For most of her life, Jessica Slaughter struggled with obesity.
As the 86-year-old from St. Louis told KSDK News, at her heaviest, a size 22 was getting tight on her. It was an issue she’d had since childhood when she was teased for her weight:
“Even as a kid in Mississippi, I was always the fattest kid in the class. I got teased a lot. I didn’t know how to stop eating. Fried chicken. Bacon and eggs. Desserts, like cakes and pies.”
For Slaughter, things changed when she reached her 70s. Informed that she was pre-diabetic, Slaughter made the decision to radically alter her diet and lifestyle.
It started with food. The grandmother went vegan. Though she was a fan of high-calorie desserts and fried chicken in the past, now her fridge is full of fruits and vegetables.
Then she added exercise. But rather than join a gym, she made do with what was available to her. Every day, Slaughter walks back and forth in her small, one-bedroom apartment until she reaches her goal.
After a while, she did get a little technological help.
“My granddaughter told me, ‘Mama, get you a Fitbit,'” she told KSDK. “I said, ‘What the hell is a Fitbit?'”
Now, Slaughter uses a Fitbit to count out a brisk 3,000 steps every morning. She does them all in a continuous loop between her kitchen and her living room.
And her efforts have paid off. Slaughter has lost 120 pounds with a diet change and a daily walk around her apartment. From a size 22, she’s shrunk to a size 4.
Her doctor has noticed a huge difference in Slaughter’s health. She told KSDK:
“I went to my doctor for a checkup. He told me my health was better than his. I was a borderline diabetic. I’m free of all that, and I know it came from my way that I eat and exercise.”
Slaughter’s so happy about her transformation that she wants others to know how achievable it is. She told KSDK that she hopes other seniors see her story and realize that getting fit doesn’t require more than they can handle:
“I just want seniors to know just because we’ve gotten a certain age, we don’t have to stop living. I want to tell them that there’s a better way of life if they choose.”