International non-profit recognizes P.A. participants for weight loss success

Prince Albert's Gail Swain is pictured before and after her weight loss journey. (Submitted Photos)

Two Prince Albert residents are being recognized for achieving their weight loss goals.

TOPS Club Inc., which stands for Take Pounds Off Sensibly, has named Roger Polowski as its Saskatchewan king and Gail Swain as the province’s queen for 2019-20.

The non-profit organization hosts weekly meetings, whether in-person or online, to help participants achieve their individual goals through small, sustainable steps.

“I like to call it a fellowship because everybody just tries to share with each other. We joke and we have fun. It’s a really awesome thing,” said Polowski.

The P.A. man said he’s struggled with his weight over the years, which was interfering with his everyday life. It was even hard to walk sometimes, he said — now, he can happily go for walks, ride his bike and play with his grandchildren.

“Sometimes it’s really hard. It’s not easy all of the time and you need that support. You need that little push once in a while or a pat on the back to say ‘Hey, it’s okay, we’ll get it next week.”

Polowski joined TOPS three years ago, losing 37.6 lbs. Before you join, he said, you have to go to the doctor to set a healthy goal weight.

When he joined his first meeting, he said, “It was just really welcoming in how they talk to you and how they deal with things and talk about food.”

The process wasn’t always restrictive, Polowski said.

His portion sizes are a bit smaller since he began his weight loss journey, but it’s more about being mindful about what you’re consuming. He doesn’t shy away from eating cake or French fries every so often.

TOPS also encourages you to get moving in a way that’s consistent, he said. For Polowski, that’s hitting the swimming pool, although the pandemic has put that on hold and he’s used other methods.

“It feels good to get the recognition, for sure,” he said about being named the province’s king.

He credits other TOPS participants for serving as an inspiration for meeting his goals, including Swain. She’s been on her weight loss journey for 24 years and has lost 67.5 lbs.

“A lot of people quit and they say ‘Well, I’ll come back one day,’ but they never do and you can’t quit. You can never give up,” she said as her main message to others wanting to take a healthier path.

“Just stick at it. It will come. You have to be patient.”

Ultimately, she said, TOPS was “instrumental” in helping her on her journey because they were supportive. Each of the meetings taught her to make sure her eating habits and exercise schedule were on track.

“Sometimes you’d say ‘Well, I really want to go to the lake,’ but you felt obligated to go to the meeting because you’re a part of something, so it was a struggle. It wasn’t always easy. It was sometimes easy, sometimes hard and, like anything else, it was a journey.”

Polowski and Swain have been invited to the TOPS International Recognition Days conference in Niagra Falls, New York in July 2021. Both said they’re planning on attending to represent the region.

The TOPS royalty men and women are chosen based on the largest weight loss from their starting weight. It doesn’t matter how long it’s taken them to reach their goals.

“With the support of TOPS, this year’s royalty, and countless others before them, have shown that personal transformation is possible through small, sustainable lifestyle changes,” said President Rick Danforth in a news release.

“As someone who has maintained a 100-pound weight loss for 15 years, I know firsthand the dedication these folks have shown.”

TOPS meetings take place in several locations in the area, including Prince Albert, Candle Lake, Shellbrook, Kinistino and Rosthern.