Your Struggles Are Not “Excuses.” The Mom-Shaming Campaign That Needs to Stop

The No excuses mama is making ammendsI’ve learned that motherhood is a different experience for all mothers. We are all experiencing a lack of sleep,  stepping on Legos, cleaning up puke at 2:00 am and going far too long without a shower, but under all of that, we are experiencing motherhood just as differently as we are different from each other.

I’m lucky that I learned this early on with my first child. No matter what I did, what books I read, or what advice I was given, my daughter would simply not sleep. She would not fall asleep, she would not stay asleep, she would not sleep in a box with a fox… you get the idea. And through this I learned that there were others who thought that all babies had some sequence of buttons to push in order to get them to do different things. If I just follow these instruction, or these, or those, my baby will certainly fall asleep, eat this food, potty train this way, be accepted into Harvard.

Motherhood is different for everyone, because no two people have the same children. Even two mothers in the same circumstances and demographic still have very different emotions, dreams, hopes, goals, talents, strengths, and weaknesses. It amazes me how so many people do not get this. How so many people think that all mothers should be accomplishing this, that, or the other. Like this woman, Maria Kang, who may remember from a few years back. In 2013, Kang came out with her “What’s your excuse?” campaign. Almost immediately her campaign to “empower women” became a controversial topic among mothers, fitness experts, and families across the United States.

In 2013, Maria posted the photo that would launch her career- and her life- into controversy. She stands above her three children, with her extremely fit physique in plain sight (complete with booty shorts and a sports bra) and asks those of us looking at said picture to effectively put up our jaws off the floor and ask ourselves, “What’s your excuse for not looking like this?”

Maria’s notion of “no excuses” was based on the premise that no matter what, moms should be able to find the time for fitness. After all, Maria with her 3 kids, full-time job, and no nanny was able to do it- so why can’t you? But many did not see it as Maria simply trying to motivate them to put their fitness as a priority in their lives. Her critics saw it as a dig to mothers who were struggling- moms who were experiencing postpartum depression, moms who weren’t sleeping, and moms who were barely treading water. They saw it as Maria saying, “You could look like me if you were a better mom/wife/person.”

However, those who supported Maria Kang’s “No Excuses Mom” saw it as motivation to get themselves, and their bodies, into shape. Maria stated that, “[her] message is that fitness should be a priority (not your first or only as many of [her] critics have stated). She found herself at the center of mommy-debates with parties divided on the two sides. And those divisions came out with fiery fury.

I feel like I’m a pretty compassionate, warm person. Motherhood has certainly softened me up. I empathize readily and I’m not quick to judge. So when I see a fit, beautiful woman asking me what my excuses are for not living up to a standard of – what – fitness? Beauty? Health? I literally feel rage build up inside of me.

I feed my family well, but the first few months of my son’s life I lived off chocolate. Who am I kidding? The first year of being a mom of two kicked me in the rear. I don’t drink coffee and I had no other way to stay awake after four hours of broken sleep. Every time my toddler tantrumed or my baby cried, my hand went in the candy bowl before I dealt with the situation. It was my crutch, a very unhealthy one, but I don’t know what I would have done without it. My chocolate habit prevented me from losing any baby weight. I hated it. I felt miserable in my skin. Going through a difficult phase of life while feeling like Jaba the Hutt does not make for a happy mom. So imagine me in all my rolly polly glory looking at this professionally taken photograph.

Look at that. Look at all of her hardships. Surely you do not have it worse. Surely “no nanny or chef” is like right at the top of your first world problems. You are tired, you say? Well Maria-take-your-excuses-elsewhere-Kang has limited sleep too! She’s just like you moms! I saw this and started thinking about my excuses. Then I looked at her would-be excuses and laughed. Working over eight hours a day, Maria? I wish that made the top of a bullet point list. I started thinking about what I had done that day instead of working out. I thought about the sleepless night ahead of me and the string of ones behind me. Then I thought about all the other women looking at this poster child of health and wondering if they had the strength to realize how much it’s crap.

My biggest beef with Maria is that she is specifically attacking mothers in this campaign, as motherhood is her own would-be excuse. She is attacking the post-baby-bellied mama and asking her what on earth is your excuse that you still look like you are six months pregnant? Maria clearly has all of the same trials and tribulations of life that I do, right? She is a working mom just like you and me. So what is my problem, what is my excuse, what is it that is holding me back from looking like this former pageant queen? If she can do it, I can do it, right?

But I do want to be fitter. I do want to be healthy for my children and for myself. So one day I planned on doing a workout video. I set up the WHOLE DAY to be able to do this video and for it to have the highest chance of being successful. I manipulated nap times, I hid the laundry in the closet, and I conquered bedtime routine like a boss. Still, I had to pause my video FIVE TIMES in twenty minutes. That’s not an excuse, Maria. That happened.

For three years I’ve been getting four hours of broken sleep at night. Every night. And there is no end in sight. That is my reality. For you to take my struggles, my reasons I break down at night in my husband’s arms, the things that weigh on my heart every day, the reasons I feel like I’m not being the best mom I could be, the reasons I lean on television more than I’m comfortable with, the reasons I run my hands through my hair in frustration every day – to take all of that, crumple it in a little trash-sized wadded ball, and throw it in the garbage labeled “EXCUSES,” is worse than walking up to me and punching me in the face.

There is a real problem with calling someone’s struggles “excuses.” Someone you have never met. Someone living life in survival mode. I take a personal offense to this campaign, and I am shocked there are mothers out there who don’t. Spend one day in my life, see how I have to eat all my meals (which consist of my children’s leftovers) standing up, see how all my energy goes into not crying as I console a baby while my daughter begs for my attention, see how I fall asleep in the middle of the day and wake up in terror that something happened during my lapse.

I dare someone to tell me I should have thirty minutes to work out every day. I dare someone to tell me to my face that it’s about ‘making time’ not ‘having time.’ I dare someone to ask me what exactly are my ‘excuses.’ (Hear the growl in my throat, feel the heat of my skin, and see the red in my eyes as I say,) I DARE YOU!

I have an immediate blood pressure rise when I hear moms tell me that my health and well-being should be a priority. Really – I am failing at yet another thing? I thought the thirty minutes I spent cuddling my daughter to sleep was the selfless action, not spending that time working on my abs. How silly of me to choose internet searching healthy meal ideas for my family instead of doing lunges around the room while holding my baby over my head. I have chosen to not stress about my physique, that is how I help myself to help my family. I have chosen to take what fleeting moments I have throughout the day in a stress-relief activity that I actually enjoy, as opposed to obsessing over getting back into my pre-pregnancy jeans, something that apparently Maria Kang and the whole world thinks should be a top priority of mine.

So here was my problem with this campaign, despite Maria’s claims, it is not empowering at all. It is the very definition of mom-shaming. It shames mothers who use their current life circumstances as “excuses” for not looking fit. What we need, and what I needed that difficult year of my life, is someone to share with me ways they overcame their own obstacles. I needed ideas. I needed someone to tell me how to break my sugar habit. I needed someone to go on walks with me. I needed support, a mom to say, “I so get it!”

I did not a beautiful woman with a scowl snubbing her nose at my hardships in life. I have – finally – lost the baby weight, and no, you don’t get any credit, Maria. My baby got older, my oldest got more independent, and summer came along with long walks with my sweethearts. I entered a new phase of life that gave me new opportunities and it allowed me to take a little better care of myself. Would you believe it, I even got my hair colored and cut for the first time in two years.

Since the controversy took place in 2013, Maria has reformed her previous “no excuses” stance. In 2016 she came out to explain how her body had changed- she gained 10 pounds- because of martial problems and, well, life. She now encourages moms to find their reason for keeping themselves physically fit, with many moms stating that their reason to get back into shape is to continue to be healthy for their kids. In order to encourage moms to start back on their physical fitness journey, Maria started a non-profit organization called “No Excuses Moms” that provided free workouts to moms in over 30 country all over the world. These programs were run by No Excuse Moms coordinators and allowed children to attend. She also has come out remind moms everywhere that physical fitness isn’t about your size or your weight. Being physically fit comes in all shapes and sizes and the important part is not pushing past excuses but doing it for the right reasons.

“Through my No Excuses mom group I read daily about the struggles women face, so it didn’t seem fair to ask them what their excuse was anymore,” Maria says. “I know, they know. The next step — after you identify what’s holding you back — is to find your reason for succeeding.”

But that original campaign by Maria was painful to many moms at the time, including myself. I so wish that during the phase of my life where working out on a schedule was impossible, someone hadn’t made me feel like a failure. I wish she hadn’t reminded me that I still looked pregnant a year after delivering my son. I wish someone hadn’t trivialized what I thought were very good reasons to put a dedication to physical fitness for a later phase of life. Post-baby time is one filled with hormonal moods and vulnerability. How do we as women think it’s okay to tear a mom down during this trying time? And since some mom out there somewhere will always be in this difficult phase of life, I would like for Maria and other moms to keep their words empowering, not shaming.

If I need a kick in my butt, I’ll be the one to let you know. Because you never know when a kick you give might be the one to send someone over an edge they can’t easily return from.

Photo: Photobac/Shutterstock

107 thoughts on “Your Struggles Are Not “Excuses.” The Mom-Shaming Campaign That Needs to Stop”

  1. Why did you have more than 1 child? Ibakways wonder this vwhen folks defend their craxy exhausted life-decisions… The world doesn’t need any more humans- and it’s pretty obvious how hard having second is…

    1. The point is she shouldn’t have to defend them to anyone…not Maria Kang, and certainly not you. Her discussion of life phases is spot on. That was a pretty cruel judgment you just casually passed on a fellow human being. I hope you were trolling, because I’d actually feel better if you found universal joy in putting someone down than if you actually MEANT that.

