Support Groups - Check TOPS out, it's really Cool!

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07-11-2008, 07:36 PM
If you are interested in a cheap, fun weight loss support group, then TOPS is for you. It is a national, non-profit weight loss support group. TOPS stands for Take Off Pounds Sensibly. There are chapters on a local level. These chapters meet once a week, for a private weigh-in and meeting. In the meetings, you might have a program, discussion night, excerise, contests or do fun things to learn about and lose weight. Your national dues are $24.00 a year. This covers the mailing of the TOPS News magaezine you get mailed to your house 9 times through out the year and information that the National TOPS headquarters passes on to the clubs at the local level. Then you have your monthly club dues, which covers charms, awards, program costs, mailings etc. My club charges $2.50 a month. That might vary from club to club though. My club also charges 25 cents to weigh-in weekly. Then the person who has lost the most weight for the week gets everyone's 25 cents. Plus we charge 10 cents for each pound gained and that money goes to the club's treasury. Then each club holds contests to encourage their members. These are just fun things to help and keep people motivated. It is just a fun club to belong to and get the support of people who are going through the same journey in life as you are. So I hope you will check out and see where your area TOPS meeting place is. If you have any questions, feel free to post them here and I will either answer them for you or look up the information for you. TOPS even has a website, you can check out. It is Hope you find this information helpful and useful in your journey to change your lifestyle.
TOPS Hugs,

07-11-2008, 08:17 PM
I love TOPS too. Our chapter charges $3 per month. There's no change for weigh-in, but we do charge a fine of 10 cent per pound for gains (no one really sees how much you put into the little basket, so unless you reveal it yourself, no one knows how much you gained). We charge double fines after a holiday (to provide a little extra motivation to stay on track over the holidays) and also after a week in which the club as a group gained more weight than it lost. The "biggest loser" for the week takes the fines home.

I'm co-leader of our group, and I have to say, I never thought I would be such a "cheerleader" for ANYTHING! Mostly because I have a talent for making things I'm interested in, seem less interesting by gushing about it.

I sincerely hope that isn't the case with TOPS, because I really want people to know how very amazing it can be.

I'm coleader of my local group, and the new leader and I really want to inspire our group to really do some fun, cool things. I'm looking for ideas from TOPS members or even people who have never even been to TOPS, but have some good ideas, on things we can do in our group to increase motivation in a fun way.

Maybe we can even play a weight loss game or two here (or issue challenges, or whatever) to create our own mini-group. I think it would be fun!

07-13-2008, 10:17 AM
I forgot to mention that after you have attended the TOPS meetings for 6 weeks you get a charm bracelet. Then for each ten pounds you lose, you get a different charm to put on your charm bracelet. So it a visual reminder of how well you are doing. You get rewarded along your weight loss journey.

07-14-2008, 09:02 AM
To all TOPS members who have weigh in's this week, good luck! Hope you see the scale moving down on all your hardwork. Have a great week! Hope you stay OP on your eating and excerising!

07-16-2008, 11:01 AM
Well I went to my weigh in last night and stayed the same. I guess I should be happy that I didn't gain any weight since it was that TOM for me last week. But I will just work harder this coming week to have a loss next week!
Hope everyone else has a great weigh-in!

07-16-2008, 12:41 PM
I gained a half pound. But I deny it. I was so excited, because by my scale I had lost two pounds. Now this was in the morning, and I did have lunch after I weighed myself at home (not a huge lunch, just a regular lunch), so the weight of lunch could have been responsible.

However, I HATE my club's scale. It hasn't been calibrated in years, and it is not reliable at least at the higher weight end. There have been times when they couldn't get it to balance for me at all (and I was well under the maximum weight). It isn't officially "ours" because it belongs to the church that lets us have meetings there, but I hardly think they would object to us paying to have the scale calibrated.

07-21-2008, 10:51 AM
Good luck this week with your weigh-in! I hope that you have a loss to report this week. I am keeping my fingers crossed. Why won't they calibrate the scales? I think the church should know that they need it. Heck if your club offered to pay for I don't see where they would have a problem with it. I will let you know how I did tomorrow evening. Have a great week!

