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Sunflower Market contest focuses on overall health

Chris Hauser pours some healthful cereal into some yogurt at his home Monday morning. Hauser is one of six contestants in "The Smallest Winner" competition.

Chris Hauser pours some healthful cereal into some yogurt at his home Monday morning. Hauser is one of six contestants in "The Smallest Winner" competition.

A routine trip to his local grocery store has Tucsonan Chris Hauser on an all-inclusive path to better health, and may just win earn him the title of “The Smallest Winner.”

Hauser is one of six contestants selected for the Smallest Winner competition, the brainstorm of Maya Nahra, the Health & Wellness Educator for Boulder, Colo.-based Sunflower Farmers Markets.

Nahra was hired five months ago for the new position created for Sunflower, which will open its third Tucson location at 4282 N. First Ave. on Wednesday, and has 18 other markets in six Western states.

“It was pretty forward-thinking for Sunflower to create the position, and it fits in really well their mission of providing healthy food choices for people,” said Nahra, who earned a degree in Nutrition and Dietetics from St. Louis University.

Nahra’s job has her leading in-store health sessions, planning healthy living events and menus and creating all in-store recipes and healthy living programs. She also regularly shares her tips – on Sunflower’s Web site and in newsletters and fliers – for living nutritiously.

She came up with the idea of a Smallest Winner competition, along the lines of the popular “Biggest Loser” television series, and culled six contestants from more than 44 entries for the competition. The competition runs from Jan. 1 through March 1. Contestants receive free consultations with Nahra on nutrition, exercise and vitamin supplements, plus gift cards for Sunflower and free temporary memberships to local YMCAs. In addition to weigh-ins, contestants’ cholesterol, tryglycerides and total body fat levels are tested.

“It’s not about who can lose the most weight in two months, it’s about adopting long-term lifestyle changes,” Nahra said. “We’re weighing all of the different criteria, and though weight loss is one of those, it’s more of an overall heart-healthy program.”

Hauser, whose first official weigh in had him at 219 pounds, has already lost 10.5 pounds, he said.

“I’ve been eating a lot better thanks to Maya’s help and exercising quite a bit. Ironically, my wife and I have a ‘Biggest Loser’ workout video,” said Hauser, who works for Pima Community College in Professional Development.

It doesn’t hurt that Hauser’s wife, Wendi, is a vegetarian who is open to trying new foods, he said.

“She made me a vegetarian lasagna that was incredibly healthy but tasted like it was very fattening because she put tofu in to cut the cheese content in half,” Hauser said. “I would have never thought I would enjoy something like that, but it was fantastic.”

The Hausers – who have a 3-year-old son, and another child on the way – find the Smallest Winner contest is actually helping the whole family.

“Because of my healthier choices in the contest, there is healthier food in the house for everyone,” Chris Hauser said. “Regardless of where I finish on March 1, it’s already been a really great thing for us.”

Contestants were selected on the basis of essays submitted entrants on why they’d make good contestants. The rest of the field in the Smallest Winner is composed of two people from the Phoenix area, two from Salt Lake City, and one from Littleton, Colo.

Nahra said prizes for the contest have yet to finalized, but will most likely include gift certificates for Sunflower.

Maya Nahra is Health & Wellness Educator for Sunflower Farmers Market

Maya Nahra is Health & Wellness Educator for Sunflower Farmers Market



Festivitives for the Wednesday grand opening of the Sunflower Farmers Market at 4282 N. First Ave., include garland-cutting ceremony, free reusable shopping bags filled with more than $50 in healthfuly groceries, free food, and activities for kids. For more information, visit sfmarkets.com.

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