Amber Rachdi’s uncontrollable eating habits were threatening her own life. In fact, doctors had told her that she wouldn’t live past her twenties. Understandably, then, she finally made the decision to tackle her obesity once and for all. And when you see the results of her incredible transformation, you’ll surely agree that it was worth the effort.
Amber, from Troutdale, Oregon, weighed in at 154 pounds when she was just five years old. And this was only the beginning of her problems with weight gain. You see, Amber claims that she ate healthy food throughout her childhood – just far too much of it. In adulthood, though, she would often consume five large meals in a day, all served up by her parents.
Amber has since realized that her eating habits were linked to the extreme anxiety from which she suffers. “I have a lot of anxiety, and I am at peace when I eat,” she subsequently told the Daily Mail. Her mom, Patty, agreed, stating that food has a calming influence on her daughter. It also came to be her demon, however, and set her on the path to massive weight gain.
In February 2015 a 23-year-old Amber appeared on an episode of the TLC show My 600lb Life. “Sometimes I think to myself, I’m never going to change,” she said. “Everything hurts, my back hurts, my shins hurt. I am so limited in what I can do and where I can go. I feel trapped. I feel like a nasty yucky monster, and I don’t like being this person. I don’t like being this size.”
Amber further explained that there was simply no satisfying her constant craving for food. “I could be stuffed sick, but I would still want to eat something if it was put in front of me,” she admitted. It seemed as if those closest to her were part of the problem, too. “Amber is surrounded by enablers,” her doctor said.
The doctor identified one such enabler as Rowdy, Amber’s boyfriend of two years. After all, Amber claims to have put on over 200 pounds during the course of their relationship. Faced with accusations of being a “feeder,” Rowdy conceded that he did experience guilt. “But what else do you do when you love someone?” he asked.
Amber then said she wanted to change for a variety of reasons. For one thing, intimacy with Rowdy was unachievable – despite him being, in her words, the type of person who “prefers bigger women.” But her size prevented them from being together in that way, and she said this left Rowdy “very sexually frustrated.”
But the main reason why Amber wanted to tackle her weight issues was because she was housebound. Indeed, she’d dropped out of college and could not find employment in her condition. Eventually, the only time she would leave the house would be to buy food. And even then she would ride around the store on a mobility scooter.
Amber’s weight peaked at 660 pounds. At that point, two specific issues made her decide to take action. Firstly, she could not support her own weight standing up for more than half an hour. Secondly, doctors told her that she would die before she hit 30. She therefore felt compelled to take steps to alter the seemingly inevitable trajectory of her life.
As a result, she ended up making three important decisions. One: she tried to get a gastric bypass. Although she then discovered that in order to qualify for such surgery, she would first have to lose weight. This led to her second decision, which was to start out on a gentle exercise regime. So she began to walk around regularly, despite the fact that this was painful for her.
Thirdly, not only was she trying to move more, but she also combined this with a fresh direction in terms of her diet. For instance, she began making herself nutritious meals consisting of meat and vegetables in a bid to eat more healthily. She was starting as she meant to go on – in a controlled fashion.
And in the autumn of 2014 she underwent gastric bypass surgery. Her stomach size at the time was roughly equivalent to that of a football. After the operation, though, it was a similar size to that of a baseball. This shrinkage meant that she felt fuller a lot more quickly, which was helpful for both her mental and physical struggle to lose weight.
The surgery went well, and Amber was able to return to her family. Just three days later, however, she was back in hospital. She was suffering from terrible pains in her chest, and doctors initially feared that she may be experiencing heart failure. Thankfully, though, it turned out to be a severe panic attack, which wasn’t life-threatening.
In order to prevent this from happening again, Amber subsequently visited a therapist to learn some coping mechanisms – that didn’t involve food! Having finally accepted that she suffered from an eating disorder, Amber was now better equipped than ever before to deal with its symptoms.
By month seven of her new regime, her legs had reduced in size so much that she could fit behind the wheel of a car. As a result, she could now get around far more easily, granting her a level of autonomy that she’d only ever dreamed of previously.
And by month nine, she was able to go shopping alone. Amber now fitted into clothes that, in her words, were “a 2X, not a 6X.” But despite dropping an incredible number of dress sizes, she still aimed to lose a further 126 pounds. And she went on an outing with Rowdy to the zoo, which must have been a welcome change to being stuck at home together.
On the first anniversary of her surgery, Amber was weighed again. And in total, she had lost an extraordinary 267 pounds, with the scales reading a new weight of 390 pounds. Moreover, once she is down to 250 pounds, she will go under the knife again in order to take away excess skin.
“I have hope,” she said. “Now the world is open to me. I’m no longer Amber of one room, one house.” She subsequently split up with Rowdy and moved on. And some of the fans she gained from her appearance on My 600lb Life are now part of her 71,000 ardent followers on Instagram.
Having had to put her life on hold for so long, Amber now has a lot in the pipeline. For instance, she plans to graduate college, find employment and settle down with a partner. And she already has a head start on this last item, having become engaged in June 2016. Yes, Amber looks amazing and, more importantly, can see a future for herself well into old age.
Back in her pre-surgery days, Amber probably never even dreamed that there would be so much to celebrate in her life. Indeed, her Instagram bio reads, “I’ve lost over 400 pounds – I’m relearning my reflection.” And her inspirational story is surely a help to all those who follow her.