        1. I have a one and a half year old girl and a two and a half year old boy. I don’t cloth diaper or breastfeed/do things as naturally as I would like but I love this post. Two kids is SO hard. I wish I had my husband around to cry to or help out a little but seriously I wouldn’t change having my two little ones for anything in the world. It’s called LOVE. We do this because we LOVE them. I think you need to find some in your life Kim.

    2. Kim, I’m not the author but per your question of having a second child and being surprised at the difficulty – adapting to mom life with my first daughter was extremely easy. She is a tiny little mirror of me, with all the time and focus I could spend on her I lost all my baby weight in 3 months all the while being able to anticipate her every need. I can read her like a book and it’s easy because she’s just like me. Motherhood was so fun and easy, no sleep deprivation, it wasn’t hard to balance my school life and motherhood life…I was so eager to have another baby!
      My second daughter, a beautiful, thriving, wonderful soul was difficult to get used to. She is NOT like me, she wakes up early in the morning, she is constantly moving, she is adventurous and needs attention in a completely different manner. It is hard balancing these two personalities, much less nurture myself as well.
      Honestly, had I known it would be like this I would have chosen not to have my second daughter. But, I’m glad I didn’t know because I can’t imagine life without her. The world is such a better place with her light.

    3. Dear Kim, please tell me that you are the only child because if the world is bringing out crazy humans like you then you are definitely correct about having one child

    4. I agree with you Kim. If you have so many children you wind up a mess what’s the point? If you can’t even take care of yourself how are you going to take care of someone else? How are you setting a healthy example for your children? You know, a piece of fruit would actually give you more energy than chocolate. It’s true. Exercise gives you energy AND helps you sleep better (it will do that for your kids too) Having children shouldn’t be an excuse to fail. Yea you’re tired, but your struggle isn’t any more important than anyone else’s. So you’re going to shame this woman for making fitness a priority? Because in her spare time she chose to work out or cook ahead healthy meals to make her life easier and healthier instead of shove her face with chocolate and feel sorry for herself?

        1. I agree with Ashley. I have two kids and I am a teacher. It is all about choice. I was once in the same position as the author and decided I needed to make changes. It has been better for all of us.

      1. Consider this: Having two, three, or ten children is more important to some women than having the perfect body after baby. As women with post partum bodies we need to remember our bodies carried and grew life then gave birth and continue to sustain that life I’d say that makes every one of us strong in a way squats never can!

      2. Agreed. I have 3 children, work full time and yada yada yada. I’m by no means perfect but I know that when I make time for myself everything flows better. It requires both major and minor adjustments but it’s worth it. I look at these posts as motivational and not mom shaming. Because what it the alternative…accepting the chaos and commiserating with others who have too!?

    5. Kim you might want to reconsider what you’re saying. We’re you born an only child? If you weren’t, then you wouldn’t exist if your parents felt the way you’re feeling or had the same opinion.

    6. “why did you have more than one child” Hahaaha. sometimes life laughs at you. I was told by more than one doctor that I could not have children. 6 months after meeting my husband, at the age of 37, I got pregnant and we had our first daughter. Immediately after, I got an IUD. 11 months after the birth of our first, I found out I was pregnant with our second.

  2. thank you! I lost my baby weight relatively easily but my body still looked different – until I quit breastfeeding, in fact. less toned, softer, holding onto more fat than usual. I didn’t mind. this campaign has really bristled me and I couldn’t quite put my finger on it…but agree with what you have said here. it’s different for everyone and in addition to that everyone’s body reacts differently to pregnancy! it’s ridiculous to ask someone what their “excuse” is just because they don’t look like you. ridiculous.

  3. Yes!! Thank you for this. I couldn’t agree more. As a small business owning, single mom to one awesome 3-year old, there simply isn’t enough time in the day. Days spent with the kiddo, nights spent working, and <5 hours of sleep as a regular thing… it's all I can do to keep up with the normal day-to-day, and I'm usually dropping at least one ball (re: failing at something) along the way. I see ads like this and wonder how on earth she makes it happen? Where are the kids when all this working out is going on? Mine would find it a fun game to climb all over me trying to do a situp (truth! it's happened.). And, like you, I've never made it through a whole workout video without having to stop it several times to attend to the kid.

    I do what I can. Right now… what I can do is cuddle my kiddo to sleep at night, and work my butt off thereafter to keep a roof over our head and food on the table, because that's the priority around here.

    And, Kim, to answer your question… family is a wonderful and beautiful thing. The craziness and exhaustion that comes with it is temporary, and the joys far outweigh any sleepless negatives.

  4. Thank you for writing this! I must admit, I had to interrupt myself from reading (And incidentally, writing as well) this in order to fetch the baby out of the crayon box, and off the table twice, and break up fights between the girls and…something else…I can’t even remember. I am the heaviest I have ever been. I have had four kids in 6 years (Not including a 13 week miscarriage between the first 2) I too cry in my hubby’s arms every day and OMG also reach into the chocolate jar before diving into the freak out chaotic circumstances dozens of times a day. My lunch too consists of shoving sandwich crusts and apple skins and a handful of this or that into my mouth as prepare theirs, and attempt to swallow before I have to correct someone, or shout, “NO! Don’t touch that knife! Get off the table! Stop fighting! Give me a second to feed you!!!!” It’s insanity. On the best days it’s overwhelming. On the worst days it’s terrifying. While ‘working’ out is in the front of my mind I still cannot manage to even squeeze in time to pee, let alone poop between the constant attention they need and making meals, doing chores and well…..not SNAPPING! (I dream of men in white coats and the sweet silence of padded cells.) I have to go….my daughter just bashed a toy in her sister’s face and I have to have a talk with them…..let just say I deeply resent this type of NO EXCUSE shaming as well. Yup I have no excuse for this either. I got myself pregnant 4 times! I don’t expose myself to the added chaos of trying to take all of them out for a walk. I keep eating chocolate and ice cream for the reward and the energy and the comfort. But some day soon when I am not needed every waking and UNWAKING moment of their toddlerhood I will miss this insanity and will be fitter and healthier and probably do it all over again…..Bye. AND THANK YOU! I needed the empathy today! Such a relief knowing other moms seriously get it!!! Chocolate and all.

  5. its interesting to me that you talk about how important it is not to shame mothers and then you go rip this woman a new one! Wow! I would have thought she personally attacked you! I actually find her inspirational to me as a mom. I admire that she’s focused, dedicated and sexy. She makes me want to workout more! I think to myself that if she can do it so can I. Maybe you should take your own advice and stop shaming other moms with a different perspective than yours.

    1. For the record, I did take her attack personal as she is attacking mothers and I am one. I have an issue with this particular mother, yes. Not because of her mothering, and certainly not because she is fit, but because of her careless, harmful words that are reaching a large number of people.

        1. So true Dylan… Megan- a personal attack is when you identify a person (like you did this woman) and then personally attack them (like you did this woman) I’m sad that you feel that your actions are ok. If i were her I would have read your article and burst into tears. You really put her down and even told her to go eff herself. You are the one shaming her!

          1. One more thing…Meagan I challenge you to take this same exact ad that you hate so much and replace Maria with a mom who is 150 lbs and really proud of herself for losing 40 lbs by “not making excuses.” Imagine the same exact wording on this ad but with a picture of a woman who didn’t have such a killer bod…but was more a work in progress. Would you be attacking her like she was a monster???? Absolutely not! You would throw her a parade and talk about how wonderfully inspiring she is. In fact, NOT ONE SINGLE PERSON IN THIS THREAD WOULD ATTACK THAT WOMAN. I think your next article should be about why you feel so threatened by this particular woman.

      1. I feel the exact same way as you do about this woman and her campaign. I don’t think you were ripping her a new one, I think you were responding in a way many women want to. And I certainly don’t admire her for being fit, but I do admire you for keeping it real. 🙂

      2. Her harmful words? She’s trying to get people to love their bodies.. Because working and and eating right can give you more energy that you need for your kids.. Also it can keep you from depression and anxiety, which I have suffered with a lot. I just had my second child and my body looks so different. If anything I look at her and get motivated to feel my best.. She’s not telling people to get a 6pack. She’s telling them to exercise and eat right and You will feel your best for you and your kids.. Taking care of your body doesn’t just affect you, but your kids as well.. I know if I really tried i could get 20 min in my day. Between taking care of my family, and trying to take care of myself. it wouldn’t be easy at all but I can do it. She’s only trying to motivate people.

  6. I also agree with, Megan, as to how this woman went about her campaign. I have been dealing with a slew of health issues since I was in middle school, add on a car accident when I was 17 that has left me unable to work. So to her, the fact that I have limited use of my physical being is an excuse to not be super mom. And, then to add to the previous comment about having another kid… all that’s my fault too. I didn’t ask for these problems so than I should have to deny myself what I had wanted since before my health faltered. I love my two girls and it is because of them I continue to try and get better. Not because some woman who claims to be the model of what every woman should be tells me I have no excuse not to look like her. (If you couldn’t catch the sarcasm there, there is, and plenty.) So, hey it may work for some, but the point here is it shouldn’t be how we motivate each other….to attack us at any level, but to be encouraging and loving….something so many people have seemed to forget. And, if one does not practice being a good person, what are they passing down to their kids?

