By Carole Carson

Review by Scott Keith

Carole Carson knew she had to lose weight. After all, her 60th birthday was only four months away. What could be a better birthday gift than dropping 40 pounds?

In her book, “From Fat to Fit: Turn Yourself into a Weapon of Mass Reduction,” Carson takes her readers on a journey that started with a rather revealing front-page newspaper photo, and concluded with The Nevada County Meltdown, a community-wide effort, organized by Carson, to get the folks in Nevada City and environs in tip-top physical shape.

Carson, in an interview with Men and Health: It’s a Guy Thing, says she became inspired after her scale broke. “When I stepped on the scale, and it broke, it was a moment of epiphany for me…the fact the scale broke just seemed to break through my system of denial,” says Carson, recalling that, “I was in the 90th percentile for heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes.”

A newspaper article jump-started Carson’s campaign to get her Northern California neighbors fit. “I offered to write a single article (on fitness) for seniors…it was going to be in the Wednesday edition, at the back of the newspaper, in the senior section.” The editor called to say the piece would run Tuesday, and the article could become a series. Carson was soon to experience a dose of reality. There was her picture, at full weight, in full color, on the front page of “The Union.” Carson says, “I had never told anybody my weight. My husband came down to breakfast. I was mortified, I told him we had to move. I wasn’t kidding.” As embarrassed as she was that day, several people mentioned, “Carole, if you could do it, maybe I could do it.”

Carson reached her goal, by gradually shedding 40 pounds, over four months, averaging two and a half pounds of weight loss a week. She says, “I went on to lose another 20. I was kind of on a roll and thought I might as well achieve what I really want. I turned around and offered to help people in our community do it.”

After teaching a fitness class through the Wellness Center of the local hospital, Carson, with the help of Mike Carville, general manager and owner of the South Yuba Fitness Club in Nevada City, developed a wider goal, a community challenge known as The Nevada County Meltdown. The plan was to hold the first meeting at the fitness club. With a week to go, a decision was made to relocate to the Nevada Union High School, with seating for 450. Carson started to wonder if only a dozen folks would show up. To their surprise, a bulging crowd of over a thousand attended the first night. The Meltdown was off and running.

Carson’s thoroughly enjoyable book describes the “Meltdown” in detail. She also offers great weight-loss advice and lets you glance at her progress reports.

Carson is candid when describing hurdles she conquered on the road to a trimmer figure. She took a trip to Paris to attend her son’s wedding. Carson writes, Our two weeks would be spent feasting – and, I imagined, in a constant state of self-torture. Among all those beautifully presented foods, wonderful wines, and fabulous desserts, how would I keep my commitment to fitness? Fear not. By the time Carson returned to the Golden State, she had lost another three pounds and five more inches!

A couple of darker moments are explored in “From Fat to Fit.” Carson recalls the events of September 11, 2001. Carson writes, In the accompanying sadness, I found myself shrinking from my commitment to fitness. Suddenly the effort seemed irrelevant and naive. She finally realized that just as I had been challenged in the past, I would be challenged in the days ahead. Facing the future as fit as possible would give me the strength, resiliency, and energy to deal with the needs of my family, friends, and community in uncertain times.

A stronger body helped Carson during a family emergency. Carson’s 38-year-old daughter, Jamie, suffered cardiac arrest and was eventually moved to a level-one trauma center in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Carson flew to the mid-section of the country to help her family assist Jamie. Without being in shape, I would not have survived the trauma nearly as well, nor would I have had the resiliency to return to Missouri and help care for my adult daughter. I was learning another reason to get and stay fit.

These days, Carson’s goal is to start fitness programs in other states. Carson has teamed up with AARP for the online “Fat to Fit” program at  Carson says the program is free and open to the public. “There’s a lot of inspiration.”

After you read “From Fat to Fit,” you’re going to want to start lifting weights and hiking trails. Carson will offer you plenty of inspiration for when the going gets tough.

Softcover, 245 pages, Hound Press, $14.95, Available at and

Visit Carole Carson at

AARP “Fat to Fit” program at