Woman Is Unrecognizable Now After Drastic Life Overhaul
Amber Rachdi struggled with anxiety and emotional issues ever since she was five years old. By the time she 24, though, things hit rock bottom. She had to drop out of college and found herself unemployed at a time that should have been the prime of her life. After receiving extremely alarming news from her doctor, Amber decided to take drastic action to make a complete life overhaul, one that would render her totally unrecognizable to her family, friends, and all those who had heard of her struggle. Read here to find out what was the catalyst that made Amber turn her whole life around.
1. An Early Struggle
For as long as she could remember, Amber Rachdi of Troutdale, Oregon struggled with her weight and eating habits. By the time she was five, she already weighed 160 lbs (72.5 kg). The average weight for children at this age is 39.5 lb (17.9 kg).
For some reason, much of the weight seemed to gather in her lower body, especially her legs, making it hard to run around like a normal child. Amber insists that she always felt hungry and never full or satisfied, which just made her feel even more anxious and spurred the vicious cycle of emotional eating.
2. A Sedentary Life
By the time Amber Rachdi turned 24, she was more than just overweight; she was morbidly obese. An unhealthy relationship with food resulted in her weighing 657 lbs (298 kg). As you can imagine, her hefty frame led to many issues in her life.
Not only did Amber find it hard to walk, she also had to drop out of college when her weight became too unbearable. What’s more, Amber was unemployed and couldn’t find a job, which meant she had to move back into her parents’ home with her boyfriend, Rowdy. She couldn’t walk without help, let alone drive, cook, or wash herself.
3. Barely Existing
Amber’s weight was preventing her from experiencing all the wonderful things life had to offer at her age. She stopped going outside because she didn’t want to be seen in public or have people gawking at her. She couldn’t even fit in a car, so driving was out of the question too.
Life at home wasn’t much better because she couldn’t even take a bath or shower alone. When she did leave the house on a rare occasion, it was to buy food from the supermarket while she navigated the aisles on a motorized scooter. It wasn’t long until Amber Rachdi received a rude awakening that she needed to change her life.
4. Comfort Eating
At her largest, Amber Rachdi was consuming about five huge meals a day, besides for desserts and sweets. Her parents and Rowdy prepared her food whenever she wanted it, which only exacerbated her dependency. Her eating was not only a psychical one; it was deeply emotional.
“I could be stuffed sick, but I would still want to eat something if it was put in front of me,” she told Daily Mail. She admitted that eating calmed her anxiety and made her feel at peace, which her mom Patti concurred, saying that eating “calmed her down.” It got so bad that Amber referred to herself as a “nasty monster” and said food helped her deal with her fear of failure. “I’m at peace while I eat. I don’t have to think about how I’ve let everyone around me down. It’s a distraction,” she said.
5. Some Alarming News
It was clear that food served as comfort for Amber when she wanted to avoid reality. She spent most of the day thinking about food and what she was going to eat, but that wasn’t an enjoyable feeling. Instead, she felt sad, lonely, and desperate.
As a result of her overeating, Amber’s parents started to panic and took her to the doctor. “She always felt that she didn’t live up to our expectations. She just became a typical underachiever,” Patti said. But what concerned her mother even more was that the doctors told them Amber would die by the time she turned 30 if she continued down this path.
6. Weighing In
Amber Rachdi was at her wits’ end when she received the alarming news from her doctor. She knew she had to make a change, and fast. That’s when she decided to sign up to join TLC’s TV Show My 600-lb Life, a TV series which follows the lives of people living with extreme obesity in search of help.
At first, Amber expressed her doubts about whether the show would be able to change her health and eating habits, but little did she know just how much the show would turn her life around. She was about to endure a complete life overhaul, one that no one anticipated.
7. Drastic Action
Amber knew she had to take drastic action, and My 600-lb Life was jut the right place for her. From the get go, Amber Rachdi realized that what she was doing was just existing. She knew that to start living, she had to lose weight then and there.