07-21-2008, 05:33 PM
I think the church doesn't use it, so they don't care, and a lot of our members are VERY frugal, and don't want to spend the money, so whenever we've voted to buy a new scale, calibrate this one, or buy an attachment for our scale so we can weigh members over 350 lbs (right now, only my husband), it always gets voted down.

I'm seriously considering talking with the other TOPS chapter in a neighboring town to grouply sponsor an open house at our church to bring in new members, and maybe even start a new chapter. Part of our group doesn't really want to get bigger (and that's fine), but I think there's probably room for another TOPS group in our area. The church my husband and I attend is willing to host a TOPS group and the church school nurse even offered to help, offered the use of her scale (kept well-callibrated because it's used for the school) and sponsor and coordinate a walking club before or after the TOPS meeting (she's been wanting to get the walking club started for some time. But our TOPS chapter meets at another church, and the members who are members of that church don't want to move to a different location, even though it would be more accessible to a larger group, is more handicapped accessible, and more accessible during the winter (we've had to cancel nearly 20% of our winter meetings because the steep hill to the church is too dangerous to drive during icy weather).

I don't want anyone to think that I have anything wrong with our current group, I think that there's just a bit of a split between how people want to see the group run. There are many who want to stick with what the club has "always" been and keep things very minimal, and then there are others who want to bring in some new ideas and activities and maybe even sponsor more active ways to keep people engaged and motivated (you can guess where my preferences lie).

I'm not sure if I'm going to the group tonigh. Hubby and I had to go to court today and I was really upset by it. I don't even know why, as I didn't end up having to testify. I had to call the police a about a month or two ago when a neighbor broke down the door to get at his ex-girlfriend (he's in jail and she moved out of the apartment this weekend). Well the ex-girlfriend is now MAD at my husband and I for "making" her testify and for testifying against the guy. It was all just an emotional rollercoaster, and I'm spent. Because I was a former probation officer, the defense attorney didn't want me to testify because he felt I would be biased in favor of the court. Just a mess, mess, mess.

At least it's over.

07-21-2008, 06:56 PM
Sorry to hear about your rough day today. Sending hugs your way. Hope your evening gets better! I know the feeling about some people only wanting to do the miminal amount of work to lose the weight and then there are others who want to lose the weight and look for new ways to keep motivated and to moviate the others.

07-23-2008, 11:19 AM
Went to TOPS last night and lost 2.25 pounds. Was the weekly winner for my weight loss. That makes it two times in the last three weeks. So I must have finally got it figured out how to start breaking through my plateau to lose again.
Kaplods, are you having a better day today! Hope your week has improved since Monday. Been thinking about you. Sending hugs your way!!
TOPS Hugs,

07-23-2008, 02:33 PM
I'm doing better. I was stressed out. We got news that my sister scheduled the christening of her new baby boy a bit earlier than we expected, so we're leaving Thursday for Illinois. I'm taking my scale. I did that for the first time last visit and instead of gaining weight during the visit (like I usually do), I lost a couple.

I'm excited about going, I miss everyone.

07-24-2008, 10:50 AM
Have a safe trip Kaplods! That is a great idea about your scale. That way you stay op. Have a nice visit.

07-28-2008, 11:13 AM
Well it is a new week! Hope you had a nice weekend! I don't know if you will get to weigh-in or not. But just wanted to say good luck! I am hoping that I to have a good weigh in tomorrow evening.

07-29-2008, 10:14 PM
I am sad this evening. I gained 5.25 pounds last week. So I don't know what I did wrong. I guess I am going to have to step it up again with my workouts. Hopefully next week's weigh in goes better.
Hope you are having a great trip visiting your family!

07-30-2008, 01:25 PM
Hi, you guys! I just stumbled onto your thread. The TOPS title caught my eye because I've been interested in joining. Hope you don't mind if I stick my nose in here. :shrug:

I've been an on-and-off Weight Watchers member for years now. My biggest problem with them is the cost! :yikes: It's 30 bucks to join and then 14 more each week. And, if you want to buy their products, well the prices are really high. I went back a couple months ago but, frankly, I'm starting to resent all the money I'm shelling out. Yes, it's a good program but seriously...!!

