Evelyn LaGrange has come a long way. In 2018, she made a choice to lose weight for health reasons. Thanks to her positive attitude and support from her followers on social media, this mom-of-two from Texas shed almost half her body weight—going from 498 pounds to 260 pounds.
To celebrate her achievement, LaGrange posted a seriously inspiring short video to TikTok, showing that she's reached her goal and demonstrating how much her body has changed. The short clip uses a few before and after videos and photos of herself, with “Level Up” by Ciara as the soundtrack.
A video as infectious and uplifting as this one naturally went viral on TikTok, receiving more than 430K likes and 11K comments—most of which applauded LaGrange’s journey toward better health. Health spoke to LaGrange to find out more about her journey and the uphill battle she fought to get where she is today.
“For as long as I can remember, food had always been a comfort to me when I was stressing or emotional,” she says, explaining that while she's always considered herself “heavyset,” it wasn’t until the birth of her daughter in 2007 that she started gaining weight rapidly. She was diagnosed with hypothyroidism (an overactive thyroid) a year later.
Then, 10 years after that, she had a health scare that forced her to rethink her choices. One day in February 2017, LaGrange was home with her two children when she felt like her head was “hit by a baseball bat.” She lost her vision and control of her bowels, and she was subsequently rushed to the hospital.
She was diagnosed with Chiari Malformation, a condition where the brain tissue extends into the spinal canal. The condition is caused by a small or misshapen skull; doctors told LaGrange that she had it since she was born, but she didn't show any symptoms until that point. To be treated for Chiari Malformation, however, she would need to lose weight, her doctors said.
“The neurosurgeon said I would have to be under 200 pounds in order for me to have brain decompression surgery,” she recalls, which would treat the condition. Knowing that she needed the surgery to be healthy, she made the choice to lose weight.
To start her weight-loss journey, LaGrange sought bariatric surgery, specifically gastric sleeve duodenal switch, a procedure in which surgeons remove a portion of the stomach to limit the amount of food a person can eat. She had the procedure in June 2018.
Bariatric surgery, however, was no instant solution. “The doctor explained that having this surgery was not a ‘magic surgery or pill’ that will never allow me to gain weight ever again,” says LaGrange. “I've had to learn how to eat healthy, make healthier choices, and change my relationship with food. I got a second chance at life.”
Since the surgery, LaGrange has followed a low-carb diet plan recommended by her doctor. However, because of her brain condition, she's been advised not to do any high-intensity exercise. To keep herself active, LaGrange had to get creative. She says that dancing around the house while doing light housework has helped her add activity into her day-to-day routine.
Additionally, she's found a way to make little changes that allow her to be more physically active. "I started parking my vehicle a bit further away from the stores, or taking the stairs when I'm able," says LaGrange.
While LaGrange has made a lot of progress, she has to get below 200 pounds to qualify for the brain surgery she needs. Though she has a bit more to go, she understands that weight loss isn't always a linear journey.
“Many have the mindset that once a person has weight loss surgery, they will never gain weight again. That is so wrong,” she says. “The rest is up to me to make healthy life changes to keep myself from going back to 498 pounds.”
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