“What’s your Excuse?” was created for readers of my Facebook fanpage. I’ve had an online following since 2005, so I was very used to ‘putting myself out there’. I thought the caption was fitting since I often saw posters of grandmothers running in marathons, paraplegics competing in the Olympics and even a father performing a pull up with three kids in tow – all with the same caption: “What’s your Excuse?”
I felt that if others can overcome incredible challenges to be in shape, why would my story be any different?
Boy was I surprised with the overwhelming response I received. I would say 80% was good and 20% was negative. I created this “Frequently Asked Comments” section to clear the air on all the ‘excuses’ people were giving me for the reasons behind my success (and possibly their failure).
1) Do you work?
I am self-employed. I own two six-bedroom residential care homes for the elderly. Caring for elders in their last living years is an honor and another passion of mine. Residents are much like family, for they have witnessed every pregnancy and every new arrival. I have witnessed them laugh, eventually decline and am sometimes present at their death bed. Being self-employed provides flexible hours, however, it also means I could be up at 2am or often working during the weekends.
I also founded a nonprofit, Fitness without Borders, which has several programs. Since this is entirely a volunteer-based role, my work is dependent on funding and active programs. We’ve been blessed to received a 50k grant through the Mercy Foundation, generous donations from The Hilton Foundation and a recent 20k grant from Axe Body spray. Right now, (Oct 2012) I am creating marketing documents for our upcoming Transformation Parent/Child Bootcamp in January. I am also establishing relations in different communities and hiring fitness coordinators to run the camps.
My latest project has been the No Excuse Mom Movement (www.noexcusemom.com) where moms worldwide are saying ‘no excuses!’ and establishing hundreds of free workout groups in their local parks/community centers/gyms. In just a couple months there are already over 700 locations and 23 countries on board.
Lastly, I am also a freelance writer. Besides what is seen online, I also freelance for magazines and newspapers. Normally I have just 2 articles a month, so it’s not too overwhelming, but it certainly takes a piece of the ‘time pie’ when I get really busy.
So do I work? YES. I work a lot. I’m a self-professed work-a-holic and rarely read or watch anything that is outside my work. A lot of my work is in management of other people, creating systems and marketing my business’.
2) It’s photoshopped!
We live in a photo-shopped world, so I’m not offended by this comment. My photographer, Mike Byerly, takes amazing images and was able to capture me and my family accurately. You can see an image of a candid shot taken from my camera the day of the shoot here.
3) Are you in your twenties?
I definitely agree that being young assists in pregnancy weight loss, but while I look like I could be in my mid-twenties, I gave birth when I was 29, 30 and 31.
4) Do you have amazing genetics?
My mother has struggled with weight her entire life and when I was little (growing up and comparing my body to my 2 younger sisters) it seemed my bone and body structure was more favorable to my mom’s genetics. This realization made me aware of my food intake and activity output at a young age. I saw first-hand how difficult it was to deal with diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and kidney failure. However, let’s say I did have great genetics, I’ve always believed 30% of your body is genetic and the rest is environment. The majority of my success is based on my lifestyle.
5) I can’t believe you don’t have stretchmarks!
I have stretchmarks. They are faint and only on my left side. You can usually see them in person or when taking close photographs. I have found that they look less visible when there is a tight muscle underneath the skin.
6) How do you find the time to workout all day?
I don’t workout all day. I work out for 30-60 minutes sometimes in the morning or in the evening when I have my husbands assistance or can utilize the gym’s daycare. (although, after enduring a long day it’s often difficult to workout in the evening) I believe it’s a huge myth that you need to workout for several hours in a day to gain results. What’s most important is the intensity of your workout and what you also do throughout your day. Besides working out, I am chasing after my kids, taking them to the park, carrying them up and down stairs and loading them in and out of my car!
7) Do you have a nanny?
No. I would love one, but I go through guilt when I’m not with my children, which leads to the next question….
8) You must be a bad mom because you would rather workout than be with your kids.
This is the most ignorant comment I’ve read. As I already explained in #6, you don’t have to workout all day. You just need to carve out 30-60 minutes of intense training in your day. I’m not missing anything when they’re sleeping. I’m also not missing anything when I’m taking them to the park and performing lunges, burpees or jumping rope while watching them play. (yes, incorporating fitness is really that simple) I’m not angry at these moms who choose to use this ‘excuse’ and condemn me becomes moms have a tendency to be self-sacrificing. There’s a lot of guilt in doing things for yourself when you become a mom, I know because I also go through it!
But I know when I’m the best mom to my children – and that’s usually when I’m able to take care of myself also. Having been a child of an overweight mother was a very tough experience. I dedicated my profession towards helping others because I didn’t want others to suffer from the pain poor health creates. Her health has limited her activities with me, my children and important events. This resentment I’ve held towards her (for not taking care of herself) came to its peak when my mother was admitted to the hospital the day of my wedding. As a result of my mother’s poor health, I didn’t have my mother or father (except to walk me down the aisle) present on the ‘biggest’ day of my life. It was a very emotionally challenging experience that I hope others won’t also have to experience.
Lastly, people often use lack of time as an excuse when it comes to weight loss. The truth is, is that it’s mostly diet. I don’t finish my son’s peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, I don’t eat ice cream when it’s hot or indulge in chocolate when I’m stressed. I have a very clean diet and THAT is my biggest weapon in my arsenal.
9) Did you nurse?
I nursed anywhere between 3-6 months with my children. My supply has always been challenging, but coupling that with work and other children made the stress of nursing incredibly hard. I wish I was that mom who nursed until her child was 2.
10) Did you have natural births or a c-section?
