Steven Brown’s journey to fitness has earned him statewide royalty status within the weight-loss organization, TOPS.
Established in 1948, TOPS, or Take Off Pounds Sensibly, is a nonprofit weight-loss education and support organization made up of a network of weekly support groups or “chapters” which spread across the United States and Canada.
Brown, 53, knew he’d be named “king” of his chapter, but said he was “shocked” to learn his kingdom spread throughout the whole state when he was named Arizona’s 2019 TOPS “King.” This title means Brown dropped more pounds than any other male TOPS member in the state.
Even though he doesn’t think the 46 pounds he lost is necessarily crown-worthy, he is “honored” to be the Arizona King, said Brown, who has lived in Cave Creek for 22 years.
“I was expecting that number to be a lot higher for someone to be king,” he said. “Had I started at my heaviest at 315 (pounds), the number would have been a lot larger.”
To commemorate his achievement, TOPS President Rick Danforth invited Brown to participate in the TOPS International Recognition Days conference in Niagara Falls.
The trip was originally lined up for last April but was rescheduled twice due to COVID-19. If all goes as planned, the conference will take place in July.
Brown’s wife, Cindy, will be joining him for the trip, he said, adding he is “excited” to see Niagara Falls for the first time.
This conference “will be a great opportunity to share my story and to help others,” he said.
Brown started his journey with TOPS in August 2018. His neighbor, Rudy Jimenez, had been a TOPS member for years and invited him to a weekly meeting.
From the first “weigh-in” on that date, he lost weight every week or stayed the same, he said.
The TOPS weekly “weigh ins” and meetings helped instill the value of self-responsibility for his progress, he said. Before he was a member, “there was no accountability to myself or a group,” he said.
The educational resources and support from his chapter helped him develop the mindset that says “I’m accountable to this number. I’m accountable to losing something,” he said.
“It doesn’t have to be anything huge, but it has to be something.”
Brown maintains his progress with daily exercise and healthy meals, he said, adding that he also weighs himself daily to assure he is within his target range.
Brown’s meals consist of oatmeal and blueberries for breakfast, chicken soup for lunch and different variations of protein like fish or chicken with vegetables for dinner, he said.
“I know it’s going to sound crazy, but I (eat) practically the same thing every day,” he said.
Brown’s path to wellness has helped him become “aware of what I put into my body,” he said.
His postwork session of cardio or P90X helps him “clear his mind” so he can relax and enjoy time with his family, Brown said, also mentioning how his wife has been very supportive and complimentary of his progress.
“I feel and look better,” he said. “But you know, that’s very subjective.”
Brown explained the biggest challenge he faced during his path to weight-loss.
“When I started the journey, I had it in my mind I was going to lose weight, whether it was an ounce or a pound — something every week,” he said.
“That wasn’t the challenge. The challenge was, once I hit my goal, I couldn’t keep losing weight. Eventually, I have to maintain or stay at a weight,” he said with a laugh.
Swapping his weight loss focused mindset for a mentality centered around maintaining his target weight was a “tough transition,” he said.
“I have to be able to allow myself to gain a pound or lose a pound, depending on what the week is and not mentally get down on myself,” he said.
Three years ago, Brown became a member of TOPS, but his overall path to weight loss began in 2004 after his 5-year-old daughter at the time observed and pointed out his weight, Brown wrote in a personal narrative.
He joined a gym and hired a personal trainer “the next day,” he wrote.
He lost 101 pounds over the next 12 years, working out daily, eating healthy, even completing a marathon as well as an Ironman.
“I was feeling really good,” he wrote. “Then a couple more years go by and I lost my focus.”
He stopped his “strict” diet and “loosened up quite a bit,” he wrote. “I allowed more unhealthy snacks and desserts. This followed by unhealthy main courses like pizza and bar food.”
“I still worked out daily, but my diet changed significantly.”
Jimenez then initiated a conversation with Brown, similar to the one he had with his daughter 14 years prior, he wrote.
Jimenez pointed out Brown’s visceral fat in his midsection, which Jimenez warned can be potentially “dangerous,” as it can cause inflammation and increased blood pressure and raises one’s risk for medical issues like heart disease, Alzheimer’s, type 2 diabetes, stroke and high cholesterol.
A few weeks after, Brown decided to ask his Jimenez what TOPS was all about, he said. Brown went to his first meeting and became a member shortly thereafter.
Brown said he plans to stay a TOPS member “probably forever.”
“It makes a difference for me personally, but it’s more than just me.”
The TOPS weekly support groups serve as an arm of assistance where members can be there for each other along the way, he said.
“That’s why I’ll continue to be there.”
Brown wants to keep helping people in their journey and “be that person” who can offer resources, information, support and encouragement.
“If you put your mind to something like this, you can do it,” Brown said.
By telling the story of how he accomplished his goal, Brown said he hopes to encourage others so they can say to themselves, “‘Well, I can do that too.”’
—Staff writer Sarah Donahue can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org