The No Excuse Mom Movement

March 30, 2014

March 29, 2014

I just interviewed with ABC Nightline. They followed me for nearly two days while I prepared a potluck dish for my father’s birthday party, cooked my boy’s breakfast (in my sponge rollers!) before dropping my eldest to pre-k. They filmed as I checked in on my elderly care home, taped a live News10 segment and led my No Excuse Mom (NEM) workout group.  This all happened before a mini photo shoot with Guardian UK magazine and a NEM online group leader meeting. We discussed my busy life and controversial new image promoting my No Excuse Mom Movement where I experienced Round 2 of critics (again) claiming photoshop, bullying and narcissism. Despite the negative press, the NEM movement is growing at an incredible pace. In just over two months we are organizing 700 locations in 24 countries.

From one provocative image and a three word question, I seemed to wake people’s consciousness and create a controversial dialogue about health, body image and motherhood.  What began as a motivational post on my fitness page, turned into something twisted, tainted and taken out of context by bloggers everywhere.  While some criticized my message and blamed their negative reception on my delivery, the truth is…

It’s not just the message, it’s the messenger.

Even the most articulate blogs can’t pose a good argument without using the word ‘look’ in it – as if I’m suggesting people should look like meAnd why not focus on my looks, right? After all, would this poster gotten as much attention if I were a man, a paid personal trainer or slightly chubbier? If this was all about the delivery – as some have suggested – I doubt any of the other scenarios would’ve made it onto CNN. Facts are I am an everyday mom. I have a strong, unrelenting, unapologetic voice. I am promoting health and a hope that you can achieve your goals if you take action and make no excuses. How you receive my image and my message is out of my control. I can’t create guilt or shame without it being already psychologically present in one’s mind. If you react negatively to the word ‘excuse’ then you must feel you’re not doing something that you know you should be doing.

And we all know what we should be doing. We hear it every day. I’m not stating anything outside of what the Surgeon General recommends.  I am advising people to get up, move and make no excuses for not prioritizing their health. Yet, with heart disease maintaining its lead as America’s number one killer and children struggling with obesity and Type II Diabetes, it seems that people aren’t doing what they know they should be doing.

So as the messenger, I’m sharing my story. I’m showing that a little girl’s pain in watching her mother struggle with her health can turn into an incredible passion. This passion will further deepen as she overcame an eating disorder and struggled being 30lbs overweight. After falling in love with an injured veteran she will give birth three times in three years while building her own business, founding a nonprofit and starting a free fitness mom group. While she lacks a cook, maid or nanny, she still prioritized her fitness and was able to rock a healthier post-baby-body, stretchmarks and all.

Attaining any goal in life is about planning your days, prioritizing your actions and preparing for things to go wrong.   I’m not making myself vulnerable to the world so I can sell you something you don’t already have.

I’m selling you – you.

You are the key to your success. It all begins with a decision…a single choice to not give up and dedicate yourself to a journey that will take time, focus, discipline, faith and hard work.

While my journey in spreading one’s personal awareness has been frustrating, I know that the people who got the message – got it. The people who didn’t, will eventually get it because it’s not a matter of if but when they will start prioritizing their health. You’re only given one body and it’s the only thing you own in this world.

While my approach is more straightforward, you can’t expect to break unhealthy habits sitting in a psychologist’s chair asking them to say ‘you can do it!’ Their job is to ask you questions that will make you dig deeper and discover an inner awareness of what actions are preventing you from living your fullest potential. I asked, “What’s Your Excuse?” to followers on my fitness page and I received a lot of excuses.  So as a nation let’s look at these excuses and start providing solutions.

The No Excuse Mom movement is a piece of the solution. It’s not the latest, greatest, fitness craze and you don’t need a membership fee to join. NEM is an ideology. It’s a belief that despite the odds of making fitness work, you can do it and you don’t have to do it alone. We are not an island onto ourselves. We need people to raise us, support us and lead us.

