McALLEN–Santos Segovia Jr. needed no prompting Tuesday morning as he followed an H-E-B dietician around a grocery store. While Andie Gonzalez lectured on the importance of balancing veggies with proteins and carbohydrates, Segovia loaded a shopping cart with things like strawberries, oranges and cauliflower.
A Mission resident, Segovia is one 35 contestants in H-E-B’s 2015 Slim Down Showdown, a 16-week contest encouraging participants to lose weight and live healthier lifestyles. Segovia, who works at the Palmview store, is eligible for a $10,000 grand prize and a $5,000 Healthy Hero prize.
Segovia–a nearly 300-pound, 25-year-old father–said it’s time for change.
“I have a newborn who just turned 4 months and an older son going on 7 years old. They’re both extremely active,” Segovia said. “It’s really hard to keep up with two kids.”
It’s the first time Segovia said he’s really dedicated himself to trying to lose weight. As a teenager, he attempted to lose weight for about month before he got frustrated at the process and went back to his old ways.
For Segovia, a lot of the problem is lack of information. As a child, he was active, playing football in middle school and often playing outside, but he could never understand why when he was playing so much, his weight didn’t go down. In fact, it felt like he was gaining weight.
When Segovia first joined H-E-B nearly two years ago, and his friend and coworker Pete Treviño suggested joining the slimdown, Segovia was interested. What appealed to him was the information the contest provided.
Segovia and other contestants just got back from a weeklong fit camp, where he assumed they’d be doing a lot of exercise. He was wrong. Yes, exercise was addressed, Segovia said, but food is the key. He didn’t know he could have his favorite foods in moderation.
“It’s basically just what we’re eating,” he said. “If you’re eating a meal that has over 1,000 calories, and your calorie intake is 2,000 for the day, in one sitting, you’ve blown half your calorie count for the day.”
During fit camp, contestants had a chef cooking a different breakfast, lunch and dinner each meal. It took a while for Segovia to realize everything they were eating was healthy. One night what he thought tasted just like mashed potatoes was in fact mashed cauliflower. He also learned that sweet potatoes taste good on their own and can be used in a variety of dishes.
Plus, Segovia said, he was amazed at the things he could do with Greek yogurt, which can be used in a variety of seasonings and dressings. It has a good texture, Segovia said, so it’s versatile.
One night at fit camp, they went to eat at a Taco Cabana, where Segovia learned he could eat out as long as he planned ahead. At TC, it was beef barbecue and a small order of black beans with pico de gallo and lemon.
“Just because we’re on a diet and we’re starting to eat healthy, we don’t have to seclude ourselves from the whole world,” Segovia said, adding that he still needs to keep track of sodium and cholesterol.
Contestants also have access to a dietician day and night. Segovia said he’s already called on her a few times, most recently when he was too busy to prepare a lunch for work. He called Gonzalez, who guided him through buying wheat whole-grain breads, turkey with no sodium from the deli, a small salad, fruit and some dairy.
“It was something I threw together within a couple of minutes, so it’s not like I had to fall back to a fast food restaurant,” Segovia said. “Sometimes they take 10-15 minutes just getting you’re your food, so it’s like, yea, it was a lot quicker just giving her a call.”
Segovia has a built-in support team at the Palmview store, said Treviño, who came along on the tour Tuesday, along with Segovia’s wife and infant son. After the tour, Treviño took Segovia to workout with a group at Gold’s Gym.
Plus, Segovia’s wife has been helping to keep him accountable. She made him buy a scale to weight all his food. Segovia said he’s learning to ask for help, and the more support his asks for, the more people are willing to help him and keep him motivated.
“You’re going to have days where you don’t stick to your plan, but it’s all about how you pick yourself and continue again,” Segovia said. “It’s all about a learning process. The next day hit it again.”
To follow Segovia and other contestants in the H-E-B Showdown Slimdown, visit https://www.hebcommunitychallenge.com/sdsd/blog.