Three months ago, Chris Sonnier could barely walk on a treadmill. Today, he runs marathons.
Sonnier owes it all to his employer — the H.E. Butt Grocery Co., he said.
“I appreciate what H-E-B is doing to promote living a healthy lifestyle for all partners,” Sonnier told SN. “It’s a great company to work for.”
Sonnier, a shelf-edge process manager at H-E-B headquarters in San Antonio, won H-E-B’s second annual 2012 Slim Down Showdown, a health and wellness competition for employees. He received a $10,000 prize.
Sonnier lost 53 pounds and nine inches during the 12-week contest. He hopes to lose more weight on his own over the next year.
Running is now part of his lifestyle. He recently completed his first 10K race in Austin, Texas, with a time of 1:28:48, exceeding his goal of two hours.
“Was it hard? You bet,” Sonnier said. “But I never gave up, I took my time, and I enjoyed every minute of it.”
Next up is the Beach-to-Bay relay marathon in Corpus Christi, Texas, in May, as well as a Tough Mudder competition in October, and, possibly, the Rock and Roll half marathon in November.
Sonnier was named the Slim Down Showdown winner in a high-profile ceremony March 30 at Pearl Stable, an upscale catering facility in San Antonio.
While Sonnier took home the grand prize, 11 other contestants were also honored and received $1,000 for participating. All contestants were provided with hair and makeup stylists for the March 30 makeover reveal ceremony.
The contest started in January with a weeklong wellness program at Cooper Aerobics Center in Dallas, where contestants learned what foods to eat, how to control portions and how much exercise their body needs to stay healthy.
After their stay at Cooper, contestants were provided with a therapist, nutritionist, life coach and gym membership to help them stay on track.
Each contestant could choose a “buddy” to compete with them. Sonnier selected his wife of 24 years, Donna Muth, who works in H-E-B’s human resources department. Muth lost 13 pounds, and is now back to the same weight she was in college.
Sonnier and other contestants documented their wellness journeys via blogs and videos. In addition,
H-E-B distributed a “Lunch and Learn” Slim Down Showdown toolkit to all employees who wanted to compete on their own. More than 4,500 employees participated, losing a total of 23,000 pounds.
When Sonnier started the competition, he weighed 300 pounds, was in the first stage of diabetes, and was taking medication for high blood pressure and cholesterol.
Throughout the 12 weeks, Sonnier learned how to lead a healthier lifestyle by eating the right types of foods, limiting portions, eating only healthy snacks between meals, drinking lots of water, getting at least seven hours of sleep a night, and exercising 45 minutes each day.
A few weeks ago, he saw his cardiologist for the first time in six months. If Sonnier continues his healthy lifestyle, his doctor may reduce the medicine he takes for high blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes in the near future.
SAN ANTONIO — H-E-B’s Slim Down Showdown is no longer exclusively for employees.
A 16-week consumer version of H-E-B’s Slim Down Showdown will launch in June.
The retailer received more than 500 applications when it held an online entry program earlier this year.
On May 14, H-E-B will announce 25 customers to compete for a $10,000 grand prize and a $5,000 “fan favorite” prize.
Contestants will be selected based on their willingness and ability to publicly share their journey through the wellness program and the resulting lifestyle changes through blogs and vlogs.
All contestants will travel to San Antonio to participate in an intensive 3½-day wellness program with experts from H-E-B, Methodist Healthcare and Cooper Aerobics Center. H-E-B will manage the contest, as well as the nutritional and fitness education.
Methodist Healthcare will provide medical oversight for the program and Cooper will provide speakers for the program and manage health coaching.
Once they return home, contestants will receive weekly coaching and support in addition to the meal plans and fitness goals established during the wellness program.
The winner will be announced in October at a Healthy at H-E-B Food & Fitness Festival in San Antonio.