Sensible weight loss

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As you reach for that third cookie you know you shouldn’t eat, perhaps you would reconsider your need for it if you had to pay for the weight that extra cookie might help you to gain.

Take off Pounds Sensibly, a 65-year-old weight-loss program started by Esther Manz of Milwaukee, gently charges a penalty of $1 if you gain a pound or more since the last weigh-in. Manz created the program in 1948 after she and her friends sat at her kitchen table discussing their desire for better figures and better health. The program took off, eventually gaining national attention during the 1950s. The group’s principles have remained steadfast throughout six decades, encouraging members to lose weight sensibly.

“We just got our program off the ground again a few months ago,” said Cathy Goins, president of the Washington chapter of TOPS Club Inc. “We have fun at our meetings. We enjoy each other’s company, and we try hard to motivate one another to reach our goals, just like the founder originally intended.” The Washington chapter, which has about eight members, meets at noon every Wednesday at the Courthouse Square building in Washington. The members have their weigh-in and a brief meeting to discuss weight-loss tips and information. TOPS provides a weight-loss support system that fosters healthy eating, regular physical activity, wellness information, awards and recognition, and support from others at weekly chapter meetings.

“The best part of the program is the affordable cost,” said Goins, who in the past has lost up to 31 pounds on the TOPS program. The annual fee for TOPS membership is $28, plus a $5 per month fee for dues.

“There are no other fees required, unless a member gains weight,” said Goins. “If you gain one pound or 10, you never have to pay more than a dollar.”

Randi Marodi, who serves as the co-leader of the Washington chapter, said she began the program because it is cost-effective and she was seeking a program to make her accountable for her weight.

“We would like to grow our membership,” said Marodi. “Anyone is eligible to join. If you are looking for a support group to help you lose weight, then you can’t beat the price of this program. In the future, I hope to see our chapter reach out in new directions. If would be nice to get the group together to walk a few days per week and work exercise into our program, too. … We share a lot of useful ideas with each other. Before Christmas we shared concerns about high-calorie foods so we all exchanged healthy recipes to try if we got stuck. We always find ways to make it interesting.”

TOPS members also have access to the TOPS website, which provides weight-loss information and other useful links. Members who do not have time to attend weekly meetings can be an online member and keep in touch with other TOPS members through Facebook, e-mail or phone calls.

To learn more about the Washington chapter of TOPS, call Cathy Goins at 724-263-7456.

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