  7. Sigh….I am from an older generation than yours, and my now very elderly mother even further removed. I do wonder how my mom, and her sisters, and many of the other mothers i knew as a kid growing up, how they all did it. My mom with 3 little ones kept the house very nicely, kept herself looking lovely, groomed and fit, there was breakfast, lunch, on the table every day as well as an everyone-sits-down-together hot meal on the table every night when my working full-time father got home, then time for dad and mom to sit together for awhile and watch tv and talk after dinner and before bed. I remember being about 5 years old, with the measles, my younger brother only 2 with the measles at the same time. My youngest sibling was newborn, my dad away every day at work—-my dad’s mom thought my mom might need a little help so she hired a part time maid to come to the house to assist. My mom politely thanked her, and my grandmom, but sent the maid away, saying she could handle it herself—and she did. This was not a unique scenario during my childhood. As a kid, my mom was pretty much the norm when compared to my friends’ parents and home situations. What was different then? It seems that even the stay-at-home moms these days constantly talk about how stressed and busy they are, and how challenging it is to juggle home, children, marriage, health, holidays, and other family activities. I know something is different but what? We went on family trips, had a home to keep up, had nice Christmases, nice meals, had financial ups & downs, school activities, health issues, etc etc. and mom didn’t have a meltdown. I obviously don’t get it.

    1. Little old lady who,

      A few generations ago (and what sounds like was your generation), the widespread belief in parenting was that you shouldn’t “spoil” your child. This was the era of Dr. Spock and led to what is now know as CIO or crying it out. The idea being that if you respond to your children when they cry out for you, you will create spoiled needy children. It was thought that it is good and normal for babies to cry, sometimes for hours at a time. Mothers were only supposed to feed their babies every 3 hours and if they got hungry in between, they could just cry and wait until the next scheduled feeding. I can tell you right now, as a mom of a 3 year old and twin 9 month olds, that I could have a perfectly clean home and make gourmet meals and I CERTAINLY would no longer have a mommy gut if I followed this advice. At what cost though? The price is too high for me and my family. I believe my children need me. They need to be shown what love is in a tangible way. They need to know they can trust me to keep them safe, warm, and fed. So, I may still wake up 6-8 times a night and nurse my babies back to sleep, and I may spend my days holding my baby girls who just can’t understand that me walking out of their sight does not mean I’m gone forever, but it’s just for a season. They’ll grow up soon and be confident and independent, not because they had to learn to be in order to survive this cruel world, but because they know that I’ve always got their backs. And that makes sacrificing a perfect house and a perfect body worth it to me.

      1. Amy—I can guarantee you that there was no Dr. Spock/crying it out parenting done in our home, or in the home of my aunts, or in the homes on my dad’s side of the family either, nor on my husband’s side. It’s interesting how I find that the current generation likes to picture the parents of the 50’s and early 60’s as robotic, obsessed-with-appearances, vibe-less stones, who followed the advice of this one particular man who wrote this one particular book, and this current generation seems to enjoy picturing us kids of the 50’s and early 60’s as having grown up in loveless, regimented households where you couldn’t even finger paint or play with your toys, and your folks neglected your needs to focus on teasing their hair or cleaning the windows. In my post I believe I plainly pointed out that we were able to have nice meals together, lovely holidays, family trips, pets, school activities, and many great memories as a family without mom having to cram her mouth with the apple peelings and sandwich crusts from our lunches to get a meal in, as some on here are saying. How did they do it? Well I’m not sure but it certainly wasn’t by being uncaring parents—my mom as well as my other relatives from that era would chuckle to read your post about Dr. Spock and crying it out—-that’s like saying that all the parents of this current generation all raise their kids according to “Dr. Laura’s” or “Dr. Phil’s” parenting advice. There’s a happy medium between the old (false) stereotype of the deranged looking 50’s housewife in the frilly apron, starching her husband’s boxer shorts while she takes Valium to keep a smile on her face and the kids cry it out all alone—and the other extreme of having to survive on the leftovers from your kids’ lunches and not even being able to get a 15 minute walk in once in a blue moon. I think that somehow the mom’s of my mother’s era were able to find that happy medium. How, I’m not quite sure, but they did it: and we weren’t emotionally neglected in the process.

        1. and just a quick add on—i’m not implying that anyone Should do all of this “just right”, I’m simply pointing out that there was a generation of women who Could at least manage to juggle all these different challenges in an admirable manner—and we can perhaps learn something from them instead of being so quick to cut them down as being poor parents who used outdated methods that don’t work today. Perhaps there is something to be learned from that generation that might even be helpful to those mothers who are struggling a bit today.

          1. Hi
            I’m wondering if remembering your childhood through your lens makes a difference. Did you ever discuss this topic with your mom. Before I had my girls, I was so naive and had no idea how tired my mom might have been on some days. To me, she fed us, kept us in soccer leagues, worked 10-12 hour days, helped us with our homework, and was happy to do it all the time. Seriously, all those times she tried to sneak away to take a nap just went over my head as kid. My husband has the same memory of his mom who did all of the childcare at home (3 kids in a row), kept a garden going to feed the family and focused on all natural, home cooked meals. He was surprised when I told him how she told me about all the times she cried, thought she wouldn’t make it through the day, and felt like a single mom when her husband worked late into the evening. That was not what he remembered. That’s also super encouraging to know that’s not what we retained about our moms. But, I’m guessing all moms go through those hard days at some point and have similar struggles, no matter what generation.

            I also think there is a difference in children’s activities from now and then and also a more public openness about parenting woes than before. I remember our mom sending us outside to play in the neighborhood for hours at a time. We were rarely in the house on nice days and had neighbor friends to keep us entertained. This definitely cleared some space in the house! I know that open play outside and without supervision happens a lot less for different safety reasons. Also, I think there is a more general openness about discussing parenting. More moms and dads seem to feel they can share more of their complaints and vent a bit more than I remember before. We didn’t grow up with blogs and Facebook to share all this info before!

            Either way, I agree, everyone’s struggles are personal and individual. Mom’s also seem to carry a natural sense of guilt of needing to do everything right and it is hard to live up to our own standards sometimes!

        2. Thank you for your input. I’m a soon to be mom and of couse worry about issues of weight, self-care, etc. I feel like you make such a great point, that moms now seem to complain and (my own words) manifest more stress by talking about how stressed they are. And the point this author makes about attachment parenting makes me realize now that I will need to find a balance, that I need to put my needs as a priority as well. Maybe more mommies should remember how important their sanity, calmness, and health are for their children. Meditate, breathe, and remember that we are all goddesses who manifest our daily lives. I imagine these moms screaming at their kids and being hyper sensitive to every little thing, which is so not necessary.

          1. We’re all prefect parents…before we have kids. Staying at home with several children is HARD. Much more difficult than working 40+. If you have any friends with kids, you’ve already heard it but just you wait…

      2. Amy, you ask, “At what cost though”? and then proceed to list a number of dynamics you apparently believe don’t exist in a Dr. Spokish\CIO family;
        “…my children need me…need to be shown what love is…know they can trust me to keep them safe, warm and fed.” (Shame much?)

        Why do you think parents who choose a different path than the one you’ve chosen don’t provide the same environment you profess to their children? Because they let their children cry themselves to sleep? Is that the ultimate litmus test on how you judge other parents…whether they believe in CIO or not? Parents who contort their lives to the whims, desires, demands and perceived needs of their children at bedtime and through the night are better than those who allow a well-fed, healthy and dry child to cry themselves to sleep? Regardless of how either group interacts with their child(ren) the other 23+ hours in a day?

        Given your knowledge of parenting from “a few generations ago” can you provide some data supporting your implication that children from that era were denied the love and trust, or the safe and warm environment, you mentioned? As in real data that shows the causal relationship between CIO and a negative outcome? I’ve seen lots of opinions supported by subjective observational claims, loosely claimed to be “studies” but nothing that would qualify as “science”.

        1. I like hearing about how Mom’s did it back in the day, but I find myself wondering if prescription drugs weren’t sometimes the reasons behind their ‘super-mom’ like abilities? I seem to recall that uppers and downers were big amongst housewives, because doctors then prescribed them fairly freely.
          Among other things, of course -many mothers didn’t work a 9-5 job (of course motherhood is 24/7) thus freeing up a lot of time and a lot less stress around the household, in general.
          Also, I think more was expected of women in that time, particularly mothers. They weren’t always ‘allowed’ to have excuses, by societies standards back then. It seems as though they were expected to be back on their feet and running the household again pretty quickly. It’s not that way in many places, anymore. There is a huge fear surrounding ‘expecting’ women to do or be anything, and rightly so.
          Then again, someone has to do the goddamn dishes and laundry and change the diapers and sign the school papers and pack the lunches and coordinate the socks and set up and remember the parent-teacher conferences and get to (on time!) all the pertinent after-school activities, and make sure that the freaking dinner-bathtime-bedtime routine is followed EXPLICITLY – and I think it’s pretty great when a Dad does all of those things. I think it’s pretty great when a Mom does them all, too. However, there are some families (mine included) where I think the Moms do the prioritizing, scheduling, and overall get-it-the-fuck-together-day-to-day-life-with-kids better than the Dads do.

