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20140124 AREA HEB-Slimdown  0814SHARYLAND—Sharp chest pains and shortness of breath gave Kristina Flores a wake up call on her lifestyle, causing her to apply for the H-E-B Slim Down Showdown.

Flores, a La Joya native, said after visiting a doctor she found her symptoms were related to anxiety. After seeing a commercial for the weight loss competition, Flores said it was a sign.

“I saw the commercial last year and thought I wouldn’t get picked…I’m in a little town from the Valley,” Flores said. “This year I saw the commercial and thought I need to do something. They called us right before Christmas to let us know we were chosen. It was a really good Christmas present for all of us in the competition.”

The H-E-B Slim Down Showdown selected 30 employees and customers out of 4,000 applicants across Texas. The contest began Jan. 6 and will continue for 12 weeks. The contestants will compete to win a $10,000 grand prize or a $5,000 “health hero” prize.

Abraham Moreno is a Palmhurst H-E-B employee from Mission, and at 22 years old he is the youngest competitor in the competition. Moreno said the competition started off with a weeklong fit camp in San Antonio.

“All of us arrived with the mentality that it would be like the Biggest Loser but it was more focused on the details of nutrition, and I liked that,” Moreno said. “It was hard. There were no comfort foods, and it was all new things, but it is a life changing opportunity you just have to grasp it and run with it.”

Wednesday morning, Moreno and Flores joined Pharr resident Lori Lopez and Rachel Garcia from Lasara at the H-E-B in Sharyland for a pantry makeover with H-E-B dietitian Marcie Perez.

So far, Moreno said he has found that H-E-B’s own Greek yogurt is at the top of his snack list.

“I bought like 10 Greek yogurts this morning,” Moreno said. “I bought two the other day and I have an older brother, so after I ate one I noticed the other was gone. My brother thought the yogurts were for him, so now no one is touching my Greek yogurt.”

Flores said her favorite foods are vegetables. She added her favorite veggies are found in the H-E-B line of frozen foods, which includes a mix of broccoli, cauliflower and carrots.

Both competitors said just being in the competition makes them feel like winners, and the thought of the prize money hadn’t crossed their minds. Moreno said that if he happened to win he would use the money to help his family with finances and use the rest for his college fund.

Flores said her main focus is to drop 40 pounds within the 12-week competition, and Moreno said he hopes to weigh in at less than 200 pounds.

“So far I’ve lost 6 pounds and two inches off my waist…it’s only been our second week on our own,” Flores said. “Right now, I’m ready to hit the gym and I have so much energy. I just feel good.”

Family and friends are also lending a helping hand to the competitors. Moreno said he has recruited his mother to cook healthy recipes with his new grocery items, while Flores has implemented a tasting rule at her home.

“When I’m cooking my food, I tell everyone to just taste it. They don’t have to eat it all,” Flores said. “They have all been up for it. They are my support system and with them I can do this.”

The contestants have their own blogs on www.heb.com/slimdown, where people can keep up with their journey, access recipes and work alongside the contestants on the same health plan. Moreno said the community has been extremely supportive with kind comments and motivation.

“It’s never too late to start eating healthy and setting goals,” Moreno said. “The world is your playground for getting healthy.”

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