This powerful energy created a community of moms – moms who are the very leaders raising our future generation – to prioritize their health and therefore their family’s health. These moms are creating free workout groups in an effort to get fit, become role models and connect their community.This tumultuous effort would not be possible without the volunteer efforts of our administrators and group leaders. Thank you most of all to Lori Hare, Stephanie Stafford, Jaylene Lawrence, Gioia Aw, Ay Carter, Shannon Link, Alex Gonzalez, Lorna Pope, Inemesit Graham and Mckel Springer. Without your efforts this past year, nearly 17,000 moms wouldn’t have a special place to feel accepted, supported and encouraged.

Six months ago, when my whole world turned upside down I didn’t know why this was happening or where this would all lead, I just had faith that like any pain, there is some purpose behind it.

Thank you to all the NEM’s out there. You give me purpose.

Find a location or become  a group leader at

nem group chat
Group chat with some of our group leaders throughout the country

For those wanting an update from my last journal, we did move – but after a very emotional ride, I decided to pull out of escrow from a potential home (and follow my gut) and move to another rental. Home buying isn’t to be taken lightly and I didn’t want to feel the pressure from time constraints . Here I am packing! Can you believe I started packing the house at 1:30pm on Saturday afternoon and we started moving everything at 7am on Sunday? I had everything moved and unpacked by 1pm Monday! Thank you to all our friends and family that made this miracle happen! (btw – those are jalapeno cheetos. My husbands!)

Shooting in our new backyard. That day was crazy!!!!! Tune in April 5th on ABC’s Nightline Prime.

psychology test
I took a psychology class in high school and was shown this picture. What do you see?
Do you see a beautiful young lady or an old woman?
A Paradigm Shift means if you change your perspective, you can change what you see. So
how can so many people see insult while many others see inspiration in my fitness poster? I think
we just had a big psychology course on America’s attitude today.


  • Reply Julie March 31, 2014 at 1:20 am

    I think people are so negative about u because they are haters!!! You are beautiful, inspirational to soo many with your health attitude!! And best of all, u don’t charged people for your workout routine or tips where many does- that is why u r soooooo famous because u r amazing for doing and gathering so many together without moms spending a penny on social media. Since I joined NEM, I had read soooo many great advices n inspiration from others that I actually liking my workout now where before I would dragged it- I mean avoid them like a disease kind of avoid.. No jokes!! Please keep your FB posts coming and keep doing what u r doing. I’m already 8 months pp, but my tummy does not look anything to your poster but…. It’s not stopping me for putting on my workout clothes on whenever I have a chance too. Thx u, u r beautiful woman- no homo :-)!! But I want to have the physic like u.. Toned body!!!! Thx u, u will be more famous than now years from now, but don’t forget to keep all grounded just as u r now

  • Reply Erin March 31, 2014 at 2:19 pm

    The first time I saw your picture I thought “that’s what I want to look like again…wait, that’s what I can look like again” and then asked myself “what is my excuse?” I had no answer. Being a mother of 2, wife and someone who recently quit her high paying corporate job to launch our business I needed to hear your message. Now I’m working out 5 days a week again because I’m worth it. Thank you !

  • Reply jennifer April 1, 2014 at 1:34 am

    :::sigh:::: you really do seem to be unable to hear anyone who doesn’t agree with you 100% and that is really unfortunate since your tone is alienating a good number of folks who could probably get a great deal out of your organization. It is about delivery in two very basic ways:

    1. It was given in a “you” message instead of an “I” message. This is pretty basic communication skills – something many of us would have learned in high school. Google for details.

    2. The picture chosen accentuated body appearance and not health, activity, or family. The picture that you have above, playing with your kids in the back yard – *that* pictures is one that makes your argument about being a good role model for your children and health emphasis.

    Disagreeing, discussing, debating this is not “hating”. And while you have a reasonable point that if someone is experiencing guilt or shame that those emotions were already there someplace it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are doing something “wrong”. The USAmerica female psyche is often a clusterf*%^ of guilt and shame on a whole variety of issues that have been twisted by both micro and macro culture. Additionally, most caring people would be interested exploring how they may have contributed to the pain of another and consider input that might assist them in achieving their goals without causing unnecessary pain – something, again, you seem quite unwilling to do.

