My 600 Lb Life star Bettie Jo Elmore has lived one of the most dramatic stories in the show’s history. Beyond her extreme weight loss — she’s dropped nearly a third of her peak body weight — Bettie Jo has dealt with a high-risk pregnancy, a high risk of paralysis due to a growth on her spine, and a strained marriage to her husband, Josh.
However, it looks like things are far better for Bettie Jo these days than when the show’s cameras last filmed. She recently spoke with us about her current health, as well as that of her baby, Preston. If the latest photos we’ve gotten are any indication, the Elmore home is *far* calmer than it was during Bettie Jo’s last Where Are They Now? episode.
Bettie Jo Elmore’s story goes way beyond weight loss
During her first My 600 Lb Life episode, Bettie Jo Elmore went from her peak weight of 654 pounds down to 445 pounds following gastric bypass surgery. However, despite regular exercise and a rigid diet, Bettie Jo had her weight loss success halted by an unrelated medical dilemma.
As she revealed in first Where Are They Now?, doctors had found a growth at the base of Bettie Jo’s spine. Ordinarily, a surgical removal wouldn’t have been a problem; in Bettie Jo’s case, it was a very large problem indeed — because she was also pregnant.
“Because I’m pregnant,” Bettie Jo explained during that episode, “the bigger the baby gets, the more he presses on the bone mass on my spine.” Leaving the growth untreated would leave Bettie Jo at risk of paralysis — and agreeing to surgery meant she could lose her unborn baby.
“I’m already a high-risk pregnancy, so a lot of things could go wrong,” Bettie Jo went on. “Having a baby is a dream come true, but I need to be able to take care of that baby.”
Despite the risk, Bettie Jo chose to wait for her baby’s birth
At the outset of her most recent Where Are They Now? episode, Bettie Jo seemed at peace with her decision to put her baby’s life before her own. Her calm was all the more remarkable in light of the *new* complications that doctor-ordered bed rest introduced.
“I’ve been losing all this weight. And I got to where I was cooking for everyone, and doing house stuff, and doing everything on my own, pretty much,” Bettie Jo explained, in the 2018 episode.”But that all changed…when I had to go on bed rest to minimize the pressure on my spine where I have a bone growth. But they can’t operate it to remove it or treat it while I’m pregnant. So I’m only allowed to get up once a day — to prevent from developing a blood clot that could kill me.”
Fortunately, the final two months of Bettie Jo’s pregnancy passed without major incident. She and her husband Josh’s son, Preston Isaiah Linn Elmore, was born August 10th, 2016. Preston weighed five pounds, seven ounces at birth, and was 19 inches long.
But that was two whole years ago! Here’s the latest family pic of Josh, Preston, and Bettie Jo Elmore. The family shared it this past August 13th, just after Preston’s second birthday:
“I have had to work really hard to change”: An interview with Bettie Jo Elmore
(This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.)
We were able to speak with Bettie Jo earlier this year, shortly before her second follow-up episode debuted. Bettie Jo said she wasn’t sure why the episode — which, at the time of our conversation, had finished filming over a year ago — didn’t air with the third season of Where Are They Now? back in 2017.
“They were suppose to show [it] last year and they didn’t but they [are] gonna show this season,” Bettie Jo said. She went on to say that she may even agree to a fourth My 600 Lb Life episode — and that the network is definitely interested. “As of right now I am debating on the 4th [episode]. They have asked and I am thinking about it.”
Bettie Jo Elmore’s most recent public photo, shared on November 25th. Photo via Facebook.
Bettie Jo, who is one of the few My 600 Lb Life cast members to not stay in the greater Houston area, described the process of working with Dr. Nowzaradan from afar. She explained that moving to Texas was never an option for her, but that she’s still getting far more out of her time with Dr. Now than she ever thought possible, even if her appointments come via Skype:
I haven’t had the opportunity like the others to stay and work under Dr. Now’s care their whole weight loss journey….Dr Now saved my life by giving me the tool to lose weight and showed me the steps to follow to continue losing weight. So I am blessed for that. But the hard work was from me. Not only the physical hard work but the mental hard work is something I have had to work really hard to do and change.. Dr. Now gave me the weight loss tool but he couldn’t fix the mental health part which was my biggest issue!
On that note, Bettie Jo says she’s gotten a huge helping hand from My 600 Lb Life‘s extensive fan and cast community. It’s a sentiment that’s been echoed by plenty of the show’s participants, from Amber Rachdi to Christina Phillips and beyond. Because her depression and self-esteem issues can sometimes be debilitating, Bettie Jo says the community’s overall effect on her life has been immeasurably positive:
Oh my, its unbelievable how the fan community helps me on a daily basis. I can honestly say that without them I don’t think i would of even made it this far. I am the type of person that doesn’t like to let anyone down and when I receive messages or comments that say “Bc of you I have lost so many pounds” or “You’re my favorite cast member bc I can relate to ur struggles the most”…Before doing this show I never even dreamed there was so many people in the world that even felt or dealt with the same things in life like i did. They help so much with my mental health. They lift me up, tell me I’m worth life. Because i still struggle daily with the feeling that I’m better off dead. So when I see their messages or comments it makes me feel like I’m someone that’s meant to help others and it makes me feel better about myself.
Beyond even that good news, Bettie Jo recently said on social media that she’s been feeling good enough and getting around enough to make weight loss one of her biggest priorities again. “[I’ll] definitely kick my weight loss back into gear,” she told friends on social media this summer, planning to take full advantage of the change in season as well as her change in health.
You can keep up with Bettie Jo Elmore on Facebook via her official page here. (Bettie Jo rarely updates the page, though she does still sometimes reply to messages.)
As for her three My 600 Lb Life episodes, you’ll find her 2015 debut here, her 2016 Where Are They Now? follow-up here, and her 2018 episode here, all via TLC.
(Photo credits: Bettie Jo Elmore via Facebook, Instagram)
John Sharp is a Starcasm’s chief editorial correspondent-at-large. Tips: E-mail at email@example.com or Twitter at @john_starcasm.