NEM Region 4 Winner: Sharnita Smith

Congrats to our Region 4  winner, Sharnita Smith, for dedicating 12 weeks towards self-improvement both externally and internally and winning $442! Region Four is led by Sherilyn Taylor and comprises of Florida, Alabama, Georgia, North and South Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky and Mississippi. Find a local No Excuse Mom meetup near you by entering your city/state or zipcode HERE.

Sharnita’s Story:

My name is Sharnita and I “WAS” an emotional eater that struggled with Depression. My journey started in 2009 and from then to now I’ve fallen off the bandwagon 3 times. This challenge was the fuel I needed to get back on my grind… I started out with a competitive mindset but then it changed. I began to focus more on my mental and physical health.

I realized during these 12 weeks that Fitness is therapy for me. Instead of me turning to food as my comfort, I workout and leave all that was on my mind on the weights… By the end of my workout I feel so relieved and FREE from Stress. I am a mother of an 8 year old young man and I can tell he’s proud of his mommy’s progress. He says to me, “mom your muscles are getting big, your waist is getting small, you have Abs!” just to mention a few. I want my son to see me happy and healthy. I remember times when I was severely depressed, no matter how much I try to hide it, my son knew something wasn’t right. There were times I waited until he was asleep to just cry and there has been times where he would wake up and come ask me what was wrong. I never want to put myself son through worrying about his mommy.

Fitness has change my Life drastically in these 12 weeks, seriously. My focus has been to be consistent with my workouts and to do better with my eating, and I’ve focused solely on this and I’ve been successful. My eating is not totally where I want it to be BUT  not far from it… My body has changed a lot. My ability to control my emotions has gotten better.  In fact, just how I see things in Life has changed for the better. This journey has encouraged me to share what I’ve learned about fitness and nutrition with others and to start looking into becoming a certified trainer and nutritionist… I’m definitely encouraged and forever grateful for this opportunity with NEMs to change my Life and to be better then I was the day before… So who am I now you ask?!?! I am Sharnita, a Fit&FabCHIC Building a Beautiful Body with a sound mind, that’s who I am.

Read about our No Excuse Mom program HERE or pre-order Maria Kang’s “The No More Excuses Diet” Book HERE.

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NEM Region 3 Winner: Erica Hansen

Congrats to our Region 3 winner, Erica Hansen, for dedicating 12 weeks towards self-improvement both externally and internally and winning $422! Region three is managed by Barbie Caulder and comprises of Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, Delaware and Maryland. Find a local No Excuse Mom meetup near you by entering your city/state or zipcode HERE.

Erica’s Story:
A few of you may know me; you may know me as the “fancy” eater, your “sweaty selfie” sister, or the protein shake mad scientist. I post funny things, important things, and motivating things. I like to brag about my husband who writes motivational phrases on our bathroom mirror. I’m a mother of four children and 10 chickens and just your average, granola, fancy gal. I’m here to tell you about my transformation and how it changed me, in 500 words or less. Let’s do this.
I started the challenge with a mission: lose weight. Lots of it. I was unhappy with my body and it was affecting me and my family. I was in despair mode; you know, when you think nothing will get better so why even try? We were eating poorly and sedentary. Maria Kang had successfully challenged me to change my hydration habits in August, so I figured that the 12 Week Challenge was the next logical step. I put up my fitness calendar, started counting calories and worked out. I was losing weight and feeling better. I still battled with feelings of despair, depression and anxiety, and my compulsive eating was always lurking around the corner waiting for a moment of weakness, but the support and love I felt from my family and the NEM community could always help boost me out of my funk. I consider my challenge to have been a success; I lost a little weight, I got motivated and I am inspired to keep it going. This was more of a transformation of my mind and my soul than my body. I have learned to love my body and give it love, and I know that I need to do it for the rest of my life.
I would like to take this opportunity to give future-me and other women who need it some advice:
1. Be good to yourself. Take moments away to meditate and concentrate on your love for yourself. Take the extra time to dress up your food. Go out and get a new workout outfit. Be fancy! These little things reinforce the idea that you are worth it and cement them in your mind.
2. Take chances. Go to that group workout that you were too shy to attend. Workout at the playground, even if you’re the only one. Run like a kid, dance like no one’s watching and do headstands. You do not look silly; you look like a person who is dedicated to fitness and you may inadvertently inspire someone else.
3. Be positive. Forget the “haters”; don’t think about them, don’t even talk about them. Turn every down moment into an up moment. Surround yourself with positive people. It’s not easy at first, but you’ll find that positivity is absolutely infectious and every moment that you have a smile on your face, you’ll be spreading goodness to others.
Lastly, I would like to thank the amazing NEM community. I love you all. Pinkies up!


