By the age of 24, Amber Rachdi of Troutdale, Oregon, was more than just overweight. She had had a problematic relationship to food for years and now weighed more than 650 lbs. She couldn’t walk without help, much less prepare her own food, drive, or exercise. She lived with her parents and her boyfriend Rowdy and had long stopped going outside, not wanting to be seen at her current size. But it was clear that she couldn’t go on like this.
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On the rare occasions that she and Rowdy would go grocery shopping together, she would have to ride in a mobility scooter. Rowdy didn’t generally object to her weight but she had gotten too heavy for them to be intimate and he began to be frustrated too. The weight affected her daily life, with infections between folds of skin that she could only clean with a long-handled brush.
But then Amber decided to do something drastic: she signed up to be on the TV show “My 600 lb Life” to try to get her situation under control with the help of a television audience.
At the time she was eating four or five gigantic meals per day, plus sweets and desserts. It was as much a psycho-emotional problem as it was a physical one. Her parents and Rowdy helped her, preparing the food and delivering it to her day after day. She was trapped in a dependency on food to provide her comfort she didn’t know how to get any other way.
But now she was taking extreme measures: she would undergo gastric bypass surgery to reduce the size of her stomach. She and Rowdy were frightened by the risks involved.
And yet, something had to change. She couldn’t sit in a car, and when they made an appointment with a specialist in Houston, she took up two seats on the airplane.
The first time they met Dr. Nowzaradan, his prognosis was sobering. He said that, since she was surrounded by “enablers,” he wasn’t convinced he could operate on her. She would have to lose 20 lbs to persuade him that she was really up to it. Amber was determined.
The whole family moved from Oregon to Houston and she changed her diet, despite the challenges. Little by little, she lost weight. Though by the doctor’s deadline she’d only managed to reduce by 17 lbs, he still agreed to proceed. She was going to start a new life.
Seven months after the operation, Amber had lost over 90 lbs, including a lot of excess water weight. Motivated by her success, she tried even harder, starting to exercise and making her own meals. When she went back to meet Dr. Nowzaradan one year later, she got on the scale and surprised everyone, including the doctor: she’d lost almost 150 lbs!
It was obvious in her everyday life too. She was finally able to fit in the car. Even the doctor was impressed. He would permit a skin reduction surgery as soon as she reached 250 lbs.
Amber remains resolute. Not only has she maintained her healthier lifestyle, she’s now even going to a therapist to train better ways to deal with stress. After years of being unhappy, Amber finally has the feeling that she’s gotten her life back. It’s the difference between night and day: it’s hard to believe this is the same person!
Everyone in her life is so proud of her. On this path, there’s no doubt she’ll lose the rest of the weight and take the next big steps towards an even healthier, happier life!