          Also, everyone cooked, back then. Meals nowadays are often a trip to Mc’Ds, and when one HAS to homecook, it’s like a fucking economics lesson in middle school gone wrong, because it is often done so rarely! And even when it IS done, there is still a constant worry about nutrition – because, you know…all that healthy organic food that is NOT going to cause multiple health issues at some point down the road is nowhere near as cheap as GMO foods….

          Another thing – and just from hearing my Dad talk about him and his two brothers and two sisters being raised – kids often got the short end of the stick when it came to parental tempers. Lots of spankings and other ingenious ideas to discipline, and the girls were not let off the hook, either. So, perhaps they were better behaved out of fear, which would certainly give Mom less stress, but also they were not necessarily given the very free lifestyle (to decide for themselves, choose what they want, etc. ) which lots of kids now have.

          Yeah, I think you have something going there with how Moms did it back then, and I also wonder what it was.
          These are a couple of my thoughts.
          Wish I could ask my Grandma about it…maybe I can get one of my Aunt’s or my Dad to open up…

    2. Amen little old lady! I felt like the author after I became a mother and I was also suffering from severe postpartum depression. Fast forward a few years and treatment I now have two young boys and sure occasionally I have a rough day but sometimes I wonder why so many moms feel like this EVERY SINGLE DAY it makes me feel so bad for them. I am not saying we should all look like Maria Kang but I dont think we shoukd all be ranting about our lives as mothers constantly. I guess my disclaimer is I dont buy into all the fluff of guilt and over extending myself. A successful day is feeding and loving on my kids. Megan I am really sorry that you took her campaign so offensively and it upset youso much. I think it is a bit silly but dont share your view that it was so offensive. I just really dont give a crap how other mothers loil or think I should look.

  8. I would find her campaign perfectly acceptable without the ‘no excuses’ bit of it. Inspirational, even. But having suffered through debilitating postpartum anxiety and depression, and I know all too well just how damaging this sort of attitude can be. ‘No excuses’ is a phrase that’s thrown around a lot by people who aren’t living your life and don’t know your circumstances. It is judgmental and damaging. And this campaign is horrible because of that. But I agree with Chelsea as well, based on a single sentence that nearly caused me to stop reading your essay altogether: “I’m not going to link to it because you know how to Google and EFF THAT WOMAN IN HER FACE.” No matter how offensive her ad campaign, that’s uncalled for. You can take aim at the damaging message she puts forth without attacking her in this way. And for the sake of your very important message, I hope you remove that bit. You’ll reach a lot more people without it.

    1. I agree wholeheartedly, Sara. I also don’t agree with the tagline of Maria Kang’s ad campaign, and I suppose I could be considered a fit mama for losing 20 lbs in the last year. All of our lives are a struggle; a struggle to find balance between our needs and those of our kids, spouses and family.

      This article, though is just as hateful (IF NOT MORE) as the original ad campaign. Stop the attacks against Moms and Mothering. We are all in this together and we need to support each other. Period.

      If anyone is interested, one thing that has really helped me find balance IS exercising. I walk my two daughters to school every day. I suggest eating cleanly, avoiding processed foods and walking. It is simple, needs no additional equipment and you can bring your little ones with you, either in carriers/slings or strollers. Even my oldest walked 20 blocks per day (10 each way) to school when she was 3 years old. We turn it into a nature/exploratory walk. Exercise is a natural mood enhancer and can help you find the balance you are looking for.

    2. I agree with you Sara.
      I also almost stopped reading at that line and was actually very shocked to read it.

      I do not like what Maria is doing either. That is very rude of her and not encouraging at all. It truly comes down to priorities. If someone wants to make working out their number one priority, then they can. and if their goal is to look like a body builder and they make it their priority then they can, but it will usually take a lot of time! In order to give to certain areas of our lives we must sacrifice in others.

      I believe in striving for healthy, holistic living for myself so I can be balanced and energized and have calm moods and a clear head. The main reason I care about my health is for my kids. I want to be loving and patient and present with them, so for me, that I means I need to eat healthy whole food and have activities that engage my body. That being said, ignoring Maria’s rudeness, if she were to ask me why I don’t look like her, I would respond “because that is not my priority.” For most people, to have that muscle tone, requires 3+ hours a day minimum working out. I am not wanting or willing to give up 3 precious hours with my children every day just to look a certain way. No thank you. My priorty is spending quality time with them, like today discovering dandelions in the grass, and being present with them when they learn about the world for the first time, like identifying the moon in the night sky. I prioritize that time being spent with my children and then get the exercise with them and cook healthy meals with them so that we enjoy our time together now and so that God–willing I will still be healthy and alive in my old age to still around for them, and not die from preventable diseases. But to look like a fitness model is not important to me and thus is not my priorty, especially since it would take hours away from my children that I am not willing to sacrifice. So there is my answer Maria kang. I don’t have an excuse, I have my priorities.

      I only hope you can use your influence to encourage moms and not to make them feel like they are “less” for having other priorities than you.

  9. There are excuses, and there are reasons. Sometimes we can turn legitimate reasons and turn them into excuses. I do it all the time! Sometimes there are just reasons! But if we value any particular activity, then we try to find a way! Honestly, how many of us looked like that BEFORE f having birthed babies? It’s all a matter of how bad you want something. If you just WISH you had a fit body but didn’t think it SO important to try, then it doesn’t matter what you have going on, you’re just not going to do it. For the rest, find a friend to encourage you and your beginning efforts and don’t worry about what the internet moms say!

  10. No Kim, the world just doesn’t need any more humans like you, that clearly lack compassion. You missed the point of the whole article. To the author: I shared your chocolate habit, and I’m ready to let go. I think you’re awesome, btw. I have 2 under two, and am tired of being “shamed” in one way or another. I will get there when I am ready. My last two pregnancies were high risk and I went through a lot to bring these children into the world. I do not ask for sympathy, but lately I do wish a few select people would either keep their opinions to themself, or lower their expectations to something more realistic. My youngest is 10 wks old. Seriously…

  11. Well, on top of the Quetiapine (antipsychotic) I have to take for Bipolar, and the Morphine I have to take for kidney problems…my cesarean lead to me developing Fibromyalgia. My daughter is now 9 months old, and the majority of my baby weight is gone though I am still wobbley. I did no exercise because I needed those very rare quiet times to recouperate. Had I not got all the aforementioned issues, I would’ve done EXACTLY THE SAME THING as part of looking after yourself as a new mother – or any kind of mother – is making sure we get whatever rest we can, so we don’t turn into batshit crazy psychopaths!!! As long as we are caring for our babies as best we can, we are rocking it at motherhood – even when we feel like utter failures. Life is hard enough, and women of all types, shapes and sizes need to stick together – it’s the ONLY way we can keep moving forward. I couldn’t care less what the Maria Kangs of this world think…my baby is happy, I’m still exhausted – but more importantly, I’m calm. And no matter how many days I have to the contrary, when I feel like I’m a failure and absolutely no good, in reality, I’m rocking this mother gig – and so are all of you. This isn’t a fashion show, and there is more to being healthy than being “strong, not skinny” and working out for half an hour every day.

    I’m sure Maria Kang is a wonderful mother too, but on the flipside, she’s also very self-righteous, judgemental and rather narrow minded. But the thing is – to her, she is right. She wouldn’t give a fig what any of us excuse-makers were feeling. So the best we can do is *try* to ignore her stupid and ill-informed remarks, find support and solace from wherever we can, REST – even if it means NOT working out every half hour, and (ALL TOGETHER NOW!!!) say EFF YOU, MARIA KANG!!! 😉

    Well, would you look at that. My little one has *finally* gone to sleep. I’m gonna go work out my sleep muscles!!! Sweet dreams, ladies…however and whenever you get yours!!! Xx

  12. I think you need to go find a bit more info on the NEM movement instead of making a misinformed argument based off of that one poster – its about so much more and in no way is it mum shaming!! Its about progress not perfection!! The NEM Moms support each other and build each other up to inspire and help each other – they do not tear each other down and criticise each other nor do they judge and make assumptions based on one tiny bit of information!! I think you misinterrepted what the whole NEM is all about!!

  13. This came at the perfect time. I’ve been beating myself up daily for weeks for making “excuses” to not work out and being unable to figure out how to shoe horn it into my life. It seems everyone else has their shit together and I am perpetually a hot mess.

  14. You’re all basically proving her point. I have this disease, did this, this happened, this to do, my kid is this, my kid is that, I work, I don’t work, I have 10 kids I have 1 kid. If any of you took just one minute of Your time YOU spent JUDGING Maria and her work, to look at her fb group, or her blog, you would realize there is a whole nation of women banding together to support each other in the most heartfelt way possible. Get off YOUR high horses and stop feeling sorry for yourselves. All she’s saying is you should take 5 minites for yourself, because YOU are beautiful, YOU are awesome, and YOU deserve it

    1. Admittedly I did just react from the above article, and so I apologise for that. But I do want to just slip in that a) I’m not feeling sorry for myself. I was using my situation to make a point. And b) I’m not making excuses. I do everything that I am physically capable of doing without taking out some kind of debt on tomorrow. The point I was *trying* to make was just to feel good about what you can do and hopefully everything else will follow, unite in the positive and to ignore the negative, leaving it in your shadow. Anyway. Now that I have cleared that up… have a great night/day. 🙂 Xx

  15. I run a No Excuse Moms group. It is empowering. The moms in my group motivate each other and share ideas. I too work all day. I have a 14 month old who has only slept through the night once…ever. I have a six year old in enrichment classes that has homework every night. I have a husband that works 60 plus hours a week. But I run, I work out, I make time. Being a mom isn’t easy, but it a choice I made. Maria’s campaign is about being healthy and feeling good about yourself. It has NOTHING to do with judgement and putting other women down. All I read in this article is jealousy. Pointing fingers because of your own lack of discipline and self control. No one told you you had to join the movement. It’s a choice like anything else. But while you and the other judgmental moms sit and complain, our groups will be focusing on fitness and health and confidence in ourselves. Setting a good example instead of complaining about how hard it is and how no one understands. We do understand. We just choose to not make excuses.

