At first, my reaction to the photo was not good. As a mother of two girls, my gut interpretation of the image was that it sends a message that this is what women should look like and I don't want my girls growing up with that focus. We all come in different shapes and sizes. We all have different strengths. After years of participating in running events, swimming events and triathlons, I have seen amazing athletes in every shape and size. Some athletes are lean and toned. Some athletes are not. Some athletes are tall. Some athletes are short. You get the picture. Regardless of these differences, we are all athletes. As someone who muddled through the teenage years with a lot of body image issues, I don't want my girls growing up with those thoughts.
Behind my gut reaction, there was a piece of me applauding Ms. Kang for her no nonsense, get it done type attitude. I once heard a quote something like "If it's important you will find a way. If it's not you will find an excuse." I try to remember those words to remind myself to control what I can control when it comes to setting the priorities of my life. Truthfully, I need a little boot in the you know what sometimes when it comes to my fitness goals. There are days when the alarm goes off at "it's too early" o'clock in the morning and I have been up at night with a sick little one, need to be on my game at work all day and there is a real need to sleep a little more instead of getting out for that run then. But, guess what? There are also days when the alarm goes off and every reason why I should not get out of bed seems logical, convincing and compelling but it's garbage. I am making excuses and Ms. Maria Kang's photo then seems simply like an inspiring reminder to stay focused on my individual fitness goals. It's a call to challenge myself and be honest about what I really can and can not get done each day. There will be times in my life when my fitness goals will not and can not be where they are in the present day priority pecking order. That's ok, but Ms. Kang's photo also reminds me that I set those priorities. I won't set my workout time as a higher priority than family or going to work (and I am not implying that she does either) but I can certainly prioritize it over TV....internet surfing....and maybe even the dishes (who wants to do those anyway?).
One of my favorite books that I often revisit is "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff and It's All Small Stuff." One chapter of this book discusses the concept of seeing the innocence in everyone's behavior when something feels offensive. This chapter pulled together my conclusion on Ms. Kang's photo. Yes, it struck a nerve. I personally would not have chosen the word "excuse," but that's just me. I know there are moms out there that have circumstances beyond their control that prevent them from being able to even consider making time for themselves a priority and I understand why many felt Ms. Kang's approach is harsh. That said, I believe her intentions were truly to be inspirational, not bullying or shaming. After reading some of her statements and media coverage, I think she truly believes in trying to motivate others to make their health and fitness a priority and is not trying to put forward a message that every lady out there needs to look similar to her. And let's face it, who couldn't use some inspiration from a highly motivated person every now and then, right?
Motherhood can be tough enough. We all don't say the perfect thing at the right time in the perfect way. I think we should try to see the good intentions of inspiration and be supportive of all moms, including Maria Kang....maybe I will get out for another run this week after all!
Have a great week!