By Angela Norris
The TOPS (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) Club, Inc. chapter in Beech Grove has a reigning state king: Bob Wickware. With a total weight loss of 89.8 pounds, Wickware received the title in 2018 by losing the most weight over a period of several years; he reached his goal weight in 2017.
“The past year has been really great; I have had the chance to interact with people in other TOPS groups as I travel around the area speaking and to give them a few tips on how I met my weight loss goal,” he said.
When Wickware was younger, he rode his bicycle over 50 miles from Brazil, Indiana to Terre Haute, Indiana every day to attend college. After graduation, he began his career teaching, attending graduate school at Indiana University and then becoming a school counselor in Indianapolis. As Wickware was moving upward in his professional life, his weight was also moving up.
After retirement, Wickware attended his yearly physical exam when the doctor said that he was morbidly obese and needed to lose some weight. Wickware immediately joined TOPS and started walking, riding his bike and eating sensibly.
One day, Wickware was rushed to the hospital with no feeling in his legs or left hand. The family was called in as the situation looked grim. Fortunately, Wickware had his faith, family and friends help him to fight back. Wickware was able to return to the weekly Beech Grove TOPS meetings and encouraged all the members to eat healthy and exercise. Slowly, but surely, the weight came off and Wickware was able to reach his goal weight by losing 89.8 pounds. Wickware was crowned state king in 2018, and has spent time visiting chapters throughout the area.
“TOPS has been a way to not only lose weight, but to get myself into better health,” he said. “My blood pressure has come down to a level that my doctor is very happy with. I tried other weight loss groups with little to no success. Being a kidney disease patient on dialysis, TOPS have made it easier for me to stay within my limits that are needed for me to have a very successful treatment and to keep me healthy as I move toward a future kidney transplant when a kidney comes available for me.”
Connie Crane, past state coordinator for Indiana TOPS said, “I think TOPS is truly a weight-loss support organization for many reasons. TOPS is a nonprofit and by being so, the annual international dues is only $32 per year. With TOPS membership, you receive six issues of TOPS News magazine per year, which has success stories, healthy tips and recipes and many other tips to help be successful in your weight loss journey. All members have access to the TOPS website (tops.org) that has program ideas for meetings, exercise ideas and many other helpful things.”
The TOPS organization is 71 years old and has chapters in all 50 states and all providences in Canada. Anyone 7 or older may join TOPS, and a member’s spouse may join at half price. TOPS offers a private weigh-in, and a weekly motivational program given by members.
The weekly chapter meetings are held in various locations such as churches and community buildings. There are also “at work” chapters, in which the weekly meetings are during lunch, before or after work, depending on what works best for the members of that chapter.
“You have not failed until you quit trying,” Crane said, “TOPS is proud to say we are a no-judgement organization. All chapters welcome members whether they are at their goal weight or have many pounds to lose.”
For more information, go to tops.org.