How ‘No Excuse Mom’ Maria Kang Keeps Her Kids Healthy, Plus Her Core Workout

10/30/2014 at 11:48 AM ET

Maria Kang
Jeff Minton

Maria Kang’s kids are used to seeing her exercise. In fact, when her 2-year-old son Gabriel refused to eat his scrambled eggs one morning, she pulled her stationary bike up to the table and rode it until he finished.

“As much as I wanted to go to the gym, I was adamant that he eat a full, healthy breakfast,” says the Sacramento-based Kang, whose Facebook post of her toned physique and three young sons accompanied by the tagline “What’s Your Excuse?” hit a nerve when it went viral last year.

Kang was accused of fat-shaming other women, and — for prioritizing exercise — of being a bad mom. Actually, she says, that’s what makes her a good mother. “Kids model their behavior after their parents,” she says. “I don’t spend hours at the gym. I work out for 30 to 60 minutes, four or five days a week by squeezing it in when I can.”

And sometimes that means a quick sweat session in the backyard, where Gabriel and his brothers Christian, 5 and Nicholas, 4, play alongside her. “They don’t think it’s exercise. They think it’s fun!”

But Kang admits that staying active is only part of the equation — healthy family eating is just as important.

“I believe in the 80/20 rule. The boys have their pizza parties and their snacks after soccer, but at home I try to make everything from scratch.” Her specialties include turkey meatloaf and even a broccoli salad that her kids love. “I don’t sneak veggies because I want the boys to know the importance of healthy eating.”

But she also realizes the limitations of modern motherhood: “Sometimes I’m able to buy organic, but most of the time, I’m not. I always say, buy in bulk, on sale and in season.”

Kang, who is married to former marine David Casler, now leads a No Excuse Mom movement of 700 free workout groups for busy moms. The group just released its 2015 calendar featuring real moms who have transformed their bodies by committing to fitness. “The No. 1 gift you can give your child,” says Kang, “is being a healthy parent.“

Check out the easy-to-master core-strengthening workout Kang created for PEOPLE below.

—Stephanie Emma Pfeffer with reporting by Aili Nahas

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FILED UNDER: Expert Tips , Fitness , Health

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Showing 51 comments

Guest on

Oh please — she just needs way too much attention. Just be a mom already and stop putting yourself on a pedestal. Get over yourself already.

Cici on

I’m sorry Guest but putting down someone for promoting a healthy lifestyle is just sad on your part. Sitting on the couch, eating processed junk is not being a mom. She’s an amazing example of how parents should be. Starting a healthy lifestyle from the get go is the best thing a parent can do.

guest on

The best gift you can give your kids is fitness?!?!
I’d say love, security and confidence are pretty important. She’s hardly the only fit mom in the USA. Forcing your child to eat is never a good choice, certainly not a healthy one.

HJM on

She pulled up her stationary bike to the table so her son would finish breakfast? I don’t know how that solves anything for either of them. I think that lesson would be lost on a two year old. Maybe I misunderstood?

guest on

she created this workout? nice try. she’s just doing the same core workouts that everyone else does.

tootie on

Being a good mother has zero to do with exercising and eating well. It has to do with teacher your kids right from wrong, having empathy, not telling people they are lazy if they don’t workout, not criticizing people for not doing the things you think they should be doing ,etc. I’ not even a mom and I know this. She says health come in any size, but is always saying stuff about people being overweight and how much it costs the system. Her 15 minutes really need to be up. She need to spend more time enriching her brain.

GUest on

So sad when we vilify healthy mothers, especially someone who has obviously made a positive impact. Yes, one of the best things you can give your kids is health.

whythehate? on

I think she is setting a great example for her kids about health and fitness while many of us want to do that but come up with many excuses why it isn’t happening (myself included). I see nothing wrong with her helping other achieve what she has been able to and feel good about it. I am more bothered by the negativity everyone seems to have when someone else is successful. If only sitting here typing could help me be healthy and fit… : )

miranda on

Wow what is with all of the negative comments! Are you all hypocrites for Halloween? You are so mad that she is calling out (“judging”) overweight and unhealthy families and their lifestyles. But you’re no different by judging her lifestyle. Get over yourselves.

larry on

Cici- So people aren’t allowed to put her down, but she can do it and so can all her fans? Why is that? All of you put down people that don’t exercise, eat processed foods, etc. What makes you so much better? I doubt you have a college degree, speak 3 languages , or have a career. Can we put you down for that? Maria makes a lot of grammatical and punctuation mistakes. Can we put her down for that? It just seem like Maria and all her fans are the only ones that can put people down for not acting the way they want, or think people should act.

vosshousehold on

One of the greatest gifts you can give your child is teaching them the value of fitness and having a healthy body. If you don’t prioritize health and fitness as a parent, you may not be blessed enough to be around for your children to lean on in the future. If confidence is something you seek to teach your child, that is certainly something that can be gained through pursuing physical fitness. I care just as much about what goes into my child’s body as I do what goes into their mind, because you can’t have one without the other.

guest on

Miranda- Why do you equate unhealthy with being overweight? I bet you are uneducated, because you sound very ignorant.

guest on

There are people that work out, but are unhealthy and people that don’t work out who have never been sick a day in their lives. It’s sad that so many of the people commenting here, think exercising is the most important thing in the world. I’m wondering if it’s because that is their only accomplishment ?

raptor on

what’s her excuse for having three kids? She didn’t need that many.

