Not one to miss out on a trend, no matter how tacky, a group that has been meeting since 1985 donned their ugliest Christmas sweaters Dec. 14.
TOPS, a weight loss and healthy living group which holds weekly meetings in Hope, celebrated the season with sweaters ranging from casual to over-the-top tacky. One sweater was adorned with a collection of holiday cards pinned on at odd angles, another was decked out with a sling of large red and green blinking Christmas bulbs and a third read ‘Dear Santa, did you get my text?’ in glittery rhinestones.
Having fun and bonding seems to be a key component of this group’s appeal: TOPS has 35 ladies who meet weekly to encourage each other to reach their health goals.
Lois Wilson has been going to TOPS meetings for 36 years and has maintained her weight throughout those years.
“I just cut back on a lot of things and I joined in March and reached my goal in August of the same year,” she said. “Somebody said to me, ‘why do you keep going to TOPS?’ and I said ‘because I like the ladies here.’ It’s a fun thing too. I just really enjoy it.”
Wilson has managed diabetes, which she found out she had soon after she joined TOPS, throughout these years.
This is the first year the group has done an ugly sweater day and Wilson said she had a hard time finding one horrid enough to wear.
“I didn’t have one,” she laughed, as she showed off her not-so-ugly black and white sweater draped with red Mardi Gras beads.
A new member, Michelle Chisholm, had just reached a significant health goal by attending the group.
“To begin with, honestly I did not want to come. But I felt I needed the accountability because I was not doing it on my own,” she said.
While Michelle said she still has a ways to go, after losing 20 pounds she has much more energy and the pain she had in her knees is far less.
“The encouragement and some of the stuff we were learning here was helpful. It makes you feel like you still want to come back, it’s not a group where you feel guilty for where you’ve been at,” she said.
“We welcome anybody. Doors are always open. And if anybody needs help with their health, we encourage them to get to where they need to be,” said TOPS president Pamela McBride.
Meetings are held Thursdays and Fridays at the Christ Anglican Church annex, for more information visit tops.org.
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