Rachele Dodard, a 5-foot, 3-inch-tall 34-year-old pediatric occupational therapist in Miami used to weigh 250 pounds and wore size 24 clothes. Now the aneurysm survivor fluctuates between 128 and 135 pounds (“whatever feels right to me”) and wears between a size 4 and 6.
Keep clicking to find out how she dropped the weight, saved her health, and why she’s looking forward to visiting amusement parks again.
Dodard remembers going on her first diet when she was 8 years old. However, none of her previous weight loss attempts worked.
A vegetarian since she was 11, Dodard did begin eating fish again at 27. Still, she wasn’t eating very well. Now she eats six times a day (but strongly monitors her portion control), makes sure she gets lots of fruits and veggies and drinks plenty of water.
Doctors blamed Dodard’s emergency brain surgery on her excessive weight and said she needed to lose at least 100 pounds to save her life. She was pre-diabetic and was told to schedule gastric bypass surgery but Dodard refused. She was determined to lose the weight without going under the knife.
Before losing 100 pounds, Dodard would never have been able to climb on top of her fridge to paint her ceiling. She recently renovated her kitchen and was able to do all the handiwork herself!
In her pursuit to lose the extra pounds without surgery, Dodard Googled weight loss programs and found Medifast. Medifast is a medically approved weight loss program designed by physicians from John Hopkins University.
Dodard’s physician told her she was morbidly obese. Her own research informed her that being severely overweight could cause extra stress on her heart. She overcame certain death through her resilient willpower.
Dodard greatly enjoys her work in the field of pediatric occupational therapy. She might have been forced to give her fulfilling career up if she didn’t shed those excess pounds as her doctor instructed.
The Sunshine State resident says that she did exercise prior to her weight loss program but never got past the point of a beginner.
“I had lots of exercise videos,” says Dodard with a laugh. “I half-heartedly exercised though. I didn’t make real time for it,” she adds.
As an alternative to fattening pancakes, Dodard began to cook her own crepes from scratch. She would use all natural ingredients like egg whites, flour and milk.
Crepes can be a healthy treat, especially when eaten with berries or other fruit.
Becoming rail thin was not one of Dodard’s goals.
“I have hips and a butt,” she confesses. “I didn’t want to get too thin.”
Dodard has maintained her weight loss for more than two years. She admits to munching on snacks occasionally but usually opts for trail mix that she makes herself. This helps her to avoid snacks loaded with artificial flavors and additives.
One of the ways that Dodard stayed fit and active was walking her dog Sophie every day. Living in Florida makes it easy for her to enjoy the great outdoors and get her workout on.
“There is a seven-acre park near my house and the weather is pleasant year-round,” says Dodard.
Dodard at home in one of her favorite yoga poses with a few of her little furry friends observing.
When reflecting on her previous weight loss attempts, Dodard confesses that she was impatient. But this time was different. She’s been maintaining her new weight for about two years.
“I finally gave myself time to do it,” she says.
The key to Dodard still eating the foods she likes is managing portion control.
“I eat everything. My new eating habits brought back my love for cooking. I like Italian food so I learned to make pasta.”
Now that Dodard has shed more than 100 pounds, she admits to no longer being afraid to dine out with friends. She now makes it a point to eat more nutrient dense foods.
Dodard was forced to give up many of the activities she enjoyed because of her weight. She loved midnight canoeing and visiting amusement parks but fitting into certain rides at most theme parks became difficult when she was heavier.
Surprisingly, joining a traditional health club or gym wasn’t part of Dodard’s fitness regimen.
“When you’re heavy like I was you don’t really want to go to the gym,” she admits. “I did yoga all throughout my weight loss. It helped me build my strength,” she adds.
Prior to her weight loss, Dodard was considering moving because she could no longer fit in her attic. Here, she sits Indian style on top of her fridge to paint as part of an extensive home renovation project.