Making Behavior and Lifestyle Changes

Food for thought: Does simply telling someone to do something, or judging someone for not doing what you think is right, actually help that person change their behavior?
As an Official NEM Nutritionist, I wanted to take a moment to bring what may be a different perspective to the table. Some may be familiar with these concepts; some may think I am way out in left field. Life is a lot about perspective, so even if I can give a new perspective to a few people I am okay with that. Here are two concepts that are just food for thought! They are usually very detailed and complex, but for the sake of this post I want to be as straightforward as possible.
1)   Behavior change. Our group is based a lot around the changing of lifestyles and behaviors. Behaviors are psychological, and deeply engrained. They are habits, and a lot of times when it comes to food-related behaviors they are even addictions. They are very difficult to change, which is why many different theories and models in the scientific field that are used to explain behavior change. I don’t want to go into detail of course because you are all busy moms and don’t have all day to read a post that sounds like a lecture. The key message I want to bring here is changing behaviors is HARD. It involves many different steps and factors to change a behavior (e.g., motivation, education, support, confidence, etc.). If you think  ‘clean eating’ and living a healthy lifestyle is hard and you are alone because everyone else is making progress or some people make it look easy – think again! We all have difficulties at some point or another (we just don’t always show it, especially on social media), and with the right support and motivation (and accepting that we will have set-backs and no success comes without failure), we can overcome them.
2)   Social Determinants of Health.  This is another concept I don’t want to bore you all with and go into detail, but I just want to introduce for those of you who may not have heard of it. This is a premise that lifestyle choices are largely shaped by many different factors, including: income and income distribution, education, unemployment and job security, employment and working conditions, early childhood development/experiences, food insecurity, housing, social exclusion, social safety network, health services, aboriginal status, gender, race, and disability. Each and every one of these factors influences the choices that we make, and we don’t always have control over a lot of these factors (a lot of these factors are set by society, and individuals have no control over this). Just one example (there are many other examples, but again for the sake of us busy moms): people in various family situations (from low to middle income; single to two parent households), cannot afford a healthy diet. This is by no means their fault for many reasons, one being the cost of living (has risen significantly, and increase in wages have not kept up with the many costs of living (food, shelter, transportation, childcare, etc.). This means many families cannot afford to eat healthy, but it is not their fault. Now there may be many other factors that influence say a low-income families’ ability to purchase a healthy diet – e.g., knowledge, skills, childhood experiences, stress, etc. So as you can see, a person’s decisions around food can be very complex!
We are all human. For the most part we have good intentions and want to support and help each other by giving advice and what works for us, and we do an incredible job! Some days we might have a bad day and post something in the wrong way. Misunderstandings can happen. I get it and I think for the most part we all do. We are all busy, and most times trying to post something in between other daily responsibilities. BUT, I do know there are moms in here who feel overwhelmed at times with conflicting advice, and/or they feel ashamed because certain things that they perceive as the ‘right thing to do’ doesn’t fit their lifestyle. These feelings can really hinder someone’s progress. Telling someone to do something is one thing, but again, we all have different factors that affect why we do what we do.
My 2 takeaway messages are: 1) try to be a little more understanding of just how many factors influence a person and the decisions that they make. If we all try to be a little more understanding of this, we may be able to support each other even more than we already do; and 2) if someone gives you advice and it works for them and not you – that is okay! We are all human, different things work for different people. It doesn’t make us any less of women or mothers. We are already doing so much and are hard enough on ourselves (but shouldn’t be) – so let’s not be hard on each other!

12-week Transformation Contest!

On September 1st we are beginning an international transformation contest with all our No Excuse Moms! For 12 weeks, we are asking you to eat healthy, get active and be purposeful in your daily intentions. This was created to connect us as No Excuse Moms, motivate us before the holidays and transform us in a limited period of time. Contest Ends November 24th.
If you lose a healthy average of 1-2lbs/week for the next 12 weeks, you will be 12-25lbs lighter in 12 weeks! If you are heavily overweight, you will lose more weight. Click here to submit payment and receive an application via email.
