It’s not you, it’s me.
That’s what I told all the social media pages I began ‘un-following’ this past week. I decided it was time to censor constant posts and pictures of perfect bodies, blissful marriages and successful careers. I couldn’t look at it anymore given my internal struggle to stay positive while arguing with my husband, finding a new home, promoting my first book and operating a crazy household.
I wasn’t jealous of those who outwardly seemed to have more than me at that moment; I admittedly knew I was losing a sense of self and therefore lacked security to guard against sensitive emotions. Some days I would feel positive and in control, other days I would feel sad and defeated. Often times I would sit outside while watching my children play and start to pensively stare into space thinking….
…about the past, and the decisions me or my husband took when we didn’t bid higher on our current home, how my book sales performed last week or my regret for not spending more time with my family dog that recently passed.
I’d think about the future, and about the changes we will endure moving out of our rental, how I would proceed in building the No Excuse movement and what activities I planned for the boys later that day.
A range of emotions would filter through me daily – sometimes I struggled and lacked motivation to workout, feel disappointed in my projects, guilt for letting the boys watch TV or out-of-control in my professional, personal or physical efforts. Other times I’d feel elated by an email, happiness from a hug and appreciation for supportive friends and an unconditional life partner.
I was so engrained in my past and my future that I didn’t give glory to the present moment. I didn’t completely see the beauty of the blooming flowers in our backyard or feel the sun’s warm radiation beating down our backs. I didn’t truly taste the sweet fruit on my son’s homemade birthday cake or hear the excitement in their voices as they jumped on their new trampoline.
I was always so busy and so occupied in my fears, failures and regrets. I thought about the past, sought into the future, without wholly existing in the present moment. I wasn’t here. So I removed distractions and stopped ‘following’ social media superstars not only because I felt insecure in my own lot, but more truthfully because I stopped resonating with their seemingly one-dimensional lives.
Fitness is not my life. My children are not my life. My husband is not my life. My career is not my life.
My life is a colorful landscape of ambition, responsibility, passion, pain, weakness and courage. We are multi-faceted, evolving, emotional creatures. The idea that we are more than the eye’s vision is why I’m never shocked when I see different sides of a person who only shows one face – another challenge I’ve admittedly faced recently.
In the end, it’s not you. It is me.
I take accountability for what I see and how I interpret the world around me. While I don’t mind bubbly posts and beautiful babes in bikinis, today I’m choosing to follow people who post past their perfection. While my mind is hard to contain, today I’m striving to experience life in the present moment. While I will forever set goals, plan and take action in a life I hope to control, today I know more fully that my destiny is determined by God alone.
As I experience this miraculous minute – a moment in time that will never arrive again – I know that nothing has changed. My attitude has changed. My view has change and with new perspective, I’m starting to realize the bigger picture.
This was the last moment I saw my family dog, Tiger, alive. He was at the Vet where we discovered he had a malignant tumor. Later that day he passed away with my sister by his side. He was 17.5 years old and lived an incredible life.
My middle guy turned 5! He requested i make him a strawberry cake!
My local NEM (no excuse mom) group is growing! We have over 350 locations! Find your free meet up HERE.
My little guy was so happy to see mommy on the shelf at Target!
You can also order via ebook or online on Amazon!
I’ve waited a long time for this single day.
From the moment I was first published at 11 years old for an honorable mention about an injured bird, to the day I won second for an 8th grade poem about changing the world titled, “One Day”. I knew I wanted to be a published author. I would write short stories, create small screenplays (that I acted with my siblings) and even send queries out to literary agents in my teens. Writing was cathartic for me when I battled bullying, depression, break ups, success, joy and sadness. I was amazed how our thoughts, could turn into words, and reveal a message that can be transmitted to other people. Such an incredibly simple process that truly represents a form of Power.
Manifesting any thought into an actual a thing – a word – that can be spread and shared, can change your life and influence the lives of others. So, as I sit here on my flight to NYC, and preparing for a segment on the Today show, I find it reflective to look back at the three words that changed my life, “What’s Your Excuse?”
When the world first read it, it wasn’t the first time I combated it. I sought excuses when I wasn’t a trained athlete but sought a healthier physique. I sought excuses when I battled disordered eating and told myself that skinny models, fit athletes and social media celebrities made me hate myself. I sought excuses when I was exhausted with child-rearing, working long hours and operating a household. Like everyone else, I told myself a story each morning and I sought evidence in my daily life that validated my thoughts (and choices).
