Has anyone ever tried TOPS????

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  • Hello All, I am new here-been mostly lurking for the last few days.
    I have been off and on Weight Watchers for years and I guess it just hasn't really clicked with me so I have been looking into other programs. Has anyone here ever done TOPS? Wondering what your expereince with it has been. Thanks so much for reading this post and helping me (in advance)
  • A friend of mine has done TOPS, and she swears by it. It is much cheaper than other programs, and you get that weekly support from other members that is so important. They allow you to follow any plan that you want (I think). I'm pretty sure they give you some soret of guidelines if you don't have a specific plan that you want to follow. If you have a local chapter, go check it out. I'm considering doing the same thing sometime. Good luck!!
  • I joined a TOPS chapter in central Illinois in the mid 90's and lost over 60 lbs. Then I moved for my job and didn't like the TOPS group in that area as much and dropped out (Big mistake. I think in hindsight I was looking for an excuse, because I could have tried another local group, gotten used to the group I was in, or even driven the hour to my old group).

    My husband and I joined one of our local TOPS chapters in August. Annual dues are $24 for a single person and $36 for a couple and include a monthly magazine subscription. Local dues vary, but in most are under $5 per person per month (ours are $3). You can follow any plan that you'd like, and if you don't have a plan, the officially endorsed plan is an exchange plan (you can buy a manual for $15 called The Choice is Mine that explains the plan and gives lots of great tips. You can usually borrow it before deciding if you want to buy it).

    Many of our members are former WW members, and still using points. The main difference between TOPS and WW meetings (other than the price) are that TOPS meetings are self-governing. There are national rules and guidelines that each chapter has to follow, but each chapter votes on it's own policies and procedures. Usually after weigh-in, at the start of the meeting, the weight recorder announces how many people lost, gained and what those losses and gains were. Our group charges a dime fine for each pound gained, and doubles the fines on meetings after holidays or a meeting after the club has had a net gain (more weight gained by the group than lost). Then we go around the room and say whether we lost or gained. This sounds intimidating to some people, but everyone is very nice. When you lose or maintain, everyone claps, and when you gain everyone says "we're glad you came," and I can tell you that I doubt that anyone could even tell you who lost or gained except themselves, and maybe the biggest loser, because the person who lost the most for the week takes home all of the fine money collected (usually a few dollars at most).

    Although every chapter is different, most do some kind of biggest loser contest every week, and often other small contests that are optional. One our chapter does is that everyone who wants to play puts in a dollar, then a grid is drawn on a piece of paper and every week if you lose, you can sign a square. When the page is full (usually takes at least a month), the squares are cut a part for a drawing. The winner takes the money that was collected. Another we do is an exercise contest. Again, everyone who wants to participate puts in a dollar at the beginning of the contest. Then each week for every day that a person exercised at least 20 minutes, they can sign a slip of paper and put it in the can. After six weeks, a name is drawn from the can, so the more you exercise, the greater your chances of winning.

    When I joined TOPS the first time, I thought the games and contests were a bit lame, but it's surprising how motivating they can be. In our group, each time a member loses 10 lbs, they can choose between a charm for a charm bracelet or free monthly dues.

    There are also periodic recognition events, retreats (attendance is not mandatory), annual awards, etc...

    Once you've lost all of your weight, you achieve KOPS status (keeping off pounds sensibly), and most groups either discount or give KOPS members free local dues (subject to certain requirements. I think KOPS members are required to weigh-in 15 times in a year).

    It's really a great organization, and I can't say enough good things about it.
  • Tammy and Kaplod, thank you so much for the information. Quick question-if you gain weight during a week do you have to pay a fine? I am a little confussed on that.
    Thanks so much!!!
  • It depends on the group. The three groups I've been in (two in central IL and one in WI) do charge fines for weight gain. One group charged a nickel per pound gained, another a dime, and one group charged a quarter no matter how much the gain was. In all groups, a little basket was passed or left on the table for people to slip their fines into. It's done without fuss or even notice, so it's not like anyone is going to know how much you gained unless you tell them.
  • One thing I have to say that I love about my TOPS chapters has been the acknowledgement that gains happen and are not always a sign that you're doing badly. When I belonged to WW, if I had a gain, I felt like a complete criminal (and that I'd thrown my money away for the week). In TOPS, even though there's a small fine for a gain, it's not treated like you've done something terrible. The younger women sometimes jokingly complain that they're donating to the biggest loser at least once a month (because of water weight gain with TOM), and the older women laugh that it's one of the few benefits of menopause.
  • kaplods-thanks again for that info. Boy, that shift in mindset about gaining could really help. On WW the humiliation of gaining nearly killed me once a month. Thanks again and good luck with your weight loss journey!!!!
  • Thanks dollyfinn, same to you.

