By Gary Boskovich
Obesity in the United States is running rampant. Depending on who’s conducting the research, Indiana ranks anywhere from the eighth to the twelfth most-obese state nationally.
Being overweight is a known health concern and can turn deadly if left unchecked. Ask anyone with diabetes, heart disease or high blood pressure if it wouldn’t help to shed a few pounds.
The good news is there’s help out there for those who seek it. Everyone has heard of Nutrisystem, Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers – programs which frequently use celebrities to hype their value and effectiveness.
But there is a national program that supports individuals trying to lose weight that is a fraction of the cost of those other programs called TOPS Club.
TOPS, which stands for “take off pounds sensibly,” is a nonprofit weight-loss organization that includes 170,000 members worldwide. Founded in Milwaukee in 1947, it has a chapter in Carmel that has existed since the late ’70s.
The group meets every Wednesday at the Carmel Friends Church located on West Main Street, but the program is not affiliated with the church in any way. They simply have access to a room in the church to conduct their weekly meetings.
TOPS’s annual membership is $28 and fees for the Carmel chapter are $4 per month. A subscription to a bi-monthly TOPS magazine is included at no extra cost.
The Carmel group is open, friendly, encouraging and supportive. The are there for one another, each understanding how difficult it is to lose weight and keep it off.
The group conducts a confidential weekly weigh-in and weights are recorded to track results. Members celebrate weight loss, however minor, and they “compete” by keeping a small pool of quarters awarded to the person who has lost or kept the most weight off. If someone happens to gain, only positive and caring comments are shared.
Rosemary Steiger, a TOPS member since 2006, reached her target weight a while back and now has the challenge of maintaining her healthy weight. Once that happens, a member participates in a program called KOPS – an acronym for “keeping off pounds sensibly.”
“I think actually knowing I had to get weighed every Wednesday morning. To me, that accountability was one of the biggest things,” she said about her motivation.
Accountability is a major theme for the TOPS program. Accountability not only for your weight, but for what you eat, how much exercise you get and keeping food portions in line. Members are encouraged to make lifestyle changes to help meet their weight goal. That can be hard to do, but folks at the Carmel chapter are there to support any person who joins.
If you are struggling with your weight, you can reach out to the Carmel TOPS chapter. Although membership currently consists of women only, men are welcome and have participated in the past.
Chapter president Lou Ruetz would like to see the program grow.
“We would like to attract (new) people because we think they need us.”
For more information visit www.tops.org or call 582-0010.