Maria Kang, here are my excuses

After seeing the latest posting from “hot Facebook mom,” Katie Dupuis shares why she thinks healthy looks different for everyone.

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Today’s Parent managing editor Katie Dupuis likes structure and organization. A lot. Now, imagine this Type A editor with a baby. Funny, right? We’re sure you’ll love Katie’s musings on life with Sophie and husband Blaine.

The first time Maria Kang posted a picture of herself in a sports bra and workout shorts, surrounded by her three young sons and posing the question, “What’s your excuse?” I reserved judgment. She was posting on her own page, to a certain demographic, and that’s her prerogative. She was raked over the blog and forum coals, of course, and I sort of felt bad for her. She was trying to be motivational (or so she says), despite being somewhat misguided in her approach. Fine. It gave the Internet something to talk about for a couple of days other than Justin Bieber. And I didn’t write about it, because I didn’t want to add to the maelstrom of anger and resentment.

But then, last week, Ms. Kang posted another picture. Another pair of tiny workout shorts with another sports bra. This picture is annotated from head to toe, with phrases like “limited sleep” and “strong, not skinny.” When I first saw the picture, while I read the morning news over the weekend, I rolled my eyes and closed the webpage, moving on to another story. But I couldn’t get the image out of my head all day Saturday (and not because I found it encouraging). This time around, I do not feel bad for a woman who is clearly looking for social media popularity. Or infamy, if you ask me.

Maria, I don’t have to have an excuse to look like me, rather than to look like you. But if you want my “excuses,” here they are:

1. I’m an average weight; on a good day, I can fit into a size 10 but most of the time, I’m a textbook size 12. I can rock a Joan Holloway dress without thinking twice. But I have to fight to stay at this size. I have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, which makes it difficult for me to lose weight and even easier for me to put it on. When I had my daughter in 2011, despite remaining active during my pregnancy, it still took me a year of effort to lose the weight. I did not, and do not, sit on my couch and eat chips all day long. I work in long walks with my Fuel bracelet, the occasional aerobics class and dance-exercise DVDs so I can pretend I’m not working out.

2. Even at my lowest weight, when I was running six times a week in training for half-marathons, I was still considered overweight by the BMI.

3. I don’t want to spend my days in the gym. I read your FAQs on your website, and if I followed your daily schedule of a trip to the gym every morning, I’d still look like me. You say it has nothing to do with genetics, but I beg to differ. Either that, or you’re spending a lot more time working out than you’ll admit, but if you are, that’s your lie to live with.

4. My husband and I leave our house at 7am every day to get our daughter to daycare. Even if I got up at 5:00am every day to exercise, I’d still only manage a quick workout. As it is, I get up at 5:45am. (And again, it wouldn’t be enough to have toned abs and rock-hard thighs.)

5. My family shows love by cooking. My mom always says, “If I cook for you, it means I love you.” I’m not going to turn down a plate of my mom’s spaghetti and meatballs so I can be a size two. That’s my choice, I agree, but it’s a simple joy that I won’t give up.

6. When I do have time alone, I’d rather be writing than running. I work to have “consistency, persistence, discipline, intensity, patience, desire, focus and faith” towards my dream of publishing a novel (or many). Just because I don’t look like you doesn’t mean I lack any of the qualities you strive for in your physical appearance. It just means I channel them into my own passion.

7. Lastly, I don’t want to be defined by my body alone. I don’t want my daughter to miss out on time with me because the little time I do have I’m spending it trying to look like you. I want her to see that you can look after yourself without killing yourself to do it. And I want her to be proud of me for being more than just a “hot Facebook mom” and a successful, driven, strong woman who works with what she’s got, because, face it, that’s all we can really do.

