Maria Kang shamed me — but not the way you'd think

Not everyone agrees with fitness guru Maria Kang, but Jennifer Pinarski does. Here’s why.

Whats-Your-Excuse
Photo: MariaKang.com

Follow along as Jennifer Pinarski shares her experiences about giving up her big city job and lifestyle to live in rural Ontario with her husband, while staying home to raise their two young children.

It’s 9:24 p.m., and I’ve wrestled my road bike up onto a wind trainer in the corner of my home office, which is really just a tidy corner of my messy, toy-filled basement. My socks don’t match, and I’m wearing the same large pair of bike shorts I wore when I went into labour with my daughter nearly four years ago with a cotton t-shirt and no sports bra. Netflix is down, and I’m trying to figure out how not to die of boredom for the next 45 minutes while I ride my bike nowhere. And I’m blaming Maria Kang for my motivation to get back on my bicycle to try and get back into shape.

Read more: 15-minute mom workout >

When Kang’s “What’s your excuse?” meme came out last week, I felt like I was one of the few moms who didn’t blow her message out of proportion. Sure, I looked down at my squishy gut and felt embarrassed and guilty — exactly a year ago I had run the Toronto Marathon and a 50K trail race and had been arguably in the best shape of my life. Right now, I’m the heaviest I’ve been postpartum and I swear and cry my way through every single run because my body hurts from carrying around the extra weight. And while my so-called “excuses” include depression, stress, work, cupcakes and bacon, it’s not just my weight gain that makes me angry — it’s the fact that I’ve fallen out of love with exercise that upsets me the most.

That is what Maria Kang’s message meant to me — not that you should feel bad about how you look, but that you should feel bad about not doing the things you love. Her thing just happened to be fitness — a lightening rod in the social media world and an especially sensitive topic for moms.

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely understand how Kang’s meme is upsetting for some and I agree with Marci Warhaft Nadler on her Huffington Post rebuttal. I also found Rebecca Cuneo Keenan’s post about dominating laundry and take-out food hilarious — most days my family’s laundry kicks my ass, too.

But think about what makes you happy. For example, my friend Cara wrote on Facebook last week that she was starting to bake buns at 8:30 p.m. — which I think is awesome. Making healthy food from scratch is her passion. The closer we get to Halloween the more awesome crafts I’ve seen, and a number of blogs I’ve read are written by moms who stay up late to make them. And don’t get me started on the Apartment Therapy posts featuring before-and-after photos of room makeovers (I just repainted my bathroom a gross brown just because it will hide dirt and poo better.) My point is that all of these women are doing stuff they dig, but you rarely see people lash out at interior decorators or home bakers.

So if it is planks you love — plank away. Same for crafters and bakers. Fitness isn’t everyone’s bag, but there’s no excuse for not doing something you love.

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