Maria Kang No Excuse Mom and Social Entrepreneur Wed, 11 May 2016 19:13:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 American Grit: Testing my Endurance Wed, 11 May 2016 08:24:47 +0000 As I ran passed Mile 23, my moistened eyes emotionally grasped that this moment had finally arrived.

I was going to complete my first marathon.

All the training, early mornings, hours on the treadmill and runs around Laguna Creek and Folsom Lake will have amounted to this single moment in time. At the corner of my eye, I can see my husband, pounding the pavement alongside me, carrying a 20lb backpack, a large camera draped around his neck and a heavy jacket and sweater hung around his side. He wasn’t planning on running this, nor had he trained for this endeavor. When I passed him and smiled at Mile 16, he later told me he felt I needed a companion. So he started running and stayed with me nearly to the very end.

When I sprinted across the finish line, a wave of satisfaction was felt throughout the crowd of runners. For hours we ran across bridges, through different districts and up hills. I wasn’t expecting those hills, or the early rain, or even my husband’s companionship. I didn’t know what to expect – and like childbirth, I knew there was an ending, I knew I would eventually get there despite how long it would take.

This was a true test of endurance, a feat that less than 1% of people accomplish in their lifetime.

Ironically I would see another endurance test play out on National TV days later. I re-lived feeling frustrated by my team’s performance, irritated by our disconnection and annoyed by how my ‘character’ was developed and edited in the last several episodes. When I failed the endurance test, rang out and went home, inside I was happy. Happy to be off TV. Happy to own my identity again. Happy to move forward and one day learn the lessons this experience gave me.

I was happy. But I wasn’t happy.

I wasn’t happy because I allowed an outside source dictate how I felt. Forces out of my control was directing my thoughts and influencing my actions. I found myself defending negative criticism, regretting my involvement and even resenting a few cast mates. Intuitively I knew stress and sadness strains the human body and I could feel it weighing on me.

So I decided to Let Go and Let God.

Regardless of what was filmed, edited and produced to be forever imprinted in TV history, I remember an incredible group of strong-willed, friendly and amazing human beings. I remember laughingly sitting in a waiting room playing a homemade Pictionary game as Chris slept on the ground, pounding a button a thousand times during a luke-warm shower, playing card games with David, and sharing stories while overlooking Mt. Rainer. I will remember my adrenaline every time the horn sounded, the hustle, the second-by-second pace, and the voice of our cadre, Nicholas Irving, calmly directing us during a challenge.

I will remember John Cena’s superheroic presence,  KJoy limping to her bedside before reading a book until after midnight, Jim’s Boston accent across a dark room and Cameron asking me for relationship and life advice – something he still does via text.  I will remember distinct images in my  head, like Mark’s nonchalant goofiness, Ivette sharing make-up tips, Goldie making constant requests for white bread and watching Brooke faint, that was heartbreaking. I won’t forget listening to Tony’s crazy stories while waiting in the van, dreaming about nonprofits with Mario, stretching out with Clare, talking about step-families with Haze and crying to Machine and praying with Lisa when I was injured and missing my kids.

I refuse to forget the good times. The times that made the experience truly worth it. I refuse to allow judgement impair what I know in my heart really happened on a snowy hillside in the winter of 2015.

Like the fleeting moments of my first marathon and my experience filming American Grit, I won’t remember the pain in my legs or the negative feedback.

I will remember enduring…

…enduring past the discomfort, past the slips, the falls, the regrets and the ignorant comments.

While one can choose to be angry or bitter –  I choose forgiveness. I choose to remember the good times.

American Grit: Testing my Endurance/life
Thankful for Amber Gonzales, our Field Coordinator and was our lifeline to the real world.

American Grit: Testing my Endurance/life
Nick Irving, my cadre, was humble and hilarious.

American Grit: Testing my Endurance/life
We loved, fought and forgave like family.

American Grit: Testing my Endurance/life
Running the Pittsburgh Marathon on May 1st.

American Grit: Testing my Endurance/life
The Marine in him came out. I love you hunny.