Some days I would wake up as the poor Victim, someone who’s boss treated her unfairly, who’s ex-boyfriend made her eat chocolate, or who’s genetics made it difficult to lose her thunder thighs (me and my thighs are friends now, btw). Some days I was an indomitable Superwoman, a ‘yes person’ who could stressfully do it all and take on more than she could tackle. There were even some days when I was the selfless Servant, someone who sought people to care for and help – in spite of my own needs.
It wasn’t until I started telling myself a new story that my life began to change. I looked at my excuses and saw them as challenges in my path, created to make me stronger. When I began to own my past – all the bad and good decisions – I began to guide my future. I became my own Hero, therefore beginning the process of saving myself. I saved the little girl who cried often because she was scared of her mother dying. I saved the timid teenager who was bullied by mean girls in high school. I save the young woman kneeling beside the toilet bowl, with blood shot eyes and shame in her heart. I saved the mother who thought her career and body confidence ended the moment she had kids.
I saved myself.
The No More Excuses Diet book isn’t (just) about fitness and nutrition; it’s the map in this new journey to becoming your own Hero. The first step is to write it down and set a big goal – whether it’s to lose 100lbs, become a fitness role model or write your own book one day. Unfortunately, the irony in identifying your goals is becoming conscious of your excuses. The moment I start a diet, I see the foods I ‘can’t eat. The moment I start saving money, I notice reckless spending elsewhere. The moment I gain more followers, I also gain a critical opposition. You cannot have one effort, without the other. Life and Death, Love and Hate, Success and Failure – are all pieces of the same pie. When you strive for a greater outcome, your degree of success will be equal to your degree of struggle.
So this is it…a manifested destiny that began when I first wrote, illustrated and sold my first book for 0.75 in 3rd grade. The beauty of passion, conviction and truth, is that you do it because you love it – you write it because it’s in your heart – you live it because you know it, and these truths remain truths as long as you live life fearlessly without attachment to outcomes.
I hope you love it.
The day my book launched, so many our our No Excuse Mom leaders and members started a hashtag #thankyoumariakang (mainly on Facebook) and it was the sweetest thing ever. Thank you Barbie (seen here), who organized an amazing video that I posted the morning of March 10th! I won’t ever forget the feeling I had when I watched it! It brought me back to the beginning – why I started writing this book (years ago) and why I work so hard every day! Thank you to my No Excuse Family!
It was such an incredible experience being on the Today show with Savannah Gunthrie. It was my second time there and I love the staff. You can watch that here.
I also hit CNN’s HLN while I was in town and “weighed in” on the controversial 8.5mth pregnant mother with a small baby bump. You can watch that video here.
This was a fun dressing room pic with National NEM trainer, Vanessa Campos, at Banana Republic (I needed a new dress for the impromptu interview). She also does online group classes, which I LOVE. Check them out here.
It was such a pleasure to meet Camille Limousin (on the left) our regional leader from France! What beautiful, strong and incredible human beings they both are.
Here are some of our incredible leaders from France, China, Puerto Rico and Malaysia representing for the No More Excuses Campaign, which was featured in Yahoo and the Daily Mail. Check out hundreds of inspiring photos here.
I took some time off to attend an event in SF with my hubby. He has been so supportive. I wrote a great article titled, “What happens to a marriage when your world goes viral”.
This was a fun Saturday night celebrating one of my oldest friends, Kim’s Birthday! She’s on the far left sitting next to me!
A) It makes my house smell good
B) The Children constantly need healthy snacks
C) I am a recovering sugar addict and appreciate daily sweets, esp in the morning or after a workout.
So I noticed last night that I have an excess of vegetables that will go bad shortly. I had some zucchini, carrots and older apples from last week’s groceries. So I looked up some recipes and altered it to fit my ingredient list and what I instinctively know will work with my taste buds. The result?
A tasty, organic (we’ve been making an effort to buy all organic fruits and flour) and delicious muffin that my boys, hubby and friends (we love to share the joy) LOVE!
2 cups shredded carrot (approx. 2 carrots)
1 cup shredded zucchini (approx. 1 zucchini)
1 cup shredded apples (without the peel, approx 1 large apple)
1/2 cup chopped almonds
2 tsp grated orange peel
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 eggs beatan
3/4 cup Canola
1 tsp vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Prep all your vegetables and fruits by removing the skin then shredding it. Combine in a bowl with chopped almonds and orange peel.
