A Journey To Health

When Andy Vasquez-Prada made the decision three years ago to focus on his health and lose weight, he gained a new body and a new lease on life.

Andy Vasquez-Prada sits down to his lunch, a shallow bowl of mixed gray and brown colored grains, eating slowly and gingerly, chatting in between leisurely bites. Its muesli, he explains, and despite its less-than-appetizing appearance, it’s actually quite good, he assures me. He chases it down with a small cupful of assorted pills. Wearing crisp white jeans, loafers, and navy blue coat, he looks very much dapper gentleman. This is the Andy Vasquez-Prada I am meeting for the very first time today, so I can hardly believe it when he tells me that just three years ago, he was severely overweight, tipping the scales at 314 lbs. at his heaviest and wearing a size-40 pair of jeans.

It’s hard to reconcile the image of Vasquez-Prada, tastemaker and proprietor of the beautifully curated home store W17, with the man that he was for most of his adult life. Even he admits that back then, he was completely a different person. “Before, there’s a wall because you’re insecure and you’re angry because you look and feel like that,” he says. “I didn’t think I was good-looking, I didn’t know what my face really looked like...I was frustrated that I could just buy really good shoes but not fantastic clothes.” His weight loss has been so dramatic, though, that even his shoes have gone down a size, along with an overall body transformation and a completely new outlook on life.

Vasquez-Prada recounts that his difficulties with weight started early. “I’ve struggled with weight my whole life,” he says. Born in Manila, he moved to San Francisco when he was four years old and spent much of his childhood there before attending boarding school in his high school freshman year. “That was the first time I was alone, and I really ballooned. From then, it was a lose-gain, accordion-type of thing. And each time I would lose, I’d get further from what I had achieved.”

Over the years, he claims, he tried every single diet that exists. “Name it, I tried it,” he admits.

“Diet pills, anything to lose weight.” He even went as far as undergoing liposuction in 2003, I gained it back.” For him, it was a simple case of not being able to control what he consumed. “I love to eat. No balancing it out and no thinking at all. I ate what I wanted: salty, sweet, right before sleeping, and fast food, for a time, almost every day. Going to restaurant every night and at home, I had it all, too-all the chocolates.”

By the time he hit his 30’s, health issues began to show. He was suffering from high blood pressure and hypertension and had to take a multitude of medication daily. The turning point came when he was in New York for a buying trip. “I was exhausted, but in pain and out of breath.” It was then that he realized that something had to change, and he made up his mind that he was going to see it through.

An aunt encouraged him to make an appointment with Dr. Rex Gloria at the Royal Preventive Medical Clinic. At the time, Vasquez-Prada had already begun exploring the world of New Age medicine, checking Dr. Oz videos on YouTube and reading up on actress-turned-health-guru, Suzanne Somers. So when he sat down with Dr. Gloria for their initial meeting, he instantly felt at ease when he spotted books by Somers on his bookshelf. “We were on the same page with all these supplements that I had already started. I basically followed every single thing he said for six months.”

Gloria set about customizing a program for Vasquez-Prada that would work with his unique body chemistry, beginning with a thorough health exam and a blood test. “He had done different kinds of diets, before but did not keep his weight loss, so we decided to embark on a revised hCG protocol,” Dr. Gloria says, referring to human chorionic gonadotropin, a hormone used for weight loss in a program pioneered by Dr. A.T.W. Simeons in the late 1960’s. After the doctor addressed Vasquez-Prada’s metabolic functions using vitamin supplements and conservative hormonal correction, he was prescribed a liquid solution of hCG combined with a diet of just 500 calories daily, for an initial period of 21 days.

After a two-week break, a second round lasting 45 days commenced. The results were dramatic-“It’s about two lbs. a day that you lose, because what it does is it takes your stored fat and that’s what it burns,” he says. By the time he was through, he had lost a total of around 140 lbs. in a span of six months, plus his health had improved significantly. “The hypertension is all gone now and all the medication is gone... all the problems went away,” he says. But the real key to his success was his determined, unwavering attitude. “I cheated once, and it was with alcohol. It set me back one week and I knew it wasn’t worth it. I was disciple. I really was strict with myself. I’m like that once I decide- I think it’s really a decision. I was like a robot; it was not hard for me.”

It’s been three years since he began his weight lose journey, but more telling of how effective this has been is the fact that he was managed to maintain this new physique. Now, Vasquez-Prada’s weight stays in the 170 to 18 lb. range, and he wears a size-33 jeans. He still takes vitamins and supplements and currently subscribes to the paleo diet. “The secret to his maintenance is a low glycemic index kind of regular diet and also proper vitamin supplementation,” Gloria says. “His heart medications were eventually stopped by his cardiologist because his weight loss has created a good impact on his health. Now, he continues to come to the clinic regularly to maintain his vitamin supplementation and get proper guidance on how to eat healthily.”

But credit, of course, goes to Vasquez-Prada himself for being able to turn his life through sheer willpower and determination. “People fueled me. That motivates you, that pushes you,” he says. “I got different reactions. Further along, people said I was shrinking. People were happy and surprised. Some do double-takes and don’t even recognize me.”

The boost in his well-being coincided with success on a professional level as well, as it was also around three years ago that he opened W17. Along with all of the positive changes, a whole new man emerged-and no one would notice this more, of course, than his mother. “My mom said, ‘Yumabang ka!’” he says, laughing. “You’re proud because you look good, but you should not let that change you. You should pat yourself on the back and you should feel good because it’s miraculous.”

There are other little changes in his life as well, such as being able to wear white shirts (something that he once avoided at all costs), going for bike rides (though he concedes that his exercise routine could use a little more consistency), and treating himself to belt shopping-“I make sure my belts are big thing,” he says happily. Even just the simple act of tucking in his shirt and wearing his hair shorter gives him joy.

But the biggest reward of all is that finally, after so many years of hiding under excess baggage, he is now able to reveal the person that he always was. “I feel like that was not me,” he says of his heavier days. “You realize that this is my true self. This is who I really am.” By “this,” of course, he means a man who can flawlessly pull off an impeccable ensemble of white jeans, brown loafers, and a navy jacket. And I don’t doubt for one second that this is who he is meant to be.

Source: Article by Nana Caragay, Metro Society