Anyway, I haven't been to a meeting in a couple weeks. Actually, I lost my dad last week :cry: after he spent a month in ICU. Now, the stress levels are finally starting to back down and I'm thinking about once again taking the steps I need to lose the weight. :stress:

I looked into TOPS a couple years ago but never got my rear in gear and joined. (OK, truth is I chickened out. :chicken: ) But now I think I'm going to go check out their website :comp: and see what I can learn about a local meeting. Can you tell me if I can go to a meeting to observe before I actually sign up?

Thanks in advance for any info. you can give me. I hope you don't mind if I pop in here again. :sorry:


07-30-2008, 03:08 PM
It's nice to meet you Jo, you certainly are welcome here!

I'm so sorry to hear about your dad. The grieving process is so hard on a person mentally AND physically.

You certainly can sit in on a TOPS meeting free. If there are several groups in your area, you can even visit each one before deciding, and most groups will even let you sit in on a couple meetings before deciding (but you can't weigh-in until you join - they probably would let you get weighed, but the weight wouldn't "count" until you join).

I can't say enough wonderful things about TOPS. I first found TOPS around 1994. I'd herniated a disc in my back and couldn't afford Weight Watcher's AND my YMCA membership. I needed the gym membership because being in the water was my only relief from the back pain (at first I could only tread water). In fact when I was able to return to work, I swam before work, at my lunch hour, and after work before going home). The relief from gravity was wonderful. I joined TOPS made wonderful friends and lost 60 lbs.

Then I got a job over an hour away, and I never really "connected" with the groups in my new location (I thought I could do it on my own).

My hubby and I joined our current group in August. We love it so much, we accepted nominations and were voted in as officers (I'm co-leader, hubby is treasurer).

National dues are $24 a year ($36 for two family members in the same household) and include a monthly magazine. Each chapter decides on its monthly dues, most are under $5. Our chapter's dues are $3. Many chapters offer one or more ways to get free monthly dues. For example, in our chapter you can choose free dues or a charm for losing each 10 lbs.

The club offers (but doesn't require) a manual for $15 called The Choice is Mine. It was just edited, so the new edition is being offered for $10 if the club places an order for 6 or more before the end of August. So, you might be able to get a break on the price, or get someone's old edition for even cheaper (I've reviewed both editions, and there are only a few pages of "new" information). The manual gives a lot of information on diet, exercise, nutrition and outlines an exchange program (very much like Weight Watcher's program prior to 1994).

I follow the exchange program, but exchanged a few of the starches for proteins and gave myself a few optional exchanges (so I'd have a little more flexibility if I eat my "minimum" exchanges it's a 1500 calorie plan, and if I eat all of the exchanges I've given myself as "optional" it's an 1800 calorie plan).

That's what's so nice about TOPS, you can follow any food plan you wish, and can change food plans as often as you wish.

Because each group is self-governing to a large degree (they have to follow national chapter bylaws, but make their own chapter rules), you might find one group a better "fit" for you than another. You can even form your own chapter with as little as three people I believe (you might need five, but I think you only need three).

That's why when people tell me they tried TOPS and didn't like it, I ask what they didn't like about it. Most of the time it's something that isn't universal to all TOPS groups, but something that could be changed by a group vote (or by joining or forming a new group). TOPS very much is what you make it. If you want the group to be run differently, you have a voice in making that change.

I'm very much working to change my group. I want to get people more involved in ACTIVELY becoming healthier. Maybe forming some walking groups, or doing some group activities or contests or field trips (we had a fun activity in a grocery store that our treasurer organized). It's possible that our group will eventually change it's focus, or split into two groups, and that would be fine too.

I love that TOPS offers opportunities for group recognition. I'm not shy and I love attention, so the idea of going up on stage for a weight loss award at Fall rally, NRD or SRD (National Recognition Day or State Recognition Day - TOPS events). But the events are not mandatory, so if you're shy, you don't have to participate in those things (though you still will get your chapter awards that are given out, usually several times a year).

I could go on and on, but I'l stop now. Please do join us, we're happy to have you.