3. Combine eggs, oil, vanilla, sugar and cinnamon. Add the shredded zucchini, carrots, apples, almonds and orange peel and mix well.
4. Add your dry ingredients to your mixture (flour, baking soda, salt) and mix well.
5. Place in regular muffin tins (or miniature ones like I often use) and put in a 375 degree over for 15-20 minutes (mini muffin pans cook faster). Make sure you can cleanly poke a toothpick or fork through the center of the muffin to ensure it is cooked.
6. Let it sit in the muffin tins for 10 minutes before removing.
Receive my free Recipe Booklet and Core DVD with your pre-order of The No More Excuses Diet Book.
So it’s no surprise when people assume I have an unclean house, am an absent parent or have a shallow personality because I am in good health. Obviously – something had to give, right? I didn’t know what those sacrifices were until recently. In this last year, I’ve had little open time as I toiled from sun up to sun down, often rushing to walk my son to school, training hard through a brief workout, cooking meals, meeting appointments, helping with homework, answering emails and cleaning house.
Truthfully, I often looked at other popular bloggers, fitness models and health writers who are single and envy their abilities to dedicate their life to their craft. Naturally I made poor comparisons and imagined a more successful career if my resources, time and efforts were less occupied. In my world I can’t wake up without dragging myself out of bed from a late night of working. I can’t have a phone conference without yelling in the background. I can’t leave the house without feeling guilt for being without my children and I can’t write weekly online journal entries without mental disturbance of all the things I need to do or haven’t completed that day.
So I sacrificed some sanity, some progressions in my career and my creativity via writing to fit everything in my day. For those who have followed my blogs since this website was born in March 2005, you have noticed a drastic change in my updates.
There aren’t many.
New meanderings of life, a blog post that would attract thousands of people on a Monday or Tuesday, no longer existed. In the last couple years I wrote twice a month, to once a month – to now skipping an entire month.
I’m not too proud of myself as I always found writing to be an incredible outlet for me. I have a luggage filled with diaries, a website filled with blogs and a computer filled with articles, letters and ebooks I’ve written throughout the years. In first grade, when I first learned how to write, it amazed me to see how I can manifest a thought, write it down on a piece of paper, and make a word. It was my first experience of power – true power – because the written word expels a message that transfers.
In the past year, all my creative energy went towards writing my first book, The No More Excuses Diet. I poured my soul into 220 pages of action charts, caloric and macronutrient equations, troubleshooting strategies, universal philosophies and workout programs. I wanted to write a basic program, with simple rules and a winning gameplan.
Despite the distractions, I did it.
So I’ve sacrificed writing regularly on this website. I sacrificed having a solid six-pack to enjoy popcorn with my kids. I sacrificed a bigger fitness career so I can be present in cooking family dinners and cleaning endless laundry (glamorous I know!) It’s been a struggle, but to be sincere about this effort, given I had a choice to pay someone to bake cookies with my sons so I could focus on my career – I would choose cookies. I would choose teenage mutant ninja turtles and crazy shopping trips to Target. I would choose sleepy mornings, late work nights and little TV.
The trade-offs and the payoffs all even out at the end. After having it all, losing it all, then having it again, then trying to sustain it, this is what I know for certain: Success is not how much money you make. It’s not how beautiful you look, how fit you appear or how much stuff you own. Success is waking each day and being a service to others… It’s finding value in your actions and therefore your life… It’s discovering your passion, preceding with purpose and pursuing it every. single. day.
For the last ten years I have opened my heart for the world to read and receive. In 2005 I created this website because my heart felt empty. I was lonely, misunderstood and desired to connect with people. I was single, living in a big city, working for a corporate company and struggling with my weight.
Today, in 2015, my heart is fuller. I am married, I have three children, I have my own businesses, I founded a nonprofit and I published my first book. While my updates have not been regular, it’s always been consistent. I haven’t stopped writing. I haven’t stopped striving. I haven’t shut down or given up.
That’s what this blog and my book is all about.
Thank you for being a part of this world.
This was a picture taken of me in 2006, sitting on top of a roof overlooking the city of SF.
Fifth grade photo. I always loved to write. I published my first poem in Sixth Grade.
I received an early copy of The No More Excuses Diet book on Valentine’s Day! I was super happy and proud!
Every pre-order comes with a digital 60-min Core workout and Recipe Booklet.
Offer ends March 10th!
When I went to the LA Fit Expo recently we had this great banner made to showcase all our various groups!
