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Local woman sheds more than 100 pounds

July 19, 2010|By TIFFANY ARNOLD
  • Elsie Horst, above, has lost 130 pounds by going to TOPS, Take Off Pounds Sensibly.
Photos by Colleen McGrath/Staff Photographer,

Elsie Horst's on-again, off-again relationship with weight loss had reached its breaking point.

In 2006, Horst carried nearly 300 pounds on her 5-foot, 2-inch frame. She also had diabetes and other weight-related illnesses.

"It was the heaviest I had ever been," said Horst, 67, who lives near Maugansville.

"Something had to be done," she said.

Horst set out to lose the weight the old-fashioned way - no surgery, magic diet or fad fitness regimen. Instead, Horst said, she discovered the missing link from years of gaining and losing weight.

"What you need is the support from other people," she said.

So far, she's lost 130 pounds.

Horst is a member of a weight-loss group called TOPS, Take Off Pounds Sensibly. TOPS is a nonprofit weight loss support group established in 1948 that promotes sustainable weight management.

TOPS does not promote specific diets or paths to weight loss. Sometimes, eating well and exercising aren't enough, Horst said.

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Horst said she's struggled with weight all her life. She comes from a family of seven children. She said all her family members had weight issues.

"I guess you could say I came from a big family," Horst said.

She grew up on a farm near present-day Grace Academy. While farm work kept her active, she said her family ate fatty foods.

"It was meat and potatoes every day, mush and puddins, things like that," Horst said.

Today, she eats six small meals a day. For meats, she eats boneless, skinless chicken, fish or turkey. She said she eats plenty of veggies and drinks 64 ounces of water daily.

"I use very little salt and I don't fry foods," she said.

Snacking is a trespassing thought.

That wasn't the case when she first got married to Leonard Horst in 1963.

"When we got married, I always loved to eat and she was a good cook," her husband said.

Elsie, a housewife, baked cakes as a hobby for her family to eat.

Elsie and Leonard Horst said they gained weight throughout the marriage, but Leonard said he had an easier time shedding it than his wife. Elsie Horst said her weight really didn't become a problem until she started having children. They had five children, though one of their sons died.

"I gained between 75 and 80 pounds," Elsie Horst said. She was never able to drop the weight after pregnancy.

By 1977, Horst said she weighed 225 pounds. That's the year she first joined TOPS.

Horst had read a newspaper story about a woman named Arbutus Hollinger - a woman who lost weight through TOPS for a wedding.

"I thought if she could do it, I could do it," Horst said.

Two years after joining TOPS, Horst said she was down to 165 pounds. She stopped going to TOPS meetings after she lost the weight.

"I figured I didn't need them any more," She said. "That was a joke."

She went back and forth for years, loosing and gaining weight, joining and rejoining TOPS - a pattern that continued at least six times Horst said.

By 2006, Horst weighed 274 pounds, the most she has ever weighed. So she rejoined TOPS and soon rediscovered the missing link, "the encouragement you get from your friends."

She's been going to meetings ever since. "I've never lost this much weight before," Horst said.

Her husband and family have also been supportive, Elsie said. Leonard said because of his wife, their children have been inspired to lose weight. Their youngest son, Leavitt, recently decided he wanted to lose weight.

"He's seen what mom has done," Leonard Horst said.

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