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Who’s the pup who woke the bugler up?

Who’s the pup who woke the bugler up? “You can run with the big dogs or sit on the porch and bark.” – Wallace Arnold

In Irving Berlin’s song, “Oh, How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning,” a soldier laments his forced early morning rising triggered by the trumpet song of revelry. Determined to sleep late, he decides to silence the bugler and then go after “the other pup, the guy who wakes the bugler up!”

Although he only hears the bugler, the soldier realizes someone else triggers the sequence.



Berlin’s song came to mind when I traced the history of my own makeover.

For some of you, I served as the bugler who awakened you to the need for healthier choices. But who’s the pup who woke me up?




In an innocuous conversation I had with my niece in Iowa a few years ago, she mentioned her sister, Lynn, had trimmed down. Remembering Lynn as extremely overweight even as a child, I found the news unsettling.

Lynn wasn’t sick, nor was she dieting. She simply changed her eating habits – switching to fruits, vegetables, and nourishing foods – and away from fattening favorites. She also rose an hour earlier and worked out using an exercise videotape. Gradually her body responded; pounds peeled off.

Losing over 80 pounds is a daunting challenge for anyone, but Lynn succeeded while caring for her family – a new baby, a 4-year-old and husband – and working full time as a data manager for a large credit-card company.

Lynn’s achievement awakened me to a new reality. If she could succeed, what was holding me back?

Granted, I was at the stage of life where “force of habit” isn’t just an expression. Plus, women of a “certain age” – I was approaching 60 – are forgiven if they lose their shape.

On the other hand, with grown children, I had few family responsibilities. And since I was retired, I couldn’t claim I didn’t have enough time. Hearing of Lynn’s success, I awoke to possibilities of my own; the rest is history.

Lynn didn’t undertake her regimen to get Aunt Carole in California to change. In fact, until recently, she didn’t even know she was the source of my wake-up call.

Similarly, I didn’t undertake my own makeover to impact others, certainly not to orchestrate a community fitness program like the Meltdown. But the same thing happened with some of you that happened to me when I heard about Lynn – you realized it wasn’t too late to change.

The story doesn’t stop here. Having been awakened yourself, some of you are powerfully waking others.

Take Jo Nunnick, for example. Jo joined the Meltdown with her husband, son and two strangers, not realizing the experience would change her life and her family’s, as well.

First Jo stopped blaming a pregnancy for excess weight (her son was 18 but excuses die hard).

Instead, Jo started journaling her day, her diet, what she ate, and exercise. She and her family started working out at the gym. They exercised five times a week for seven months. When she decided she wanted to do more, she got a job at her gym, South Yuba Club, and recently completed an experimental exercise-based weight loss program. She’s down 15 pounds with 20 to go.

Having completed the program herself, she’s now become the “success coach” for the second group. Think how many people she will impact and how many people her recruits will subsequently influence!

Another example: Sharyn Turner, coordinator of health for Nevada County Superintendent of Schools. (You may recall that Dr. Barry Turner, Sharyn’s husband, donated 15 dental whitenings and a $10,000 makeover to Meltdown participants.)

“With 26 percent of children in grades five, seven, and nine in California overweight and 40 percent unfit, it’s time to act,” Sharyn says said.

She formed an “Action for Health Kids” team to kick off the “Nevada County Million Footstep Physical Activity Challenge” – a program to get kids walking.

My niece will never know the link between her fitness efforts and mine, then mine to others, then others to others still more. Although the link is invisible, nonetheless it is real.

We are, after all, our brother’s keeper. When we affirm health and fitness by eating healthfully and exercising, our actions awake others from sleepy denial, introducing them to a different reality. We become the pup who wakes the bugler up.

Judging from conversations, anecdotes and e-mails, we’re become huge – our litter is growing!

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


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