Houma native Harris Allemand Sr., age 82, credits his wife of 60 years, Leonardine, for the start of his weightloss journey.
He heard about the nonprofit weight-loss support organization TOPS Club (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) through her, he said, but didn’t get involved until after he started driving her to the meetings — and she made a friendly suggestion.
“Each week, I’d hear about what was happening at the chapter meetings. and it reached a point
where my wife could no longer drive herself to the meetings, so she asked me to drive her,” Allemand remembered. “She also said I could stand to lose a few pounds and that I should join.”
So on January 5, 2017, at 80 years old, Allemand joined the program which helped him begin his healthier lifestyle.
For the first year, Allemand said, he simply cut down on drinking soft drinks, which led him to lose 20 pounds. But then someone with TOPS advised him to participate in a food challenge “He said if you do it and stick to it, I promise you it’ll do you some good,” he continued.
Allemand said on June 1, 2018 he began the food challenge, and by November 15 of that year, he lost 32 more pounds.
For the challenge, Allemand explained, you check off each day that you go without a non-healthy food that you regularly indulge in and add more to the spreadsheet as you progress. For example, he started with soda, then added ice cream, then chips, etc.
Through the challenge, Allemand realized he didn’t miss these certain foods. “And I’ve been keeping my weight off ever since,” he said.
To date, Allemand said he has lost roughly 55 pounds and eats vegetables he’d never eaten before and healthier snacks.
The TOPS organization not only helped him achieve a healthier lifestyle, it also recognized Allemand for his success. He was crowned Louisiana King for officially recording the largest weight loss from his starting weight out of any other male TOPS member in the entire state.
Last year, he and Louisiana Queen, Thibodaux native Amelia Thibodaux who lost 58.25 pounds, got to visit Portland, Ore. to represent the state at a TOPS international recognition event — which he said was “a blast.”
In addition to the education TOPS provides, Allemand said, the support system also helps members become and stay healthy. “It’s a bunch of people who try to help each other out,” he continued. “You might be doing real good, but then the one sitting next to you might be struggling, and you might give them a few words to help them out.”
Founded in 1948, TOPS has 100,000 members and thousands of weight-loss support chapters throughout the United States and Canada, including a few in the Bayou Region. More information can be found here.
“If you get into it and stay with it, it’ll do you some good,” Allemand added. “And believe me, it feels good to take the weight off.”