ASHTABULA, OH (WOIO) - Trying to lose weight is something so many of us struggle with, which can make success stories especially inspiring this time of year when it's so much about sticking to that New Year's resolution. One local success story though is just jaw-d ropping.
An Ashtabula man, overweight all his life, realized in his 30s that he won't have much more life if he doesn't make a big change.
It took a while to hit Rodney Rappe, he said, partly because despite always being overweight in his childhood and teen years, he was such a good athlete and he was never teased. It finally hit him when his day of sports were long over with.
"I couldn't do things I wanted to do, I just couldn't even just go to the store and walk around and shop," said Rappe.
Out of curiosity, he stood on a scale to get the shock of his life. He was 480 pounds on a 5-feet, 5-inch frame. Combine that with the fact he couldn't work, had to live on disability and was on 12 prescription meds, pre-diabetic -- it would be time to get busy.
"It was very tough the first two months especially... I mean, you are starving," he remembered shaking his head.
Rappe blamed his weight gain mostly on genetics and overeating. Apparently, there's also something in his genes that made him a very determined man.
"I just was in the mindset where I'm doing this. I don't care what I have to do. And it's great to get into that mindset because you can do anything," he said.
It started in September 2014 turning to the Internet to pick up some weight loss tips, he basically designed his own plan which was strictly calorie counting - 1,000 calories day to begin.
That gave him quick results, at first. He dropped 20 pounds in the first two weeks. That would also give him even more motivation, he admitted, as he showed his little pocket notebook that became a weight loss journal, listing everything he ate, adding up the calories, and every activity he would do as he eventually mixed in exercise.
"It really did become an addiction," Rappe said.
He joined the Ashtabula YMCA to start swimming and that became his passion, also adding in an hour at a time on the elliptical machine.
"It's like I broke myself out of my own prison. That's how I look at it."
Eleven months at it and the scale NEVER went back up, not even a pound. He said he would peak at 250 pounds lost.
He would go from 480 pounds to 230 pounds. He decided to ease up a bit then worried he was putting himself in danger many days only eating 400
calories and STILL working out.
So the next 20 pounds would come off over the next few months, putting him at a final weight he can maintain pretty easily now -- 210 pounds.
A huge smile comes on his face as he stands in his kitchen, with spinach in the microwave and chicken grilling in the Foreman grill.
"People can't change unless you really want to change, I was at that point where I really wanted to change," he said.
While you can't help but be amazed, there were some who were more amazed something didn't go wrong, like Dr. Barto Burguera who was quick to say, "It's potentially dangerous."
He's the Director of Obesity Programs at the Cleveland Clinic. He couldn't speak much on Rappe, in particular, he never met him. However, he said there's a reason big weight loss needs to happen in little increments.
"When you cut significant amount of calories, the problem is you may not have enough nutrients so you can really get in trouble with your heart and sometimes with your kidneys," Burguera said.
He advised close supervision over any weight-loss program with 2 pounds lost a week the average for safe and lasting weight loss.
Rappe said he had minimal medical monitoring throughout. Although he had no trouble, he admitted that at the end of the first 11 months he was pushing it, simply by how bad he felt. So now he's learning how to keep the weight off and also about eventually helping others do it, too.
"The sky's the limit. I still can't wait to see that after picture, you know." He said that because the next big step in his journey is to get the excess skin removed. And we'll be following him through that, too. But, in the meantime, he's so proud to say he's off all medication and got a job in retail that he enjoys.
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