Nightline Prime and ‘the body wars’

April 6, 2014

April 6, 2014

*** This is an open-letter to Sara. The mother I met in Kansas City, Missouri ***

Dear Sara,

Thank you for inviting me into your home and allowing me to follow your tasks throughout the day. I hadn’t read any of your criticisms about me prior to Nightline requesting that I meet you and Dionna Ford, the blogger behind the “We don’t need an excuse” campaign. I was initially apprehensive of this meeting because I didn’t want to rehash a controversial discussion. In fact, when they approached me about this meeting, Nightline was at the tail end of filming nearly two days of my life in Sacramento. The last thing I wanted to do was turn a positive story on how I manage work, family and fitness while growing an incredible No Excuse Mom Movement, into another body war campaign.

Of course, as we both know. That’s exactly what happened.

I know viewers will never see us greeting each other with a big hug in your grandmother’s kitchen or hear our 2 hour discussion about eating disorders, hormonal issues, cultural pressures, accountability and what health really means. I wish they captured that injured dog, Lulu, your animal shelter rescued or how your son, Zion, had a voracious appetite for yogurt, carrots, sandwiches, granola and fruit. While it depicted your 9-month old crying nonstop in the car, it didn’t show the worry and helplessness I saw when you couldn’t give her that one thing she wanted – which was you.

I saw that and I felt your pain. I’ve been there also, so many times, often with three tiny toddlers crying, screaming and needing my attention – while I’m running on empty from lack of sleep and working.  

As mothers we share this joint rite of passage to be self-sacrificing, often stretching our tolerance, patience and strength in the chaotic routine we perform every day.  We work tirelessly to provide, educate and caretake while feeling additional pressure to live up to seemingly unrealistic cultural standards of health and beauty. I never thought I would be targeted as part of the cultural problem, which is why I agreed to meet with you on Nightline.

I wanted to show you I was part of the solution.

I found out there was a working mother of 3 children named Kristi who was so inspired by my message, she established a Kansas City No Excuse Mom group that meets weekly for free in local parks. I told you about my personal experiences with depression, struggling financially and growing up with an unhealthy mother. I wanted to show you that I was human, because it’s so easy to target someone online anonymously, without knowing anything about their story.

Sara, I’m so sorry you are experiencing some of that criticism right now.

People are watching the Nightline segment and making immediate judgments on your life, your kids and your priorities. They are attacking your choices, questioning your values and assuming your history. They are doing all of this without knowing a single thing about you.

The irony of it all…

As someone who has stood her ground for months after people chastised a viral photo taken off of her fitness page, to her followers, who understands her delivery, my advice to you is to know your intention. Be strong in what you believe and don’t respond to every unkind comment. Leave it alone. Nothing can infiltrate your soul unless you allow it to. If a comment feels painful, it may be exposing a certain weakness. Just examine the cause, reflect on the lesson and grow from the pain.

You are responsible for your own thoughts, so protect yourself and focus on your family – because in the end, that’s truly the only thing that matters.

It was blessing to meet you and I do hope one day our paths cross again.

In Good Health,
Maria Kang

=abcnews
Watch our NightlinePrime Segment by clicking HERE.
Few things to mention about the editing: when I interjected in the beginning and jokingly made a remark to Sara it was after a couple hours of filming and we were at ease in our conversation. It wasn’t meant to be condescending or confrontational. I also noticed it looked like I was holding my ears in the car. I wasn’t. I was cold. I don’t even hold my ears when I have 3 kids crying in the car!

sara_nightline
Thank you Sara for allowing me to spend the day with you. I couldn’t have asked for a kinder group of women.

paula_nightline
Paula Faris was a great correspondent to work with. Mom of three and we were her first assignment off from  maternity leave.

gracey_nightline
It was awesome meeting so many of my Kansas City moms, including Gracey, a single mom of two who works full time and lost 40lbs since January! You can purchase NEM tshirts HERE

 kristi_nightline
Kristi, we are mom buddies for life! Thanks for allowing me to join your group for the day.

va_nem
I love seeing media for our local NEM mom groups. Kelly (seen here) is our group leader in Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia.
Find an NEM group near you or become a group leader by visiting us at www.noexcusemom.com

news10
I usually guest every other week, but I made it to News10 this past Friday to talk about photoshop, extreme running and marrying old.
You can view the segment here.