Read about our No Excuse Mom program HERE or pre-order Maria Kang’s “The No More Excuses Diet” Book HERE.


NEM Region 2 winner: Bridget Molnar

Congrats to our Region 2  winner, Bridget Molnar, for dedicating 12 weeks towards self-improvement both externally and internally and won $442! Region two is led by Vanessa Campos and comprises of New Jersey and New York. Find a local No Excuse Mom meetup near you by entering your city/state or zipcode HERE.

Bridget’s Story:

I began my journey September 29, 2014. I stumbled upon a Facebook group of women all working on being healthy role models for their children. This being something I longed to be. I reluctantly went to a NEM Meet up where I was greeted by an incredible specimen of a human-muscular, lean, beautiful and strong (Vanessa Campos). I was terrified! But, nearly 10 minutes into my grueling workout I realized I was in the right place with the right people. I had a goal. I would become the skinny girl I once was! Nothing more-nothing less! Little did I know I wouldn’t only lose inches, body fat and pounds; but I would lose the self-hatred, torment of carrying burdens and trauma I had endured my entire life. I WOULD TRANSCEND ALL EXPECTATIONS OF MYSELF!

You see I am far more than that fat woman in the picture above who appears to lack physical strength and confidence. I am a PTSD survivor, sufferer of major depressive mood disorder since I was 13, the daughter of a 15 year mother, a girl who’s never met her schizophrenic father, was raised by grandparents alongside my own child mother, graduated the top ten in my high school class, was sexually molested nearly daily by a family member to whom I love and trusted starting at the age of 4 to which my family never knew or could protect from his grips. I put myself into therapy as well as college where I graduated a Dean scholar. I’ve been committed to a psychiatric ward for 7 days for a psychotic break and attempted suicide 5 years ago. I have 2 beautiful healthy confident and mentally stable children, and a challenging yet loving and supportive husband. And I’ve always hung my head in shame of it all. Embarrassed by my imperfections and dysfunctional life. Then, being a people pleaser, I perfected the art of the fake smile seeing the effect that it had on everyone I met. I was the master of disguise wearing the mask of elation only to be broken and very alone with my secrets and shame.
Until now! More than 35 years after my torture I am saved by this transformation challenge! I no longer fear challenges-I EMBRACE THEM!!! I have made the realization that I have always been strong, resilient and consistently a fighter! I do wear this smile of true elation and pride. I am a survivor, a mother, an example of strength and hope! I’ve learned that I no longer need to pretend I am happy when I’m sad-LIFE ISN’T PERFECT! And, I don’t need to pretend to be or hide in embarrassment of my experiences!
My transformation isn’t over…I will always be a work in progress. No I’m not that skinny girl I set my goal of being and I’m not sure I’ll ever be and that’s ok. But I no longer carry my burdens or pain. I have transformed into a woman I love! Maria Kang, you’re creation of NEM and your fitness leader Vanessa Campos have saved my life! I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Read about our No Excuse Mom program HERE or pre-order Maria Kang’s “The No More Excuses Diet” Book HERE.

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NEM Region 1 winner: Lindsay Ahearn

Congrats to our Region 1 winner, Lindsay Ahearn for dedicating 12 weeks towards self-improvement both externally and internally and winning $442! Region one is led by Jennifer Dillon and comprises of Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Connecticut. Find a local No Excuse Mom meetup near you by entering your city/state or zipcode HERE.

Lindsay’s Story…

“My journey to health and happiness started a long time ago. I was 22, overweight and unhappy with myself. I decided to take charge of my body, and I lost 70 pounds over the course of two years by adopting a healthy diet and embracing a love of running. When I found out I was pregnant last December, all the same fears came creeping back. What if I gain too much weight? What if I can’t lose it after? What if I can’t make time to exercise? I tried very hard to maintain a healthy lifestyle for my baby, but by my 8th month, I had gained the 70 pounds I had once lost, and found myself back where I started. A month postpartum, I stepped on the scale, and although I had lost nearly 40 pounds, I knew there was work to be done. I have this new little person relying on me to be there for him, and I intend to do that the best I can.
I was cleared to exercise right around the time I heard about the “No Excuse Moms Transformation Challenge.” This was the perfect motivation for me. I had adopted a healthier diet the day after I left the hospital, but I knew exercise was something that wouldn’t come back as quickly for me. I started walking with Tyler in his stroller around our neighborhood, so by 6 weeks postpartum I was able to start jogging. My family was a great support system for me, as my sister and mother would volunteer to watch Tyler so I could go for a run a few times per week. I always knew, though, no matter how many times I was able to get out each week, I would be able to circle back with our NEM group each Sunday morning and get remotivated.
Our group leader, Jenn, did a great job organizing each week, and bringing new types of exercises for us to do. Weight training has never been something I was good at, or was even motivated to do, so it was great to have a time allotted each week to do these things. As a group, we ran three different 5k races, and had a great time doing it!

