Karol Phipps has always known how to lose weight. She’s done it over and over again.
But it wasn’t until she turned 50 that she learned how to keep the weight off. The secret, she says, is to do it for your health, not to be skinny.
When she lost weight in the past, she says, “The rule was fad diets. You would starve yourself. If I had 400 calories, I thought I was doing well. That was what we thought, but I was doing my body more harm. You can’t keep that up.
“Last time, it was to be skinny,” she said. “This time, it was for my health. Weight loss is a fringe benefit. I did it right this time instead of being dumb.”
Phipps struggled with her health for years, but was unwilling to commit to the diet changes her doctor recommended. At 230 pounds, she felt like a prisoner in her own home, because her health prevented her from doing much. After testing positive for celiac disease, Phipps finally committed to making the changes a dietitian recommended. She had to limit most grains, sugar and even fruits and vegetables.
“It has helped so much. I felt better and that was an incentive to stay with it,” she said.
Many of the principles she follows apply to everyone — such as eating sensibly and limiting portions. Phipps also allows herself a small bit of junk food if she has a strong craving for it.
“Nothing is a no-no,” she said. “If I say it is, I eat it. I don’t believe there’s any food I can’t eat. Instead of a whole candy bar, I have a square. It’s satisfying. It’s enough. Instead of half a pizza, I have one slice. I’m never hungry. If I’m hungry, I eat something.”
Phipps says if she really wants chocolate, she’ll make a trip to See’s Candies and purchase one chocolate.
“I don’t have it in the house,” she said. “If I have to drive there, I know I really want it and it has to be the best.”
Exercise has also helped keep the weight off.
“I’ve always been fairly active, but now I make a concerted effort,” she said. “If it’s bad outside, I do an exercise video. I exercise an hour a day, six days a week. I do walking, Pilates, aerobics, anything to get me moving and that doesn’t cost much money. It’s not necessary (to spend money).”
Every time Phipps has lost weight, she has done it with the help of the Taking Off Pounds Sensibly support group. Her group meets once a week at McKay-Dee Hospital for a weigh-in and education. She said group contests, education and members following up with each other during the week are very motivational.
“(Losing weight) is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. TOPS makes it easier. It’s impossible unless you have support. I wouldn’t have done it without the support,” she said.
Although Phipps has to follow a diet plan for celiac disease, TOPS encourages members to follow the recommendations of their doctor, the food exchange program set forth by the American Dietetic Association, or the Choose My Plate program found at choosemyplate.gov.
There are eight TOPS groups in the Top of Utah, open to anyone who pays $28 in annual international dues and $3 to $5 in monthly club dues. More information can be found at www.tops.org.
AT A GLANCE
- Name: Karol Phipps, 59, Ogden
- Occupation: Retired receptionist
- Lost: 90 pounds
- Kept it off: 9 years
- How she did it: By following a dietitian’s recommendations to manage celiac disease, exercising six days a week and attending weekly Taking Off Pounds Sensibly support group meetings.
• Do it for your health, not to be skinny. Only then will you make lifestyle changes that will allow you to keep the weight off for a lifetime.
• Use moderation and portion control. Don’t label any food a no-no. Allow yourself a small serving of whatever you are craving.
• Find nonfood ways to reward yourself, like a new lipstick, top or outing with friends.
• Get support. Attending support group meetings is a great way to motivate yourself to stick with your goals.