If you’re looking for a low-cost weight loss support organization similar to the Weight Watchers model with local chapters across the country, based on regular foods, then TOPS (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) might be for you. Take our Diet Wizard to find out whether TOPS is the best diet plan for you. Our objective diet analysis examines your lifestyle, food preferences, and budget, and reviews your needs versus organizations like TOPS, commercial chains, medical plans, and other popular celebrity diets. Then BestDietForMe.com provides you with unbiased and in-depth reports on your matches, complete with detailed reviews of diet programs like this to help you choose a diet plan that’s right for you…
(Take Off Pounds Sensibly)
Type of Counseling: small group counseling, by motivational group leaders
Typical Cost: under $100 ($20 membership plus $1/weekly meeting)
Type Program: national non-profit support group
Type of Foods Used: regular grocery store food
At-Home Direct Mail Plan Available? No
TOPS Club, Inc.
4575 South 5th Street
Milwaukee, WI 53207
TOPS is the first non-profit, non-commercial weight-loss education and support organization. This is an established and respected organization founded in 1948. It operates 10,000 independent chapters located in the United States and Canada, and currently has over 200,000 members. New chapters are formed wherever people want them.
TOPS is different from commercial weight-loss organizations in that its members get their food plan and exercise plans from their personal physician or health care professional. No commercial products are endorsed.
TOPS members believe that change comes from within an individual and that the most effective way to make sustainable change is to participate in a supportive environment in which you learn new habits and are recognized as you achieve healthy lifestyle and weight loss goals.
Since 1966, TOPS has funded an obesity and metabolic research program at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee and supports ongoing research there. To date, $5.4 million from TOPS earnings and member contributions have helped fund obesity research.
How the Program Works
This is a low-cost weight loss program based on a food exchange system, following American Dietetic Association guidelines that are explained and illustrated in the chapter handbook. Weekly meetings are held in informal locations such as schools, libraries, churches and synagogues, and some worksites, similar to the Weight Watchers model. A variety of tools and professionally prepared programs on nutrition, exercise, lifestyle, menu planning and behavior choices are provided by national headquarters for chapter meetings.
Weekly meetings include private weigh-ins followed by a program and personal recognition of members’ achievement. Volunteer leaders use material prepared by the national headquarters to engage members in workshop discussions to deal with food issues, such as menus and exercise and behavioral issues such as stress, emotional eating, and more. Like Weight Watchers, there are small group meetings moderated by a motivational leader. Menus and menu planning are provided, but not on a one-to-one customized basis.
Because TOPS is a non-profit, volunteer organization, members have flexibility in structuring programs that meet their needs at their pace. Chapter members are accountable to each other and build strong bonds sharing goals for a healthy weight and lifestyle. Members provide each other with positive reinforcement to adhere to food and exercise plans, but do not offer personal one-on-one customized counseling.
TOPS has experts in the field of medical research, nutrition, fitness, and psychology to assist in the development of chapter meeting materials. Psychological support is one element of the TOPS lifestyle guide, "The Choice Is Mine." The guide also includes guidance on food exchanges, exercise options, personal journaling, menu plans, and recipes.
TOPS "Ambassadors" are real-life weight-loss experts who have achieved and maintained their goal weight and speak across the country "spreading the word" about TOPS.
TOPS also publishes a magazine, TOPS News, 10 times per year, with news about members and informative articles on lifestyle, diet, and personal development.
TOPS Retreats offer concentrated weight loss guidance mixed with fun in a vacation-like setting. There are also TOPS rallies and recognition events. In addition to TOPS News, the organization also publishes a lifestyle guide, "The Choice is Mine", and food and exercise diaries as well as educational brochures for the public. All TOPS chapter programs were revamped as of April 2005 to include weekly program menu plans.
A nine-member board of directors administers TOPS. Assisting TOPS volunteer chapter leaders is a field staff of Regional Directors, Coordinators, and Area Captains.
New Online Program
TOPS Club, Inc. has been offering support groups for people wishing to control their weight since 1948. Now, you can receive the benefits of TOPS membership without having to attend those meetings.
For your small yearly membership fee, you will receive:
TOPS charges a very moderate $24 yearly membership fee in the U.S. and $30 in Canada. Each individual chapter covers its own expenses and overhead with a small fee per meeting.
At the TOPS website (www.tops.org), one can find: a chapter locator to find the group meeting nearest to you, a chat room, message board, news and articles, a calendar of events, and a store. The online store sells the Nutribase CD/software that tracks diet and fitness, T-shirts, and several books. There are also links to other health and weight-related organizations.
Nutribase CD/Software ($39.95)
NutriBase is a nutrition and fitness software application that helps you lose, gain, or maintain your body weight while improving your overall fitness.
NutriBase helps you determine your daily calorie requirements to reach your ideal body weight or fat goals. It tracks and analyzes your daily intake of not only foods, but activities as well.
It will record and analyze your burned calories from exercise, generate reports and graphs for a variety of eating and exercise habits.
Here are some of the features NutriBase offers:
You simply input what you eat and NutriBase will…
The NutriBase nutrient database provides:
NutriBase is a Fitness Manager. With NutriBase, you can:
BestDietForMe.com analysts have known about this support group for a long time, since we started tracking the weight loss industry in 1989. It has a very good long-term track record and is appropriate for dieters seeking an informal and low-cost motivational support system that complements their own weight loss efforts. However, it is not an in-depth, highly structured or personalized program, and one should not expect to receive custom one-to-one counseling.
The information on this web site is intended for information purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for medical advice. Before starting any weight loss program, it is recommended that you consult your physician or other health care professional.
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