A fitness guru who was taunted for being overweight as a child has opened up about self-acceptance while proudly flaunting her cellulite in an emotional online post.
Nicole Mejia, 28, shared a video of herself posing on a beach in a cutout swimsuit on her Instagram account, explaining in the caption that her body fat percentage is the highest it has ever been in the past four years as is her level of personal happiness.
The trainer and model then detailed how she had stopped approaching exercise in the hope that it would change her body's appearance, and had started focusing instead on her physical performance, the Daily Mail reported.
Mejia, who started her workout business Fit&Thick in October of 2013 after noticing the increasing popularity of curvier figures, was bullied and teased as a child due to her body shape.
She later discovered her love of fitness training and started working as a model aged 21, after a friend asked her to pose for her portfolio. Mejia has since worked with other artists and brands in addition to her fitness venture.
The trainer, who typically celebrates curvier shapes on her Instagram account and during her workout classes, took her approach one step further by sharing unedited footage of herself posing.
She accompanied the clip with a vulnerable message explaining how her fitness philosophy had changed after she found self-acceptance.
"Time for me to get real with you guys," the trainer wrote. "My body fat percentage is currently the highest that it's been since I started Fit and Thick. Funny thing is, so is my happiness and self-acceptance."
Mejia then explained that she once sought to ''look the part'' at the onset of her career in the fitness industry, but didn't benefit from that mindset and preferred to search for other sources of contentment while exercising.
"It never used to be about looking a certain way, but about the mental clarity and emotional release that I was able to achieve after an hour of pushing my body past what I thought I was capable of," she added.
"It was how I was able to find body acceptance in the first place. By placing so much emphasis on my aesthetic goals, I lost touch with the fulfilment that I once experienced through my relationship with fitness."
After re-focusing on her well-being rather than her appearance, the trainer has set new goals for herself and urged her followers to pursue similar objectives, such as being able to do 30 push-ups in a row, run three miles without stopping, or work out five times a week for a month.
These, she said, are "attainable goals that will require us to motivate ourselves in new ways. Goals we won't need a mirror for."