Find a local No Excuse Mom Group near you here.
I emcee’d the main stage and was excited to meet Billy Blanks, the creator of Taebo!
I performed his workouts throughout my college years!
One of the best parts of LA was seeing these beautiful No Excuse Moms from various areas.
Most of them are on our NEM team as leaders, experts or regional managers!
Since I haven’t written since 2014, I thought I’d share our NYE pic! We went to Reno with the kiddos, had
dinner at the ballroom, but changed into our PJ’s just in time to kiss the boys at midnight!
I am so blessed to know this woman. When we met I was pregnant with my first son.
I can’t believe she is 102! The world is a brighter place because of Tess.
Like most, I began this year with high hopes, a set timeline and a desire to hit resolutions. Despite ending the prior year at a low after being banned by Facebook for supposed hate speech, I was ready to take my newfound public platform and motivate others to stop making excuses. In January, I launched the No Excuse Mom Movement, which included our first annual Fit Mom Swimsuit Calendar and the organization of hundreds of free workout groups in 25 countries. In the process, I was featured in Oxygen magazine, the cover of Shape Malaysia, filmed ABC Nightline and Dr. Oz and appeared regularly on HLN and News10. Not only did I write and finish my first book, The No More Excuses Diet, but I also traveled to Hawaii for a family reunion, went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land (Israel), and boarded my first family cruise to the Caribbean. From an outsider’s standpoint, it seemed like an incredible year! And it was.
But as I reflect on all the things that seemingly went right, in-between the headlines and Facebook posts, there are private stories of strife. Often times we see the highlight reel of a person’s life, not realizing that in order to see one’s strength, there was a prior struggle.
When I began my journey this year, I was in a lot of pain. After years devoted to hosting free fitness programs, mom groups and eBooks, I was internationally chastised as a famous fat-shamer who brought women’s liberalism back 50 years. While critics distressed me, they didn’t deter me – I still believed that if we empowered the leaders of our homes, we can change the health of our nation. So, I directed this tumultuous energy towards No Excuse Moms, and I taglined our movement, Health Starts at Home.
While bringing on NEM regional managers and hosting a new calendar contest, I was blessed with the opportunity to write a book with Penguin Random House. For someone who wrote her first book in 3rd grade, became a published poet in 6th grade and became a freelance writer in her twenties, this was a synchronized break to put on paper, what I know for sure, about fitness, nutrition and creating a solid program to build your best self.
Around the time I started writing The No More Excuses Diet, I began suffering from acne. For someone who rarely has pimples, especially during puberty, it was an aggravating experience. Every week, new pimples, formed on my forehead and would leave scars and additional flesh-colored comedones under my skin. While vanity played a small role, being a public face that appeared regularly on TV was not easy when dealing with severe acne. I remember one morning, months after the breakout began, and I couldn’t get out of bed. Up to that point, while I was incredibly insecure, I continued to work, do media, go the gym, attend events and be present at every sports practice, while hiding under hats, layers of foundation and investing in several topical acne solutions/medications. That particular morning I had to assess a new resident for my care home. My face was inflamed and my skin was brutally scarred.
I hit my low – and couldn’t keep a joyful attitude anymore. I was stressed from so much stress – and while I don’t show it on the outside, the stress was manifesting, in the form of acne, from the inside out.
I was fatigued from building the NEM organization, managing my care homes, cleaning the house, cooking daily meals, caring for my kids and writing my book at the end of each day. Not only was my face affected by internal stress, but my weight began to climb.
My clothes were tighter, my AB definition was disappearing, my bras were a bit snug and my fitness level was weaker. Lacking sleep, skipping meals and dealing with continuous injuries were taking its toll. Suddenly, I no longer felt like ‘Fit Mom’ and often felt fraudulent in trying to motivate others when I was also struggling to motivate myself.
When I finally completed the book, I rewarded this feat by journeying with my father on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. We visited Galilee, Nazareth, Bethlehem and Jerusalem, where I prayed at Holy sites like the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Mount Tabor, the Wedding Church in Cana, St. Peter’s House, the Garden of Gethsemane, the Western Wall, Dead Sea and Mount Calvary. While visiting the Mount of Beatitudes, we stopped on a hilltop overlooking the Syrian Border in Golan Heights. In disbelief, I could hear gunshots and see smoke from bombs in the city of Queneitra. According to CNN, the rebels recently seized the city days before after capturing UN Soldiers. I stood in horror, sadness, anger and humility.
