Competition drives weight loss for Joliet’s finest
July 14, 2012 5:06PM
Sgt. Dave Harris lost 118 pounds during the Joliet Police Department's Biggest Loser competition. | Submitted photo
Updated: August 17, 2012 6:31AM
I walked into the police awards dinner and got the nod of acknowledgement from one of the honor guard cops by the door.
I don’t know all of Joliet’s finest. He looked familiar, but the nod can go either way. Whenever I introduce myself it turns out the officer already reads my stuff all the time but when I think they know who I am, I end up having to show my I.D.
Eventually, I sat down, ate a rather good chicken dinner and wondered which cookie I’d take from the centerpiece, which led tablemate Detective Patrick Schumacher to mention the department was wrapping up The Biggest Loser competition.
The department recently established a Wellness Committee to promote a healthier workforce and had gotten 52 officers and civilian employees to participate. I asked if there had been any noticeable successes to be seen, and Schumacher said “Tizoc, for one,” and pointed to the officer I hadn’t recognized earlier.
I thought I’d always recognize Detective Tizoc Landeros, but it seemed I was looking at his younger, leaner brother.
“Have they just named him the winner already?” I said. “I can’t believe anybody else could lose a similar percentage.”
“Not at all,” Schumacher answered. “You have to see Sgt. Dave Harris.”
Harris started the first week of February weighing 312 pounds, making him one of the heaviest officers on the department. Landeros was at 270 after he recovered from surgery for an arm injury by sitting around and eating junk food.
“Every New Year’s, I’d resolve to get in shape, and it didn’t happen. But I’m very competitive by nature,” Harris said.
Like the other contestants, the two followed the Wellness Committee’s tips to learn about eating healthier and exercising more effectively.
“Getting into a routine to go and do the workout was the first big step,” said Landeros. Cutting out fried foods helped tremendously and ended up having the entire family eat more meals at home, which was healthier for everybody.
“It’s fun when you can just see weight falling off,” Harris said. “And that leads you to cheat less, to watch what you’re eating more carefully. I started working out twice a day.”
Landeros said giving up beer was hard, too, especially because of its social side. But shortly after he given in and had one on Mother’s Day, his wife showed him what she’d just come across on Facebook. Harris posted a picture when he went shopping for a new belt because his old one was too big. Mother’s Day or not, Landeros immediately ran (not literally) to spend an hour at the gym.
But Harris said literally “running up stairs instead of chugging” was an obvious plus on duty.
“Though the guys I’d bust on the street would always say ‘Harris. You’re fat,’ but now that I’ve lost it they’re not as quick with the compliments,” he said.
The competitors pushed it hard in the final week and stopped sharing their numbers hoping for a psychological advantage. At the final weigh-in, Harris still was heavier at 194 pounds to Landeros’ 188 but had reduced his bodyweight by 38 percent. With a 30 percent reduction, Landeros finished second, essentially making him the top loser of the Biggest Loser competition.
“I had my eye on the grand prize, but I like the way I feel and look. I’m very happy with that,” he said.
“It’s like I lost Bergner,” Harris said — equating dropping 118 pounds to carrying around another officer. “And the clothing allowance (for replacement uniforms) went up, but the chief has no problem with that.”