1. Drink only water, black coffee/tea
2. Eat balanced meals comprising of 30% lean protein, 30% healthy fats, 30% carbohydrates. The last 10% goes towards a small treat or protein/fat (for rest days) or carbohydrates (for training days).
3. Track your calories. If you are trying training for weight loss, lower your intake by 300 calories every few weeks.
4. Enjoy 1-2 treat meals a week.
5. Perform cardio 4 times a week for 20-30 minutes. (the shorter your cardio time the more intense it should be).
6. Perform strength training 3 times a week for 30-40 minutes.
7. Stretch daily.
8. Take a Selfie monthly (in workout clothes/swimsuit)
9. Participate and connect with your local NEM group either online or in person.
10. Identify your Target Heart Rate: 220-age * 60-85% =
11. Create a 12-week Fitness Calendar. For tips and downloadable calender click here.
12. Find accountability partners: Mentor (group leader), Supporter (friend) and Follower (someone you can guide). Find your regional leader here.
13. Be a member of our online NEM Facebook group
Contest Rules:
1. $20 opt-in payment to place into the pot.
2. All application will be emailed after payment is received and must be submitted by September 5th
3. Submit before and after pics and story by November 24th
4. Must connect with closest NEM group (via online or in person). Identify your local leader.
5. Must follow NEM guidelines. No extreme dieting, diet pills, detox plans allowed.
Winners will be judged by Maria Kang and a NEM panel. Criteria will be based upon:
40% Transformation
30% Personal Story
30% Participation
The pot money will be divided between 14 winners:
1. TWELVE Regional winners (including our  two international NEMs)
2. ONE National winner
3. ONE NEM admin/leader
The way we will divide prize money will be:
30% NEM Winner
30% NEM Admin/leader Winner
30% NEM Regional Winners
10% Misc Fees and NEM Charity Bucket (everything will be accounted for and transparent for everyone to see)
For Example, if we have 500 entries this will be the breakdown:
$10,000 POT MONEY
$3000 Overall NEM winner
$3000 NEM Admin/leader winner
$300 (11 Regions: $3300) Regional leader
Leftover is $700 which will go towards any paypal fees and the NEM charity bucket (i.e. sponsorship races)
1. Do I need to count calories?
No. We provided a general guideline for those who want to know how to get started.
2. How do you define Detox?
We don’t recommend any program that allows less than 1200 calories/day. This was a general term used to avoid quick fix dieting. (which is detrimental in the long term)
3. I am pregnant, can I still join?
YES! To be fair, you can either use a before picture at the same time you were pregnant prior (if this is your second child) to demonstrate a healthier pregnancy. If this is your first time, please just provide your most recent picture. (BTW: we’ve had a pregnant mom grace the pages of our swimsuit calendar)
4. Can I use a ‘before’ picture that was taken earlier this year?
Please provide the picture taken this month (August 2014). Please submit two photos. One holding a daily newspaper and one without. You can also include a picture taken prior but it will not be used in the final judging.
5. Do I need to be a mom?
No! Stepmoms, grandmothers, mom of doggies…are all able to join!
6. Do I HAVE to join a local group?
Yes – you can either create your own (if there is no one next to you) or join the closest group either online or in person. The reason why this is required is to align you with positive people and create lasting, healthy friendships.
7. Will I know the total pot money?
Yes! On Sept 6th we will announce how many people have entered and what is up for grabs! We will also announce pot updates the weeks leading up.

40 signs you are a No Excuse Mom.

You had 4 hours of sleep? Big Deal. You work 10-hour shifts? So what!? No sitter, no time, no excuses! When you’re a No Excuse Mom, NOTHING gets in the way of you and your health! If you’re uncertain whether you can join the ranks of being a No Excuse Mom, here are 40 tell-tale signs that you just might be in good company!
1. When you’re doing squats in the kitchen, squats while folding laundry, and push ups & planks with your children on your back – Alanna B.
2. After traveling from coast to coast, living on 3 hrs of sleep and struggling with a sinus infection, you still fit in a workout before the kids wake up. I couldn’t skip on leg day!!! – Kristin B.
