Flora Hileman of LeRoy lost 114 pounds through the non-profit TOPS (Take Off Pounds Sensibly), a non–commercial weight loss, education and support organization.

JACKSON COUNTY - Flora Hileman of LeRoy lost 114 pounds through the non-profit TOPS (Take Off Pounds Sensibly), a non–commercial weight loss, education and support organization. 

Hileman, along with Moundsville resident William Gorby, who shed 132 pounds, were crowned the 2016 West Virginia Queen and King at a  statewide event that took place in Sutton recently, where hundreds gathered at the Flatwood Days Inn Suites and Conference Center to celebrate their weight loss accomplishments. Flora and William lost more pounds, from their starting weight as members of the nonprofit, than any other TOPS woman or man in the state. Flora is willing to share her story in the hopes of helping others.

TOPS has been fighting obesity since its founding in 1948. Last year, TOPS members (125,000) lost more than 300 tons of excess weight. Independent university research concluded TOPS is safe, effective and affordable (annual fee: $32) making it accessible to people of all income groups.

WEST VIRGINIA FACTS & STATS:

• 35.7% of the adult population in the state is obese.

• There are 1,598 TOPS members and 111 TOPS Chapters in West Virginia.

Last year, they lost a total of 8,167.50 pounds!

• Obesity effects more than a third of all Americans. That's 78.6 million people. 

• According to the CDC, it's associated with "about 112,000 deaths every year in this country." 

• Obesity can cause an array of medical conditions including: heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer. 

Although there is a plethora of organizations claiming that a magic pill or pre-selected meals will solve the obesity problem, this is just not accurate. Tackling obesity requires a lifestyle change involving making healthy choices and having a support system. Flora is a primary example of someone who has obtained successful, permanent weight loss and gained a healthy, fit lifestyle. 

“Your first and foremost priority in life has to be the Lord and yourself. You cannot take care of others without first caring for yourself and the Lord,” said Hillman.

“My weight gain journey was a very long one. I slowly started gaining weight at first, and a pound here and a pound there didn’t seem like a big deal to me. I thought to myself, I can handle this. However, my way of thinking was put to the test when I quickly gained 68 pounds as a result of being pregnant with my twins. According to my last count, I ended up losing only about a quarter of this weight gain, and yet I still thought to myself, I can deal with this; I have control.

“Down the road, I was able to conquer my habit of smoking cigarettes. After 26 years of smoking, I knew that I had to quit for my health and I did, 10 years ago on March 14, 2007. Although I was successful at overcoming this challenge, I ended up gaining 100 pounds because of it.

“Then came the frightful day when I stepped on the scale. I felt miserable and I was hardly able to breathe. I was brought to tears when the dial read 283 pounds. I decided right then and there that I wanted to change my life. This brings me to my favorite quote, “Your life does not get better by chance; it only gets better by change.” I placed this quote on my refrigerator so that I can read it everyday.

“My co-worker and dear friend Barbara Sullivan acknowledged my struggles and invited me to join TOPS with her on March 24. At this point, I realized there was hope and support for me. TOPS has taught me so much about eating healthier and more sensibly. We are all guaranteed to lose weight when we get up and move! I would exercise for short distances at first. I started at about 100 yards and now I’m doing at least three miles a day. This is a goal that you can achieve too. My challenge for all of you today is to get up now and make a difference in your health and your life.

“ I could not have been successful at my weight loss journey without the support and love of God, my husband Donnie of 26 years, and my family. I would like to take this opportunity to praise the Lord for all that he has blessed me with. I would also like to thank everyone in my TOPS chapter W.V. – # 0402 in Ripley, including my Chapter President Bertha Gandee for helping me achieve my goals. I could not have done this without ALL OF YOU!”