Before she could start shedding weight, Amber was told she would have to undergo something that sounded extreme. It was a step that seemed dangerous and scary, but needed to be done to help her. Everything in her life was at stake.
8. First Difficulties
Filming for My 600-lb Life started in 2014. Amber Rachdi was sent to Dr. Younan Nowzaradan, the show’s resident bariatric surgeon based in Houston, Texas. Unfortunately for the family, there were hurdles from the get-go.
The gravity of her extreme weight issues especially came to light when Amber tried to book her flight to visit Dr. Nowzaradan. The simple flight from Oregon to Texas proved to be one of the hardest steps.
9. Humiliating Moments
In order to visit Dr. Nowzaradan in Houston from her home in Oregon, Amber Rachdi was forced to buy two seats on the plane. She also had a difficult time squeezing through the row before sitting down. This only left her feeling more anxious, overwhelmed and humiliated for the rest of the flight.
To make things worse, Amber’s wheelchair broke because her weight. Her father Abe then found an oversize luggage cart to wheel her through the airport, but that only led to more humiliation. Several onlookers stopped to take pictures of her as if she was a spectacle. “I am so humiliated. I hate being in public. I feel like a sideshow,” Amber said on the show.
10. The Root of the Problem
Amber Rachi met Dr. Younan Nowzaradan, accompanied by her parents and boyfriend, and immediately his prognosis was bleak. “The situation is bad,” he exclaimed. He told them that Amber was surrounded by “textbook enablers” and looked straight at Abe, Patti, and Rowdy.
Amber also lamented how she gained 200 lbs (91 kg) since she started dating Rowdy. Rowdy agreed that he didn’t really object to her weight. “I feel guilty, but what else do you do when you love someone,” he said. He admitted that he liked heavier women, but that Amber was too heavy for them to be intimate which left him frustrated as well. It was also difficult for him to see her suffer infections as a result of the folds in her skin.
11. Painful Confessions
“I’ve tried so hard, so many times, to change the way I eat. But I can’t,” Amber Rachdi cried to Dr. Nowzaradan. She went on to say that she felt like such a failure already, which made it feel normal to keep failing. She also opened up about her relationship with her parents.
“I see a lot of pity in my mom’s face when she looks at me, and I can’t handle that,” Amber said. She told the doctor how her dad would make snide comments about her size which would really hurt her.
12. The First Challenge
Dr. Nowzaradan told Amber that he would only perform the gastric bypass surgery on the condition that she lose 20 lbs (9 kg) first. He wasn’t convinced he could operate on her, but she persuaded him that she was up to it.
When asked by the doctor why Amber believed she could make the change after years of unhealthy eating and severe weight gain, her answer was very poignant. “I wish I could be self-sufficient and successful and show the world I am made of so much more, but as long as I am big, as long as I am obese, I will never be able to be that person,” she declared.
13. The First Step
When Amber’s parents learned of Dr. Nowzaradan’s ultimatum, they decided to move from Oregon to Texas to be close to their daughter during this challenging time. Amber was determined to qualify for the surgery, so she started cooking healthy meals consisting of chicken and vegetables.
The first night was torturous. She made a healthy meal while her boyfriend feasted on fast food right in front of her. She never gave in to temptation and managed to lose 17 lbs (8 kg) in three months. It was a slower pace than the doctor had expected, but he was happy with her progress and agreed to perform the gastric bypass surgery.
14. Gastric Bypass Surgery
Gastric bypass surgery turns the stomach from the size of a football to the size of a baseball in order to help the overweight individual shed stubborn weight fast. However, this kind of surgery is very risky and left Amber feeling doubtful and frightened.
She cried to the camera saying, “Sometimes I think to myself I’m never going to change. Everything hurts. I am so limited in what I can do and where I can go. I feel trapped. I’m miserable. I don’t like being this person, and I don’t like being this size. Sometimes I feel so hopeless. I feel that it’s not worth it, that maybe it’d be better if I’d never been born.”
