Ali Palmer has always been active. She has a small, athletic build and even worked at a fitness studio during college.
In 2019, when Ali was 22, she gained about 10 to 15 pounds within a year. She was confused and concerned. As an actress living in Los Angeles, Ali had the pressure of Hollywood on her shoulders as well.
"L.A. is the city of perfection," Ali says.
She felt uncomfortable about her body and what others might think. She also felt incredibly tired. Even seemingly low-energy activities, such as going to the movies, were too much for her.
"I couldn't have any form of social life because I didn't have the energy to go through it, to talk to people," she says.
In March 2020, at the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, she decided to move back home with her parents and focus on getting healthy again. She and her mom worked together to build a diet and exercise regimen. Between March and June, Ali gained another two pounds. She was feeling sluggish and depressed, and she could hardly get out of bed in the morning.
It was then that Ali contacted her doctor.
After a number of blood tests, her doctor diagnosed Ali with Hashimoto's disease, an autoimmune disease that causes hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism is a condition where the thyroid is underactive and does not make enough hormones for your body, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. It can cause fatigue and weight gain over time, along with a list of other symptoms.
"In that moment, I felt relieved and excited to have some answers," she says.
Ali is now taking thyroid medication to regulate her hormones. She also has prioritized staying healthy above looking a certain way.
"After my diagnosis, I realized my beauty is not defined by my weight," Ali said.
She recommends checking in with your own body and talking to a health professional if you think something isn't right.
"Say to yourself, 'I deserve to figure out what this is so I can feel right.' It will change every aspect of your life," she says.