By Rosanne Fohn
|Brittany Ward burns calories in the gym by working out on the elliptical and going to cycling classes. To support Ward in the challenge, visit and comment on her blog. The deadline for comments is 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, April 3. Click on photos to see a larger view.|
Printer Friendly Format
It’s now just a matter of days until Brittany Ward, an occupational therapy student at The University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio, will find out whether she has won the H-E-B Slim Down Showdown.
The 25 contestants selected from throughout Texas will learn on Saturday, April 6, who has won prizes in the 12-week healthy living challenge.
Ward has found that success is tied to several things: healthy eating and exercise, personal commitment and the support of family and friends.
“We have been given all the tools we need to succeed. I have a health coach, dietician and a wellness coach. I also have my family, my friends and classmates all behind me,” she said.
“I’ve lost 38 pounds and my goal is 60 pounds,” she said. “My overall goal is to get under 200 – in the 180s — so I’m on my way. I’m very proud of my success so far. It’s been difficult at times. I’ve hit a plateau, but I’ve just had to push harder in the gym. Sweat equity
“There are a wide range of exercises that I do that are beneficial,” she said. “I get my cardio in by taking spin bike classes and using the elliptical. I like to do kettle bells for strength training — they’re a lot of fun — and I do different things with medicine balls. I just switch it up. You have to fool your body to keep losing weight,” she said. Healthy recipes
She has learned a lot about healthy eating, as well. “I like fish and I like chicken, and I’ve found a bunch of healthy recipes that I use,” she said. “I know half of my plate should be vegetables, so that is half the work done. And I make sure that I have good, nutritious snacks that will fuel me through the day.
|The occupational therapy student plans all her meals and snacks, frequently choosing premade salads and using different seasonings to bring out the natural flavor of vegetables. “I also use an app to enter all of my food choices and exercise to help keep me on track,” Brittany Ward said. |
“I eat a lot of salads. I’ve also recently started liking spinach. Putting a little minced garlic in it helps bring out the flavor. I’ve also found that putting a little pepper and a little lemon or lime juice goes a long way. And there are a lot of salt substitutes out there that I’ve tried. Vegetables also taste great in their raw state. That’s one thing that I’ve definitely learned,” she said. Support and accountability
That’s not to say the challenge has been easy. “My support system is huge, and they’ve really been there for me, ranging from my family, to my friends and my classmates,” she said.
“Since my family’s not in San Antonio, they provide the support over the phone. But my classmates have been a huge part of my success. They work out with me, they make sure I’m eating right, and they’re trying to eat the snacks and change their diet as well,” she said.
“Having them there every step of the way has really helped me on those days when I just don’t feel like working out and don’t feel like eating right,” she said. “It’s been ironic, because on some of those days when I just want something else to eat, they’ll say, ‘Oh Brittany, I’m having tuna and a salad today,’ and I think, well, if they’re doing that, then I should just go ahead and eat what I’m supposed to eat. I feel that if I’ve influenced them, it’s important to do what’s right.”Applying what she has learned to her future profession
Ward said what she has learned through the challenge will help her as she moves into her career as an occupational therapist. “Through occupational therapy, I’ll be motivating my clients to do overcome their own personal challenges. And through my journey for healthy living, I will know how to motivate them to stay the course and achieve their goals, despite their impairments,” she said.
“Here at the UT Health Science Center we strive to make lives better. Through my healthy living journey I believe that I am making my life and others’ lives better. I’m inspiring people and I’m inspiring myself. By setting and achieving goals myself, I will know how to help my patients push themselves and do things that they may not have thought was possible. Despite the pain and internal battles, the hard work is worth it.”
At the end of the contest, three prizes will be awarded. There is a $10,000 grand prize, a $5,000 “fan favorite” prize and a $3,000 “health hero” prize. If she wins, Ward plans to use the prize to pay for her education.
To support Ward in the challenge, visit and comment on her blog
. The deadline for comments is 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, April 3.