Eastpointe resident loses 103 pounds in TOPS

By: Maria Allard | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published December 21, 2021

 Coleen Dwojakowski, of Eastpointe, lost 103 pounds by joining TOPS Club Inc. She was honored as the 2020 Michigan Queen.

Coleen Dwojakowski, of Eastpointe, lost 103 pounds by joining TOPS Club Inc. She was honored as the 2020 Michigan Queen.

Photos provided by TOPS

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EASTPOINTE — Coleen Dwojakowski has struggled with her weight since she was a teenager.

For decades, she had tried every diet she knew of without success.

Then the Eastpointe resident attended her first TOPS Club Inc. meeting, which gave her a fresh start on her weight loss journey. “TOPS” stands for “Take Off Pounds Sensibly.”

“I knew I needed something. I hadn’t tried TOPS. I remember my mom had gone and done really well. It was a last-ditch effort,” Dwojakowski said. “They were the most welcoming people. I felt right at home. They’re just always there to help you along the way.”

TOPS is a nonprofit weight-loss support organization that offers an individual approach to weight loss and overall wellness. Consistent group support, health education and recognition are all key components to successful weight management.

Every year, TOPS selects its top “royalty” success stories. Royalty are women and men who, at the end of the year, have officially recorded the largest weight loss from their starting weight, regardless of the time taken to reach their goal.

Dwojakowski, of Eastpointe, who lost 89.5 pounds, was honored as the 2020 Michigan Queen. Dwojakowski participated in the TOPS International Recognition Days virtual conference held July 23-24, 2021. She has since lost more weight, dropping a total of 103 pounds.

“I made my goal Sept. 14, 2020. It was nice,” Dwojakowski said. “I got a TOPS crown, sash and diploma.”

“Despite the pandemic, with assistance from TOPS support, the 2020 royalty, and many others prior, have exhibited that achieving a personal transformation is still doable through small, sustainable lifestyle modifications,” TOPS President Rick Danforth said in a prepared statement. “Having sustained a 100-pound weight loss for over 15 years, I personally understand the commitment these folks have demonstrated.”

“TOPS is not a diet,” Dwojakowski said. “The meetings are more about motivation and how to eat healthy.”

According to Dwojakowski, TOPS participants weigh in every week. When she joined TOPS, Dwojakowski made some changes in her quest to lose weight.

“I don’t eat breakfast, I have whatever I want for lunch and I stop eating after dinner,” she said, explaining that she still eats foods she likes but watches her portion sizes and does not snack at night. “I put my portions on my plate, and I walk away. It’s not what you’re eating, it’s how much you eat.”

Two other changes made a difference: she stopped munching on her favorite treat — potato chips — and she got rid of her scale.

“I haven’t eaten (potato chips) in two years. I don’t miss them like I thought I would.”

She said removing her scale kept her more on target for her goals.

“If I lost a pound, I would eat,” Dwojakowski said, which meant the scale numbers would then increase.

Dwojakowski, who is 5 feet, 7 inches in height, would like to get down to 180 pounds; she is almost there.

“I could never do it without TOPS,” Dwojakowski said. “There’s accountability. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done.”

Despite her yearslong battle with the scale, Dwojakowski said she does not have any health issues and has “always been very active” and works out three times a week. She plans to stay with TOPS.

David Paul Bargowski, of Chesterfield, who lost 52 pounds, was named the 2020 Michigan King.

Weekly TOPS meetings are held in-person or online. In-person meetings start with private weigh-ins. Members then discuss their challenges, successes and goals. Meetings also focus on health and wellness topics, and they may conclude with awards and recognition for the week.

For online membership, virtual meetings are conducted via Zoom and are offered three times during the week. Visitors are able to attend their first TOPS in-person meeting free of charge and are encouraged to try more than one chapter, since they’re all a little different.

Membership is $32 per year in the U.S. and $48 annually in Canada for in-person meetings, plus nominal chapter fees. To learn more about membership options or to find a local chapter, visit tops.org or call (800) 932-8677.

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