By Josh Saunders
A super-slimmer can’t wait for summer after splashing $18,000 (13kGBP) to remove THREE-POUND OF SAGGY SKIN and wear her first bikini in more than two decades.
Rachael Heffner, 26, from Indianapolis in Indiana, USA, weighed a hefty 20st 5 at her heaviest, when she used to drink up to four large bottles of fizzy drinks a day and gorged on fast food.
As a New Year’s resolution seven-years-ago she changed her diet to healthy meal prepping and started exercising, gradually leading her to lose over 10 stone.
But despite her slimming success, she felt embarrassed by the low-hanging saggy skin on her stomach.
The personal training company director, even worried she may be ‘rejected’ by potential suiters due to her excess skin and decided she needed surgery to help complete her transformation.
Three-months-ago, Rachael had a tummy tuck to remove a whopping three pounds of skin.
Now recovered from the surgeries, she’s overjoyed with her new physique and can’t wait to show it off this summer in a bikini – the first time she’s wore one since she was four-years-old.
Rachael said: “I used to have a lot of low hanging excess-skin that had been stretched out to the max around my lower abdomen from my extreme weight loss.
“For everybody else, my excess skin represented the struggle and journey I’d been through, they thought of it as something positive.
“But for me, I was embarrassed by it, it left me feeling depressed and reminded me of how large I used to be rather than what I had achieved.
“It caused me a lot of self-image issues, I had accomplished a lot by losing so much weight but had this horrific reminder of how I used to look.
“I wanted to look fit, I enjoy being athletic, lifting weights in the gym but in the fitness industry, I also knew I needed to a certain look to be taken seriously.
“The surgery has changed the way I see my body, it’s reminded me that with enough determination physically and mentally you can do anything you want to.
“I feel like I’m closer to my vision of how I wanted to look when I started losing weight, before my excess skin stopped me from achieving that dream.
“I can’t wait to wear a bikini, I haven’t worn one since I was four-years-old, because I was always bigger and never comfortable enough in my own skin to wear one.
“Thanks to having the surgery, I feel able to close the door on all the negativity of the past 20 years of my life, where I didn’t like myself, it was very helpful for me mentally.”
Rachael’s weight gain spiralled out of control after her mother died from cancer in 2004, the heartbreak led her to comfort eat excessively and ignore nutritional advice.
By the end of her teenage years, she had a body mass index over 50 – the highest tier in the obesity scale.
Rachael said: “I was a little chubby when I was a kid, but after my mom became really sick and passed away I gained a lot of weight.
“I liked sugary snacks, sodas and potato chips, I was just eating large portions of food that was bad for me.
“Then in college I was drinking up to four bottles of soda a day, I was drinking Pepsi, Coca-Cola, Mountain Dew, Sprite and others.”
But after being rejected by her childhood sweetheart she decided to drastically change her consumption habits and set her New Year’s resolution to lose weight.
Rachael altered her diet, reducing her portion sizes by half and cutting out sugar, as well as exercising with her roommate.
Over time she lost nearly 12 stone (165lb) and due to her radical transformation, she says many of her friends struggle to recognise her.
Rachael said: “People who I used to go to school with don’t even recognise me now, whenever I see someone they’re always so surprised by how I look and are impressed.
“I keep joking that I’ll definitely be going to our 10-year school reunion because everyone will be astonished when they see me.”
Since the she’s spent $18,000 (13kGBP) on surgery to remove excess skin and make her feel more effeminate.
Rachael says it’s allowed her to feel much more comfortable in her body and she can finally ‘close the door’ on the insecurities she’s battled with over her weight.
Rachael said: “While others saw my excess skin as something that represented my weight loss, for me it was different from the idea of how I wanted to look.
“Mentally I feel great now and am very happy with how my body has recovered, the results are amazing.
“The biggest things I’ve learned with the surgeries is that you have to love yourself, even if you have fat or are lacking in muscle.
“There’s such a huge difference in how I look now, I feel so comfortable.”
Rachael hopes to continue to fund further surgery in the future, to donate visit:www.gofundme.com/rachaels-skin-removal-surgery
Rachael now works for ARC Fitness, where her and boss, Adam Cayce, focus on teaching people self-love and a healthy mindset alongside helping with fitness transformations.
They had a 30-day challenge to teach people the importance of nutrition and exercise, while practicing positive affirmations – as well as coaching online.
Rachael said: “Believing in yourself is the first step to losing the weight, to becoming happier with yourself.
“By changing that mindset from negative to positive, you will see the results you want in no time.”
To learn more about ARC Fitness and Rachael’s journey visit: @heffner365
Breakfast – two bowls of sugary cereal
Lunch – buffalo chicken wrap with soup, chips and a fizzy drink
Snacks – chocolate
Dinner – over four slices of pizza with fizzy drink
Desserts – chocolate, ice cream, sweets
Breakfast – two pieces of low calorie toast with cream cheese and avocado
Snacks – two scrambled eggs
Lunch – ground turkey black beans and brown rice
Dinner – pasta with chicken and broccoli
Dessert – strawberries