  16. Wow. I think you should research more about Maria Kang’s movement–there are two sides to every story. She created the posters for the NEM that would send her emails or ask how she did it NOT the mom that doesn’t want to work out or can’t. Maria gets up at the butt crack of dawn to work out…she doesn’t make excuses for herself and that’s what she was trying to convey to the moms that kept asking her for the “secret”. Please research more before you cut someone down.

  17. Thank you for writing this encouraging article. I have spent the last three years of my life after the birth of my amazing, rambunctious, needy, loving, and infuriating child, hating the sight of my own body. My fiance spends countless hours telling me how beautiful I am, and I just want to call BS every time. I have seen the campaign that this apparent super-mom has, and I think that wow it works for her; but lady don’t you dare ask what my excuse is. How about these excuses: 1) I don’t get to use the television for workout videos. I actually have three that I bought to get back in shape, and my daughter turns exorcist when I turn off cartoons; even when she is not watching them. 2) Since childhood I have suffered multiple breaks and sprains to my bones and running, jogging, or even walking long distances feels like my knees are going to dislocate. 3) I find joy in sitting on the couch with a book or an American Horror Story marathon, and I am not ashamed that I don’t like exercise. 4) And this is not an excuse, when I ask for your advice on how I have to workout and stop these negative habits; then you can give it, but until then I will stress that my daughter is “afraid of the potty,” hates eating everything I make, and wakes me 6 times between midnight and 8 a.m. to look under her bed because Curious George has her frightened of ants and “No Noggin.”
    Again thank you for this empowering article, and down with mom, chubby, skinny, and altogether woman-shaming!

  18. Why are you so angry? Channel some of that anger into a workout! Just kidding, but seriously, I’m a work-at-home-mom of 5 and I feel like YOU are judging moms like me who make a few minutes to prioritize health, or as you say it, work on our abs. My kids always get plenty of loving a a cuddles and care, and get, sometimes I have to pick between a shower and workout but that’s part of being a mom of 5! Don’t beat me up if I choose to use my time to exercise or prepare a healthy meal.

  19. You should add up how many minutes you spend blogging and see if that’s equal or more to the amount needed to get in a workout. I bet blogging for hours outdoes a quick sweaty workout session! It’s simply your priorities and obvious yours are to blog rather than exercise. To each their own. But aren’t you being a hypocrite by isolating Maria and other moms who make working out a priority? You don’t see us workout moms ridiculing you for spending hours behind a lap top blogging do you?

  20. You have obviously have never read her articles. She encourages and gives advice to us who have all gone through the same things with kids. You are doing what you are accusing her of doing. You are shaking mothers who make health a priority.

  21. I am very thankful for Maria Kang and her NEM movement. I was making excuses for years of why I didn’t have time to feed my family healthy and clean foods and toss out all that processed garbage. Also, and make exercising a part of our lives. The women on the NEM group are wonderful and very supportive. I run my own No Excuse Mom’s group now.

    Maria was not shaming anyone. Nobody can make you feel bad about yourself but you. Anger is a result of not being happy and ashamed with yourself.

  22. In no way is the No Excuse Mom movement shaming moms. They welcome moms of ALL shapes and sizes and are extremely supportive of each other. You are very misinformed and need to do a LOT more research. You said you needed someone to share with and help with obstacles? I see women daily on my NEM page that share what works for them, how they’ve overcome many obstacles, how they balance and even their shortcomings! I have never seen a group of women so supportive of each other! These women bare their post baby bodies with pride, stretch marks, saggy skin and all. A good deal of these women have medical limitations as well. That doesn’t count them out! They know there are going to be thousands of women on the site to lift them up, give advice, and listen. I see women post on the page about being out in public, someone asking when they were due, and listening to the heartbreak in their words as they were relating their experience with us. What do the other NEM’s do? They lift her up! Some mom has a bad day and eats every bit of junk food she comes by? NEM’s lift her up! A mom wants to break a sugar habit, kick soda to the curb, find better snack options? NEM’s moms reach out and give positive feedback on what has worked for them. Bash Maria all you want. It just comes off as bitter. I have made a variety of friends all over the globe that are in the NEM movement and with their posts of where they started, and where they are now, their low times, and their high times, their shortcomings and their successes, they’ve inspired me. I have lost all my baby weight and gotten into jeans I haven’t worn since my wedding! Their support, advice, and kindness have helped me in my journey! Women partner up in this group to help each other and to listen. Even if one is in California and one in North Carolina. I’ve seen amazing success stories of 100+ lbs lost. I’ve seen these women post their photos as they go, sometimes feeling overwhelmed and wanting to throw in the towel. NEM’s respond with concern, kind words, and helpful, positive advice. We don’t give up on each other and we don’t make any mom feel like she any less of a mom when she’s going through any struggle, NO MATTER HER SIZE. I have fought depression, have had to have surgery, which made my waist look horrible, have been diagnosed with thyroid problems, and these women, including Maria, have lifted me up and welcomed me. Any negativity that had ever come into the NEM’s, including making a mom feel bad, feel like she’s not doing good, is too skinny, too fat, not healthy, etc is banned! No mom is allowed to mistreat a fellow mom or shame her. I’m proud to be an No Excuse Mom! I have pride in the comradery of the other NEM’s!!

  23. You are so misinformed about Maria and NEM. I couldnt even finish reading this without feeling sorry for you and your situation. NEM is perfect for you to help motivate and build your esteem enough to STOP making excuses. We all don’t get enough sleep. We all have health issues one way or another. But your problem right now is crying about it for attention instead of getting off your blog and do something about it.

  24. thank you. As a mom of 3, 6 years, 4 years, and 1 year old, I also don’t have rock hard prepregnancy abs, and I don’t feel like I need to be ashamed of that. If I get a chance to excercise, I do it because if feels good to me and because I love my body and want to take care of it. I’m not doing it so that I can feel like I’m living up to someone else’s standards. I’m not competing with anyone. I’m not trying to impress or shame anyone. If I hate my body and tell myself I’m just making excuses and that I’m being lazy and not prioritizing, and ALL of that negative stuff, I will accomplish nothing. I will never be happy with myself. But, if I love myself for who I am, where I am, I will be much more likely to want to eat better and to want to excercise. If I do it, I do it for me. If I don’t, I give myself grace. I also give grace to the other moms around me. Nobody thrives under judgement and belittlement. But a compliment, or some encouragement, can change a person’s outlook. Watch what you say to each other, ladies. Whether talking to a friend of commenting on a stranger’s blog.

  25. I’ve thought about what little old lady has said. I too feel like my mother did what I’m doing with more grace somehow. She had three children under five, took care of the house, herself, and my dad. I feel like I can do all those things, but look/feel like a hot mess while doing so. So I asked my mom about it. She laughed and said it was REALLY REALLY hard, and she struggled every day…just like me. People haven’t changed. Mothers haven’t changed. It is, and always has been difficult raising a family, especially when they’re small. I think part of the difference now is that maybe more moms are able to commisurate about the hardships these days through the internet. There are blogs and websites, in addition to stories/comments from millions of moms sharing their experiences. Social media has given mothers a platform to reach out and be totally candid about motherhood through a computer. I don’t know. Maybe I was just too young to remember the really brutal years for her. She assures me that they certainly did exist! But she got through it and so will we.

  26. im really offended by this article. It appears as though you’ve based your entire opinion off one poster. Maria does not expect perfection. Her desire is for everyone to strive to be healthier. To get out and be active so you are healthy. To put good things in your body so your healthy. She will be the first to tell you that sometimes she eats a couple cookies and has a glass of wine when she’s stressed. She is a kind, good woman who wants healthier moms. And not just moms, she created a FB page for dads as well. It’s a place where we can go to feel encouraged. To be uplifted. A place where we can get quick workout ideas or awesome recipes. The women who are apart of the NEM movement are women who want to see you succeed and will succeed right along with you. People who allow others to offend them are just looking to be offended. When I first saw her campaign a year ago, I was not offended. I looked at this woman and thought, “dang, she’s right. What is my excuse?”
    Let me tell you, my life isn’t boring or easy.
    I have 3 kids. 2 dogs. And my husband. I run a successful business from home. I homeschool my oldest and home preschool my middle child. I’m also teaching my youngest sign language. I have food intolerances. So I have to cook everything! And I mean everything. 3 years ago I was injured and have battled a severe nerve injury in my shoulder. We moved 3,000 miles and relocated for my husbands job. I keep a clean house, read stories to my kids, and play tea party with them. But guess what. I’ve lost 75lbs in the last 15 months. Because of Maria Kang. It isn’t selfish to take a half hour for yourself 5days a week. I’ve seen women in the NEM group with multiple disabled children, working full time jobs and no husbands, and guess what, they still are able to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
    My life isn’t a walk in the park and yes I have days where I’m stressed, but I do not complain. Why? Because I am blessed. I have amazing daughters and I get to teach them the importance of living a long healthy life. I get to stay home and help my daughter who has learning disabilities excel far beyond what she was in public school. I get to have hundreds of hugs and kisses a day from the sweetest girls in the world. I get to sit down with my family at night and eat dinner and laugh and talk about our days. I get to set my own hours so I can work it around my families schedule. I get to take my daughter to Crossfit kids and watch her have the time of her life. I get to clean my home for my family. Do I have days where I want to throw in the towel? You bet! But then I remember how great my life is. I am blessed!
    Motherhood is not an excuse it is a reason!
    In the future, before you go attacking someone for one poster, it would be wise to investigate a little further and actually find out more about the woman your attacking. Had you, then you would’ve discovered a kind, loving and gracious woman who wants what’s best for others.

