By Shannon Lane @ShannonroseLane

A 29-YEAR-OLD woman who thought she wouldn’t live past 26, has lost an amazing 170lbs and is now a professional bodybuilder

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Videographer / director: Istvan Lettang

Producer: Shannon Lane, James Thorne

Editor: Beth Angus

Rachael Heffner from Indianapolis always struggled with her weight, but it's when she lost her mother in 2004 that the weight really started to pile on. She told Truly: “Losing my mom, my dad and I weren’t very close. I had a lot of uncontrollable things happen to me, and the only thing I could control was the food. I think I continuously did that just to feel something other than sad. I didn’t think I was going to make it, 26 [years old] was my cut-off. I was fine with dying young.” At her heaviest Rachael was 300lbs, and it wasn’t until Rachael got rejected due to her weight that she decided to turn her life around. She said: “When I was in college, there was a boy that I went to school with, I told him that I wanted to take things to the next level and actually be together. He basically wasn’t attracted to me. I went home and I remember sitting on my bed, I was watching something on my laptop and the screen went dark and I just looked at myself and I was just like ‘I cannot live like this anymore'!” The next day Rachael bought a pair of running shoes and began her fitness journey. In 2017 she had excess skin removal, where she had three and a half pounds of skin removed. She said: ”I work out at least five times a week, sometimes six. Five days worth of cardio and I lift for about an hour, hour and a half, it just kind of depends on my timing and what I have to do that day." Rachael has won over 16 bodybuilding awards, including Miss Indiana Women’s Physique. She said: “I think that my mom would be extremely proud of me. I think she would have been very taken off guard by the choices I've chosen to do with my life. I don't think that bodybuilding was even in her radar. But I think she'd be proud. I hope so.”