Eight pregnancies gave Rose Hill eight wonderful kids, but each pregnancy also left an unwelcome gift -- more weight gain.
Somehow, with all the lunches, breakfasts and dinners for a rollicking house full of gigglers, Hill could never seem to shed the weight between pregnancies.
So by the time her friend Wilma Dalby suggested she join TOPS (Taking Off the Pounds Sensibly) -- Hill was ready to try just about anything. After eight years of struggle, she was depressed and diabetic -- in both despair and danger.
She knew her relentless weight gain had deep roots psychologically -- but didn't know how to outwit herself.
"We are a family filled with love, but I didn't know how to love myself. I needed to learn how to love myself and my body," said Hill.
Dalby, a TOPS member for many years, recognized Hill's battle and persistently invited her friend to the meetings. Time and time again, Hill came up with excuses not to attend until finally she mustered enough courage and attended TOPS on Sept. 15, 2005.
That day marked the start of a long process that resulted in the loss of more than 100 pounds -- thanks to daily exercise, sensible meals and a deeper understanding of the emotional lure of food.
TOPS is a nonprofit, noncommercial weight-loss organization formed in 1948 by Esther Manz, who aimed to set up a support group system for obese and overweight people. The program's objective is to fund obesity research and encourage healthy lifestyles through weight management support groups, to help members take and keep off pounds sensibly.
Membership is open to men, women and children. The organization currently has 200,000 members in 10,000 chapters in the United States, Canada and other countries. New members are encouraged to consult with a physician and to determine goal weight specifically based on each individual.
Members meet weekly for private weigh-ins followed by a program that allows participants to share their week's progression. The Payson Chapter, TOPS #AZ 0373 meets at the Crossroads Four Square Church on Thursdays from 7 to 8:30 a.m. (weigh-in/meeting times). The local monthly fee is $4 per month and national membership fee is $48 monthly.
Eager to share her success story through TOPS, Hill prepared a folder filled with pictures, news clips, food recipes, calendars, magazines and journals. Her before-photos revealed a woman who was smiling, but obviously uncomfortable with her size.
However, on March 8, 2007, Hill achieved her target weight -- having lost an amazing 101.5 pounds.
Recognized for her achievement, Hill was crowned as 2007 Queen of Arizona TOPS at the Arizona State Recognition Day held May 29-31 this year. Hill tied for first place for having lost the most weight in Arizona among women.
TOPS has several inspirational statements that group members are encouraged to memorize.
In her mini-bio, Hill said, "I am thrilled to be lean, attractive and a successful person. I love the challenges of making wise choices about my food and exercise program."
Hill said she gained a better understanding of nutrition and acquired the skills to conquer food rather than have it conquer her.
In the past, Hill had turned to food for comfort. Now, despite her busy schedule, Hill finds the time to take care of herself and has refined her workout regiment. Spending three days in the gym and walking on the alternating days, Rose remains dedicated to maintaining her weight.
"Ninety-eight percent of people who lose weight, gain it back," said Hill.
Hill's success story has inspired many, including 10 family members, to follow in her footsteps. Since achieving her target weight, Hill has graduated as a KOPS (Keeping Off Pounds Sensibly) member who helps mentor TOPS members to achieve their goals.
"The friendships that I've formed in TOPS gave me the strength and courage to lose the weight," said Hill.