Oh, Maria Kang. I kind of hate you. But you also got me thinking.

maria kang photo causes social media uproar

I won’t lie. I saw this picture while I was eating leftover birthday cake. And man, did it make me feel like crap.

I’m 15 pounds overweight right now. The heaviest I’ve ever been. And I feel endless guilt about it. I hate how I feel. I hate that my clothes are too tight.

I need to lose weight. I feel horrible about how I look and that’s no way to live. I’ve been going to sleep at night, wishing I had figured out a way to exercise that day, dozing off with guilt weighing me down.

So yeah. You could say that I’ve been in my head about my crummy body image issues.

Then today I see Maria Kang staring at me from Facebook as I snack on cake, asking what my excuse is.

I felt a wave of anger and guilt, seeing her super-fit body and big smile. What’s your excuse? Really, lady? REALLY? I felt like she was taunting me, saying, have these three little kids and I’m hot! Why aren’t you, you lazy fattie?

Then I noticed the text next to the photo. I didn’t see it at first – all I saw was Maria and her crazy abs.

This is the photo and text that was really staring back at me on Facebook, courtesy of my blogging bud, Karen from Baby Sideburns:

my excuse

And I nodded as I read. Yes, I thought. Yes to everything you’re saying, Karen!

Of course, some of Karen’s excuses are funny. Some are true issues many of us can identify with. But her “excuses” are real, and ones many of us face.

I did a little research on Maria, the backlash to the photo, and her response, and she seems to me like one of those people who have little sympathy for others who can’t “manage it all” like she can. She’s the epitome of SuperMom, and represents a standard that very few can attain -whether it be because of finances, time, genetics, health, whatever.

I don’t pretend I can ever look like Maria. But I can be fitter. And her question, her taunt, whatever it was, got me thinking, and thinking hard.

Honestly? I hate exercising. HATE IT. I hate working out, going to a gym, lifting weights, doing “Insanity,” sweating to videos. There are a MILLION things I’d rather do with my time.

The only reasons I was fit until I had babies were 1) I danced until I was 21 and that was my exercise – I didn’t have to do anything else, and 2) After that, I was childless and could do things like attend yoga classes and run after work, because I had time and dispensable income.

Now my only option for exercise is to run on the treadmill downstairs at some god-awful hour in the morning. And it never happens.

Why?

Because I choose to do other things.

That’s the real reason. I am a working mom of young children, and I am making other choices every day that do not include exercising. The other stuff just seems more important right now.

I work part-time (not a choice, per say, a need that I happen to enjoy – but it’s a big chunk of my time). When I’m not working, I’m hanging with my 4yo and doing dishes and laundry and cooking and errands and other mom things. This is the majority of my waking hours.

I have about two hours to myself each day, from 8pm – 10pm. In these hours I choose to write, play around on social media, hang with the Hubs, or read. I try to be asleep at 10:30pm and wake up at 6:30am so I can shower before the day begins.

But you know how it goes: A lot of nights I end up not really spending any time on myself, and I’m instead answering emails, online shopping for gifts, planning my 4yo’s birthday party, returning phone calls, etc.

So you see the difficulty in fitting in exercise – something I don’t even WANT to do. It’s another have-to on my long list of have-tos. And I cherish my tiny amount of time to do what I WANT to do. I NEED that time to remain sane.

However. I know I have to exercise again. I feel crummy. I don’t look how I want to look. My clothes are too tight and I’m not about to spend precious dollars on a size-bigger wardrobe.

So I’m faced with a hard decision: Do I cut out an hour of me-time three or four times a week to make myself exercise? Or do I continue to gain weight?

Maria Kang makes it seem like it’s a simple decision. But we all know that in reality, life’s not that simple.

Are you in a similar situation – or have you been before?

UPDATE 10/22/13 : You know, after reading some articles defending Maria, I’ve figured out how to express what’s really eating at me about her photo. It’s not so much that her picture made me feel crappy about my extra 15 pounds. That’s MY problem.

What pisses me off is that I think she’s perpetuating the belief in our society that if you don’t look like her, it’s due to your lack of willpower. Maria’s “What’s Your Excuse?” picture adds to the constant messages from internet, TV, magazines, and so forth that if we can’t reach a (likely unattainable) goal of looking like a fitness model, we are failures who are making excuses for ourselves.

The idea that if we just tried harder, we could look like her, is crap for most American mothers, given the hectic, stressful lives we lead. And what about all the women who work out and have a great level of fitness, but will NEVER look like Maria? Do they need an excuse that they aren’t a size 4 with a six-pack? It burns me that the media perpetuates this stereotype of what beautiful and fit is – and Maria Kang is just adding to the pressure by stirring the pot with her loaded question.

From what I’ve read, it seems that Maria has little sympathy for women who can’t manage it all – job, kids, perfect body, lovely life – like she can. Sure, Maria, you can do it all. But most women can’t – and even if they are fit, they don’t look like you – so stop throwing it in our faces and maybe find a kinder way to be inspirational. *throws down the microphone and walks offstage*