BROOKSVILLE — Mike Liguori can now run and up and down stairs. At 384.6 pounds, he couldn't.
Shedding a whopping 57.2 pounds over 10 weeks earned Liguori the right on Saturday to jump up and down. The clinical pharmacist at Oak Hill Hospital hoisted the trophy he received for being the top loser in the inaugural Great Hernando Weight Loss Challenge.
Celebrating the challenge's wrapup at the county courthouse, organizers of the hospital- and county Health Department-sponsored event announced that over 10 weeks some 70 participants lost a total 5,759.5 pounds.
"That's more than 2 tons," Katie Stacy, of the organizing committee, told the cheering crowd of losers.
The challenge took the team approach, with 10 individuals comprising each team that worked out and ate healthier, encouraging and challenging each other throughout the period. Among the teams was a group representing Hernando County Fire Rescue, captained by Kevin Carroll and calling themselves On Fire, that worked off a total of 155 pounds to capture the group trophy. The amount compared to an average team loss of 82 pounds.
On Fire included Mike Louckes, Kathy Scruggs, Betty Erhard, Steve Champion, Jim Billotte, Lauren Erhard, Alex Lopez, Joe Garda and Dan Dancsak.
Doing Good With Less, Spring Hill Central Rotary's team, ranked second among teams by dropping 143.9 pounds. Third-place honors went to Slim-Tastic 10, fielded by Oak Hill Hospital, for lopping off 142.8 pounds.
Flab-U-Less, a group from the Hernando County Property Appraiser's Office, won the prize for most original name.
The weight-loss challenge was the brainchild of Rich Linkul, marketing director at Oak Hill Hospital, who had experience with a similar event in Colorado. Of the Hernando losers program, the 5-pound loser himself said, "It exceeded my expectations. It takes an idea, a structure and a team of energized leaders.
"I'm very pleased with the number of teams," Linkul added, noting that 20 teams organized within the Hernando County School District and 11 at Oak Hill Hospital.
Overall champ Liguori, with the hospital team Go-Lytely, a confessed "all my life" dieter, said he got a lot of encouragement from his peers.
"I didn't want to let the team down," he said.
As for his food regimen, Liguori explained, "I ate a lot of fruits and vegetables — dipped in low-fat dressing.
"Do you know how many zero-calorie pickles are out there?" he asked, indicating he ate them by the jar. "I stayed away from bread, pasta, pretty much cheese. I ate a lot of salads and low-sodium soups. And not big portions."
Being overweight, "I was not able to exercise much," Liguori noted. "Now, I'm much better (at exercising). I walk better. I run up and down stairs. This (success) will keep me going."
Previewing the presentations, exercise mats laid on the pavement, a group of baseball-softball devotees fielded by local Stix & Seams, a sports training facility west of Brooksville, performed a 30-minute full-body workout directed by physical trainer Mike Butler. It was a crowd pleaser.
And organizers announced that another challenge may be coming later this year.
Contact Beth Gray at [email protected]