T.O.P.S is TOPS in Accountability and Support

You are working your low-carb plan like Britney Spears works the paparazzi. Still, even with a support network in place online, you might need something more.

You love the Weight Watchers concept because of the weekly weigh-ins and accountability.

You wish there was something like that for low-carbers everywhere and for maybe a slightly more reasonable amount of buckage.

Low-carb (or other) dieters, meet that new group: T.O.P.S.

T.O.P.S. (or, Take Off Pounds Sensibly) is a not-for-profit organization, founded in Milwaukee, WI, by Esther Mann in 1948. From the website: “It’s two-fold objective is to encourage healthy lifestyles through weight management support groups and to sponsor obesity research.”

While their ‘official’ plan is the standard high-carb, low-fat plan we’re used to seeing across America, TOPS gladly and openly accepts low-carbers, people on other plans, and people who have had weight loss surgery.

TOPS members are members who are losing weight to goal. KOPS members (Keeping Off Pounds Sensibly) are people who’ve made goal and are working to maintain their goals.

Coming together weekly, group meetings across the world are fairly standard.

The Weigh-In: A meeting begins with a confidential weigh-in. The weight recorders keep track of your gains and losses. Not even other members know what you weigh from week to week.

The Meeting: The beginning of the meeting is usually led with a pledge. The roll call is then designed to see who is there, and how folks did. If you lost, you report your loss and the group claps and cheers. If you gained, the group will respond, “we’re glad you’re here!” And they mean it, by low-carb gumballs! There is no booing, scorning, and never shame in being the largest person in the room.

The Program: A weekly program generally follows roll-call. The programs are health-related, many times with group discussion (optional), and may relate to vitamin supplements, exercise, or setting reasonable goals in weight loss. Once a month, an awards program might be held, which celebrates the accomplishments of members. Some of the distinctions may include: biggest loser of the month, montly no-gainers, KOPS of the month.

The cost of Membership? Currently, the annual cost of membership is only $24, and this includes a monthly, very well-written TOPSNews Magazine (53 pages average). This includes success stories, recipes and petinent topics for every lifestyle. The rest of the membership goes to funding obesity research and retaining specialists who help keep TOPS scientifically grounded.

Chapter dues (separate from annual national membership fees) run between $1-5 a month per chapter for purchasing awards and charms. In sum, the annual cost may be as much as $84… but seriously. Isn’t weekly accountability and friendship at a local level worth cheering about, especially when other companies charge about $12 per week for weigh-ins (over $600 annually)?

Disclaimer:I have been attending TOPS on and off since 1994 (Washington, Oregon, and Texas Chapters), and am now a member in a Colorado Chapter. The difference between chapters varies minimally since the bylaws are the same. The accountability of facing the scale weekly has been phenomenal, and the friendships I’ve formed there have been like no other. It’s great having non-judgmental and fun people in your weight loss corner.

Not convinced yet? Attend a local Chapter meeting. Prospective members are welcome to attend a free meeting at any chapter before deciding whether or not that chapter suits their needs.

Regardless the support circles/systems to choose from, in life, as in weight loss, TOPS’ motto rings true: The Choice is Yours.

The author is not paid to promote services or companies, or not-for-profit organizations. Opinions belong to the author only, who just happens to have great taste in shoes.
To find a chapter near you visit www.tops.org

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