Lilia Smith has a lot to dance about, and a lot less to shake with.
She is 98 pounds lighter than she was two years ago.
At that time, she weighed 270 pounds. Now she weighs 172.
The 62-year-old Stanwood resident and retired Boeing computer analyst credits TOPS, a non-profit weight-loss support club for women, men and teens.
Two years ago, she joined the Stanwood chapter of TOPS, which stands for Take off Pounds Sensibly.
“I was at my lowest moment,” she said. “I was really, really depressed. I didn’t want to get out of bed.”
It was her second time trying TOPS. The first was about five years ago. She lost a few pounds then, but says she wasn’t motivated and didn’t stick with it.
This second time, though, she was facing knee and ankle surgery from the excess pounds on her 5-foot-3 frame.
“I decided to buckle down,” she said.
She started keeping a food journal.
“I didn’t realize I was eating so much,” she said. “A lot of fast food, lot of bread, lot of carbs, lot of dessert.”
The hardest past, she said, was the withdrawal of sugar. Also, she couldn’t get her husband, Jeff, to change his eating habits so she had to avoid temptations in the kitchen.
The TOPS meeting provided social support.
“It helped me with my accountability,” she said.
It took a year to lose and she spent a year maintaining it. Smith wears a size 10 or 12. Two years ago, she was a size 24.
Smith is still active with TOPS and also KOPS, which stands for Keep Off Pounds Sensibly. She was crowned runner-up in the group’s state queen contest at the annual gala last October.
She recently started teaching a popular line dancing class at Stanwood Senior Center.
As for that knee and ankle surgery she was facing two years ago?
“I don’t need it now,” Smith said.
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Talk about how you got started with TOPS.
One morning while having a pity party in bed I came across a post in our community group on Facebook. Even though I messaged the leader and she invited to the next meeting, it took effort to go to the meeting a couple weeks later.
How did you lose 98 pounds? Do you have any tips?
My initial plan was to focus on changing my eating habits. I recorded everything. My plan included eating three meals and three snacks every day with lots of water. Once I lost about 50 pounds, I started walking, increasing the number of steps on my Fitbit.
What was the hardest part?
Hubby not being on board to change his health lifestyle.
What do you want people to know about the process of losing weight?
To focus on one goal at a time — losing weight will happen over a period of time and not overnight. To do whatever you need to do by making yourself accountable.
If you could have a drink with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be and why? (And what would it be?)
I would love to have a conversation with my mom over coffee about hers and my dad’s childhood and family. We grew up in a family where children didn’t ask questions. She died in her 60s from health complications.
Finish this sentence: People would be shocked to know: The personal struggles I encountered … and my weakness for buttered popcorn.
I was born deaf. I had cochlea implants. I had my right side done two years ago, and my left side six years ago. Before, I had those big awful behind-the-ear hearing aids.
What are three things in your fridge?
Almond milk, eggs, veggies.
What is your pet peeve?
People asking if I can eat this or that or what I can’t eat because I am on a diet. I can eat anything I want, it is my choice what I want to eat.
What question should I have asked?
How many times have I tried losing weight? I tried several times, several groups. I really enjoyed our TOPS group because it is more personal; there were more opportunities/challenges to help me be more accountable.
Andrea Brown: 425-339-3443; email@example.com. Twitter: @reporterbrown.
There are 17 TOPS chapters in Snohomish County. Membership is $32 for national dues, with chapter dues that vary from $4 to $8 a month. For more information, call Darlene Wascher, area captain for Snohomish, Skagit, Island and Whatcom counties, at 360-658-1311. More at www.tops.org.