TOPS Healthy Lifestyle: Follow the Signs – Visitor Parking

When I walked into my first TOPS meeting over twenty years ago, I had thoughts of confusion and trepidation. Already uncomfortable with the challenges of obesity, I was taken aback upon hearing a pledge followed by a song about “getting together.” I had never heard anything like this before.  

I was introduced as a VISITOR, and the group welcomed me. However, I was wondering what kind of world I just stepped into. Songs and games made me feel that weight loss was not the main priority. Also, having a bunch of rules to follow did not make sense…hey, where is the diet I need to follow? 

Being a VISITOR anywhere can be daunting. My task is to try to fit in, not do anything to embarrass myself, and I want to be taught everything right away. The host has a responsibility to manage these expectations.  

Over the years the following questions have circulated: “How can our chapter get new members?” “What can we do to get younger members?” or “How do we get more men to join?” These are all great questions that I will refract on by saying, the answer may lie in the relationship between the host and the VISITOR.  

Unless a potential new member walks into your meeting with a current member, assume they don’t know everything about TOPS. Also, remember that people who have battled obesity most of their lives may not have much self-confidence. Therefore, asking them to weigh in may take a little time. Trust me, we know what our weight is.  

Visitor Parking

As a VISITOR, taking that first step to get help on getting healthy is exceedingly difficult. As a host, we must realize that each VISITOR is UNDER CONSTRUCTION and has their own SPEED LIMIT. Create a SAFETY FIRST area for the VISITOR to park and allow them to FOLLOW THE SIGNS. 

J.K. Rowling said, “A good first impression can work wonders,” so keep that in mind when you get a VISITOR. I thank my wife for being there with me because there was a chance I would not have joined that night. She helped me get over my first impression. Not all potential members may be as lucky as I was. Also, as a member, I encourage you to invite your spouse to attend a meeting and consider joining. I am perfectly comfortable for you to tell them that joining TOPS with my spouse was one of the best things I’ve done and it strengthened our relationship. 

To answer more of those prevailing questions and in the spirit of our “Four or More in 2024” campaign, I suggest we all take part in the efforts of Enriching Our Chapter Experience for current and new members alike. It is easy to get complacent, forget or not realize what impressions we are giving to a VISITOR. Just follow similar actions you do at home when you are expecting a VISITOR. 

The next generation of TOPS members will be different than past members. Things will always evolve, but losing weight to get healthy will always be a challenge. That next VISITOR may have something to share to help you FOLLOW THE SIGNS, so let us do everything in our grasp to make sure they do not park somewhere else. 


2 thoughts on “TOPS Healthy Lifestyle: Follow the Signs – Visitor Parking

  1. I use this column as a program to open up discussion and share with members that are do logged into TOPS

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