By Jordy Yager - 05/18/10 11:03 PM EDT
After two months of grueling exercise routines and life-altering dietary regimens, the U.S. Capitol Police force is 858.8 pounds lighter.
Nearly 150 Capitol Police employees took on the department’s Weightloss Challenge this year, but only 92 stuck it out from the February kick-off until the last weigh-in April 30.
The Saladteers came in first, led by K-9 Officer Fred McMurray’s 45-pound weight loss.
The Hill caught up with a few of the winners to learn their secrets to success, the challenge’s highlights and, of course, their weak moments.
First Place Team: The Saladteers
Prize: iPod Shuffles and stainless-steel Sigg water bottles
Percentage of total body weight lost: 8.53 percent, totaling 84.4 pounds
Team roster and weight lost
Paul Mandiak — 14 pounds
Fred McMurray — 45 pounds
Mike Rodwill — 12 pounds
Mark Palka — 14 pounds
Years with Capitol Police: 22
Weight lost: 14 pounds (from 198 pounds to 184)
Done the challenge before? First time
Weakest moment: About three or four weeks near the end, I started getting cravings for stuff, and I’ve got little ones at home, so I’ve got a whole thing full of crackers or chips and brownies that they eat, so that was the hardest thing. I wavered off for a little bit, but I got back on.
Secret to success: For me, it was all about cutting my portions basically in half. And [maintaining] discipline [was key] … I cut out starches and pasta — I was a big pasta eater, white breads and bagels. I switched to wheat breads and started eating more salads and increased my fiber intake.
Hardest thing to cut from diet: I eliminated soda and started drinking more water. Pretty much every day I was drinking a soda.
Favorite healthy food: The biggest one for me was salad. But I may have burned out on salad. I had a lot of low-fat snacks to satisfy my sweet tooth. I ate a lot of pears and apples. I started eating salted almonds too, but I can’t stand those now.
Did you celebrate? Yeah, I had Chinese food last night.
Going to stick with it? I want to stick with it. I’d actually like to lose a little bit more, like four or five more pounds, and keep it off. But I feel 100 percent better. Fourteen pounds isn’t a lot of weight, but my energy level’s higher, and I just want to keep feeling that way.
Years with Capitol Police: 23
Weight lost: 45 pounds
Done the challenge before?: Once
Weakest moment: I went on a low-carb diet, so the whole thing was a challenge for me. But the hardest part was when we would go out to Outback, and I’ve got teenage kids, and the first thing they order is the cheese fries. So while they’re sitting there eating their cheese fries, I’m eating my salad. And Easter was tough, too. My wife got me one little Reese’s sugar-free egg.
Secret to success: I think it was a combination of changing my diet and exercise, but more a matter of diet in my case, because I lost a total of 45 pounds, and that’s a lot of weight, so the majority of it was diet for me. I gave up sugar, and no processed foods, so I was basically eating a lot of chicken and salad. No white breads. I was eating wheat bread. No pizza. I would make pizza out of the whole-wheat tortilla shells.
Hardest thing to cut from diet: Sweet tea was my biggie.
Favorite healthy food: Boneless chicken and salad. And I never really got tired of it. I’d just change it up and marinate it a different way.
Did you celebrate? I went home with my kids and we ordered Domino’s pizza. But I had three slices, instead of the norm of five or six.
Going to stick with it? I’ve been staying with it and I want to keep with it. So far, so good.
Second Place Team: Three Hunnies and a Bun (The Sequel)
Prize: iPod Shuffles
Percentage of total body weight lost: 8.18 percent, totaling 76 pounds
Team roster and weight lost
Tameka Young — 16 pounds
Anne Moore — 9 pounds
Laromacine Young — 2 pounds
Frank Quick — 53 pounds
Years with Capitol Police: 8
Weight lost: 53 pounds (334 pounds to 281)
Done the challenge before? No
Weakest moment: Getting started. Once I weighed in, it took me two weeks until I really started. And once I got started, it was all good.
Secret to success: The cool thing about it is my wife dieted with me, and if it wasn’t for her, I would have probably caved. I cut my calories down to 1,500 a day and I worked out three days a week. But it was basically just changing my lifestyle and how I eat. I was drinking four or five sodas a day, and I haven’t had a soda since I started. I’d write down every calorie that I ate and keep track of them.
Hardest thing to cut from diet: The soda wasn’t too bad. The hardest thing, really, was making the food changes. I started making my own pizzas at home. We’d still go out to eat, but not as much. And I haven’t been to McDonald’s or Taco Bell since January. I remember being at a party and texting my wife, “How many calories are in a slice of Pizza Hut pizza?” And when she said 400, I decided I wasn’t going to do that.
Favorite healthy food: The chocolate Fiber One bars. I eat them right in the middle of the day when I feel like I’m about to crash.
Did you celebrate? About a week before the challenge ended, me and my wife went to the Dominican Republic for a week. But even down there, we had fruit and egg whites for breakfast and we’d walk a lot, so we stayed working out on vacation. Not a lot, but stuff like walking on the beach, so it didn’t seem like exercise.
Going to stick with it? I’m trying to get 30 more pounds off by the end of the year. So hopefully next year I won’t even have to get on a team. I only got one pair of new pants because I lost so much [weight] in the waist, but I didn’t want to get all new pants because I’m not done losing [weight] yet.
Years with Capitol Police: 4
Weight lost: 2 pounds
Done the challenge before? Three times.
Weakest moment: I strained the muscles in my lower back in March, but I continued to work out, so it worsened. So I wasn’t able to go into the gym for the later part of March and the rest of April. But my real weak moments were on the weekends, because normally those would be rest days when I could have a piece of fried chicken if I wanted, but because of my back I couldn’t do any of that. So I ran a lot of errands and kept myself busy.
Secret to success: I just went on a strict diet, so my secret was just maintaining consistency and pulling off the support of my team members. I felt so bad because I couldn’t work out that I didn’t want to let them down, so my job was to make sure I didn’t gain [even] one ounce.
Hardest thing to cut from diet: For me it was fried food. I’m not a sweets eater, so although they tried to sabotage us with the Dunkin’ Donuts and all that stuff, that stuff doesn’t work for me. But put a plate of fried chicken in front of me, and now you’re talking.
Favorite healthy food: Grilled chicken breasts. I just fell in love with grilled chicken because I love fried chicken.
Did you celebrate? We’re supposed to be going to get fried chicken wings at Tortilla Coast on Wednesday.
Going to stick with it? Yes, I’m back in the gym all this week. I’ve still got a goal of losing 15 pounds.