A woman who underwent a 100-pound weight loss transformation says that she constantly feels cold now, but does not regret the weight loss.
Drea Vasquez, 22, from Michigan, dropped from 246 to 140 pounds over five years after being startled by a diagnosis of pre-diabetes at 18.
The miraculous weight loss has come with some downsides, though. Ms Vasquez says she suffered from body dysmorphia because of the amount of loose skin she was carrying.
She also described the coldness she feels when hit by a light breeze as ‘painful’, and said she is now an ‘ice cube’.
Drea Vasquez (pictured), 22, lost 100 pounds over five years after her doctor diagnosed her with pre-diabetes at 18
Ms Vasquez found others online with a similar experience after losing weight, with others warning that they are ‘freezing all the time’ and that ‘it really does hurt everywhere’.
‘My body now gets extremely cold in winter and I couldn’t handle the freezing temperatures,’ Ms Vasquez said.
‘To compare, when I was bigger, I could happily walk into a storm without a coat. It was crazy being completely smacked in the face by the cold.
‘My parents even got me electronic hand warmers because I am just an ice cube 24/7 now.’
Her weight loss journey began with a warning from her doctor that she could soon develop diabetes without changes to her lifestyle.
Ms Vasquez started her weight loss journey on New Year’s Day in 2018, when she was 18 by adopting a calorie-deficit, healthy eating and a weekly workout routine.
She said she had to ‘relearn how to eat’. Her diet is a lot healthier, featuring lean meats such as chicken and turkey, veggies, and replacing unhealthy snacking with fruits, rice cakes and chickpea puffs.
She began hitting the gym four to five days a week, with 30 minutes of cardio and one hour of weight training each time.
‘I tried to lose weight for years but always ended up losing hope and falling back into unhealthy habits,’ she said.
‘I was addicted to food and came to this realization when my pediatrician told me that I was pre-diabetic.
‘So I decided to do a calorie deficit to finally drop some weight and it wasn’t as scary and hard as I thought it would be.’
Experts say the most effective way to lose weight requires diet and exercise changes.
Eating a lower-calorie diet – preferably with healthy and nutritious foods – combined with burning calories through exercise can help a person shed weight.
‘I did different forms of cardio, walking, running, stair-steppers and the same with weight training for about six months.
‘Then I started practicing long-distance running, which has stuck with me to this day and is my main form of exercise currently.’
Ms Vasquez is now at a healthy weight, but attaining a slimmer figure did not come with drawbacks.
She struggled with body dysmorphia due to the excess skin on her body. Stretched skin is a common problem among people who lose weight, as their body has already adjusted to their oversized frame that will not reverse.
Ms Vasquez decided to get surgery to remove it in June 2021.
‘It was a really hard decision to get the surgery, I was going back and forth with myself,’ she said.
‘Before going to the surgeon I decided on, I was able to have my doctor write a letter stating that I’d kept my weight off for over a year and maintained good health in hopes this would help with insurance coverage.
‘I was able to get mostly all of the procedure covered and only paid $3,000 out of pocket for a tummy tuck, which is the removal of loose skin, muscle repair from muscle damage of my abdomen and belly button reconstruction.’
In total, she had eight pounds of skin removed from her body. She said the recovery process lasted around two months.
Ms Vasquez is not a content creator as her full-time job. Part of her work is sharing her weight loss story on TikTok.
Another issue that arose is the chilly feeling she often suffers now.
Vasquez said the loose skin after her weight loss left her dysmorphic. She had surgery to remove eight pounds of skin
‘It’s been three years since I lost 100lbs, and my body is still in shock when a cold breeze hits me,’ she said in a video that received over 1.3million views posted to her TikTok page.
This is a normal, albeit unusual, feeling many experiences after losing significant weight.
Fat serves as a layer of protection for the body and has even been described by experts as a blanket.
When a person loses that level of insulation on their body, they can suddenly feel cold as they are more exposed to the elements than they are used to.
Many people on low-calorie diets to lose weight may also be short of crucial nutrients such as iron. One of the signs of this nutrient deficiency is being more cold than usual.
‘This is not a medical condition nor a side effect of skin removal, this is just something that tends to happen after major weight loss!’ she said.
‘Fat keeps us warm so when losing a significant amount of body fat it’s going to definitely shock our bodies when we’re no longer carrying that extra fat.
‘That was stated by my doctor and over time the cold won’t be as shocking but since I grew up majority of my life overweight I was never used to winter coldness with majority less body fat.’
Despite being a little more chilly at times, Ms Vasquez is still happy about her weight loss journey.
‘I feel confident in my own body now, even if I do have to feel that little bit colder!’ she said.