07-31-2008, 12:33 PM
Wow, Kaplods. Thanks for the welcome and all the great information! :goodvibes:

I checked out the TOPS site and saw that I could get a free brochure mailed to me so I requested that. I also saw that the closest meeting to me would be Wednesday evenings and that would fit into my schedule just fine. :D

I'm on vacation next week but when I get back I'm hoping to give the brochure a look-see and then maybe I'll haul my not-so-little rear down there and sit in on a meeting.

Can I ask - is there a certain age group to TOPS? That is, I'd hate to be the only person there over 30 or under 65, you know? With WW, it was mostly women but of all age groups. Not that it's a big deal though.

Another question - the website says I'm required to have a doctor's visit before I join. Is that really true? I haven't been to a doctor in years (pausing to knock wood :crossed: ) and would rather not have to schedule and pay and take time off from work, etc. Again, though, I guess that's not a big deal.

Thanks again for all your help. If all goes well, I hope to be heading off to my first meeting in about 2 weeks. A little scary but kind of exciting :hyper: as well.


P.S. Came back in to edit my post because I just thought of something else. Is the TOPS plan vegetarian-friendly?

07-31-2008, 05:05 PM
TOPS is very vegetarian friendly, because YOU choose your food plan. Even if you choose the TOPS exchange plan, the protein exchanges can be vegetarian. Almost all exchange plans are universal (they're all based on the diabetic exchange plan designed, I believe, in the 1950's). That means they're also compatible with any exchange program (Weight Watcher's before 1994, TOPS, Richard Simmon's Deal a Meal, Healthy Exchanges, various diabetic cook books, the Duke Diet, Hillbilly Housewife....). I love that because I collect old cookbooks, and if I find one that lists exchanges I can use it.

I bought, and highly recommend the book, Exchanges for all Occasions. I'm pretty sure there's an entire section on vegetarian exchanges.

Also, if you don't want to do the exchange plan, you can do any plan you wish to. The club doesn't enforce, or even pry into the food plan you choose. If you want to share with the group, you can.

Did the website say that you had to have a doctor's visit before you join, or before you reach your goal weight? We just got a letter from either national headquarters or one of our regional directors on this subject, and the actual rule is that you can't win any awards related to reaching your goal weight nor can you achieve KOPS (keeping off pounds sensibly) status without a goal slip from your doctor. So you don't have to see your doctor, but you do need to have a goal slip on file if you want either of those things (and you can wait until you get there to decide). Many people do not get the goal slip until they reach the weight they want to be at. Since I see my doctor every quarter, I just had him write a goal slip for me, so I'd have it as an incentive. My doctor set my goal weight at 250 lbs, because he doesn't want me to get too discouraged. Personally, I think that I will want to lose more, but this kept us both happy, and I can decide to lose more (and get a new goal slip) at any time.

There is not an age group required of TOPS, but some groups do tend to be comprised of mostly people of a certain age. Though it can really vary. You might find one group that is almost exclusively over 60 or under 30 or you might find one that is very diverse. It really is hard to predict. The group I went to in Ottawa, IL when I was in my late 20's, when I first joined, there were two women my age, and everyone else seemed to be over 60. I felt really weird at first, but we had a very young at heart, fun group, and I stopped noticing (and after I joined, we seemed to get in an influx of younger people, so the group ended up being very diverse). The groups I tried in Bloomington, IL were much younger, but less "spunky." The group I'm in now is pretty wide ranging. Mostly over 35, but one girl is 19. TOPS does tend to have an older crowd, which is one of the things that I'm trying to change. TOPS welcomes people of any age, and there are even children's groups (I think members as young as 9 are accepted with a parent - kids I think do need the doctor's slip before joining - but I'm not sure on that).

I think Weight Watcher's tends to attract a younger "hipper" crowd than TOPS (mostly because they advertise). TOPS doesn't advertise unless local groups want to and have a large enough membership or band together with other chapters to pay for advertising.

Still, with the economic crunch, I've seen a LOT more younger people in TOPS than ever before, especially as Weight Watcher's gets more and more expensive.

