Ana Espinola Barreto is an athlete, playmate, fashion model and entrepreneur, from the city of Asuncion, Paraguay, with years of experience in various industries. She comes from a family of doctors, which fed her interest in nutrition and fitness, for which she is a reference today.
“My family is integrated in medicine and health, my dad is a neurosurgeon and my younger sister Dr. Ruth Espinola Barreto is also a doctor. The family business is preventive and integrative Orthomolecular medicine. My area is nutrition and fitness.” Ana shares.
Growing up, Ana fell victim to beauty social norms imposed on girls and women in Latin America. She felt pressured to lose weight and eventually developed an eating disorder. After some years, she was able to overcome her anorexia.
When she graduated from high school she enrolled to study public accounting and before starting her college she spent a year in New York City on a cultural exchange to learn English.
“Living in New York opened my eyes to how big the world is and that we are one in a million people! When I returned to Paraguay, I told my family that I wanted to be a citizen of the world. I was ready to meet new cultures, food, languages, and people.” Ana recounts.
In 2014, Ana was living in Mexico when she lived through a kidnapping experience that led her to depression. It was then that she decided to become an athlete, and she found her passion: sports and fitness gave her will to live.
Today, she works to develop a formula made with totally organic products for people to consume in order to lose weight. The formula would inhibit appetite, give a feeling of satiety, and combat anxiety. In addition, she has a large following on social media where she posts about fitness and nutrition.
“My focus is personal care and beauty, and everything is based on natural elements to avoid the rebound effect.” Ana explains. “I was motivated to start my business by my desire to be healthy after my experience with eating disorders.”
In addition to this, Ana also works with her cousin, Alejandro Espinola , in Cefisa Finance, a company that provides financial loans at low-interest and with the longest time to pay (360 months) to people who have been affected by COVID-19.
“I noticed the economic shortages in the world, such as the lack of food, medicine shortage, homelessness and low access to health centers. The world economy is deteriorating, and it is important to get the economy back on track. Cefisa Finance is just starting but we are very happy to contribute and help other citizens.” Ana states.
Through it all, Ana’s purpose is to help people. In the case of her nutrition and fitness work in particular, she wants to help people not only look good but also feel good about themselves.
“My favorite book is ‘The Little Prince’ by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. In it there is the famous quote, ‘the essential is invisible to the eye.’ Precisely, I want to help people take care of themselves because our body is the place where our soul resides and we need to treat it like a temple.” Ana says.
For Ana, the biggest challenge when starting a business is risking everything for an idea and ignoring people’s negative comments or doubts about the prosperity of a project. Some people will say it is a waste of time or money, but entrepreneurs have to ignore that.
“It is important to be determined and convinced that your business will prosper. A business is not successful from night to day, but rather step by step. We must take into account constructive criticism to always improve, but avoid toxic and negative commentary that impede growth and development.” Ana advises.
Having that mindset and determination can lead to success. For Ana, success is being able to meet her goals and overcoming any obstacles along the way.
“I never thought I would go from being a complex girl with so many insecurities to being on the cover of recognized magazines.” Ana adds. “I remember walking in school and standing in the magazine stand and saying to myself, ‘I want to be like that girl on the magazine’ and people would make fun of me and tell me to stop dreaming.”
At the moment, Ana is working on developing what she calls “the perfect formula in a bottle.” She wants to be able to help with nutrition, personal care and beauty all at once. Learn more about her work here.