Being back at work has been difficult. The first month I was feeling discouraged, because I was not able to get in these workouts, then I remembered… NO EXCUSES! I have been making time during my lunch hour to get in a run, and I joined a women’s gym in my area which focuses on weight training at each visit. I’ve been keeping to this routine now for two weeks, and I already feel better. After a long day at work, the last thing I want to do is leave my son behind to hit the gym. I know this will be worth it though, as he will have the best version of his mom possible growing up.”

Read about our No Excuse Mom program HERE or pre-order Maria Kang’s “The No More Excuses Diet” Book HERE.

Lindsay Ahearn

No Weights? No problem! Grab a Pumpkin!

No Weights? No problem! Grab a Pumpkin! Pueblo West, Colorado’s NEMs Fall Fest shows you how exercise can be fun, festive and FREE.

In May 2014, Jessica Cordova built up the courage to send in an application to be a NEM group leader. This courage came from wanting to empower her 8 year old daughter who, at the the time, was dealing with bullying for the past 10 months. “To see her confidence at an all time low was something that I knew I needed to take control of. Just like many moms, my daughter needed to be around people and other children that were going to build her up, not tear her down. We were able to focus her mind on something exciting, something new. Something that we could do together. I wanted to show her that we could do something positive for our community and set a good example of a strong woman.”

Today, along with her co-leader, Myndee Weber, Jessica’s daughter is proudly a NEM group “assistant manager” and has made new friends who joins them weekly. Most recently they held a Fall Fest, where they met at the heart or their community, a pond, where they meet every Tuesday and Thursday morning in Pueblo West, Colorado.

“After a good stretch we always warm up with two laps around the pond. I encourage moms to bring a jogging stroller if they have one and go at their own pace. The older kiddos also bring their bikes and scooters. Once we are warmed up we do what we call “fit mom cardio” which includes plyometrics such as, squat jumps, jumping lunges and burpees. After cardio, we perform 15 minutes of full body circuit training utilizing body weights, medicine balls or dumb bells from home, then we end with some stretches and core.”

During the workouts, children are encouraged to join or play amongst each other with a bag of toys in the grass. I like to encourage the children to join in with us if they want or we always bring a bag of toys for them to play with on the grass.
Jessica was always an athlete, runner, dancer, cheerleader and fitness enthusiast. She even competed in a figure contest in 2004! She didn’t get her best body though, until AFTER she had three children.

“Since my first pregnancy 8 years ago, I’ve had many ups and downs and it hasn’t been easy. I gained over 45 pounds with each of my babies, and had to start from square one after each just like many other moms. Between pregnancies I remained active but not consistent. After my youngest, I couldn’t even do a pushup, not one. I was discouraged all over again; feeling uncomfortable in my own skin and refusing to look at my reflection in the mirror. I continued to workout at home afraid to step foot again in a gym.

For the next 8 months after my failed pushup, I overcame my weaknesses and kept sight of my goals of being healthy and fit, leaving all excuses behind. And trust me I had many.. One of my biggest was priding myself on being a devoted stay-at-home mother to an 8 year old daughter, 4 year old son and a crazy, around the clock nursing one year old. This meant, no breaks, no me time, eating last, waking up first, running them around here and there and absolutely no supplements, cutting calories or fad diets for the health of my breastfed son. I knew I had to find a balance and set an example for my children, teaching them smart eating choices and an active lifestyle even with a busy schedule.

Today Jessica still remains a devoted mom, just a mom that makes no excuses for her or her family’s health. “I now enjoy my time in the gym with out feeling guilty because it makes me feel better mind, body and soul. I’ve set new goals for myself, have stopped looking at the scale and can now do 50 push-ups without stopping. I have grown a love for sharing new, healthy recipes with my family and the bonus is each of us have all around better energies. Winning!”
After following the No Excuse Philosophy on Maria Kang’s page (and controversy) Jessica finally got the courage in May to send in her application to be a group leader through the NEM website.

