Tombstone has its own version of television’s “The Biggest Loser” through a local weight loss support group called Taking Off Pounds Sensibly.
Taking Off Pounds Sensibly, or TOPS, is a national organization that supports weight loss and encourages a healthy lifestyle through weight management support groups. Tombstone has a TOPS chapter that had its first anniversary on Sept. 28.
Mary Roach, a five-year resident of Tombstone, had a vision a year ago to begin a Tombstone TOPS chapter. Roach, 67 moved from Benson six years ago and felt an absence in her life.
“I missed the companionship and common interest we all had,” Roach said of her Benson TOPS chapter. “There was camaraderie because we shared the same goals.”
Roach decided a year ago that a TOPS chapter in Tombstone would not only be convenient and beneficial to her, but also for the people of Tombstone.
Roach and her husband started The Gift of Giving Thrift Store when they moved to Tombstone. Their store eventually became the meeting place for TOPS in 2008. The six women, who are members, meet once a week on Tuesday nights from 6 to 7 p.m.
Roach runs the weekly lessons, gives tips, holds contests and offers advice to the members. Roach said each week the women weigh themselves in order to keep their national chapter status constituted by TOPS.
“At about 6:30 p.m. we have a business meeting to discuss ways to become healthier, including keeping a healthy diet, how to read labels, what to look for in the grocery store and exercise hints,” Roach said. “This is not a big time commitment each week but it will help you to be healthier.”
The exercise motto for the Tombstone TOPS chapter is “Just move,” Roach said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s 10 steps or an hour, moving will help you shed the excess pounds.”
TOPS helps members stay fit because they have a support group in order to stay on track and reach healthy lifestyle goals together rather than it being a solo effort. Each month one TOPS member is awarded the best loser of the month, and last month was Yvonne Lefebvre. Lefebvre, 58, joined TOPS in September and because she lost the most weight she was the best loser of the month.
“I want and need to lose weight,” Lefebvre said. “I’m going to keep doing my best and walk a lot more.”
One Tombstone woman has seen the positive effects of TOPS over one year’s time. Susan Hawksworth, 51, is now considered a TOPS member because she is consistently Keeping Off the Pounds Sensibly. “I got my goal weight and I have to maintain that,” said Hawksworth, who keeps herself accountable by coming to the weekly meetings. Hawksworth has changed her lifestyle but still depends on TOPS.
“Weighing in every week keeps you in a certain pound range,” she said.
Roach said Hawksworth is a great role model for the other members and she Hawksworth has learned a lot about losing weight through TOPS.
“It is a whole lifestyle change, there is no crazy diet or magic pill, you have to eat less and move more,” Hawksworth said, adding that the members “feed off each other” and the constant support from the other TOPS members has been very helpful. TOPS costs $52 to join in Tombstone, or less than $5 a month.
“Something like Weight Watchers can be really expensive for someone with low income,” Hawksworth said, adding that she feels TOPS is worth the cost. “Come see us, you don’t have to pay for the first meeting.”
The Tombstone chapter has put together a variety of five gift baskets that will be sold at the American Legion this Saturday to raise funds for their group. TOPS will also hold an informational meeting at the Tombstone Community Church from noon to 2 p.m. on Saturday Nov. 10.
“Fads and diets don’t work, but The Biggest Loser is one of the best things I have ever seen on TV,” Roach said. “They are learning what it’s like to live a healthy lifestyle.”