No Excuse, No Abs, No Problem

Everybody loves a milf hot mom, right?

A bit more than a year ago, a woman named Maria Kang posted a photo of herself, her three sons, and her abs.  It went viral – not because she had a six pack or her kids were supernaturally cute, but because of the question she posed with it:

maria kang what's your excuse

When Kang came out with this photo and its provocative question, it drew polarized responses.  Critics came clamoring with accusations of shame-mongering, while supporters said it was inspiring and that sometimes the truth hurts.  Eventually Kang made a public “apology,” in which she said she was sorry that anyone would interpret her photo in a negative way, but that she still stood by the original photo/question.  She also mentioned outright that “it’s time we stop tip-toeing around people’s feelings” (a sentiment with which I wholeheartedly agree, but that’s a topic for another time).

Apparently another “hot mom” is making waves now with a similar photo.  Abby Pell is a fitness competitor from the UK, and her recent photo echoes Kang’s sentiment.

abby pell no excuse

Pell’s photo is more troubling to me than the one shared by Kang. While I could go on about the fact that her head is cut out of the photo (symbolically shifting the focus of her identity to her body) or the disturbing message/standard being presented to her daughter, the bigger problem is the mindset that both Pell’s and Kang’s photos represent.  This problematic mindset is twofold:

1.  There is a narrow aesthetic presentation that defines one’s level of fitness.

2. Fitness should take whatever priority necessary to achieve the aforementioned presentation.

These two women are not extremists – the majority of the fitness industry is infected with the same mindset.  While some may have good intentions (and the rest I would regard with hearty skepticism), they are propagating a destructive mentality…and, too often, equally destructive training and nutrition habits.

Thankfully, there are some professionals out there who promote healthier mindsets and practices.  Jen Sinkler, for example, wrote a wonderful piece on these photos and the ensuing controversy: What Effect are “No Excuses” Photo Captions Having on Young Women? A week ago, I discovered Noelle of Coconuts & Kettlebells when I stumbled across her fantastic article: Why I Don’t Want Six-Pack Abs.  This great bit from Lift Big Eat Big remains one of my all-time favorite pieces on body image: The Overrated Image of 6-Pack Abs.

The bottom line is not that having a six-pack is bad in and of itself, but that it’s been made into ridiculous “holy grail” of fitness, and these kinds of photos/captions promote the pursuit of that ideal above all else.  Health is important, and we are called to be stewards of these physical vessels.  But while stewarding our health is our responsibility, and enjoying our physical abilities is a blessing, having a six-pack is not a duty to which we are indebted. Neither is it an aesthetic feature we should feel shame for not attaining or not pursuing.

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Frankly, I’m amazed at some of the women who find time to work out at all in addition to the time spent being wives, mothers, caretakers, business owners, executives, and God knows how much more. Given my current season of life, I should have just as much ability as anyone else to “be shredded” or have a six pack.  Of course, there’s the issue of genetics and generally being built like a tank, but that can be combated. And while I have no husband, no kids, and “no excuse”…I also have no six pack.

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And I have no problem with it.  Health is a priority for me; abs are not.  The priorities I do have?

  • Living a life that is more like Christ.
  • Being a better sister, daughter, and friend.
  • Getting into grad school.
  • Preparing for my future career.
  • Learning to play guitar.
  • Keeping my house/life organized.
  • Working on personal projects.
  • Practicing handstands.
  • Playing with my dog.

So I have no excuse, no abs, and no problem. I do have a happy heart, a healthy body, a sharp mind, and a rich life.

If you ask me, it’s more than worth the tradeoff.


I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please chime in with a comment below!  

PS: If you found this article helpful or interesting, feel free to share on facebook, twitter, pinterest, google+, or wherever else you lurk in social media land.  I’d appreciate it more than you know!


6 thoughts on “No Excuse, No Abs, No Problem

  1. Loved this!!! I share a similar mindset. I am a mom and a wife and life tends to be crazy busy with a toddler. Fitness photos are always buzzing around the Internet and fb which does leave a bit if a guilty feeling that I could do more and be ripped basically. Now, I have no desire to be muscled out and have a perfect body, I would however like to be happy about the body I have. Being a mom has challenges in itself for fitness. I’m not even talking about the time it takes during be day! Pregnancy is hard to recover from. It leaves quite a mess of things when your bundle of joy arrives and combating it to get your body back is hard. These fitness moms and their excuses photos are encouraging to see someone has come back from pregnancy and I’m happy for them. But I love your stance on this topic. Thanks for sharing!

    1. I don’t know how you mamas do it- I have enough trouble taking care of myself without another little human to tend. 😉 I realize postpartum fitness is a whole different game, and while it’s definitely possible to be a fit mother, that fitness and health should be celebrated in whatever beautiful shape it takes. (@4thTrimesterProject is a great instagram account with examples of that!)

  2. I am so glad you posted this. I love your thoughts about health being a priority… Abs not so much. You look fabulous though! I’m in the same boat is you. I should have abs due to my life, but I don’t. And I’m okay with that. Honestly her sentiments make me shake my head. I just don’t even want to give it the time of day. Oh, and I love Jen Sinclair! Her views about bodies and body image are on point. Have a wonderful weekend 🙂

    1. Thanks, doll! And nope, no need for crazy abs anytime of life…as my dad likes to point out, look at Marilyn Monroe. She didn’t have abs or thigh gap, and she did just fine. 😉

  3. I recently found your blog and am loving it! This post struck me enough to comment. My husband and I have no kids, and I have no abs and am fine with it. I work out 6 days a week before work and watch what I eat. However, I LOVE food too much to have abs. I would rather have a healthy relationship with food and enjoy it than have the intense discipline it takes to have abs. Just my 2 cents!

    1. Hi Carrie! Thanks so much for reading and reaching out to comment. I think that having those healthy habits (solid nutrition and training) contribute FAR more to quality of life than abs…and no physique goal is worth screwing up your mental health. You keep doing you, and I hope to see you around the blog more!

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