Edward Phipps of Calhoun said after he lost of his wife of 43 years to cancer in 2010, he became depressed, reclusive and ate mostly fast food.

That all changed when he met Charlotte, the woman he’s married to now. She was a member of the non-profit organization Take Off Pounds Sensibly (TOPS) and she convinced Phipps to tag along to a meeting.

“Charlotte was a TOPS member and she asked me to go with her to a chapter meeting. Even though I had no intention of joining, I went. Three months later, in September 2013, I became a member,” Phipps said.

Since then he’s lost weight, including 39 pounds this year, which was good enough for him to be crowned TOPS Georgia King, meaning he lost more weight than any other male TOPS member in the entire state. Edward attributes his weight loss success to the support he receives from his fellow TOPS members, along with portion control and regular exercise.

“My goal weight did not matter too much to me, as my weight went up and down. In July 2017, I had surgery to remove my left adrenal gland due to a benign tumor. For the three weeks after the surgery, I ate little. When I did return to eating, it took less food for me to feel satisfied, and the weight started to come off,” Phipps said. “The goal weight established by my doctor was 205 pounds. In 2018, I reached KOPS (Keep Off Pounds Sensibly) status and lowered my goal weight to 195 pounds, which is what I weigh now. I have maintained this weight with the grace of God and my loving wife.”

Ruth Schubert of Albany, who lost 71 pounds, was crowded TOPS Georgia Queen. The organization founded in 1948 has 88 chapters in Georgia, and TOPS officials emphasize that the program is not a diet but a lifestyle change.

According to TOPS, Georgia tips the scales as the 24th “heaviest” state in the United States, where 31.6% of adults are affected by obesity. Georgia TOPS chapters combated this statistic by collectively losing 6,250 pounds last year. TOPS offers an individual approach to weight loss and overall wellness. Consistent group support, health education and recognition are all key components to successful weight management.

“We are so gratified by our TOPS members’ amazing weight-loss accomplishments,” TOPS President Rick Danforth said. “Commemorating their life-changing achievements is an essential component of TOPS’ winning formula, whether by losing weight or maintaining goals.”

Obesity can lead to an array of medical conditions including heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer. By committing to a healthier lifestyle, people can achieve weight loss and overall wellness, Danforth said.

Visitors are welcome to attend their first TOPS meeting free of charge, and membership costs just $32 per year. The program in Calhoun is captained by J. Gail Bean and meets at the Gordon County Senior Center on Mondays at 7 p.m. Weight in time begins at 6 p.m. Call 678-447-8432 or visit www.tops.org for more information.

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