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Ditch the Fitness Excuses: How I Hope America Moves Forward in A Nation of Obesity

Written on December 16, 2013 at 4:20 pm , by

Photo courtesy of Maria Kang

Photo courtesy of Maria Kang

Written by Maria Kang

I believe our emotions are what drive our successes or failures.

Motivation is an incredibly powerful emotion. It helps you challenge yourself and push through plateaus. This kind of energy can help us interpret messages in a positive light, envision possibilities, and then seek out those opportunities.

My “What’s Your Excuse?” poster evoked motivation in some, particularly the audience reading this right now. For others, it sparked shame—and outrage. Those people labeled me a bully and a fat-shamer, and suddenly I was at the core of controversy.

But when FitnessMagazine.com asked its audience what they thought of me, a large chunk of you said I was an inspiration. When Facebook banned me from its site and FitnessMagazine.com then interviewed me, you rallied on my side. You’ve defended me because of one common truth among us: We know our health is important.

So what do we do now?

We want to stop the obesity epidemic in America. We aren’t complacent—or at least don’t want to be. Whether we’re overweight or super fit, we know none of this is really about me, the messenger. It’s about the message.

The message is about balance, and yes, pushing past self-acceptance. It says that when we deprive ourselves from living a healthy life, we limit our ability to thrive.

As I’ve said numerous times over, it’s important to love yourself. But let’s challenge ourselves and the people around us. When something or someone refers to obesity as “normal,” challenge it! I’m not saying to shame or bully anyone, but we must focus on progress. On a daily basis we engage in a comfortable schedule, with comfortable people and comfortable habits. Instead, let’s focus on how there is always room for improvement.

The first step in discouraging complacency is to create a goal and go public with it. This goal may be to fit into your pre-pregnancy jeans or to eat less processed foods. You need to write it down, set a deadline, and create daily steps in your life to hold you accountable. Accountability begins when you set up mental and physical enforcers that will push you to move out of your comfort zone – because let’s be honest, we are creatures of comfort. It’s only natural to gravitate toward what is easier rather than what is harder.

So let’s fight the complacency trend by making life harder. Here’s how:

Choose goal that is significantly difficult, but not unattainable – like losing 20 pounds. Write it down and look at it daily. It might seem lofty at first. But if you break it down to achievable short-term goals (like losing one pound every week), you will be at your goal weight by Spring.

Create a team that will hold you accountable. Find these three people: A mentor, a supporter, and a follower. Your mentor doesn’t even have to be someone you see every day; it can be a complete stranger you look up to, like a healthy living blogger. And your follower can be someone who you can help. When you are someone else’s role model, it forces you to stay on course. There’s nothing quite like someone else looking up to you and wanting you to succeed.

Develop an effective workout. Get uncomfortable. If you are going through your routines and not seeing results, it’s a sign that your body has adjusted and needs a fresh challenge. Do yourself a favor, and when you feel like you’re working at a level 9 (on a scale of 1-10), bust out five more reps, run five more minutes or increase your weight by five more pounds. Your body will appreciate the extra work you put in.

Lastly, examine your nutrition. If you are not seeing results, the answer is often in the details. Start writing down what you eat daily and find areas where you can improve. Being more attentive to your food and beverage intake will require a little more time and effort, but nutrition is the majority of your success and can make or break you.

Success begins within each one of us and transmits to the people around us. So let’s keep ourselves out of our comfort zones. By pushing ourselves, we will indirectly inspire others to reconsider their routines. Perform pushups in-between commercials and invite your partner to do them with you. Forfeit that sugary coffee drink with the girls and suggest a walk around the park instead.

Ultimately, we are only in control of our own minds and health—but let’s encourage others to see what they can become.

More on Maria Kang:

Inspirational or Insulting? Fit Mom Maria Kang’s Controversial Facebook Photo

Maria Kang Plays Defense Against the Haters (Again!) Post-Facebook Ban

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  • Karen

    I think Maria is a huge inspiration. It’s not fair to her that it became so controversial. She is trying to inspire and show people with hard work and motivation you can get back into shape after having kids. I don’t have kids yet but you better believe I will be looking up her tips on how to get back in shape!!! Maria, Be very proud of your beautiful body and continue to motivate the ones who appreciate your hard work! I’m sure it makes you a wonderful mother…people need to take care of themselves so they can be around for their children. Keep up the hard work! :)

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  • Andie Renae

    i think this is inspiring……..to look like that after having 3 children takes dedication and means she has chosen a healthy lifestyle.

  • Ade

    I still stand by my opinion, everybody is different. It’s great that Maria can look like that after 3 kids but the tag line “What’s your excuse” is demeaning. I have lost 15lbs since I had my baby but have another 30 to go. Should I have starved myself during pregnancy so I can now look like Maria, would that make me alright in her eyes? Or should I have neglected my baby and spent every waking moment focusing on my weight so that in Maria’s eyes I would have “no excuse”? Some of us have REASONS why we are not like Mrs Kang, and some us don’t, haven’t and will never look like Mrs Kang because of GENETICS. And I am a fitness professional, teaching group exercise classes for well over 5 years. I get up nearly everyday and exercise. Sure, be proud of your achievements but don’t make other people feel like they are making excuses because they don’t look like a fitness model. That is the part I take offence at.