15. The Worst Is Over
Luckily, the surgery was successful and Amber Rachdi was on her road to recovery right away, although not without another hiccup on the way. A few days after Amber was discharged from the hospital, her parents rushed her back as she was experiencing severe chest pains.
Dr. Nowzaradan was concerned she was having a heart attack, but the pains were just a result of an anxiety attack. All the pressure seemed a bit too much for Amber, but she wasn’t about to give up just yet.
16. Determination and Perseverance
Over the next few months, Amber went to see a therapist to help her combat her chronic anxiety now that comfort eating wasn’t an option. She also took up gentle exercise and admitted that walking again was extremely hard and really hurt, but it made her all the more determined to keep it up.
She also completely changed her approach to food, focusing on a healthy, balanced diet consisting of home-cooked meals and healthy snacks. She stopped feeling the urge to binge eat for comfort. Instead she found comfort in something else.
17. The Power of Dialogue
After the surgery, Amber Rachdi opened up about her thoughts on gastric bypass surgery through a Question and Answer session on Facebook. She stressed that the surgery is not a quick fix nor a permanent solution.
The biggest message she wanted to pass on was that she was learning, through her life-changing journey, that no matter how much weight you need to lose, you require lots of determination and focus. Temporary fixes were a no-no. She received an influx of support from family and friends after this.
18. Seven Months Later
Seven months into Amber’s extreme weight loss journey, she had lost 92 lbs (42 kg) and a lot of the fluid in her legs disappeared. She was feeling more motivated than ever and kept trying to lose more as quickly as possible.
Once the water retention in her legs went down, Amber could finally exercise and make her meals all her by herself. The best part was that she was able to fit behind the wheel of a car, so driving also became a possibility.
19. Hitting the Gym
Once Amber could stand long enough without pain, she decided to sign up at a gym for daily workouts. She loved the adrenaline and how good she’d feel after an intense workout, but she knew she had to take baby steps until it became easier.
At first she wanted to work out when no one was around so no one would stare at her, but eventually she felt comfortable in her own skin. She was also losing a lot of weight very quickly, so there was no need for people to stare at her anymore.
20. Pushing Harder
By the time nine months had passed since the surgery, Amber had shed a total of 145 lbs (66 kg). For the first time in years, she shopped for new clothes. She still had to look for larger sizes, but there was a marked difference in the sizes she could fit into now.
“I’m now a 2X and not a 6X,” Amber beamed as she tried on clothing items at a plus-size clothing store. “I surprised myself. I’m shopping for myself, eating healthy, and I’m working out. I’ve taken control of my life.”
21. A New Life
With her life back on track, Amber’s parents were able to move back to Oregon, leaving their daughter alone with Rowdy in Texas. She was working out, eating well, and finally living her life, so they were satisfied that it was the right time to move back.
Once Amber had lost even more weight, her and Rowdy went on their second ever date to the zoo. She felt like a new person who could experience the things most people feel every day. It was such a liberating feeling that Amber continued to push on to lose more weight.
22. The One-Year Mark
Still part of the show, Amber paid a visit to Dr. Nowzaradan after 12 months of her extreme weight loss transformation. She nervously stepped on the scale to see how much weight she had lost in the past year, and the results were incredible.
Amber weighed 390 lbs (177 kg), which meant she had lost 267 lbs (121 kg), almost half of what she weighed before. It was such a huge achievement that Dr. Nowzaradan challenged Amber with another goal in exchange for something special.
23. More Surgery
Dr. Nowzaradan promised Amber Rachdi that if she reached a weight of 250 lbs (113 kg), he would remove the excess skin on her body. After all, when a person loses that much weight, there is a lot of excess skin to remove.
This became another goal Amber was determined to reach. She knew if she could shed the amount of weight she already did, there was no stopping her from losing even more weight. Well, turns out she took the challenge very seriously.