Maria, do yourself a favour and stop posting this stuff. I get that you’re proud of your body, and that you want other woman to follow in your footsteps, but can we be honest for a second? If you really wanted to empower other women, you’d reach out quietly. You’d stop boasting that you’re so damn perfect—because frankly, from your website, it seems like you’re pretty well flawless (don’t even get me started on the Photoshop work you had done on the second image)—and admit that we’re all in this together. That would motivate me. That would make me want to jump on your bandwagon. But instead I’m going to start a bandwagon of my own:

Tell me, world, for real: What’s your “excuse”? There are no wrong answers. Use #excusethis on Twitter or Facebook to share yours. Excuses don’t mean lack of motivation—it just means we’re all different, with different priorities, and that we should all be working toward lifting each other up rather than beating each other down.

19 comments on “Maria Kang, here are my excuses

  1. Good for you for choosing to have excusing but don’t knock someone down for being fit! Shame on you! Just be happy with you!

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  2. here is my thoughts on it. you said it yourself, maria kang is talking to a certain demographic. its nothing personal about your or your life style. there are many other fitness professionals, life coaches etc that teach the exact same thing. if you are happy with you that is great, but honestly this response sounds like you aren’t, im sure you’d say im wrong idk. but the whole no excuse movement is about reminding people, mothers specifically, that no one is going to get you healthy but you. in fact she started the movement but she is really a small part of it. the women who participate take the motivation a step further and are the really drive behind it. there are women who battle with all sorts of health conditions, like you. that decided that there health was important and, everyday, when they take their health into their own hands remind themselves to make no excuses and get it done, which is the point, not to personally attack anyone. the problem is that people are taking it personally,like she is saying you are this or that. maria( I know this personally) doesn’t care because she has a movement of over 10,000 people who are making health changes that are making them happy. not skinny, not looking like her. many have goals to fit into a 10-12, have lost 100lbs+,have eased symptoms of all sorts of physical and mental diseases through clean eating, (which also is why maria looks like this, she eats clean. an hr at the gym isn’t necessary if your diet is right she talks about the 80%/20% rule which is in no way hers,any fitness professional will tell you the same thing)and exercise. many of the women,like me, work out exclusively from home and our kids even join in. my boys love yoga and my son learned to count doing squats with me. when I first saw the picture I was offended for everyone whose priority wasn’t fitness too. and then I asked myself “why?” because before i ever saw or heard of maria,I told myself something similar everyday. my mantra is “mental toughness” its what gets me through my kids puking on me when they are sick, late bed times, head aches combined with cranky kids and my own health and fitness routine. its an idea ive always told myself and if you have an goal in life that you want to accomplish you have to adapt a no excuse mentality. im sure their are plenty of things in your life where you tell yourself no excuses, or some take. well maria’s picture is telling that women who wants to get in shape, to stop making excuse. thats literally it. there are some many days where im playing on FB and I think “if I have time to be on fb, I have time to work out, or to study or to clean.” that’s the thing there is time. maria kang has no more hrs in a day then anyone else. and she is a great lady but people shouldn’t need her to motivate them and people shouldn’t need to defend themselves against her. she is just there to share her experiences for people who want to listen, and her group/movement is great for helping women build a support system and talk about their goaks. I don’t consider my kids, neglected because I take 30 minutes a day to myself. quite the opposite, they learn that its important to take care of yourself. they also learn healthy living habbits. I don’t work out to be skinny I work out because I feel better, and when I feel better, I parent better. it sjust all about how you look at it. and again, you said it, shes talking to certain people, if you disagree, then you aren’t who shes talking to. correct?

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    • bravo!

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    • Exactly! If you’re happy with your body type, then what she says/does should have NO BEARING ON YOU. Stop hating and being jealous and just be happy with who you are and be happy for her for being who she wants to be.