American Grit: Testing my Endurance/life
So thankful for our No Excuse Mom leaders, Kate, Erica and Barbie for supporting me!

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Developing My Grit. Tue, 19 Apr 2016 06:39:05 +0000 April 17, 2016

I created this website over ten years ago because I wanted to start telling my story.

Since I was little my shyness was perceived as snobby, my confidence was considered arrogant, my honesty was viewed as abrasive and my passion was seen as aggressive. Even if I didn’t have direct contact with a person, I was already judged, misunderstood and criticized based on the limited information they had, whether it’s how I looked or a single altercation filmed and edited for national television.

So I made a promise to myself – something that I would recently break…

I would stop letting people tell my story.

I wanted people to know that I struggle with depression and anxiety. My passion to help people stems from watching my mother struggle with poor health, even preventing her from attending our wedding day. I struggle with my weight and decided seven years ago to start a free mom workout group that has expanded to hundreds of groups throughout the world. I married a Marine, who suffered a traumatic brain injury from a car bomb while serving as a private security contractor in Iraq. We started with very little money and through hard work, sacrifice and vision, we made a purposeful life. He volunteers as a Regional Deputy Fields Operations Manager with a veteran organization, Team Rubicon, and I lead an incredible organization, No Excuse Mom.

When my Fitspiration photo went viral, I saw how morning show producers filmed pre-taped interviews and asked me 30 questions just so they can get a one-sentence sound bite that matched the story they wanted to depict. I witnessed cinematic magic as a nighttime show distorted the sound of babies crying while I covered my ears to protect it from the cold air. Most recently, I watched astonished as a popular, unbecoming portrayal of me was used to increase ratings and enhance the viewership’s emotional response.

I don’t live a regretful life. I’ve been very open about my challenges and marriage struggles – even writing about the wake of a hurtful revelation and private pain experienced last year in an ambiguous post titled “the show”.  Ever since those dark moments, I feel like I’ve clawed my way back to being enthusiastic about waking up again. Despite some harsh public criticism and feeling alienated from a group of colleagues – I’m still trying, still striving…I’m still here. And I’m still writing.

I’m not going to let the world define me.

I define me.

Every experience helps you to evolve. It teaches you persistence, resolve, tenacity…GRIT. Don’t ever be scared to do something because of how you will be perceived or judged. Somebody is going to dislike you regardless of what you do. Somebody is going to bring you down, because it makes them feel higher. Somebody is going to hurt you, because they are hurt. Somebody is going to say you can’t, because it affirms their belief that things are impossible.

Don’t let the fear of people’s opinions prevent you from doing something they lack the courage to do themselves.

Live a life of courage.

You define you.

Developing My Grit./life

Tess is 103 years old. Whatever you are enduring, it’s only a small journey in your life.
There are many more mountains to climb that will give you more perspective on your life today.

Developing My Grit./life

I love this image while at Arches Park, Utah. We had an amazing roadtrip with the family for Spring Break.

Developing My Grit./life
In 2007, David and I took a cross-country roadtrip and visited Arches park. We couldn’t wait to take our future children back there one day. I genuinely love traveling this world and this life with this man. Marriage is serious work and we haven’t thrown in the towel yet!

Developing My Grit./life
I am two weeks away from running my first marathon. Here I am running in Williams, Arizona. It’s been an incredible 12 weeks of training!

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American Grit. The Adventure Begins… Thu, 14 Apr 2016 07:50:40 +0000 Last year I was asked to join the cast of American Grit.

I said no.

I didn’t want to experience an uncontrolled environment, endure strenuous challenges and be without my children. Not only was I inundated with work and a new elderly carehome, but the holidays were approaching and I had 200 people to buy presents for. I had a lot of excuses. A lot of valid reasons why I couldn’t say yes.

My husband, David Casler, insisted that I go and continue the casting process despite my hesitation. I spent weeks reflecting on my reluctance. Would I look weak on the show? Can I be around a group of people for a long duration? Can I be without my kids for a long duration? Do I have the strength mentally and physically? Why is this important to me? Can I represent No Excuse Moms well? What if I fail and why am I so scared?

