Firefighters hit the scales, shed pounds

Up until January, the kitchen had always played a more important role than the small, dilapidated weight room for Daly City firefighters.

Firefighter Nick Gracia said the environment of the firehouse is circled around food. Firefighters cook dinner every day, but the meals often lead to overeating. The habit led to firefighter Pat Svoboda gaining 42 pounds since he started working in the department 10 years ago.

“We have a lot of good cooks, and we make too much,” said Svoboda, 39. “We usually eat fast because you never know when something can come up, so before you even realize it, you are over-full.”

But the unhealthy habits may be a thing of the past after 20 firefighters recently shed about 250 pounds collectively after starting a weight-loss competition to fight off the pounds accumulated on the job.

Gracia, who exercises regularly and follows the latest fitness trends, started the 12-week competition in January in order to promote healthy habits at the firehouse.

“I wanted to help the guys who were needy in that region,” said Gracia, 31. “When you’re busy in life, you lose sight of the priority of health. Our job can put stresses on the body, so staying fit is something that’s important.”

Svoboda is the department’s biggest loser of weight: He went from weighing 242 pounds in January down to 192 pounds this week. Second place in the competition went to John Corbit, who lost 35 pounds.

“I thought the competition was a good idea,” said Svoboda, who has three children. “I wanted to do it for a while, but I didn’t have enough motivation — this was a perfect opportunity for me to get motivated.”

In order to shed 50 pounds, Svoboda stayed away from carbohydrates, ate lots of vegetables and exercised three to four times during his 24-hour shift, jogging or using the department’s old Stairmaster.

“Guys couldn’t believe how much weight I lost in such a short amount of time,” he said. “My goal now is to keep it off.”

Gracia said he plans to continue encouraging his colleagues to exercise and eat healthy, and although he may repeat the contest in a couple of years, his goal is that he wouldn’t have to.

svasilyuk@examiner.com

Bay Area NewsLocal

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

From left, California state Sen. Milton Marks, Sen. Nicholas Petris, Assemblyman John Knox and activists Claire Dedrick, Sylvia McLaughlin and Janet Adams watch Gov. Ronald Reagan sign the bill establishing the Bay Conservation and Development Commission as a permanent agency in 1969. (Courtesy Save The Bay)
Sixty years of Saving San Francisco Bay

Pioneering environmental group was started by three ladies on a mission

Temporary high-occupancy vehicle lanes will be added to sections of state Highway 1 and U.S. Highway 101, including Park Presidio Boulevard, to keep traffic flowing as The City reopens. <ins>(Ekevara Kitpowsong/Special to S.F. Examiner)</ins>
Transit and high-occupancy vehicle lanes coming to some of The City’s busiest streets

Changes intended to improve transit reliability as traffic increases with reopening

Tents filled up a safe camping site in a former parking lot at 180 Jones St. in the Tenderloin in June 2020.<ins> (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)</ins>
Proposal for major expansion of safe sleeping sites gets cool reception in committee

Supervisor Mandelman calls for creation of more temporary shelter sites to get homeless off streets

A surplus of	mice on the Farallon Islands have caused banded burrowing owls to stay year round instead of migrating, longtime researchers say. <ins>(Courtesy Point Blue Conservation Science)</ins>
Farallon Islands researchers recommend eradicating mice

The Farallon Islands comprise three groups of small islands located nearly 30… Continue reading

Once we can come and go more freely, will people gather the way they did before COVID? <ins>(Jessica Christian/S.F. Examiner file photo)</ins>
What happens when the pandemic is over?

After experiencing initial excitement, I wonder just how much I’ll go out

Most Read