Like most people, my job isn’t to be in shape and fitting in workouts means managing time between work, cooking, cleaning and caretaking my three little boys who I gave birth to in 2009, 2010 and 2011. While it’s difficult to prioritize YOU (especially when you are last on your list), it is possible to get into great shape.  Here are 25 great tips I use to get ready for the summer time (or any time).

1.      Write both long (3-12 months) and short term (1-3 week) goals. Short-term goals are important because they provide you constant satisfaction and something tangible to work towards. Long-term goals are important because it gives you a vision to hold onto, especially since discipline is key in this process.

2.      Create a workout calendar and place it somewhere you see every day. Do not fill it out until after you’ve completed the task and make it highlight areas when you rest or achieved a difficult task (like running for me). Here’s how I create mine.

3.      Take starting measurements. Step on the scale to record your starting point, but put it away after that. Since a pound of muscle is much denser and is three times smaller than a pound of fat, you could be gaining weight but losing inches. So take your body measurements, body fat and resting heart rate. These are all great indicators of progress.

4.      Progress is not just found in how you look but how your body operates. Measure how many pushups and pull ups your can do.  How fast can you run a mile? How many pounds can you squat? How flexible are you? Record your starting strengths so you can build on your personal record and focus on that during the next few months.

5.      Design a workout program balanced in strength, cardio and flexibility training. You need all three in order to successfully create a lean, agile and strong body. You don’t have to work out 2 hours a day or even twice a day (I see this often). Training just 3-4 times a week will create progress and it doesn’t have to happen in a gym!

6.      Lift weights so you can build muscle. Muscle speeds your metabolism and also molds your body. Many people lose weight only to realize they are now ‘skinny fat’. It’s much easier to build muscle in the process of losing weight and get to the finish line with a leaned and toned physique.

7.      Eliminate processed foods from your diet. Many processed foods are high in sugar, sodium and hydrogenated fats. When you start eating a healthy diet and avoid foods that come in a box or a bag, you will notice and immediate change in your body.  

8.      Figure out if you are allergic to any foods. You will be amazed how much your belly area is inflamed because of foods your body is really irritated and allergic from. For example, I don’t consume dairy or artificial sugars because of bloating. For many others, wheat can make them look like they’re 3 months pregnant! Start with an elimination diet by removing the usual suspects: gluten, dairy, alcohol, fast food and soy – and adding foods back into your diet one at a time.

9.      Stop eating artificial sugars. I know a lot of people (ESP fitness people) who are addicted to sugar-free everything, especially energy drinks and chewing gums. Not only does this cause bloating but studies show that it heightens your sugar cravings.

10.   Speaking of unprocessed foods, protein shakes are highly processed. I, personally, would eat eggs or chicken above a shake as it’s more natural for my system. While it is very convenient (ESP if you hate eating protein like I do), keep in mind that if your goal is to ‘eat clean’, protein shakes don’t support your eating lifestyle.

11.   If I just made you upset about my views on protein shakes, don’t worry because I also think protein is overrated. We don’t need a tremendous amount of protein to build muscle and sustain our bodies. Keep in mind, protein is also found in nuts (where I get a lot of my protein), beans and quinoa.

12.   Stop drinking your calories. I keep my drink menu simple. It’s either lemon water, almond milk, tea or black coffee (coffee is rare). If you wonder how I get my energy, it’s through exercise and eating ‘live’ foods like nuts, veggies and fruits.

13.   However, I do have to say I love to drink red wine and eat dark chocolate. Life is meant for moderation and balance. Life is too short to be counting every calorie and rejecting celebratory food and drinks with your family and friends. While you won’t regret a workout, you will regret working out all the time without finding balance in your life.

14.   I follow the 80/20 rule. Most of the time I eat really well but sometimes I don’t (and that’s ok!) In the past I ate super clean all week and had a free meal or day. I have an ‘all or nothing’ personality in the past so that ‘splurge day’ ended up being a big hog fest which wasn’t good for my mind or body. My mind was occupied with food all day and I would go to sleep sweating from my body trying to process all the junk food. The next day I hated myself and would starve. It really wasn’t a good cycle. I was also at my leanest when I partook in this extreme behavior! Nowadays, I’m more moderate. I eat healthy all the time and moderately have small splurges whenever I want. I keep in mind that most junk food makes my tummy ache so I am more holistic about my approach to nutrition and overall health.

15.   Make sure you are not on a starvation diet. You may not think you are, especially when you are highly motivated in the beginning, but if you are losing weight too fast and eating 1200 calories or below – especially while working out – then this is not healthy. You want something that will sustain you in the long term.

16.   Speaking of losing a lot of weight in the beginning…. a lot of diets will sell you on the first 21 days. Most of the time the first 3 weeks reflects water loss and internal waste, which accounts for a lot of the weight loss you see.

