The Body Wars: Are You A No Excuse Mom?

She’s been called everything from a “bad mom” to a “bully,” but fitness buff Maria Kang is still not making any excuses, or apologies for that matter.

Last October, a photo of the uber-toned mother-of-three sporting fitness gear surrounded by her young sons went viral — and the “Body Wars” began.


Insisting that her message was “taken out of context,” Kang says that she hopes to be an inspiration – and certainly not a bully that fuels the Body Wars – for other busy moms like herself.

MORE: Stop the Mommy Wars Empowering Photo Series

In fact, since that online photo, thousands of “No Excuse Moms” have sprouted up all over the country, creating a movement promoting healthy living.

But there are moms out there who felt less than inspired by Kang, and haven’t quite joined her movement. One mom responded to her photo with a counter claim: “We don’t need an excuse.”

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So ABC’s Nightline decided to document the opposing forces in a investigative report, titled, Body Wars: How ‘Fit Mom’ Accidentally Sparked a Movement. And while the piece showed both sides of the story, Kang felt the need to blog further about the experience in an open letter to Sara, the busy mom who takes issue with Kang’s message.

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

What do you think about Kang’s letter?

I think she articulated herself well, and brought home her pro-health message, unapologetically, once again.

Good for her.

And while some might assume I’m a “No Excuse Mom” as I’m a busy mother-of-three who works out 6 days a week and am currently in the best shape of my life, don’t be so quick to send me a #TeamKang T-shirt. And the same can be said about her biggest critics.

Let’s stop the insanity, ladies! If we’re not fighting with each other about the “Mommy Wars,” we’re arguing over the “Body Wars.”

Can’t we just all get along and support one another through the journey of motherhood?

What about the thousands of women out there who are drowning in postpartum depression? Is it fair to push these unrealistic images on new moms who are knee-deep in postpartum hormones? Is it realistic for these moms to have “no excuses” amidst their deep, dark and silent struggles?

Lord knows I wasn’t prepared for how my stomach would look after birth. And it wasn’t until my third child was 18-months-old that I finally decided I was ready – and rested enough – to take on a regular fitness routine.

And I wasn’t struggling with PPD!

Some might argue that regular exercise will do the new mom with PPD some good, but until you truly know that battle, I feel that images of ultra-fit moms showing off their svelte post-baby bodies within weeks of giving birth is a very damaging message to the masses.

And yet I agree with Kang that many moms are simply making excuses for their poor health. But for many other moms who are struggling in the postpartum period, a tight ‘n toned tummy should be the last of your worries.

To see the Nightline video, click here:

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