A N’awlins girl through and through, Jessica Larche was raised on fried chicken, crawfish, beignets, red bean and rice, and other heavily fried and overly creamy foods.
Despite being an active child, Larche observed that she was “a little heavier than other girls” her age. Still, that didn’t stop her from being accomplished throughout her school years. While weight was a factor, confidence and self-esteem were not. It wasn’t until she reached college where the incongruences of excelling at life, but failing in wellness crossed her mind.
“I had reached 260 pounds,” says Larche, the Emmy-winning news anchor at WTKR. “That’s when I realized that I had a bad relationship with food. I wasn’t exercising at all either and these choices were going to lead to a premature death.”
That notion hit home in 2011 when her dad, who also struggled to maintain a healthy weight, passed away at age 56.
“My father fought really hard, but his weight was something he couldn’t see past,” says Larche tearfully.
At the time of his passing, he was nearly 500 pounds and practically immobile. Still, Larche believed that he could win and encouraged him to fight.
“The last time I saw him was right before I moved to Virginia.I gave him a pair of boxing gloves and said, ‘Dad, you can beat this,’” she recalls.
“[Losing him] punched me in the chest. I was in the same boat he was in. I was facing the same obstacles. I could feel him saying, ‘Your journey doesn’t have to be mine.’”
A year later, a health scare led to what has now become “Jessica on a Journey,” Larche’s public platform to inspire others to take charge of their health. While at urgent care for severe headaches, Larche was told that she had extremely high blood pressure. Knowing her family’s history with hypertension, obesity and diabetes, Larche had a coming to Jesus talk with herself. Things had to change.
“It’s a hard moment when you have to be real with yourself,” she says. “I went home and researched foods to lower blood pressure. I got rid of my old food. I realized it was going to be hard [to change] but not impossible. I can exercise. I can make better food choices. I can do it.
“I mapped out my meals. I started walking. At first, exercise was painful. I was 245 pounds. You have to have the right motivation—it’s not just about the outside, but how you feel inside. You have to think 30-40 years down the road.”
Fast forward to 2016. Larche has shed 100 pounds. In February, she was featured on the cover of Woman’s Day with two other women who have similarly inspiring stories. Her change motivated her 61-year-old mother, who Larche says is in the best health of her life and nearly off of her diabetes medication. Larche is even setting her own personal records in the gym, bench-pressing 125 pounds recently. But most important is her upcoming wedding this spring to the love of her life, Sean.
“I would have never imagined all of this five years ago,” says Larche.
Story and photos courtesy of and originally published in The Health Journal.