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Local support group aims to lose weight sensibly
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Turlock residents who are serious about sticking to their resolution to lose weight and get fit have a local support group to help them reach their goals. Taking Off Pounds Sensibly (TOPS) is a non-profit organization that aims to help people lose weight sensibly and keep it off.
The Turlock chapter of TOPS has 24 members, and they are always accepting new members. The group meets every Wednesday morning, and they start with a private weigh-in. TOPS members share whether they have gained or lost weight in their group meeting, but they do not share how much weight was gained or lost. The “best loser” is recognized at every meeting as the member who has lost the most weight that week.
TOPS members read and discuss healthy weight literature every week, including “The Choice is Mine,” a TOPS publication. They encourage a balanced diet, and exercise, and they offer continued support.
“We don’t tell you what your goal weight is. You and your doctor decide that, and TOPS helps you reach it,” said Ginger Zelidon, Turlock TOPS chapter leader.
In addition to weight loss information, the group offers a support system. They recognize member birthdays, anniversaries, and illnesses. They send condolence cards, and visit sick members in the hospital.
In 2010 the Turlock TOPS chapter has joined the “slash and burn” challenge. Members are challenged to cut 100 calories from their diet and burn another 100 calories through exercise every day for the next six months. Members expect to lose about five pounds over the course of the challenge. TOPS believes that gradual weight loss is the key to keeping it off permanently.
Once members have met their goal weight, they become KOPS (Keeping Off Pounds Sensibly) members. Turlock TOPS chapter has nine KOPS out of their total 24 members. If KOPS gain or lose a significant amount of weight they are considered TOPS members again. One member has been a KOPS member for 23 years. TOPS recognizes KOPS members every year for keeping the pounds off. Every five years they are rewarded with a lavaliere or pendant.
Zelidon said that anyone interested in joining TOPS is invited to one free meeting. Members pay $26 in national dues annually, and an additional $5 a month to the Turlock chapter. The group meets every Wednesday, weigh-ins start at 8:45 a.m. and meetings start at 10 a.m. Meetings take place at First Baptist Church, 290 West Olive Ave. in Turlock, but the group is not church affiliated and welcomes all new members.
“We take all men, women, teens who want to join,” Zelidon said.
To contact Andrea Goodwin, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2003.