She looks fabulous.

Well, I work out every day, and my son is often in the room, but it has no effect; he continues to prefer sitting sitting sitting…. so no, he doesn’t model me. I have to bribe him to exercise, but if I do something WITH HIM (basketball, frisbee) he will do it.

I agree that fitness is a great thing to bequeath.

guest on

Why do all her fans think people vilify healthy mothers? They vilify people, but that seems to be okay. I think most of them live this “victim” mentality where they can say anything they want and blame others for how they take it, but if someone says something they don’t like, then they whine about how people vilify them. I just don’t get it. I have an IQ of 140, so that may be it.

guest on

If you have ever read anything she has written she has said she had 3 kids on accident. I really don’t know how that happens. There is this new invention called birth control. If you use it correctly, especially with a condom you don’t get pregnant. It’s magical!!

raptor on

If you don’t capitalize it, I think “marine” refers to aquatic and is not a noun.

guest on

Yes, fitness is a gift. I’ve volunteered with an organization called Girls on the Run, which gets girls interested in running and instills such confidence in young girls. obviously love and security are a no brainer, I know parents, my sister and brother in law, who love their kids, provide for them, send them to get schools, buy them ipads etc etc, however they’re both overweight. And all my nieces want is to be able to play with their parents, ride bikes with them, run around in the backyard with the, but neither parent makes eating healthy or exercising a priority. It makes me sad for them. I’m a mother of two toddlers and I work outside of the home, I know how difficult it is to find the time to exercise, I struggle with it all the time, so i try to make good eating choices and do active things with my kids. I applaud her, I think the naysayers are just envious.

Jenn on

Maria’s original photo is what motivated me to stop making excuses! While many found it to be fat-shaming, I found that it spoke the truth. I was overweight and under-motivated. 50 pounds later, I have the energy to chase my toddler!

Laura on

I love the no excuse mom movement, Maria inspire me a lot ! is not only a fitness person, is a mother, a wife, a daughter, sister and a spiritual person, i think we are mirrors, When we look at other people, we see many of their qualities in innumerable and seemingly random combinations. However, the qualities that we see in the people around us are directly related to the traits that exist in us. “Like attracts like” is one of the spiritual laws of the universe. We attract individuals into our lives that mirror who we are. Those you feel drawn to reflect your inner self back at you, and you act as a mirror for them. Simply put, when you look at others, you will likely see what exists in you. When you see beauty, divinity, sweetness, or light in the soul of another, you are seeing the goodness that resides in your soul. When you see traits in others that evoke feelings of anger, annoyance, or hatred, you may be seeing reflected back at you those parts of yourself that you have disowned or do not like.

Because we are all mirrors for each other, looking at the people in your life can tell you a lot about yourself. Who you are can be laid bare to you through what you see in others. It is easy to see the traits you do not like in others. It is much more difficult to realize that you possess those same traits. Often, the habits, attitudes, and behaviors of others are closely linked to our unconscious and unresolved issues.

When you come into contact with someone you admire, search your soul for similarly admirable traits. Likewise, when you meet someone exhibiting traits that you dislike, accept that you are looking at your reflection. Looking at yourself through your perception of others can be a humbling and eye-opening experience. You can also cultivate in you the traits and behaviors that you do like. Be loving and respectful to all people, and you will attract individuals that will love and respect you back. Nurture compassion and empathy and let the goodness you see in others be your mirror.

May on

Maria is a great example of a mother who successfully juggles work, family, herself, and giving back to the community. As a mother of two, I know for a fact how difficult it is to already juggle children and a full-time job, but Maria does it all, and it certainly shows that if she can do it, any one can. With all this negativity, it’s clear we need a lot more Marias in the world. 🙂 She’s helped push so many of us to becoming better, healthier mothers — not only for ourselves, but for our children, spouse, family, and friends.