I’ve often questioned life’s unfairness – after all, we don’t decide where we are born, who our parents are, what genetics we are given, or what experiences we will undergo. Life, on a large level is decided by fate, but, if you are blessed to have simple haves like water, shelter, food, family, faith and freedom, then live life to its fullest and give as much back as you possibly can.
Since then, I have woken up with gratitude every day because while there are so many with more, there are many more with less. Be prayerful about your perspective in life and know that life can be positive if you seek for it.
While I prayed for gratitude, it wasn’t an easy effort, especially when I discovered my Instagram page was hacked by a former NEM admin later this year. Despite being hurt by the betrayal of several past admins, I focused on the people who provided kind advice, called me out of concern and helped rebuild me when I felt completely broken. In my years of striving, I intuitively knew that there are reasons why people come in and out of your life. You will always deflect people who don’t resonate in your energy field and affect people who are.
So as I end 2014, while many things went ‘wrong’, they really were the right events to make me grow in strength, humility, passion, perseverance, love and forgiveness. I am leaving with a few less untrustworthy people, plenty more passionate colleagues, a new understanding on stress, a greater gratitude for clear skin and a humble awareness that despite what I’m going through in life – I still get to live in a free country and utilize my free will to focus on what’s important: family, friends, faith and fitness.
Happy New Year Everyone.
My hubby voted against sharing this image, but I’m sharing anyways! This is an example of the acne I was dealing with. This wasn’t the worst stage either!
This is how we cover that up! Lots of foundation! I took this selfie during my People Magazine photoshoot.
In Jerusalem I visited the Holy Sepulcher, the church built over Mount Calvary. After Jesus was crucified and died, on this rock, they prepared his body for burial by wrapping him in linen and spices
More pictures of my pilgrimage to the Holy Land can be seen on my Instagram.
Never thought I could be a runner, but as I close 2014, I can say YES I am!
Join our No Excuse Runners group here and follow this motivational lady to my left here.
All pre-orders received my 60-mine Core Workout DVD (has 3 workouts), a Recipe Booklet and and entry for my 12-week challenge starting January 12th! Order at your favorite online retailers site and fill our the pre-order form on my website for your free gifts. So excited for this!
I was 22.
Those deep reflections and personal life experiences would not only prepare me for what will publicly erupt in my life ten years later, but it would be a resounding lesson when I would deal with people in my personal network who would utilize my name and organization for personal gain. Similar to the day I felt my body’s exploitation in 2003, I struggle with the same vulnerable feelings today in my heart’s exploitation.
When you pour your heart into something, you conceive ideas, create structures and consistently work – because you are passionate.
Passion creates an unending wealth of energy. It starts with a desire, proceeds with an action and continues with a purpose.
For nearly 20 years, my soul has been satisfied through servicing others through fitness. As a high school student, I volunteered to teach aerobics classes. In college, I became a part-time personal trainer at 24 Hour Fitness. In my twenties I started writing and podcasting with bodybuilding.com. In 2007 I founded a fitness nonprofit called, Fitness without Borders and in 2009, I started the first No Excuse Mom group, working out with mothers for free in my local park.
For many, my public presence came out of nowhere. For thousands of other people, my journey has been well documented for them to read every arduous step, every painful struggle and every evolving stage to get to exactly where I stand today. Defining your path, Refining your purpose and Aligning with resonating energies of people, will keep you concentrated on this endless expedition towards personal enlightenment.
In our lives we will experience both pain and pleasure. We will feel used and we will feel valued. There are times you will be tested and times when you will triumph.
That’s the duality of life.
You cannot have one without the other. You cannot know you are sick, if you don’t know what being healthy feels like.You cannot have those who love you, without those who hate you. For there is no strength without first enduring struggle. In order to grow and mature, you must come from a place of depth and humility.
We all read truths throughout our lives, but we don’t truly know them until we apply them – until we rewrite them in our own reflections and in our words. When I drove six hours home in deep reflection and prayer 13 years ago, I became awakened to what was pleasant and painful about the world.
You can focus on what is ugly – but I choose to see beauty every day. While it’s not easy to choose beauty, the beauty is found in the word, choose. That’s wisdom.
In 2003, I won Miss Bikini California and placed 3rd in Bikini America. I was asked to shoot a few pictures with this male model before competing the next day.
New Years Eve 2007, I underwent what I call a ‘spiritual transformation’ and experienced disordered eating. I was an emotional eater who binged heavily on food, for several years I also dealt with Bulimic episodes. I gained 30lbs and endured low-carb dieting, over-exercising and a poor dependency on diet supplements and laxatives.
