Anna Chadis proudly works the runway during the 2015 Slim Down Showdown Finale. Photo courtesy of H-E-B.
Anna Chadis proudly works the runway during the 2015 Slim Down Showdown Finale. Photo courtesy of H-E-B.

Now in its sixth year, H-E-B is inviting Texans to participate in the Slim Down Showdown, a Biggest Loser-style competition, for a chance to win a $10,000 grand prize or a $5,000 healthy hero prize. H-E-B will select 30 people – 15 community members and 15 H-E-B employees – out of hundreds of applicants from around the state to compete in the 12-week contest. The contest begins January 2016, and all rules and information on the application process can be found at heb.com/slimdown.

Community members age 18 and older who live within 50 miles of any H-E-B store in Texas can apply now, and applications will be accepted online through Nov. 1.

When the 30 contestants are selected they will travel to San Antonio for a crash course on fitness and nutrition; the combination of both is imperative to maintain a healthier lifestyle after the Showdown.
The grand prize winner from each group is determined through overall health improvement, participation and fan engagement (contestants have to maintain a blog documenting their progress), and the healthy hero prize is awarded to the H-E-B partner with the most progress with body mass index and cholesterol levels.

Rebecca Lockridge masters the art of cooking healthy meals at the 2015 Slim down Showdown Fit Camp. Photo by Josh Huskin, courtesy of H-E-B.
Contestant Rebecca Lockridge masters the art of cooking healthy meals at the 2015 Slim down Showdown Fit Camp. Photo by Josh Huskin, courtesy of H-E-B.

San Antonio has made strides forward in establishing a healthy population over the years, but there’s a long way to go to further improve Bexar County’s obesity rate of 28% and diabetes rate of 19%. Nationally, those numbers are 35% and 9%, respectively. These 30 contestants seem like just a drop in the bucket until you consider that so much of the contest relies on each of their friends’ and families’ support. Many contestants go on to maintain and spread the lessons they learned about the importance of healthy diet and exercise long after the contest.

The 2015 competition closed this past May in conjunction with the annual H-E-B Health and Wellness Family Expo. One of last year’s grand prize winners includes David Nungaray, an assistant principal at Alamo Heights Junior High School, who lost 53 pounds and eight sizes.

Nungaray took matters into his own hands last April and brought the lessons he has been learning through the Slim Down Showdown program to his students and the community. The perimeter of the junior school gym hosted a variety of health and wellness classes and was lined with informational booths ranging from the San Antonio Botanical Garden to Methodist Healthcare. Kids got to get outside for fun fitness activities. According to the smiles on student and community faces, the event was a resounding success.

Two Alamo Heights Junior School students exercise using a rope during the Heights Health Expo on Thursday. Photo by Joan Vinson.
Two Alamo Heights Junior School students exercise using a rope during the Heights Health Expo in April 2015. Photo by Joan Vinson.

H-E-B Dietician Stacy Bates said Nungaray is a true inspiration to the community. “The competition is a chance to give back and engage the community in becoming the best version of themselves. David Nungaray has done a great job of being an example for the community to create change.”

H-E-B Dietitian Stacy Bates
H-E-B Dietitian Stacy Bates

Bates is new to the H-E-B community, but she has been a registered dietician for over ten years. Bates understands the stigma Texas, and San Antonio, has received for being labeled “fat city.”

“There’s a difference between obesity and being a little overweight. This is a great program and example for the city. Our goal continuing to promote healthier living in the community. All of the components for total wellness, food, exercise, etc. are important for the program,” she said.

In April 2014, H-E-B launched a new Nutrition Services program at several H-E-B stores utilizing dietitians throughout the region. Shoppers can have one on one consultations with a dietician, ask questions about food labels and how to prepare healthy food. Consider dietitians to be “food guides” during the journey through the grocery store. The community of eight dietitians also participate in corporate events such as Lunch and Learn for corporate events where employees can learn how to shop healthy on a budget and gain even more knowledge for healthy food.

The 34 contestants from last year lost more than 1,123 pounds, improved cholesterol by 37% and lowered body fat by 25%.

“At H-E-B, our goal is to change lives by giving Texans the tools and skills they need to get healthy and stay healthy,” said Craig Boyan, president and COO of H-E-B. “I am tremendously proud of our Slim Down Showdown contestants, who not only transform their own lives but impact their communities by inspiring others to follow their lead.”

H-E-B is not alone in its quest for a healthier community. The San Antonio obesity rate has dropped in recent years also in part to programs such as Fitness in the Park, which offers yoga, zumba and even a few bike maintenance classes. The San Antonio Parks and Recreation Department also has a new initiative called Mobile Fit San Antonio which takes Fitness in the Park classes on the road.

San Antonio has also progressed with healthy restaurants: The Clean Plate, Vegeria Vegan Restaurant and Green Vegetarian Cuisine are just a few local restaurants with definitive healthy food. San Antonio also has a healthy menu initiative called ¡Por Vida! (For Life!) which recognizes restaurant menus that meet nutritional guidelines developed by the Healthy Restaurants Coalition.

*Featured/top image: Anna Chadis proudly works the runway during the 2015 Slim Down Showdown Finale. Photo courtesy of H-E-B.

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Jackie Calvert

Jackie Calvert is a freelance writer living in San Antonio. When she’s not writing, she’s tweeting or exploring the many facets of her city.