“The process was easy and I knew this was something that my community, as well as my family, could truly benefit from. So why not? I wasn’t sure what to expect being that I was your “average” stay-at-home mother without any actual fitness certifications, just a love for health and fitness. Within 24 hours I had an email back saying I would be a great fit. Yay! I was beyond thrilled and was excited for the opportunity. Between the two groups, I have 280 members online in our facebook group pages and consistently have an average of 8 or more moms that attend weekly at both locations. Since becoming established, friendships have formed and the amount of support and respect amongst these amazing women has been tremendous. Even the kiddos have made their buddies that they look forward to playing with at each meet-up!”

INSTAGRAM @noexcusecolorado_momma

So what are Jessica’s tips for other nervous moms who want to become leaders?
“Don’t be!!! I encourage all fitness levels to come to our meet-ups, and its amazing to see how encouraging and supportive the other members are, especially to our new members. We take into consideration that we do have members that are new to fitness and as a leader I am willing to modify each exercise if needed or jog along side of them with motivating words.
The great thing about this movement is that we are choosing to surround ourselves with like-minded women; women who all have the same goal in mind of bringing health and fitness to their families, starting with themselves. We admire each others efforts and it’s an empowering feeling knowing that you have a new realm of support just by coming to a workout and meeting potentially new friends. When you attend a meet-up, your children are watching you make an effort to a healthier lifestyle.. that should be enough reason to join your local group.. Be the change, challenge yourself, join the movement! I promise you will not regret it.”

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Diary of a Calendar Mom – Robin Fulford

Hi Everyone! I had an amazing day yesterday and thought I would share some of my experiences with you all. I have a lot to share so please bear with me…I think you’ll find it’s worth the read.

My husband and I had happened to plan a day trip to Busch Gardens the same day the calendar results were announced. We had just arrived there and I checked my phone and saw I had been chosen as part of the Top 24. Thank you all so much!

It’s quite an honor and the calendar has been a big motivating factor for me these past 6 months. I would like to share the rest of my calendar pics with you today. The photo you voted on was my least favorite because it reveals my extra skin. But it is also a wonderful photo with my son, who was less than cooperative that day!These past few months I’ve been in “perfectionist” mode. I’ve come to realize that my stretch marks and extra skin are part of ME- the ME that made the journey from obesity and unhappiness to healthy. The me that made a little human then lost 100+ lbs after, for a total of 128 lbs, nearly half my heaviest weight. I have slowly come to accept that perfection is not an attainable goal, and I should be proud of the evidence of my hard work. Even if it isn’t what the rest of the world considers beautiful.

It was quite the coincidence that we were at Busch Gardens when I found out, because my calendar application included my most mortifying moment as an obese person. It happened right there. It was a story I told NO ONE for years because I was so embarrassed. Today I’ll share it with you.

This is from my calendar application-

” A trip to Busch Gardens remains my most mortifying memory. I sat on Apollo’s Chariot and reached for the bar that was supposed to lock me in. It wouldn’t lock. As the roller-coaster filled, I grew more nervous. I was trying with all my might to make it click over my thighs. A scene played in my mind. I imagined myself being told I was too fat to ride and would be forced to walk the walk of obese shame in front of everyone’s peering eyes. I felt full panic, palms sweaty as the park employees walked down the rows, checking that each person was locked in properly. The worker got to me. He pushed on it. It didn’t lock. He really leaned on it. I held my breath…Finally, it clicked! I didn’t have to suffer the humiliation I imagined that day. ”

Yesterday, when I went to ride Apollo’s Chariot, I said to my husband, “This is it.” The very roller coaster that burned that moment of humiliation into my memory. He smiled at me, kissed me and told me he was so proud of me. Not even 5 minutes later, we watched the SAME thing happen to a 20 something overweight girl. She sat with an anxious look as the amusement park worker tried to push the bar down and get it to lock. Three tries, and it wouldn’t. She got up, humiliated and about to cry. There were snickers and laughs from nearby observers. My husband and I looked at each other, both feeling terrible for her. He urged me to talk to her. I remembered how bad that moment felt for me, knowing hers was worse because I didn’t get kicked off the roller coaster. I went over to her, looked her in the eye, and told her it happened to me too. That she wasn’t the only one. I told her to use this moment as motivation for the future. That someday she was going to change her life and she would ride this roller coaster. Her eyes lightened a little bit but you could tell she was hurting. I just hoped I had given her some of the support and motivation she needed to get through that moment.