24. Never Giving Up
Amber never gave up and in the years following her gastric bypass surgery, she successfully lost an incredible 400 lbs (181 kg). It was a huge transformation from the time when she wanted to give up on life and felt like a failure.
Amber continued to lose so much weight that she’s quite unrecognizable. Her extreme weight loss transformation also gave her the desire to complete college and find a job. Marriage and children were something she started thinking about too.
Amber’s life-changing journey inspired her to open several social media pages to act as a platform for her to share her story and to help others who feel sad, alone, and stuck. Her message is about loving oneself enough to make lasting lifestyle changes.
She received tons of support from friends, family, and fans, but there were also several naysayers who try to bring her down. She responded to them with positivity, which took them aback. Amber finally stopped allowing people to bring her down, even if that included her own boyfriend.
26. Bye Bye, Rowdy
After Amber lost an astonishing 400 lbs (181 kg), things between Rowdy and her changed. They eventually split up, and in June, 2016, she shared a picture of herself on Twitter wearing an engagement ring, which she said was from a different guy.
She insisted that there was no bad blood between her and Rowdy. She praised him for being a supportive friend and even joked about it. “In defense of Rowdy, my ex who was on the show, who do y’all think took all the pictures of me at the gym?!”
27. Hashtag That
In order to share the most inspiring photos of her new look to encourage others, Amber created an Instagram account. In the description, she wrote that “I was REAL fat. Now I’m just normal-fat. Life ain’t bad.”
She might find the humor in all of this, but she knows how it was to be at an ultimate low. She believes her story can inspire others around her to make the extreme changes she had to make in just one year, using small steps.
28. The Bright Side
It’s easy for people with former eating disorders to fall back into bad habits. In order to prevent that, Amber continues to work with a therapist to deal with her anxiety that caused her to gain all the weight in the first place.
Amber Rachdi keeps very active on social media to spread the message that it’s never too late to turn one’s life around using jokes. “On #my600lblife I couldn’t climb into my parents’ minivan without a step stool. Feels like lifetimes ago,” she wrote on Twitter. She’s also active on Facebook with her Q&A platform.
29. Looking Good
Amber Rachdi is loving her new look and sure knows how to strike a pose. Back in 2014, no one would have dared to imagine that she could look so healthy and happy. She poses in all sorts of ways to embrace every side of her personality.
Whether she’s feeling silly, beautiful, or lazy, Amber is there to snap that feel-good photo to get everyone motivated. Oh, and don’t forget all the gym and work out photos which don’t sugar coat anything about the hard work.
30. Positivity All Round
“I have hope. Now the world is open to me,” Amber Rachdi said during her last episode of the show. “I’m no longer bound to one room, one house. I’m no longer using food to cope with anxiety.” Indeed, she has achieved that and so much more.
Amber’s extreme weight loss transformation is nothing short of inspirational to everyone around her. Her family is extremely proud of her tenacity and dedication. We are definitely fans of this incredible woman and her motivational and encouraging story!
31. Surprising Thoughts on Weight Loss Surgery
Amber has become a great source of inspiration, becoming a sort of poster child for someone who has undergone a successful weight loss surgery. When asked if she believes in the long term success of gastric bypass surgery, she had some interesting things to say.
“No. I do not,” she said during a question-answer session on Facebook. “I think it’s a great tool for the temporary impact it has on the leptin cycle, stomach capacity, and insulin secretion processes of the body. I think mostly what it does is buy an overweight person time to learn new habits, get into therapy, and learn to make better choices on their own…I may very well need a revision someday if I am not careful.”
32. Body Confidence
Part of the secret behind Amber Rachdi’s success is her unshakeable self confidence, which has gotten an even bigger boost since adopting new lifestyle habits. To this day, she celebrates her body, as well as something called “NSVs”: non-scale victories.
