On Saturday, Oct. 21, and Friday, Sept. 29, Taking Off Pounds Sensibly (TOPS) celebrated its respective 75th anniversary nationally and 58th anniversary locally.
Taking Off Pounds Sensibly is a national, nonprofit organization that focuses on building communities focused on taking steps towards healthy living over time as evidenced by their mission statement: “To help and support our members as they Take Off and Keep Off Pounds Sensibly.” Chapters meet weekly for weigh-ins and a workout, although they now support members who set goals unassociated with numbers on a scale.
Artesia’s chapter currently has six members who meet on Wednesday mornings from 9-10:30am at the Senior Center, not because the group is for seniors only, but because all current members are in their 70’s and above. Carol Focken, current chapter leader, said all members of the community are welcome. Right now the style of exercise is usually low-impact, but attendees interested in something more challenging would be welcomed with open arms.
For the women of TOPS, its all about the support system of a community. Every member who spoke with the Press used the words “fellowship”, “encouragement” and “support.”
Karen Mendenhall (treasurer), who joined TOPS “close to 30 years” ago, said TOPS “has kept me in check. I have some health issues and being able to get input from others and weekly support” has made a positive impact on her life.
Betty Jo Allen said of TOPS, “It’s practically saved my life. I was so overweight […] If it hadn’t been for TOPS I’d probably weigh over 300 pounds […] That’s the deal is encouragement, with TOPS.”
Focken said her “overall health has gotten better because she has been able to lose weight despite complications.”
This tracks with the national organization’s website where it states “It all comes down to accountability, lasting friendships, and leaning on the people who are in similar shoes.”
Joining TOPS costs only $35 annually for national dues, minimal weekly dues, and monthly donation to the Senior Center to help cover the cost of printing and other resources provided by the center.
Anyone interested in learning more about TOPS can contact Carole Focken or Caryle Goss at 575-748-1207 and start Taking Off Pounds Sensibly.
Current members include Focken, Mendenhall, Allen, Lynda Baldwin, Connie Jo Lewis and Jeannine Null.