  27. I feel in this day in age we all have the power to read and Google watch or not watch TV .if something offends you don’t read it or look it up .I agree being a mother is very hard and we all have our paths .I believe that what we may lack in this generation is support and that communities very rarely exist .For all I know the person who wrote this may be my next door neighbor but now a days we are so afraid to reach out and to ask for help .I feel that the person who wrote this is frustrated and needs a hug someone to tell her it’s OK . Whether you agree with this Maria Kang or not it’s your right but it’s also your choice to read it or view her photo or not . We are all capable of reaching out of focusing on what builds us up .We all have different ways of getting motivated and that’s OK , No ? In general, I feel if we are all looking for something and whatever it is focus on that.

  28. Megan ,
    It’s going to get better .I remember when I had my first and stopped breastfeeding because I just truly couldn’t take it .Then I had my second c section my husband away three weeks at a time .My daughter breastfed every 2 hours until she was 11 months old she still does .I remember the caffine and how i just sat there breadtfeeding all day trying to play with my toddler and actually lost weight because i could barely make food from being so sleep deprived .I showed maybe once a week lol She then went through a phrase and screamed if I left the room for two months now that she’s 2 .It all gets better and all you can do is follow your mommy heart and know you are doing what is best for your family and you . I can say that looking into my daughter eyes singing lullabies and swinging , catching butterflies , making snowmen or baking cookies is so much more satisfying then working out but now that I am getting enough sleep and I am eating better I have the strength to get in shape and that’s OK .I know you will find your balance when it’s right for you ,We all do as mom’s .

  29. First of all, I’m appalled that the writer, bring a mother herself and as someone who claims to be against shaming anyone, has written such a strongly worded post shaming another mother. Why? Because she’s fitter and more glamorous looking than you? Because she seemingly got it better or easier? The article just REEKS of bitterness and jealousy.

    I agree that every parent and child is different. Some kids are more challenging than others. I’m a mum of 2 super active under 2yo boys who, for the first 8 months of their lives, have made me panda-eyed with 2hr sleep intervals. I co-slept with each of them and breastfed them. I make healthy meals for them and make sure they get enough physical activity instead of relying on tv or the ipad. I’m also a FTWM who works out during the lunch hour. So what I’m trying to say is…we all try to make things work in spite of our individual unique challenges. There’s no need for comparison.

    I believe that Maria Kang was NOT trying to downplay any mum’s challenges. She was just trying to show that if she could do it, so could most other women. There’s no need to put a disclaimer that says: ” this excludes those of you who are having PPD or whatever other physical ailments that make it so hard to get out of bed.” Is there? Use commonsense! 😉

    I really believe that if you want something bad enough whether is it just to be fit enough to run after your kids, or to be able to fit into your high school jeans, or even just having enough energy to have sex with your husband and not feel self – conscious with the lights on, if you put your mind to it, you can do it.

    BTW, since when did MK say you must look like her a month after giving birth? She has 3 boys herself and so she probably did not look like that in between having each one. I think the problem with women, especially those who bash her is that they put so much pressure on themselves when there’s ABSOLUTELY NO PRESSURE to return to pre-pregnancy size by anyone except yourself. She did not say, “you ought to get back to size 0 within a month of childbirth.” It’s your warped imagination. For the record, I put on nearly 40lbs after my 1st boy and lost nearly everything except the last 3-5lbs through breastfeeding, watching my diet and exercise (I did zumba during my lunch hr once a week). For my 2nd, I gained 35lbs on top of that 3 to 5lbs I didn’t lose. After 8 months, I lost everything and then some through breastfeeding and more vigorous exercise (kickboxing). I controlled my diet less this time but still lost weight from running after my 2yo toddler. The thing is…I need the energy to do this running around and only working out can give me the strength and energy to do so. I still snack on chips and chocolates at my work desk and there are days I drag myself to the gym. But the point is I still go.

    There really isn’t any excuse not to treat yourself better by taking care of your body and spirit, and if you don’t agree, there’s also no reason to demonise those who choose to do so.

    P.S: Mothering, shame on you for having double standards. Why allow your writer to tear down another for advocating health and self love? I’ll be unsubscribing from now on. Kthxbye!

      1. What?! Have you ever HAD PPD? How can you expect someone with PPD to “use common sense” and feel ok about being shamed into “treating yourself better”? A mom with this condition considers it “treating herself better” every day she can take care of her little ones without melting down into a sobbing heap and seriously considering suicide. Exercise is the LAST thing on her mind – hell, even makeup doesn’t make the list – and the endorphins from that chocolate may very well be the only thing keeping her close to sanity. If you had a different experience, I’m happy for you – and that’s no snark, I mean it.

        I’d love to have the luxury of “putting my mind” to looking or feeling better, or my biggest worry being an occasional snack of junk food. But it’s awfully hard to exercise when you’ve got PPD, your baby is in the NICU, your other 3 kids are home in need of care, and you’re spending all your days driving an hour each way to and from the hospital just so you can go home to hug your kids goodnight, sleep and shower in the morning.

        The author’s point, which you have brilliantly illustrated, is that every mom’s situation is different and it’s not up to anyone to put anyone else down. You never know what someone else is going through, and as “empowering” as the phrase “No Excuses” may be to some, to others it can be a knife in the heart. It’s not about “bitterness and jealousy”, it’s about how dare someone speak so flippantly and insensitively, and downplay awful issues they couldn’t possibly understand. Some people need to have it spelled out for them.

  30. As a mommy of a LO that didn’t sleep through the night until almost four years old I wanted to hug you through this entire article. People have no idea what surviving years of sleep deprivation is like unless they have lived it. I had the same feelings when confronted with posts by and about this woman.


    I don’t care that you don’t care about Maria and her approach. I do care when someone advocates for an act of sexual violence. Horrible.

    1. The author also talked about a “kick in the butt”…that’s certainly advocating for violence against women, isn’t it? Terrible!
      *light bulb flash*
      Oh wait – figurative speech?

  32. Wow, I can’t help but reply to this. I’m sorry but you clearly do not understand what the ‘No Excuse Mom’ movement is really about. Maria inspires hundreds of thousands of moms to be the best version of themselves. She promotes healthy choices as a mom and doing what it takes to be the best mom you can be. As a member of the group on Facebook, just scrolling through the struggles and triumphs of every day moms is super inspiring. Moms with multiple kids, stay at home moms, sleep deprived moms – moms from all walks of life. It’s a support group to motivate and inspire each other, not rip each other apart like you did in this article. I’m sorry, but no matter how sleep deprived you are, it’s not okay to tear down another person like you did – just because you have a different perspective. I’ll be hoping and praying that you don’t pass along such a bitter view on life and motherhood to your precious girls.

  33. Thank you!!! I have been struggling with going to the gym for so long. I don’t have baby weight to lose, but I am supremely out of shape and not going to the gym was making me feel so guilty all the time.
    I just simply gave up. I found that taking the dogs to a new dog park with my daughter makes us all feel great. I’m not exercising but I’m out in nature with the family, making everyone happy and that’s what works for us. I’ve given up on the gym and am focusing on finding things that make us happy instead. There is no reason to stress ourselves even more than we already are, and make ourselves feel guilty on top of it!

  34. I LOVE this article! I can’t imagine that it could have been put any better! The first couple years of motherhood can be so difficult (for the unlucky moms). My son was a very difficult baby. Cried all the time, hardly slept, plus i was working 50 hour weeks at a job where my lastest start time was 430am. It didn’t level off until he was about three years old! I was miserable, i hated being a mom. That was almost nine years ago. My husband and I got a huge surprise last year in the form of a bouncing baby girl. Needless to say I was terrified! I had nightmares about my son being a baby. However, the one piece of advice that appears to be true is that you (sometimes) have opposite babies with the first and second. My daughter started sleeping through the night at eight weeks old, just in time for my return to work. She naps like a champ, nursed like a rockstar and HARDLY ever cries! She’s a happy happy baby. She’s a year old now, I haven’t lost the baby weight and I don’t care. I’m happy with myself, my husband loves me the way I am, the kids love me and that’s enough for me. Judgemental individuals clearly have such miserable lives that they can’t fix so they try to beat others down with hurtfuk words amd actions to make themselves feel better about their miserable existence. The most important thing is to be true to yourself. Do what makes you feel good about you. And as for the chocolate habit, there are worse habits out there. I’ve known too many mommies turning to alcohol during the rough transition into motherhood. Be happy with yourselves ladies. Don’t let anyone make you feel less than you are.

