PHOTOS BY G LENN TRIEST
Two Jewish businessmen say their Just Help Yourself
weight-loss program 'represents the future in dieting.'
STEVE STEIN STAFF WRITER
Tim Cohen talks with Farmer Jack shopper Arlene Agree.
eil Gorosh didn't want to state for
the record what he weighs, but
he did proudly point out these
facts: In three months, he's lost
25 pounds on the Just Help Your-
self diet plan.
"I feel great, and the compli-
ments are wonderful. Now I want
to lose another 15 pounds," said
Mr. Gorosh, 39, a commercial
mortgage broker for Daitch Mort-
gage & Realty in Southfield.
Just Help Yourself, based in
Southfield, is the brainchild of
Jewish businessmen Mike Shapi-
ra and Tim Cohen. They provid-
ed the seed money for the venture
along with other local investors.
Mr. Shapira, the company's
chairman and chief executive of-
ficer, was with Southfield-based
W.B. Doner & Co. advertising
agency from 1972-91. He was
president during his last eight
years there and was the devel-
oper of Doner's retail division.
Mr. Cohen, vice chairman and
chief operating officer of Just
Help Yourself, formerly was pres-
ident of Consumer
Diagnostics, a South-
field health market-
ing company. He
first met Mr. Shapi-
ra when Doner did
work for Mr. Cohen's
chain of furniture
stores in Florida.
In two years, the
Help Yourself com-
pany has placed its
frozen meals in approximately
1,000 stores in 28 cities across the
nation where other weight-loss
programs were previously avail-
able. The firm hopes to add 1,000
stores to the Just Help Yourself
roster this year.
Retail sales reached $50 mil-
lion in 1993; that number is ex-
pected to double this year. The
entire weight-loss industry gen-
erates $1 billion annually.
Just Help Yourselfs strategy
is simple: In each retail market,
the company's 28 color-coded
meals along with snacks are sold
by just one supermarket chain.
Dieters only need to buy the
There are no classes to attend,
centers to visit, or membership
fees to pay.
Each food package contains di-
etary information such as how to
supplement Just Help Yourself
meals with fresh fruit, vegetables,
dairy and grains. Daily exercise
The plan is designed so the di-
eter can lose one to two pounds
per week, normally for an initial
five-week period. The Just Help
Yourself plan meets the dietary
guidelines of the U.S. Surgeon
General's Report on Nutrition
and Health and National Cho-
lesterol Education Program
A local health-care provider in
each city offers educational support
for dieters if they feel they need it.
In the Detroit area, Farmer
Jack and Health Alliance Plan
(HAP) have joined forces with
Just Help Yourself.
Food sales began March 19 in
99 Farmer Jack stores. HAP of-
fers classes which emphasize gen-
eral nutrition and weight
management principles. The
classes are promoted where Just
Help Yourself food is sold.
"Our plan represents the fu-
ture in dieting," Mr. Cohen said.
"It lets you take complete control,
and it's appropriate for today's
`Mere are many excuses for not
staying with other diet programs,"
Mr. Shapira said. "Our plan is
simple. It's a no-brainer. You go to
the market like you always do and
buy the food. Period."
Mr. Gorosh agreed: "Even
though I had never been on a diet
plan per se, I was looking forward
to Just Help Yourself coming into
our area because it seemed so
easy to do," the West Bloomfield
"At first, 80 percent of my
meals were Just Help Yourself. I
really enjoyed them, but I won-
dered if that was because they
tasted great or I was so hungry.
I finally realized they did taste
great, especially the chicken en-
"Now, I'm down to about two
to four Just Help Yourself meals
a week, but I know what to avoid
when I eat. I'm asking myself a
lot of questions about nutrition,
fat and calories that I wasn't ask-
ing before I went on the plan."
Mr. Gorosh said he began ex-
ercising regularly when he wasn't
getting the weight-loss results he
wanted, and that has made a big
"I work out at the health club
at the Jewish Community Cen-
ter in West Bloomfield and I do a
lot of rollerblading," he said.
"I find it's best to have a desti-
nation when you're rolleiblading.
I try to find a friend about 3-4
miles away, preferably one who
has a pool, then I roll back home
if I'm not too tired."
Paul Reichert, executive vice
president of health-care services,
and Gwen Klein, vice president
of nutritional services, round out
the Just Help Yourself manage-
Helping with promotional ma-
terials is Cathy Guisewite, cre-
ator of the "Cathy" comic strip.
Ms. Guisewite is a former copy-
writer at Doner.