Got a success story of your own? Send it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and you could be featured on the site!
Name: Amanda (Mandi) Lyn Toan
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.
The Huffington Post publishes photographs as they are submitted to us by our readers.
Check out more of our inspiring weight loss stories below:
For more on weight loss, click here.
We’re basically your best friend… with better taste. Learn more