We rode Apollo’s Chariot and it was amazing! It was the first time I’ve ridden any roller coaster at a healthy weight. I’ve always felt self conscious and nervous boarding roller coasters ever since that moment. I’ve felt “watched” and uncomfortable. But the proof is in the pudding. Not only did I have that moment, but another one. As we boarded a different roller coaster, the Griffon, a larger man was seated next to me. I got all locked in and ready and the park attendant asked me to switch seats with this man, because he needed the “larger” seat. After you go from 260 to 132, you see yourself in your mind often as an overweight person, rather than as you actually are and how others see you. It takes a while for the mind to catch up to your new body. So that moment really clarified that in this situation I was the “skinny” one. Me!! Haha. It was a really good feeling.

I’m sharing my before pic, calendar pics and most importantly the pic we ended up buying from Apollo’s Chariot. I NEVER spend $$$ on those souvenir pics but this moment meant so much to me that I did buy that. Thank you for this amazing experience and for allowing me the honor of representing a NEM in the 2015 calendar!!!

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No Excuse Mom: Lauren McBride

Lauren McBride lost an incredible 105lbs!

Check out this mom who made No Excuses for being healthy for her family. She is 5-foor-8 and has lost 105lbs! (currently weighing 135lbs!)

1. How many kids do you have? Ages? How heavy were they at birth and how much weight did you gain during pregnancy? I have 2 boys, 2.5 years and almost 1 year. I gained 50lbs during my first pregnancy and my son was 7lbs5oz. After he was born I couldn’t turn the “pregnancy appetite” off. I wanted dessert with every meal and over indulged all too often. When my first was 8 months old I suffered a heartbreaking miscarriage and ate my sadness away. When he was 10 months old I found out I was pregnant with his little brother. I was 75lbs heavier than my pre baby weight and very nervous about gaining more weight. I gained 30lbs with baby number 2, who was 7lbs13oz at birth.

2. C-Section or Natural? How long did it take you to recover? When did you start training? My first son was born via emergency cesarean. Recovery wasn’t terrible, but the birth itself was traumatic. I didn’t do much of anything but walk a few times a week after he was born and that didn’t last long. My second son was born via VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) and it was amazing. Recovery was QUICK and I felt like super woman. I started food logging 2 weeks postpartum, mild exercise 3 weeks postpartum, and heavy exercise 5 weeks postpartum (with doctor approval). 3. Did you nurse? How long? I did exclusively nurse both boys. The first for 14 months and I’m nursing my almost 1 year old.

4. What does your daily routine look like? Insane. Haha, no really though! I’m a hairstylist, fitness instructor, mom, wife and so much more. I’m usually up between 4-6am depending on the day. Somedays I workout in the morning, somedays at night, somedays both. No day ever looks the same, but everyday always includes the following: hugs & kisses, story time, exercise, fueling my family’s bodies with healthy and nutritious foods, and a whole lot of hustle. I try to be in bed by 10, but that doesn’t always happen.

5. What is your weekly workout? I attend a 50min bootcamp style circuit training class 4-5 times a week. Each class lasts about 50min and implements body weight exercises, cardio, and resistance/weight training. I have also recently discovered a love for running and just completed my first half marathon. I typically run 4 times a week also.

6. What is your weekly diet? I’m a creature of habit so my diet, especially in the beginning of my weight loss journey, was pretty regimented to the same meals. It start most everyday with oats of some sort, usually have a piece of fruit or nuts mid morning, chicken with quinoa and broccoli for lunch, a veggie or cottage cheese mid afternoon, and then dinner is usually different. We try to keep it to mostly veggies and protein with a complex carb and healthy fat on the side. I’ve gotten a lot more creative with my meals as time has gone on, but I find that food prep and consistency is key.

7. What is your philosophy on training? Train hard. If you want the body of an athlete, train like one. My time is precious, so I’m gonna give everything I’ve got in me during training and then move on with my day. Also, listen to your body. If you need a break, take one. Water? Get some. Rest, take it!

8. What question are you asked the most? What is your answer? How did you get or stay motivated? My answer is just do it. Make a commitment to yourself and hold true to it. Make a game plan, and get it done. Schedule your workouts like it’s a job, plan/prep your meals so you have no excuse, get the junk out if your house, believe in yourself and JUST DO IT. No one can do it for you, there’s not magic wand, and it’s not one size fits all. Find something that works for you and do it every single day. It’s not easy. It’s actually pretty darn hard, but it’s 110% worth it.