Pic taken in 2008, teaching moms to be healthy even before becoming a mother! I love fitness. For those who want to get in the industry, I always say to do it lovingly, freely and passionately, even if no one’s watching, paying or appreciating your gift to them.
Creating an annual calendar is not an easy task, nor is it inexpensive to do. However, I do it because we need real role models in our world and I believe that health starts at home and comes in all sizes. Our world needs to see that! Please support our No Excuse Mom movement and purchase yours today HERE Your support is tax-deductible. Calendars were delivered (finally) and will begin shipment Dec 23rd. Thanks for your patience!
Merry Christmas everyone! This is our annual card. My husband and I were both surprised to find our little poser in the middle (who looked like he was meditating without our knowledge!)
I woke up and received a notification that my Instagram password and email was changed. I could see who the perpetrator was and in shock, called her immediately, but she didn’t answer. I haven’t spoken to her for some time and relieved her from being our NEM Instagram manager months prior. I discovered that she renamed the account and told thousands of No Excuse Mom followers that she rightfully felt what she built was hers.
Suddenly memories flooded my head of the day I created the account and when she kindly accepted to manage it. I recalled the small clues of distress and the day she left a peculiar email. I thought of recent miscommunications with a mutual colleague whose influence most likely triggered the event.
In my baffle, I began communicating with top leaders on how to best handle this – and I chose, to not name her, but let followers on my social pages know that our account was compromised and to seek our new account. I had already ‘Let Go, and Let God’ – and was ready to rebuild.
I wasn’t prepared for what would come next. At her own will, she identified herself online and made false statements, which she would soon delete. I detected people within my own circle that started to show true colors. For the first time since last year, I started to feel unprotected, vulnerable and hurt.
I don’t hide much about my life and perhaps that’s why people ‘follow’ me. I don’t pretend to know it all, be it all or have it all – I’m a work in progress, a person trying to become her best self, a woman who is striving. What I have learned in great times of pain is that a lesson is always gained. Like any exercise, your performance will reveal strengths and weaknesses in your body/structure. In this case, I discovered cracks operationally and am working so this never happens again. I also weeded out people who I instinctively should’ve removed a long time ago. Most importantly, I discovered the strength found in amazing people – people who kindly shared their sympathy, support and stories of when they experienced a similar betrayal.
I saw a rainbow today.
After several rainy days at home nursing me and my sick family, I decided to get fresh air and a new perspective. I was amazed at the gift that was gloriously extending itself in the sky….a beautiful rainbow that symbolized new beginnings. After the rain (and pain), true colors will reveal itself – and it is a blessing to see this now, than deal with it later.
Tonight, as I write this, I want to openly say to my adversaries that I don’t hate you. I don’t have malice against you. I am sorry if you ever felt any of our interactions was nothing but sincere and genuine. I have forgiven you and I’m moving on.
Please follow my new Instagram Account HERE.
I meticulously counted macros, spent hours at the gym, turned down invitations to social gatherings, lacked life balance and focused mainly on physical aesthetics and not bodily function. I didn’t realize that most images seen on magazines and advertisements are of paid models/athletes that tanned, dieted and depleted their body of water so muscles become more visible. Many develop eating disorders, body dysmorphia, infertility, metabolic damage, depression and caffeine dependency from unnaturally low body fat, lack of real food and an unhealthy sense of worth based on how they looked. It’s a hard environment to leave because the fitness ‘athletes’ you resonate with online, the personal friends you pushed out of your life, the insecure people that covet the same ideals and now surround you – all normalize your obsession with fitness.
Not every ‘fit’ person is like this, but many are.
I know this because I was once that person.
In my early twenties I wanted to be on the cover of a magazine, earn my ‘pro card’, get sponsored by a supplement company and build thousands of followers who admired (and desired) my hard earned physique. I’m not sure why I wanted those things; I just followed what many other fitness colleagues around me desired. When I experienced my first (and only) paid photo shoot and watched fitness ‘role models’ posting nearly nude pics every day on their social media accounts, I knew I would sacrifice much more than sweat at the gym to be supposedly successful in the fitness industry.
I remember the anxiety I felt at family gatherings where a lot of food was present. I would inconveniently start diets on holidays or vacations. I began hating instead of loving physical pieces of myself.
That’s who I was – I was a person in pieces.
