Oakhurst resident Diane Naylor was crowned ‘California Queen’ Saturday night during the state conference of TOPS (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) after shedding 225 pounds over four years, 177 of those over the past three years as a member of the Oakhurst TOPS chapter.
TOPS Club, Inc., the nonprofit weight loss support organization, unveiled its most successful man and woman members in California Saturday night, during the organization’s celebratory State Recognition Days event June 2-4 at the Town and Country Resort & Convention Center in San Diego.
The TOPS king and queen are men and women who, at the end of the year, have officially recorded the largest weight loss from their starting weight, regardless of the time taken to reach their goal.
Four years ago Naylor weighed 380 pounds, 225 pounds more than her current weight of 155.
“I battled with my weight most of my life,” Naylor said. “There are pictures of me starting as early as 8 years old that show my eating habits were already out of control. Over the years I tried just about every weight loss plan out there, and was able to lose more than 100 pounds several times in my life - but keeping it off was a different story. That’s why I joined TOPS about three years ago.”
Naylor added it was a bad marriage later in life that had her turn to food for comfort.
“I’ve always been a grazer, eating throughout the day ... I’m still a grazer but I now know what is good to eat and what not to eat,” Naylor said.
She used to eat a lot of ice cream, anything chocolate, and popcorn with butter, but now she loves to eat plenty a lot of steamed vegetables like zucchini, yellow squash, brussel sprouts, carrots, artichokes, and green beans.
She uses a lot of Walden Farms Zero Calorie salad dressing (great as fresh vegetable dip) and zero calorie Bold & Spicy barbecue sauce on her chicken and fish.
“I also use an air fryer that cooks with just a small spray of oil, and make zucchini and carrot chips in the air fryer,” Naylor said.
“I need the weekly accountability and motivation that is offered by people who are going through the very same difficulties and triumphs,” Naylor added, referring to TOPS.
Naylor said that once she started losing weight, she felt better and had more energy.
“I started my journey at pant size 5X and I am currently in size 8s and 10s,” said Naylor, who has a space at Good Ol Things Antiques & Collectibles on Highway 41 across the street form the Best Western. “I have learned so much on this journey.”
“One of the main reasons I wanted to join TOPS was because of the KOPS program (Keep Off Pounds Sensibly). I had lost weight before only to gain it back, but not this time. Motivation, accountability and my friends in TOPS and KOPS will help keep me at my healthy best. TOPS and KOPS has made the difference between failure and success. I did not ‘lose’ the weight, I ‘released’ the weight and have no intention of finding it again.”
Sharon Gaston, co-leader of the Oakhurst chapter with Cindy Richards, is very proud of Naylor, and that it has been a pleasure to watch her total metamorphosis.
“When I met Diane, she had gained more pounds than she wanted, but more than that, it was her insecurity that struck me - she sat alone in the back of the room and seldom spoke to people. She never smiled and lacked confidence in her abilities,” Gaston said. “After a few weeks, something clicked, and then magic happened. She began eating healthy foods, something that TOPS encourages. Suddenly Diane was all over Oakhurst. She started with short walks that got longer and longer until 10 miles a day was a common goal.”
Gaston said Naylor began to smile more and more as her body slimmed down and her health improved.
“She stopped sitting in the back of the room, she felt better, she learned to love herself again, and she became an inspiration to everyone that met her,” Gaston said.
Naylor will represent California when she travels to Disney World in Florida for the July 13-16 TOPS International Recognition Day.
Oakhurst chapter member Ray Lambert was also recognized in San Diego as the state winner in his weight division. In nine months during 2015, Lambert went from 327 pounds to 265.
“I love TOPS because the organization is all-inclusive,” Lambert said. “It’s all about the tremendous support system and education.”
Visitors are welcome to attend their first TOPS meeting free of charge. Membership is $32 per year, plus nominal chapter fees. To find a local chapter, view www.tops.org or call (800) 932-8677.
Details: Oakhurst TOPS chapter meets at 10 a.m. every Monday at Sierra Vista Presbyterian Church, 39696 Highway 41. Oakhurst TOPS Chapter Co-Leaders are Sharon Gaston, (559) 642-0019, and Cindy Richards, (559) 658-7099.