9. What is most challenging being a fit mother? How do you overcome it?  Time, I wish I could add 4 hours to everyday, but I can’t so I make do with what I’ve got. I schedule my workouts like they are appointments with my boss, I can’t miss them. I prep my food on Sundays and Wednesdays so I have no excuse and the drive thru around the corner isn’t necessary. I kiss and hug my kids and husband as much as I can so they never feel like anything but my top priority. 10. What is your occupation? I am a hairstylist, fitness instructor, boo boo kisser, laundry folder, and floor scrubber

11. What is your advice for moms first starting out? Log your food. People (including myself!) think they know how many calories they are consuming and the reality is they have no clue. Get up and move your body. Dance, swim, run, lift, rock climb, just find something that you enjoy and it becomes much easier to do. Give yourself a hug. You are worth so much more than any number on a scale and when you learn to love yourself as you are, bettering yourself becomes effortless.

12. What is your favorite clean recipe? Hulk Pancakes: Blend 3/4 cup oats, 1/2 egg whites, 2 cups spinach, 1/2 zucchini, 1/2 scoop protein powder of your choice, 1 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 1tsp cinnamon, 1 packet truvia. Pour onto greased skillet and cook like normal pancakes! Mine made 9 decent sized pancakes. 36 calories, 5g carbs, 3g protein. I like to top them with PB2 mixed with water and honey on top.

13. What is your “secret weapon” for those who want to be in shape? How long did it take you to lose weight? My secret weapon (and sometimes weakness) is my stubbornness. When I’ve made my mind up that’s it, the decision has been made. In this case, I decided that my family was going to get healthy and I was gonna look and feel good at my son’s first birthday party. Less than 1 year (10 months to be exact) after making that decision I look and FEEL better than I ever have!

14. Personal Thank You’s. I couldn’t have done any of this without the love and support of my husband. He has loved me through thick and thin (literally) and has always made me feel beautiful. My family and friends have given me so much support and have believed in me when I doubted (doubt!) myself. They have watched my kids so I can have the time I need to make my dream into a reality. I am truly blessed by the support system I have.

15. Any additional information. You can follow my journey on Instagram at @mumsiemcmuscles

Please support our movement and be inspired 12 months out of the year! Purchase our No Excuse Fit Mom Swimsuit Calendar today! Get your calendar here:  No Excuse Calendar





Fit Mommy Role Model: Katty Johnson

Miss February, Katty Johnson attempted to run a half marathon when she was 14.  She was very athletic and thought she could attempt it without proper training. A physical exam  prior to the race showed that she had water in her lungs along with asthma. Despite the news, she ran anyways and couldn’t finish the race. That single, painful running memory stuck with her for a long time. At age 39, she conquered her fear of running.  She ran two 5k’s, one 5k mud run, one 10k, one 10k mud run and two half marathons! We – at No Excuse Mom’s believe in celebrating NSV’s (non-scale-victories) and this is definitely Katty’s! She is currently training for the full L.A. Marathon scheduled for March 2014.
This is Katty’s story:

I gained over 30 lbs. with my pregnancy and I was hoping to get back in shape by breast feeding, exercising and eating healthy food.  Unfortunately, my baby came 5 weeks early.  I had preeclampsia/toxemia, and therefore I had to have an emergency C-section.  As much as I tried, my breasts just wouldn’t produce milk, so breast feeding was out; and figuring out how to exercise with all that was happening with our new family addition seemed just too complicated.  Having a baby was a big change and trying to have somewhat of a similar pre-baby life was just not going to happen.  Difficult as it was, I somehow managed to lose almost 40 lbs.
Five months after my first baby was born, I found out that I was pregnant again.  My second baby came 5 weeks early as well and I had to have a second C-section.  Life had changed 360 degrees – I was working full time, providing financial support for my family while my husband was going through grad-school, taking care of the babies and my two step-sons (every weekend and holiday visitations), along with all the assortment of duties that regular life presents, life had become very chaotic.
I have struggled with my weight over the last 18 years of my life.  I had gone through strict diets, extreme exercise routines, and always managed to lose weight, but the weight-loss was always temporary. I wasn’t as much focused on being healthy, as much as I was focused on my appearance.  I had tried every diet that I had heard of and had even become anorexic for a period of time.  But through the various attempts to improve my shape, I had damaged my metabolism and had become anemic.
Around May of 2011, about 10 months after my second child was born, we visited my grandmother in Argentina.  We took so many family pictures while we were there.  It’s interesting, though, how seeing yourself in print can be more enlightening than seeing yourself in the mirror everyday.  At that time, I was weighing around 184 (and I’m only 5′ tall).  After seeing the family pictures when we came home, it was apparent how much weight I had gained, and for the sake of my own health I knew that I had to do something.  
That was my moment of epiphany… the moment I looked at myself and said “whatever happened to me? I’m not only very overweight, I’m unhealthy and I’m doing nothing about it.”  I was very lucky that I didn’t get diabetes, but I had very high cholesterol.  I didn’t want to raise my kids in an unhealthy environment.  I want them to eat right, exercise, and be happy. 
This is when my journey for a healthier, happier and better me started.  By last December, I had lost approximately 20 lbs of my baby-weight gain, but I was still struggling and felt like I had hit a brick wall.  I had learned about the “2013 No Excuse Mom Challenge” group from Maria Kang’s page, and after reading Maria’s book, I became excited and reinvigorated.  I joined the group immediately.  I related so much with the members’ posts and stories.  With lots of hard work, clean eating, the support and encouragement of my amazing husband, family, friends, the love and strength from God, and the support of all the wonderful, powerful women in the group, I’ve managed to lose another 29 lbs. this year.

