If you’ve watched the news or been on social media lately, you likely heard the story of fit model and mother of three, Maria Kang. Kang posted a photo to her Facebook page showing her svelte figure and toned abs with the caption, “What’s your excuse?” Intended to inspire others, the photo ignited a media firestorm and a barrage of comments. With more than 16 million views, the majority of the comments are encouraging, “You go girl! You’re an inspiration!” However, many are negative, calling Kang “a bully,” “fake,” and a slew of curse words I would prefer not to mention.
Kang fired back, stating on her Facebook page, “I’m sorry you took an image and resonated with it in such a negative way. I won’t go into details that I struggled with my genetics, had an eating disorder, work full time owning two business’, have no nanny, am not naturally skinny and do not work as a personal trainer. What I WILL say is this. What you interpret is not MY fault. It’s Yours. The first step in owning your life, your body and your destiny is to OWN the thoughts that come out of your own head. I didn’t create them. With that said, obesity and those who struggle with health-related diseases is literally a ‘bigger’ issue than this photo. Maybe it’s time we stop tip-toeing around people’s feelings and get to the point.”
When I first saw the photo, my first thought was not negative. Probably more jealous than anything. As an Anytime Fitness owner, I am very familiar with the tagline she used. The Anytime Fitness slogan is “No More Excuses,” referring to the fact that our clubs are open 24/7, always allowing you to find time for a workout. However, I can see how people took it the wrong way. One commenter said “Fibromyalgia is my excuse, you have no idea.” I suffer with degenerative disc disease and, as a result, cannot exercise at the level I once did. I’ve modified my routine to lighter cardio and weights, pilates, yoga and barre. The likelihood that I could work out to the degree that Kang does and obtain a body such as hers is slim. I can stay fit though. I think the photo itself is inspiring; it’s the message that didn’t resonate with your average female. Just the photo alone could have shown her point.
Exercise and Pregnancy
Just the week prior, Lee-Ann Ellison, a 35-year-old stay at home mom ignited a controversy of her own when CrossFit posted a photo of her lifting weights. People called it “risky behavior” and “a good way to lose your baby.” As someone who worked out my entire pregnancy, I don’t see a major problem with her routine. My OB/GYN told me I could continue everything I was doing prior to my pregnancy. Ellison said she isn’t lifting as heavy as normal and performed this way in her previous two pregnancies. “I used to take CrossFit classes five days a week, but lately, I’ve scaled back to three times,” says Ellison, who has gained 23 pounds of pregnancy weight. “What bothers me most about all this backlash is that there are so many pregnant women who eat poorly and don’t exercise at all during their pregnancies. There is an obesity epidemic in this country. What about that?”
While some women have high risk pregnancies, severe nausea, etc. and struggle to exercise during pregnancy, many don’t and lose the benefits it provides. I’ve had a number of pregnant gym members call me to cancel their membership. When I ask, “are you a high risk pregnancy? Did your doctor advise against it?” Only one has ever said yes. While I did cheat on my diet more than normal while pregnant, I worked hard to eat healthy and stay fit. I truly believe it made a huge difference in my laboring process and recovery. My doctor praised my blood pressure, weight gain and overall pregnancy. I agree with Ellison that some women see pregnancy as an excuse to gain weight and eat whatever they want. If the pregnancy is without complications and you do it properly, exercise is very beneficial. You don’t need to do CrossFit or work out to the extreme, but moderate cardio, weights, yoga and more are great.
Aiming for fitspiration
I’ve posted my own share of exercise photos to my Instagram account, and they have all been positive. A friend of mine from high school, Stacey, has created quite a following with her fitspiration photos on Instagram, even with one very similar to Kang’s. It’s led her to creating her own apparel line for women, Strong Mom Fitness Apparel. I love the posts and find them very motivational. At the end of the day, to each their own. I do think Kang could have handled her post differently, but if she wanted press, she certainly accomplished that. Some people love exercise and others just don’t. I’ve definitely learned that after four years of owning a gym. Some need more of a push and ongoing encouragement, and it’s ok if they don’t strive for flat abs but simply focus on health.
What do you think of Kang’s photo? Are fit moms an inspiration?