Losing weight the old-fashioned way

Forget fad diets or miracle drugs, area women say it's about nutrition and exercise

Forget fad diets or miracle drugs, area women say it's about nutrition and exercise

August 10, 2009|By CHRIS COPLEY

Sometimes a life-changing decision stems from a small thing.

The need to lose weight became clear for Cindy Ryder when she saw her grandsons growing up.

"I weighed 242 pounds," said Ryder, 61, a resident of Franklin County, Pa., just a mile and a half from Washington County. "I have seven grandsons. I wanted to keep up with them."

Ryder joined Maryland chapter 77 of TOPS -- Take Off Pounds Sensibly -- in January 2002. TOPS No. 77 meets every Monday morning at First Christian Church in Hagerstown.

After joining, Ryder dropped about 70 pounds. She has now shifted to maintaining her target weight.

"I like the way I look. I'm healthier -- I got off my blood-pressure medication," she said. "And I can keep up with my grandsons."


Beatrice Myers, who lives near Hagerstown, joined TOPS in January 2008. In six months, she lost 50 pounds. One key for her success: group support.

"We don't do this on our own," said Myers, 76. "I was embarrassed about my weight. But as soon as I came in the door, I felt welcome."

Losing weight and keeping it off is an individual struggle, according to member Barb Trumpower of Greencastle, Pa. One person's successful weight-loss technique might not work for another. That's what makes TOPS attractive to Trumpower.

"TOPS does not have a scheduled diet plan. Whatever works for me might not work for somebody else," she said.

The weight-loss group provides support for the process of losing weight.

"I have not received my goal weight," Trumpower said. "It's a day-to-day struggle, especially when you hit a plateau. You can get discouraged. It's nice to be in an organization where people support each other."

Lose weight; change your life

There is no shortcut to losing weight. It begins with making a decision. Then, set a goal and find a technique that works.

Ryder said TOPS requires new members to work with their doctor to set a target weight.

"To have a goal weight, it has to be on a doctor's prescription (form)," she said.

Then comes the hard part: Follow through. Ryder exercised daily and ate smaller servings. Food was a particular challenge.

"For somebody who likes to eat a lot, like me, it's hard," she said. "I really watch my portions now. I love lemon meringue. I could eat a huge piece, but I just can't do that."

Once TOPS members reach their goal weight, they shift to a weight-maintenance program. Maintaining weight takes as much work as losing weight, Ryder said.

One thing that helps is the support of others.

"Everyone in our group, we help each other. We send cards or call," she said. "I think that's why we're so successful. I am very much for support groups. I can see where they really help -- where you have a common purpose."

Myers said losing weight has improved her health significantly.

"My blood pressure and cholesterol came down," she said. "I had a lot of back problems. I just figured not carrying that weight around would help it and it has."

But losing weight also affected her ordinary, everyday life.

"Housework is a lot easier. I can run the sweeper better. I climb the ladder to do windows," she said. "My kids call (my TOPS meeting day) my fun day."

If you go ...

WHAT: Take Off Pounds Sensibly (TOPS) Md. 77


WHERE: First Christian Church, 1345 Potomac Ave., Hagerstown

CONTACT: Call Donna Blackowitz at 301-223-8143 or Patsy Price at 301-582-2292.

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