Several years ago, original “fit mom” Maria Kang became famous overnight after posting a skimpily-clad photo on Facebook. In the post, Kang is surrounded by her three children, showing off her rock-hard body in an itty bitty sports bra.
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It wasn’t so much her trim figure that garnered media, but rather, the bold, body-shaming headline: “What’s Your Excuse?”
At the time, the controversial mommy fitness blogger and author of The No More Excuses Diet drew both admiration and ire from mothers everywhere, many of whom felt her approach was judgmental and offensive.
These days, however, Kang says she regrets the “no excuses” lifestyle that she used to preach.
In a new interview with People, the 34-year-old mama reveals that she’s struggled to keep up with her extreme regime in the past year, leading to a 10-pound weight gain. (She still looks amazing, by the way.)
“I struggled with my reflection for some time. I stopped feeling beautiful,” says Kang. “Like most moms, my hair is always in a bun, my life is always on the go and my fitness goals are always one of my last priorities. I struggled with motivation, I’ve gained some weight and am experiencing difficult marital challenges. I let the world consume me this last year. I let events, people and things influence my perception of myself and I literally felt broken.”
Kang proudly shows off her new figure in a candid Instagram post, in which she describes how her views on motherhood and fitness have changed.
I usually have several rituals before I do a photoshoot: – If I’m not within my desired weight range I would diet 10-12 weeks prior – Two weeks before I shoot I would up my cardio and decrease my carbs – A week prior I would start prepping my clothes, applying facial masks and doing a manicure – The day of I would try to eliminate extra water from my body, ensure I was shooting in the morning (before I ate and was refreshed). HOWEVER – in the last several months I’ve been over-traveling, over-stressed and over “it” as I’m undergoing many life challenges and changes. While my sister n law, @brittenphoto in town, I decided just a couple hours before she had to leave on a plane to do an impromptu photoshoot. It’s been over a year since I could get in front of a professional camera because I never felt ‘ready enough’. There were constantly events, children, stress and even some depression, that prevented me from following through on my quarterly goals. Despite how ‘unready’ I felt, I thought about all the women I encourage to be proud of how far they’ve come and to celebrate their body at every stage of progression. I am in no way out of shape, but I am definitely and admittedly hard on myself because I rarely see extra skin, cellulite, muscles or a size greater than a 2 on a magazine cover. I rarely see Asians in the media! (that’s a different topic!) So I have all those things. I shot this in the afternoon after eating a donut (thanks to my bff who owns a shop!) I didn’t exercise for 4 days prior and was tired after a day working and being with my kids. AND I am 10lbs up since I shot that “What’s Your Excuse” photo! So here I am. This is a raw photo with absolutely no retouching, no preparation and no shame. I’m finding my beauty again, I’m discovering my strength again and I’m relearning what it means to be brave, bold and unapologetic about where I am in my life’s journey. #noexcusemom #mariakang #brittenphoto
Where normally she would follow a strict 10 to 12 week diet and eliminate water weight before a photoshoot, this time, she ate a doughnut right before the shoot and didn’t work out for four days prior.
“Regardless if we have some cellulite, extra weight, extra skin or extra scars — be proud because we are constantly progressing, transforming and aging,” says Kang — a far cry from her “What’s Your Excuse?” mantra.
Indeed, it seems that Kang has embraced a very different approach altogether to health and fitness altogether; one that is kinder, more body positive, and far less judgmental.
“I’ve gained 10 lbs. since my ‘What’s Your Excuse’ photo and I’m not hiding from that fact,” she says. “I want to empower others to step in front of the camera and be unapologetic, thankful and proud of where they are today. Beauty is in our minds and is reflected in the eyes of the people who truly love you. It doesn’t matter if you are skinny, fit, overweight or obese, if you don’t live in gratitude, you will never see what you truly have and who you truly are.”