Pathway to healthy: TOPS program guides woman’s weight loss

April, 2018 Posted in Community, Food And Drink

By Mary Owen


Alice Before

Sublimity resident Alice Halse is living proof of “beauty before age.”

“I feel like I’m very healthy,” she said. “I have people tell me all the time I don’t look that old. I feel good and I have very few health problems.”

But Halse had to battle to get to where she is today after a friend she hadn’t seen in a time told her, “I’m really disappointed that you let yourself go.”

“I knew she was talking about my weight,” said Halse, who, before retiring, ran a pharmacy with her husband after a stint of teaching elementary school. Determined to get healthier, Halse joined Take Off Pounds Sensibly, a nonprofit weight-loss support organization, and defied all the little “saboteurs” that are geared to topple the best of intentions.

“I found out about TOPS and joined a chapter in Reedsport on Dec. 5, 1979, and I have been an active member since that day,” said Halse, who now belongs to Stayton TOPS chapter O.R.-#1178.

To date, the 82-year-old Halse has lost 118.5 pounds through TOPS, earning her the title of 2016 Oregon Queen
of TOPS.


Alice After

“As queen, she has lost more weight than any other female TOPS member in the entire state,” said Kelly Michalski, account coordinator with RSPS Marketing + Communications. “TOPS is not a diet. It is a lifestyle change for a lifetime.”

Coordinator Deanna Edwards said TOPS members come together weekly for accountability, support, and to learn about losing weight sensibly. There are two TOPS chapters in Stayton.

“When members reach their goal, they remain in TOPS as a KOPS (Keep Off Pounds Sensibly) member,” Edwards said. “There is no cost to visit a TOPS group. After that visit if you decide to join, there is a $32 fee a year to TOPS Club, Inc. The local chapter will also have monthly dues to pay for incentives and paperwork. This is usually between $3 and $5 per month.

“When you talk to KOPS members, you hear them say that positive thinking, believing in yourself, working your program, and attending your TOPS meetings is the key to taking off and keeping off pound sensibly,” she said.”

Halse says TOPS is a place “where all the members become really good friends.”

“We call each other and we have contests,” she said. “We are always working at helping each other by bringing in ideas and encouraging each other.”

Halse, who also exercises at Anytime Fitness through her health insurance’s Silver Sneakers program, has a tip for others who want to lose weight.

“The most important thing is to keep working at it, not to try to rush how much you’re losing,” she said. “Lose it slow and steady and keep going as long as it takes you. It’s the only way I know to do it. You’re going to get there healthier if you do it slowly.”

For information, contact Edwards at or visit

To lose weight, Halse gave up foods such as ice cream, cookies and candies.

“I decided not to have any in my house,” she said. “My grandchildren have always known that when they come to grandma’s house, they don’t get cookies and candies. But I’ve always kept almonds in my house, and they can have that.

“I’ve always pretty much had healthy foods,” she added. “As long as I lived in Reedsport, I had a big garden. We ate all of the vegetables that I grew – cabbage, carrots, asparagus and onions. We had lots of apples, because we had three apple trees. I’d fix apple things, including fried apples.”

About the same time she joined TOPS, Halse joined a local country club and started playing golf.

“My son was about 14, and he wanted to learn to play golf,” she said. “We always walked around the golf course, which was a mile around plus, the spaces between the greens and the next tee. It was a good exercise time. We played golf as a family for quite a few years, from the ‘70s to about 2000.”

“I go there with a walker and I pedal the bicycles, and that’s goowd exercise,” she said. “Some weeks I go over there five or six times, and other weeks I go only three times, but I try to go at least three times every week.”

Although attending a chapter meeting is best, an online alternative is also available, Edwards said.

“Many chapters have private Facebook groups so that they can support each other during the week,” she said. “For those who may not be able to attend because of weather or illness, you can sign up on as an online member. An online coordinator supports online members.”

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