3. When it’s your birthday and you don’t eat crap! – Kristin E.
4. When you have to stop your work out to breastfeed! LOL!– Tanja R.
5. Holding a yoga pose and your 1 year old, takes the opportunity to “climb you”…. and you still hold the pose – Stacy M.
6. While doing your workout your little one wants to be carried so you put them on your shoulders and continue with your workout with modifications of course; ) – Billy B.
7. While your toddler sees play equipment, you see impromptu gym (monkey bar pullups anyone?) – Jen R.
8. When your animals start rolling their eyes at you when you exercise. This cat is giving me the “Stop it” look as I’m getting my pole fitness in! haha! – Cilla D.
9. When you have a fish hook to the face yesterday and a tetnus shot today…but still completed my 30 day challenge and took the kids on a 2 mile bike ride ! – Bobbie S.
10. When my kids hear “work out” they think it’s fun!! (and they start playing with their fitness toys!) – Reina D
11. When your 4 year old daughter ends up teaching her gymnastics class. (While improvising) lol – Brigitte J.
12. When you still cook dinner for the family while they help you practice posing for an upcoming competition- Kristina J.
13. When you show up to work looking like you are about to move in! Gym bag, huge lunch cooler, uniforms on a hanger. – Amanda C.
14. When you prioritize your fitness during a move! Meal prep, workout then pack to move – Tai V.
15. When your four year old goes up to complete stranger at a McDonald’s inside Walmart and gives the m an apple and says “this one is better”. I was embarrassed, but proud. – Les A.
16. After coming home from church, you help someone move furniture with your Sunday dress and tennis shoes. My daughter said to me “you’re pretty strong mommy, but those shoes don’t look good with your dress” – Ashleigh F.
17. When you decide to let your 4 year olds take turns hanging onto your back while you squat, then your 8 yr old takes a turn, then your 9 year old takes a turn, and you don’t stop even though you swear you have nothing left in you, and you keep saying “one more” until you break your own record. – Tina C.
18. When it takes an hour to finish a 30 minute workout…(pausing the DVD to tend to my daughters’ bickering!!! But I finished!!!) – Renee M.
19. When your toddler starts working out in the middle of class. Lol – Tanja R.
20. When you wake up at 4am, workout, get ready, pack my munchkins meals/ snacks, my meals, my hubbies meals, get kids ready, go to work, run on lunch breaks, cook dinner, take kids to park, clean house, take baths, spend quality time with partner then….wake up and repeat! – Alyssa E.
21. You note milestones such as baby’s first plank – Jessica J.
22. When your six year old tells her kindergarten teacher the ingredients during snack time are not healthy and she will not eat it! – Anna H
23. When your 7-yr-olds Mother’s Day project is a list of things mommy loves and #1 is “her biceps”. – Jodie C.
24. Running a 5k with my 9yr old daughter while 38 weeks pregnant. (I even ran with a baby stroller for the first two miles!)– Deborah P.
25. When you carry your 28lb toddler on your shoulders during your 6 mile walk because he doesn’t want to walk or be in the stroller. While tough, you don’t mind because it means more resistance! – Patti M.
26. No babysitter? Dog needs a walk? I need my run? I got this. P.S. my dog ended up in the stroller too in the end! – Nicole H.
27. When my kids read the labels to all the food in the house to see how much protein is in it!! – Jeanette B.
28. When you sign up for future races, while you were pregnant. I ran the Spartan military race in Colorado Springs 4 months postpartum and ran a full marathon 5 months postpartum. Now I’m training to be a standup paddle board yoga instructor. – Thai N.
29. When you plank with your 32 pound 2 1/2 year old on your back – Lainie P.
30. When you make your 9 month old join you in your workouts! Never too young to start right? – Krisitna O.
31. When you shoot yourself in the wrist with a nail gun (damn you crown molding) and arm day becomes right arm day. – Oonagh R.
32. When you have no sitter and perform all your workouts while pushing your children in a jogger or while they jump all over you during a home workout! Do we stop no, did we laugh definitely!!! – Jillian W.
33. When your four year old is a yogi! – Julie D.
With beautiful form!
