2004: The year we became ‘The Fittest Little County in the Nation!’ | TheUnion.com

2004: The year we became ‘The Fittest Little County in the Nation!’

On Tuesday night, Feb. 24 (a date that seemed far away on Jan. 6 when we started), we complete phase one of the Nevada County Meltdown. Together, ordinary people achieved something extraordinary. Working in groups of five on 201 teams, 1,045 participants shed over 3 tons of fat in seven weeks, thereby setting a world record for collective weight loss!

Statistics are cold, though. They don’t convey the human dimension that accompanies being overweight and out of shape. One participant, a young mother of three, wrote about her lifelong battle with weight. She gained “with every child and in between.” Taking a drug that speeded up her heart, she lost 60 pounds, only to nearly die from its side effect. Off the drug, she gained the weight back, plus more.

“It was so bad,” she says. “I made myself the butt of jokes so that everyone knew I knew I was fat.”

Events the following year – a parent’s death, another baby, a closed business – triggered more weight, plus attacks of anxiety, high cholesterol and smoking. Her life, by her own admission, was “out of control” and her self-esteem at its lowest. Her children loved junk food, spending hours in front of television or video games. Even hubby was overweight.

“But then, all of a sudden, on Jan. 6, I got a call from a friend who asked me to go to this Meltdown. I kinda laughed but then said, ‘Oh, why not.’ My whole life has changed. I’ve lost 19 pounds; my husband’s lost 10. My kids are eating healthier. We walk together as a family and have lots of fun. I’m going to change my life and my family’s and get healthy.

“As for my team, we’ve lost 58 pounds. We walk every other day. We call each other just to laugh and talk. My body feels so much better already.”

As you can see, the real story of the Meltdown is not in the statistics but in the lives of ordinary people like you and me. True, we want to reduce our odds for premature death related to obesity. We also want to reduce the distress along with medical problem and expenses associated a sedentary lifestyle. But most of all, we want to improve the quality of our lives and have fun while we’re doing it!

By popular demand, we’re moving into phase two. A team captains’ meeting is scheduled to organize the future – we can shape it as we want.

Thanks to technology (we’re in touch via e-mail) we can continue to measure our progress. We can also add participants. And we’ll also need to set a new goal when we know how many participants are continuing.

Once again, Nevada County is a pioneer. In creating a model for a community-based program to promote fitness, we make a gift to ourselves of healthier and happier lives. When other communities follow our example – and they will – we make a gift to them as well.

Note: The Union’s last Meltdown page, Feb. 27, will be devoted to letters from participants. If you want to share your story or thank a fitness center for your free pass, e-mail Carole Carson at meltdownusa@earthlink.net. Carson is a fitness and nutrition advocate from Nevada City.

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