Losing weight is difficult in a world where the fastest, easiest options for a meal are more often than not, the unhealthiest.

Changing behaviors and lifestyles to not only lose weight but keep weight off can be real work but is more imaginable with a support system backing you up.

Take Off Pounds Sensibly, or TOPS, is a weight loss support system that has been showing some real success in Wentzville and western St. Charles County.

The organization, founded in 1948, is a nonprofit network that has chapters located throughout the United States and Canada.

One member, Sandy McKinney, lost 118.25 lbs as an active member of TOPS and was recently named Missouri Queen of TOPS.

McKinney attributes her weight loss success to the support she receives from her fellow TOPS members, along with portion control and regular exercise. 

“I knew I was at the right place within minutes, as everyone was friendly and made me feel welcome. I was encouraged to succeed at my TOPS chapter and I began losing weight, reaching my goal and achieving KOPS (Keep Off Pounds Sensibly) status on November 21, 2018,” McKinney said. 

“It’s mostly about support and keeping people motivated trying to lose their weight,” Karren Snyder said.

Snyder is the leader of Chapter 661 – which meets in Wentzville on Thursday mornings.

Her chapter has programs and contests to keep the members motivated.

The contests consist of things like which member the biggest loser of weight is for that period of time – whether it be a week, month, season – and that person receives a prize.

The meetings mostly consist of different events, as the topics change, but some aspects of them stay constant.

“We have weigh-in in the morning at 9:30 and then we have our meeting from 10 to 11. We do roll-call then the weight reporter gives us a report on who lost the most weight for the week or the month and we have rewards for that. It’s a private thing when it comes to the weight recorder and the person weighing in,” Snyder said.

She said that members can choose to disclose the weight loss or keep everything between them and the weight recorder with no pressure at all.

After that, there are various different educational programs.

Snyder said that the last one was a program where members tasted different spices and the next one was going to be a program on carbohydrates.

They also discuss and offer support for emotional eating and have a food exchange system that shows members what they are actually putting into their bodies and how much of it based on what they eat.

Another member of TOPS and KOPS (Keeping off Pounds Sensibly) is Judy Hinkle.

“Usually losing weight is not fun but we have a lot of different things we do,” Hinkle said.

Hinkle was told by her doctor that she needed to lose weight, and turning to TOPS has been nothing but a good experience.

“When I was losing my weight, everyone was so helpful and really pressed you,” Hinkle said.

Not only do you get support in losing weight, but, as Hinkle described, you also might make some life long friends along the way.

“When I first joined TOPS, I remember being introduced to 40-year longtime members and they encouraged me and always made me feel good. All of us eventually became good friends and we genuinely care about each other,” Hinkle said.

Losing weight can take some real discipline but a program like TOPS can offer the assurance and support needed to maintain and keep the discipline.

To find out more about TOPS and how to get involved, visit them online at



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