In a world of fly-by-night fad diets, Taking Off Pounds Sensibly, better known as TOPS, is a rock of dependability.
In Sandy, the TOPS group, which is celebrating its 70-year anniversary, is a small-but-mighty family of 10 members who meet from 6:15-8 p.m. every Thursday at AntFarm Cafe and Bakery, 39140 Proctor Blvd., to discuss "weight loss, nutrition, portion control, exercise and healthy choices."
"It's not about dieting, but changing lifestyle," Sandy TOPS group leader Linda Markwell said. "All of us in our group are very passionate about extending the lifespan of people. I am really passionate about helping people ... I hate seeing people in pain when they could have such a better life."
Markwell joined TOPS in 2013 and soon after became leader of the group.
"Obesity is a real problem," Markwell noted. "I've fought it my whole adult life."
When Markwell was looking for a resource to lose weight, she chose TOPS because "cost was a big item."
"If you do Weight Watchers, you're talking like $200. TOPS was also local. We're so fortunate to be a part of this TOPS chapter that has helped so many of us live healthier lives," she said. "Our weekly meetings are such a great way to stay on target, and we welcome anyone looking for weight-loss support to start — or continue — their weight-loss journey with us."
TOPS has provided Markwell with something diets alone lack — a constant source of reassurance.
"We have an exceptional group," she noted. "We're all really close. The whole purpose is support."
"TOPS isn't for those who just want to lose 20 pounds for a class reunion or wedding," TOPS retiring President Barb Cady said in a statement about the national organization's 70th anniversary. "We promote long-term, lasting change that is going to require some work and accountability — but it's so worth it in order to have a healthier, happier and longer life."
Meetings are free of charge for first-time attendees.
For more information about TOPS, visit www.tops.org or call TOPS Headquarters at 800-932-8677. Membership is $32 per year, plus the chapter dues of $3 per month.