News | Published September 7, 2012

Emergency department physician presents 60-day weight loss challenge to staff

Kasandra Botti, DO, FACEP, EMS medical director, is a role model for her staff. That's how she got "hooked" into leading a weight loss challenge for nine staff members from the emergency department at Mount Nittany Medical Center.

"The paramedics asked me how I lost the weight after my second baby." She took the question to heart, considered what it actually took to take the weight off and developed a customized 60-day weight loss program. "It's time to take care of you," she told them.

She also put some money in a pot and challenged all participants to ante up as well. The winner, paramedic Rob Jones, was able to walk away $325 richer. Rob lost 26.2 pounds, which was 12.5% of his body weight. He lost 15 inches.

Rob wasn't the only winner, however. Considering that becoming more fit and trim was the goal, it appears that was also accomplished. The group lost 122.7 lbs. and 73.25 inches.
The other "winners:"

  • Debra Smeal, lab technician
  • Judy Pleskonko, RN
  • Natalie Barlick-Reed, RN, EMS
  • Ed Gailey, EMS
  • Chris Hockenberry, EMS
  • Josh Fremberg, EMS
  • Dave McAllister, EMS
  • Shawn Luse, EMS

"I was so excited by the participation. I am hugely into fitness. It has always been a big part of my life. It's good for my mind as well as my body," said Dr. Botti.

Dr. Botti's weight loss program is designed to work for anyone interested in being very active and willing to change some eating habits.

Number one rule. No regular soda! Followed by, no more than three diet sodas a week. The idea is to get off sugar and sweeteners. Green tea and water is highly encouraged. The list of diet dos and don'ts continues:

  1. Keep a log. Write down everything you eat.
  2. Cheat day, one day a week. Eat whatever you want.
  3. Do nothing else when you eat except eat!
  4. Plan your day, and your week of eating. Planning is key!
  5. Stick to the outside perimeter of the grocery store - that's where the fruits, vegetables are!

Exercise rules are also given:

  1. You MUST do a minimum of five one-hour workouts a week to aggressively lose weight. Although Dr. Botti likes to do seven one-hour workouts each week. With one full day of rest.
  2. Join the group for the workouts, but if you can't, then check in about what workouts you performed.

Dr. Botti led the group workouts, which were from three to four times a week and included customized exercises designed for the location. They included the Mount Nittany Medical Center gym, The Military Museum in Boalsburg, Slab Cabin, Spring Creek and Sunset Parks.

Dr. Botti weighed and measured everyone in the group and asked them to write down their goals. The individual's reasons for losing weight ranged from feeling better, not being so winded, getting off blood pressure medicine, and looking better naked!

Deb Smeal said her weight loss of 24 pounds was due in part to the encouragement of the group. "I really enjoyed the time together with my peers and doing this with my friend Judy made it much easier. Dr. Botti was a great instructor and very encouraging to the group."

She has kept the weight off and has even lost six more pounds. She credits new habits with her ongoing success that includes drinking water, determining proper portions and making wise food choices.

"The hardest part is deciding that you need to take time for yourself and stick to an exercise program, but group participation makes that easier," she said.