Local woman finds weight loss success through TOPS

Published 6:30 am Friday, December 16, 2016

Contributed Photo  Janice Stout, of Elizabethton, lost 100 pounds participating in the Take Off Pounds Sensibly (TOPS) program.

Contributed Photo
Janice Stout, of Elizabethton, lost 100 pounds participating in the Take Off Pounds Sensibly (TOPS) program.

The Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu once said “the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” and an Elizabethton woman used that philosophy along with her faith in God to make a positive change in her life.
After 10 months in the Taking Off Pounds Sensibly (TOPS) program, Janice Stout lost 100 pounds and reached her weight loss goal successfully. She was recently honored by the TOPS National program for her achievement.
This is the second time Stout has had weight loss success with the TOPS program.
“I became a member of TOPS in 1995 and lost an incredible amount of weight. After a while, I neglected to attend the weekly meetings. This was the worst mistake that I could have made. As a result, I gradually gained all my weight back and more,” Stout said. “At the age of 71 and a weight out of control at 225.4 pounds, I decided if I was to get my weight off once again, now was the time to return to my TOPS chapter. After being away for several years and realizing help was definitely needed for my weight loss journey, I joined TOPS once again May 4, 2015. I was welcomed with warm smiles and open arms by everyone.”
According to the organization’s website www.tops.org, TOPS is a nonprofit, noncommercial network of weight-loss support groups and wellness education organization. TOPS offers tools and programs for healthy living and weight management, with exceptional group fellowship and recognition. TOPS was established in 1948.
That fellowship and support is the core of the program, according to Stout, who said the encouragement she received helped give her the strength to make the changes she needed to make in her life.
“The encouragement is wonderful. Nobody looks down on people,” she said. “It’s just unbelievable the warmth and love you feel.”
“It’s one of the best things that’s ever happened to me.”
She also found tremendous support in her journey from her husband, Pastor Bobby Stout.
“He was such an encouragement to me,” she said. “He was my little cheerleader.”
Stout also attributes her success to God for giving her the strength to do what she needed to do and for putting people in her life who would help and encourage her. She adopted Philippians 4:13 which says “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” as her personal motto for her weight loss journey.
“Today, my success story can only be told because I claimed Philippians 4:13 as my scripture verse and God used my TOPS chapter members to encourage me every step of the way,” Stout said. “Without Him and those precious people, I could not have met my personal goal. Now my desire is to try to be as helpful to others along their path to success as my TOPS family afforded me.”
Stout said she knew in order to be successful she had to change her eating habits and begin an exercise program. She joined the Wellness Center here in Elizabethton and began walking.
“At first, I could only walk half of a mile, but it wasn’t very long until I was walking two miles each day. I currently walk two miles five or six days a week,” she said. “If I eat more than I should, I find it helpful to increase my exercise.”
“I have even become adventurous by getting on a bicycle,” Stout added. “That was an awkward feeling since I had not ridden one in at least 50 years.”
The nutrition education provided by TOPS helped her to make the needed changes to her eating habits.
“They don’t tell you what diet to be on, they just tell you what’s healthy,” Stout said. “The Food Exchange System provided a structure for which to create a healthy, balanced diet. My meals consisted of protein, vegetables, fruits, and bread, which kept me from actually getting hungry.”
“I avoided desserts and eating between meals, which was the most difficult change I had to make. Drinking lots of water and eliminating soft drinks became very helpful,” she added. “Learning to change different recipes to make them more healthy and appetizing became a fun experience. My motto became, ‘Eat to live and not live to eat.’”
Stout said she has always enjoyed eating,particularly sweets, which she said still have the potential to be a setback for her.
“If I get a piece of cake I want four or five pieces. That’s just how I am,” she said. Church socials and holiday festivals definitely posed a tremendous challenge, too, but I had to realize that my journey to success must be determined by me. So, I tried to look for healthy choices at those events and talk myself out of going to the dessert table. When I was successful, it would make me smile and feel good inside.”
Stout began her weight loss journey on May 4, 2015. Just 10 months later, on March 7, 2016, she reached her goal of losing 100 pounds. Upon reaching her goal, Stout graduated from being a TOPS member to being a KOPS (Keeping Off Pounds Sensibly) member.
“It is one thing for me to lose the weight, while it is another for me to learn how to maintain my weight loss. I must admit, I still at times have the same desires as before to eat all the sweets my stomach can hold. I tell myself, ‘only eat a small portion, you have come too far to look back,’” Stout said. “Continuing to attend TOPS weekly meetings with my chapter friends and knowing I am being weighed by someone else is a pivotal routine necessary for me to stay focused on a healthy lifestyle I long to maintain.”
Losing the weight has helped Stout to improve her health. Before rejoining TOPS, she was using an inhaler twice daily and wore a C-PAP machine at night. “Now I’m free of both, which has been a true blessing,” she said.
For those who want to lose weight, Stout said she recommends they join a TOPS chapter near them.
“It’s very affordable,” Stout said.
The annual fee to join TOPS is $33 for membership in the program and the local chapter has dues of $3 per month. The Elizabethton chapter meets on Monday nights at First Baptist Church, located at 212 E. F St., Elizabethton. Weigh in is held from 5:30-6:30 p.m. with the meeting to follow.

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