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Weight loss competitors get pantry makeovers (w/video)

By Elena Watts
Jan. 21, 2014 at 7 p.m.
Updated Jan. 21, 2014 at 7:22 p.m.

Checking the labels is one of the most important decisions to track when checking the ingredients from brand to brand. H-E-B is sponsoring the 2014 Slim Down Showdown with local contestants Amber Thomas and Jason Brown competing this year.

Amber Thomas and Jason Brown dropped lemons and limes in plastic produce bags as they worked their way down the aisle of H-E-B Plus! on Navarro Street on Tuesday morning.

The pair, two of 30 participants in the statewide H-E-B Slim Down Showdown, were participating in a pantry makeover guided by H-E-B dietitian Kylie Bentley.

The grocery store provided each with a $100 gift card to help with their purchases.

"You can eat a lot of healthy food," said Thomas, 24, of Victoria. "My goal is 1,900 calories per day, but I can only eat 1,500 because I'm so full."

Thomas and Brown, 35, also of Victoria, kicked off their weight-loss challenge two weeks ago in San Antonio with a six-day wellness program.

"This is one-on-one time when we reiterate the lessons learned at fit camp - reading labels and stocking a healthy pantry - and answer any questions that remain," Bentley said.

Thomas and Brown returned from San Antonio with heart rate monitors, new athletic shoes, computer tablets, hand-held blenders, yearlong Gold's Gym memberships and valuable exercise and nutritional information.

Brown gained more unexpected footwear Monday: an air boot.

He twisted and fractured his foot while playing baseball with his son.

"A bit of adversity, but I'm going to get through it," Brown said. "I'm going to find ways to exercise and control my portions even more."

Brown and Thomas weigh themselves once a week, and they have each lost about 10 pounds since the beginning of the challenge.

Their diets include an array of healthy foods including salads, fruit smoothies, skinless chicken breast, oatmeal, vegetables and yogurt.

"I had never eaten sauteed vegetables in my life before this started," Brown said.

The competitors learned ways to diversify their diets with new products during their four-hour guided shopping trip.

"I learned that I can use Swiss chard in my omelets instead of spinach or kale," he said.

Until the accident, Brown walked around his neighborhood twice a day with his wife and son.

He plans to find ways to work up a sweat on the stationary bicycle and with weights.

"This is a move for life," Brown said. "I'm enjoying the exercise."

Thomas wakes up at 5:30 a.m. for her workout at the gym. She tries to exercise at least six times per week.

"Preparing the food takes time, but it's getting easier," Thomas said. "I do most of my meal planning on Sundays."

Thomas learned that she does not have to avoid all of her favorite foods.

"I can have healthier versions of foods like sausage in moderation," Thomas said.

The winners of the competition will be announced April 12 in San Antonio. The grand prize winner will take home $10,000 while the healthy hero will collect $5,000.

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