Yesterday, My Big Fat Fabulous Life premiered on TLC about 30 year old Whitney Way Thore who weighs 380 pounds and has been diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). She’s been through a journey of weight gain that brought on depression through her 20s. Her true passion has always been dance, and she’s grabbing the reins on her life by re-committing to dance as both a creative outlet and a way to exercise. She started posted videos of herself dancing, and her confidence made them go viral. Her No Body Shame movement has been inspiring women of all sizes to do what they love, too.
PCOS affects as many as 1 in 10 women, and can cause a number of symptoms including weight gain/inability to lose weight, high cholesterol, imbalanced hormones, irregular periods, excessive body hair growth, hair thinning, infertility, acne, and insulin resistance. It’s a condition that is like jumping into a deep spiral, and without 100% effort all the time, your symptoms will only continue to worsen. Whitney describes her testosterone levels as high as three times as high for a typical woman, her hair as very thin, and her chin as producing a beard.
My Big Fat Fabulous Life follows Whitney as she attempts to turn her life around on a pursuit of better health and happiness. She says she is happy as a fat woman, but accepts that it is best if she greatly improves her fitness. Her parents are kind, but her father is pushing her to lose all of her excess weight. Whitney is determined to date men regardless of her size, and find men who appreciate her as she is. I love that Whitney does not accept fetishists as potential dates, because she wants someone who will also support her decision to lose weight. It’s important for women of all sizes to only date people who want to be with them for the person that they are, and Whitney is no exception.
I am also 1 in 10. I was diagnosed with PCOS in my senior year of high school, but similarly to Whitney, I struggled to find a doctor that was both knowledgeable and eager to help treat all of my symptoms. I too have recently found doctors who want to be proactive in treating me, and who are understanding about both my weight gain and desire to lose weight. I don’t suffer from all of the possible symptoms yet, and I’m trying to grab my own reins in making sure I don’t get any worse. As Whitney describes it, to be a fat woman in America is the worst crime you can commit right now. It is so hard to find people who understand, let alone medical professionals. I’ve maintained a 750 calorie a day deficit (which means I use my FitBit to track my activity, and eat in accordance to how much I am burning. I usually eat between 1800-2000 calories a day) for about 6 months, and have still gained almost 10 pounds. My most recent blood work shows that I am in better health than last year, but I still weigh almost 20 pounds more.
Watching Whitney go through her struggles inspires me to more aggressively pursue fitness and adhere very strictly to a diet. She is a role model to women suffering from PCOS and similar conditions who have to balance their health and depression. As she takes her wellness more seriously, I am, too. I have joined a new gym, and I will be adopting a ketogenic diet at the suggestion and discretion of my doctor.
My Big Fat Fabulous Life airs Tuesdays at 10/9c on TLC.
Update 3/8/2015: I have lost 20 pounds under my doctor’s care with the ketogenic diet. It’s hard and frustrating sometimes, but I’m inspired as season one of My Big Fat Fabulous Life has come to a close. I look forward to losing more weight, improving my overall wellness, and following Whitney’s journey again this summer for season two on TLC.