Current weather

  • Scattered clouds
  • 54°
    Scattered clouds

Weight control group keeps members in 'TOPS' condition

Posted: Sunday, July 23, 2000

Each week, groups of men and women gather together to lend encouragement and support to each other. In each individual support group, members converse on happenings in their lives and how food effects those happenings.

Taking Off Pounds Sensibly is an international family of all ages and shapes, dedicated to helping each other take off and keep off pounds sensibly.

One of the original TOPS groups in Alaska, AK20, was started in 1965 by Ardell Pace, who has since moved to Oklahoma. But the group still meets weekly at the Kenai Peninsula Borough Building. The chapter celebrated its 35th anniversary this month and is the second oldest chapter in Alaska.

TOPS Club Inc. was originally started in 1948 in Milwaukee by the late Esther S. Manz.

Mae Hughes, of AK20 and a member of TOPS for 17 years, said all the other chapters on the Kenai Peninsula sprang from AK20.

Today, the total number of TOPS members on the peninsula is more than 150, Hughes said, and the numbers reach well above 10,000 across the globe.

"We are the largest weight-loss organization in the world," Hughes said. "And it works. That is why we have grown so much."

The TOPS groups are scattered throughout the central peninsula and gather at various places, including churches, senior centers and fire stations.

Besides working with those who are overweight, the group also works with underweight members.

"(TOPS) works the same way for both groups," Hughes said.

When a person reaches their goal weight, they become a members of the Keeping Pounds Off Sensibly (KOPS) group.

When members reach KOPS status, they are allowed a 10-pound leeway, seven pounds below or three pounds above. If the member gains more than three pounds, they have two weeks to take off the weight to keep KOPS status, Hughes said.

A TOPS member, before and after

Shirley Aleckson of Soldotna is proof that TOPS can change a person's life.

She weighed 180 pounds in 1984. She said she did not get enough exercise and was uncomfortable with her weight at that time. She said she also had trouble breathing and constantly felt sick.

At that time, she said she ate anything she wanted and did not use good portion control.

"I was just eating," she said, adding occasionally she would eat for comfort.

She said she decided to make a change but was not sure how to go about it.

"I made a commitment to change my eating habits," she said "but I didn't know how to do it alone."

That year, her mother, who had been a member of TOPS for 17 years, came to visit from Oregon and wanted to attend an Alaska chapter meeting.

Aleckson's mother attended a TOPS retreat and later they both attended the AK20 meeting. During the meeting, Aleckson said she found the help she needed to make the changes in her life.

"I joined that very night," she said. "My mother was the final key that got me into the TOPS program,"

Aleckson's daughter has since joined TOPS and is a leader of a chapter in Oregon that Aleckson's sister also belongs to.

"We have a real TOPS family," Aleckson said.

Her original goal was to lose 50 pounds, a goal she reached with the help of her group.

"It is just one of nicest groups of people I have ever met," she said.

Aleckson said she received support and caring before, during and after she lost her goal weight.

She lost 50 pounds in 10 months and said the loss was because of a healthy diet, including portion control, measuring and weighing her food and becoming more conscious of her diet. She also attributes the loss to exercise and the support of her TOPS group.

The group taught Aleckson how to eat sensibly and healthy and to do it all the time.

"You have to live this way for the rest of your life," she said.

Aleckson said she is against dieting and feels eating sensibly is the only way to go.

"I am certainly not skinny, but the doctors say I am excellent the way I am," she said.

Aside from the support Aleckson gained, she said she also prayed a lot and found inner strength in higher powers.

"In my weakness, I found my strength in Jesus," she said.

Keeping it off

Before each meeting, TOPS members weigh in. In many groups, the members must pay a cost for weight gained.

Aleckson said she feels the accountability of the scales is a real important factor to keeping off the weight. If she were to leave, she said she might slip off her sensible eating program and that is something she does not want to think about.

"I don't ever plan on not being a TOPS member," she said.

Contests and competitions held within the TOPS group helped Aleckson keep motivated, but she said she found losing the weight to be an exciting challenge.

