Are you ready to stop dieting and start making real changes? TOPS can help you reach your weight-loss goals by providing you with the tools, information, support and accountability you need to be successful. This has been a winning formula for TOPS members for nearly 70 years.

TOPS (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) is the short name for TOPS Club, Inc., the original nonprofit, noncommercial network of weight-loss support groups and wellness education organizations. TOPS offers tools and programs for healthy living and weight management, with exceptional group fellowship and recognition. Established in 1948 to champion weight-loss support and success, they've helped millions of people live healthier lives.

You may wonder, “Why would your church provide TOPS meetings? What does weight loss have to do with God or the Bible or spiritual concerns?” Well, it’s true that God greatly cares about our spirit and our application of His Word. But He also cares about our body. After all, as our manufacturer, He made us. Additionally, throughout the Scripture, we read how God met the physical needs of people by providing them with food, and, in many cases, healing. We see this especially demonstrated through the ministry of Jesus. He often met a person’s felt needs before meeting that individual’s real need for a relationship with God. And so, our church is committed to following the model of Jesus, and the God who takes a vital interest in our body, by providing services that will help people with their spiritual AND physical needs.

How will you benefit when you become a TOPS member?

All members of TOPS receive these benefits:

• My Day One quick-start guide for weight loss

• TOPS News member magazine (6 issues bimonthly)

• Full access to easy-to-use-online resources (28-day meal plan, printable food diary sheets, 25-week self-care program, weight tracker, videos to educate and motivate,

• My Day One and TOPS News online, worksheets and activities, Krames Health Education Library (Look up thousands of medical conditions and Rx.), Recipes, and more!

• Optional email newsletters and coaching messages (You must sign up to receive these.)

• Opportunity to purchase TOPS tools and materials available exclusively to members.

• No cost to switch between online and in-person membership or vice versa.

• No cost to change chapters if you move, change jobs, etc.

Note: TOPS can't guarantee weight loss just by you attending meetings, but they can offer support through each stage of your weight-loss journey.

This organization can't do the work for you. You only get out of TOPS what you put into it.

How does TOPS work?

Weekly meetings provide a supportive, educational environment where people are encouraged and not judged. These weekly meetings include private weigh-ins and professionally prepared informational programs featuring current nutrition, fitness and wellness information. Programs provide positive reinforcement and motivation to adhere to food and exercise programs.

You're welcome to attend your first meeting free of charge; and, you can bring a friend if you like. There's no obligation. Here’s what you can expect:

• Meetings usually last an hour or so.

• Each member has a private weigh-in before the meeting.

• Meeting starts with members sharing challenges, successes, or goals (if they want).

• There’s a brief program. TOPS gives each chapter engaging, professionally prepared programs covering a variety of health and wellness topics.

• Awards go to weekly or monthly best losers, contest winners, and members who’ve reached a goal!

* When needed, there’s a quick business meeting before the closing.

• Meeting closes with a thought for the week or other inspirational activity.

What is the meal plan?

TOPS does not sell foods, endorse products, or push a one-size-fits-all meal plan. On the TOPS meal plan, we encourage you to choose foods you enjoy in moderation. The flexible guidelines help you control calories while eating real food that you make at home or order in a restaurant.

What kinds of educational tools does TOPS offer?

TOPS offers a variety of educational resources and tools — most of which are available exclusively to members through their online store. See a sampling our of our most popular tools or check out our book on Amazon. (The book is available at a significant discount when you become a member.)

How can you get involved?

Beginning on Nov. 8, TOPS will be meeting every Thursday afternoon at 4:30 p.m. in the sanctuary of Shepherd of the Hills Church. When you are ready to become a member, the price is just $32 a year. That’s a small fraction of the cost of other weight loss programs. No RSVP is necessary for attending any of our meetings. For more information, feel free to call us at 661-822-1400 or write to us at tehachapishepherd@yahoo.com.

Jeff Kaplan is senior pastor of Shepherd of the Hills.

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