  • Reply Lynette April 2, 2014 at 1:58 pm

    Maria, thankyou for your inspirational posts! You are a beautiful person inside and out 🙂
    The No Excuses message is definitely one I have to tell myself often, that and Never Give Up!

  • Reply fob April 6, 2014 at 1:50 am

    The image of you in the pink top with the bar of fabric across the breasts is so obviously Photoshopped as to be pathetic. All one has to do is take a more casual photo of you, put it alongside this one, and the distance between your hips and shoulders is “off.” That you think that this body–Photoshopped into that of a teenaged boy with breasts–looks “normal” is a sign of your own mental illness.

    Look–we aren’t talking “no excuses.” We are talking a form of anorexia which manifests as an obsession with looks and particularly muscles. This body shape will be fatal at some point–all you have to do is get a serious illness, and you are gone. You are also completely lying–there is no way that you have a “normal” life of work, caring for your own children, and caring for your own home and maintain a body that looks like the one that is Photoshopped. Heck, you can’t do all those things and even look like the “softer” version that appears to be accurate.

    Someone needs to start following you around, surrepitiously, and figuring out where the lie originates. Is it in the photographs, is it in the stories about your lifestyle? I don’t know–perhaps you flatly ignore your children or perhaps you are starving yourself–again, all I can tell is that your life is a lie and that picture is Photoshopped.

    Well–people want to buy into the fantasy. Whatever. Still, this is not a “healthy” body shape–this is as utterly ignorant as the image of Beaver Cleaver’s mom with her perfectly coiffed hairdo, immaculate house, high heels, and pearls. It is the 21st century version of Beaver Cleaver’s mom–and it is just as stupid, and it is just as wrong, and within 30 years, people will be doing some very scathing books on the 21st century “no excuse mom” syndrome.

    And, sweetie, you will go down in the history books as an example of the mentally-ill version of the 21st century mom, just as June Cleaver has gone down as the mentally-ill version of the 1950s mom.


    • Reply brandi April 6, 2014 at 2:09 am

      fob, I don’t know why you sound so angry, I don’t know your past or limitations. You can get amazing things done, and its not always the exact same schedule daily with three kids. She is giving us pieces of her life and we can challenge ourselves to see what we can acomplish in our own life. Sometimes we get to bed on time, sometimes we are up all night with a sick kid. Sometimes we get a crazy amount of work done and the kids have extra tv, playtime, or a family member watch them, but then other days we spend all day out with our kids playing, disney world, restaurants, reading, etc and get hardly any work done. Things change all the time, plans change, new things come up, but she has accomplished quite a lot in a short time and that cannot be ignored. If you want to have someone followed, I guarantee you will “catch” holes in their story. Suggesting that she be followed and calling her mentally ill for this simple blog post and picture says more about you than her.

      • Reply Chanda May 7, 2014 at 11:14 am

        Well said Brandi

    • Reply Maria Kang April 6, 2014 at 2:16 am

      LOL “fob”! That photo you are questioning was not photoshopped at ALL. I knew someone would cry this accusation, so I made sure that this one was taken from a camera shot of my original images viewed before the photographer touched it. You seem to be undergoing a really negative space in your life right now – I hope you get out of it soon.

      • Reply Chanda May 7, 2014 at 11:14 am

        True Maria

    • Reply Chanda May 7, 2014 at 11:16 am

      You got serious issues fob….get help

  • Reply LuAnn Dyer April 6, 2014 at 3:29 am

    I just watched the Nightline Prime interview. While there are some people who don’t want to exercise, don’t have time etc…. people like me are still waiting for someone to come along with a solution to this next question. When you have Multiple Sclerosis like me or other debilitating disorders that limit your ability to exercise how can you lose weight? I want to lose weight but running is out due to balance. The idea of Curve’s or other exercise makes me flare up because I can’t get hot. So my question is does anyone have any suggestions for my weight issue? I am not a heavy eater just disabled and want to lose weight. People say, you need to lose weight. My answer is: Do you think I like to look this way. Thanks, LuAnn

    • Reply best juicers January 20, 2015 at 7:38 am

      It first starts with a good diet, preferably veggie-heavy. If you eat rabbit food, chances of getting fat are lower. Heck, buy a juicer from my quite respectable website, stock up oon fresh fruits and veggies and you’ll be on your way to 1-5 pounds of healthy weight loss per month.

