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Local group provides weight loss support
TOPS pic
The Turlock chapter of TOPS, a weight-loss support group, recently installed their new officers: Nina Zyistra, Weight Recorder; Jeanie Klotzer, Assistant Weight Recorder; Melba Campodonica, Treasurer; Andrea Hawkes, Secretary; Linda Boyd, Co-Leader and Bernadette Sims, Leader. - photo by ANGELINA MARTIN/The Journal

Losing weight is a struggle for some, but thanks to support groups like Take Off Pounds Sensibly, shedding those extra pounds can be a fun and enriching experience.

Founded in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, TOPS is a lifestyle weight-loss support group and wellness education organization that has helped millions of people reach their goal weights — all without an official diet plan, supplements or prepackaged food.

“I joined TOPS because I had a weight problem and I wanted to become healthy,” said Turlock TOPS leader Bernadette Sims. “It has helped me.”

Members of TOPS attend weekly meetings where they participate in a private weigh-in, share whether they have gained or lost weight and go over educational literature provided by the TOPS organization. TOPS members also receive a monthly magazine called TOPS News that offers healthy recipes, weight-loss incentive plans and inspirational testimonials. Much of the content provided is motivational, said Sims, and discusses nutrition and attitude toward weight loss, as well as tips, facts and demonstrations.

“Sometimes we’ll demonstrate how much sugar is in different foods by pouring the sugar into a jar,” said Sims. “At the end, you’ve got an amazing amount of sugar and it shows how much is really in our food.”

The group also gives out monthly awards, such as “Best Loser” and “Best Backslider,” referring to someone who may not have lost weight for some time, but has rebounded in their efforts. Those who achieve their weight loss goal (each member’s goal is discussed and decided upon with a doctor) graduate into Keeping Off Pounds Sensibly, or KOPS. KOPS members still attend weekly meetings and are encouraged to maintain their weight loss.

TOPS has a team of officers that preside over each meeting: Leader, Co-Leader, Secretary, Treasurer, Weight Recorder and Assistant Weight Recorder. New officers were installed at the Turlock chapter’s July 27 meeting in a special ceremony.

The Turlock TOPS chapter meets from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. every Wednesday at First Baptist Church, 290 W. Olive St. New members are welcome; for more information, visit or contact Sims at 209-262-7437.