I feared fear.

I feared the unknown.

When I realized that I allowed the darkness of what I couldn’t see direct my thoughts and actions, I decided to stare it in the face and direct my own destiny.

Just a little over a month after I started the process alongside thousands of other applicants, I bravely boarded a plane to Seattle. After driving to a remote place in Eatonville, WA, we were first required to repel off a bridge, proceeded by a hike with heavy backpacks. We were then divided into teams of four, in which I was chosen by Army Sniper, Nicholas Irving, alongside Boston cop, Jim Vaglica, young wrestler, Cameron Zagami and petite yoga instructor, KJoy Lipson. We were the red team, later dubbing ourselves #teamreaper off Nick’s best-selling book and title as the second deadliest sniper in America.

It was intense, emotional, exciting, frustrating, painful and rewarding. I remember one night while laying in my bunkbed, my teammate, Jim, a 53-year-old father-like figure, counseled me from across our room and said, “Maria, enjoy this moment. One day you will look back at this time in your life and see it as one, big, great adventure.”

And it was.

In order to grow you have to step out your comfort zone. You have to be willing to do things you’re scared of doing. Most of all, you must struggle in order to evolve, change and grow.

At the end of my life, I don’t want to regret the things I didn’t do. I challenge you to do it. Go for it. Strive for it…

Your life is an adventure with fleeting moments that will never happen again.

Today my adventure begins.

Thanks for watching.

American Grit. The Adventure Begins.../taking chances life
I love my teammates! American Grit is on Fox every Thursday night. Find your local showing here.

American Grit. The Adventure Begins.../taking chances life
First day at Basecamp.


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Living with No Regrets Mon, 01 Feb 2016 07:01:15 +0000 I started my fitness career at 24 hour fitness.

It was a new gym, just a few miles away from my parent’s home in Elk Grove, CA. Since I never played a sport, as a non-athlete, I always depended on workout videos and group classes for my fitness regimen. I had my first gym membership at a Racquet club at 14 and began volunteering as an aerobics instructor in my high school class at 16. When this beautiful, state-of-the-art gym opened up when I was 18, I received my membership and even invested $99 of my savings for 3 sessions with a personal trainer (which I regretted after the first unproductive session).

I would continue to casually train there and talk to various employees, some who worked at the prior club I once attended. One day, I saw three men competing to see who could perform the most pushups on a barbell. I couldn’t recall having ever completed more than a few pushups in gym class, but was encouraged to try by one of the guys. I was 20 years old, I never trained with free weights and was approaching my junior year at UC Davis. After placing my hands shoulder width apart on the dumb bell, I was instructed to slowly descend into a lowered pushup position, hold for three seconds then rise. I don’t remember how many I completed that day, but on a busy evening at 24 Hour Fitness, I surprisingly beat the boys and heard one of the guys declare, “I want you to be one of my personal trainers! I am the Fitness Manager here.” His name was Jesus Sandavol, and he scheduled my interview the next day.

I fell in love with fitness being at that gym. The trainers were passionate, young, smart, attractive and charismatic. Our Fitness Manager was motivating, thoughtful and driven. Every day he taught me a new exercise. I watched as other trainers utilize different exercise techniques with their clients. I observed how to close a sales deal. Even though I became properly certified, read countless training books and have personal experience, I was nervous selling my services.

Within two weeks I had a full clientele.

I thrived as a trainer. I loved watching my clients’ progress, gain confidence and become stronger. I loved learning about the body, learning about my body and getting paid to help people. It was a golden moment in my life, a time that I can reflect back with each trainer – who are mostly still in the fitness industry – and be thankful for.

It wasn’t always easy and I struggled managing my school and work schedule. I remember distinctly the day when I sat in Jesus’ office and he gave me the gift of belief. Like a diamond, he said, I would need pressure to grow and eventually shine. He saw in me, the potential to do amazing things with my combined talents, passions and work ethic. Similar to my efforts to help my clients uncover their strength, he was also doing the same with me.

