increased in the past few years but social security benefits did not, the Medicare deduction did not increase.

For those of us who must pay for Medicare ourselves, the costs have increased. As a result, I now pay $228 more per year than my husband. although we are the same age.

Fourth, there has been a cost of living freeze on Maine pensions since September 2007, so the governor’s proposed freeze would actually be a continuation of one that is in its fourth year.

Nancy Ray

Raymond

I have never had the benefit of having a state or city job. That’s why I can’t understand why taxpayers like myself have to bail-out their retirement fund. As it is, I don’t know if Social Security will be there for me.

State employees made their bed, let them fix it, just like workers in the private sector who have had to retire later, with less or lower benefits.

Mark Maguire

Standish

Late winter gives readers ample cause for concern

There is a law in place for snow removal. Start enforcing it!

Not only will it make the walking commute safer but it will also bring some money in. Take a look at Congress Street between the Eastern Cemetery and the Munjoy fire department. It is inches of packed ice.

I recently helped a blind man who lived on the hill negotiate this extreme obstacle. It is time to act!

Joe Thompson

Portland

I am disturbed by the irresponsible editing in the Feb. 18 Press Herald (“Skating on thin water”): a photograph of a 3-year-old boy skating in a puddle on ice of questionable depth and strength with what appears to be open water in the background.

The photo was diagonally adjacent to an article about a woman who slid into frigid tidal water trying to rescue her dog — her husband had to call 911.

These warm days call for messages of caution, not risky play.

Annie Levine

Saco

Maine should keep backing Clean Elections

Thank you to the paper’s editorial board for its continuing support of the Maine Clean Elections Act, especially in the governor’s race (“Governor’s races should stay in Clean Elections,” Feb. 18).

Citizens initiated this bill, and Mainers voted overwhelmingly to make it the law. The idea was to cut the connection between private money and public office for all state offices, legislative and gubernatorial.

We all benefit when candidates run for office and serve without financial ties to special interests, and future candidates for governor should have that option.

That’s why I will check “yes” on Line 1 on my Maine income tax form this year. Checking “yes” will not reduce my refund or add to my taxes — it will simply send three dollars that I’ve already paid into the Maine Clean Election Fund.

Keep our elected officials accountable to the people, not special interests, by checking “yes” for Clean Elections!

Matt Moonen

Portland