49 pounds lighter, former Lombard police chief wins Fittest Loser contest
Former Lombard police chief Karl "Van" Dillenkoffer has been following the Daily Herald's The Fittest Loser competition for at least five years.
So when given the chance to be a participant this year, he ran with the opportunity. Literally.
Runs around Wheaton, where he logged time and distance with a fitness tracker, helped him lose 49 pounds, and 20.1 percent of his starting weight, to become the 2020 champion.
"This has been just an amazing experience ... it's been a blast," he told the watchers of the online closing ceremony Thursday night.
Dillenkoffer, 70, said he was worried at the outset he would disappoint the trainer assigned to him, thinking, "I hope she doesn't feel the old man can't cut it."
At the February weigh-in, he was at 244 pounds, despite having started several months earlier to modify his diet and exercise more. Twelve weeks later, he was 195 pounds. He lost 7 inches off his waistline.
Normally, contestants would meet with personal trainers at Push Fitness in Schaumburg, individually and in group "boot camps" and other activities, and that's how this year's campaign started. But of course, the COVID-19 closure orders in March laid waste to those plans, and put the kibosh on the usual wrap party for hundreds of community-team participants. Instead, the ceremony was conducted via Zoom and shown on the Daily Herald's Facebook page.
Push owner Joshua Steckler said the four contestants' weight losses showed that people can adapt and overcome difficulties when trying to improve their fitness, especially if they have support. The Push trainers taught and motivated the contestants with videos, and checked their food journals by text and email, he said.
"I'm just really proud of what everyone was able to accomplish," Steckler said.
Also competing were Neil Madden of Naperville, Barbara Simon of Buffalo Grove and Jennifere Lux of Wheaton.
"Silent Assassins" from Elk Grove Village won the Fittest Loser At Work Challenge. Maureen Koziol of the "Fab Friends" of Wood Dale was the women's winner, and Michael Kaveney of "Silent Assassins" won the men's division.