Everyone has different versions of #mindflip stories, which is what makes this concept uniquely tailored to your needs. Today’s story comes from my dear friend, Ana Caicedo Macia. I met her a few years ago at Flywheel Sports. In July 1018, I hired her videography company to make a body positive campaign video for Raleigh Group Fitness’s Summer Wellness Challenge. (Still obsessed with this video!) She was ecstatic because this is a campaign near and dear to her heart. Today, she tells her story about her struggle with body image and how she continues to move closer and closer to body acceptance.
Ana Caicedo Macia’s Story
I’ve always been overweight in my eyes. Even when I wasn’t, people told me I was, so I believed it. I didn’t really know the harm it was doing, I was just a little girl who seemed to have phrases like, “if you could only lose 10,15,20 lbs you’d be beautiful.” Or, “If you could loose some weight you’ll look just like your grandmother (Miss Colombia of 1953).” These words followed me around. My closest family members would command, “love yourself, Ana,” as if I didn’t.
Conversations at family gatherings seemed to always come back to my image, somehow. One time, they even went so far to suggest I get surgery to cut and staple my own body. Cut my own body.. just to love it…now that just doesn’t seem right to me.
Hearing all of this as a little girl, it scars you, even when you try so hard not to let it. I remember crying myself to sleep multiple nights, almost punching myself, asking, “why doesn’t anyone think I love myself?”
All through high school and college I fought this internal battle of believing everyone’s advice, trying every diet, seeing a bunch of doctors that only wanted to drug and numb me. I believed that if I fixed this problem, then all my problems would go away and I would finally get the approval of my extended family. I was going nowhere, fast.
Wellness Journey from Within
Fast forward to post graduate life, I moved back to Raleigh, NC and started taking spin classes at Flywheel. At the same time I was building and growing my own business, and I was on a mission to heal myself within, alone, and I wanted no one to be a part of it. I was done seeking external advice.
My problem wasn’t that I didn’t love myself. My problem was that I cared too much about what people thought about me, mostly my extended family. I cared so much that I was putting my own happiness to the side for them. I was holding myself back from doing things with friends because of the pictures and what my family would say. This wasn’t living.
Now, I don’t remember the exact moment when I had a “mindflip”. I think it happened gradually for me but once I stopping caring about what my family and people thought of me, or how they wanted me to live, I started living for the first time.
I forgave my family for all the hurtful things they said to me throughout the years. When I acknowledged that everything they said to me was coming from a place of love and support, my perspective changed. Everything was easier and lighter to carry around.
So my message for any one who reads my story is that all the answers you need are within you. Only you know if you love yourself and we are the only ones who can really help ourselves. It’s true that your thoughts do become your reality. Unfortunately, we can’t change the actions or words of others, the only thing we can do is control how we process and react to our surroundings, and what we choose to tell ourselves.”
Thank you, Ana!
Beauty and thin ideal pressures are real. The good thing is that you are not alone in your struggle. Ana, thank you for your vulnerability and your willingness to share your story. We need more people to speak up about weight stigma and how damaging it can be to our self-worth.
The reality is that we can be healthy at many sizes AND weight does not equal our health. If you are struggling with beauty ideals, body image, eating disorders, over-exercise, or another restrictive behavior, please reach out. Also, if you are triggered by social media, check out my blog post on “10 Fitness Social Media Messages to Ignore.”
There are tons of amazing resources on body positivity and HAES (Health at Every Size). I highly recommend diving in to begin to shed these societal pressures and embrace the natural state of our bodies.
With good intentions,