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  3. #excuse this….life isn’t about being perfect

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  4. Why would being a great person (or great mom) have anything to do with image? If the image of this lady is to be our goal, our ideal, lots of moms out there (including me) will fail. Should we be judged liked that? Are we condemned to be miserable?? I say be happy, set realistic goals in your life, try to better yourself daily, yes, but also love who you are. We are all unique and all of us together make a terrific bunch of great moms! : D

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  5. As a single mom, working two jobs, flirting with the idea of joining the gym has been made more clear by your response to Maria. I do my best, I work out when I can and I choose to spend the most amount of time I can with my son. Because those are the things that will resonate most with him as he grows. Thanks you :)

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  6. Amen! While I applaud those who can go to the gym, Kang perpetuates the image stereotypes that lead to unhealthy choices and a ‘looks’ based culture that I was hoping we’d outgrown… I also wonder who’s to say chasing physical perfection is more important than helping your community, your children, yourself in other ways?!

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  7. I wrote a response to her back in October, and I keep seeing her again in my newsfeed, because God forbid she stop telling people what to do. http://www.parentwin.com/2013/10/whats-wrong-with-this-picture-why-maria.html

    More importantly, there is a campaign going called Don’t Need an Excuse to combat this harmful psychological approach to “fitness.” Beautiful people of all shapes and sizes are posting their pictures with their messages as to why Maria Kang’s message doesn’t work for them. We’re not alone. http://dontneedanexcuse.tumblr.com

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  8. What a disappointing article. I follow Maria Kang on Facebook and she has never at any point said women need to look like her or be as fit as her. You seem to be missing the point.

    Stop using “I’m a mother” or “I’m too busy” as an excuse why you can’t be healthy and fit too.

    I’m a very busy mother of 2 young boys, I work full time outside of the house and have a 40 minute commute in each direction to get to work. In addition to regular household maintenance & laundry, I also have to deal with school volunteering, homework/projects, getting kids to soccer, swimming etc etc. As every mother knows, it never ends. I used to use those as reasons to justify letting myself go and weighing 240lbs. A year and a half ago I made the conscious decision to let go of all my excuses and start looking after myself in addition to my family. I’ve lost 100lbs and believe it or not, found time to not only start running but I trained for and ran a marathon. I don’t sacrifice my limited family time because I’m finished runs before my husband has to leave for work at 6am and the kids are still sleeping. Is it hard? Yes but no one said it would be easy. As a result I’m a happier person. Some days he has to leave even earlier and I can only get in 20-30 minutes, but I do it anyway because something is always better than nothing.

    Another unexpected result? Instead of watching TV, my sons now want to go running with me; they want to run in races. They want to “be fast like mommy”. They hear about my progress and how I push through whether I’m tired or not. They’ve witnessed me go from sedentary and overweight to healthy and full of energy. My body, especially my stomach, will NEVER look like Maria Kang’s; a lifetime of yo-yo dieting combined with 2 c-sections has made sure of that. But I’m not trying to be her, I’m trying to be the best ME I can and I’m ok with that.

    So many women lose themselves after they become a mother; they take care of everyone else and put their own needs on the back burner. I know this because I was one of them. She’s trying to remind these women that their health and well being is just as important as the rest of their families. My kids need me to be healthy so I can take care of them.

    This article is no different than the slew articles starting with “well Maria Kang here are MY excuses” that came out after **** hit the fan the first time. Everything you listed, they’re ALL EXCUSES. We all have them. You can use them to hold you back or you can use them to show the world how far you can go despite them.

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  9. Oh my goodness…….
    Seems there needs to be a stand down to hypersensitivity. This woman is by no means stating you need to “look like her” she is advocating fitness. In this day of Super Sized Sodas, childhood obesity, adult obesity getting out there eating less and moving more needs to the norm not the exception. No one exercise regimine works for every individual there are COUNTLESS ways to get fit and healthy without going to the gym at 5 am. I know this will not be popular statement….but there’s always the first solution…rearange your lifestyle, learn to do with less and have MORE TIME. You can walk, you can buy a workout tape, you can play on the play ground with your children, you yoga, bicyle, hike, run, job, hop, skip. REDUCE your portion size……you don’t have to eat lettuce and carrots. REDUCE your portion sizes…..drink more water, trim some of the extras out…the cookie here or there, the second helping of anything. I don’t think mom will be offended if you eat a smaller portion….it doesn’t mean you love her less. I love to cook, I love trying new recipes and have found ways to make them healthier. It’s fun…and it tastes great! Everyone has a choice…..work out or not, live healthy or not, settle or not. The fact that she has gotten to you so much must mean there is a pretty sensitive nerve there. I have worked with people that have had medical issues….you can still be healthy.

