Accountants embrace "Biggest Loser" contest

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When "The Biggest Loser” premiered its first season in 2004, most people probably didn't realize the show would become a cultural icon. Since it began, however",The Biggest Loser" has encouraged people from all walks of life to design weight loss and fitness competitions to fit their own situation. With all the long hours and snacking that make up tax season, accountants are a perfect profession to benefit from the format.

Maria Krowicki (one of AccountingWEB's bloggers!), human resources manager for Cranford, NJ-based Fazio, Mannuzza, Roche, Tankel, LaPilusa, LLC says her firm is gearing up to start round two of Biggest Loser right after tax season. Round one occurred this past fall. “It was Marisa Fazio’s idea,” acknowledged Krowicki. “She brought it to me and so we put out an e-mail. We did it for 13 weeks.” To join the competition required a $20 buy-in from each participant. “The bottom three each week would put in $5 more. The winner got it all.” In a further show of corporate support, at the end of the contest, the company matched the amount of money in the pot and the winner received a check for the whole amount. 

Respecting the privacy of the participants as well as being able to encourage their progress, there were weekly weigh-ins and only percentages of weight lost were posted. Krowicki did the weekly weigh-ins and calculations, and kept privileged information under lock and key. “Every Wednesday at 10 am they were at my door waiting [to be weighed in]. After every weigh-in I would post the percentages (never their weight) on the refrigerator and everyone would cheer each other on. It was interesting to see the transformation of people and how much weight they lost.”

Of the 65 people in the office, 14 participated. The whole office benefited. During the course of the contest, healthier food choices were offered to support the participants. Birthdays were still celebrated, but without going overboard. Bagel breakfasts still occurred, but plenty of fruit and other healthy foods were always available. Everyone was eating healthier and encouraging the participants. It wasn’t uncommon to see a group of people going outside for a walk.

Tom Headrick was the first Biggest Loser winner for the office and proudly collected his winnings. Overall, the collective loss of pounds for the group for the first round was 183.4 pounds or about 15.1% weight loss percentage. 

While the TV show "The Biggest Loser" is in its ninth season, the employees at Fazio, Munnuzza, Roche, Tankel, LaPilusa, LLC are looking forward to their second season. Said Krowicki, “Things seemed to work so well the first go-around that I don't know if we would change much, if anything.  Now that tax season is behind us, and the nightly dinners are as well, people are looking forward to starting up with the program again.....just in time for the warm summer weather.”

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