I wasn’t a body, a mind and a spirit. I became just a body. I valued a bicep, a vein, a number on a scale or a dress size. I wanted so much to look fit rather than BE truly healthy. Health is balance, vitality and strength. Health is being mindful, at peace and living in each present moment. Health is focusing how your body operates and not so much how it looks. What does it do? Do you get adequate rest, digest properly, and lack headaches or chest pain? Can you climb stairs with ease, touch your toes without strain or carry your children to bed without breaking your back? Does your hair shine, is your skin glowing, are your nails strong? These are all indicators of good health.
When I started focusing on eating well, exercising, drinking water, enjoying wine, being with friends, resting and prioritizing moderation, however my body manifested in the process, I chose to love it. I loved it when I was plump prior to kids, pregnant and now pleasantly agile.
Fitness comes in all sizes, shapes and ages. Sometimes it has varicose veins, stretch marks, cellulite and excess skin. Everyone has their own story. Some didn’t want to be a fitness model, maybe they just wanted to not feel the bullying they felt as a child. Some overcame cancer, others dealt with divorce. In the story of our lives it’s about loving yourself in this process of becoming your true self.
That is what No Excuse Moms are about.
We are the leaders of our home. We are raising the leaders of tomorrow. If we want change, it begins with us. The moment we start writing our own story, we become our own Hero.
I appeared on the Dr. Oz show recently and was surprised by my cover models based out in Fort Meade, Maryland!
They won the cover contest amongst our NEM groups. Find a free workout location near you HERE.
Support our cause and purchase your calendar featuring 25 transformations, stories and tips today HERE.
Shipment begins Dec 1st.
I don’t usually yell. I’m usually the loving but strict mother, with a strong undertone in her voice, who’s glaring eyes can persuade their kids to clean their rooms, eat their vegetables and stop fighting in 1 …2…, well there is no 3. Because we never get to 3.
But we got to 3 today.
After an intense several weeks of non-stop working, a late wake-up call and a rush out the house to drop my eldest to Kindergarten, I was already pressed for time. I had to write several emails while one child hung on my back and the other complained that he received the wrong cereal. After realizing I would have no time to work out, I instead opted to run some errands at my favorite de-stress place, Target. What ended up being a “don’t touch that”, “no you can’t have that”, “get back in the cart” and “what, you don’t sell individual fitted bed covers?” I was able to hurriedly leave to make it to my care home to drop paperwork and supplies before heading over to my No Excuse mom group – a group I’ve lead for nearly 6 years every Tuesday morning.
So we arrived all safely, but not without my youngest crying because he couldn’t bring a bag full of art supplies we just bought at the store. Then he cried because he said his tummy hurt, that he had to go number two, and wouldn’t budge all because I wouldn’t come back three feet to carry him.
Today was not the day.
I couldn’t budge three more feet.
That’s where I am emotionally right now. I left the park and appointed my co-leader to finish the workout she already began instructing. On the way home, time and space seemed to shorten and everything in my vision was skewed. Cars in front of me stopped at every stop sign longer than the 3-second requirement (when no one was around), cars turning seemed to cut too close to my vehicle and that annoying humming sound in my car – the white noise everyone says they can’t hear – was buzzing louder than usual.
I dropped the kids’ home with my husband and grabbed my work supplies.
And I began to cry.
Tears streamed down my face as I realized I have again failed to eat breakfast, exercise or even comb my hair. I was tired of getting the energy zapped out of me and seemingly getting nothing in return. Sure, you get the hugs, kisses and long-term satisfaction of raising good children. Yes, there is satisfaction when you service others and see people positively impacted by the ideas you put forth. But when does three feet, become too great?
A year ago I posted a viral apology and image that exploded in the media. I asked, “What’s Your Excuse?” As someone who intimately knows the pain of growing up with an unhealthy mother, overcoming an eating disorder, dealing with being overweight, working stressful jobs and bearing three children in a row, I knew I could confidently answer any defensive question regarding my message and intentions.
There is no reason why you shouldn’t make health a priority, after all, in the end, if your body declines, how will you continue to function and be of service to people around you? I understood the reaction, since the majority of our nation is overweight and deals with daily stress, an abundance of processed foods, unrealistic media images and a personal environment that unconsciously promotes complacency.
Today I felt the defensiveness of my critics when I asked myself, “how would I feel if I saw that image today, of me – a woman I can’t even recognize these days – with the caption, what’s your excuse?”