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  10. What a horrid article! I’m not exactly a fan of Maria Kang’s, but I’m not not a fan either. She’s just another person trying to help us get moving, and get healthy. Same as the First Lady, Beyoncé, Disney channel, etc… But you seemed to have missed her point completely, and then decided to not only jump on the haters bandwagon, but shove the former drunk on hatorade driver out the door so you could take control and sip the juice. I read her article and all I got out of it was don’t make excuses to be unhealthy. Duh. The same exact thing my doctor, friends, family and *shocking* parenting magazines tell me! I’m not sure how you heard “stop making excuses so you can look like me” but it sounds like you have some self esteem issues you might need to work through.

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  11. Actually excuses ARE a lack of motivation…there’s a big difference between liking who you are and not feeling pressured to look like her, and coming up with reasons why you don’t look like her. This is petty and jealous high school drama crap. It sounds to me like you wish you looked like her and you’re (not so) secretly frustrated that you don’t. She is simply trying to show how dedication and discipline can pay off for some people, not all people. Not everyone wants to look like her. It irritates me how much women attack each other. You should be saying “good for you for being a proud, strong woman. I don’t agree but I can see the value in what you’re saying.”

    And way to be a hypocrite. You are mad at her for bringing people down and yet here you are doing the exact same thing. But I’m sure you have a really good excuse and hashtag for it, huh?

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  12. Being an active duty Soldier for the last 16 years I have little to no sympathy for excuses, so Ms Kang’s message is one I see no harm in. From every countering response I have ever read for her posts and pictures all I can get from them is defensiveness. How on earth could this one woman incite so many others to become so gosh darn defensive? Who cares if you can’t lose weight as easily? Honestly too, size 12 is not average. I would never call that obese, but it’s not average…wait, nowadays maybe it IS average. THAT is what Ms Kang is trying to inspire women to fight against, I think. Why should ever expanding waist lines force the norm to change every couple of years? There is no way that every single woman out there that struggles with weight loss has unique medical conditions that make it difficult to lose those extra pounds. I sympathize with your ailments, it’s tough when you work hard to be healthy and it seems as though your body is working against you. I have BEEN there. I am not going to be pissed at a woman that has been successful asking what everyone else’s excuse though. You know why? Because I know she isn’t picking on ME. She’s talking to those who KNOW they are making excuses, and let’s be real…you cannot lie to yourself. You know when you aren’t putting in that extra effort. We all do. Why be angry at someone who challenges you to defy your inner schlump. Even if the reason you can’t lose weight is 80% legit and 20% schlump…that’s still 20% you could apply if you put your mind to it. If you don’t, so be it. It’s on you. You have to have your own reasons to be able to do what she and so many others have done (myself included). There isn’t a picture on earth that is going to motivate someone to finally commit to crawling out of their warm and soothing comfort zone and DO WHAT IT TAKES…that has to come from within. As hard as I have ever tried to work with someone to help them lose weight, it never happened unless they wanted it more badly than I. In the end, it isn’t Ms Kang’s question that’s really going to put the proverbial foot in your tail. It’s going to be your own and trust me, she knows it. It’s going to have to be you to stop and ask “What ARE my excuses?” and then be ready to get the heck over them already. Lastly, for the poor fools who actually try to compare themselves to Ms Kang, please stop. That is her version of the best HER. Figure out what your best YOU is and work to get there, for none of us is perfect. That is correct, we never will be…but it doesn’t give us the excuse not to be BETTER. (and to the chics being catty and just plain bitchy, cut that out too-its tacky!)

