Under normal circumstances, U.S. Capitol Police Chief Phillip Morse would be thrilled to come to work to find a five-pound bag of Hershey’s Kisses left on his desk.
But not this month.
The bag of sugary chocolates now spells out only one thing: sabotage.
and nearly 150 Capitol Police employees are halfway into the
department’s annual weight-loss challenge, and the stakes are high:
looking trim for the approaching swimsuit season, making good on New
Year’s resolutions and, of course, securing bragging rights.
rules are simple. Teams consist of four people. Each team member
weighed in at the beginning of the challenge — Feb. 1 — and will do so
again at the end — April 30. The team with the highest overall
percentage of lost body weight wins.
But the tactics are
Just ask Sgt. Jason Bell. Last year his team, “3
Guys & A Baby,” recruited a female teammate who gave birth during
the competition. She was 20 pounds lighter by the end, and they took
Or ask Laromacine Young, one of the Capitol
Police’s administrative assistants. Young has participated in the
competition for three straight years and has become known as one of the
most benevolent gift-givers in the office. She brings in cakes,
doughnuts and other sweets throughout the challenge to tempt the other
“They eat it up, and I’m not a cake-eater, so I’m
always winning,” she said during an interview in the Capitol Police
headquarters’ fitness center.
The teams go all-out for the
challenge, said Christi Trombino-Tonzi, the Capitol Police department’s
fitness consultant and physical training instructor.
oversees the friendly competition and has seen participants lose as much
as 40 pounds.
Many teams try to be as heavy as possible at
the initial weigh-in so that their final weight will be more stark in
“People were waiting in line for their initial
weigh-in and they were eating sandwiches and drinking a ton of water,”
she said. “And each year we have some people who say, ‘When are you
starting the challenge again? Because I don’t want to start losing
weight until I get weighed in.’ ”
In past years
Trombino-Tonzi used different scales to weigh the team members. But
before long word began to spread about which scales were lighter and
which read heavier. So this year, all of the participants are weighed on
the same scale, which sits under lock and key with Trombino-Tonzi in
the Capitol Police fitness center so nobody gets any funny ideas about
tampering with it when she’s not around.
And while the
contest can bring out the most conniving strategies in people, by all
accounts it also works wonders for building camaraderie and helping
participants make permanent changes toward leading a healthier
“When you give someone a challenge like this and then they lose the weight, they see that they can,” Morse, the police chief, said in an interview in the department’s headquarters. “And then they want it to be a part of their lifestyle.