In one photo posted on Facebook, Amber posted a photo of herself wearing casual clothes and wrote the following caption: “I will always have fluffy legs, but I think I masquerade as normal pretty well in jeans. Woo for NSVs!” She has noted in the past that she has not yet had surgery to remove excess skin but would like to one day.
33. Real Advice
It breaks my heart how many folks are coming to me with weight related health concerns and stories of their struggles,” she said. “But, I am not a doctor or a nutritionist or a health educator. ”
“I can’t offer real advice about diet or exercise beyond this: Talk to your doctor. Talk to a nutritionist. Measure and track what you eat HONESTLY for at least a week beforehand. Find an accountability buddy. Reach out. You deserve both personal and professional allies!”
34. No Promos
Many people these days with huge social media followings aspire to become “influencers”, meaning they accept money to promote supplements. Not Amber! In one post, she wrote to her followers: “don’t come at me with your woowoo supplements or fad diets either. I am not here for that nor will I ever endorse that noise.”
“Is protein powder a good dietary addition?” she continued. “Sometimes for some folks. Do I take bariatric vitamins? Yep. Is your superfood botanical woowoo pill going to BOOST FAT LOSS AND GIVE ME BOUNDLESS ENERGY? No. Go away forever please.”
35. Individual Plans
Some people may pretend like there’s a specific diet that works for everyone, but Amber Rachdi emphasizes that she is not advocating any one option. “My path isn’t made to be replicated or emulated,” she wrote in a post on Facebook.
“I can’t provide a meal plan or diet or be your support and for this I feel like I am failing people,” she wrote. “I don’t know your needs or situations and I would be horribly negligent if I tried to tell anyone what to do with their bodies or health. Please stop asking. I simply don’t have the necessary qualifications. I wish you luck in becoming you best selves! I’m cheering for you!”
36. International Inspiration
Amber’s story has been a huge inspiration for people in the US and now abroad too! In February 2017, she shared that she teleconferenced with students at a school in Vietnam who saw a documentary about her and were studying the subject of weight gain and loss for a life science class.
The experience seemed to have been very positive. “I have to say, this was one of the more encouraging things to come of being on TV. The process of putting yourself in a vulnerable situation in front of the eyes of many can be really uncomfortable, but I love science and education and honestly, things like this make it worth it.”
37. Life After Fame
In February 2017, Amber was asked on Facebook how often she gets recognized on the street? It turns out it depends on the hair color. She responded that ever since dying her hair blonde, “never. I am way incognito”
She added a story of one of her less-positive experiences. “I used to get stopped in the grocery store quite frequently, though. One woman started yelling my name and ran up to me and I nearly cried I was so startled.”
38. Fighting Online trolls
Being a public figure now, Amber Rachdi gets tons of messages from fans. Some online fans, however, don’t always understand that it’s not possible to respond. She shared a screencap of a conversation she had with a stranger who messaged her.
Initially he wished her well, but when he didn’t get a response, he wrote sarcastically “Oh, you don’t have to thank me, I know it must be super-busy being famous.” To that she had some choice words. “My dog died yesterday…it’s been super rough,” she said. “But hey, by all means, kick me when I’m down because you didn’t get the gratitude you feel entitled to on your own schedule.”
39. Home Cookin’
One of the steps that helped Amber change her life for the better was cleaning up her eating habits and making meals at home. She has embraced that and improve, even deciding to recreate one of her Moroccon family’s favorite dishes, beef tagine.
“Moroccan food! I tried my hand at what I grew up eating and it turned out great,” she wrote on Facebook. “This is beef tajine with carrots and turnips!!!” Several people commented on how delicious the dish looked and asked for her recipe!
40. Facebook Fandom
Amber Rachdi reaches out to her fans through a variety of sources and Facebook is one of them, with almost 57,000 followers! That’s only second to her Instagram account, which has almost 95,000 followers.
On her Facebook page, Amber regularly posts updates about her life, whether about going to the gym, heading out for an evening of fun, or even raising money for charity causes. It’s become a hub for other people who have had weight loss surgery as well.
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