"All of that helped to keep me motivated," she said.

She said she did not struggle with loosing the weight, but it has been much harder for her to keep it off.

To stay on track, Aleckson said she places small notes around her kitchen, especially on or near the items she, at times, desires most.

In her house she leaves herself notes -- little reminders including, "You have come to far to take orders from a cookie," "Nothing tastes as good as thin feels," and "Do you like it enough to wear it?"

She said the notes give her a sense of self-control over what she eats.

"I guess I like being in control," she said.

Though she eats sensibly, she does not force her diet on her husband, Darrell, but she tries to make sure he does eat well. He is supportive of her weight loss and the group.

Aleckson said she also exercises daily -- no matter what the season -- with a variety of activities.

In the summer she walks two to four miles a day, and when the weather turns cold, she turns to working out inside.

"I like Richard Simmons tapes. He is so cute."

Aleckson said those who need help losing weight should find some type of support, if not group, possibly a friend or mate.

She also recommends finding a food plan and sticking with it, but, she warns, not to give up every food enjoyed. She also stresses the importance of exercise and the consumption of lots of water.

Joining the clan

and becoming active

Each community in the central peninsula has a local chapter meeting that's held weekly.

For chapter information, visit the TOPS Web site at http://www.tops.org/chapter/topslocator.html

National dues are $20 per year and local dues vary.

With the fees, Aleckson said, members receive "TOPS News," a monthly magazine loaded with healthful recipes and encouragement, plus a pin with the TOPS logo.

Just showing up for the meeting is not the extent of the program, Aleckson said. Becoming an active member of TOPS is important to the well-being of the members and the group.

"It doesn't do any good to just show up and weigh in," she said. "The best exercise is to reach out and help others."

HEAD:Through thick and thin

HEAD:Weight control group keeps members in 'TOPS' condition

BYLINE1:By SARA J. SMITH

BYLINE2:Peninsula Clarion

Each week, groups of men and women gather together to lend encouragement and support to each other. In each individual support group, members converse on happenings in their lives and how food effects those happenings.

Taking Off Pounds Sensibly is an international family of all ages and shapes, dedicated to helping each other take off and keep off pounds sensibly.

One of the original TOPS groups in Alaska, AK20, was started in 1965 by Ardell Pace, who has since moved to Oklahoma. But the group still meets weekly at the Kenai Peninsula Borough Building. The chapter celebrated its 35th anniversary this month and is the second oldest chapter in Alaska.

TOPS Club Inc. was originally started in 1948 in Milwaukee by the late Esther S. Manz.

Mae Hughes, of AK20 and a member of TOPS for 17 years, said all the other chapters on the Kenai Peninsula sprang from AK20.

Today, the total number of TOPS members on the peninsula is more than 150, Hughes said, and the numbers reach well above 10,000 across the globe.

"We are the largest weight-loss organization in the world," Hughes said. "And it works. That is why we have grown so much."

The TOPS groups are scattered throughout the central peninsula and gather at various places, including churches, senior centers and fire stations.

Besides working with those who are overweight, the group also works with underweight members.

"(TOPS) works the same way for both groups," Hughes said.

When a person reaches their goal weight, they become a members of the Keeping Pounds Off Sensibly (KOPS) group.

When members reach KOPS status, they are allowed a 10-pound leeway, seven pounds below or three pounds above. If the member gains more than three pounds, they have two weeks to take off the weight to keep KOPS status, Hughes said.

A TOPS member, before and after

Shirley Aleckson of Soldotna is proof that TOPS can change a person's life.

She weighed 180 pounds in 1984. She said she did not get enough exercise and was uncomfortable with her weight at that time. She said she also had trouble breathing and constantly felt sick.

At that time, she said she ate anything she wanted and did not use good portion control.

"I was just eating," she said, adding occasionally she would eat for comfort.

She said she decided to make a change but was not sure how to go about it.

"I made a commitment to change my eating habits," she said "but I didn't know how to do it alone."

