Through the support of a group encouraging physical, mental and emotional lifestyle changes, Take Off Pounds Sensibly (TOPS) helps individuals lose weight and keep it off.
With research to back it, TOPS works as well as commercial programs at a lower cost. It’s the first noncommercial weight-loss support group that has ties to the medical community. Obesity research has always been at the forefront for TOPS.
The program, with its thousands of chapters, was founded in 1948 and has helped millions of people throughout the U.S. and Canada reach their goal weight. Arizona currently has 85 TOPS chapters, with its members collectively losing 6,691 pounds last year. TOPS Club is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year.
On Sept. 25, the Queen Creek TOPS Chapter 0558 will be celebrating its nine-year anniversary. The local chapter meets at 5:30 p.m. every Thursday evening, except for the second Thursday of each month, at the San Tan Mountain Funeral Home. Meetings begin with an optional weigh-in of members. Awards are given for the “best weight loss of the week.”
The educational portion of the program is crucial. Having the necessary tools for maintaining a healthy lifestyle is what helps members keep the weight off. The educational part may be anything from a display, a talk by a volunteer, a group discussion topic, a fun contest to an exercise routine.
Margaret Hoffman, a TOPS advocate, got involved with the organization after her doctor advised her to find a group to lose weight. Her obesity was starting to cause several health problems. Hoffman was told that if she could lose 40 pounds she’d feel much better.
“I thought I was fine because I was living with it fine and it was impossible to lose, but he was a doctor so I took his advice and asked my weekly card group if they knew of a Weight Watchers club. They attended a TOPS chapter and took me along,” Hoffman said. “It was there I received the encouragement to keep working on my losses.”
Another chapter member, named H.D., joined TOPS in June 2022. After trying other programs and diets, she found that they were not only pricey, but also just a temporary fix.
“I wanted something that I could live with for the rest of my life without feeling like I was being deprived or guilty about what I was eating,” said H.D. “Since I joined TOPS, I have not looked back or regretted it for one moment. I have lost 50 pounds and several clothing sizes. I feel great.”
For anyone struggling on their own health journey, TOPS offers free first meetings. Individuals can come in to get a feel of the environment before deciding to sign up.
“There is no shame here! If you lose we are all excited. If you gain, we are glad that you are here. If you stay the same, we are happy with that as well,” H.D. said. “Everyone is shown love, respect and encouragement.”
“The important thing is for a new visitor to feel the caring acceptance we all need when we walk out of that meeting and face another week of our weight-loss journey,” Hoffman added. “It can be slow, but giving up isn't the answer.”
Packages start at $49 annually in the U.S. and $59 in Canada, in addition to local nominal chapter dues. Membership includes a subscription to TOPS NEWS, a bi-monthly magazine, resources including healthy eating tips, recipes and fitness guides, access to monthly seminars covering news from the medical community, and a step-by-step guide on how to get started.
“Anyone who is serious about losing weight can find a way with all the healthy food available in their grocery store,” said Hoffman. “TOPS is a great acronym considering that overeating and under-exercising does lead to obesity. A support group helps us to get on ‘top’ of our issues and find a way to change them. Change is key.”
Once a member reaches their goal weight, they become a KOPS (Keep Off Pounds Sensibly) member.
“KOPS members are so inspirational to me. They remind me each week that I can do this, whether I have lost, gained or stayed the same,” said H.D.
From monthly, quarterly and annual awards, to the Fall Rallys, mall walks, recognition ceremonies, prizes and more, the Queen Creek TOPS chapter works to keep its members motivated while surrounded with support. They do everything to make weight loss fun, honest and achievable.
With TOPS, they acknowledge that everyone and their journey is different.
“TOPS has their own program and tools to use, but if you don't want to use their plan, use another one or create your own,” H.D. noted. “No matter how I choose to travel on my weight loss journey, TOPS is here to support me.”
It’s all about that ongoing support.
“Helping others helps me to keep to my goal weight,” Hoffman added. “There are stars in this chapter who deserve all the accolades.”
TOPS local chapter AZ 0558 Queen Creek hosts its meetings in the lunch room of the San Tan Mountain Funeral Home, located at 21809 S. Ellsworth Road.