I’m so happy to have a better, healthier life style – one not as focused on image, but more on mine and my family’s health.  I’m proud to be living a life that I can make my kids and husband a part of – a life we can all enjoy together… and I’m even happier that many of my extended family members have been motivated by my journey and transformation, and have decided to jump on the bandwagon to enjoy a happier, healthier life. – Katty Johnson

Mom of Twins: Stacy Menecola

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To give you a brief history of myself and my weight loss journey…I have struggled with my weight since I was a little girl.  I can remember back as far as the 3rd grade wearing my brother’s hand me down jeans, that only a boy should wear, and thinking my thighs were fat.  THIRD GRADE…!!!  That’s where it started for me.  In High School I can remember hating wearing my school uniform every day because, let’s face it, I wasn’t happy with my legs and thought of them as tree trunks.  I got teased by kids in school and my brother too…but hey, we were kids and that what we did.  I, like many of you, have dealt with not liking what I saw in the mirror day in and day out.  Not liking the way I looked in my clothes, I hated shopping, and a bathing suit…forget it…!!!   I tried a million things from my very early teens through college and nothing; I mean nothing, worked for me.   Up & down and up & down my weight would go with each ‘fad’ diet I would try.

11 years ago I stumbled upon a major weight loss companies commercial and it got me thinking about trying their program.  So I did.  I lost a bunch of weight but still was never really ‘happy’ with what I saw in the mirror.  I was merely a smaller version of my once overweight self.  I maintained my weight loss for 7 years until getting pregnant with my now 4 year old twins.  I gained 62 lbs while pregnant with them…yikes…!!!  They were delivered by emergency C-Section at 27 weeks weighing just over 2 lbs each.  Gaining 62 lbs in only 27 weeks…could you even imagine if I went full term with them…WOW!  We are very fortunate that they both are here with us today.   It was touch and go for my son in the beginning but after several setbacks for him and the love and support of our family and friends we now have two healthy and happy 4 year olds.

After my C’Section I was able to eat ‘right’ and do some cardio to take my weight off again.  Soon after reaching my pre-pregnancy weight I got pregnant again.  This time around I gained the same 62 lbs but with only one baby.  Our little guy was delivered naturally and no C-Section needed.  Soon after I was released to exercise I started eating ‘right’ and I became what I call a ‘cardio queen’ once again getting down to about 10 lbs above pre-pregnancy weight.  I stayed there pretty much up until this past summer.

This past summer I started following some of my favorite fitness models on Facebook, one being Maria Kang.  She put out a Challenge for this calendar and the rest is history.  I began eating clean a month prior to starting this challenge so continuing throughout the challenge with no cheats was a challenge in itself but I was determined to succeed once and for all.  I had lost ‘weight’ before but never really transformed my body until I found clean eating and lifting weights. 

I was in such shock that I actually found something that worked for me.  Each week I would notice changes in different areas.  I remember one morning waking up and looking in the mirror and thinking “I DO have knees”.   My legs were starting to have shape and muscle definition.  My body fat percentage was dropping and I was starting to transform myself in to the body I have always wanted to be.  Before I knew it I was at my weight loss goal…!!!  Something that I had tried ALL my life to do was finally accomplished.  I had such belief in the program I wanted to scream “try clean eating, it works” from the roof tops. 

