I Have a Flabby Tummy, But I Still Love Maria Kang
Have you heard of Maria Kang? The "No Excuse" mom. Three kids, hard body, bikini pictures, calling us all out on the carpet for our excuses. "What is your excuse," she asks?
Wow, she really (and I mean REALLY) ticks people off. (I have been trying to use big letters less, channeling my inner and more subtle, Elmore Leonard, but in this case, they are appropriately used.)
I write for Mothering Magazine online and I read a post on there the other day about Maria Kang written by someone who obviously didn't adore her. Well, I think she used the "F" word and talked about hitting her. So the author seemed pretty upset...
Maria has upset a lot of people with her "No Excuse Mom" movement. She challenges us to take care of ourselves, exercise, eat right- basically to show ourselves that we love ourselves by caring for our body rather than what many of us do- hurting it. She boldly declares that having children isn't an excuse for not taking care of your body as best you can.
Oh, and she posts a fair amount of bikini clad pictures of herself on her social media sites showing that, yes, you can look great after children even without a trainer a chef or tons of free time.
But I still love her. I don't look like her, I don't really follow her advice. I have a muffin top and like cake and get second helpings on dessert way too often. Still she manages not to offend me. "What is your excuse," kind of...inspires me. What is my excuse? Why would I eat poorly and not exercise and then blame it on my children? Is that fair to me? Is it fair to them?
I follow her page on Facebook and she makes me want to drink more water and try harder and find the time to have fun and practice self care that includes things that make me happier and my life healthier. I love it.
I know those excuses. I have them. I don't have a trainer and it is hard to exercise and usually involves me missing at least an hour of sleep and/or work opportunities. I gave birth four times and gained a grand total of 185 pounds in those pregnancies. I lost most of it. But not all. If you think having that many kids in six years isn't a freaking awesome excuse for being chubby or tired or a full blown alcoholic, then you are an idiot. I have excuses and I also have legitimate reasons for not being perfect physically or in any other way.
Still, it clears my head and makes me feel better to exercise. It allows me to keep up with my kids and bike with them or run with them. It lets me set an example of not just fitness, but of taking time to appropriately care for myself. It helps me yell less and smile more. Exercise helps me feel better about me.
Maybe that makes me shallow, but I think it just makes me honest. We all feel better about ourselves when we are being the best version of ourselves that we can be. We all feel better about ourselves when we set goals and work towards them, no matter what those goals may be. The best version of myself doesn't look like Maria Kang. First, I am not Asian. Second, I have never owned a bikini. But my best version does include me exercising and eating well.
You know what, even though "my" best version and "my" no excuse life involves a muffin top and stretch marks and my hair in a pony tail, I don't feel intimidated by Maria Kang and HER best. Even when I am at MY best even my version looks nothing like hers.
Having no excuses isn't about looking like a fitness model or being tan and swimsuit ready all year round. It is about taking a hard look at yourself and being honest about what excuses you make that hold you back from being the best you can be. I hear people say they are too stupid or too busy or too old or too whatever to do things that they are perfectly capable of doing. Usually what talks them out of being their best self is fear, but the excuses help make it feel OK.
Then, they get a little mad at Maria or someone like her for shoving in their face that it is possible. This happens with fit women, but it happens with many others. I see women seriously offended when they hear that somebody has...wait for it...a natural birth. Oh, but if you really want to tick people off then have a VBAC. Or a VBAMC! "What? That isn't safe so I didn't do it." It happens with women who achieve in business. "She is really aggressive..." It happens all the time. Maria is just bold enough to throw down the virtual glove and call us on it.
There will be no Hawaiian selfies of me seductively walking out of the ocean in slow motion on this blog or my instagram. But Maria Kang, I will take your challenge and try to live with less excuses.
(By the way, her movement has started free moms groups all over the country. I LOVE that.)