30 Comments

  • Reply Gracey April 6, 2014 at 11:20 pm

    What a great response, Maria. I can say without hesitation that your No Excuse Mom group has been the center of my support through this weight loss journey. Your letter to Sara was truly heartwarming as I’m sure she is under the lovely attacks of internet strangers that see one segment of her life and think they know better than her how to live it. It is exciting to see my picture up there with you, as I am a single mom of two under two and manage to find “me” time in exercising because it is the only thing that is consistent about my mostly hectic life. I listed my Instagram account as my website so people can see that I really did lose 40 lbs since January and it is possible to attain clean eating on a budget! Not everyone will take a positive message from this story about you facing your critics, but I certainly have! While I might not ever be a fitness model or do bikini competitions…but I am proud to say that with every hour of time I spend in the gym, I find myself becoming a better role model and a more confident young woman. Thank you both for sharing your lives on camera and allowing us to see a side of each of you that was very heartwarming!

  • Reply Tiffany Macek April 6, 2014 at 11:26 pm

    Hello Maria,

    I just wanted to say that you inspire me. I am a mother of 3 girls all under the age of 10 and as tough as it is making time for myself, I am determined to stop making excuses. I want to be a role model for them and show them that mommy loves them enough to love herself too. Thank you for all you that do and for having faith for all of us. I am really excited to start my journey to a healthier life.

  • Reply Dionna @ Code Name: Mama April 7, 2014 at 12:52 am

    Beautiful words, Maria. I was also saddened to see the unkind remarks from both sides. As I told my friends, while we may not agree on everything, in the end we all want to help women be able to prioritize health and fitness. The fact that you’ve inspired so many women is wonderful. I’m glad that so many find you exactly the inspiration they need to make healthy choices.

    • Reply Maria Kang April 7, 2014 at 6:40 pm

      Thanks for visiting Dionna. It was great to meet you and your friends! I appreciate your standpoint and will consider it in the future.

  • Reply Tracy April 7, 2014 at 1:39 am

    Maria, I’m a KC Mom and friend to Sara and Dionna. I was so sad that Nightline missed the biggest part of the message that I knew Sara and Dionna wanted to send. I can see from your kind and wonderful words that you certainly did not. Keep inspiring!

  • Reply Mike King April 7, 2014 at 2:08 am

    Although I am not a mother, I have two daughters who lost their mother (my wife) a month ago. My wife struggled with multiple medical issues to include her weight for years, and passed away due to a heart attack. This could have been prevented through her living a more healthier and balanced lifestyle. I love my girls (who are young adults), and I have promised myself that the same won’t happen to them. I’ve shared with my girls about the “No Excuse Mom” which allowed me to let my girls know my fears, and that there was something they could do about it now, before it becomes too late. I see a lot of people writing about hurt feelings, but let’s talk about the joy of motherhood that my wife will miss out on. If Maria can motivate people to live healthier lives, then more power to her. If you don’t like the message, then you don’t have to listen. However by doing so, you may lose out on a chance to help yourself and those you love.

    • Reply Ashley Byrd April 7, 2014 at 2:41 am

      Your story especially hits home with me as I lost my mother under similar circumstances in 2011. Since then I’ve sworn to be accountable for myself so my son won’t have to be without his mother. My heart goes out to you and your family.

  • Reply Angelica April 7, 2014 at 3:14 am

    Loved your response!

    • Reply Angelica April 7, 2014 at 3:15 am

      As well as Mike Kings!

