Holiday Island man loses big with TOPS

Thursday, June 7, 2018

A group of seniors met at the Holiday Island Country Club on Wednesday morning and snacked on popcorn and strawberries while laughing together, but the point of the meeting wasn’t to eat. It was about how to eat better.

Holiday Island’s TOPS (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) Club meets at 8 a.m. every Wednesday to work on weight-loss support and wellness education. This week’s lesson was on “mindful eating,” focusing on taking smaller bites and eating slower to help with digestion and prevent overeating.

The club members weighed in before the meeting and shared their personal progress during the roll call, applauding every member who said they had lost a few pounds since the last meeting. The TOPS club then tallied up the individual members’ progress for the club’s “net weight gain” that month.

For the members, losing weight is a team effort.

William Schroeder of Holiday Island said this atmosphere and drive in the club is what helped him drop 40 pounds and be named the 2018 Arkansas King by TOPS Club, Inc.

According to a press release from TOPs, the nonprofit weight-loss support organization unveils its male and female “royalty” each year to recognize men and women who at the end of the year have officially recorded the largest weight loss from their starting weight, regardless of the time taken to reach their goal.

“The two biggest things the club does for you are the accountability and the support,” Schroeder said. “We’ve got some pretty simple rules, and our goal is from being the primary source of everything. Especially in a retirement community like this, so many events are based around food.”

He said he originally joined TOPS to support his wife, Mary, who had a hereditary weight issue she wanted to address.

“There are a lot of issues that can affect your weight, and hereditary issues are one example,” Schroeder said. “You also have to be mentally fit to be able to do this. I find that a lot of people who seem to be struggling with weight have depression or other mental health issues.”

He said this was true in his case as well.

“I had a slight depression problem related to a chemical imbalance,” Schroeder said. “I fixed it with medication, and that helped me with losing weight. You won’t get through these issues by yourself.”

According to the release, TOPS offers an individual approach to weight loss and overall wellness. Consistent group support, health education and recognition are all key components to successful weight management, it says.

The organization was founded in 1984, the release says, and is the only nonprofit, noncommercial weight-loss organization of its kind. It says TOPS promotes successful weight management with a “Real People, Real Weight Loss” philosophy that combines support from others at weekly chapter meetings, healthy eating, regular exercise and wellness information.

Schroeder said TOPS offers many incentives to encourage weight loss. At each meeting, he said the club members put a quarter in a cup, and the member who has lost the most weight that month wins the money. There is also a challenge bag filled with prizes, he said. The bag is filled with new items by the previous owner, and the new recipient wins the gifts inside if they lose weight four weeks in a row. The club then pays the member $10 to refill the bag and pass the challenge on to someone new, he said.

Schroeder said club members who reach and maintain their weight at their goal level become KOPS (Keeps Off Pounds Sensibly) members, giving them extra recognition to help encourage other members in the club.

“As you get older, you’ll discover activity is important,” he said. “I’m a driver, so I ended up driving a desk for the last three to four years. The idea is to keep your awareness and try at our age to stay physically healthy so you feel better and contribute to society better.”

Schroeder said he received his sash and crown at the TOPS State Recognition Day in April and will represent Arkansas at the International Recognition Day this summer.

“From my perspective, I didn’t really do that special a thing. TOPS has the awards called ‘recognitions,’ and the idea is you have accomplished something and they want to celebrate it,” he said. “I realized what I had done was not as much for me but was to show the members of the group what could be done. I realized being an example was important.”

Carroll County has two TOPS Club chapters. The Holiday Island chapter meets at 8 a.m. every Wednesday in the bottom of the Holiday Island Country Club.

The Berryville chapter meets at 4 p.m. every Monday at the United Methodist Church of Berryville on Highway 62. National yearly dues are $32, which includes a national magazine and $3 chapter dues. For more information, contact Jean Vance at 870-350-6888 or Delphia Smith at 870-423-2492.

“TOPS is a real necessity for our community and a great support group,” said Vance.

To find a local chapter near you, view Tops.org or call 800-932-8677.

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