I stumbled upon a show on TLC called “My Big Fat Fabulous Life.” I was immediately drawn to it because from the very beginning she makes it completely clear that undiagnosed PCOS caused her to balloon in weight in early adulthood. She also lives/lived in Greensboro (my hometown) and now lives in Charlotte. Sounds like I’d really relate to this woman. I did. She bemoaned how her hair was thinning and she has to shave her chin. How doctors can’t see the past the obesity to try to actually help her.

I stopped watching after one episode. It wasn’t that the show was bad, it was more that I applaud her for sharing her story with the world but we are at much different places in our lives. She’s still dating and (at least in the first episode) living with her parents. American TV producers try to make shows much more interesting by adding all sorts of drama, and I don’t have time for that. LOL! But for anyone looking for a closer look at the challenges of trying to lose weight with PCOS, I’d recommend giving this show a look.

Knowing that there are so many women out there who struggle with this, I started thinking more about my motivations to get down to my mid-20s weight. Is it driven by our society’s emphasis on being a specific size? People come in different sizes, and I’ve come to terms with the idea that I wouldn’t expect anyone to fit a standard I’ve decided is best for them so why would I prioritize fitting a standard preset by others. Then I stumbled across scientific research into this idea of set point weight.

Set point weight is the concept that our bodies have a size that it wants to maintain. There are all kinds of published papers on this, such as “Role of set-point theory in regulation of body weight,” that discusses how the hypothalamus regulates all sorts of variables to maintain body weight over a long period of time. Then there is also this article, “Is there evidence for a set point that regulates human body weight?” It discusses how there is a genetic predisposition to higher weights, but the Western lifestyle of “abundance” also creates external factors to obesity.

Set Point Theory explains why you can push to lose weight, but if you remove those behaviors the weight not only returns, but usually goes a bit beyond where you were originally.

Set Point Theory explains why you can push to lose weight, but if you remove those behaviors the weight not only returns, but usually goes a bit beyond where you were originally.

Here is where it gets interesting. A year or so ago my dad got me an Ancestry DNA kit so he could explore the family tree more closely using DNA markers rather than genealogical documents (I know, it sounds a little Maury to me, too). Well you can take that raw DNA data and import it to a service that will take DNA markers and connect it to genetic research.

My results were interesting, and it helps me to lean in more to the idea of loving myself for who I am. Here are a few of the results:

  • Lighter green or hazel eyes (true)
  • Blue eye carrier (true – both kids)
  • Able to digest milk (true)
  • Light-skinned (true)
  • Poor metabolism of drugs like aspirin or ibuprofen
  • More stimulated by coffee
  • Likely to have higher HDL
  • Lower risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s
  • Higher risk of rheumatoid arthritis
  • Enhanced hippocampal volume
  • Higher muscle strength
  • More likely to develop alcohol dependence

Then we get into the genetic markers that start to shed light on why it is so hard for me to slim down:

  • Likely to be higher BMI
  • Likely to have bigger breasts
  • Increased risk of obesity
  • Increased risk for Type 2 diabetes

It is written in my DNA. So if I focus more on making sure I make good lifestyle choices that keep me healthy, it is critical that I accept the idea that I can be fat and fit. This phrase came from that “My Big Fat Fabulous Life” pilot episode.

It is critical that I accept the idea that I can be fat and fit

Where do I go from here? The entire month of January has been a month of introspection for me. About finding my value and my purpose. Now I know I can lay down this mission of getting skinny and instead be a good role model for my daughter (who will likely have a similar issue when she reaches adulthood). I’m going to dig into the nuances of plus-size fashion. I’m going to counteract that Western abundance mentality with a lifestyle more focused on health: cutting back on the foods that cause inflammation and being active daily. The results won’t be on the scale, and I think coming to terms with that may be the healthiest thing I’ve done in 20 years.