TOPS Virginia Queen

by Lee Pierre

Margaret Spangler of Floyd, VA, has lost 75.5 pounds through the non-profit TOPS (Take Off Pounds Sensibly), a non–commercial weight loss, education, and support organization. Last year, Virginia TOPS members lost a total of 4,144 pounds.

Margaret grew up on a farm in Floyd County enjoying all the good things available to eat. Weight was never a problem for her until after marriage.  

“My husband joined the Air Force and we moved from place to place quite often. In 1955 after our first child was born, I gained weight and slowly continued to gain more. Back then doctors would prescribe various diet pills. Although I would lose weight on them, I would keep going back to my old and unhealthy eating habits,” she said.  

As the years passed, she became more miserable with her yo-yo weight control and stated she had no self-confidence and no desire to buy clothes or to improve herself.

When her husband was stationed in Florida she was fortunate to hear about TOPS. She joined on March 28, 1975, weighing 189.8 pounds.

“I achieved KOPS (Keep Off Pounds Sensibly) status on February 27, 1976. I was so happy with myself for this great accomplishment – thinking that I had finally overcome my long-term weight loss problem. Unfortunately, I did not completely change all my old eating habits, and the weight returned, and I lost my KOPS status,” she said.

When her husband retired from the Air Force after serving for 20 years, the couple moved back to their hometown in Floyd and once again her weight began to climb, and her self-confidence declined. Unfortunately for Margaret, there wasn’t a TOPS group in her area at the time. While reading the paper one Sunday afternoon, she discovered that a TOPS group would be starting soon in Check, VA – a little over a 20-minute drive.

“I was so thrilled that I could hardly wait until Monday night. The leader and all the members made me feel so welcomed,” she said.

Margaret joined TOPS Chapter VA # 0533 on July 31, 1990. At that time her weight was 208.5 pounds. Receiving encouragement from other members along with new ideas and recipes adding exercising and drinking more water, she began losing weight sensibly. She found that the culprits for her weight gain were fried foods and salt.

“I used to love seasoning my food with bacon but now I use other seasonings,” she stated. “And I have always eaten plenty of fruits and vegetables, so that part was easy.”

Along with eating better, she added walking as often as she could, either during lunch when she worked or just around the yard once she retired. She recalled a time when she had lost a significant amount of weight that she asked her husband, ‘Do I look alright?’ She stated his response was ‘I would let you know if you didn’t.’ She knew then that she was on the right track.

Margaret felt confident she would gain her KOPS status again and on July 19, 2021, at the tender age of 86, she achieved her KOPS goal. The following year in April 2022, Margaret was crowned 2021 TOPS Virginia Queen for her weight loss success, meaning she lost more weight than any other TOPS female member in the entire state and reached her goal weight.

“I was shocked,” Margaret said modestly. “I thought I was TOPS for Check. I had no idea it was for all of Virginia.”

Now at 87, Margaret’s most recent weigh-in was at 137.6 pounds. She says she must stay within 10 pounds of that weight to keep her TOPS status and she intends on doing just that.

“For some reason, it just seems easier to keep the weight off,” she remarked.

If anyone were concerned about losing weight, Margaret advises staying away from sweets/sugar, wrong snacks, and knowing how food is prepared.

“I hope that I will be able to encourage others not to give up on reaching their goals. Yes, this has been a long journey, but I am so blessed to have reached my goal. I want to be able to continue in our chapter as the Assistant Weight Recorder and to continue to encourage our members as I Keep Off Pounds Sensibly! I love TOPS!”