Audrey Moore and Donna Jackson interact like sisters. While not related, they have been close friends for more than 20 years since they got to know one another through Jack and Jill, an organization for mothers with children ages 2 to 19 that is dedicated to nurturing future African American leaders. The bond they developed has helped sustain them through life’s ups and downs. Today, that bond is helping both ladies lead healthier and more energetic lives.
Audrey has lived in Allen for the past five years after nearly two decades in Plano. She has two children in college, loves to sing, volunteers for the American Red Cross, and has been a member of Delta Sigma Theta sorority for 37 years. After more than 25 years as a pharmaceutical sales rep, she is currently looking to write the next chapter in her life.
As a pharmaceutical rep, Audrey sold medicine to treat diabetes so she saw up close the debilitating effects of the disease. In addition, as an African American she has always been cognizant of the risk she faced of developing high blood pressure. “Seeing how these conditions altered people’s lives made me commit years ago to living a much healthier life myself,” says Audrey. She became a member of the Allen Parks and Recreation Center, where she regularly uses machines and free weights to maintain her strength and keep her body toned. She’s also a dedicated walker.
Perhaps Audrey’s biggest lifestyle change has been transforming her diet. She starts each day with a big, healthy breakfast, which helps get her going and prevents her from overeating later in the day. She eats lots of fruits and vegetables and drinks at least 8 big glasses of water a day. Audrey has also largely cut red meat and pork from her diet, relying on skinless chicken and fish for her protein. “If I’m at an event where steak and potatoes are the only option, I’ll allow myself a small indulgence, but I control my portions and try not to make it a regular occurrence.” These dietary changes have required discipline, but doing what she can to stay off the diabetes medicine she once sold, makes it all worth it for Audrey.
Like Audrey, Donna has long made leading a healthier life a priority. She is married, has a son currently attending Texas State University, and has lived in Plano for 30 years. Donna, herself a proud Delta Sigma Theta alumna, remains very active, whether working for Stein Mart, subbing at PISD, or volunteering for community organizations. “This ‘busyness’ makes leading a healthy life a challenge at times, but I’m dedicated to incorporating exercise into my schedule and being careful about what I eat,” says Donna.
For exercise, Donna has been a member of Texas Family Fitness for years and regularly rotates between weights, POP Pilates and the R.I.P.P.E.D. program to keep her workouts fresh and interesting. One of her favorite workouts is Zumba, which combines Latin dance choreography and music. “I really enjoy the music and dance moves, as well as the camaraderie…it is a fun and motivating workout,” adds Donna.
As she got older, Donna was motivated to not just incorporate exercise into her life but also to make significant changes in her diet. She tries to not eat any fried foods, doesn’t eat pork, and eats a lot of fruits and vegetables in an overall well-balanced diet. “One of my favorite ways to enjoy fruit is to make smoothies for my meals,” says Donna. “Bananas, strawberries, cherries, blueberries…I love them all.”
Another healthy diet trick for Donna is using Mrs. Dash instead of salt. “African Americans really do face a risk of high blood pressure and a key contributing factor is elevated sodium levels, so I’ve pretty much eliminated salt from my diet, using Mrs. Dash in my cooking instead.”
Close Friends Who Motivate Each Other
While they are close friends, Audrey and Donna actually don’t exercise together much other than an occasional walk with their dogs. However, their close friendship motivates them to share their accomplishments, and struggles, in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. “Being able to ask each other how we’re doing, and having the kind of relationship where we can share what works and what doesn’t, is a true blessing,” says Donna. Audrey adds, “Her commitment to fitness and diet rubs off on me and vice versa. We help keep each other accountable which has made all the difference for both of us.”