In August of 2016, Shellie Phillips was on the cusp of a health crisis. Tipping the scale at over 300 pounds, she found herself in the early stages of prediabetes. Unable to enjoy simple things like playing with her young grandchildren, she knew she had to make a change.

“I had a couple of cousins that had weight loss surgery, and that made me think,” Phillips said. “I talked to my husband about it and did a lot of praying.” 

Ultimately, she decided to undergo an operation herself. She opted for a gastric sleeve, and this proved to be a perfect starting point for her overall journey. The surgery, however, has not been a magic fix, and she now has to take extra care with the amount and kinds of foods she eats.

“My stomach only holds less than a cup of food at a time,” she said. “Too much, it makes me hurt. Not enough, I will be hungry again soon.” 

To ensure she does not over or under indulge, Phillips measures her food and keeps track of everything in a food journal. Her new diet consists of more lean proteins and vegetables and less bread, pasta and rice.

In addition to the surgery and journaling, Phillips finds her membership in TOPS extremely helpful in keeping her on the right track. TOPS is an organization offering support to those trying to lose weight. TOPS chapters are spread across the nation, and the Ardmore chapter is a source of strength for Phillips.

“One of the things I like about TOPS is it’s a general program. It doesn’t say that you have to do it like this,” Phillips said. “It holds you accountable for where you are and where you want to go.” 

This has to be the most important benefit of her membership. The praise when things are going well and the support when things are not is invaluable. An especially exciting moment of praise came last year when TOPS recognized her achievement by presenting her with an award. She received first place for losing the most weight out of everyone in the weight loss surgery category.

For anyone wanting to begin their own weight loss journey, Shellie offers these words of advice.

“The first thing to do is to set your goals. If you set a goal that’s way too high, you’ll throw in the towel too easily,” she said. “If you want to make a big change start with little stuff. If you try to do it all at once, most of us are going to fail.”

She also stressed the importance of a source of support.

“Find someone to be a workout buddy, to talk with, or to hold you accountable,” she said. “It’s too easy to say that no one will notice.” 

Statements like this tend to pile on top of each other and will eventually catch up with you.

Fortunately, Phillips has the support she needs and her own weight loss journey is still going strong. Almost two years have passed since her surgery and she is down over 100 pounds. 

“I still have a little ways to go, but I’m okay with where I’m at if this is where I need to be,” she said. 

In addition to improving her own health and well being, Phillips is extremely excited about the ways her new habits have influenced her family.

“My grand babies love their fruits and vegetables, and that’s just because that is what I eat,” she said. “I’ve even got a 7-year-old who wanted broccoli and cheese for her birthday.”

Overall, Shellie’s journey has increased her own sense of self-worth and that change is just as important as the change to her body. The journey continues and with her own determination and the help of her fellow TOPS members, she is sure to not only keep the weight off, but keep the weight loss going.