  • Reply Debbi April 7, 2014 at 6:11 am

    Don’t let anyone back you down! People make time for what’s important to them, the rest make excuses. The victim mentality the permeates our culture keeps us in bondage to our bodies, to popular myths about fat, and to the stereotype that it’s okay to be unhealthy. Baby weight gain is common but keeping it on is a choice. Many would rather blame hormones, childbirth, emotional issues and so on rather that admit, “I’m overweight because I eat too much.” Weight loss is hard–I used to weigh almost 300 pounds–but I learned to make healthy choices and changed my life. If I can do it, anyone can do it! I don’t see that you’re shaming anyone but offering a better way for moms today. Keep up the good work.

    • Reply Holly April 7, 2014 at 12:28 pm

      I love you Aunt Debbi, and I am so proud if all the changes you have made!!
      Xoxoxo

  • Reply Jeff April 8, 2014 at 8:16 am

    This is what America is now. People who want to interject because you are doing something and they are not. Who ever thought that you would be questioned for striving to be the best you can. Beyond moms there should be no excuse for anyone. We have become a nation of people who create problems and want an easy way out. Either that or those who are content coasting through life. The fact is they are more comfortable that way. Of coarse those who put themselves out there know… It sucks! Eating right, exercise, being some one! We all hate it! That’s what makes it so rewarding. That’s what makes you proud to post online! You worked your ass off and people who know, give nothin but love

  • Reply Joy April 9, 2014 at 3:47 am

    Maria, when I watched the Nightline Prime report I was one of those people “anonymously judging” Sarah from behind my computer screen. But reading your letter has made me realize that there are always two sides to every story and I’m so glad that you are kind enough to re-enforce that on Sara’s behalf. Watching the report and reading your letter has also inspired me to stop making excuses and start living healthy. As someone blessed with an incredibly fast metabolism (I have weighed 95 lbs since I was 17 except during pregnancy when the most I gained was 25 lbs), I have always slacked off in the area of exercise because to look at me you’d not think I “needed it”. It has always been extremely hard for me to actually gain weight. But skinny does not equal healthy and as of today I am determined to stop making excuses and become healthy for myself but more importantly for the sake of my husband and our children. Keep up the good work!

  • Reply Amanda April 9, 2014 at 2:08 pm

    I would never want to bash you for being healthy and taking care of yourself, because those are both wonderful things. However, the fact that you feel the need to splay it all over the internet on a blog is both frustrating and discouraging. YOU are a prime example of what is wrong with the whole “fitness movement” on social media. Good for you for working out and being healthy. But what, besides attention and praise seeking, is the real NEED of putting it on the internet?! You are shaming women who have actual careers outside of the home, and who have many other factors affecting their body shapes and sizes. I am not saying these are excuses and that these women shouldn’t be accountable for their nutrition and fitness. I am just saying that YOU are a major part of the body shaming/fitness shaming problem that is affecting so many womens’ body image and self image negatively. And quite frankly, I am SICK of people like you on the internet.

    • Reply Jason April 9, 2014 at 9:15 pm

      Amanda, you must be new to the internet. It’s called a BLOG for a reason; her personal site with her own opinion. Many people post their own opinions on the internet and if you haven’t notice there is a lot of diversity as well. She didn’t “splay” it all over the internet or force anything upon anyone, other people did that for her. And for christ sake stop accusing her of “shaming” women when WOMEN ARE SHAMING THEMSELVES. If you have an emotional conflict with this topic then it is YOUR feelings that are being affected. No one else can feel what you feel but yourself, and if you have such a big problem with it then CHANGE YOUR ATTITUDE about it. Its so obvious now that there are so many women out there who subconsciously don’t like the way they look so instead of changing themselves they try to defend the idea of how they are. In the end it’s just ANOTHER EXCUSE. Stop making accusations towards Maria for attention and praise seeking when people like yourself continue to provoke the situation and create more arguments.

