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TOPS members brace for holiday feasts

Staff writer

The word “jolly” doesn’t really have a connotation of being skinny. ‘Tis the season, however. With sweets and feasts abundant this time of year, those looking to control their weight must take effort to strategize, said Lucille Bitner, founder and leader of a Taking Off Pounds Sensibly group in Marion.

“Whenever you want to go eat or are going to somebody’s house, you’ve just got to have the mindset that you’re not going to eat,” she said. “Make it smaller portions. Especially when there’s chocolate and cookies and stuff like that, you need to have the mindset to know you can’t do all that. You have to be conscious of it.”

In addition to being the leader of TOPS, Bitner is also a member of KOPS, Keeping Off Pounds Sensibly. KOPS is a graduate class of sorts for the TOPS program. The weight loss program gives its members freedom within reason to control their own diet. The group mostly provides general healthy diet and exercise guidelines, and provides support for its members who try to follow them.

Bitner said there’s more regression around this time of year for those trying to lose weight, as Thanksgiving feasts lead into Christmas parties with baked goods and sweets which lead into a Christmas feast as well.

“We fall back with the regular TOPS members a lot of times this time of year,” Bitner said. “You’ve just got to have patience. You have to overcome your mind.”

Newly anointed KOPS member Effie Smith says pre-planning for meals is key.

“I do much better when I do that,” she said. “If I don’t pre-plan, then I give into more snacking and impulse eating.”

While it’s tempting to indulge for holiday feasts, Smith said she was very careful for her Thanksgiving plate, sticking mostly to turkey and vegetables, with smaller servings of high-calorie foods.

Another problem for weight-loss aspirants this time of year is finding an outlet to exercise. Smith said she does a lot of gardening in the spring, summer, and fall, and that couple hours of activity a day keeps her very active.

With gardening season well over, Smith has deferred to the exercise bike.

“I live out in the country so I can’t walk in town or exercise in town, so I try to do my exercise bike several times a week, and I try to beef it up over the holiday time,” she said.

TOPS members (including KOPS) meet weekly, where they will have to weigh in. Smith said the constant tracking of her weight helps her to manage it.

“You have to be accountable,” she said. “That really helps me.”

The group meets Thursday mornings at Hilltop Manor, while another TOPS group meets Monday evenings at St. Luke Hospital, Smith said.

Last modified Dec. 11, 2014

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