“Investing in yourself is the best investment you will ever make. It will not only improve your life, it will improve the lives of all those around you.” -Robin S. Sharma

Laura on

Good for her for making health an important part of her children’s lives. Obviously Children do look to parents for examples of how to live. That said, she ‘s I barely over 30 – pretty easy to look great at that age. I think she’s pushing her looks more than required to make her point.

guest on

So, Laura basically you are saying if you don’t like someone it’s something within you and you are jealous, or envious? Um, couldn’t that person just be a jerk? I know you think you are a higher level human, but what you wrote here just comes across as fake and preachy!

tony on

Maria works from home . She does not have a real job. It’s sad you think, ” if Maria can do it, anyone can.” Have you met with everyone in the world to see what the hell they having going on? It’s amazing to me that Maria and her supporters don’t see how much they judge people for living the way they think people should live.

isabella on

I don[t understand the people that think the naysayers are envious. If someone constantly talks about how much money they have, or how educated they are, or how they are brain surgeons and kept saying, ” there are no excuses” and ” if I can do it, you can do,” these same people that are calling people envious would be so upset that people were throwing their money, careers and education in their faces.

Natalia on

Well, what can you except from a country that´s full of fat unhealthy people? Obviously you´re going to attack her for being healthy and pointing out you´re wrong and teaching her kids a healthy life style. You should get off your chair, stop nagging and start teaching your kids healthy habits! you can be unhealthy and skinny, of course but I´ve never met someone that´s fat and healthy, that person may seen healthy now, but in some years, their body is going to charge the fee for letting it go like that. being overweight it´s not a disease but it´s the main cause for most of them.

isabella on

Natalia- People aren’t going after her, because she exercises and “eats well.” Like you she equates health with size and thinks fat people all sit around and eat and are sick, or going to get sick and die early. She’s ignorant and not very intelligent just like you. This is coming from someone who exercises. How healthy is throwing up your food? I’ve never done that!

Anonymous on

It’s so sad most of these comments are full of hate. Chances are, your body doesn’t look like hers and you didn’t come up with this idea of fitness and healthy living first; the hate needs to stop. I’m not a size 2 and never will be because I don’t want to be not because I’m lazy. I don’t worship Maria but I respect her commitment to the cause. Why can’t people just be happy for someone and move on?

riean on

This has to stop. . First maria kang is not a regular 9 to 5pm mom she doesnt have to deal with regular hours or demanding schedule . Yes she has her own business which she learned from her parents who has a care home.. i am pretty sure she has employees who does all the dirty work for and her and all she does is sign thier paychecks
Second her husband is disabled marine who is a stay
at home dad, so again she does have help. Unlike
other parents out there who both have to work full
Her message is not annoying she is. She should get off her pedestal and realize that everyone has different path in life . I would give her more respect if she would just not try so hard to “sell” her brand. FIRST shes started selling calendars then now there are hats and t shirt ..

guest on

She came up with the idea of fitness and healthy living? You have to be kidding? Are her fans for real? Why do uneducated people think that everyone is jealous? Why would we want to look like her? She’s short, squatty, has no real boobs, does not have hips, or a waist that goes in, needs makeup and needs long hair. I don’t consider these qualities enviable. Most of the women at the gym I work out at look better than her. I think all you simpletons need to come up with a better argument .

lolita on

Speaking of jealously, Maria is soooooooo jealous of tall, skinny, beautiful women. I just went on her Facebook and she’s picking on VS models. Truth be told, I would rather look like them than her. Sorry, but not sorry!

Sarah on

She’s awesome! I, too, am a mom of three young kids. Two years ago I decided to commit to becoming fit. I am a happier person and my kids also are seeing that it’s important to exercise. There is nothing wrong with wanting a quality life, eating healthy foods, and living longer. I want to always be able to keep up with my kids! 🙂

Guest on

I am all for people working out and adapting a healthy life style. However I am tried of seeing stay at home moms with extra time on their hands now making it a point to tell the world how healthy they are thru their blog, Facebook page, and or You Tube. How about this workout: Getting up at 5:30 to cook the family breakfast and get ready, day care or school by 7:30. Work by 8. From 8-5, work my ass off to support my family, 5:30 make diner with the family. 6 to 8, homework, cleaning, and getting ready for the next day, and from 8-9, finally some quiet time. I am calling it the reality workout.

iamchubby on

I think exercising and eating right is important! I don’t see anything wrong with the way she is raising her children.

Christina on


lolita on

Why does she always have camel toe? I don’t mean this to be rude. I tend to get it, so I go up to a bigger size. Maybe she should try it, or wear exercise pants, or something. It’s not very flattering and it must be kind of painful.

rajbreed on

As a mom of triplets, I love this! Many women let themselves go after birth and continue to to eat unhealthy which leads to future problems. I’m a working mom, but working out is something I try to do every single day. Finally someone is promoting a healthy lifestyle!

lolita on

Yes, Thank God someone is finally promoting a healthy lifestyle. It’s not like anyone else has ever done this. It’s not like Jack LaLange(sp?), Richard Simmons, Jane Fonda, countless trainers and doctors have ever promoted a healthy lifestyle. Where would we be without this chick. Also, it’s very sad that people think gaining weight, or not putting being thin at the top of their list, means they have “let themselves go.”

guest on

I feel sorry for her. She really does not see how horrible she really is. She says things constantly about overweight people and obese people, but then says healthy is not a size. She does not see how she is always contradicting herself. I’m thinking she does not know what the word means. Also, if she says something she blames you for how you take it, but if you say something she doesn’t like, she is snotty, has her husband say something horrible, or writes a post about how horrible people are and how hard the past year has been for her and all her fans come to her defense. WHY isn’t there something wrong with her when she doesn’t like something someone says. You are not brave and courageous. You are the opposite. I rather live in a world full of obese people, then in a world full of people like her!