    I think the TOPS "we're in this together" tends to be stronger than WW, because the groups are self-governing. The leaders aren't appointed, or hired, they're voted in, and anyone can be a leader (even if you have the most weight to lose and are losing it the slowest).

    My husband and I are new to our chapter (about 6 months in) and we were voted in as officers last month. I'm now co-leader and he is treasurer (a surprise nomination and even a bigger surprise that he accepted it). I'm really excited about this, because the responsibility gives me an extra push to be at the meeting every week.

    If you join, there is also a TOPS thread here, just search on it and you should find it.
  • Hi - are any of you ladies still going to TOPS? I am joining tonight & would like to find a TOPS thread for support.
  • Yep, I'm still going. In fact, last meeting we were talking about finding ways to improve our motivation, and I was looking through the websites of other TOPS chapters (I found the links through the tops.org site) and the contests they do. It gave me a cool idea for a contest for my chapter. I'm going to present it at the next meeting if I have all the prep-work done.

    I've just started experimenting with freeform crochet (designing as you go, sometimes compared to "painting with crochet). I'm making an afghan that is supposed to look like a sandy bottom of a lake. I've got the background of the afghan about 2/3 done. Then I'm going to crochet a bunch of fish ( probably 5 or 6 fish per member, each set in a different color), and give each member their fish. Each week, members who have lost will get to put a fish on the blanket with safety pins, and I'll sew them to the blanket (so everyone will have a chance to participate in the design of the afghan).

    I haven't decided how I'm going to decide the winner (the first person to get rid of all their fish, the person who has the most fish on the blanket after 6 weeks, or let everyone get an entry in a drawing for each fish they put on the blanket), but the winner will get the finished afghan.

    I've never done a freeform piece before, so I'm a little nervous. Hubby says it does look like sand on the bottom and swirling water above, but I'm still a little skeptical. I think once I add the seaweed and water plants into the design, I'll have a better idea of whether it looks cool or goofy.
  • testing only
  • Psychologically, no matter how nice they were about it, and no matter how low the fine, a fine for a gain would be terrible to me. I am now losing around 6 or less pounds a month, and that means the water retained during TOM shows as a gain, *every* month. It has nothing to do with a real gain. It would be very, very weird to work to tell myself I've done nothing wrong and I'm right on track, but I owe a fine, however nominal.
  • I work really hard to keep the negative mind games out of my weight loss, and I'm mostly successful, though it has taken practice.

    A lot of dieting advice recommends avoiding the things that make you feel ashamed about your weight - instead of telling you to avoid the shame itself.

    I weigh myself daily, I pay my fines at TOPS without guilt, and I recite the "how foolish I have been," line in the TOPS pledge (which TOPS has taken out of the pledge, but my TOPS group decided they wanted to keep), even though I don't think I was foolish at all - my priorities were just different.

    I realized that only I can make myself feel badly about my weight, and that I can choose to reframe any negative thought.

    I'm not sure how I feel about the fines as a potentially negative thing. When I was younger, I tended to beat myself up for any gain. Oddly enough even when I first started TOPS, paying for my gain made it easier somehow - sort of like "I've paid my debt." A dime a pound was pretty cheap to buy a clean conscience.

    It is all in how you look at it, and surprisingly you have more control over how you look at it than you think.
  • That brings back memories that have nothing to do with the current topic but grinworthy to share-my mom used to belong way back in the 60's and 70's. Back then her group gave a magnet every week, if you gained you got a pig magnet and if you lost you got a skinny pretty girl magnet. You took your magnet back each week and after weigh-in got another magnet.

    I don't know why she kept going because she mostly brought home the pig and seldom the skinny girl. I don't remember what it was for maintaining.
    She'd be so discouraged, she'd take us all for a banana split at the DQ.

    Sarah in MD
  • Quote: I work really hard to keep the negative mind games out of my weight loss, and I'm mostly successful, though it has taken practice.

    A lot of dieting advice recommends avoiding the things that make you feel ashamed about your weight - instead of telling you to avoid the shame itself.

    I weigh myself daily, I pay my fines at TOPS without guilt, and I recite the "how foolish I have been," line in the TOPS pledge (which TOPS has taken out of the pledge, but my TOPS group decided they wanted to keep), even though I don't think I was foolish at all - my priorities were just different.

    I realized that only I can make myself feel badly about my weight, and that I can choose to reframe any negative thought.

    I'm not sure how I feel about the fines as a potentially negative thing. When I was younger, I tended to beat myself up for any gain. Oddly enough even when I first started TOPS, paying for my gain made it easier somehow - sort of like "I've paid my debt." A dime a pound was pretty cheap to buy a clean conscience.

    It is all in how you look at it, and surprisingly you have more control over how you look at it than you think.
    I can understand that with actual real gains. I just can't see paying a fine for getting my period.