|Vegetarian members of TOPS Club, Inc. (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) headquartered in Milwaukee, WI, the nonprofit weight-loss support organization, know that healthy, well-balanced meal planning is a key element to successful and lasting weight loss and maintenance. The benefits of a vegetarian plan, or the exclusion or limitation of animal-based foods, can include reductions in risk for heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, and the prevention of some forms of cancer. Plant-based foods also have significant amounts of antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
In recognition of World Vegetarian Day (October 1) and the kickoff of Vegetarian Awareness Month, several vegetarian members of TOPS have shared their thoughts on why they’ve chosen a vegetarian meal plan and how it’s helped them with their weight-loss journey.
- Robert and Gina Swindell have been vegetarians for almost two years. He says, “Most restaurants have limited vegetarian choices, but we still have to be smart." “Mozzarella sticks are technically vegetarian, but they’re fried and full of fat and calories. The veggie burger is the healthier choice.” The Swindells switched to a vegetarian way of eating as part of their overall goal to embrace healthier lives. Almost immediately, he says, they each lost weight: 20 and 30 pounds, respectively. He and Gina regret not turning vegetarian sooner. “We would be much further along the road to better health,” he says.
- Joanna Risley is a vegetarian who tries to eat organic, natural and unprocessed food as much as possible. She and her husband buy many of their fruits and vegetables from local farmers. They prepare their food, including pizza crust, by hand which she says can be a pain but keeps her and her husband from snacking. She claims that vegetarian meals cost less and pack powerful nutrition into every bite.
- Kathy Davis tells of hiking with her cousin over 12 mountain passes and 240 miles last August to climb California's Mt. Whitney (14,505 feet). They ate totally vegetarian for the whole trip. She admits to being raised as a vegetarian but recently added chicken and some fish to her diet. She says her weight wasn't an issue until she hit menopause. She joined TOPS and learned to replace carbohydrates with fruits and vegetables.
Non-profit TOPS clubs were established more than 62 years ago to champion weight loss support by promoting affordable weight management with a philosophy combining healthy eating, regular exercise, wellness information and support from others at weekly chapter meetings. TOPS has about 170,000 members in nearly 10,000 chapters throughout the US and Canada.
Visitors are welcome to attend their first TOPS meeting free of charge. TOPS chapters within 10 miles of the Joplin area are: TOPS MO 0039 with weigh-in from 5:15-5:30 p.m. on Thursdays at the First Christian Church, 409 W. 4th St.(Family Life Center), Joplin; TOPS MO 0562 with weigh in and meeting from 9-10 a.m. on Thursdays at Royal Heights United Methodist Church, 1612 Euclid Ave. (social room), Joplin; and TOPS MO 0991 with weigh in and meeting from 4:45-5:30 p.m. on Mondays at Central United Methodist Church, 5 s. Pennsylvania St. (kitchen), Webb City. For all the groups Phyllis A. Fisher of Joplin is captain (417) 291-2362, Randall M. Paul of Springfield is coordinator (417) 368-5755. To find a meeting in a different area go here.