  35. Thank you Megan for this lovely post! Someone needs to rip the mother a new one! I took her post personal as well. I am a mother of 2 and battling lupus. I am full of excuses that prevent me from being a “fit mom”. chronic illness…check, chemo every 6 months…check, recovery from chemo…check, trying to be an engaging mother to my boys…check. I am full of excuses! An whimp in this woman’s eyes! And for those of you wondering why I bothered to have 2 kids, because I wasn’t sick. I was a healthy, fit working mother of 2 awesome children with a white picket fence and incredible husband! At 30 I got diagnosed with lupus and our world was flipped under us! Woman like her make me sick because when she sees me walking down the street slightly chubby I know what she is thinking, “a walking excuse!” Well I probably workout more than her and tragically the illness and meds prevent my body from looking like hers!

  36. I’m pretty sure she’s airbrushed…and she was probably rock solid before. The reason why humanity sucks is because people like her don’t keep their opinions to themselves. Do what you need to do for you and no one else and Don’t get involved in any body else’s business. And do not make generalizations everyone walks a different path.

  37. Something I noticed that you didn’t comment on (you’re lucky you don’t have to) is on single moms. I work 40 hrs but that doesn’t include the commute. My total time leaving home to returning M-F is 10.5 hrs per day with normal traffic. I have 2 kids under 8 and have to deal with all the junk from the Big D. My kids mostly sleep now (yay!!) but I am the one who can’t because of all the stress worries I have. My ex is as useless as they come. I am truly doing this solo while still fighting him in court for safety issues regarding the kids. Has $ for a brand new car but no $ to help with school supplies for example.

    I would love to spend just an hr at the gym but that’s a precious hour I miss with my kids. I would love to work out via video in the morning but when they leave their bed for the warmth of my love how do I push them off of me? I don’t.

    If I had a husband who was a decent man, who provided (did I mention that I am also doing side techi jobs at home in addition to work because I can’t depend on the joke child support I get?) and who supported motherhood I would look and feel better. But guess what I DONT!! I have to be mom and dad. Cook and tutor. Rule maker and hug giver (love the hugs!!!). I don’t get a day off. Weekends are spent balancing grocery and laundry with doing things for the kids (zoo, playground, etc) while trying to work on my side projects because we need the money. I am blessed that I make well above the national average but between the economy and all the expenses I am scrapping by.

    So yes that chick can go screw herself IMO. Walk in my shoes while drowning in worry and tell me to stop making excuses.

  38. I totally get where you are coming from, Megan. You are writing from a place of exhaustion and desperation and needing some more support and a break. Maria’s poster was the last straw. I get it. I felt the same way the first time I came across it.

    I had no idea she had an organisation until I read through the comments under your post. So really, she could come on and thank you for sending people her way (I’m sure there’s some sort of fee involved).

    Look, I can see why some people have their knickers in a knot about what you wrote in the article but maybe they also need to step back and understand what it’s like to be at rock bottom. You had the guts to write and press send from that space.

    Maria Kang’s organisation may be lovely and supportive but that poster needs to disappear from existence. As someone else said, if it hadn’t said “what’s your excuse?”, it would have been fine.

  39. Kang is talking to a specific audience. I know that I am not her audience because I do not care what she has to say. I do not need anyone to motivate me. I do what I want to do when I want to do it. As a result, I have lost my pregnancy weight at a rate I was comfortable with while remembering that my children are my priority. I am not like the old lady’s mom. I work, dinner isn’t always at the same time, I would happily invite a maid in to help etc. But I make no excuses because I feel excuses for what? To who? I don’t care what others think, you shouldn’t either 🙂

  40. I actually like Maria Khang’s picture, but this is the stuff that motivates me. I can see how it might be offensive to some. At the same time, I think everyone needs to realize that some people really like this kind of motivation, and really benefit from it. Just shrug it off, if you don’t like her message, then realize it’s not for you. It’s only for people who actually like being motivated this way. No one can make you feel less about yourself, you are the only one with that power.

  41. I’ll admit that when I first heard of Maria Kang I thought “if your life is so perfect, why the f*** do you care what my excuse is?”

  42. If Maria Kang truly felt so fantastic about herself she wouldn’t need to attack others. Shaming others comes from a deep shame of her own. Maybe she’s ashamed of being a poor example of a human being for her children.

  43. I have to admit that I am baffled at all the animosity thrown at Maria. Personally, I see her as inspiring. I am on of those women who sees the message, “What’s your excuse?” and I level with myself. I too have a child that never slept and even now doesn’t sleep for long periods of time, it’s exhausting and I was constantly on edge when she was a baby/toddler. The best part of my day was the moment my husband walked through the door and I could grab the dog and go for a run. There were some days that I told myself I was too tired or busy but when I leveled with myself I realized that I was making excuses. Yes, I was tired. Yes, I did have a lot of laundry to do. Yes, the dishes were dirty, but the truth was that while I was tired I wasn’t too tired to exercise. The truth was that crawling into bed and watching The Real Housewives while eating M&M’s sounded more appealing than exerting myself in any other way beyond changing the channel on the remote control. Those excuses aren’t bad, they aren’t lies, and they don’t make me a lazy person, but they are excuses and at the end of the day the only one I would have to blame was myself. It was in those minutes that putting on my running shoes seemed like the hardest thing I had ever done, but in the end I have never regretted going for a run.

    As you said, everyone has their own experiences and you extended grace to those who choose not to eat healthy and exercise but you don’t seem to extend that same grace to those who do. Frankly, I think our society could do with a lot more of these sorts of messages. I have found that when people are 100% honest with themselves and answer the hard questions like, “What’s your excuse?”, they are able to see things for what they are find motivation to do things that they otherwise wouldn’t have, whether it be exercising, going back to college, changing career fields or anything else outside of their comfort zone. I’m not saying that weight shaming is acceptable, that we should judge a person by their physical appearance, or that making excuses is a bad thing, but I do think that people should be honest with themselves and whatever comes from that is their business.
    Maria may not motivate you but she does me and many other people and she shouldn’t be shamed for that.

    1. Here’s the problem – for some women, a husband walking through the door to watch over the kiddos while she goes for a run never comes. Some women are single, some women have husbands who come in, grab the dinner plate, then have to disappear not to be seen until we cross paths at four in the morning while I’m up with the baby (again) and he is leaving for work and only to be seen again at the next dinner plate hand-off. There are no M&Ms and Real Housewives in my life. There is no crawling into bed. Some women don’t see their beds, ever. If you experienced true sleep deprivation (the real kind) you wouldn’t have the energy to put on your running shoes, let alone run. Don’t assume that all mothers are confusing being really really really tired with the effects of long-term sleep deprivation.

      Shaming can be motivating, that’s why people do it, but it’s still shaming. In this case it is also harmful and hurtful to a lot of mothers, a community I feel protective over.

      1. Do not even try imply that I don’t know what true sleep deprivation is like, I do, and don’t assume that people like Maria have somehow shamed me into being healthy, they haven’t.

        I have great empathy for women who are single, for those who have less than helpful husbands, and those who have particualrly complicated lives, but shaming Maria K makes you no better than her. Her message was strong, her message was jarring, and it was also a message that many women used to get fit, not because they felt shamed but because they were honest with themselves about the roll they play in their own health and the choices they can make everyday to be healthier.
        You have accused Maria of making unfair assumptions and then using those assumptions to shame others, yet you yourself are making assumptions about her and using those assumptions to try and shame her. You made assumptions about me and how I couldn’t possibly have experienced really sleep deprivation if I could some how manage to go for a run. You made the assumption that my husband has the perfect 9-5 job and could happily walk through the door at 6pm so that his wife could run. You shamed another mother and used the excuse that you feel protective of moms as a justifiable excuse to do so when it isn’t.

  44. love love love this article. Been there and still living it. I’m a full time working mom taking care of patients everyday. My kids are just now becoming better sleepers. We also did the multitude of sleep recommendations. I’ve been at my wits end many times esp with kid number #2. Many times with no local family or friends around to come help while my husband was out of town.

  45. As a mentally ill mother of… Just one, I’m especially critical of someone who cries “Excuses! ” because that’s what daily living looks like for me. I want to cry so much, I’m always tired even though my fiance lets me sleep ten hours, I’m sensitive to noises, and sometimes I see things that aren’t those things. It’s hard enough going to school, hard enough working a small job, and hard enough taking care of a kid, and somehow I got wrapped up into all three. Please respect yourselves. Don’t be taken in by the “competitive ” moms, whether they’re competitively crafting, have uber talented children, or flat and toned bellies.

  46. I find both sides of this debate to have interesting points (except the troll, who, I will note, got more replies than anyone). I should be in better shape, and I could be if I really wanted it more. Having no more fun food and more more tv time and boom, I would be. But on the other hand its embarressing how often women put each other down in subtle ways.

  47. Megan is full of excuses! What is your excuse for not feeding you and your family healthy, nutritious and clean meals?

  48. I remember when my lil one was young and this “no excuse” stuff would’ve absolutely put me over the edge too. But I looked up the woman’s site and this is her message: “Our goal is to encourage health, friendship and community. We believe strongly that health starts at home and begins with parents as a child’s first role model. Most of all, we believe in the importance of prioritizing your personal health. Despite the stress, fatigue and chaos in a mom’s day – we believe that you should make NO EXCUSES for not prioritizing your health.”

    This is really a good message actually, especially if you have PPD or extreme stress. I suffered from horrible PPD and absolutely had to prioritize my personal health. I’m glad I did. It made me a better mother. Now that I’m past that and the baby years, I really think the other message about being a role model for your kids is important. My parents didn’t role model any kind of physical fitness so I’ve tried to go the other way by participating with my daughter in fun runs and going hiking.

