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Lose those extra pounds at TOPS

‘Tis the season to eat, drink and be merry, and that means family and friends reminiscing during intimate gatherings around the dinner table while sharing holiday feasts — a delicious Christmas ham, mashed potatoes and gravy, and all the rest of the fixin’s like lots of desserts that make us exclaim, “Now I’ve done it!”

The holiday season is upon us, and no doubt that also means gaining some additional pounds expanding our waists.

Because losing weight is hard for most people, and keeping it off can be even harder, long-term weight control can be a lot easier when you have others to help support your weight loss goals.

“Many people tend to overindulge in the amount of food they consume even outside the holidays, and would benefit from being part of a support group like TOPS,” noted Mary Deveny, chapter leader. The chapter has been in existence since the early 70s.

TOPS Club, Inc. (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) is an affordable, nonprofit, weight-loss support and wellness education program with a chapter in the town of Chester that meets at the Community United Methodist Church, at 386 Main St., through weekly group meetings every Thursday starting at 7:45 a.m., with a private weigh-in, followed by a meeting from 8:20 until 9:30 a.m.

The program promotes realistic body images through weight management and healthy lifestyle goals in a confidential, no-pressure environment, Deveny explained.

She said that members learn to improve nutrition with better eating habits, establish portion control, and engage in educational lessons prepared by knowledgeable associates in the field of weight management, and emphasize programs that support weight-loss efforts.

According to independent studies published in major medical journals, the TOPS weight-loss program has been proven just as effective as more expensive commercial programs, according to Deveny.

“The added benefit is that many fellow members bring in articles to share on healthy food preparation and low-calorie recipes.”

Membership is open to women and men for just $32 per member per year, plus $2 a month to cover expenses incurred by the chapter, which includes the TOPS News magazine, filled with inspirational stories, health news and medical research studies in the weight loss field. The first meeting is free.

Children age 7 years and older are welcome to attend (with a parent or guardian), including preteens through young adults who are also struggling with overeating.

According to the TOPS philosophy, the desire to change comes from within the individual, Deveny explained, “combined with a supportive environment, healthy eating and regular exercise.”

As a leading supporter of obesity research, TOPS also periodically organizes motivational workshops where members can choose to attend, but are under no obligation to do so.

“We’re a good, friendly group of people with no criticism,” stated Deveny. “Our program works and we welcome everyone in the community who wants to lose those extra pounds.” Members who attain their weight loss goal can graduate to KOPS (Keep Off Pounds Sensibly).

Anyone interested in joining TOPS with questions can call Mary Deveny at 596-3319 or Carole Westmoreland at 258-2654.

For additional information and a list of foods that make great substitutions for less healthy food choices, plus a medical library, delicious recipes and other helpful weight-loss tools, check out the organization’s website at www.tops.org.

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