By Judy Clodfelter
The slogan, “Real People. Real Weight Loss.” certainly exemplifies the weight loss journey of Virginia Haley, an Indianapolis native who recently lost 103.8 pounds and was crowned the 2020 TOPS Indiana Queen.
TOPS Club, Inc. (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) was founded in 1948 with the intent to offer weight-loss support and wellness education to its members. Haley is one of thousands of others, both male and female, who have attended the many chapters of TOPS both here in the United States and Canada. At the end of each year, TOPS unveils its top “royalty,” the women and men who have successfully recorded the most weight loss from their starting weight that same year.
According to Haley, “My journey with weight loss has been a rollercoaster of a struggle since I joined TOPS in 1998.” She tried, to no avail, to find a diet plan that would couple with the support she was getting at TOPS to help her reach her goal weight. “After reaching my highest weight of 278.8 pounds, I had a conversation with my daughter. We decided that on the first of the year, we were going to start carefully watching what we were eating and hold each other accountable.”
This determination paid off when she discovered a program called 5-2 Intermittent Fasting, a regiment in which calorie intake is limited to 500-600 calories per day for two times per a week. “With my new eating plan and the support of my daughter, I decided to commit to attending TOPS meetings again,” Haley said. This time the combination of the programs proved to be a winner.
TOPS, a nonprofit organization noted for its group support, health education and member recognition, offers both in-person and online memberships. Private weigh-ins, conversations in which attendees discuss their challenges, goals and successes, and short programs focusing on maintaining healthy lifestyles are all part of the in-person memberships. Virtual meetings are held three times a week using Zoom for online members.
These meetings also include a discussion of goals and challenges as well as an online facilitator who presents wellness programs. “This was something I needed to be accountable for, as the support of TOPS members and the weekly meetings turned out to be an important part of my success,” Haley said. In addition, guest speakers are invited to share their opinions of fitness and nutrition. Meetings conclude discussing action steps related to the program.
Of the many organizations, Haley chose TOPS because of its individual approach to weight loss and overall wellness support. Their motto, “Real People. Real Weight Loss.” supports this as it is the only noncommercial weight-loss program of its kind.
Haley finds happiness in activities that used to be a struggle for her. “Losing 103 pounds has made me feel better, as I can walk the neighborhood without getting short of breath, my knees no longer hurt, and I can enjoy being active with family on vacation,” she said. Haley believes that her family’s support, the encouragement of her TOPS friends and her determination to follow the guidelines of the 5-2 Intermittent Fasting program has allowed her to maintain her goals.
For more information about signing up for a meeting near you, go to tops.org/tops/TOPS/help/finding-tops-meeting.