May 28, 2007

A weight loss queen at 75

Jo Hoyhtya has been crowned Minnesota’s TOPS queen

By Kristen Miller
Staff Writer

After losing more than 160 pounds, Jo Hoyhtya not only feels like a queen, but she was crowned one as the 2007 Minnesota TOPS (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) queen.

Hoyhtya just celebrated her 75th birthday, but she feels 18 again after nearly getting past her goal weight of 180 pounds and motivating the Minnesota women of TOPS and KOPS (Keeping Off Pounds Sensibly).

After joining and neglecting the program, Hoyhtya stuck with it after rejoining in 1993 at 342 pounds. Nowadays at 175 pounds, she continues to go to meetings and lose weight weekly.

Two years ago, her leg pain became unbearable and she could hardly walk.

“That’s when I stepped up,” she said. “I wanted to keep me and my husband out of the nursing home,” she said.

Now, she has no leg pain, walks every day, and continues to lose weight and maintain a healthy diet.

“The support is wonderful at TOPS,” she said. “Everybody is there to lose.”

She remembers joining TOPS, sitting at her first meeting dressed in all black.

“When you’re heavy, you don’t want to wear bright colors,” she said.

At the recent graduation ceremony, she was happy to be wearing the white gowns, she said.

Hoyhtya appreciates the fact that TOPS is a non-profit weight loss program with a $24 annual fee which includes a subscription to TOPS magazine.

Everybody loses weight differently, she said. For her, she stopped eating sweets and bread. The main thing is portion size. She explained portion sizes at restaruants are larger today than they ever have been.

Because she won the title of TOPS queen for Minnesota, she would have been given $1,000 to compete at a national level in Providence, R. I. Due to her husband’s disability, she was unable to participate.

The Cokato and Howard Lake chapter has approximately 15 members meeting every Thursday in the back of the Cokato City Hall.

During the meetings, the members weigh-in from 6 to 6:30 p.m. and then from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. conduct the business meeting and have general discussion.

Anyone is welcome to attend.

“We would love to have more members,” Hoyhtya said.

Hoyhtya has struggled with weight throughout her life and as a teen, worried about being heavier than the other kids, she said.

“Dad loved food and mom made wonderful meals and desserts,” she said.

She and her dad even went on a diet together, walking wherever they went including church and weekly choir practice.

“I love music,” she said.

This is another reason Hoyhtya enjoys being a part of TOPS so much – she gets to play music. She even sang at the 2002 TOPS graduation in St. Cloud.

In 2005, she heard the 2005 TOPS queen, Dee Radin, speak at the fall rally. Hoyhtya found the two had a lot in common, since they both experienced leg pain with Radin having two knee surgeries. After Radin lost 87 pounds in one year, she no longer experienced leg pain.

Hoyhtya won the summer contest there and went home to keep losing weight every day including holidays, she said.

She didn’t eat any sweets, controlled the amounts of starch, protein, vegetables and fruit for 82 weeks.

“My secret weapon is eating in control,” she said.

Hoyhtya uses a doctor’s diet, in that she is advised by her doctor as to how much weight she can lose and what she can and can’t eat.

“This is especially important for people with health problems,” she said.

“How many people get to be Minnesota TOPS Queen for their 75th birthday? I feel like I’m 18 again,” Hoyhtya said.

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