      • Reply J May 16, 2014 at 8:08 pm

        Maria’s a typical fame whore. Her message is superb but she has Jillian Michaels’ fitness mind with every other aspect of her resembling a skin deep Kim Kardashian. If her body was taken away tomorrow what would she do? Bet it would be back to shoving her finger down her throat. She has never experienced the struggles of the majority of Americans and expects everyone to be ok with her flaunting herself all over the internet and actually becoming famous for it. GFY Maria

    • Reply Tiffany April 18, 2014 at 1:04 am

      Amanda,
      You must be new to social media. People take selfies of themselves, homes, cars, meals that they have cooked or baked, awesome shoes, and even include their children’s cute accomplishments. All day long people post to this app called instagram. Probably for praise. Maybe bc others enjoy seeing others successful and looking good. If it causes envy or anger in the viewer’s mind that shows maybe they should start focusing on their insecurities with a therapist.

    • Reply Dawn April 18, 2014 at 5:11 am

      Hey Amanda!

      You wrote:

      I would never want to bash you for being healthy and taking care of yourself, because those are both wonderful things. However, the fact that you feel the need to splay it all over the internet on a blog is both frustrating and discouraging. YOU are a prime example of what is wrong with the whole “fitness movement” on social media. Good for you for working out and being healthy. But what, besides attention and praise seeking, is the real NEED of putting it on the internet?! You are shaming women who have actual careers outside of the home, and who have many other factors affecting their body shapes and sizes. I am not saying these are excuses and that these women shouldn’t be accountable for their nutrition and fitness. I am just saying that YOU are a major part of the body shaming/fitness shaming problem that is affecting so many womens’ body image and self image negatively. And quite frankly, I am SICK of people like you on the internet.

      Then I guess if you pop on over to my blog and my YouTube channel, you can say the exact same things about me and my own weight loss journey! So would you care to tell me that I am also a part of the problem since I too want to be healthy? Now before you spout judgement at me, I want to let you know I am also a wife and step-mother of one of the most awesome kids around, and I work a full time job. But I still make the time to go to the gym one hour a day, five days a week (with my husband sometimes joining me). So maybe instead of judging Maria and other women like myself, maybe you need to talk to a therapist and sort out your own issues!

    • Reply Michelle February 3, 2015 at 4:44 am

      “However, the fact that you feel the need to splay it all over the internet on a blog is both frustrating and discouraging. YOU are a prime example of what is wrong with the whole “fitness movement” on social media. ”

      She is running a business and she is blogging about the topics that business is about. Just like millions of others. It’s just that you don’t want to see people who work out and are fit. But that is what Americans need to see. Not just people in movies, who don’t feel “real” to them, but other people who – yes – manage to stay slim, despite living in the same ordinary world as those who use that ordinary world as an excuse.
      When I visited relatives in America I was surprised to see that they bought Coke and other sodas, and candy, to keep at home throughout the week, not just for Fridays and Saturdays. And they kept drinking and eating this every day. No wonder most Americans look the way they do. And despite what you may write on the internet, you are not happy about it. But at the same time you hate it when people note the truth – attacking them instead of taking a look at your own behavior. Sad. Another thing: men have fitness inspiration that calls them out on laziness and overeating in pictures etc, and they don’t complain about it.

  • Reply Amanda Peterson April 9, 2014 at 9:17 pm

    I clicked “Fitness” because I was wondering if maybe you meet a lot of resistance in moms because there is a serious gap between someone who is beginning to work out and someone who has been working out for a long time. I was wondering if you address “how to get started” because if you did, some bigger moms may not be as hostile towards your seemingly perfect looking pictures, like the most famous viral one that got so much positive and negative feedback.

    Acknowledging we all need to start somewhere and giving tips to beginners as well as those who need the final toning or the final 10-15lbs loss can help bridge the gap between those moms that are say, “Hell yah, I want to be fit!” and those moms like the ones you met in your recent video interview By ABC News Nightline April 8, 2014 10:10 AM by Paula Faris

    that seemed hesitant to even perform any exercises in your fitness class you took them too.

  • Reply An Aspect of the Creator April 14, 2014 at 2:39 pm

    I know who you are, I know what you are, and I know how you serve.

