H-E-B helps Texans get a fresh, healthy start on the new year with sixth annual Slim Down Showdown contest and Under Armour Challenge

H-E-B has named 30 community members and (employees) from across Texas to participate in the sixth annual 2016 Slim Down Showdown presented by Nestle, Johnson & Johnson and the Texas Beef Council.

One of the community members chosen is Salazar Elementary's Gracie Cantu.

Cantu is a reading specialist for two years. She taught first grade for 13 years. She has been married to Noel Cantu for 15 years and as a wife and educator she admits that some of her meal's were not always healthy choices.

She applied for the contest, but never imagined she would be chosen.

“I've struggled with my weight and I tried every diet out there,” Cantu said. “I decided that I need to make a life change and filled the application.”

The Showdown is a 12-week contest designed to provide contestants with the education and tools they need to live a healthier lifestyle, and the chance to win cash prizes.

“I'm not going to lie the money is definitely an incentive for me,” Cantu said. “But this is not about the money. It's an opportunity for me to learn new ways of cooking, exercising, a whole lifestyle change.”

In the Community Contest, 15 contestants were chosen to compete for a Grand Prize of $10,000 and a Healthy Hero prize of $5,000. They will embark on a life-changing journey alongside 15 H-E-B Partners who are eligible for a separate Grand Prize of $10,000 and Healthy Hero prize of $5,000.

Though only 30 are selected for the competition, anyone can follow along from home with the "Slim Down Showdown 6-Week Challenge,” a healthy living challenge hosted by H-E-B in partnership with Under Armour and MyFitnessPal, complete with recipes and workouts. Participants are encouraged to log meals through the MyFitnessPal app to win weekly prizes of either a $100 Under Armour gift card or a Fitbit. A Texas grand prize winner that will receive a $500 Under Armour gift card and H-E-B registered dietitian services for a year. A national grand prize winner will receive a $500 Under Armour gift card and personal training services for a year. Last year, more than 10,000 people signed up for the online challenge and recorded losing more than 28,000 pounds.

“The Slim Down Showdown contest changes lives, but our far-reaching goal at H-E-B is to impact millions of Texans, not just those selected for the official contest. That’s why we choose contestants who are open to sharing their journey. We want their success to have a ripple effect in their communities and across the state,” said Kate Rogers, Vice President of Corporate Communication & Health Promotion. “Our effort to reach millions is also why we hire dietitians to work directly with Partners and Customers in our stores, it’s why we focus on developing innovative, healthy products, and it’s why we host an online challenge where everyone can access the same great resources we provide to our official contestants.”

Cantu is on medication for diabetes and high cholesterol and with the contest she believes she can get off the medication.

“I'm excited for the opportunity to change my life,” Cantu said. “I have a great support system and I know when I return from the camp I can share what I've learned with others.”

Other Slim Down Showdown Community Contestants are:

Charlotte Melder, Austin Zachary House, Dallas Darlene Montemarano, Cypress Kimberly Revis, Cypress Joe Contreras, Bryan Carlos De La Garza, New Braunfels Meya Acuna, Seguin Jennifer Brooklyn, San Antonio Daniel Prado, Corpus Christi Michelle Giles, Harlingen Chelsea Childress, Harlingen Viky Garcia, Laredo Daniel Rangel, Pharr Brooke Cortez, College Station The 15 Slim Down Showdown Partner Contestants are:

Shannon Jones, Hutto Shandi Meredith, Temple Amber Smith, Malakoff Willie Aguirre, Castroville Jesse Cano, Corpus Christi Richard Garcia, Corpus Christi Maria Quintanilla, Pearland Emmanuel Quiroz Martinez, Pasadena Azure Gabriel, Dallas Terry Galbraith, San Antonio John Pantuso, Victoria Claudia Bejarano, Brownsville Robert Guerra, Brownsville Francisco Ortega, Rio Grande City Jabbar Al Tameemi, San Antonio Earlier this year, H-E-B invited Texans to apply online at heb.com. Contestants were selected based on their willingness and desire to embrace the program, and to publicly share their journey and the resulting lifestyle changes through blogs and vlogs at heb.com/slimdown.

Grand Prize winners are selected based on overall health improvement, participation and fan engagement. Healthy Hero winners demonstrate the most progress on health markers such as body mass index, blood glucose and cholesterol levels.

From Jan. 17-22, all contestants will travel to San Antonio to participate in Fit Camp, an intensive, weeklong wellness program with experts from H-E-B, Methodist Healthcare, Gold’s Gym and the Cooper Aerobics Center. H-E-B manages the contest, including overall nutrition and fitness education.

Once they return home, contestants will receive one-on-one coaching and support from H-E-B’s registered dietitians in addition to their individual meal plans and fitness goals developed during Fit Camp. They also receive a one-year gym membership, courtesy of Gold’s Gym, to help them with their fitness routine. Winners will be announced April 16 at a ceremony at the Henry B. González Convention Center in conjunction with the H-E-B Health & Wellness Family Expo.

The Slim Down Showdown is part of H-E-B Health & Wellness, a comprehensive, long-term commitment to improve the health of Texans. H-E-B aims to inspire Texans to adopt and stick to a healthy lifestyle through special offers on healthy food, nutrition labeling, events, competitions and educational opportunities.