Becoming weapons of mass reduction |

Becoming weapons of mass reduction

The Nevada County Meltdown continues, with “cells” of five or more people throughout the community building, or rather becoming, weapons of mass reduction. At weekly meetings, they cheer each other’s progress toward reaching the collective goal – a loss of four tons, or 8,000 pounds.

Having developed their strategies to eat differently and exercise more, residents proclaimed themselves the “Fittest County in the Nation” and then challenged other communities to prove them wrong.

Inspectors posing as representatives of the media interview participants in local restaurants, gyms, and other businesses in an effort to glean information about this spontaneous and playful association of unrelated individuals. One solid piece of intelligence is that participants share a common commitment to become fit.

Inspectors noticed another suspicious consistency in the comments of Meltdown participants. Many view the Meltdown as a collection of “ordinary people together doing something extraordinary.”

Recently discovered documents reveal more about their goals. “We are permanently changing our ways so we can improve our health. We want to feel better, look better, and reduce risks associated with being overweight – high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer.”

A handwritten note found at the site of a recent meeting stated more simply, “We got fat together; now we’re getting fit together.”

Intercepted e-mails to a leader suggest that participants actually enjoy this process. As one proudly stated, “The first week of the Meltdown, I told myself this is a dream come true. I jumped up and down and told everyone I knew about it. My husband and son also joined – our dog was not allowed. Our group is called 10% Off, and we hope to lose 10% of our weight.”

She continues: “The second week the work was well underway – exercise and eat right. By the third week, my husband lost 12 pounds and I lost 14. I can’t wait for the next week! This is so much fun, and we feel so much better. I might add we work out in the evening. and he does not snore any more. We sleep much better …”

Significantly, a growing number of members speak openly of their goals. “Participating in our great community is the next best thing to family! Watching all the community members come together and feeling all the energy … Just incredible. And for such a good reason … HEALTH.”

From another: “This is so great! I lost 50 lbs. in a year and am now working on the remaining 40, with a goal weight of 150. I just had a surgery but joined the Meltdown to keep me on track even during recovery, which isn’t easy. I joined the Meltdown with my mom, sister and two friends as the Five Amigos.”

Progress reports on the Meltdown increasingly appear on the national television news services. Last week it was “CNN Headline News.” This week, NBC and partner MSNBC hit the coverage trifecta, first with the “Today” show and Katie Couric, then “Countdown with Ken Olbermann,” and finally, the “NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw.”

The Sacramento Bee and the Los Angeles Times are monitoring the progress of two people in the Meltdown program. While e-mail inquiries from other parts of the U.S. now arrive at, a recent report indicates the formation of a “splinter cell” in Mexico. One might conclude that soon there will be more than Five Amigos.

Will the Meltdown strategy work? Will county residents succeed in shedding 4 tons as they work toward the fitness prize? Come to the meeting Tuesday night and find out!

Carole Carson is a fitness and nutrition advocate from Nevada City. E-mail her at or write her at The Union, 464 Sutton Way, Grass Valley, 95945.

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