I would cry and say it was because I didn’t sleep enough. I was overworked. I didn’t have ANY time for myself. My adrenals were going haywire and the stress hormone, Cortisol, was making me gain weight regardless of how little I ate or how much I exercised. I would admit that deep inside, I was unhappy. I would admit that despite all the things that seem perfect in my life, there was a part of me that felt like she was suffocating and missing the young, vibrant girl she once was.
I never wanted to be the picture of perfection. The past nine year’s blogging on this website is a testament of how imperfect I truly am. I am striving. I am trying. I am not giving up. At the end of the day, I will come home and hug my kids, cook them dinner, workout – even for just 20 minutes – and be thankful for the ability to choose.
Failure is a choice. Success is a choice. Happiness is a choice. And for most, Health is a choice.
The power of choice and the ability to recognize your free-will to reflect, act and transform any negative energy is power.
There comes a point when something as small as three more feet, becomes too much. But, sometimes it takes that moment for you to break down, wake up, and rebuild once again.
So here I am, internally saying, “Deep breath momma….” as I pick up that painful Lego I just stepped on and try to be more like my son, a Master Builder. (LOL.)
Happier times with my kiddos. Sometimes you feel so ashamed when you’re not perfect,
especially when you ‘lose it’ while parenting. I feel so much better after having cried
today. I hope other mothers take the time to cry when they need to.
Lately, I’ve been ‘breaking a lot of rules’ – whether it’s allowing my youngest
to sleep with us at night or letting them eat more candy than usual!
This is my most recent project, our 2015 Fit Mom Calendar, pleases support our movement
and pre-order HERE.
Funny statement considering, most people view me as a successful person. What people don’t realize is how much I’ve failed in this process in uncovering my life’s path. In 2008 I experienced an unplanned pregnancy that left me depressed, anxious and worried about the future. I didn’t have a steady income, I lacked health insurance, I recently moved home with my parents, I was overweight from years of disordered eating and while we were engaged, we weren’t married. For a woman who excelled in academics, pageantry and climbing the corporate ladder, I didn’t understand why I was consistently making poor choices.
I was failing and hit rock bottom.
In my uncertainty I decided to have faith in my journey. After all, there must be a reason why I chose to quit a stable job, create a fitness nonprofit, move home to help my sick mother and love a divorced father who was also an injured veteran. If there was a sign that loudly said “Don’t go this route” – I saw it and yet still chose to travel down that road. I intuitively knew that the hardest path would make me stronger.
Not only did starting a family make me work harder to build my own business and create a stable income, but because I battled for years being overweight, I began the first No Excuse Mom group in 2009. Naturally I was nervous when I started the group with just one other person, Ana Sneed. While pushing our strollers we posted flyers on mailboxes, pinned them on community boards and handed them to moms outside of preschools. It was daunting to approach strangers, frustrating when no one attended and upsetting when all my efforts to start a free fitness group fell to deaf ears and unmotivated minds.
I felt like throwing in the towel until one day a new mother showed up at our park with her baby to workout. I was so ecstatic I went home and excitedly told my husband. The next week another mom heard about the group through a flyer and brought along a girlfriend to workout with us. Eventually our city newspaper covered our free fitness group for moms and our little circle of moms began to grow. In the last 5 years I have met with my mom group nearly every Tuesday for a park workout. In our earliest days, I would’ve never imagined having numerous co-leaders, countless events and several mom’s night outs.
Today there are hundreds of moms who are taking their passion and creating purpose through the No Excuse Mom Movement. When I see the positive impact this philosophy has made, I imagine that moment when I wanted to give up, but persisted despite the pain. It is often when we are nearing the summit when we feel the most agony. It is in these moments we must face our fears of failure and break through the pain.
Do not give up.
While life appears easier if you lived with no expectation, no desire and seemingly, no fear, the truth is, when you live a life without intention, you are in fear. You are allowing worry to paralyze you, distract you and intimidate you. It may feel it’s easier to back down and accept a complacent lifestyle, but there is a tiny voice within you who knows you can do more, be more and become more….
Today I’m choosing to do more and I’m telling you today, you can do more too.
This picture was taken in 2007 before I was pregnant. I was teaching low-income moms how to stay in shape with their children and was presenting to mainly a Spanish speaking group. They didn’t understand most of what I said, but they definitely felt my passion!
This would be the first of several years I promoted free fitness programs within my community.
This is a 2-minute video of my life’s ride this past year! Join the NEM Movement HERE.
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