Angelica Strippoli says she battled weight her whole life.

“I was happy and confident but knew my health was at risk,” she says.

In 2010, she was in a relationship that was becoming increasingly serious and wanted to start getting healthy for herself and her future. At her mom’s suggestion, Strippoli consulted a bariatric surgeon and, in 2012, opted for lap band surgery, in which an adjustable band is used to cinch off a small section of the top of the stomach. Although she lost 100 pounds the first year, Strippoli says she eventually ran into complications.

In 2016, she and her doctor agreed that the best course was to remove the lap band and have a gastric sleeve procedure done, in which 85 to 90 percent of the stomach is removed and a “sleeve” is created.

“It was the best decision I ever made. A doctor monitors my nutrition and I have blood work done every three months, and it comes out perfect,” Strippoli says.

She carefully followed the post-surgery instructions of eating 60 to 80 grams of protein a day, taking daily vitamins and exercising. As a result, Strippoli says, she has very little excess skin.

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“I was very dedicated because I wanted this so badly,” she says. “I’ve gotten my life back. I can walk into any store and go shopping now. I wore my first bikini this summer.”

Strippoli has either a protein shake or Greek yogurt with fruit for breakfast. Lunch is a vegetable salad (zucchini, broccoli or squash) with either chicken or shrimp. For dinner, Strippoli frequently makes a marinara sauce or sautéed shrimp and has that over spiraled zucchini noodles. She snacks on nuts, cheese, raisins, cucumber slices or fruit.

“I always treat myself to something. A small piece of dark chocolate never killed anyone,” Strippoli says.

Strippoli walks every day for 20 to 30 minutes. She goes to a gym three to four days a week, where she spends 30-40 minutes doing muscle toning with two-, three- and five-pound weights, plus some fat-burning exercises.

“Don’t be afraid of this. A lot of people look down on people who have bariatric surgery, saying it’s the easy way out. It’s 100 percent not true. You have to completely change your life, your lifestyle and learn how to eat and retrain your body. It takes a lot of time and dedication,” say Strippoli, who goes by her nickname, Angii.

“I love helping others, who are where I once was, through Instagram,” @vsg_angiimar.