“I woke up one morning and got on the scale and was at the highest weight I’ve ever been”, says Russellville native Mary O’Bryant as she reached a point in her life where she didn’t feel happy or healthy and wanted change.
“I decided to go to the TOPS chapter here in Russellville. I walked in and was greeted royally. I didn’t feel any condemnation or anything. I stepped on their scales and they told me that I don’t have to join, but I was wanting to.”
My journey has been one that hasn’t been fast, but rather slow and steady. I found a lot of affirmation from my TOPS friends. I learned something that I never learned about anything else in my diets. I learned to be mindful and look into what I’m putting on my plate. It’s made a world of difference in how I see food and respond to food. It hasn’t always been easy, but I’ve kept my goal in mind and I’ve seen it come to fruition.”
The TOPS program is centrically focused on 4 main principles: eating healthy, exercising regularly, informing yourself about your wellness, and being recognized for your achievements and progress. The group meets at St John’s Lutheran Church every Tuesday at 9 AM.
Mary believes TOPS played a huge role in helping her on her journey. “Everyone needs a support system, whether that be at home or somewhere else. They’ve been the best support group ever. It’s helped keep me with an incentive to go and get that support I need at the meetings. I got that affirmation that carried me through the week and kept me motivated to keep pushing.”
O’Bryant was named Arkansas TOPS Queen this year, which recognizes one member of the group that achieved huge success through the program. “I was so excited. I reached a huge goal in my journey. It was something I always wanted to accomplish and being recognized made me feel so good. It was a high moment in my life.”
Diet plans are hard to follow and don’t work for everyone. O’Bryant acknowledges that fact and exclaims how TOPS isn’t necessarily a plan, but it’s a group meeting to accomplish a lifestyle. “There’s no forbidden foods in TOPS, but rather learning portion control and cutting back on the amounts of fatty foods you’re eating. Being able to maintain the portions is what got me through my weight loss journey.
“In my theory, until a program becomes a lifestyle, we’ve got to continue and stick to it”, says O’Bryant.
“I really don’t have much of an exercise routine. I do some walking, but I don’t go to the gym or anything. I try to be active. I’ll soon be 73 years old and I consider myself to be fairly physically fit and active. As far as an exercise routine, I don’t have one.”
For anyone in a similar position, O’Bryant has a few words of advice to help you reach the finish line. “First of all, make sure that you are really at the point where you really want to lose weight. Not necessarily a health requirement, but a quality of life point in your life. A person cannot lose weight until they get the mindset to lose weight.”
“Find your support group. For me, I found TOPS very helpful. I’d recommend it to anyone wanting a good support group. Without that support, I probably wouldn’t be where I’m at today. My faith has also played a big part in it as well. The scripture regarding how we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us is something I looked back at during the hardships of my journey and it helped push me through.”
TOPS has been around since 1948 and meets to help educate and establish a support network to help with weight loss. The group is a non-profit organization and works to improve the lives and health of many around the country.