Dae on

People always want to turn something positive into something negative. These people leaving negative comments probably don’t have the willpower nor motivation to even do what she and other moms do; take care of their health! Yes, kids should always be put before yourself but you’re important also. Staying fit, living and promoting a healthy lifestyle and going to the gym is not selfish. She’s not trying to make herself seem better than others. If you read her blog, she’s just like any other normal woman and mother. I am a new mom finishing up my Ph.D and working. Maria Kang inspired me to prioritize my health no matter how hectic my schedule is. And no, I’m not as lean as she is; nowhere near slim as a matter of fact.

guest on

Dae- How are you getting your degree, when you don’t even use the correct words, grammar, or punctuation? The people leaving “negative” comments, which happen to be the truth, are smart and can see how she really is. I exercise and watch what I eat, but I don’t expect others to do it and I don’t care if they do it. It’s their life. You and Maria use exercising and “eating well” as a way to feel superior to others , because that’s all you have.

Sue kay on

Dae’s punctuation, grammar and word use looks correct to me. What are you talking about guest?

hummuscidalmaniac on

Not that I had much respect for a tabloid to begin with, but this is a new low, even for people. Not one person has complained about her looks or exercise habits, the issue was that her statement and false apology were not only not inspirational, but the cause harm by shaming and bullying. If Ms Kang cared (as she alleges) about obesity, she would do something worthwhile about it instead of playing the victim and crying about being “fit shamed”. I’ve spoken out against her several times on my blog, but since she’s made it clear that she’d rather be willfully ignorant, I’ve moved on and it’s time for the media to do the same. Quit giving her unwarranted attention and focus on women who are actually positive role models .

hummuscidalmaniac on

This blog will only allow me to log in under my blog’s name, but to add to my previous statement, I’m not “hiding” behind a screen name. I am Nikki Wooden and I approve this message.

guest on

Sue((Dae) – She (you) used a semi wrong , she missed many commas and she started a sentence with “and.”

Jamie on

This woman posted that image on her fitness page, which went viral and was taken out of context from her original intentions. I”m glad to see she took her public platform and inspired other mothers to prioritize health. I’m actually pretty impressed by how many free workout groups she was able to organize.While her message can be polarizing, at least some people (obviously not some on this comment thread) got off their butt and stopped making excuses.

guest on

Jamie- How do you know that we don’t get off our butts? This is the problem I have with Maria and her fans. They aren’t smart enough not to know that they should not make generalization about people. Also, all of you think your way is the best. Do you have a career? Are you well-educated? Are you a member of MENSA? If not, why don’t you get off your butt and stop making excuses. Also, what about all the other stuff she says? Is that taken out of context too? It seems like all Maria and her fans do is make excuses for everything they say and do. It’s never her fault, or yours. She just wants attention and to be famous and this is the only way she can do it, because she’s not going to get their with her brains, or the way she looks, because she looks like a million other Asian women, nothing special. Also, why did you need her to get off your butt? Why couldn’t you do it yourself? Are you a follower, or weak-minded?

guest on

This chick has breast implants, so why are people so stupid that they believe she hasn’t had a tummy tuck, or anything else done? People are just so dumb and gullible !

david on

Gauri on

If Maria Kang were fat, I mean, really fat, showing off her rolls in a lace bikini claiming, “I am gorgeous just the way I am”, hundreds and hundreds of people would have lined up here and said, “WOW! Amazing! You go girl!”. And she would have been “inspiring”. But because she is fit and she says she has put in effort to build a body like this, she is shamed. If she had munched french fries and pastries and cola and had a huge fat body, she would have been called, “wonderful, real woman”. Because after all, anything other than an overweight woman is not “real” woman 🙂

LibsDemsfools on

“Kang was accused of fat-shaming other women, and — for prioritizing exercise ” Liberals are always getting their feelings hurt. Bible offends them, healthy life styles offend them, attractive women offends them, healthy children offends them, everything offends immoral people. A healthy body helps regulate a healthy mind. Exercise first in the morning and have an alert mind during the day, sleep soundly at night. Liberals don’t understand anything outside of their government-enforced life styles. Freedom offends Liberals…

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