TOPS Club, Inc. (Take Off Pounds Sensibly), the nonprofit weight-loss support organization, has begun unveiling its top “royalty” from 2020 for 2021. TOPS royalty are women and men who, at the end of the year, have officially recorded the largest weight loss from their starting weight, regardless of the time taken to reach their goal. Geraldine Yates of Mount Gilead, who lost 71 pounds, is the North Carolina 2020 Queen.
TOPS offers an individual approach to weight loss and overall wellness. Consistent group support, health education, and recognition are all key components to successful weight management.
“Despite the pandemic, with assistance from TOPS support, the 2020 royalty, and many others prior, have exhibited that achieving a personal transformation is still doable through small, sustainable lifestyle modifications,” said TOPS President Rick Danforth. “Having sustained a 100-pound weight loss for over 15 years, I personally understand the commitment these folks have demonstrated.”
Yates participated in the TOPS International Recognition Days virtual conference, which took place July 23-24, 2021. “Commemorating these life-changing accomplishments is an integral element of TOPS’ winning formula, particularly after a most challenging year,” Danforth said.
Weekly meetings are the heart of TOPS support, whether they are held in-person or online. In-person meetings start with private weigh-ins, with members then sharing challenges, successes or goals, followed by a brief program covering a variety of health and wellness topics, and may conclude with awards and recognition for the week. For online membership, virtual meetings are conducted via Zoom and are offered three times during the week. The meeting starts with members disclosing challenges, successes or goals. Next, the online facilitator presents a prepared program and sometimes includes guest speakers who share their expert views on fitness, nutrition, and more. Meetings conclude with action steps related to the program presented.
Visitors are able to attend their first TOPS in-person meeting free of charge and encouraged to try more than one chapter, since they’re all a little different. Membership is affordable at just $32 per year in the U.S. and $48 annually in Canada for in-person meetings, plus nominal chapter fees. Online membership is only $32 per year, no matter where the member is located. To learn more about membership options or to find a local chapter, visit www.tops.org or call 800-932-8677.
I joined TOPS on May 10, 1983. I stared counting calories, walking, and I became a member of the Carolina Cloggers dance team. With the support and encouragement of chapter members, I lost 50 pounds by the end of 1985. I became a chapter leader and chapter queen in 1985, then an area captain in 1986 and the TOPS Coordinator for the western part of North Carolina in March 1988.
I had the privilege of meeting Esther Manz, the founder of TOPS, and visited the TOPS headquarters in Milwaukee for the 40th anniversary of the organization in 1988. I stayed active in the organization for the next couple years, but I needed to step back from the organization due to family issues in 1992. It broke my heart to leave TOPS and it was at that time that I started to have severe health problems.
During the next 26 years, I regained all the weight I lost and added more. I developed diabetes and high blood pressure. After losing my mom, dad, and twin sister to complications from diabetes, I began to worry about my own health. My doctor said if I didn’t control my AIC, I would need to increase my diabetic medication, which scared me. I remembered the only time I had success losing weight was when I was a TOPS member. I rejoined the organization on May 15, 2018, almost 35 years to the day of when I first joined.
I started to keep a food journal, exercising on a stationary bike, and taking apple vinegar cider. I became chapter leader and secretary, rarely missing a meeting. The chapter members are like sisters to me and they have provided continued support and encouragement. In December 2019, I was two pounds short of my goal, but with the holiday, I gained weight, starting the process again in January 2020.
To say the least, 2020 was difficult, but when we were able to return to meeting in June, I was determined to try harder. I managed to lose 11.5 pounds to reach my goal on December 22.
At age 74, I have lost 71 pounds, I am no longer taking blood pressure medication, and my diabetes is under control. I know staying with TOPS is the only way I will be able to maintain my weight and my health. I encourage people to remember that they should never give up and you are never too old to reach your goals.