Maria Kang may be 10 lbs. heavier – but she still has “No Excuses” for her body.
The fit mom who famously posted a photo showcasing her toned body alongside her kids, aged 3, 2 and 8 months, with the caption – “What’s your excuse?” – proudly shared photos from a new shoot on Instagram Thursday, with a few changes.
Before photoshoots, Kang typically follows a strict diet for 10-12 weeks and spends hours on beauty prep. But when the opportunity for a new shoot came up with suddenly, Kang decided to go for it regardless in an effort to embrace her body after losing confidence.
“My sister-in-law and photographer, Jaymi Britten, told me to take some pictures – to get in front of the camera and to see what the world sees,” Kang tells PEOPLE. “So, despite feeling unprepared – I mean REALLY unprepared. I haven’t been working out and I ate a donut prior! – I stepped into a swimsuit and gave a big bright smile.”
Kang says Britten knew that she was dealing with low self-esteem, and encouraged her to do the shoot regardless.
“I struggled with my reflection for some time,” Kang says. “I stopped feeling beautiful. Like most moms, my hair is always in a bun, my life is always on the go and my fitness goals are always one of my last priorities. I struggled with motivation, I’ve gained some weight and am experiencing difficult marital challenges. I let the world consume me this last year. I let events, people and things influence my perception of myself and I literally felt broken.”
The mom of three – who proudly showed off her stretch marks on the cover of her fitness book – knew that she couldn’t encourage other women to love their bodies if she didn’t do it herself, so she shared the raw, unedited photo on Instagram.
“It was important for me because I always tell women to celebrate their bodies,” Kang says. “Regardless if we have some cellulite, extra weight, extra skin or extra scars – be proud because we are constantly progressing, transforming and aging! This is our temple so take care of it!”
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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.”