HEALTHY LIVING
04/26/2013 08:37 am ET | Updated Apr 26, 2013

I Lost Weight: Mandi Toan Consulted A Medical Weight Loss Program And Lost 87 Pounds

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Name: Amanda (Mandi) Lyn Toan
Age: 22
Height: 5'1"
Before Weight: 215 pounds

How I Gained It: For as long as I can remember I have always been self-conscious about my looks and especially about my weight. Even as a kid I was always a little bit on the "chunky" side, but I know my weight took a dangerous turn when I was about 13 years old. Most of my weight gain was caused by stress, depression (I suffer from clinical and seasonal depression, I was diagnosed at 8 years old) and the medication I was taking for my depression and also my ADD, but the biggest factor was my poor diet and eating habits that I developed at a young age.

My family would try to eat healthy but it rarely happened. I do not blame my parents for my weight gain because I became old enough to know what I should and should not eat, but chose to overindulge anyway. I would eat when I was happy, sad, nervous and bored, or simply because other people around me were eating. My parents' divorce was a huge factor in my weight gain. My depression gradually increased, and therefore my eating. It wouldn’t matter what it was: a Big Mac at McDonald's, a bag of Doritos, Hershey's chocolate bar or a pizza from Pizza Hut, if it tasted good to me I was going to eat it -- and eat a lot of it! I refused to look in the mirror or be in pictures, and tricked myself into thinking I wasn't getting too big.

Breaking Point: For as long as I can remember I have loved film, TV, and the theater. I have always wanted to be involved in those fields. But as the years went on and my weight increased, I found myself unable to do things in theater that I wanted to, such as dancing, fitting into certain costumes and gaining the roles I wanted because of my weight. Not only did it affect my ability to further my acting but it was beginning to affect my physical health: I developed knee, joint, back and neck problems that I still suffer from today. I was disgusted with myself, I wanted to just stop being me and trade places with anyone else who had a better figure than I did.

How I Lost It: At 20 years old, in October 2011, I found out about a weight-loss program through a medical center in my town. Like many weight loss programs, it was not covered by health insurance, and I had to save for months in order to continue with the program. Finally in February 2012, I started the program and continued through May 2012. Within those three to four months, I lost 50 pounds. I decided to continue on my own.

I have kept myself strict with not many bread-based foods at all: no pastas, no pizza, no sodas, no soups. I keep track of everything I eat and count calories, sodium, carbs, fat and sugar. I do not eat meals past 6 p.m. and I don't snack after 8 p.m. I stick to water, coffee and tea. I have a salad at least once a day. I try to stay away from dairy when I can. I eat lots of veggies and some fruits everyday. I look at labels of everything I buy and eat (when able to), and I watch serving sizes! If i decide to allow myself a treat, then I get out my measuring cup and that's all! No seconds!

As far as exercise, I walk and jog. I occasionally use the gym equipment in my apartment building. I love biking, and I will do an at-home workout video maybe once a week. I exercise for at least 30 minutes to an hour twice a week. My endurance and ability to move around more as definitely increased!

I can’t even begin to describe how I feel. I get emotional sometimes when people congratulate me and ask me to share my story because there are times I look in the mirror, and I have to ask myself, "Did I really do this? Is this really me now?" I get to look back at that mirror and say, “Yes, you did it Mandi.” Not only am I healthier, but I like myself in the mirror now. I love going into stores now and finally being able buy the clothes I have always wanted to wear but couldn’t.

There have been times once in a while where I slip and fall off the wagon. I found that if I restrict myself too much, it makes things much worse. Everyone is different and I go by what my body handles and that I can deal with best.

To anyone who even slightly understands where I am coming from and is wanting to pursue this goal of weight loss: It can be done. You have to work and you have to work hard, just don’t ever give up because dreams can come true.

After Weight: 128 pounds. My goal is to be 115 pounds.
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