The spam-blocker on my e-mail account is set relatively low, because I want to hear from readers. This means I get more than my share of junk e-mail, but it is worth a few extra clicks of the delete button to find the hidden gems.
One particular e-mail caught my attention—from Rinat Atar, a resident of Israel. When she asked me if I could help organize a Meltdown halfway around the world, I responded in amazement.
How in the world—literally—did she know about the Nevada County Meltdown?
Her reply was immediate. She'd read about the Meltdown in "Body Intelligence" (McGraw Hill, 2005) by Dr. Edward Abramson, an internationally recognized authority on obesity. In his book, Dr. Abramson cited the Nevada County Meltdown as an example of how people working together could tackle this important public health issue. He told our story in detail—how more than 1,000 of us had lost nearly four tons of fat in eight weeks.
After I sent Rinat materials to organize her own community fitness event, I thought about how nothing inspires us as much as each other's stories and examples. I decided to get fit when my niece, overweight even as a child, lost more than 100 pounds after the birth of her second child. By the same token, I wondered, has my example triggered changes in people around me? Today my husband goes to the gym three times a week for an exercise class, which supplements his tennis, which he plays two to three times a week. He is also conscientious about his eating. My son, Steve, lost weight mainly through exercising; at age 35, he is in better shape than when he was at 25.
My stepson, Scott, has lost more than 30 pounds. My granddaughters, who until now never met a french fry they didn't eat, talk about eating more healthfully. My best friend has lost 20 pounds. Several students in my weight-loss classes have not only become more fit themselves, they have become fitness advocates.
Except for my students, just as I didn't think to tell my niece how she inspired me, none of these people have said my example influenced them. That's the amazing part. With or without our awareness, we set an example! Don't we have an obligation to make it a positive one? Who knows, if enough of us offer good modeling, we might influence others halfway around the world. Wouldn't that be exciting?