Lugo lost 150 lbs. and had thyroid cancer, which, she says, makes it "harder for me to lose and tone"
Erica Lugo Biggest Loser trainer
Erica Lugo
| Credit: Erica Lugo/Instagram

Erica Lugo is proud of her body — loose skin, cellulite and all.

The Biggest Loser trainer is just 33 years old, but has already been through a lifetime of health ups and downs.  She weighed 322 lbs. after the birth of her son but then lost more more than 150 lbs. And last year, after getting injured in a car accident, she was diagnosed with stage 2 thyroid cancer, which led to surgery and radiation treatments.

All of that left Lugo with “loose skin, stretch marks [and] wiggly parts,” but she decided this week, while on vacation in North Carolina, to wear a bikini.

“I’ve spent too many years never wearing bikinis because I felt I shouldn’t,” she said on Instagram Monday. “Because I don’t have a bikini body like all these women I seem to scroll through … But ya know what? This body lost 150 lbs. This body created life. This body beat cancer. This body is working through an auto immune disorder. This body is worthy despite society standards and my own negative self-chat and it felt good to slip on a bikini for the first time in years and truly be COMFORTABLE.”

But while Lugo proudly wore her bikinis throughout the week (and shared photos on Instagram), she started getting harsh criticism about everything from a lack of abs to loose skin — and conversely, for hiding her loose skin.

“This past week I have read more comments towards myself and other woman about our bodies and our confidence and worth based off how we chose to show our confidence and OUR bodies,” she said Wednesday.

Lugo decided to “set the record straight” and make it clear that she doesn’t have “six pack abs” or “the most toned upper body.”

“Instead I have loose skin from losing 150 lbs. and having a baby. Instead It’s harder for me to lose and tone because I had and beat thyroid cancer and my body doesn’t process hormones like a ‘normal’ hormonal regulation system should,” she said.

But, Lugo explained, that doesn’t mean her body deserves criticism.

“That does NOT mean my value is less. That does NOT mean I’m not strong. That does NOT mean I’m not worth something. That does NOT mean I can’t help, inspire, motivate and educate,” she said.

“Let people be proud of their bodies in progress,” she continued. “We are all trying to be happier, stronger and better versions of ourselves and how we chose to show or acknowledge that is up to US. Not YOU.”

Lugo joined the USA reboot of The Biggest Loser this past year, and was able to relate to the contestants after her own weight loss journey. She previously told PEOPLE that she often talks with them about loose skin.

“So many people always ask, and I tell them, ‘Don’t let that be the thing that stops you,’ ” she said. “If you scroll through my Instagram, I’m like, yeah, here’s my stretch marks and here’s my loose skin. This is who I am and that’s my story, so I just own it.”