Health Hero: Black Women Do Work Out!

Meet LaKeisha Shurn, the Internet’s new weight loss sensation.

Posted: 01/31/2014 11:47 AM EST

When Berkeley native LaKeisha Shurn, 32, decided to post on the Web her "100 Days at the Gym" videos, she didn’t expect to become famous. She wanted to work our harder and have something that held her accountable. See, at her heaviest Sturn had weighed 348, but those days were behind her and she promised herself to make her health a priority.

"I am overweight, I have low self-esteem, I am going through depression, and I want to change all of that, " she admits on one of her videos.

But when the Internet got wind of her honest and inspiring commentary on weight loss and taking control of her life, she became an overnight sensation.

BET.com sat down with Shurn to talk about how a suicide attempt in 2011 prompted her newest weight loss journey, how making baby steps made all the difference and losing weight improved her health.

You’ve tried losing weight before. What about this time made all the difference?

I was dealing with a lot — stress from work, separation from my then husband, overwhelmed and feeling like I had no one to turn to. So in that moment, I thought that killing myself was the only answer.

And then I woke up in the hospital and knew that wasn’t the answer. It was there that I got help and became accountable. I really began to analyze my health and decided this was the time to make some serious changes. But most important, I had to figure out why I was concerned with what other people thought about my weight. I had to live with this body and carry this weight, so losing it had to be for me — not for anyone else.

What was your approach in the beginning?

Baby steps and using Google. [laughs] The first thing I did was give up drinking soda and started to drink water. Just from that, I starting losing weight. Then I gave up fast food and limited my sugar intake. Then I started going to the gym, but this this time had a different approach than before: I wasn’t going to let it intimidate me anymore. I started going to classes, mostly Zumba, and then started taking other classes that teacher taught. I even started going to the weight room.

At first, I was going two times a day and then 5 days a week. But signing up for the “Give It 100” and posting up videos kept me accountable for my workouts. And now, I am past my 100 days and have extended it to 365 days!

Since I started working out regularly, I have lost 50 pounds, with 20 of those pounds coming from when I started making the videos. I am not where I want to be, but I also am setting realistic goals for myself. I don’t need to be super skinny to feel good about myself, but I do want to be happy with what I see.

How was the response been to your journey?

Overwhelming. Since the story hit, my Twitter shut down! People have found me on Facebook and Instagram and have sent such encouraging and positive feedback. It’s great to see people in my corner fighting for me when people come on and have something negative to say.

Has losing weight made you feel better?

Most definitely. When I started losing weight, I have noticed that my knees stopped hurting and a lot of the pain I was suffering from was gone.

I’ve been without health insurance for a long time, but the times I did see doctors through emergency care, never did they mention that I should lose weight. And even though I was “tested” for obesity-related issues, they told me I was fine. I never really believed that. Thankfully, I am just waiting for my Obamacare coverage to kick in so I can finally have a general doctor.

What advice would you give our readers about adopting a healthier lifestyle?

If you have a smartphone, there is no excuse to not work out! There are so many free apps you can download to help you get started. Also, start working out at home to get you feeling comfortable about moving. At home, you can alter the move to fit your fitness level. Most important, don’t forget to stretch and drink water!

Follow Kellee Terrell on Twitter @kelleent.

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(Photo: Courtesy of LaKeisha Shurn/TheLovePix)

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