    I am Word through Maria Kang. Word I am Word.

  • Reply Clara April 16, 2014 at 7:34 pm

    Hi Maria! I have been following you for a few weeks now. I am not a mom myself, but I find that the advice that you give is beneficial whether you have children or not. Many people dream of living life at its fullest and feeling fine in their bodies, however they always find an excuse (or excuses). I used to be one of those! Thanks for being sharing your thoughts with the rest of us. Hugs from Spain!

  • Reply Tiffany April 18, 2014 at 1:06 am

    Amanda,
    You must be new to social media. People take selfies of themselves, homes, cars, meals that they have cooked or baked, awesome shoes, and even include their children’s cute accomplishments. All day long people post to this app called instagram. Probably for praise. Maybe bc others enjoy seeing others successful and looking good. If it causes envy or anger in the viewer’s mind that shows maybe they should start focusing on their insecurities with a therapist.

  • Reply lisa April 22, 2014 at 2:09 pm

    What is everyone so upset about? I’ve never heard of this woman before. Sure she may be a little off-putting to many but what she says is true. Humans are full of excuses to cover up their laziness. I am a mom of 2, wife, and busy business owner with a large home on 20 acres that I care for myself. Guess what, I get up at the crack of dawn to get my workouts in and I eat healthy (mostly). It works. It’s not that hard. However, if you don’t want to do what it takes, unlike Maria, I could care less. Be fat, be unhealthy, but pay your own medical bills!

  • Reply Brady May 21, 2014 at 8:54 pm

    I can’t even finish watching the segment, it instantly had me annoyed. This was my breakdown of it all, which of course is my own personal opinion, and I’m entitled to that much. So, because she’s choosing to motivate those that are interested in listening, with tag lines such as “what’s your excuse” she’s under fire? ummm okay, if you don’t like it? Don’t look at it, if you feel your being pushed to fit a certain criteria, don’t.. I don’t think there is anything wrong with motivating those who need it by saying look, I’ve been there you can do it! So are we going to start telling drill sargents and football coaches they have to be softer because they might hurt someones feelings? C’mon!! If you feel that she’s fat shaming, you’re clearly being insecure. We need to teach our children that just because you don’t fit the mold someones asking you to fit in doesn’t mean you’re wrong, or you should try if you don’t want to, or condemn them for the message that is helping others. Be content with yourself…This road goes both ways, it’s always been okay to call a person a fitness freak or assume someone skinny is anorexic, and then it seems okay to say it aloud…But mention someones overweight and unhealthy and ooh boy, you’re in trouble. As women we need to find power in ourselves and she’s done that and accidentally empowered women, I think that deserves a high five. She’s inspiring people she’s never physically met, she’s clearly putting something on the table a lot of people are craving. She wasn’t taunting anyone, or calling anyong *fat… Women are a mean group of overgrown children, instead of building each other up, we tear each other down.. Maria keep doing what you do and for all of us out there falling short of our fitness goals, we all have our talent in other areas focus on them, not belittling someone for focusing on hers.

  • Reply natasha May 26, 2014 at 7:39 pm

    Please shut the hell up! This victim stance that people who workout, or are thin are taking is getting really sad. I run and people don’t have a problem with me, because I don’t constantly talk about it. I have a good personality. The reason it’s not okay to say something to someone that is overweight is because people are punished for being overweight. They don’t get jobs, people think they are lazy, dumb, don’t listen to their opinions, etc. This does not happen to thin people. I’m sorry, but if a chick empowers you because she is thin and works out, you need help. I’m empowered by that girl that got shot by the Taliban, or Mother Theresa. Women that have actually done great things for this planet, not women that run around in skimpy outfits and makeup. Also, I’m pretty sick of women going on and on about how we just tear other women down. First of all, it’s not rue. Secondly, men are just as bad. Notice how many wars were started by women. Um, none. Men fight other men and kill them. It seems like to Maria and her fans, if someone takes something she says the wrong way, then it’s their fault for taking it wrong, but if someone says something about Maria, call her out, etc., then Maria and her fans whine about it , are are nasty to that person. Why is that? Why isn’t it the way you people take it? Why don’t you have a problem with all her fans on her Facebook page that say so many vile things about overweight/obese people? Why doesn’t Maria have a problem with those people? Sorry, I’m empowered by a woman that has the character and integrity to stop calling people names, because they are overweight/obese. She doe not do that. Backtracking also seems to be one of her problems.

