For TOPS member Michelle Noble, the organization has always been a part of her life.
Noble’s mother attended TOPS meetings, so when Michelle was a child, she would sit in, without even realizing the impact that this group would have on her life or her future.
“My mom would always drag me along – I’d bring coloring books and watch the meetings,” Noble recalled in a recent phone interview.
Noble joined TOPS as a teen, and stayed on as a young adult, despite being fairly thin, she said.
“I look at my pictures from back then, and it’s like, I was SO skinny. Why did I want to lose weight?” Noble said with a laugh.
Author’s note: Isn’t that incredibly relatable? My friends and I always remark, we wish we were as “heavy” as we thought we were in high school!
But then, as it goes for so many of us, “life happened,” as Noble put it.
“You get married, have kids, and just get busy,” she said.
Decades passed, and then one day, Noble, who lives in Sharon, Pennsylvania, said something within her shifted – not literally, but she felt a burst of motivation. There was also a key moment (we’ll get to that!) A lot of lightbulbs were suddenly going off all at once.
“I’ve always wanted to lose the weight and fit into a bikini,” Noble said. “I was younger when I set that goal, but it stayed with me.”
At first, Noble said, she started small — and worked to clean up her routine on her own, seeing some success: She lost 30 pounds, and felt pleased with that number. Still, she wanted more.
Noble remembered TOPS, and the positive influence she’d seen firsthand, growing up.
Noble rejoined, and lost 70 more pounds.
As for how exactly she accomplished her goal, Noble said she followed all the tried-and-true methods that you hear about: She watched her portion sizes, weighed her food, changed the way she ate, shifted her diet overall, started walking on the treadmill regularly, tracked and counted calories.
She swears by the support she still receives from her fellow chapter members, as well. Noble and her husband, Micheal Noble, attend meetings in Boardman, Ohio.
Michael met his goal, as well – and lost 37 pounds with the help of TOPS (about 100 pounds overall). He’s had to shift his goal over the years, for medical reasons, Michelle said.
“For both of us, it came down to our health. We both have fibromyalgia. I was almost bedridden,” Michelle told us. “At first, I could only do six minutes at a time on the treadmill. I’d be wiped out and couldn’t do anything after that. I had to slowly work my way up. I had blood clots in my lungs and they told me in the hospital that most likely, I’d die. I had to do something. And then when I lost my weight, Michael said, ‘I want to be around for you,’ so he decided he’d lose his weight, too.”
Michelle was Pennsylvania queen in 2021. Michael was a division winner the same year.
Michelle still has a hard time accepting her new reality – although you might say that’s a good thing.
It’s almost as if her brain hasn’t fully realized how much her body has changed. For example, Michelle said she’ll see a piece of clothing, assume “that would never fit,” and then the shirt or dress will slide on with ease.
“Your mind plays tricks on you,” she said with another laugh.
These days, Michelle can do 45 minutes to an hour on the treadmill. It doesn’t faze her. The Nobles joked that they actually “killed” their last treadmill, because they wore it out, and now need a new one.
“The funny thing is, people just think it’s a treadmill,” Michael said. “It costs (more than you might think).”
But in the grand scheme of things, it’s a small price to pay to regain control of your life.
Once Michelle made up her mind to lose the weight, she said, “I went right to it.”
Life as they knew it changed for the couple in a matter of about two years.
“There was also a hunting convention weekend we took together,” Michelle said. “We were walking around a small lake, and took a break halfway around the lake at a picnic table. I didn’t think I could get up. I didn’t think I could make it back. I was so mortified for my husband to have to tell those other men that his (wife) couldn’t make it back to the building! That was my ‘ah ha’ moment. I think everyone who reaches goal weight has an ‘ah ha’ moment. I forced myself up, and I made it back to the car.”
As for any advice Michelle has for others?
“Don’t let anything get in your way,” she said. “Keep that goal in your mind. Don’t let anybody tell you anything different. Don’t stray from it. … You have to remember why you started in the first place. For me, I was thinking about that bikini. I was using a cane and a walker when I first started this journey, and I no longer have those, thank goodness. But if you want to do it, you can do it.”
Inside “TOPS Of Mind:”