Carrie Fisher, before (left) and after weight loss
Roger Wong/INF; David Goldman
11/04/2011 at 12:00 PM EDT
Jenny Craig may have helped its spokesperson
Carrie Fisher lose 50 lbs.
over the past year
, but it was the psychiatric hospital Silver Hill in New Canaan, Connecticut, that helped her get her life back together, she says.
"They really did heal me. It's the alma mater that matters," the Star Wars
star, 55, told the assembled guests at Thursday's Silver Hill Hospital
gala at Manhattan's Cipriani 42nd Street.
Extolling the virtues of the 80-year-old facility, where she was treated for alcohol addiction and bipolar disorder, Fisher said that during her stay "there was a president at Silver Hill, I'm not kidding. And he had really bad breath, so I used to tell people not to get down wind of the president."
She did not name him.
"It will be a year on Thanksgiving," Fisher, who topped out at 180 lbs., told PEOPLE about her Jenny Craig start date anniversary. Of what how she looked and felt a year ago, she said, "You have that last gigantic meal, look in the mirror. None of your clothes fit, and ... forget it."
Working to lose the weight and struggling to keep it off, "I have a lot of trouble," admitted Fisher, who still hopes to lose 10 more lbs. "I really have to be held down when I pass a 31 flavors."
She also exercises. "You do the treadmill first, which is this horrendous, evil thing," she said. "And then you get on the elliptical" for 30 to 52 minutes.
Buying new clothes and again fitting into old ones, Fisher said, "Oh, my God. Both things are fun. To get back into something I never thought I’d see except on my daughter [Billie Lourd]. This YSL has vintage," she said of the black ensemble she wore to the event. "But I'm vintage now."
And Silver Hill? "It was one of the best places I was ever institutionalized."