  • lumana

    she probably have time money and the age to spend all that time just making sure she looks like she looks after having 3 babies; at my 50′s I done everything to look like her and I’m still waiting for that miracle; please wake up and smell the coffee jajajaja

  • Samantha Penney

    I don’t think Maria is making a statement that everybody should look like her. She is asking us to look reflectively at our own lives and ask the question, “Are we the best version of ourselves?” I am offended by people who take those statements (and will take mine) and twist them to make a comment about how superficial society is today. When it comes right down to it, we can all improve. I’m sure even Maria has aspects of her health and life that she is continuing to work on. It’s not about shaming people, it’s about shaking ourselves out of our comfort zones and encouraging improvement. Negativity only breeds more negativity. Instead of criticizing Maria’s success, find ways in your own life to share in her triumphs in your own way. It doesn’t mean look like her, it means strive to be the best version of yourself.

  • Emily

    I feel strange reading such comments. She is not asking to starve or to look like her. The main point is, to be healthier as much as you can be. Ofcourse we are all unique and will never look like each other. Some may have better physique than others but the main point is, do not look for excuses to eat rubbish and be lazy. I have few friends who will never look like her, they are taller, with wider hips and narrow shoulders, but they are healthy and keep fit. Thats it. No need to be mean and blame Maria for something she never said. Sorry for my english as it is not my native language.

  • Olena Savannah

    You really got it wrong and twisted Maria’s point. Do not over think.

  • fitGrandpa

    We cannot all look like Maria or the newest male model but we can aspire to look our best. I am 60 (male) and still look respectably fit and healthy, sorry Lumana, Age Is Just Another Excuse

  • Competitors mother

    I guarantee behind the scenes is someone, likely a grandma, who is taking care of those kids while mom is “getting her gym on”. And grandma is frumpy and tired from the work. I live it.

  • Kay

    Truth. We see Grandma taking her kids while shes off doing a photo shoot. And we when do see her & husband, they let kids run a mock. They have no control over their kids. Maybe she should actually help her mother become healthier since that is HER EXCUSE then to just try to attract attention for herself for fame. Help the family within then to just attract attention to boost her ego. Granted, yes! She looks great. But that doesn’t justify that your a good mother. Being a good mother is actually paying attention to your kids. Being fit justifies that you have a good mentality to stay fit no matter what. Even if your kids are bothering you or not, you just give them to someone that really cares for them like Grandma. Because you have something that means more to you. The people that read this should really look at the real picture & ask what about her kids?!? Shes got 3 of them, a year apart from each other, so what about them?!? They should be the important ones, not her just trying to get Fame & attention.

  • John F. Brown

    and this is how to get banned from facebook? please….i’ve seen some bad stuff on here and isn’t one of them. my guess is someone on fb doesn’t like exercise

  • Natalija

    It is important to be a role model for your children. If a child sees you eating a lot of unhealthy foods and not doing any exercise and not being able to have fun and run around with them, is this a good example?
    I do not look like Maria, but I do believe that healthy food and plenty of exercise will make me healthier and better.
    I have a child with special needs and no grandma or anyone else around to help. You do not need a grandma or anyone else to be able to eat healthy food and feeding your children a healthy way.
    Also you can do exercise with children. Go cycling, walking, swimming! Enjoy the movement together!
    This way you will see your grandchildren and have fun with them.

  • Janice

    She is such a huge inspiration! Unfortunately there were a lot of people who had knee-jerk reactions or who were dealing with their own issues and jumped all over Maria’s words rather than her overall message. In addition, people are confusing ‘excuses’ and ‘reasons’ and failing to understand that even WITH reasons, we can ALL make adjustments, no matter how small, to improve the quality of our health. YOU GO MARIA!

  • Janice

    Ade, It is unfortunate that you feel that way, and I DO understand why you do. You’ve jumped to some conclusions though that are not actually supported by Maria’s statement or her message. Maria would APPLAUD your efforts to improve your health by exercising nearly every day! That is what her message is about – improving. Process. No one can MAKE you ‘feel’ any certain way. We are each responsible for our emotions. Wasn’t it Miss Roosevelt who said that “no one can make you feel inferior without your consent”? No one can MAKE you feel like you are making excuses. Only YOU know if you are.

  • Vaelyn

    So I need to starve myself to lose weight when I gain it because there is no excuse to not be a bean pole? Nice. The “what’s your excuse” (regardless of what any of her blind sheep think) provokes eating disorders. The woman or “role model” as she would like to be considered is doing the worst job at leading a fitness movement with comments like that.

    Many people will assume because I don’t like her that I am an outraged, obese woman. I am actually a healthy living advocate and even I can see how this can have a negative reaction on the public. So thanks Maria, thanks for showing women of America they need to ruin their health to meet your “perfect image”.

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  • Rick McCallister

    Um, no you don’t have to starve yourself. What you DO have to do is take in fewer calories than your burn in a day. If you want to eat more than your resting metabolism burns, then exercise a little bit.

  • Rick McCallister

    Fat people hate hearing that they’re responsible for their own obesity. They’d rather hate people who tell them how to live longer, healthier lives than change anything about their horrifically unhealthy routines.

  • Rick McCallister

    You realize that it takes less effort to eat less than it does to eat more? Or that 15 minutes a day is literally all you need to burn enough calories for sustainable weight loss?

  • Rick McCallister

    I work in a retirement home. Age is a BS excuse used by people who “check out” about a decade before those who take their health into their own hands.

  • Rick McCallister

    It’s not about looking like her. It’s about choosing to be healthy. If you eat more calories in a day than you burn, you’re not making a smart choice. If you choose not to exercise, you’re making an unhealthy decision.

    Those choices add up. Literally under 1% of obesity cases are medical or glandular in nature.

    If you haven’t been diagnosed with a specific malady, perhaps you should focus the negative energy into walking a little bit, or steaming some veggies instead of pounding down potato chips