Seventeen members of the Joliet Police Department shed a combined 854 pounds as part of an in-house weight-loss competition modeled after the popular TV show "The Biggest Loser."
The participants competed for cash and comp time to lose as much weight as possible over four months, said Joliet police Chief Mike Trafton.
"I'm extremely proud of the way they took this to heart," said Trafton, who donated 40 hours of his own comp time to the cause.
The contest began with 50 people each chipping in $50, plus $5 for each week they remained in the competition. Seventeen stuck with it until the final weigh-in May 30, losing an average of about 50 pounds each.
Sgt. David Harris lost a whopping 118 pounds and took home the $3,100 first prize.
"It's easy to fall into the routine of stopping atMcDonald'sinstead of packing a healthy lunch," said Harris, who started at 312 pounds and finished at 194.
He began with an hour of cardio exercise each day, packing lunches and cutting back on fast food.
"Then, halfway through, I saw it coming off," he said. "That's when it really kicked in."
In the final weeks of the contest, Harris upped his workouts to two to three hours a day.
Detective Tizoc Landeros won $1,500 for finishing second. He lost 81 pounds, dropping to 188 pounds from 269 by adjusting his workouts to emphasize weight loss instead of muscle and packing lunches from home.
Dispatcher Cindy Allensworth finished third and won $740. She lost nearly 25 percent of her body weight, starting at 163 pounds and ending at 123. "All I drank was water. I never drank any pop or juice," she said. Allensworth also took up jogging, and she said she now can do six miles.
The effort reinforced camaraderie and good-natured rivalry at work and helped the participants prepare to meet department fitness standards, they said.
"Everybody was watching what they ate," Landeros said. "If somebody had fries, they'd get stared at. Peer pressure had a lot to do with it."