And she’s anxious to share her answers with anyone who wants to slim down and live a healthier life.
Since she became a member of TOPS — Take Off Pounds Sensibly — Stout has lost exactly 100 pounds, looks years younger and is much more active. And although she has lost all the weight she needs to, Stout continues to attend TOPS meetings because she finds the support of the members of the local chapter help her maintain her healthy lifestyle.
Stout is eager to encourage people to take the important first step to losing weight and supporting them through the journey. As the wife of Carter County pastor Bobby Stout of Pleasant Beach Baptist Church, she has always been an encourager for the congregation and those seeking help.
But being the wife of a pastor also makes it hard to stay slim.
The years of church dinners with so many homemade delicious foods certainly was tempting. The Stouts’ busy lifestyle also caused them to eat many meals in restaurants.
As a result, Stout decided she had to do something about her weight. She was wearing a 2X, needing a petite. She was using an inhaler twice a day and wore a c-pap machine at night.
After the weight loss, Stout now wears a 6 petite, and as for the breathing aids: "now I am free of both, which has been a blessing."
She began attending TOPS in 1995 and immediately began losing weight quickly, but her first effort would prove unsuccessful. "I neglected to attend the weekly meetings, which was the worst mistake that I could make. As a result, I gradually gained all my weight back, and more."
She decided to make another try at the age of 71 and a weight of 225.4 pounds.
"I decided that if I was to get my weight off once again, now was the time to return to my TOPS Chapter,” she said. “After being away for several years and realizing help was definitely needed for my weight loss journey, I joined TOPS once again on May 4, 2015. I was welcomed with warm smiles and open arms by everyone."
Stout knew she had to change her eating habits, but also she needed to get more exercise. She joined the Wellness Center in Elizabethton and began walking. "At first, I could only walk one-half mile, but it wasn't very long until I was walking two miles each day."
She now walks five or six times a week, and if she has a meal with more calories than normal, she increases her exercise. She also began riding a bike for the first time in 50 years.
Stout said the Food Exchange Program provided the structure she needed for healthy, balanced meals. "My meals consisted of protein, vegetables, fruit and bread, which kept me from actually getting hungry. I avoided desserts and eating between meals, which was the most difficult change I had to make. Drinking lots of water and saying 'goodbye' to soft drinks became very helpful.”
She said her motto became "Eat to Live, and not live to eat."
Her husband had always been accepting of her weight, but he became her No. 1 cheerleader when she went on her diet.
"I told her 'Honey, it doesn't make any difference to me what you weigh, I still love you. If you have to waddle into heaven, I will still love you,' " he said.
"My husband was my biggest cheerleader along my journey, always asking me when I returned from my weekly meetings how much weight I had lost. He knew how important that was for me."
One of her biggest challenges had to do with their roles in the local church.
"Church socials and holiday festivities definitely posed a tremendous challenge, too, but I had to realize that my journey to success must be determined by me. So, I tried to look for healthy choices at those events and talk myself out of going to the dessert table. When I was successful, it would make me smile and feel good."
Her husband said she combined her self discipline with love. "She would still go into the kitchen and make all the things our family loves, but she wouldn't take any herself," Bobby Stout said.
In addition to her loving husband, Stout said she had the support of her friends in TOPS. "My success could not have been possible without the encouragement I received from my chapter friends."
By Feb. 22, 2016, Stout said she had lost 95.4 pounds and became a KOP, Keep off Pounds Sensibly. "I still get teary eyed just thinking of that moment in my life."
She lost an additional five pounds, bringing her total weight loss to 100 pounds. She said she was able to keep the weight off this time "because my TOPS family is definitely my security blanket."
The highlight of her success came this month, on April 8, when she was crowned TOPS Tennessee State Queen. "I feel my TOPS chapter family should be privileged to wear the crown instead of me because without their support I would not have succeeded.
She said she usually doesn't boast, but she feels that by discussing her success in public that she can encourage others to begin their own weight loss journey.
"Today, my success story can only be told because I claimed Phillippians 4:13, 'I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.' "
She said "God used my TOPS chapter members to encourage me every step of the way."
Stout invited everyone who would like to lose weight to join her at her TOPS chapter meetings, held every Monday at First Baptist Church, 212 E. F St. Weigh in time is from 5:30 to 6:30, followed by the meeting.