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About the cover

  D e s e r t   E x p o s u r e    August 2008

TOPS Weight Loss

Page: 2

Vallejo is also setting new goals for himself, and he faces some additional challenges as a result of the transplant surgery. Among the medications he must take to keep his body from rejecting his new kidney are steroids, which cause weight gain. After bringing his weight down to 230 pounds, just 10 pounds short of his new weight goal, he lost some ground. His weight is back up to the low 250s, and he says, "Now I've found I have to work doubly hard because I'm fighting the steroids. And I haven't been able to go back to the gym yet, which is probably what I need to do."

Nonetheless, he still shows the same dogged determination and positive attitude that got him his new kidney in the first place. While waiting to recover sufficiently to start working out in the gym again, he's exercising on a stationary bike. And he now has a pool in the house. "A fellow TOPS member went to a senior exercise class recently and brought us a list of exercises to do in a pool. So we're starting to do that," he says.

Meanwhile, he has another goal in mind: "I'm hoping to start coaching baseball again next year. It's something I did for 17 years, working with kids, but I had to back off when I got sick. With less weight, a new kidney and more energy, I'm looking forward to getting back into it."

Goals, positive attitude, encouragement and support are what TOPS is all about. And Vallejo and Duchaine are only two of the many TOPS success stories in southwest and southern New Mexico, where we seem to have more than our share of TOPS honorees.

Other area TOPS members who won 2008 statewide honors for their achievements last year include: Linda Smith of Alamogordo, state queen runner-up (with a total weight loss of 59 pounds) and Division III second place winner (with a 2007 weight loss of 32.5 pounds); Patti Gennrich of Las Cruces, Division III first place winner (42.25 pounds lost); Maggie Knox of Silver City, Division IV first place winner (35.25 pounds lost); and Kathleen Lewis of Alamogordo, Division IV second place winner (32.5 pounds lost).

Of course, New Mexico's state coordinator for TOPS, Paula Norero, is another local success story — though her involvement in TOPS began in 1967 in Lynwood, Calif. "I'm five-foot-two and I weighed 191 pounds," she says. Approaching the age of 40 at the time, she decided it was time to get rid of all that excess poundage. And, in the course of three years, with the help of her TOPS chapter, she managed to do that, shedding 61 pounds and reaching her target weight of 130.

Thoroughly convinced of the effectiveness of the TOPS approach, Norero became an area captain soon after moving to the Mimbres Valley in 1971. She quickly helped to launch 10 TOPS chapters in Grant County in less than three years. Since then, she has lost count but figures the number of chapters she has helped to bring into existence around the state of New Mexico is somewhere between 30 and 40.

Now an active 80 years of age, Norero has developed a lifestyle that has stabilized her weight at a healthy level, but she knows from personal experience the discouraging "yo-yo" effect of losing then regaining weight. After dropping out of TOPS in the mid-1980s to nurse her husband through a terminal illness, she packed on 54 pounds, winding up nearly back where she started from. But when her husband died in 1988, Norero jumped back into TOPS with energy and determination, and eventually shed those pounds, keeping them off for the past decade. In 2005 she became TOPS coordinator for the entire state of New Mexico.

Her enthusiasm about TOPS is deep and infectious. She radiates pride when any member of the TOPS family is successful in creating a healthier lifestyle and shedding excess pounds. "TOPS," she likes to say, "is one place where losers are the big winners."



For more information about TOPS, visit the organization's international Web site at www.tops.com or the regional site at www.topswonders.com Or you can contact Paula Norero by e-mail at paula@gilanet.com or by telephone at 536-9433.

 

Mimbres writer Peggy Platonos also wrote
this issue's feature about bugs.

 



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