    • Reply Allison June 25, 2014 at 9:41 pm

      “I’m sorry, but if a chick empowers you because she is thin and works out, you need help. I’m empowered by that girl that got shot by the Taliban, or Mother Theresa”

      Who said that you ONLY have to be empowered by someone such as Maria? You’re grasping at straws.

      “Also, I’m pretty sick of women going on and on about how we just tear other women down”

      Kind of like what you just did?

      “…but if someone says something about Maria, call her out, etc., then Maria and her fans whine about it , are are nasty to that person. Why is that? ”

      Actually, if you took the time to READ ANY of Maria’s Facebook posts, you would know that she doesn’t enjoy or condone people being nasty to those who are outright nasty to her.

      “Sorry, I’m empowered by a woman that has the character and integrity to stop calling people names, because they are overweight/obese. She doe not do that. Backtracking also seems to be one of her problems.”

      …Who is she calling names? She says they are obese, and they are. She isn’t saying “LOOK AT YOU, YOU FAT (insert swears here)”. It’s the victim mentality, you lady, you have it.

      Just think: If you took the time and energy you spent into writing this “rant” about how “TERRIBLE” Maria is, you could have used it to help yourself. Sad.

      • Reply Natasha June 30, 2014 at 8:41 pm

        Allison go get a college degree. I’m sorry but you did not make any sense. So, I can call you dumb, because you are uneducated, or ugly, because you are? Can I do the same to your kids? Since you and Maria can tell obese people that they are obese. Please explain to me how I have the victim mentality. . I think you have a very hard time with reading comprehension. Sure, Maria and her uneducated lap dogs like yourself don’t condone anyone calling poor little Maria out, or telling the truth about her, but she could care less about all the mean horrible things that people say about obese/ overweight people. I guess in your little uneducated, warped mind that’s okay. I’m 100percent certain you are not a great looking human being, especially without makeup, so do you think you really have any right saying anything to anyone else? JUST THINK: if YOU TOOK THE TIME AND ENERGY YOU SPENT INTO WRITING HIS “RANT” ABOUT HOW “TERRIBLE” I am, you could have used it to help yourself( maybe get a college degree, or a career)….sad!!

        • Reply Michelle February 3, 2015 at 4:36 am

          “Allison go get a college degree.”

          What a ridiculous, arrogant insult.

          Allison showed how wrong you are, and you can’t take it, so you insult her. That shows your level.

          “I think you have a very hard time with reading comprehension”

          Another insult. Typical for feminists.

          “her uneducated lap dogs like yourself ”
          “poor little Maria”
          “your little uneducated, warped mind”
          “you could have used it to help yourself( maybe get a college degree, or a career)….sad!!”

          What a disgusting person you are, Nat.

  • Reply Anglique June 8, 2014 at 8:01 pm

    Hi Maria,

    I’m not a mom and I’m not married. Just a single working girl.

    I like your posts and your perspective about being healthy. I myself used to be clinically obese (according to my weight and height and size) But I made a simple decision to join gym and try to control 60% of my bad habits and and guess what..the extra weights melted away…well not a lot but I guess 25 pounds is not bad. I still have another 25 pounds to lose but I can finally fit into size 10 (UK) dress size.

    Even if I will be married in the future and have kids and be a working mum, I will still carry on being healthy so I can watch my kids grow up. And yes, reasons/excuses… we all given a choice. I choose to be healthy and you are a great motivation for me. Keep up the good work Maria.

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