With her 30th birthday looming, Lauren Keizur decided 2016 was going to be the year she got healthy. But shedding her excess weight was only one part of her plan. She knew she also had to take care of her mental health, understanding the close connection between physical and mental wellness. The Oregon native had struggled with depression since she was a teenager and was misdiagnosed with bipolar disorder at 13 years old.
“I think they took normal teenage angst and mood swings, and misdiagnosed it as bipolar,” she says. Because her prescribed medication was for the wrong illness, it only made her feel worse.
She tried to manage her depression without medication, but “it was all up and down,” she says. At times, she was bedridden for days, consumed by her own mind.
As part of her plan to rehab her health, Keizur sought the help of a psychiatrist. This time around, she was correctly diagnosed with seasonal depression and premenstrual dysphoric disorder, a severe form of PMS.
[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”HEX 0073bb” class=”” size=””]“It’s completely different. I feel like a normal person.”[/perfectpullquote]
Her new diagnosis — and the right treatment plan — was life-changing.
“It’s completely different,” says Keizur. “I feel like a normal person.”
Getting her mental health on track was the first step of the journey, but Keizur didn’t stop there. At 315 pounds, she had been experiencing some of the side effects of carrying around excess weight.
“I wasn’t even 30 years old yet, and I had such bad leg pain [and] knee pain from my weight,” she says.
She resolved to start the year — and her 30s — eating better, walking outside 3–4 days a week and logging her food on MyFitnessPal. Since her first day of logging into the app on January 10, 2016, she hasn’t missed a day.
When Keizur had tried to lose weight in the past, she looked at dieting as nothing but sacrifice. In her mind, dieting wasn’t necessarily about being healthy; it was primarily about limiting what she ate. “If I messed up, I felt like it was over,” she admits.
This time, however, she took a different approach. Instead of just restricting her food intake, she added healthy foods into her diet and focused on eating balanced meals, like burrito bowls, chicken and vegetables, and eggs with avocado toast.
Over time, her workouts progressed, too. She went from walking a few times a week to hiking with her husband and playing Xbox Kinect games, like “Dance Central.” Eventually, she added strength training and even running to the mix. Recently, she achieved a huge milestone: running 5 minutes straight without walking.
Keizur’s hard work paid off. She shrunk to 214 pounds, and her friends and family took notice. They were stunned by her progress when they saw her at a family wedding earlier this year. One of Keizur’s co-workers at Fred Meyer, a grocery chain in the Pacific Northwest, even nominated her for the company’s wellness award.
“Without my knowledge, she’d written an essay about my weight-loss journey and how I’ve inspired her and sent it in,” says Keizur. Because of her co-worker’s nomination (and Keizur’s hard work), she was named Wellness Champion for the district.
Keizur’s weight loss has inspired others to get moving, too. Her mom, Taunia, who had also struggled with her weight, saw a photo Keizur posted on social media recently and decided she could follow her daughter’s example.
“I showed her how to use MyFitnessPal,” she says. Taunia later surprised Keizur by sending a picture of herself at the gym. The family was quickly becoming fully invested in their health.
The key to Keizur’s weight-loss success? Her community, she says. She connected with people on Reddit and Instagram to trade tips and support. She says she’s made some good friends through the social media sites and even plans on meeting up with some of them in real life.
“It’s insane,” Keizur says about her weight loss. “I never thought I would be this close to 200 pounds.”
Her biggest supporter, though, was her husband, who has loved her at any size. And, in true family fashion, he’s also started getting healthier and has lost about 40 pounds.
But Keizur’s story isn’t simply about weight loss; it’s about setting healthy goals and committing yourself to achieving them. It’s about loving yourself for all the things you can do. And Keizur is proof you can do anything.