    But I get that when you’re in the demanding, exhausting stage with babies and toddlers, the last thing you want to hear is “no excuses.” I just wanted to point out that despite that there is some good stuff in her message.

  49. ^^ What Ella’s mom said.

    After reading the article and all the comments, I checked out Maria Kang’s site. I was actually impressed with how humble she is. See this post on her blog for instance, when she finds herself after a tough day, full of excuses about why things went the way they did, and realizing how how it would look if they made a poster of her in that moment with “no excuses” on it. She says she never meant to hold herself up as a model of perfection, as she too is just trying to do her best, and encouraging others to do the same: “”

    While I am not okay with the “no excuses” slogan making people feel that looking like a supermodel and running marathons should be every mother’s top priority, that is totally not what she seems to have intended. So read before you judge – her philosophy and work is all over her site for the world to see. I do believe that there really is no excuse for not looking after yourself, in whatever form that takes. Your kids need you to be healthy, period. It is too easy to paint ourselves as victims of our circumstances (and believe me, I have milked all the excuses I could to get out of doing many things which would have been good for me to do). Now I walk wherever I can, and carry the baby in a sling so I can work out passively while going about my business. It’s not so hard to incorporate exercise into your day. You don’t have to get up at the “butt crack of dawn” (love that phrase!) to formally work out. This short video – not hers, but Dr. Mark Evans’ – has fabulous advice about how to “make your day harder” by bringing more movement into it as you do your usual activities:

    On another note, I was also wondering, what did Maria look like before she had kids? Was she already fit? Probably! Genetics plays an important part in body shape, so it would be unfair to say “everyone could look like me.” If you can improve even a little bit from where you are now, that’s progress, and it should be celebrated.

    P.S. Dark chocolate is a great source of antioxidants and magnesium. But if you have massive cravings (like I do when I’m nursing) then check out this chart for what to do about your food cravings:

  50. Its amazing how much mental and emotional energy is being wasted by everyone who is sitting here arguing online with complete strangers. Lol. Think about it.
    Choose your own priorities and focus on them, quit the mom-bashing, and realize there are people with priorities other than your own. Redirect misspent time and energy you use posting inflammatory comments to getting that extra hour of sleep, cuddling with babies, or working out. Go read funny jokes on the internet if you need “veg” time to unwind. Instead of getting your shorts in a wad and talking over everyone.
    And yes, I am a single mom, stretched to the limit most days, no sleep, no family, 4 kids, back in college full time (16 credits anyone?) and basically in survival mode. For like the past 6 years! I married well, followed all the “good wife, good mom rules”, and did everything “right” but sometimes life hands us exactly what we NEVER thought we would get.
    I think every mom could benefit from other supportive moms instead of criticism and negativity.

  51. Oh, and great for Maria if she wants to exercise. But has anyone here ever heard of PHOTOSHOP? Do you know how many hours of photoshop were required to get that photo up there? Hello! Does everyone in this generation believe all those pictures in magazines are real??!
    I believe there are truly fit women who look fabulous, but please go scrutinize that photo! She is SHIMMERY. That ain’t sweat ladies.

  52. Too many comments. Well done. The shaming has to stop. It is not at all important. It is like going in the rain with designer boots a simple wellingtons which keep you dry. With designer boots you look good but you can’t play in the rain. With wellingtons can have lots of fun. But it is your choice and no one should make you feel bad for choosing one or another

  53. It’s interesting how a post about not shaming women sparks so many negative comments about other women.
    It seems clear to me that the author is not arguing against a healthy lifestyle, but arguing against the idea that any women who isn’t working out/eating healthy all the time is just making up excuses.
    My lifestyle, whether by choice or by circumstance, is not an excuse. I don’t need one. The whole point of this article, as I understand it, is that it’s not right for this campaign to shame me and make me feel bad about my life as a mother. The campaign wouldn’t be so negative if they took out the “excuse” part. It makes it sound like any mother who isn’t working out is making excuses, and that there is no valid reason to not be working out.
    That, I believe, is the point of this article. It’s amazing how many women responded by trying to shame the author.

  54. I find the movement inspiring. It’s easy to focus on excuses and exhaustion but it does nothing except create a cycle of deepening exhaustion and more excuses. When I am just in survival mode I am not able to clearly recognize what needs to be changed so I find reminders like this are very helpful. I find that the reminders that anger me are the ones I need to heed because my anger stems from being reminded that I need to improve, not because the reminder is a vicious attack.

    It sounds like you are stuck in a bad marriage with parenting techniques that are failing you miserably. I encourage you to take advantage of the forums associated with this website to get support for your marriage or divorce and some tips on other gentle ways to help a restless baby sleep. In my experience it is only possible to be a good parent while exhausted for a small amount of time before saying or doing things that you deeply regret. You will probably find that you are able to reason through things and write more compelling articles once your personal troubles are more under control.

  55. This is so controversial! I personally LOVED this article. I have two littles, my son is almost three and my daughter is 9 months. I probably look 3 months pregnant. I work two jobs, including running a very demanding business. My schedule is insane. Is it theoretically possible that i might be able to do some working out in there? Sure, it is. Just like it’s theoretically possible that i might meet a monkey on my way to work tomorrow. Like the author of this article my priorities are elsewhere right now. I’m fortunate to only have 15 pounds remaining of baby weight (I’ve lost over 40). I’m generally ok with my weight. Unfortuantley the rest of the world isn’t so kind. I’m expected to work two jobs, breastfeed on demand (throughout the night if need be), keep a clean house, prepare/eat healthy foods, AND bounce back to my pre baby body by the time the youngest is one. Our society’s expectations of women are very unrealistic. Misogyny is the sentiment du jour everywhere we turn. Screw anyone and everyone who makes a living by shaming women for being chunky, especially new moms who are already feeling vulnerable and tired. May we all love our bodies CELEBRATE our curves. Love each other. Screw society and its unrealistic expectations. May we all start to think more critically about the world around us, and start on a path of radical self love.

  56. God. Alot of you sure do have a victim mentality. How do you cope? By lashing out at Maria.
    Women everywhere have the right to live however they want, but there is no justification to attack someone because of their own ideaologies.
    Geneal advice is not for everyone, and not everyone has to accept how Maria provides it, but I truly believe the lot of you that attack this woman do it out of spite.
    Do you personally know Maria? Does she know you and how you live your life? So the sensitivity of feeling that Maria is attacking mothers by saying “whats your excuse” is complete and utter nonsense. The message is about achieving your goals and dreams. Maria is intelligent enough to know that for her to spread her message, she did it in a manner that would get people to notice, and she has done that so well, that some of you that claim to have sleepless nights and hardly any energy for yourselves are infact putting your time and effort browsing the net, looking at facebook and spiteing those people that are living the life they have worked so hard for.
    Marias message is intended for people who are looking for inspiration and willpower to chase their dreams and help realise that it is achieveable (once again, not necessarily physical fitness goals).
    Dont like the message? Move along until you find one that you do!

    There are people out there that are in difficult situations of sorts, but there are different types of people that tackle the same types of problems everyday in different ways.
    Some people react differently to pressure. Some get squeezed, they focus. Others fold.
    Some say tomatoe, others say tomato.
    Some say potatoe, others say potato.

    I have to say this, but attack Maria about her ideaologies and you are nothing but a troll so out of focus with your own life, the only way to have satisfaction is to put down others.

    You fucking bullies.

  57. Just to clarify, does anyone know what job she does for “8hr+day”? Like does she have a desk job that she goes to 9-5, Monday to Friday? I really don’t see how it would be possible for someone who works 9-5 at a desk job to have the time to dedicate to fitness to the extent that they would be so fit and gorgeous and put together as she is. That’s just math.

  58. From her own website: “Maria Kang is a wife, mother, author, speaker, business owner, nonprofit founder, fitness philanthropist, and social entrepreneur. She is a widely known as “Fit Mom” whose No Excuse campaign to get people active, has reached millions of people around the world”

    So, her JOB is to work out all day long! No wonder she looks like that. If my job was to work out all day long i’d look like that too. So would you, so would anyone. This is worse than the actual celebrities who inadvertently fat shame women by getting back into shape months after having a baby – at least they don’t rub it in and say “I did it why can’t you”, probably because they realize not everyone can get paid to exercise all day. Now she just seems mean.

  59. Thank you for writing this. you have just helped me in ways you could never imagine… and for those who don’t agree with this here’s a little of my story… I only have one child… one very active almost 3 year old. my husband and i both work full time jobs, he on a rotating 5 days on 2 days off schedule and I, mon-fri… when i first met my husband i was struggling with an eating disorder and through his love and help i conquered it to take on a healthy life style (working out, eating mindfully, etc…) when we decided to have a baby we were met with new struggles both together and personally… conquering my self-image issues was a big one (what would i look like pregnant, what if i was fat forever…) during this process… we miscarried. twice… it was crushing. when I finally gave birth to our son. i had a 26 hour labor with lots of complications and an emergency c-section.when he finally arrived safe and healthy .. i poured all my energy into caring for him and for once in my ENTIRE life i did not care about what i looked like, the number on the scale… what i was going to eat or not eat… my body that i had shamed, blamed, and hated for soooo long… had persevered through an incredible struggle and brought forth life. at the end of all of that i was changed. i was different. i was selfless. i was humble. this is what life was about. it’s about selflessly giving or yourself, about sacrifice, about Love. and if i can only love my size 6 self than what a terrible life i’d live.

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