“Losing weight and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is complicated, but the solutions don’t have to be complex.”
Hoping to see you less,” may not be the best way to say goodbye, but for most Take Off Pounds Successfully (TOPS Club, Inc.) members, it’s the hope and goal. of this national non-profit association. on the weight loss program approach.
TOPS has been helping and supporting its members for over 70 years. Recently, Northern Arizona held its annual TOPS Fall Rally in Prescott.
“We had members from our nine chapters,” said TOPS Northern Arizona attorney Mary L. Sylvester. “Payson, Show Low, Pine, Camp Verde, Prescott, Prescott Valley, Chino Valley, Clarkdale/Cottonwood Chapters, and the Mesa State King and Queen.” The total membership for Northern Arizona is 163.
Prizes were awarded for several weight loss contests and recognition of Chapter Angels, those members who went above and beyond to help others in their quest to lose or maintain weight.
Prescott Valley TOPS Chapter member Phaylon Wallace was a TOPS member in 1986 while living in California. “During that time I lost 35 pounds in six weeks and kept it off for several years and then got it all back. When we moved to Prescott three years ago I came back and lost 64.8 pounds in one year.
Wallace says he has about 16 pounds left and admits facing the scale each week has helped him count calories and lose weight. “TOPS is a really good support group and I really like the chapter we have in Prescott Valley.”
In addition to weekly meetings, other mediums include the TOPS website and a bimonthly magazine full of encouraging success stories, exercise routines, recipes and health articles.
“There’s an internal urge in all of us to seek complex solutions to complex problems,” said TOPS President Rick Danforth, who has lost 100 pounds and blogs biweekly on the Facebook page. “Losing weight and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is complicated, but the solutions don’t have to be complex.”
Rim Rock resident Betty Strehlow has worked at TOPS since 1962. The vivacious and energetic 95-year-old said she started going to TOPS in her late thirties. “It took about seven months to lose 17 pounds. Then we moved to Boston and I got it all back, and more. Boston is a great place to eat and I love seafood,” she said.
Keeping Off Pounds Sensibly (KOPS) is the goal of TOPS members and Strehlow has achieved that goal. “I might gain or lose a few pounds, but I’m maintaining my KOPS status,” she said. “We must continue. No one will do it for you.
Meetings include private weigh-ins, recitations of mantras and uplifting songs, celebrations of weight loss, up-to-date nutrition information, discussions on health and exercise topics, and tools for lose and manage weight.
Proclaiming that the scale is the only thing that really helped her lose 143 pounds, Camp Verde businesswoman Joyce Manifee is co-lead of her chapter. “I love TOPS – the fellowship and programs are great.”
TOPS Arizona coordinator Teri Boyd volunteers in her position. “I’m doing it because I love TOPS, I love our members and there’s just a huge need out there. Because TOPS is not for profit, doesn’t advertise and has a membership fee. Very low membership, word of mouth spreads, and I love being a mouthpiece for TOPS, I go to health fairs and speak at chapters across the state.
“TOPS is like my family,” Sylvester said. “If I feel down, I go to my chapter in Prescott, I weigh in and they cheer me on and I cheer them on. It’s so helpful and so friendly. This annual fall rally is a big party and we have so much fun.
The concept of TOPS began around a kitchen table in 1948, when Wisconsin housewife Esther Manz sat down with friends discouraged by their weight. Deciding to meet once a week and weigh each other, they began to lose weight. When a local newspaper picked up the story, others took an interest.
Headquarters are located in Milwaukee.
Now, with thousands of chapters across the United States and Canada, TOPS members can meet online as well as at local chapters. NBF
By V. Ronnie Tierney, FBN
For more information, visit www.tops.org.