I have had all natural births. I was surprised to read about those who struggled with weight gain because of their c-sections because many of my girlfriends (with c-sections) were able to become fit within a year after pregnancy despite it taking a few weeks longer for them to recover. All my pregnancies, however, were high-risk as I have a blood disorder called Von Willebrand’s – a disorder that prevents me from clotting effectively. As a result I developed a hematoma the size of a football after my first labor, resulting in an emergency surgery, blood transfusions and a painful recovery. My second labor went more smoothly, but I was transferred to the ICU when my electrolytes dipped dangerously low after my blood clotting meds were halted. Every women’s story is different – some more difficult than others – the most important thing is that we all prevail.
11) You look Asian, that means you have a small body frame and can ‘snap’ back into shape.
As I stated in #4, I do believe genetics is 30% part of the success equation. While this seems like an absurd comment, I understand why people feel that way as Asians generally are not overweight. However, I live in America, Sacramento to be exact and the Asians here are not that skinny. I am almost 5’4, I weigh 125lbs, but prior to my first pregnancy I weighed nearly 145lbs and my weight peaked at 175lbs pregnant.
12) It must be easier for you because you are a personal trainer. It’s your job to be fit!
I was briefly a personal trainer from 2000-2003. After that I worked in management, marketing and project work. This statement is half-true in the sense that yes, I have a background in fitness. It did make losing weight easier because I was educated in nutrition and fitness. I also had an online following, which made me want to excel as role model. It’s important to note that I purposely created an environment for a fit life. I always knew I wanted to be a fit mother, so I created expectations for myself and ensured I had the right know-how to be who I wanted to become. Anyone else can create these same environments also – if you put yourself out there as a healthy role model, people will expect more from you and encourage/force you to succeed.
13) Aren’t you a fitness model?
No. I am not a fitness model. Anything printed has been requested by a friend or a magazine profiling me as a fitness role model.
14) You must have been fit before you were pregnant.
I was fit and varying degrees in all my three pregnancies. In my first pregnancy I already considered myself 20 pounds overweight. (I think most moms say this) Thankfully, I lost the weight and more before conceiving my 2nd son. Being generally fit before pregnancy is the biggest influence on how you will look within the year after giving birth so my recommendation for all moms is to be fit before getting pregnant. You can read my fitness journals here.
15) It’s bad for your body to have kids so close together.
I had children close in age because I come from a family of 4 children all one year apart. I really enjoyed my experience growing up and never felt sibling rivalry or competitiveness (as I’ve seen so many other siblings go through). We grew up together and I wanted the same experience for my sons. I think they will LOVE growing up together. In regards to having children back-to-back being bad for your body? I can see the point, but I also believe everything is very individual and as you can see, it didn’t hurt my body.
16) Are those your kids? They all look different.
I have to say this is the funniest comment I’ve read. Of course, my children look like both the mother and father. I am half Malaysian Chinese and Filipina. My husband is a Caucasian mix of German, French, Norweigan and Spanish. They are all my kids and you can read my 3 year old, Christian’s Birthday story, my 2 year old, Nicholas’ Birthday story and my 9 month old, Gabriel’s Birthday story on my website, Mariakang.com.
17) How did you lose weight?
Losing weight is a science. It’s a combination of exercise, diet, rest and prayer (for me). Prayer is about affirming the person you would like to become and asking for a higher source to give you strength in your journey.
18) I hate images like this. It creates unrealistic expectations for mothers.
Every woman is different and my intention was not to ask, “What’s your Excuse for not looking like me?” My intention was to imply, “What’s your Excuse for not exercising?” However you interpret the message is dependent on your emotional state when you read the caption.
I definitely agree that my results are not normal. At the same time, being ‘fit’ is no longer normal in society. 1/3 of Americans are obese and over half are overweight. So of course it’s not realistic for the ‘average’ person to be fit after pregnancy because usually they are not fit before pregnancy. If you take care of yourself, exercise and eat the correct foods, then my results can be normal for you too! There’s nothing wrong with being fit. It’s good for you, your family and your wallet towards the end of your life.
19) You must be rich
I consider myself middle-class. I work, I save and I invest. I don’t spend money on the newest phone, latest car model or newest fashions. I have a very simple way of living, eating and existing. It doesn’t take much to be in good shape – all it takes is an incredible will to set higher expectations for yourself.
20) You had an eating disorder and you are promoting images that caused you to be Bulimic!
I have my own views about eating disorders that are outside the obvious excuses. I believe it’s a manifestation of a spiritual challenge a person is undergoing. I was a perfectionist at a young age and was experiencing several changes in my life when I ‘lost control’ over my eating habits. I graduated college, moved to a big city, changed jobs, broke up with my boyfriend and became lost by all these transitions. I felt a need to ‘control’ something in my life and I chose a ‘good drug’, which was food and the happy hormones experienced after you vomit. (sorry if I am too graphic) There were several things that triggered a Bulimic episode, sometimes it was seeing my ex, visiting home or having anxiety from thinking too much. My point is, is that how I interpreted persons, images and things was dependent on my emotional state. I could see anything and say it intensified my Bulimia. The true blame was what was going on internally.
I am not a stick-thin person. I don’t have bulging muscles or incredibly low body fat. I am a healthy mom – and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with how my body manifests from proper diet and exercise.
21) How did you do it?
Surprisingly (and unfortunately), this question didn’t come up a lot. So I won’t answer it in the FAC’s, you can check out my fitness journals here.
22) Good for you, but I have …..
For those of you who have legitimate excuse then that’s your excuse! I’m not saying there isn’t one. I’m saying that for the majority of people out there who use multiple kids (or just one), a job, lack of time, lack of support – as an excuse, then maybe you can take my story and my image and use that as a source of inspiration.
That is all. Thanks for reading. Follow me on Facebook here.