I have been battling my weight since I was 12. I have tried different diets and nothing seemed to motivate me. In August 2008 one of my girlfriends asked me to attend a TOPS meeting. I had no idea what it was. I just figured it was another diet that I would try and end up failing once again. I attended my first meeting. There were no strict diets, shakes, pills, or extreme exercises. I really couldn’t grasp what TOPS would be able to do for me. I just didn’t get it. I didn’t go back for the next three months. I was 38 years old, 5’ 3” and weighed 248.5 lbs. I had Type 2 diabetes, back pain, and couldn’t walk up a flight of stairs without being out of breath. I was tired all the time. I was addicted to food and would always say to myself, “Oh I’ll start my diet tomorrow.”
I am a mother of five amazing children. From the day that they were born I focused my life completely on my kids. I made sure that all their needs were met. When I needed emotional support I would use food for comfort. One day in December my husband Richard mentioned to me that my oldest son was worried about me. Jon had told Richard that he couldn’t take the loss of another parent. Back in 2002 my children lost their father. He was only 41 and died of a heart attack. It was a devastating loss and I found myself using food as comfort more and more. So when I heard those words, “he couldn’t bear to lose me,” something finally clicked. I thought, “If I don’t take care of myself, I won’t be around to watch my kids grow up, graduate, get married, and have children of their own.”
That day on December 6, I hit the brakes and got off that dangerous road I had been on for 26 years. I took my first step towards a new journey and went back to TOPS. I figured out very quickly that TOPS is not a diet. It’s a program that educates you on living a healthier life, making better choices, and supporting you through it all. I remember the second week I was really struggling. I went to open the mail and there was a letter from one of my TOPS members. I opened it and the first sentence read, “Bonnie, you’re doing great.” It was exactly what I needed to get me through.
I also found that weighing in at my chapter meeting every Monday night really helped me. At first I was terrified about having to do this. But again, it was one of those lessons I learned. I needed to be accountable and after awhile I looked forward to weighing in. Our weight recorders are so valuable to our success at TOPS. They are the people who get excited every week when we lose and continue to encourage us when we have a gain. Their support is endless.
TOPS also has an award system consisting of certificates, charms, and necklaces. When I received my first certificate for losing 4.5 lbs. my children were so proud of me. Every Monday night after a meeting my kids would be waiting to ask, “How did you do Mom?” They were there to cheer me on every week. My husband has been at my side throughout, always supporting me and believing in me. He has watched my physical and emotional transformation and continues to encourage me. He would give me “that look,” leave me a letter, or challenge me to a game of tennis. He has and continues to be my rock. We are not alone on this journey. We have so many people to help us along the way.
I used to dread even the word exercise. My son and I were walking up this very steep hill. I remember looking over at him and saying, “I can’t do it.” Drill Sergeant Jon looked straight at me and pushed me up that hill. He never gave up on me. I will not say it was easy. It was a lot of hard work but hearing my son say, “Mom, you can do this,” made me work even harder. I have slowly started changing the way I think of exercise. While I am walking with my son, playing tennis with my husband, or swimming with the kids I am not worrying about the stresses of life. I don’t think of exercise as a punishment any more. I think of it as my stress-free time.
People ask me now, “How did you lose the weight?” I proudly tell them I joined TOPS Chapter 327 in Richmond, MO and was welcomed in with open arms. I drink a lot of water, lowered my sodium intake, cut and burn calories, and attend my chapter meetings. I walk in those doors every Monday to face those scales and am thankful I do because there, I learn something new that I can apply to a healthier lifestyle. I’ve reached my goal and lost 105 lbs. I went from a size 22 to a size 8. No more back pain, no more medicine, and I have a lot more energy to enjoy life again.
I am now a KOPS (Keeping Off Pounds Sensibly). My husband and daughter have also joined TOPS. I will now be at their side cheering them on.
Way to go Bonnie. We are so inspired by your amazing success with TOPS. Click Here for more information on TOPS.