34. When you buy your baby rattle weights! – Stephanie G.
35. When you have multiple diagnosed chronic diseases and your health deteriorates, which leads you to sign up at the gym then soon getting injured after! Regardless of your setbacks and being a mother of an 11 year old YOU NEVER STOP!! You figure out what else you can do. In just 4 months I’ve been in better health than I’ve been throughout my life. And learned that I can still do this….. – Valerie A.
36. When your baby joins you for crunches on the AB lounge. – Kristina J.
37. When you use a jogging stroller instead of a car to put your baby (who loves motion) to sleep. I don’t need car power, I use momma power! – Katherine K.
38. You know you’re a No Excuse Mom when you go to the Gym in a hurry and realize you have grabbed a diaper bag instead of your gym bag – Darlene V.
39. When your kids encourage you to try new things by “come on mom” “it’s easy mom” “you just have to flip over and land mom” they encourage me to think outside of the box for workouts. They also love gym time, it’s considered their alone time as well. I am a full time employee, full time mom, and have a husband who has a plate just as full as mine going to school to become a firefighter and working at full time. – Leticia H.
40. You become part of the No Excuse Mom movement.
Join us here:


There are so many benefits to drinking more water. Improved digestion, clearer skin, weight loss, increased energy, flushes out toxins, etc. Most recently some of our No Excuse Moms partook in this 30-day challenge and lost weight, eliminated eczema, decreased headaches, removed dark under eye circles and increased energy all through drinking water and changing nothing else in their diet and exercise routine.
I love focusing on drinking water because it is an available commodity for most people. It’s a simple addition to their daily life that seems actually do-able. Since I (Maria Kang) only drink water (most often it’s infused with lemon, cucumber, berries or mint) it makes sense to share and promote this fountain of youth and health. Not only do I drink primarily water but so do my kids. I remember a long time ago I used to dilute their sippy cups with some apple juice and water. One day, I stopped buying juice and while they sought it for a day or so, it is now commonplace to only drink water and juice on special occasions (like a friends birthday party).
So if you are going to start the 30-day No Excuse Water Challenge let me offer some rules and tips.
1. Focus on drinking a gallon of water a day. NO, do NOT drink it all at one time. Drink it in the morning, before and after meals, during your workouts and when you need to hydrate during work or running errands. You can also consider the water in unsweetened coffee or tea (yes you can have these) – as long as it’s consumed without additional sugar.
2. I chose to have this challenge in the hottest time of the year (in the western hemisphere), which is August. Many people are very dehydrated during this time so this is a great reminder to get some liquid in your system!
3. Some of you might not meet a gallon a day. After all, that’s a lot of water! I don’t even hit that mark often – especially if I break my routine, like not working out. However, even if you only drank 80 oz (gallon is 128 oz) don’t feel like a failure. The #noexcusewaterchallenge is not about perfection, it’s about progress. It’s about being more conscious of your water intake and drinking more than you normally would.
4. With that said, be aware that you should always consult your physician before engaging in any fitness or nutritional program. While too much water can be too much of a good thing, if taken in small doses throughout the day, it shouldn’t cause harm to your health. Everyone is different so seek consult with your doctor if you have any reservations.
5. So be prepared to urinate. For people like myself, going to the bathroom nearly every hour is commonplace. For people who are usually dehydrated, it might come as a shock to have to urinate every hour or so. Cleansing/flushing out toxins is a good thing – so is peeing nearly clear (versus urine that has too much color, like apple juice, a clear sign of dehydration)
6. Participate in this challenge with a friend. You will hold each other accountable.
7. Making dietary or exercise changes are not required – but of course, I always suggest everyone be active!
8. As many know, I believe in small treat meals throughout the week (usually two). So, in accordance to my No Excuse Philosophy, I DO believe it’s okay to indulge in a caloric drink (this includes alcohol) 1-2 times a week during your treats.
9. Hashtag #noexcusewaterchallenge on Facebook and Instagram (mine is @mariakangfitness). For the whole month of August I will be posting pictures of those participating. Be creative!
10. Submit your progress pics and story to by Sept 5th for a chance to win a Define Bottle. If you can’t wait until September for one of these cute infused bottles, you can purchase it here and get 10% off using the code NOEXCUSES