January 28, 2014
Exactly ten years ago I was featured in Oxygen magazine’s “Future of Fitness” section.
I had just won Miss Bikini California and placed top five in two national fitness competitions. At my very last contest in 2003, I was slated to do 3 photo shoots with published photographers in Los Angeles. As I was packing my bags at the hotel I witnessed a shoot taking place down at the pool. The fitness model was sexily posing provocatively in a thong bikini. I watched other shoots nearby with similar themes in sexually objectifying the fitness model’s body.
I felt my stomach turn.
For several months prior, I spent countless hours at the gym building muscle and conditioning my physique. I wanted to create an award-winning, model-like body that would win titles and generate opportunities to become an actual fitness model. At the time there weren’t many role models, for most rising fitness models all had one connecting feature…
They were mostly popular because they exploited their sexuality.
Their online followers grew daily from posting new sexy photos. Still today, I often see fitness models bordering fitspiration and soft porn. While being a beautiful, sexy, young woman is nothing to be ashamed about – the idea of objectifying your body to gain popularity was a route I instinctively knew I couldn’t travel.
Disappointed in my current life path, at 23, I began to search for more meaning in my everyday actions. Everything I was trained to want in life felt like a lie. Having a great job didn’t give me security. Having a great boyfriend didn’t give me happiness….and having a great body didn’t give me confidence. After canceling all three photo shoots booked that day, I left L.A. knowing in the silence of my heart during the six-hour lone drive home – that my life was going to change.
In the course of ten years I gambled with tough decisions to quit my corporate job, move home to Sacramento, create a fitness nonprofit, marry a divorced father, have children close in age, begin two businesses and lead a grassroots movement.
I’ve never been part of a grassroots movement before.
In fact, I didn’t realize I was creating one until other mothers joined forces with me, declaring they won’t make any excuses for not prioritizing their health anymore. In a little over 3 weeks we have nearly 600 worldwide No Excuse Mom workout locations in 21 countries. These moms are choosing to become heroes of their homes and be the change in improving the health of their communities. This strong declaration stems from the tremendous decline in our nation’s health. If we don’t create change, studies show by 2030 half our nation will be obese and our healthcare costs will balloon to $550 billion per year.
As history shows us, change starts small. It begins as a small circle and multiplies in influence as it enlarges. If we want to transform a nation, we have to focus on the smallest unit – the family. I know this ripple effect intimately because my hard and influential stance became strengthened by the support of others. I firmly believe in challenging any status quo and creating a new truth.
After ten seemingly long years, I finally reappeared in Oxygen magazine – not as a fitness model – but as a fitness role model. Not only did I get the opportunity to be published, but I was finally featured without sacrificing pieces of myself in the process. They profiled my challenges in being ‘fit-shamed’ and then goes on to question whether I’m a rebel or revolutionary?
A revolutionary? I kinda like the sound of that.
Join our movement: www.noexcusemom.com
Pick up the February issue of Oxygen magazine on stands now!
My first feature in Oxygen magazine in February 2003!
I was blessed to work with designer, Elisabetta Rogiani, at the LA Fit Expo this past weekend.
I’ve never been apart of an expo before (I usually just attend) and wow – it’s a lot of work!
Good for you for following your heart! You’ve inspired a lot of people, Maria. Most especially mothers who are setting a good health example to their children and who are keeping themselves healthy and hopefully around for a long time! Great work.
What a great inspiring story! ON TOP of everything else, you are also a great writer and blogger. I am a big supporter and stand for everything you stand for. Kudos to you for taking a stance and doing so with so much courage and grace!
You ARE a revolutionary! Thank you for never apologizing for wanting to spread the word on fitness, especially for moms! I was so happy to receive my calender in the mail, and even more thrilled to see that you signed it. Thank you again for continuing to inspire and educate! P.S. When I bought my copy of Oxygen this month, I had no idea you were featured. When I saw the article, I was so happy, and proud of Oxygen for standing up for you!
The 2 ladies above said it perfectly! You inspire in so many ways, I’m proud to be a part of your network!
I love, love, love this post. Being a fitness model would be an awesome opportunity I would love to have, but sexually objectifying my body is not OK with me.
I’m not sure I would be ready yet to be a fitness model anyway, but eventually I’d love to work with a photographer who would help create inspiring, modest (clothes-wise, as in not half naked :P) fitness photos, as opposed to the “soft porn” that you mentioned.
Keep up your great articles Maria, you rock! <3
Thank you–saw your interview in oxygen magazine. As a fat mom (50 pounds after having kids) I may not like the no excuses attitude you present but I NEED it. You speak powerfully when you tell me I am being selfish. I have thought that but not said it allowed so I am pleased to see you defending it. Hubby and I are now exercising x6 a week as of Jan 1,2014. We have made it a lifestyle change. Now that we are used to the time commitment for workouts, I am increasing it and going for more calories burned. Will start tracking calories in March and cleaning up my diet. Sounds like you have a good support network in your hubby too. Yay! Keep being you Maria. I needed to hear it!
Jen, you are a wonderful example. I wonder why those picketers can’t adopt your attitude. I used to run 5K, lift 1 hour and swim 1km 6 days a week. The reason I’m sharing is I found that the swim made my muscles never get sore anymore. When I started I was at 254lbs and made 213 in a couple of months. Maybe the swimming could help if you get sore though. Army got me to 199-204, but their preparation drills, core, and conditioning drills were enough to maintain. Best of success to you
I just came across this post, and just felt the need to say ‘thanks’. I don’t normally comment on things but this totally hit home. Being a competitor, and a mom. When, after 3 competitions I was nationally qualified and it as I kept contemplating it I just couldn’t get back up there. I saw the ‘fitness industry’ going in a direction that I didn’t want to. I felt it wasn’t the fitness ROLE model that I wanted to be and it seems everyone is headed in the fitness-model direction. You put it so much better than I ever could but I agree with you and I think that a role model for mom fitness is so much more impactful than a fitness model who gets famous by posting seductive body part pictures. So, thanks for letting me feel good about the direction I choose to go. 🙂