Losing pounds and gaining friends in Nevada County | TheUnion.com

Losing pounds and gaining friends in Nevada County

The team at TOPS, also known as Take Pounds Off Sensibly, from left, are Carol Cobai, treasurer; Wendy Detweiler, co-leader; Sharon Rodriguez, leader; Betty Klein, (who has reached her goal weight); and Jo Anne Main. The group is currently seeking new members.
Submitted by Terri Brodsky


What: TOPS Club, Inc. (Take Off Pounds Sensibly), Grass Valley Chapter 1739

WHEN: Weekly meetings from 10 to 11 a.m. Fridays

WHERE: Salvation Army, 10725 Alta St., Grass Valley

COST: $5 per month

INFORMATION: contact leader Sharon Rodriguez at 530-575-9325 or visit http://www.tops.org

Worried about her mother’s health, Terry Brodsky first signed up for TOPS Club, Inc. as something they could do together.

There turned out to be a significant benefit — she lost 35 pounds and her doctor took her off all medications. Also known as Take Off Pounds Sensibly, the nonprofit, non-commercial weight loss organization — established in 1948 — has for decades been quietly providing support to thousands of Americans who are eager to shed a few pounds.

Founded in 1976, the Grass Valley TOPS Chapter 1739, one of many chapters peppered around the United States, includes members who have stayed involved for more than 40 years. Those who have long since reached their goal tend to stay on as a way to consciously maintain a healthy weight, not to mention enjoy the longtime friendships that have evolved. But as members age, attendance has dwindled and those remaining are eager to get the word out to younger folks who are looking for an affordable tool for healthy living and weight management.

“Some of us have actually lost 100 pounds,” said Brodsky. “This group is mostly about accountability, support and nutritional education. We’re very much a social group and it’s the least expensive thing out there. The cost is $5 a month with an annual fee of $32.”

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Unlike many other weight loss programs, TOPS doesn’t pay celebrities to endorse their organization, nor do they promise quick fixes or promise unrealistic goals of the “perfect” body. The focus is solely on health, emphasized Brodsky.

“TOPS is not a weight-loss program. It is a weight-loss accountability group,” she said. “Each member follows a diet plan, or sensible eating plan, that works for them. We meet each Friday for a weigh-in, social interaction, support and programs geared toward weight loss and nutrition.”

The first visit is free and open to anyone who is interested in losing or maintaining weight. Activities include games, competitions, guest speakers, a weekly program and recognition for those who successfully take off pounds or keep them off. Meetings are from 10 to 11 a.m. every Friday at the Salvation Army in Grass Valley.

“People do much better at losing weight when they are in a support group,” said TOPS leader Sharon Rodriguez. “We offer guidelines for nutrition and exercise, but leave specifics up to the individual. TOPS has a website and magazine full of educational and nutritional material. We always react positively to weight losses and give encouragement to someone who has had a bad week.”

Meetings typically last an hour, and each member has a private weigh-in before the meeting. The group begins with members sharing challenges, successes or goals — only if they feel comfortable. Then there’s a brief program featuring professionally prepared programs covering a variety of health and wellness topics. Awards go to weekly or monthly “best losers,” contest winners, and members who have reached a goal. Meetings then close with a thought for the week, or an inspirational activity. Online memberships are also available at http://www.tops.org.

“If you’re 100 pounds overweight — that’s OK, no one here judges you,” said Brodsky. “I’ve been 50 pounds overweight. You’ll feel safe and supported at our meetings. We know that it’s a big challenge to lose a lot of weight, but this isn’t about depriving yourself and being miserable. Today my mom looks and feels better than she has in 10 years — and she’s made new friends. This program is saving lives.”

To contact Staff Writer Cory Fisher, email her at cory@theunion.com or call 530-477-4203.

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