SINGAPORE - An 18-year-old polytechnic student has stepped forward to tell her weight loss story - advising others that while she may look "pretty" now, her method of dieting was a dangerous one that could have cost her her health.
Mindy Tay's story surfaced when a contributor sent in her photos to citizen journalism website Stomp, praising her for having lost 20kg in two years.
The contribution read: "This girl looks so hot now you would not imagine that she was actually fat, and not to mention ugly, last time in secondary school.
"Can you imagine if she was still the old 'her' when she enrolled in a polytechnic, where she's studying at now. The amount of people who'd be willing to befriend her would decrease drastically, I think.
"Nowadays, she still thinks she is fat but I believe she's just the right size and really sexy now and I want to tell her that, through STOMP, because I am afraid her boyfriend would be jealous.
"Mindy, you're truly awesome and I really think you're very pretty and adorable. Your smile is the prettiest. For those out there: If you're fat, I'm sure you can lose any amount of weight you want to as well, with determination!"
However, when contacted by Stomp, Tay revealed that she took some rather drastic measures to lose weight, and regrets putting her body through the ordeal.
She told Stomp that she was in Secondary Three when she decided she didn't want to be fat anymore. At that time, she weighed 67kg.
She embarked on a diet plan that advocated an 11-day extreme diet. It worked to a certain extent, and she lost 9kg.
"I heard that the fastest way to lose weight was to limit what you feed yourself, so I read up on a 11-day diet plan and decided to embark on it.
"The plan was a detailed one which laid out what you should eat within a day, and how much of it you can have. For example, it says that I should have four meals a day - which consist of three dishes each - and the meals consist of mainly eggs and steamed chicken," she told Stomp in a phone conversation.
"On some days, I can only have greens while on others, I can only have fruits. At the end of it, I lost about 9kg and weighed 56kg," she said.
A year later, she decided to embark on the same plan again to lose even more weight - but this time with disastrous consequences.
Fainting at school
Fainting at school
A year later, she went on the same plan, but added some drastic modifications to it.
Instead of just sticking to the plan for 11 days, she decided to prolong the plan to nearly a month. Not only that, she did not stick to the recommended serving frequency and size for each meal.
"I was active in my school's dance group, so when I had dance practices, I'd have just two meals - one meal of milk, and one hard boiled egg for the other.
"That screwed up my body bad. My body's low sugar levels from the diet plan and the physical exertion led to me fainting in school.
"I was scared, but it wasn't just the blacking out which scared me. After the prolonged diet, I would feel like puking whenever I had a proper meal.
"After that, I told myself that I will never go through such a drastic diet again.
"Thankfully, I'm back to eating normally now. In fact, others tell me that I eat quite a lot these days," she shared.
Tay's weight is now 47kg, and although others may call her "sexy" and "pretty" now that she has lost weight, she doesn't recommend that others who similarly wish to lose weight follow her example.
"A word of advice to those who want to lose weight as well - don't follow my method. Even though I lost weight, I regret going through the forced starvation.
"Rather, you should control what you eat. A lot of people told me that in the past, and I believe them. You can exercise a lot, but if you don't cut down on excessive eating, you won't lose weight.
"Nowadays, I don't take a lot of fizzy drinks and have cut down on snacks, so I believe people who want to lose weight can do that as well."
Risking health for beauty
Risking health for beauty
Her story is similar to that of former Pioneer Junior College student Laura Patricia, who inspired netizens with her story on her battle with first weight loss, then anorexia when she took her obsession too far.
The Indonesia-born beauty lost more than 30kg in the short span of a year and three months. She slimmed down from a high of more than 80kg to 48kg at her lightest, and now weighs a svelte 58kg.
However, while many praised her for her successful weight-loss journey, few knew that she also was a victim of anorexia - brought on by the pressure she was under to lose weight by her then boyfriend.
She said that she was desperate to keep him by her side and to do so, she slimmed down to a shocking 48kg. To maintain her BMI of 17.8, she only allowed herself to eat one meal a day and a snack twice a day.
Her body started breaking down as it lost its stores of vital nutrients. Her hair started falling out, her skin became flaky, her breasts shrunk, she stopped menstruating and she started having poor coordination skills.
Finally, her parents took her to a doctor on the pretext of solving her menstruation problem - an act that might have saved her life.
Today, she has slowly untangled herself from the clutches of anorexia and begun to love herself again.
Find out more on Tay's and Laura's story in the gallery below:
What do you think? Do you know of similar cases where a desire to lose weight has resulted in serious health consequences? Write in to us at A1Admin@sph.com.sg or in the comments section below: