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Local Weight Loss Group Off And Running
Local TOPS (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) Program Treasurer, Shirley Wincentsen, left, and Leader, Shirley Watson sit at their station as they check in members for the weekly Monday meeting. Teresa Hammond/The Leader

One need not have a lot of money or a ton of time to achieve a healthy lifestyle and take off pounds in the 2019 year. That’s the message from the members of Oakdale’s TOPS – Take Off Pounds Sensibly – group as they enter into their 51st year of changing lives, one pound and one person at a time.

According to Publicity Chair Audrey Oliver, Oakdale’s TOPS Chapter first began in March of 1968. Close to 51 years later, the group continues to meet each Monday at the Community United Methodist Church, 1480 Poplar St., Oakdale. Weigh-ins and check-in is from 8:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. followed by a group meeting.

“We have a program each week, regarding different things,” Oliver said, “either menus, nutrition or exercise. There’s always a program, items of interest.”

Oliver herself first became acquainted with the group in 2015, following completion of the Oakdale Lions Don Osborne Memorial Run. An event she recounts as both inspiring, as well as eye-opening.

“It was raining and it was nasty and I was heavy,” Oliver said of the weather and her physical condition for the first race.

She went on to enlist the help of TOPS to shed pounds, and also made the run an annual event for herself.

The TOPS group membership fluctuates between 20 and 25 annually. Of those members, approximately 10, including Oliver, participate in the Osborne Memorial Run. This year, Oliver is excited to have family members join them as well. While most members opt to run the one mile distance, one member’s husband will take on the 5k, with other family members following suit.

Oliver shared the run has proven to be a nice extension for the group members to not only share a goal, but an event beyond their Monday meetings.

“It becomes like part of a family,” she said of the group. “You become very close to each other. It’s very rewarding.”

In so doing, they become a support for one another not just in weight loss, but in life. So much so, that some members have been a part of the group through the decades.

“The camaraderie and staying active and being aware,” Oliver noted as the key points for staying committed to the TOPS group. “Being aware of your body and the things you need to do. Everyone is so supportive.”

TOPS is open to all ages and genders. The group meets each Monday for a nominal cost of $5 a month per person. A national fee of $32 annually is also charged to members, which includes a subscription to TOPS News magazine. For additional information on TOPS or to join the group for the Osborne Run this year on Saturday, Feb. 2, Oliver can be reached at 209-756-7838.