Megan O'Kain Lotay

The beginning of the year always brings with it resolutions. For many, that resolution is to lose weight and live a healthier lifestyle. H-E-B is making that goal easier than ever in 2014.

This year, Texans can get involved in H-E-B’s Slim Down Showdown, a “Biggest Loser” style competition for 30 contestants selected from employee and customer applicants, through a companion program: a 10-week, online healthy living course. The course features the same recipes, workout advice, toolkits and mobile trackers that the contestants in this year’s competition will be using. All free.

H-E-B's free, online healthy living course at www.heb.livehealthier.com
H-E-B’s free, online healthy living course at www.heb.livehealthier.com

In 2014, it’s all about inspiring healthy living for all Texans – and following the contestants on their journey is sure to provide a healthy dose of inspiration. Seven of those contestants – Ashley Kuzar, Fabian Aranda, Eugene Flores, Heather Flanagan, Tiffany Vance, Katrina Corbett and Daniel Garza – are from right here in San Antonio.

All contestants converged in San Antonio on Jan. 6 for the competition’s kick off which featured educational and fitness events every day. From health screening and personal training to meetings with dieticians and healthy cooking classes at the CIA, each event aimed to help the contestants start their 14-week journey on the right foot. The next event for the San Antonio crew is the Pantry Makeover where an H-E-B registered dietician will help contestants evaluate the contents of their pantries and make better choices during an in-store shopping tour (rescheduled due to weather, new date to be announced soon).

Slimdown Show Down contestant Ashley Kuzar gets a crash course in healthy cooking from chefs at the Culinary Institute of America. Courtesy photo.
Slim Down Showdown contestant Ashley Kuzar gets a crash course in healthy cooking from chefs at the Culinary Institute of America. Courtesy photo.

Contestant Ashley Kuzar, a fellow native Pennsylvanian transplant here in San Antonio is especially looking forward to the upcoming Pantry Makeover.

“I am lost when I walk into the grocery store to go shopping,” she said. “I don’t know where to start and what to buy.  I don’t have a game plan.”

Ashley has already had success in working with the dietician to stick to a new, healthier diet, and the Pantry Makeover will further equip her with the tools she needs to approach grocery shopping with more organization.

The contestants will meet again in late February for their mid-point weigh-in.  This will be the first opportunity for the contestants to see how they stack up and get an idea of where they are in the running for the $10,000 first prize which will be awarded at the final weigh-in and awards ceremony at the Healthy at H-E-B Family Expo on April 12.

“At first, my goal was to win the competition,” she said, optimistic as the first weigh-in approaches. “But, so far, I’ve lost 12 pounds … I am well on my way to achieving my personal weight loss goal. I feel like I already won.”

Ashley Kuzar and her boyfriend celebrate her weight-loss success. Courtesy photo.
Ashley Kuzar and her boyfriend celebrate her weight-loss success. Courtesy photo.

I’ll check in with Ashley and some of the rest of the San Antonio contestants again after the mid-point weigh-in, but in the meantime, I’ll be working on cleaning up my own diet with some of the delicious recipes the contestants are blogging about, like the pronto taco soup posted by San Antonio contestant Daniel Garza. Thanks to H-E-B, getting healthy in 2014 is social, interactive and delicious.

Megan O’Kain Lotay and her husband, Jesse, have lived in San Antonio for two and a half years.  Megan works in marketing at USAA and in her spare time keeps a blog, The San Antonio Palate, to chronicle her dining adventures.  She is also working on a local arts and crafts startuplocaloodle.com.

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Megan O'Kain Lotay

Megan O’Kain Lotay and her husband, Jesse, live in North Central San Antonio (in the 'burbs) and are passionate about San Antonio, enjoying all it has to offer, and taking advantage of dog-friendly dining...