17.   If you are trying to lose weight it’s important to cleanup your environment. Your refrigerator and cupboards are not your only deterrents, your friends and family could really damper your program if you don’t find a support network. I created a network online, where you can join our Facebook group page and be around like-minded people who have the same healthy lifestyle as you. Don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter as I give great advice there as well.

18.   As you build your support network and create your goals, also choose some great fitness role models. I personally like resonating with people who are not fitness models, athletes or celebrities. While their motivation is inspiring (ESP if they are getting paid to be fit) I like to look up to people who can balance work, fitness, family and faith (all important aspects in my life).

19.  As for faith, believing in your strength and ability to transform your physique is really, really, really important.  Thoughts become things and you must believe you can become something even if you can’t see or touch it – you must feel it in your heart and go for it every. single. day.

20.   Work on your stress levels as they will impede your progress. If you lack sleep, work nonstop, fail to meditate/pray/relax, then the stress hormone, cortisol will rise in your body and will invite fat cells to gather in your midsection.

21.   If you’re getting ready to be bikini ready, find a swimsuit that flatters your body. You want to feel confident because that inner esteem really shines through, not just while in a swimsuit but in everyday life.

22.   If you’ve had children (or not) you’re probably wanting to tighten your core. I always work my core by focusing on my entire midsection including my lower back. Favorite exercises include planks, side planks, supermans, bicycles, toe touches, Russian twists and reverse crunches.

23.   When performing abdominal exercises make sure you are breathing out during the hard phase and sucking your gut in! Focus on the muscles you are working and take small 20-30 second breaks in-between sets.

24.   Your core is always being used, even when you’re not performing a sit up! Whenever you exercise your core is where all your strength originates from so make sure it is always engaged: when you’re sitting, walking, standing, training…you get the idea.

25.   Last but certainly not least, enjoy this process in getting in summer shape. Happiness is truly found in the journey and not the destination. Just ask any physique competitor who binges and gets depressed after a show (seriously, I’ve been there years ago). While it’s tough to stay disciplined when you want to dip your hand in your co-worker’s candy jar or stay persistent when you are tired at the end of a work day (or day with the kiddos), it feels good to push through and complete a task and eventually a long term goal.

This picture was taken last year in Hawaii while visiting my husband’s family by my brother-in-laws girlfriend, Jaymi Britten (


Maria Kang

25 Things I Don’t Do.

by Maria Kang> on March 9, 2014

Often time people want to know what I do. It gets very boring to tell others I workout for an hour five times a week and eat small balanced meals containing complex carbohydrates, lean protein and healthy fats throughout the day. So let me tell you what I DON’T DO on a daily basis.

DISCLAIMER: I’m not saying that if you DO any of these things it’s necessarily a bad thing. This article is just a guide to anyone who is seeking more answers to my lifestyle routine.

1. I don’t sleep in. Many successful people want to get their day started and their goals underway. My day typically begins at 6:30am but my constant goal is to start waking up at 5am (which is tough since I work late).

2. I don’t forget to eat breakfast. My body has fasted all night and it needs nutrients first thing in the morning within an hour after waking. Studies show that eating breakfast helps you lose weight – so start planning out your morning meal now. I typically have fruit or eggs. Sometimes I consume oatmeal or a smoothie.

3. I don’t leave the house without a water bottle filled with water, lemon (real lemons) and lots of ice. Water and lemons detoxify your body.

4. I don’t drink coffee or energy drinks. I find the foods I eat and my daily exercise keeps my energy levels up. I also think caffeine drinks can become highly addictive and negatively habitual.

5. Which is why I don’t drink Starbucks. When I do (a couple times a month) I get an unsweetened ice tea or tall soy latter (which I’m trying to cut back on soy). Anything else consumed outside of coffee or espresso has loads of sugar, fat and calories. Cutting back also means you can save some money!

6. I don’t drink Jamba Juice either. The last time I went I read their nutritional guide for a good ten minutes not knowing what to order because 95% of all their smoothies have too much sugar and calories. (I chose a small cup of apple and greens smoothie). I am not anti-smoothie (obviously, I just said I have one for breakfast sometimes) but it’s important to know what goes in your smoothie. Often times people use too much fruit. I suggest one fruit, some green veggies (I like kale or spinach) and some almond milk or yogurt (if you are tolerant).

7. I don’t eat Fast Food often. I want to make it clear that I DO eat it when I’m on the go, busy and have limited choices (and my kids are sleeping in the backseat). When I do I know exactly what to get: I get a chicken fajita pita (no cheese) at Jack n the Box, a chicken burrito fresco style at Taco Bell, a grilled chicken sandwich (no sauce and open-faced) at McDonalds and a turkey burger (open-faced) at Carls Jr.

