CARTER’S COVE, NL — Natasha Farr of Carter’s Cove is heading into Christmas much healthier than she was this time last year.
Since August 2016 Farr has lost 67 pounds and will keep her healthy eating habits in mind during the holiday season.
“I will plan the holidays like I did last year. If my favourite cookie is there, I will have one. But just one. And when you think about your weigh-in that’s coming on Saturday that really helps keep you in check,” the 34-year-old said.
Farr credits her weight loss to a non-profit organization called TOPS. An acronym for Take Off Pounds Sensibly, TOPS is touted as a “hands-on, pounds-off approach to weight loss.”
According to the TOPS website, the organization does not sell foods, endorse products, or push a one-size fits all meal plan. Rather encourages members to choose food they enjoy in moderation. The organization’s guidelines help members control their calories while eating healthy food that can be made at home or ordered in a restaurant.
Farr joined TOPS in August 2016.
“It’s taken me till now to lose the weight,” she said during a phone interview in November.
Seeing the pounds come off motivated her to continue with her healthy eating, Farr said.
“When I made up my mind I stuck to my food plan that I was going to have my three healthy meals a day and my treat meal on Saturday,” she said. “I stuck to that faithfully.”
Farr eats between 1200-1400 calories a day and exercises about 30 minutes every day. Thanks to her weight loss, she is now playing volleyball and is a lot more active with her three young children.
It costs $48 a year to join TOPS and members in her area then pay $2 a week.
Farr credits her aunt – who has also had success with TOPS — for encouraging her to join. Her husband is also very supportive of her healthy lifestyle, she said.
“We have made efforts to eat more healthy as a family since I joined TOPS,” Farr said.
Farr noted that while there are many plusses of being part of being a TOPS member, the support she receives from others in the group is most important.
“It’s that accountability that makes the program work for me,” she said. “You’re all there for the same reason. The weekly meetings also offer many tips and motivation with regards to keeping healthy and active.”
Support is also available online and through TOPS main website.
“Most chapters, ours included, have private Facebook pages where we put pictures of our recipes or our meal plans or tips about our workouts,” she said.
Farr started the chapter in Carter’s Cove where she lives. Since that time she and her aunt have started another chapter in Summerford. Far is co-leader of the Summerford chapter and said joining the executive has been a great motivator when it comes to attendance, and finding inspiration in the material TOPS offers its chapters for programs and ideas.
Farr summed up well just how much losing the weight has meant to her.
“I feel like a different person,” she said.
For more information about TOPS including meeting information visit www.tops.org.
According to information provided by TOPS, there are 2,021 members of TOPS in the Newfoundland and Labrador.
In 2016 these members lost a combined total of 11,011 pounds.
TOPS president Barb Cady said the organization started in 1948 and follows the Canadian Food Guide and My Plate in the U.S.
During a phone interview from TOPS head office in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Cady said only four people are needed to form a TOPS chapter.
She summed up meetings as offering members not only accountability but also an opportunity to discuss the challenges and/or successes they have had during the previous week.
“They share with each other what’s working, what’s not working, what’s getting in the way of progress... and that’s a really important part of the meeting,” Cady said.
Educational information is also provided at each meeting, she said.
“And another part of our meeting, which is really important, is that our members have fun together,” she added.
Tips to lighten up during the holidays
Fill up ﬁrst. Have a healthy snack before hitting the holiday party scene. You make wiser choices when you’re not famished.
easy at the get-go. Holiday appetizers are calorie mine ﬁelds. Select one delectable starter and then stick to shrimp, vegetables and fruit before the main course.
Bring your own. Stressing about what to eat at a holiday gathering? Volunteer to bring your own healthy dish that can double as a host or hostess gift.
cauliﬂower. Cauliﬂower can stretch the starchiest of dishes. When planning an appetizer, look for cauliﬂower mashed potatoes, pizza and torte crusts, and even cookie recipes online.
Swap and save. Substitute low-fat yogurt, milk, cream cheese, mayonnaise, chicken stock and eggnog for high-fat recipe ingredients.
Get a gravy separator. Make your gravy lean and mean. Use a gravy separator to separate juices from fat, saving calories while concentrating ﬂavor.
Do winter fruit desserts. There’s no need for high-fat desserts when winter fruits are in season.
more and linger less. Make the rounds at holiday meals, try not to hang around the buffet table, and limit second helpings to the healthiest fruit and vegetable dishes.
Put your fork down. It’s a time-tested trick - if you put your fork down between every bite, you’ll eat less and savor more.
Sip smartly. Avoid calorie-laden soft drinks, punches and/or mixers in alcoholic beverages, and take in large glasses of water between drinks.
Source: www.tops.org (Information compiled by Katie Ferraro, MPH, RD, CDE)