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Woodridge support group takes different approach to weight loss

WOODRIDGE – Instead of following the latest and trendy diets or workout regimens, one Woodridge group is undertaking a different strategy for weight loss.

Take Off Pounds Sensibly, or TOPS, is a support system for men and women of all ages who struggle with weight loss.

“The weight is not going away by itself,” said Dee Kovas, president of the TOPS Woodridge Chapter. “We support each other with weight and more. It’s important for someone to find some type of group or something to be committed to.”

During the weekly gatherings, the group discusses weight loss techniques, any struggles, healthy recipes and more, she said.

“I’ve always had a weight problem but this works,” said Kovas, of Downers Grove. “I know if I didn’t go, I’d be heavier than I am. My thing is all about portion control. There are so many health issues because of the way people eat or don’t eat... It’s important to be sensible.”

The nonprofit group, which formed in 1948, has chapters around the nation. Kovas’ group weighs in every Monday at weekly meetings.

“It’s never negative,” she said. “We’re all there for each other.”

The Woodridge group has about 20 members, mostly women, but a few men, according to Kovas. She said the group requires monthly fees of $5 and small fines if members gain weight.

“Each chapter is different, but if you put weight on you pay 10 cents a pound,” said Kovas, adding the fees and money collected are spent on prizes for the members.

Currently, Kovas is working on having members come up with ideas for speakers, or meeting topics.

“We’re trying to get people to do a menu or food diary to fill in what you eat each day,” Kovas said. “But it’s not real formal, I just kind of keep people on track.”

One longtime member, Barb Engelhardt, said the group keeps her on track .

“It’s very inspiring to see people who have done it [lost weight],” she said. “I’m a person who believes in support groups and knowing others gets people going.”

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