23, Bethpage

Occupation Piano teacher

Height 5-foot-3

231 Weight before Sept. 1, 2010

141 Weight by April 2012

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Melissa Mingrone grew up obese. Being the target of bullies at school, and having what she describes as a dysfunctional home life, led her to regularly eat 5,000 to 10,000 calories a day.

"Food was the only time we connected as a family," says Mingrone, who remembers dinner often being whatever she and her sibling could find, including a whole bag of Doritos on more than one occasion.

"Food was our reward," Mingrone says. "Our mom would take us to McDonald's and we'd order everything on the menu. That would be our dinner." She never ate vegetables as a child.

"The first time I saw broccoli was in college," says Mingrone.

It was the scale that finally helped her turn the corner to weight loss. "I got off the scale that day in 2010 and got rid of all the bad things in my house," says Mingrone, who now cooks almost all her meals and keeps track of portion sizes.

But the fat mentality was almost as hard to lose as the weight.

"I still think people are looking at me, judging me like I felt they did when I was fat," Mingrone says.


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"I hate salad and most vegetables," says Mingrone, who works to incorporate vegetables into her diet. "I put spinach in my eggs, tomatoes on my pita pizza."

She no longer goes to fast-food restaurants. And, she tracks everything she eats.

"I don't like to eat too much that I can't account for," Mingrone says, "so I don't eat out very much."

In training for Sunday's Long Island Half Marathon, Mingrone's diet centers around energy-building carbohydrates and proteins.


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Mingrone runs at least 4 to 5 miles a day four times a week, cycles and does other cardio workouts. She also does Pilates and lifts weights three times a week.


Mingrone says you have to look at the triggers that made you gain weight, then work to overcome them. "Then, keep track of what you eat for a week," Mingrone says. "Don't change anything, just pay attention."

After that first week, pick two or three things to change the next week.

"I love peanut butter, but a tablespoon of peanut butter has 100 calories," Mingrone says, "so, don't slather three tablespoons of peanut butter on your bread. Maybe you can do with just one."