Three years ago, then 32-year-old Maria Kang posted a photo to Facebook that went viral and thrust her into the spotlight. She grabbed national attention because the photo featured super thin and fit Kang wearing sports shorts and a sports bra, surrounded by her three very young children with the question, “What’s your excuse?” hanging over the image.

marla kang fit mom
via Marla Kang Facebook

At the time of the photo her boys were only three, two, and not quite one-year-old. Her message was not especially well received, with many moms complaining that they felt fat shamed. Her job as a fitness instructor definitely helped her maintain her amazing figure, however, if her goal was to inspire others to get in shape, she seems to have failed.

Instead Kang sparked a national debate on obesity and fitness. Interestingly enough she is back in the spotlight. This time she is judging less and asking those who felt judged by her to be kind. She explains in several posts that she has had a difficult year, split from her husband, dealt with depression, and basically found it hard to motivate and make fitness a priority, thus resulting in a ten pound weight gain. They all sound like valid ‘excuses’ to us.

She recently shared a few photos on Instagram featuring her wearing bathing suits. They are not photoshopped at all and include her “ten pound weight gain,” but we think she still looks great. The point she seems to be trying to hit home is that she gets it, there are excuses, every day it’s a struggle, and not an easy one. “I may be a bit softer, rounder and heavier, but that was never my point. My point is to make fitness a priority. Sometimes I can avoid chocolate, recently I can’t. Sometimes I can train 6 days a week, recently I can’t. But, it doesn’t mean I stopped. I’m still going!” Kang writes, continuing, “So Keep Going and embrace your spirit every step of the way.”

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“I’ve gained 10 lbs. since my ‘What’s Your Excuse’ photo and I’m not hiding from that fact. I want to empower others to step in front of the camera and be unapologetic, thankful and proud of where they are today. Beauty is in our minds and is reflected in the eyes of the people who truly love you. It doesn’t matter if you are skinny, fit, overweight or obese, if you don’t live in gratitude, you will never see what you truly have and who you truly are.” – Maria Kang via @people Not living in gratitude stems from focusing on things outside your world, including looking at the past and seeking towards the future. I haven't been PRESENT these last several months and I know this more fully today. My mind was continuously clouded by emotions and events that influenced me to feel bitter, resentful, pain and grief. I felt like a robot, going through the motions but not smelling, seeing, tasting or feeling anything. I'm awake now. I'm still fighting this spiritual fight. There is a powerful negative energy that seeks to destruct, deceive and destroy relationships, people, places and things. "It" wants you to feel insecure, unattractive, unhappy and worthless, and like every human, I fight to stay positive, prayerful, progressive, motivated and inspired – especially when I feel under spiritual attack. Today (and every day) I'm clawing my way back to me…to the little girl who wrote 'make a difference' after each diary entry for years, to the young woman who founded a nonprofit Fitness without Borders, to the hopeful bride who married an injured Marine wanting to build a family together, to the @Noexcusemoms I've popularly become today – someone who has relentlessly spoke a positive message about prioritizing health and celebrating yourself wherever you stand in this journey. I may be a bit softer, rounder and heavier, but that was never my point. My point is to make fitness a priority. Sometimes I can avoid chocolate, recently I can't. Sometimes I can train 6 days a week, recently I can't. But, it doesn't mean I stopped. I'm still going! So Keep Going and embrace your spirit every step of the way. Thank you @brittenphoto for capturing this beautiful image.

A post shared by Maria Kang (@mariakangfitness) on

The bottom line is moms really need to build each other up, not tear each other down and women need to stop valuing themselves based on the scale or what they see in the mirror.