Whatever path we choose, often times, the harder journey leads you closer to you.

All of us eventually left 24 Hour Fitness. Some left with their clients. Some became bitter by their policies. Some still worked for them yet continued to be resentful for feeling overworked, under appreciated or underpaid. There were some who loved working there.

I was one of them.

I loved 24 Hour Fitness. It was a place I met amazing people, discovered my bliss and earned a living. There are aspects I liked and disliked about my work environment, but I knew that every day I woke up, I chose to be there…whether it was for a paycheck or my client. We all make agreements with the interactions with people, places and things in our lifetime. We are willing to make compromises and exchanges in any working contract, but once one becomes unfulfilled, hit a plateau, or attained what we wanted – like any relationship – it’s broken, and the contract is cancelled.


As a business owner and leader of a nonprofit effort, I similarly work with people who are discovering, like I once did, their newfound identities and fervor they have for fitness. It’s incredible to watch women become empowered by their weight loss journey and want to share their passion with other people. Like 24 Hour Fitness, No Excuse Mom is their vehicle for attracting and bringing people together. While I am the engine behind the machine, our admins, regional managers and local leaders are the drivers in their communities, motivating members, developing relationships and creating change. They are the hands, legs, and faces of NEM and I’m so thankful to work with an incredible group of women.

But like all things, there is nothing constant but change.

Inevitably we will all keep moving, changing and progressing. I will continue to watch my vehicle being used to drive them to their next journey in life, whether it is to become an instructor, develop a fitness brand or own a business. Some will continue working up the ranks of NEM and stay this course with me. Whatever the path, I am thankful I was part of their path, as well as them being part of mine.

There are no regrets in a life truly examined. To reflect is to remember why every person, event and feeling was purposeful in order to be exactly where you are, right now, in this conscious moment in time.
Be thankful. Even when this journey hurts. There is purpose if you seek it. The key is to seek it, or else, you will never be found.


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Am I Good Enough? Fri, 29 Jan 2016 08:09:23 +0000 I wonder if this is the life I was meant to live?

I’ve written that phrase in my personal diaries several times since I began documenting my thoughts in 4th grade. Every day I wake I robotically empty the dishwasher, answer my emails, cook, clean, exercise, work and run errands. There is a long list of have to do’s, need to do’s, but rarely anything I truly want to do.

Like write this journal.

I’ve been meaning to write for months – hard to believe I used to update my blog weekly, but since three adorable tornadoes, three care home businesses and three years of No Excuse craziness swept through my life, I haven’t been able to fully find ground.
Last year I published The No More Excuses Diet book, traveled the east coast, appeared at 5 fitness expos, visited NYC three times, purchased a home, opened my 3rd care home, released my Belly Ball, filmed a big project and adjusted to having three kids in three different schools while also driving them to Karate, soccer, t-ball, church classes and dance activities. In-between this madness, I was maid of honor at my best friend’s wedding and rejoiced seeing my other close friend give birth to her first son after years of infertility. It was truly an exciting year filled with parties, festivities and celebrations but most of all – expectations.

Despite just getting off a flight, even though I missed my family, I was expected to leave again in a few days. Despite being tired, I was expected to have energy when I hosted expo stages and meetups. Despite feeling stressed, I was expected to meet deadlines and follow through.
Even though I was unmotivated, I was expected to inspire others. While I was sad, I was expected to smile. I was expected to sell lots of books, energize crowds and give as much as I could to my family, my employees, my volunteers, my husband and my commitments.

I felt like a failure.

Nothing I did ever felt like it measured up.

I didn’t feel good enough.

Despite seemingly achieving so much in 2015, I spent the last month of the year coping with anxiety. My husband and I grew apart and my spiritual health was declining. I felt lonely and disconnected with family and friends.