8. I don’t (often) order special kids food for my children at restaurants. Very often they eat from my plate or they get exactly what I get at restaurants and split into two. Most foods for children have limited choices of pizza, Mac n cheese, fries and hot dogs. If I do order a kids meal, I make sure it’s balanced (some places have become pretty good) and limit the fried choices.

9. I don’t eat fried food. It tastes amazing but it makes me feel yucky afterwards. I try to think about consequences often when performing any action. While something tastes good for the moment, I always know that I will feel guilty and regretful afterwards. So I pick my battles.

10. Which is why I don’t remove my favorite foods (like chocolate, wine and bread) from my diet. (I know I said this already but I thought it was worth mentioning twice!) I believe everything is good in moderation. I’ve tried low-carb diets in the past and it made me constipated and lethargic. I’ve tried low-fat diets when I was very young – and as you can imagine, it made me gain weight (because I was eating a lot of carbs). The best diet you can be on is the one you can stick with.

11. That is why I don’t eat an imbalanced diet. My meals always consist of a lean protein, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats. I try to avoid eating poorly when busy by storing snacks in my car. I am in my car often: dropping kids, running errands, working, etc. So I have almonds, bars and peanuts stashed in my car at all times.

12. I don’t always eat healthy. I believe in the 80/20 rule all around. I believe you should eat well 80% of the time and 20% of the time you should give yourself a break. After all, nobody is perfect. I have gone through fast food drive thru’s but I usually choose  a healthier version despite it being a heavily processed food. I also have a weakness for desserts, chocolate and red wine. I used to have a splurge day once a week, but now I’ve opted for a couple splurge meals throughout the week.

13. I don’t eat late at night. Everyone is different but I don’t like my digestive system working while I’m sleeping. It always makes me feel bloated the next day. I have found when dieting down my body responds best when I limit my food intake after 8/9pm (I’ve pushed back the time because I sleep later now).

14. I don’t (typically) miss workouts. For me that means a good 5-6 days of 30-60 minutes of training. Sometimes I’m able to train for 90 minutes but that is rare. I don’t recommend training for longer than 90 minutes because your body will require fuel to replenish its reserves after undergoing intense training for a long period of time.

15. I don’t skip strength training. If there is one single magic pill you should be swallowing it should be the benefits of lifting weights. Muscle speeds up your metabolism, keeps you agile and makes you stronger. It molds your body.

16. I don’t let others negatively affect me. Sometimes it does happen – when a person (especially those closest) wipes out my energy – I try my best to transfer negative energy by performing a positive action. If people are negative I often write it out, run it out or talk it out.

17. I don’t have a supplement regimen. My husband encourages vitamins like omega 3’s, multivitamins and probiotics. So I will take them when he gives it to me, but I’ve never been consistent with any supplement as I have a hard time depending on things to stay vital.

18. So don’t ask me about protein shakes because I don’t take those either. I used to depend on protein shakes because I also don’t eat a lot of red meat or meat (outside of occasional chicken breasts) in general, but I started getting stomach aches after consumption. So, along with most of the processed foods I’ve cut out of my diet, I took that one out also.

19. I don’t eat artificial sugars (tummy ache), drink milk (lactose intolerant) or consume alcohol (outside the occasional glass of red wine). Studies have shown that consuming diet foods with fake sugars makes you crave sugar more. I believe it!

20. I don’t count calories (anymore). I used to have a generalized idea of what I ate in the past and I really encourage people to write their food intake down so they can see what they’re consuming – which makes them more accountable.

21. I don’t wear normal clothes (normally, lol). I wear workout clothes most of the time. It makes it easier to move and gives me no excuses for not working out at a moment’s opportunity.

22. I also don’t wear deodorant, perfume or scented lotions. I think living a ‘clean lifestyle’ allows most people to smell decent and not depend on products to mask their body’s smell. Pheromones are actually great human signals of health, vitality and sexuality.

23. I don’t weigh myself daily. In fact, I haven’t weighed myself for several months as the number on the scale can change if I’m gaining muscle, retaining water or in need of a good bowel movement (lol). I’ve lived to many years being a slave to scale. These days I track my progress based on measurements, body fat and how well my clothes fit.

24. I don’t compare myself with others. It’s very easy to do this – especially when there is a hot celebrity who has a better body than you after just two months of giving birth or eyeing a person who has long lean legs (my legs will never be long). When you compare you lose focus on what you have and your resources to improve your health and lifestyle.

25. With all this said, I have to say – I don’t’ skimp on sleep. Sleep is very important. I never realized how true this rings until I had a newborn and savored just 3 hours of straight sleep. Now I am able to sleep at least 7-8 hours each night. Remember that your fitness is not just about being eating right and exercising; it’s about all the things in-between including rest.

I DO workout with my mom club every Tuesday with my kids! Find a
free No Excuse Mom Group near you at



Check out my behind the scenes from my Oxygen Magazine Photoshoot!