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After 13 years of hard work, Kamloops woman is a TOPS Queen

Barbara Schwitek lost 69 pounds through non-profit TOPS (Take Off Pounds Sensibly), a non–commercial weight loss, education and support organization

 

Barbara Schwitek often thought of the words recited at her weight loss support group whenever she was “grazing the kitchen.”

The Kamloops woman lost 69 pounds through non-profit TOPS (Take Off Pounds Sensibly), a non–commercial weight loss, education and support organization. As a result of her weight loss, Schwitek was named the 2020 TOPS British Columbia Queen, meaning she lost more weight than any other female TOPS member in the entire province.

She received the honour by reaching the weight loss goal she set for herself with her doctor when she joined the Kamloops chapter of TOPS in 2007.

“We chose a goal that was both obtainable and healthy and then you just go from there,” Schwitek said.

She said it took 13 years of “yo-yoing up and down” with her weight, but with the support of TOPS and her doctors, Schwitek reached her goal weight of 150 pounds.

Schwitek said she lost the weight through a combination of exercise, planning healthy meals and portion control. There were also weekly accountability weigh-ins that helped motivate her, as did a pledge recited at every TOPS meeting that she would remind herself of — that she is an intelligent person who will control her emotions and, when tempted to use food to satisfy frustrations or dull her senses, she would instead take off pounds sensibly.

Schwitek’s exercise of choice was to go for walks, often taking to the outdoor and indoor tracks at Hillside Stadium and the Tournament Capital Centre.

Now that she’s lost the weight, Schwitek is transitioning to a maintenance program of TOPS known as KOPS (Keep Off Pounds Sensibly).

“That’s another journey of its own — trying to keep the weight off within a 10-pound leeway is almost as difficult as taking the weight off in the first place,” Schwitek said.

She continues to exercise and control her portions to keep the weight off, but noted it’s been a challenge amidst the pandemic without the support of TOPS meetings, which hadn’t been running for a while due to pandemic restrictions.

“We haven’t had a meeting in probably 16 months and we didn’t do weigh-ins for a while, and then we started weighing in in someone’s backyard,” she said.

Schwitek said it’s only been within the last three weeks that the group has returned to meetings, with COVID-19 protocols in place, but there are still some members who don’t feel comfortable. As a result, meetings number between eight and 10 people, while membership is at 25.

Schwitek was honoured— and humbled — to be named TOPS British Columbia Queen.

She said TOPS differs from other weight loss groups because there are no paid employees and it’s run by its members.

Schwitek said the non-profit is affordable and essentially a support group with educational weight loss tools, not an avenue to fad diets.

She noted TOPS is also available to men and teens, with meetings in the evenings for people to attend.

For more information on the program, go online to tops.org.