That year, her mother, who had been a member of TOPS for 17 years, came to visit from Oregon and wanted to attend an Alaska chapter meeting.

Aleckson's mother attended a TOPS retreat and later they both attended the AK20 meeting. During the meeting, Aleckson said she found the help she needed to make the changes in her life.

"I joined that very night," she said. "My mother was the final key that got me into the TOPS program,"

Aleckson's daughter has since joined TOPS and is a leader of a chapter in Oregon that Aleckson's sister also belongs to.

"We have a real TOPS family," Aleckson said.

Her original goal was to lose 50 pounds, a goal she reached with the help of her group.

"It is just one of nicest groups of people I have ever met," she said.

Aleckson said she received support and caring before, during and after she lost her goal weight.

She lost 50 pounds in 10 months and said the loss was because of a healthy diet, including portion control, measuring and weighing her food and becoming more conscious of her diet. She also attributes the loss to exercise and the support of her TOPS group.

The group taught Aleckson how to eat sensibly and healthy and to do it all the time.

"You have to live this way for the rest of your life," she said.

Aleckson said she is against dieting and feels eating sensibly is the only way to go.

"I am certainly not skinny, but the doctors say I am excellent the way I am," she said.

Aside from the support Aleckson gained, she said she also prayed a lot and found inner strength in higher powers.

"In my weakness, I found my strength in Jesus," she said.

Keeping it off

Before each meeting, TOPS members weigh in. In many groups, the members must pay a cost for weight gained.

Aleckson said she feels the accountability of the scales is a real important factor to keeping off the weight. If she were to leave, she said she might slip off her sensible eating program and that is something she does not want to think about.

"I don't ever plan on not being a TOPS member," she said.

Contests and competitions held within the TOPS group helped Aleckson keep motivated, but she said she found losing the weight to be an exciting challenge.

"All of that helped to keep me motivated," she said.

She said she did not struggle with loosing the weight, but it has been much harder for her to keep it off.

To stay on track, Aleckson said she places small notes around her kitchen, especially on or near the items she, at times, desires most.

In her house she leaves herself notes -- little reminders including, "You have come to far to take orders from a cookie," "Nothing tastes as good as thin feels," and "Do you like it enough to wear it?"

She said the notes give her a sense of self-control over what she eats.

"I guess I like being in control," she said.

Though she eats sensibly, she does not force her diet on her husband, Darrell, but she tries to make sure he does eat well. He is supportive of her weight loss and the group.

Aleckson said she also exercises daily -- no matter what the season -- with a variety of activities.

In the summer she walks two to four miles a day, and when the weather turns cold, she turns to working out inside.

"I like Richard Simmons tapes. He is so cute."

Aleckson said those who need help losing weight should find some type of support, if not group, possibly a friend or mate.

She also recommends finding a food plan and sticking with it, but, she warns, not to give up every food enjoyed. She also stresses the importance of exercise and the consumption of lots of water.

Joining the clan

and becoming active

Each community in the central peninsula has a local chapter meeting that's held weekly.

For chapter information, visit the TOPS Web site at http://www.tops.org/chapter/topslocator.html

National dues are $20 per year and local dues vary.

With the fees, Aleckson said, members receive "TOPS News," a monthly magazine loaded with healthful recipes and encouragement, plus a pin with the TOPS logo.

Just showing up for the meeting is not the extent of the program, Aleckson said. Becoming an active member of TOPS is important to the well-being of the members and the group.

"It doesn't do any good to just show up and weigh in," she said. "The best exercise is to reach out and help others."



CONTACT US

  • 150 Trading Bay Rd, Kenai, AK 99611
  • Switchboard: 907-283-7551
  • Circulation and Delivery: 907-283-3584
  • Newsroom Fax: 907-283-3299
  • Business Fax: 907-283-3299
  • Accounts Receivable: 907-335-1257
  • View the Staff Directory
  • or Send feedback

ADVERTISING

SUBSCRIBER SERVICES

SOCIAL NETWORKING

MORRIS ALASKA NEWS