I asked myself again, if this is where I was supposed to be. I thought back on the days when I used to journal weekly on this website, when I used to talk openly about following your dreams, pursuing your passion and taking calculated risks in seeking the ultimate rewards. My efforts to progress my personal, professional and physical endeavors is taking a lot of work – as it should. I’m not one to sit idle for took long. I have goals and I am working towards them. Does it take a toll? It should, if it’s work. Should you be more balanced? You can try.

I seek balance, but “balance” is like the word “perfect”, it doesn’t exist. We can strive for it, but we will never achieve it. Sometimes I’m a great employer, other times I’m a great wife, my children think I’m an amazing mom, but most of the time, I’m just trying to do my best, knowing that my best is good enough. Dreaming is good, desiring is great, acting is better, but it all falls short if you’re expecting a unicorn at the end.

We can’t chase a unicorn that doesn’t exist, but we can match our actions with our expectations.

And like many, last year, I expected a lot.

I expected to resemble people’s perfect Instagram pictures with their perfect house, and their perfect husband with their perfect kids who came out of their perfect body…

I’m not perfect.

I live an un-photoshopped life.

I’ve got old food in my fridge. I packed mac n cheese for my son’s lunch tomorrow. I have stretchmarks on my tummy. I hate my husband twice a month. I officially have two gray hairs. I struggle with work-life balance and I have an insatiable desire and perhaps unrealistic passion to change the world.

Is this the life I was meant to live? I don’t know. But this is the life I choose to live. These are the children I choose to raise, the husband I choose to love and the work I choose to do. Our greatest gift is our free will to decide what our destiny will be based on the decisions we make every single moment of our day.

While my ‘to do list’ often feels forced, truth is, I’m not forced to do anything I don’t want to do. I robotically exist, zealously persist and tenaciously insist that we must be accountable to a life we control.

So I’m moving my expectations, drawing my goal markers and changing my pace. In 2014 I sowed, 2015 I reaped, in 2016 I plan to feast. Cheers to the Best Year Ever.

Am I Good Enough?/depression
Celebrating 2016 in Reno with the whole family!

Am I Good Enough?/depression
Lake Tahoe was amazingly beautiful.

Am I Good Enough?/depression
January 2016 was a busy month! Here was my meetup in Austin, TX!

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The Show Sat, 05 Dec 2015 15:42:19 +0000 December 4, 2015

My life is in a stand still.

On my 35th birthday I took a lone walk in the snowy woods. I was in my annual routine – just me, nature and God. I didn’t receive presents, I had an inedible cake and was surrounded by strangers. I was filming a project to be released next year. At night the stars lit up the sky and like the child I was at 5, I looked up and asked God “Why am I here?”

These past few weeks I existed temporarily in a world where I was a pawn piece who was calculatedly placed in different situations to elicit reaction. It was an incredible experience. These last 35 years, I lived just like billions of people who want “The Dream” of raising healthy children, owning a home, having a business and existing in a seemingly perfect marriage. It all seems perfect, until something cracks and reveals the imperfection lying within your glass house.

Like the tiny rock that hits your windshield, expands, grows and eventually breaks the protective wall between you and the outside world, your “reality” will break too, once you realize that it’s a game of you and the outside forces that be.

I came back home emotionally fatigued. For the first couple days my body was here, but my mind was somewhere else. A week prior, my body was there, but my heart was here.

I didn’t know how to operate.

I didn’t want to work, workout, drive, eat, or sleep. I didn’t want to write, I didn’t want to post in social media, even though I discovered my husband had posted on my behalf while I was away.

I struggled with his posts.

We’ve had our challenges this past year and to re-read some of those instances was tough. I saw a post where he mentioned not acknowledging me the day my book launched. While he wisely spoke about love languages, all I remember was working nonstop leading up to that day, being sick and traveling to New York and crying most of that day – wondering why he was so hostile and couldn’t say, text or post: “Good Job honey” or “I’m proud of you”. There have been times we both felt disconnected and disrespected, moments when we talk and you’re certain no one is listening.

