“I have done it before and I know I can do it again, but I need help.” Those were the words I told myself the day I finally decided to apply for the H-E-B Slim Down Showdown, a 14-week competition that focuses on supporting individuals in their health and wellness journey. I had seen the flyer for the application the year before, but I had gained another 40 pounds from that time. It was definitely time to make a change. When I initially applied, only one person knew. Once I got the interview, I told a few others, and since I was selected, it has been both humbling as well as nerve-wrecking to put myself out there. Who likes to admit to the world that they are obese? I certainly did not. I recall telling someone early on in the competition that I weighed 310 pounds and their face said it all. They could not believe it. That was part of my problem as well. I could not believe I had let myself get to that point, again. In 2012, I had previously gone from 315 pounds to 240 pounds. In two years, I had gained all but 5 pounds back. Losing and gaining weight was not new to me, but this was on another level. I denied it at first—buying myself new (and bigger) dress pants was only temporary. Week by week, my weight went up and up. I tried every restrictive diet I could but nothing helped. I got “lucky” perhaps that I am tall and I always dressed well enough to cover it up, but underneath it all I could not deny the numbers I learned about while at Fit Camp. My body was made up of 48% body fat. My metabolic age was 41. I was devastated but that experience has fueled me. As a young Latino, I know the odds are against me with diabetes. I lost my grandmother to diabetes, and I refuse to remain a part of the statistics. H-E-B has already helped me make great strides towards that becoming a reality. I am now down to 278 pounds since the competition started 5 weeks ago, and more than the weight loss, I feel completely transformed. The education I have received about health, wellness, and fitness has been incredible, but more importantly, it has been practical. The focus is on making a lifestyle change that will last for the rest of my life. No more “diets” where I tell myself all the things I can’t have, no more “cleanses,” and definitely never going back to where I have been before. I am forever grateful to the Health and Wellness Team at H-E-B. I know my story of obesity and struggles with weight loss are unfortunately not all that uncommon. We live in such an incredible city that has made huge strides in improving our health and fitness. From reducing the obesity rate to providing more convenient access to green spaces, I love living in a city that supports the positive changes I am making in my life. I enjoy seeing new trails around the city and I am particularly excited about the upcoming Sicoliva event that is coming up on March 29th from 11am-4pm. The organizations and movements that are bringing people together to learn about health and motivate people to improve their lives have shown me that making these connections within our community are so important. Health and wellness make a difference in us having a stronger San Antonio, and in each one of us having a happier and longer life. And although my weight-loss journey ultimately comes down to me, I’ve had the help of the Slim Down Showdown and all the people in my life who’ve inspired me to make this change. If we want to move the needle on our big-picture SA2020 goals for San Antonio, then we can’t do it alone. At the end of the day, I believe one of the greatest lessons I am finally learning to trust in is that I cannot take care of anyone else unless I take care of myself. Right alongside that lesson, is also learning that is okay to ask for help. Taking that first step is already making all the difference in my life. Follow me and my fellow contestants as we continue our journey by checking out our blogs. When you take a couple of minutes to register, you can help our city earn points and each time you comment on our blogs, we get points as well. Ultimately, yes H-E-B will name a winner, but the truth that has become evident to me is that I already am a winner by taking on this life change. Thank you all for visiting our blogs and commenting! Feel free to reach out via Facebook if you have further questions.