Carole Carson Explains How to Go From Fat To Fit - At Any Age!!
In her new book, From Fat 2 Fit, Carole Carson, an "Apostle for Fitness," chronicles her own journey from overweight to fit at age 60, and explains how you can turn yourself into a Weapon of Mass Reduction!
CommitmentNow.com: How did you get started on this fat-to-fit path?
Carole Carson: I stepped on the bathroom scale one morning (naked, of course because I didn’t want to add any ounces from underwear), and the scale broke. Because I saw a glimpse of the number before the scale broke, my system of denial broke as well. I told myself the truth: at 5-foot-1-inches tall and weighing 183 pounds, I was fat.
In that instant, I decided to get fit. Not go on a diet, mind you, but get fit. Because I had tried and failed to get fit for 40 years, I figured I needed to take a different approach. So I came up with FIT:
F: Fun. I would find fun ways to exercise that made me feel like a kid again. And I would find foods I enjoyed eating that wouldn’t pack on pounds.
I: Individualized. At the time, I had a badly torn hamstring so I had to make sure I tailored my exercise to those that I could safely do until my injury healed. I also wanted to make sure that the changes were so completely appropriate for me that I would continue them for the rest of my life. They would be just right for me–given my age, preferences, habits, budget, environment and so on.
T: Together. This time, I wouldn’t go it alone. I would form a team. I would get some professional advice and emotional support.
CommitmentNow.com: How did losing 62 pounds change your life?
Carole: At the most basic level, the changes allowed me to write to you as I am doing now instead of being six feet under. At the time I began my makeover, the local hospital offered to give me a health and risk assessment. Only then did I learn I was in the 90th percentile for heart disease, stroke and cancer. Getting fit saved my life, and this knowledge fuels my passion for helping others avoid what would have been my fate. Perhaps that is why the Wall Street Journal called me an “Apostle for Fitness,” a moniker that stuck.
At the personal level, losing weight also had a profound impact on my creativity and self-confidence. The less there was of me physically, the more of the “real me” showed up. For example, I became a community fitness organizer. I also became a catalyst for others in my family to lose weight and get fit. I gave talks, including a key note address to 5,000 people in a huge auditorium. I produced two television series for the local public access television station. I became the coach and spokesperson for the AARP Fat 2 fit community, an 18,000 member online group. I could list more ways in which I stepped out, but these are enough to give you an idea of the magnitude of the change I underwent.
CommitmentNow.com: From Fat to Fit is a book which explains “how to turn yourself into a weapon of mass reduction,” yet you don’t talk about dieting! How is that possible?
Carole: I tried dieting for 40 years without success. I must be a slow learner because it took me all those years to figure out that dieting doesn’t work. I was like the rat that kept looking for cheese in the wrong tunnel.
Joking aside, one of my key principles is sustainability. Whatever I do has to be sustainable for my lifetime. Dieting is a temporary fix and when the diet ends, weight is regained, sometimes more than was lost.
CommitmentNow.com: What is the Nevada County Meltdown and how did it come to be?
Carole: After I chronicled my experience in losing weight and getting fit in the local newspaper, I offered to help others follow my example. Because the event would be held in the dead of winter (participants would have to brave snow, rain storms or ice) and at night (when seniors don’t like to come out and parents have to get kids to bed for school the next day), I didn’t expect much of a turnout.
Imagine my surprise when over a thousand people showed up. During the next 8 weeks, we lost nearly 4 tons of fat. Thousands of dollars of prizes were donated. Over 200 teams were formed. Banks, churches, employers, government officials, elected leaders, medical professionals, educators, service groups, restaurants—everyone seemed to get involved.
When we surveyed participants about what they valued most from the experience, their responses were phrased differently but the themes were the same: The Nevada County Meltdown put the “unity” in “community.”
Because our event was ground-breaking, it received national coverage, even international attention. And because of the publicity, over 300 communities have since held similar events. Incidentally, our pioneering event was featured on the cover of American Profile magazine on January 4, 2011. (This 4-color magazine insert in newspapers has an estimated 18-24 million readers.) I expected that the impact of the publicity in American Profile magazine will be to inspire even more Community Meltdowns.
CommitmentNow.com: It is said that it takes a village to raise a child. Do you believe that it takes a village to live a healthy life style?
Carole: With the Nevada County Meltdown, we created a surround-sound kind of event where individuals were encouraged to get fit on many fronts. They heard about it at church, read about it in the newspaper, saw stories on television, joined teams at work and so on.
The program was part theater, part sporting event, part family reunion, part education and part consciousness-raising.
This latter is important as I’ve since learned that the rate of children at risk for obesity in our area has been halved since the Nevada County Meltdown. I believe this decline is partly the result of involving “the members of the village” in promoting fitness.
CommitmentNow.com: Not only have you changed your lifestyle from fat to fit, you have changed careers, as well! How did you start living your dream of being a writer?
Carole: I was just another ordinary retiree at the time I began my makeover—or so I thought. Since losing weight, I’ve written 4 books and over 400 articles on fitness. I’ve realized two lifelong dreams—to become a writer and to become fit. To realize lifelong dreams before dying was (and is) thrilling.
CommitmentNow.com: What advice do you have for women and men looking to lose weight and get fit?
Carole: Follow the FIT philosophy. Have Fun, Individualize your program so that it works for you and Team up with others.
As for immediate actions, I flesh out seven steps in my book that I’ve summarized here:
Decide once and for all to get fit
Assemble a team
Set goals and design your program
Learn, experiment and celebrate
Recruit others to fitness
Carole Carson, dubbed “An Apostle for Fitness” by the Wall Street Journal, is the author of From Fat to Fit: Turn Yourself into a Weapon of Mass Reduction. Just before turning 60, Carole decided to reinvent herself. After chronicling her transformation from butterball to butterfly in weekly newspaper articles, she invited others in her Northern California community to join the fun. Inspired by her example, more than 1,000 ordinary people teamed up to lose nearly 4 tons of fat in two months during the Nevada County Meltdown.
Carole writes a featured newspaper column and has appeared on NBC’s Today show, CBS’s Early Show, MSNBC’s Countdown, CNN News and national radio programs. Besides teaching and consulting, Carole has produced a weekly community television show, The Tipping Point, and a reality show, Go Fat to Fit.
Visit Carole at www.fromfat2fit.com.