It’s not easy to be in a fast-paced partnership where two strong egos sleep in the same bed.

I struggled with him posting after I requested several times that he didn’t. I didn’t mind of course, because he does what he wants to do, even though he knows I would disagree.

And that’s what leads me to this standstill.

Beyond the show that will produce and air next year, there is a character we portray in the show called our Life. We can act wise, funny, successful, romantic, loyal and devoted – but that’s all show.

The truth is, we are all imperfect. What we show others through posts, pictures and even a TV episode, is what we choose to reveal. In my online world, there has been intimate stories of marital struggles, weight fluctuations, bouts of depression and constant seeking of purpose.

Today I have a story, but it’s not mines to tell.

The Show/marriage
I was ecstatic to receive my phone the day of our Anniversary (I didn’t have access to anything)
I’m sure he was surprised to hear from me.

The Show/marriage
Typical morning pic.
I dreamt of waking up with my boys every day while away. I missed my family so much.

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What if I fly? Thu, 29 Oct 2015 17:49:54 +0000 October 29, 2015

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back…

I’ve thought about Robert Frost’s famous poem, The Road Not Taken, several times in my life.

I thought about courage when I bought an unplanned lone plane ticket to Europe that landed in Athens, Greece and departed from Florence, Italy a month later. I thought about conviction when I left my residence in San Francisco, quit my corporate job and moved back home to Elk Grove and started a nonprofit. I thought about passion when I fell in love with a broken father, a veteran with a traumatic brain injury.

I’ve been met with scary and hard choices that left me bewildered. Times when I can see far down one beaten path with comfort knowing it has been traveled before, while also seeing another untraveled path – a route more difficult and unpredictable. It’s beyond our human nature to choose discomfort over comfort, after all, why work harder, if you can get to an end goal easier?

It’s not the end or the destination that makes you powerful  – it’s the journey.

It’s in the journey that we grow, learn and evolve. It’s the priceless revelations found within our human spirit to overcome challenges and navigate through obstacles that ultimately bring value to our lives. While there will be negative distractions, decisions and days that will deviate you, the light in your heart, the vision in your eyes and the truth in your being will overcome. I can remember countless moments when I lost myself in the presence of negative energy. I fought shame when I was bullied in high school, I fought guilt when I was undergoing an eating disorder and I fought fear when I became unexpectedly pregnant twice.

The only way to get mentally, physically and spiritually stronger is to challenge yourself – question your belief system, surround yourself within a different environment and extend your limits.

So I’m here at a crossroads – once again – in my professional life. I’ve mulled over possibilities in potentially committing myself in a new effort alongside the additional sacrifices me and my family  would make. I thought about our long term goals, my support system and my level of comfort.

What I realized in my deep reflections, is that I’m really comfortable. While I struggle to stay afloat sometimes, most of the struggle can be done while sleepwalking.

I have a steady daily routine. I wake, train, clean, cook, work, work, work and sleep. I know how tomorrow will look and how the holidays will unfold. While I have a new product and care home, nothing has scared me more than the opportunity I was presented with recently. This upcoming potential project made me feel a variety of emotions but the overriding essence was Fear. I was scared to fail, scared of the sacrifice, scared of the pain…I was scared of being truly uncomfortable.

Despite the fears, I kept peering down that dark Rabbit Hole. Staring at the dark abyss of possibilities. That fear haunted me and magnetized me. The voice in my head said ‘you can’t do this’ while the voice in my heart said ‘you’re damn right you can.’ So I’m choosing to get out of my way. While I could fall…

what if I fly?

…I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
What if I fly?/taking chances
I’m so proud of these mamas in the new 2016 Fit Mom Swimsuit Calendar. Starting this NEM movement has not been easy and we’re still filled with tons of challenges, but we believe in empowerment, encouragement and support. There is tons of motivation, tips and stories by women you can resonate with. Order yours HERE.
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Living Life Online. Mon, 10 Aug 2015 22:41:15 +0000 I have lived a decade of my life online.