08-04-2008, 10:36 PM
Hi Everyone,
Jo it is nice to meet you. Hope you enjoy going to your first meeting in a couple weeks. Enjoy your vacation!
Kaplods, how was your trip? I hope that you had a good weigh in this evening.
I was under the weather for a little bit last week. So I am hoping that my weigh in is a better one this week. Since I didn't get to get any excerise in until this evening, when I mowed the lawn for 2 hours.
Well I hope that you all have a wonderful week. Take care!
TOPS Hugs,

08-05-2008, 08:38 PM
Just got back a couple hours ago, so no weigh-in. The scale I took down broke (we think hitting some pretty rough potholes on the trip down might have had something to do with it). I'll weigh myself tomorrow morning to see if I gained during the trip. My guess is probably, but we'll see. I'm exhausted though and glad to be home.

08-05-2008, 08:43 PM
Sounds like you had a nice trip though. Hope you can get a good new scale soon. Those potholes are something else this year. Hope you get some rest. Here's to a good weigh in in the morning!
I went to TOPS tonight and lost 4 of the 5.25 pounds I gained last week. So I was tickled.
Here to a good week for us TOPS. I hope to be a KOPS in a year or two.
Take care.
TOPS Hugs,

08-12-2008, 03:54 PM
The trip was great (sorry I dropped the thread, I read it one night too tired to respond and forgot to pick it back up).

Congratulations on your loss! I still do have a good scale at home, we just no longer have a "spare" (we were keeping the scale in the car, because my hubby can't weigh on the TOPS scale yet). Now I tell hubby he has to be very careful with this scale, and remember to bring it in the house after the TOPS meeting.

Hubby turtled this week, and I lost 4.5 lbs! Well, actually only 2, because I forgot to log the 2.5 lb gain I had before vacation on my ticker. Still, I was VERY, VERY pleased.

I'm starting to feel like I can really do this. I know that with a 50 lb loss, you'd think that I would have proven to myself that I AM doing this, but my confidence is really a bit shaky (based on 35 years of only partial success). The most weight I have ever lost was 70 lbs (going from 225lbs to 155 lbs) in high school (and with the help of prescription diet pills). The most weight I lost 60 lbs on Nutristysem once (but would never want to do that again. The food wasn't so much bad, as extremely boring). And I lost 60 lbs in TOPS (my first experience with the group) after my herniated disc in 1993 or 1994.

I guess I won't feel that I'm "really" on the road to success until I've surpased the 75 lb "record." Though I've already surpassed my personal record for a "downward trend" of weight loss. The weight loss is a lot slower, but I've been at it a lot longer than EVER before.

I think the vacation was a real litmus test. I didn't really watch, so had the feeling of going "hog-wild" in terms of eating, but still almost unconsciously made better choices. I can't take that for granted, but it shows me that some choices have become habits, so ingrained that they're my new "normal."

08-27-2008, 03:18 PM
Hello again! I keep meaning to come back in here but time always seems to get away from me these days. Could I be getting old? :shrug: Nah! ;)

Actually, I was going to come in here and vent and ramble on about not receiving the TOPS brochure that I requested way back when. :tantrum: I'd actually gotten one before years and years ago when I thought about joining but never did. I was afraid TOPS wouldn't send me another one. Humph.

But I take it all back. The brochure/pamphlet arrived in the mail just yesterday. :cb: I've only had a chance to give it a once-over. Actually, Kaplods gave me more info than I could ever ask for!!! :hug: The original plan was to try the Wednesday evening meeting near me but, of course, I have an appt. and can't make it tonight. :rolleyes: The only other meeting that's an option is on a Tuesday night. So it looks like I'm going to have to wait until next week to look into it in person.

My fiance (who does all/most of the cooking in our house - how'd I get so lucky?) is still deciding whether he wants to join with me. He could stand to lose a few pounds but doesn't seem to have a problem in that area. (Figures, doesn't it? :snooty: ) Either way, I hope to be a TOPS member real soon. :cool:

Be talkin' to you both!

08-27-2008, 05:42 PM
Great! I love TOPS, and I hope you do too. I'm all psyched up for the Presidents Challenge - its an exercise contest/challenge that runs through the end of May of '09. Be sure to ask about it, if you don't get information on it, in your new member packet.

I attached a pedometer to my shoe, and it's really helping me get in a lot more walking. It's like I want to see if I can meet or break the record of the day before.