  • Reply Missy April 6, 2014 at 4:16 am

    You are like the Gwyneth Paltrow of fitness. Meh.

  • Reply Michele April 6, 2014 at 5:18 am

    I saw your picture and read about the controversy. Didn’t think much about it. I just watched the nightline show. I think it best to hear from the person themselves. You came across as very immature. You needed someone to go with you so you weren’t ganged up on. You can’t stand on your own? Your picture with you 3 boys below you will be an embarrassment to them in 10 and 20 years. You seem consumed with your looks which means other things are lacking. It can’t be helped. I worry that your boys will only value women for what they look like. All for you to feel better about yourself. Why not volunteer, help others, do something to encourage character, education or kindness in the world. The women you put down and judge have much more value than you will ever have. Not a hater. I’m sure that will be your excuse. Boo hoo. I’m pretty. No, you are not a person of value.

  • Reply Shirley April 6, 2014 at 12:41 pm

    Do you know what it is hard for people to get? Healthy lifestyle is beautiful. Since I have been eating healthy and working out, my skin is luminous and clear along with my body being fit and thin. I find it hard to believe that 60% of the population is overweight or obese because of debilitating diseases. I work with chronically ill and elderly patients. Many of them have chronic diseases that developed from their unhealthy lifestyle. Overweight and obese people are kidding themselves if they think is only about appearance. It is about your future.

  • Reply Victoria April 8, 2014 at 11:17 am

    I have been researching you a lot the past week. Why? Am I a crazy person? No lol I’m actually doing a presentation about postpartum body image and health and decided your story would be great to discuss with my health and wellness class. I am a 24 year old mother of a 2.5 year old, as well as a full-time college student. I first heard of you about a year ago. You are such an inspiration. I think what mothers need to understand is its not about prioritizing your superficial appearance. It’s about setting an example for your child and caring about your health. My son helps me stay active, and we eat healthy together. I’m in better shape than before becoming pregnant. Thank you for being so controversial. You said what needed to be said.

  • Reply Chanda May 7, 2014 at 11:15 am

    True Maria

  • Reply Wafaa May 13, 2014 at 9:28 pm

    I wonder why so many people get pissed off at Maria. It kinda feels that the hate she inspires is because she hit a nerve.
    I am overweight and have been dieting / training for the past 2 years to get to the healthy weight. I am at 2/3 of my target and I am pretty happy with myself. I know however I could have lost faster if I had been more disciplined.
    I always have the same excuses: had a long day at work, don’t want to hit the gym today, it’s Friday night, I earned my take away, etc etc. However I am aware that these are the limitations I and only I put on myself. These are EXCUSES.
    I understand that Maria’s message is: “you could do it, if you wanted it”. Then she doesn’t force it on anyone as far as I know. If I was as focused as she was, I’m sure I could achieve what she does. However I will never be as fit as her because I don’t have her discipline and I don’t like working out that much. I am ok with that, I just want to be healthy. I don’t feel threatened because she is super fit and looks fantastic. I find that cool that she manages that but at the end of the day, it’s my own personal goal that matters.
    Fob, I find your comment ironic, especially this part: “you will go down in the history books as an example of the mentally-ill version of the 21st century mom, just as June Cleaver has gone down as the mentally-ill version of the 1950s mom.” It’s indeed ironic that you would say that about Maria when your comment is a massive spiteful rant on someone you don’t even know in person and who has no impact on your personal life. You’ve got some serious issues…

  • Reply Trenna Tataipu August 15, 2014 at 3:54 am

    Hi Maria! You are amazing! Honestly. I am 100% with you when you say there are no excuses for mothers not to exercise. I had just turned 20 and I had my babygirl at 19, she is 4 months now. I weigh 270 lbs, and my body is the biggest it’s ever been. I am currently doing the Bikini Body Mommy 90 Challenge and so far it’s been good. My tush is super sore lol I truly am inspired by you mothers that take care of your bodies even after giving birth. Thank you

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