He’s tops in losing weight

DALLAS — Just less than 2½ years ago, Dallas resident Randy Thompson made a promise to his daughter that would change his life — and most likely save it.    Thompson weighed 368 pounds and had diabetes, high blood pressure, difficulty walking and suffered from Agent Orange exposure from his tours during the Vietnam War.    “You name it, I had it wrong,” Thompson said of his physical condition.    He said by that time, he had given up on ever getting any better, until his daughter, Portland resident Shauna Gillentine, reminded of him of what he had to live for.    “First thing she said was, ‘Dad, will you do me a favor?’” Thompson recalled of the conversation that took place in December 2011. “‘I want you to make a promise.’ I always promise, so I said sure. She said, ‘I want you to lose 100 pounds. I want you to be around another 30 years.’”    He more than kept that promise.    It took 22 months, but Thompson hit his target weight of 220, losing a total of 148 pounds.    His journey took persistence, commitment and the help of technology and a nonprofit weight loss support group called TOPS (Take Off Pounds Sensibly).    Thompson joined TOPS the day after making that promise to his daughter.    “They teach you nutrition,” he said. “They teach you pretty much everything you need to be healthy and do it the right way and not the ‘fad ways’ as I call them.”    Thompson took that knowledge and made dramatic changes in his life.    “I drank five or six sodas a day and was eating fast food. I didn’t even try,” he said. “I had poor habits … let’s put it that way.”    Thompson eliminated soda, most bread and fast food, and all sweets. He began exercising, too.    “When I started doing the exercise, I couldn’t do very much, maybe an eighth of a mile and just walking, but I worked it into where I did 35 miles a week,” he said.    He lost 18 pounds in the first month, then averaged between five and six pounds lost each month after that.    TOPS named Thompson “King” for losing the most weight to reach his goal this year at the organization’s 2014 recognition days. The year before, TOPS gave him a “Century Award” for losing 100 pounds or more and keeping it off for a year.    “That’s the one I like,” he said. “Not too many get those Century Awards in TOPS.”    Thompson said his best tool was an app, “My Fitness Pal,” that helped him keep track of his food intake, physical activity and calories burned. He said he wouldn’t have been successful without the journaling feature. Photo courtesy of TOPS This photo was taken shortly after Thompson began losing weight .    “I journal everything that I eat so I can maintain a good balance of vitamins and minerals,” he said. “Your energy level, everything, depends on your nutrition.”    Thompson is now working on maintaining his slimmer frame, currently about 3½ pounds under 220. He said the best advice he could give to those just starting out is to keep a journal.    Thompson said he no longer takes any medication besides aspirin, when he used to take a dozen prescriptions. His diabetes and high blood pressure are now under control.    “I’m 65 and I feel like I’m 40 again and healthy. I have the energy now. I don’t get tired. I work like a young person again.    “I didn’t think there was a chance because of the Agent Orange and my poor health,” Thompson added. “But the human body is very resilient. If you treat it right, it will come back. It’s never too late.”


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