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    • Have you ever read her Facebook page? It’s quite sad. Her fans are always putting others down if they don’t agree, or call Maria out on something, but if she says something, it’s basically your fault for taking it the wrong way. I just think most of the people the follow her are uneducated. Just look at the post above. They just don’t know any better. Mother Theresa,that girl that got shot by the Taliban, are inspirations, not this chick. Also, if you are going to call people lazy, or say they are making excuses for not working out, or eating the way you think they should eat, then you have to be open to them telling you that you are lazy for not having a college degree, or being a doctor, or Bill Gates, or being rich. Do you know what I mean? Also, she and her fans, as you can tell from what they have written here, make excuses, but for some reason are not smart enough to realize that they are doing it.

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  13. Oh boo! When reading this and you were saying why your the size you are, which isn’t a bad size by the way, I was thinking, “well it’s not all that other stuff, it’s probably her diet”……And then you said what you said about eating what you want! If that’s how you feel, awesome, not knocking you, but don’t rag on Maria like you’re doing every and all things possible to be the ideal size you want to be. All she’s simply doing is getting women to really see what is holding them back, if anything is. You can’t do that by telling people everything is cupcakes and butterflies and patting them on the back. They’ll think nothing is wrong. You have to give harsh wake up calls to WAKE PEOPLE UP! Not that I think her methods are harsh. I think some are just sensitive and don’t want to see Maria’s good tactics for what they are, and yet only see them for what they are NOT.

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  14. Well, I don’t quite get the hype. I can only comment on my personal situation. I have 3 children as well, the youngest is 17mo and I am in “better shape” than this lady. Here’s the real kicker though, I have never worked out a day in my life and I eat all sorts of junk, donuts, candy, chocolate, whatever wherever. I’m a size 1 with some rather serious muscles. So if she wants to claim it has nothing to do with genetics I beg to differ. Now don’t get me wrong, I am by no means lazy, but I’m not trying to look like this either. I’m just saying, we are all different and can be wonderful in our own ways. The most important thing is that we spend as much time as we can loving our families and ourselves.

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  15. I have 3 kids. the oldest turned 5 this month the youngest is 5 months old. I don’t have “good genes” my father is obese. his mother is obese. his mother is obese. my mother is overweight. her mother is obese and due to her diet now has diabetes. 3 out of 4 of her siblings are also obese. my cousins all mainly obese. my brothers are obese. I however eat healthy. yes occasionally I will sit and eat the entire half gallon of icecream after my three kids and two step kids go to sleep. they are age 5 4 3 2 and almost 6 months old. it gets stressfull and I am a stress eater. But on a norm I eat as much fresh raw fruits and veggies as I can and drink as much water as I can. I also take my 5 kids for a half an hour to an hour walk every day. and we shocker go outside and play. and for an hour every day I kill 2 birds with 1 stone and work out for an hour in my room while watching a grown up show. I would be spending that time watching my show anyway. instead of just sitting there I do some simple easy exercises. I do not over gain in pregnancy. you are only supposed to gain 25-35lbs. if you do that you don’t have a lot of baby weight to lose. you just have stretched out skin and muscles. so ab exercises should flatten your tummy pretty quickly. the results. I am 5’9″ and 145 lbs almost 6 months after my third child. I am a 32E so that accounts for a little of the weight. my stomachs is flat and toned. I am very thin. I don’t buy into size 12 being normal or average. there is no reason not to take your health into your own hands.

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  16. Listen…. if you feel the need to defend yourself with “excuses” then you already know you are wrong. Fativism is horrible for both people and society. Being fat is pretty much just saying “I am too weak to not indulge in food” You don’t even need to excersice to not be fat, you just gotta not stuff your face with unhealthy food everyday. Fat people making fun of skinny people is even more pathetic. Way to try to drag other people down to your level instead of elavating yourself.

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