Last year or two years ago or something like that, there was a big firestorm over the “No Excuse Mom”, Maria Kang. She posted a picture of herself so social media with her three young boys and her nearly perfect bikini body with a caption about how a baby is a reason not an excuse to be fit. Some people loved her. Some people hated her. I still can’t figure it out.
Today, “No Excuse” is considered a movement. Women all around the country rally under that banner as they gather for fitness groups and to support one another to eat healthier. How do I know this? Because I hike with my local chapter every Saturday. Still, I don’t know if this message really resonates with me.
Becoming a parent changed my entire life. I actually did want to start being healthier after my son was born. I started doing yoga, we’d take the occasional family hike, and I stopped putting salt on everything I ate. (I continue to suffer with butter abuse issues; there’s no end in sight.) Certainly my lifestyle became a healthier one, but fitness was by no means a personal priority.
Fast forward a few years to when my daughter was born. I still hadn’t lost the baby weight from my first pregnancy, which kinda sucked, but I wasn’t trying super hard. Then I found myself mother to a kindergartner and a toddler while being a work-at-home mom, and my life became crazier than I ever could have imagined possible.
Yes, having a child or children is a reason to be healthy, but it’s also the reason that it’s hard for most of us to prioritize our own health. Kids are needy little beasts. My toddler is incredibly attached to me right now and constantly wants to be held. She is completely inept at entertaining herself. My school-aged child now has after-school activities and homework, which after my work day is over, takes up the majority of my evening. Then I have to feed them, and making a meal that isn’t McDonald’s takes some time.
Also, did I mention I have another kid on the way?
So, while I believe the “No Excuse” message is well intentioned, it rubs me the wrong way for the same reason it does many other people: sometimes, having kids is a legitimate excuse. For Maria King, fitness is her job, so it’s not necessarily a struggle to fit it in.
Take my life as an example. I usually wake up around 5:30 every day and start work before I need to get child #1 up and off to school. Then my babysitter comes so #2 doesn’t get neglected while I’m at work, and my husband goes off to his job. Then I sit at a computer for hours. Like, lots of hours. I can sometimes fit in a shower around lunchtime. (Don’t judge me.) I continue to work until it’s time to pick up #1 from the bus. Then we go do whatever sport or activity my son is in for that day and then home to eat and complete homework. Then the circus that is bedtime takes place.
At this point, I usually go get some more work done. Occasionally I catch up on some TV. This down time is important for my sanity, and I wouldn’t trade it for toned arms or the endurance to run an extra quarter mile. Maybe it would be different if I was a stay at home mom, and I think moms who work outside the home would have a more difficult time than me trying to fit exercise in their schedules.
Either way, I applaud moms and dads who make fitness and healthy living part of their lifestyle. I wish I had the drive to do the same. Maybe one day I will. For now, I do what I can and my kids are my excuse for what I can’t do — and I think that’s ok.