When Wendy Hughes went with a friend to the Lennoxville TOPS club, she had one simple goal.
“I wanted to lose some weight,” the Lennoxville Resident shared, explaining that upon seeing the weight loss results of her friend, she felt it couldn’t hurt to give the meeting a try. One year later, she was being crowned the weight loss Queen of Quebec after having shed nearly 44 pounds. “I went for myself, to lose weight, and ended up on a trip to Reno, Nevada.”
TOPS stands for Take Off Pounds Sensibly and is an international non-profit organization with a strong base in Canada and the United States. Though the group is just one more in a sea of weight loss clubs groups, and programs in operation today, Hughes said that what appeals to her about the organization is its simplicity and positive approach.
“It’s just eating healthy, watching what I ate, and exercising,” the Queen of Quebec explained “You learn to take care of yourself.”
Barb Cady,President of TOPS Club Inc., explained that the “sensible” aspect of tops comes from an approach grounded in current research on obesity and a reliance on doctors to set reasonable weight loss goals.
“Our mission is to support people as they develop a healthy lifestyle and learn to get a handle on weight issues,” Cady said. “Anyone who tells you that there is a single plan that works effectively for every individual is grossly misinformed. There are just too many variables, and that is the reason why we ask every one of our members to please consult with their physicians. Every one of us is unique.
The TOPS President said that the focus of the organization, since its founding in 1948, has been rewarding simple steps in weight loss to help promote long-lasting success, but also recognizing and rewarding those KOPS who can “Keep off pounds sensibly.”
“Almost everyone knows how to lose weight in the short term, it’s sustaining that weight loss in the long term that is really the huge challenge,” Cady said. “That involves change for a lifetime that you’re going to be happy with.
“It’s not about deprivation, but about learning to eat differently,” Hughes said. “It’s all about taking care of yourself.”
Hughes said that a big part of the success of the program for her is the solidarity of the weekly support group.
“It’s a nice time to get together with people who all have something in common,” she shared, explaining that the meetings generally involve a weigh in and discussion of one good habit or another that might benefit members’ lifestyles. “We help each other out.”
Hughes also noted that the popularity of the program is growing in the area. When she began in 2013, the Lennoxville group only had seven or eight members but now, she said, it is up to 24 and a second group has started to meet on a different day.
Asked what advice she had for those struggling with their waistlines, Hughes said that determination is the hardest part.
“Don’t give up,” the Queen of Quebec said. “Keep at it.”
According to TOPS almost 17% of the adult population in Quebec is obese.