Starting Monday, D.C. police officers are getting into top shape. The Metropolitan Police Department kicked off its sixth annual fitness challenge, giving their men and women the chance to improve their health and drop the pounds.
Police Chief Cathy Lanier says she is also getting in on the action and has already joined a team.
"It's not easy if you have to lose weight and get in shape, but you can do it!" she says.
With a little encouragement from the chief, officers started weighing in, beginning their healthy transformation.
"I'm trying to lose 20 pounds or so," says Officer Jeffrey Wisecarver.
Wisecarver has been with the department for five years and now patrols the 7th District, where for meals, he says, the options are limited.
"There's a Giant and a Safeway and that's about it."
And for Sgt. Leslie Parsons, the greatest challenge comes with the inconsistent hours.
"The constant shift-changing," she says.
But weighing in over 300 pounds last year, he made a decision to get fit with his colleagues.
"I started off on the last one we did and I lost about 62 pounds," Sgt. Parsons says.
Chief Lanier says they're seeing a high number of people joining D.C. Police and Fire with diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure. Parsons says it was thanks to a lifestyle makeover, mixed with some friendly competition, that helped him lose the weight. This year, the participants will have more ideas and resources to work with.
"We're going to check their PSA levels and vitamin D levels," says Darlyn Yancy, a registered nurse with Providence Hospital.
"The dash diet is about getting potassium from fruits and vegetables and low fat, fat-free dairy foods," says Natalie Webb, a dietician.
"Hopefully this will be a huge education campaign and we can help save some lives," says Dr. Laurie Samuel, the director of the fitness challenge program.
The challenge will go to the end of summer. A fitness competition will then determine the winners, but MPD plans to work with other partners, including Providence Hospital, to keep their resources available to employees throughout the year.