Why am I telling you all this, you ask?  I’m telling you this because I was just like some of you.  I struggled every day.  I hated my self image.  The way I looked, they way I felt, my attitude, the vibes I gave off were so negative.  Clean Eating and lifting weights changed my life and it can for you too…!!!  You are worth every healthy meal you eat and every sweaty workout you do.  Believe in the process, believe that lifting weights won’t make you bulky and most of all BELIEVE.IN.YOURSELF…you can do it too. 

 <3   -Stacy Menecola        


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No Excuse Mom: Lorna Pope

My name is Lorna, I’m 30 years old, a mum to one son and I work part time as a molecular biologist. I am one of the administrators for the No Excuse Mom Movement and I look forward to sharing my fitness journey with you – I’m sure we can inspire each other. But for now, here is a little bit about me.

On 8thNovember 2012 my life changed, I gave birth to my amazing baby boy Henry.

Although the love I felt for him was never in question, the love I felt for myself had disappeared along the way.

When I looked in the mirror I didn’t like what I saw. Who was I? I had everything I had ever dreamed of, I always though I was naturally maternal, but really I was lost. I felt as if I had lost purpose – and yet there, laying in my arms, was the biggest purpose of all.

The truth about postnatal depression is that it’s an illness. You can’t just snap out of it, you can’t just look at your baby to make the sadness go away, regardless of how cute they are or how much you love them. You need to give yourself time, need to get support and seek medical assistance.

I was patient with myself, both physically and mentally.

I came across Maria’s No Excuse picture, and investigated her further. I read her book, joined up to the group and set about to make plans.

I knew I couldn’t just sit around waiting for my life to change, I knew I had to do something about it.

I just kept going, focusing on each hour, which then turned into a day, a week and then a month. And this wasn’t just in weight loss, for some days it was just survival.

I took progress pictures every 4 weeks, and for sure I could see the difference, which would give me another boost of motivation.

My motivation to begin with was mainly weight loss. I wanted to feel better about how I looked and I wanted to give Henry the mum he deserved. I wanted to be able to run around with him and not let my weight hold him back in any way.

It wasn’t always easy…. There were days when I felt too low to go out and days where I would be crying all the time. But as time went by, it got easier, I realized that going to the gym actually gave me a boost and improved my mood. Since I was lifting weights, and the area is mainly male dominated, there was no way I could shed a tear. I was becoming stronger, both mentally and physically. I was becoming a better mother too, my energy levels were up, and I wasn’t on edge or snappy.

It would have been easier at times to reach for something quick to eat, or reach for chocolate to get an instant feel good hit, and I admit, sometimes I did this. But it’s very empowering to over come this. To pick yourself up, wipe away the tears and cook dinner. I always ask myself a these moments…. What is it you want the most? Do you really want to eat that chocolate or do you want  6 pack abs? I also leant to plan for such days. Make up big batches of soup and freeze them. Dinner can then be ready in 10 minutes – some days as a mum…. Time is not on your side!

I set myself a target of weight loss, but with knowledge I learned that it’s not the main focus. Now I have a whole new set of goals. It’s about me as a person, I want to be fit, healthy and strong. I’ve set goals for 2014 so that I stay motivated. I’m going to do a triathlon!

I started out slow at first, I made small changes to my diet, first cutting out the obvious junk and cleaning it up. Now I eat 6 small meals a day and my food is 90% clean. I don’t calorie count but it’s around 1600, on this amount I’m still consistently losing weight. I plan my meals for a week ahead, making sure I have enough time in the day to prep that meal. For exercise I started with the C25K program and swimming. Now I do strength training with free weights, some HIIT and Pilates.

I faced some criticism along the way, this often happens when someone makes a lifestyle change. But I have my core supporters who really got me through these difficult times and have celebrated every success along with me. I’ve made new friends, I’ve been able to inspire and motivate others…. I’m even in calendar!

Now I find myself as a whole new person. I see that my journey out of depression and into my new body run along in parallel with each other. I have more confidence and self respect than ever before. At 5’6, I started out at 218lb on 19th Feb 2013 and I last weighed in on 30th October and was 158lbs.

Now Henry is over a year old, he is the light of my life. He has taught me so much and been the central part of my journey. I’m so proud of every new thing he learns and discovers, I just hope I can serve him justice. I hope he looks to me as an inspiration, I hope he sees the dedication I put into my fitness and sees how I achieve my goals. I hope he one day reads this and realizes that anything is possible…. You just need to set yourself some goals, break them down, be determined, put in hard work, learn from your mistakes, and smile!

 Lorna Pope 2

Lorna Pope 3

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