When I saw the image of this girl, I thought it wasn’t real, her legs looked like two elongated pillows and I was utterly shocked to learn that this was her own body. Her obesity was severe!
By the age of 24, Amber Rachdi from Troutdale, Oregon, was more than just overweight. She had a problematic relationship with food for many years and now weighed more than 650 lbs.She couldn’t walk without assistance, let alone prepare her own food, drive, or exercise. She lived with her parents and her boyfriend Rowdy and had stopped going outside, not wanting to be seen at her current size. But it was clear that she couldn’t go on like this.
On the rare occasions that she and Rowdy would go grocery shopping together, she would have to ride in a mobility scooter. Though generally not against her weight, Rowdy started to feel the frustration when she had gotten too heavy for them to be intimate. The weight affected her daily life and Amber suffered 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, in addition to candy and desserts. It was as much a psycho-emotional problem as it was a physical one. Her parents and Rowdy helped her by 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, despite the challenges, she changed her diet. Little by little, she lost weight. Though she’d only managed to lose by 17 lbs by the doctor’s deadline, 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!