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TOPS weight loss program helps BOCES retiree lose 115 pounds

Josephine Gast, 74, of Patchogue, is pictured in

Josephine Gast, 74, of Patchogue, is pictured in July 2002, when she weighed 290 pounds, and in a more recent photo, showing off her 115-pound weight loss. Photo Credit: Gast family; Newsday / John Paraskevas

Josephine Gast

74, Patchogue

Occupation Retired BOCES employee

Height 5-foot-1

BEFORE 290 July 2002

AFTER 175 June 2017

Josephine Gast says her weight problem began when she was about 11, and that it was born of a family history of weight problems.

As an adult she became a veteran of Weight Watchers and Overeaters Anonymous — joining the programs, losing a significant amount of weight and then putting it back on.

“Then, in 2002, someone told me about TOPS, short for Taking Off Pounds Sensibly, where I lost 80 pounds the first year,” says Gast. “It’s almost like Weight Watchers, but it doesn’t cost a lot of money. You keep a calorie chart of what you eat every day, and you get weighed in every week.”

TOPS, a nonprofit network of weight-loss support groups, has been around since 1948.

“Now that I’m at goal, I don’t pay anything, but I know I can’t stop going — it keeps me on track. This year I became the queen of TOPS because I lost the most weight [through TOPS] in New York State. They crowned me.”

Breakfast is yogurt with Special K or Cheerios mixed in, and a cup of coffee. For lunch she may have a sandwich with leftover roast chicken. She sometimes treats herself to a fudge bar around 3 p.m. Dinner is likely chicken or pork and microwaved frozen mixed vegetables. Around 8 p.m. she has a 150-calorie snack of yogurt and dry cereal.

“On Saturdays I let myself have candy or cookies — but only on Saturdays. A year ago, I gave them up in the name of world peace. For me it works — it makes me think twice before cheating during the week,” says Gast.

Because of bad knees, Gast is limited to chair exercises. Sitting down, she does leg lifts, air punches and light weight lifting for about 30 minutes every day.

“Sometimes I dance in my seat or in place standing up,” says Gast.

“You need to go to some kind of group meeting like TOPS where you get weighed in every week and kept accountable. And write down everything you eat.”

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