Fit by example: Lawmakers in Miss., the fattest state, shed pounds in boot camp challenge

In a gym at a tiny college in the capital of the most obese state in the nation, state Rep. John Hines dropped his chest to the floor, let out an “Aaaarrrrgggh!” and forced through a few final pushups.

Hines and 71 fellow lawmakers, 19 members of the governor’s staff _ though not the portly governor himself _ and 21 “civilians” have been working out several days a week since January to promote healthful living in a culture that prizes its sweet tea and fried food.

They’ve shed more than 1,300 pounds collectively, giving new meaning to cutting the fat out of state government.

Hines, a 6-foot-1-inch Democrat, said he started at “well over 300 pounds,” though he declined to give a specific number. The 43-year-old has dropped 73 pounds _ about one-fifth of his entire weight _ through the pre-dawn workouts and can now wear a suit that’s been too tight for two years.

“I didn’t know I had a self-esteem problem, but my self-esteem has really improved,” Hines said. “My endurance is wonderful now. I feel good about myself.”