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The debate over "Fitness Mom." Moms, what are your priorities?

By Jaime McCutcheon
Published On: Dec 24 2013 11:57:10 AM CST
Updated On: Oct 25 2013 02:55:04 PM CDT
maria kang

It's the picture that spread like wildfire around the social media world this past week, followed closely by criticism and snarky comments.  A very-fit mother posing for a picture with her three young kids under the title "what's your excuse?"  If you haven't seen it, take a look, what do you think?

Maria Kang, 32, a self-described fitness enthusiast who lives in California, posted this picture to her Facebook page about a year ago.  As things tend to do in the social media world, nothing happened and then one day recently, something clicked and the picture went viral.  Moms and people from all over responded - some positively and some negatively.

"You are doing awesome and should not have to explain or justify yourself to anyone - you look fabulous and continue being proud."

"I just want to say that this picture really inspired me to lose weight. I saw this picture and thought to myself, 'wow, she's right. I need to step up my game'."

"I workout 6 days a week, run, eat healthy and while I am fit and healthy I will never look like you do. Kudos, it's hard on your body to have kids, and harder yet to make yourself a priority with 3. But please don't add to a culture where by women are defined, judged and deemed worthy based on looks."

"This is disgusting. Not every mother is a power worker, or has lots of help offered to even have time to think about exercise."

Well, I must say, which one of us wouldn't want a body like that, especially after putting our bodies through the stretching, weight gain and rigors of child birth.  Is her picture one that causes inspiration or jealously or bitterness?  I can honestly say my body has never looked like Maria's, even pre-baby and when I was working out three and four days a week.  I read somewhere that she is a size two, something my hips have never allowed me to attain.  But do I hate her for the way she looks or her message?  Heck no - if that's her priority - go Maria!  It always great to see someone going after and accomplishing their goals.

But I do think it's unfair for her to lump all moms who don't look like her and aren't as fit as her into a group of women who are just full of "excuses."  I think we all have priorities, and while our health should always be one, we also have to find balance.

I find balance by eating as healthy as I can (not always as much as I should though) to balance the fact that I don't spend my time working out or running or straight-up exercising, but instead spend all the time I possibly can with my daughter. 

I find balance by sacrificing morning trips to the gym so I can make memorable moments with my daughter every weekday morning during the years I have with her before she starts kindergarten. 

I tried to find balance by working out on my dinner breaks a few times a week, but then I realized my balance was off.  It's more important to me to spend that dinner break eating at the dinner table with my daughter and with my husband, a husband who I only get to see on my dinner breaks and the weekends.  I found my balance again.

I find balance by doing active things with my daughter when I can, so we combine the best of both worlds.  Will I ever burn as many calories doing things with her as I could burn exercising without her?  No, and I'm OK with that.

Are these my excuses?  No, I'm not making excuses because right now I'm happy with my choices and can get over the fact that I still have 10-12 pounds of "baby weight" I haven't lost.  Right now I am OK with the fact that I'm one dress size larger post-baby, if getting rid of it would mean less time and memories with my daughter.  If I was dangerously obese or had other health issues, well then my priorities would probably be much different.  But they would still be my priorities for me to choose, and I should be able to choose my priorities without someone trying to influence them or trying to make me feel guilty or less healthy because I didn't choose washboard abs as a priority.

I think about the fact that my mother died of cancer at the age of 52.  If I died at that age, I would have 20 years on this earth with my daughter.  While I think passing on healthy, fit routines to our children is very important, something tells me I'd regret missing out on my mornings with my daughter right now if I chose a gym over our time together.  Instead, we do healthy things together.  We go for walks, we go for bike rides, we go to the playground and run around - we try to find things that combine an active lifestyle with time together.  Once again - balance.

Will you find me in the gym several mornings a week once my daughter starts kindergarten and my mornings are returned back to me?  You better believe it, but for now, I'm choosing memories over six-pack abs.

So I'm making my PRIORITIES... what are yours?