Since 2005, around the time I was hitting my mid-twenties crisis, I started blogging to a public abyss of followers who watched and read as I detailed my reflections each week on a Sunday or Monday night. Like my life today, I didn’t hide much. I openly and transparently wrote about finding my passion, struggling with disordered eating, quitting my corporate job, starting my nonprofit, moving home to care for my mother and overcoming difficult relationships with my siblings. Followers read when I met my future husband, became engaged at the church we would marry in and discover we were unexpectedly pregnant not once, but twice. People would read about our blended family, my carehome business, our marital struggles and my rise to internet fascination following my “What’s Your Excuse” photo.

In one year, people would see me being kicked off of Facebook, build a No Excuse Mom movement, write The No More Excuses Diet book and purchase my first home. In the same verse, followers would see me struggling with acne, weight gain, acute depression and perceived failures.

I don’t hide much. I feel when you are hiding, you are scared – and when you’re scared, you are weak. There’s nothing weak about living your truest self and being vulnerable for exposing exactly who you are and how you really feel about yourself and the world around you.

After years, and especially months of nonstop working, moving and existing – my world is starting to slow down – just a little bit, and I can reflect. Just as I had time to do when I was 25 years old, without children, a husband, a job and the multitude of responsibilities that take up my days…I’m able to sit down and write as I once did regularly when I began this website.

I’m the first to say that I struggle – that I have a million excuses to why I seemingly fail at certain efforts. I gain weight. I lose weight. Sometimes I’m happy. Sometimes I’m incredibly sad. These past few weeks I’ve been pensive, really in deep thought, because here I am, sitting in a beautiful office I worked hard to build and I feel exactly the same as I did when I sat proudly at my used desk in our first two-bedroom home. While our world may change, while our bodies get older or heavier, while our possessions increase or decline – who we are deep inside – our spirit – does not change.

If there’s anything anyone can learn from my life online these past ten years, is that nothing is permanent, that life is all about perspective and in the end, all that matters, is that you lived with extraordinary passion to challenge your best self every. single. day.
It doesn’t matter if you have millions of social media followers, rent your home, drive your grandfather’s old van (like my husband does) or rock a lean body fat percentage – really, the only thing that matters is that you love yourself, love your life and love the people and things around you.

That means being grateful when you have one dollar or a thousand dollars. It means loving yourself if you weigh 150lbs or 250lbs. It means that regardless of your physical manifestation, the embracing and caring energy flowing inside of you – remains constant and in connection with the source that accepts you unconditionally.

I was grateful when we first traveled cross country with all my boyfriend’s belongings years ago. I appreciated our used furniture and the appliances we bought from Craigslist. I won’t forget our weekend garage sale hunts and how proud I was to purchase two big bags of used boy clothes for $50. I loved everything we were given, everything we worked hard to achieve and every person who was part of that journey.

I was thankful when I gave birth to a healthy boy after an emergency surgery for internal bleeding, when my mother survived her heart attack following her kidney transplant and when I found purpose after dealing with the pain of public backlash.

Life is not about being grateful when you are on top of the world and humble when you are at the bottom. On the contrary, we grow in wisdom when we seek humility when we succeed and gratitude when we fail. There are extraordinary lessons learned when life doesn’t go your way, this website is a testament of a woman whose life didn’t go as she planned.

And as I embrace that imperfection, my world became more perfect.

Living Life Online./life
We pulled out the carpet, took down the doors, laid the hardwood, built the book shelves and bought new furniture for the office I’ve been waiting 20 years to have.

Living Life Online./life

What a fun throwback picture of my office in 2011. It also functioned as a playroom! You can see my 12-week calendar, something I’ve had for years and talk about often in my book.

Living Life Online./life
This is my current view. I’m finally completing a long overdue journal entry on a quiet Monday.
My sons start(ed) school last week, this week and next week. Tomorrow I will be in San Diego and I will be in Anaheim on August 22-23rd for the Fit Expo. Go to and type in code “maria” for a free expo entry to my keynote speeches at 10am both days. I will also be at the Capitol City Expo Sacramento on August 29th, put NOEXCUSE for a discounted entry on eventbrite.

