Heard about Maria Kang? The Californian fitness enthusiast sparked an online furore late a few years ago when she posted a family photo (below) on Facebook. In it, she poses with her three sons – Christian, Nicholas and Gabriel. Adorable as they are, what grabs your attention instead is her lean, toned physique and her loaded caption: “What’s Your Excuse?”
The picture went viral, of course, and invited commentary even from major American TV networks such as CNN and ABC.
They’re all real, she says of her six-pack abs – no tummy tuck or Photoshop needed, thank you very much. But in case she rubbed you the wrong way, her intention wasn’t to ask “What’s your excuse for not looking like me?” but “What’s your excuse for not exercising?”
“It takes a lot of time to raise kids, but you have to also make time to take care of yourself,” says Maria, adding that she looks after her three boys without a nanny. She’s self-employed and owns two residential care homes for the elderly.
Around six weeks after the birth of each kid, she started working out at a moderate intensity, focusing on core exercises. She also eats healthily.
In an interview with Young Parents, Maria – who’s of Malaysian-Chinese and Filipino heritage – banishes common excuses for not working out.
YOUR EXCUSE: I’m too tired. I have a full-time job. And when I return home, I need to cook, clean up and my kids expect me to play with them.
As a working mum, I usually wake up 45 minutes earlier than usual to fit in a workout. If I can’t train in the morning, I have a quick, intense one at lunch or after the boys go to bed. There have been many times when I’ve exercised with them. When I use workout DVDs at home, they enjoy exercising with me.
YOUR EXCUSE: I’m not a morning person. I can’t wake up before my young kids to have an uninterrupted workout.
Here’s a big success secret: Most people who are successful are morning folk. Why? Because they’re anxious to start their day, they have goals they want to achieve and they make time to make things happen.
If you truly wanted something, you can achieve it if you’re willing to dedicate yourself to the process. Any goal worth achieving requires sacrifice.
YOUR EXCUSE: I’m still breastfeeding. I need the extra calories to produce enough milk for my baby.
I nursed all my children for three to six months. Every mother is different, so experiment with how many calories you need to consume without sacrificing milk supply.
It’s important to consume healthy foods and indulge sparingly if you’re trying to lose weight.
YOUR EXCUSE I love my food too much to go on a diet. I live to eat!
I love food, too! But I also love the quote: “Nothing tastes better than being fit feels.” I definitely indulge, but I save those meals to once in one to two weeks, tops!
YOUR EXCUSE: Who’s going to look after my baby if I go to the gym?
Can you trade babysitting duties with a family member or friend? If this option isn’t accessible, I suggest investing in a home gym complete with workout DVDs, a piece of cardio equipment and some weights. Equipment can be purchased used and inexpensively online and in stores.
YOUR EXCUSE: My hubby tells me he loves me for who I am, not how I look.
Every husband should love his wife regardless of beauty or size. However, being healthy is much more than acceptance and aesthetics.
It’s about taking care of your body, being a good role model to your children, and avoiding illnesses like heart disease and diabetes.
YOUR EXCUSE: I have always been chubby. I’ll never be able to slim down, let alone have a toned tummy.
There are many success stories of people who thought they had the “chubby gene” when, in fact, they never tried to eat healthily and exercise.
If you think you’re this type of person, I challenge you to set a fitness goal, create a plan and execute for the next three months.
If you don’t see a change, then perhaps you have the “gene”. I guarantee you, however, that you’ll be surprised and amazed by what the human spirit can achieve.
YOUR EXCUSE: I don’t have the money to buy a treadmill or join a fitness club.
Many people don’t realise where their money goes – perhaps for a night out with friends, a manicure at the salon or two movie tickets.
I also have to mention that running is free and there are several workout videos on Youtube.
There really isn’t an excuse as to why you can’t work out because, if you really wanted to, you can find a way, regardless of a lack of resources.
YOUR EXCUSE: I plan to have two more babies. I’ll shape up when I’m finally done with pregnancy.
I gave birth in 2009, 2010 and 2011. Between each pregnancy, I successfully lost the baby weight before becoming pregnant again.
When you have children close in age, it’s important to not pack on the weight after each pregnancy.
You must be health-conscious before, during and after pregnancy if you want to be a fit mother.
YOUR EXCUSE: I’m already thin. I don’t need to exercise or tone up.
You lose muscle as you age. Muscle is important because it protects your bones, keeps you strong and increases your metabolism.
If you’re thin and don’t focus on exercise, it’s not a matter of if but when your body will become weak and frail because of a lack of activity.
Being thin doesn’t mean you’re fit. A healthy human being challenges her muscles through weight training and strengthens her heart through cardiovascular training.
(Photos: Maria Kang)