Naylor runner-up at TOPS international Recognition Days

Diane Naylor and Mark Gallant were runners up in the TOPS International Recognition Days last Saturday in Florida.
Diane Naylor and Mark Gallant were runners up in the TOPS International Recognition Days last Saturday in Florida. Submitted Photo

After being crowned California Queen in early June, Oakhurst resident Diane Naylor was named the runner-up at the TOPS (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) International Recognition Days held July 14 - 16 at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

The event recognized TOPS award winners who, with determination, perseverance, and support from fellow members, achieved the greatest weight loss in their category in 2015.

Naylor, 63, shed 225 pounds over four years, 177 of those over the past three years as a member of the Oakhurst TOPS chapter.

Monica Thomas, 41, of Gastonia, North Carolina, was crowned 2015 International Queen with a total weight loss of 200 pounds, while Kenneth Connor of Beaumont, Texas, was named the 2015 International King, losing a total of 177 pounds. Mark Gallant, International King runner-up, of Prince Edward Island, lost 127 pounds.

TOPS royalty 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.

“It was a huge honor to be recognized this way,” Naylor said after arriving home Monday. “This was truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Attending this international gathering was like being with 3,000 family members ... family that all really appreciate the time and effort it takes to lose this kind of weight ... and more importantly, keeping the weight off.”

Naylor said it was never her goal to attain all the notoriety she is receiving.

“My original goal was to get healthy, but TOPS makes a point that these accomplishments are very worthwhile and meaningful and that we deserve this sort of recognition,” Naylor said. “It’s a little overwhelming.”

Oakhurst Chapter member Mary Ellen Shirley accompanied Naylor on the three-day trip, and assisted with many of the tedious details.

In addition to receiving her crown, sash, plaque and commerative pin, Naylor had a great time at Disney World.

“I had never been to Disney World before,” Naylor said. “I had no idea how big and wonderful it was.”

Naylor battled her weight most of her life.

“There are pictures of me starting as early as 8 years old that show my eating habits were already out of control,” Naylor said. “Over the years, I tried just about every weight loss plan out there. I 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. I need the weekly accountability and motivation that is offered by people who are going through the very same difficulties and triumphs.”

Naylor said she had dreams, and they were going to stay dreams unless she changed my lifestyle.

“I really started putting effort into eating healthy and exercising. Later, as I felt better and had more energy, I added bike riding to list of activities,” she said. “I started this journey at pant size 5X and I am currently in size 8s and 10s.”

On her journey, Naylor said she has learned how to eat healthy, how to not give up if she overindulges one meal or even one day, and how important exercise is even when she could do very little of it in the beginning.

“I learned to make progress - not excuses - and I have learned how to encourage and inspire others who have the same challenges,” Naylor said. “I have learned how a group of like-minded TOPS friends can be the difference between giving up or reaching goal.”

One of the main reasons Naylor joined TOPS was because of the KOPS (Keep Off Pounds Sensibly) program.

“I had lost weight before only to gain it back - but not this time,” Naylor said. “Motivation, accountability and my friends in TOPS and KOPS will help keep me at my healthy best. I am looking forward to the opportunity of doing the same for other TOPS and KOPS members.”

Sharon Gaston, co-leader of the Oakhurst chapter with Cindy Richards, is very proud of Naylor.

In an earlier Sierra Star story, Gaston said that when she first meet Naylor, it was Naylor’s insecurity that struck her.

“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.

“It is so gratifying to commemorate our members’ weight-loss successes,” said Barbara Cady, TOPS president. “Acknowledging their accomplishments, whether big or small, is a key element to TOPS’ weight management philosophy. It exhibits that ‘regular people,’ just like you and me, can make extraordinary changes to their health without special foods, gimmicks, or plans.”

Details: Oakhurst TOPS chapter meets at 10 a.m. every Monday at Sierra Vista Presbyterian Church, 39696 Highway 41. Oakhurst TOPS Chapter Co-Leaders, Sharon Gaston, (559) 642-0019, Cindy Richards, (559) 658-7099. Visitors are welcome to attend their first TOPS meeting free of charge. Membership is $32 per year, plus nominal chapter fees.