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This Too Shall Pass… Thu, 25 Jun 2015 09:02:27 +0000 June 24, 2015

There have been varying levels of busy-ness in my life – none that I am proud of as I don’t equate being busy with being important or doing something of value – but I have to say, I don’t think I’ve ever felt the pressure I feel these days to perform until every ounce of energy has been sucked dry.

In the past couple months since I took a hiatus from writing journals online, I have been traveling to fitness expos, moving homes, and building a new elderly care business while operating a household and caretaking the children.  At the end of each day I don’t have any mental might to write an inspiring journal entry or even finish reading the book I started 7 months ago. I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t say what was on my mind…that I was really, really tired. That sometimes I feel like I scream more than speak sweetly to my children. That my tummy feels bloated from stress, watermelon, and even green beans! I don’t want to complain. I don’t want to focus on negativity or feel paralyzed by my to-do list. I don’t want to hesitate, not for a single moment, because doubt will create fear, fear will create mistakes and mistakes will lead to failure.

And I can’t fail.

I have to make it to school, sports practices and games across town. I must send out emails, return phone calls and attend meetings.  I need to finish payroll, update projects and record podcasts. I will stop at the bank, post office, care home and grocery store within a 40 minute period. And I will commit to my No Excuse Mom workouts, family events and school field trips. After each commute, I will clean out my car of crumbs, trash and toys. At the end of each day, I will shower tweeze my eyebrows, apply moisturizer and use eye cream.  After every bedtime story, the laundry will run, the dishwasher will be loaded and I…I will be here, answering emails, updating projects and (hopefully) writing a long, overdue journal entry.

I can’t fail because my employees, my nonprofit organization and my children depend on me to follow through. Every. Single. Day is about following through. It’s getting from Point A to B, without excuses. Just get it done.

People develop strength from pain….from pushing themselves, from testing their limits and getting mentally, physically and spiritually fatigued by the process. Do I want balance, sure. But there is nothing balanced about getting to a new life destination. In order to move out of complacency, you need to break the routine, challenge your life’s status quo and move away from homeostasis. When the dust rises and your world is in motion, you may not see your destination or feel stable in this journey, but eventually you will stop. The dust will settle. And you will find balance again.

As Greek Philosopher Heraclitus said, there is nothing constant but change.

Even when we think nothing changes, life is constantly moving. Our skin cells are renewing, our taste buds are regenerating, our children are growing, our earth is moving and our life is evolving. Control, stability and permanence is an illusion.

This is why I work hard, play hard and live hard. This sprint won’t last long. The quiet moments won’t last long either (and I’ve had those too!) And this life…this life will not last long either.

Live life full force, without regret and with incredible passion. Don’t just be busy moving, be busy living your life to the fullest. Everything will pass – and this moment, this crazy, busy moment in my life….this will pass too.

This Too Shall Pass.../transitions
With one of my favorite photographers, Carol Shank in my new kitchen. After eight years, we finally purchased our first home!

This Too Shall Pass.../transitions
“How to Build your Brand” – great educational session at the San Jose Fit Expo!

This Too Shall Pass.../transitions
I always enjoy connecting with NEMs (No Excuse Moms) everywhere! Join your local group by searching here: We will be in Anaheim in August!

This Too Shall Pass.../transitions

This Too Shall Pass.../transitions
Forever proud! Here’s our group in Sierra Vista, AZ!

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It’s not you, It’s Me. Wed, 22 Apr 2015 07:57:38 +0000 April 22, 2015

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.


Its not you, Its Me./life
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.

Its not you, Its Me./life

My middle guy turned 5! He requested i make him a strawberry cake!

Its not you, Its Me./life
My local NEM (no excuse mom) group is growing! We have over 350 locations! Find your free meet up HERE.

Its not you, Its Me./life
My little guy was so happy to see mommy on the shelf at Target!
You can also order via ebook or online on Amazon!

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