Maria Kang’s Stats:
Nationality: Asian American
Ethnicity: ½ Chinese, ½ Filipina
How Did You Get Started In Health And Fitness?
My parents never emphasized sports and I was often shy and intimidated by team athletics. I was scared, however, of becoming overweight because my genetics made me susceptible. I started a small exercise routine of jumping jacks, leg lifts and practicing the splits every morning in elementary school. I started volunteering as an aerobics instructor in high school, became a personal trainer in college, a fitness manager post-college and founded a 501 (c)(3) fitness nonprofit for children called “Fitness without Borders” in my twenties. Being healthy was always a part of my life mainly because I witnessed firsthand the pain poor health creates with oneself and with those who love you. I also realized early on that when I was sad, depressed, stressed or anxious – if I exercised for a little bit, it always made me feel better. Exercise taught me the ability to transfer negative energy into a positive action.
What Is Your Best Accomplishment So Far?
Definitely becoming a fit mother of 3 healthy boys is a great accomplishment. Being able to balance owning two carehome facilities for the elderly, running my nonprofit programs, creating a local mom-me fit club, training weekly, cooking dinner every night and maintaining a clean household is an accomplishment in itself! Before motherhood, I was proud to win several beauty and fitness contests including Miss Petite Teen International, Miss Bikini California and Miss Philippines USA.
You’re A Mother Of Three Young Boys. How Do You Find The Time To Stay Fit?
I make time. I really do! Ever since I was little I would check my watch to see how much I can accomplish in a short period of time. Being a fit mom is all about preparation, visualization, focus and execution. It only takes a good 30-60 minutes a day to have an intense, efficient and effective workout. The rest of the day is all about eating healthy, which requires no time at all! Most often I train before the boys awake on my home treadmill or with a workout DVD. A few times a week I make it to the gym and perform some strength training. I also take the boys to the park a few times a week, some of which I meet with other moms and we exercise together. My busy schedule limits me in that I rarely do anything outside of what is productive for my family, my work or my fitness.
What Is Your Advice For Other Mothers Who Struggle With The Balance?
My best advice is to create a successful environment. Your environment not only includes the healthy food in your cupboards or having exercise options, but also the people in your life. It’s important to find someone who can uplift you: a mentor, someone who will push you: a supporter and someone who looks ups to you: a follower. These key people in your environment will create a level of accountability that will make it tough for you to fail. Give yourself time, be patient with your results. Drop your calories slowly and create a fitness program that is sustainable.
You Had An Eating Disorder Earlier In Your Life. Could You Talk A Little About That & How You Got Past That?
I dealt with Bulimia in my early-mid twenties because of a variety of physiological, spiritual and mental reasons. I was experiencing a lot of changes in my life: I graduated college, broke up with a long-term boyfriend, changed jobs and moved to a different city. The transitions made me want to mentally control an aspect of my life and I obsessively focused on my food intake. I also competed in six contests that year and my body was becoming weak and fatigued. As a perfectionist, the eating disorder literally took over my life for several years. I had ‘episodes’ multiple times a day and was traumatized by wanting to be perfect and beating myself up because I wasn’t. I say this was very much a spiritual challenge because I truly felt God’s presence in my pain and recovery. If it wasn’t for prayer, constant reflection and forgiving myself and others who had hurt me in the past, I wouldn’t have overcome such a difficult period in my life.
What Is Your Workout Routine?
My workout routine changes quarterly. Right now I have been focusing on running – mainly indoors on my treadmill as I don’t have a triple stroller and I try to get cardio in before the boys awake. I run on an incline and focus on intensity for 2-6 miles 4-5 times a week. I try to get to the gym and perform these muscle groups: Mon or Tues: glutes, Wed: back/chest, Th: shoulders/arms and Fri or Sat: glutes again (if I train 4x). I try to perform at least 3-4 exercises, 8-15 reps, and 4-5 sets.
Top 3 Favourite Exercises And Why?
Shoulder presses while kneeling on a stability ball: Love building my shoulders and training my core at the same time. My shoulders really create proportion in my physique.
Plyometric lunge or squat jumps: I love performing this inbetween any exercise to add intensity and train my legs/glutes.
Favourite Form Of Cardio?
Running, Stairclimbing or Zumba
What Is Your Diet Like?
I try to eat mostly unprocessed, whole foods. I don’t like taking supplements so eating nutritious foods with a high vitamin and mineral content is important to me.
Meal 1: Oatmeal with flaxseeds, egg whites with sundried tomatoes
Meal 2: Tuna with onion, avocado and celery with a whole wheat bread or tortilla (sometimes with some veggie chips)
Meal 3: Trail mix bar or nuts with fruit
Meal 4: Same as meal 2 or leftover protein and carbs from night before.
Meal 5: Fish (usually salmon) with quinoa/brown rice or salad with roasted veggies
What Food Would We Find In Your Fridge?
Any Staple/Classic Healthy Meals That You Always Eat?
Definitely turkey meatballs and tuna salad is my favourite. My favourite cheat meal is Mexican food. I also like sushi and I’m not one to turn down a glass of red wine!
What Supplements Do You Use & Why?
No supplements. I’ve never been consistent. The only time I was consistent was when I took prenatals. If I absolutely need to take something for energy, I will only opt for Endure DX by Natural Dynamix.
What Are Your Tips For Beginners?
1. Make specific goals. Not generic goals like lose weight and exercise more. Your goals need to have an emotional component that will make you create a strong internal desire to accomplish it.
2. Create a plan. Your plan should be realistic, attainable and achievable.
3. Create a support team.
4. Measure your progress, not just on the scale, but through fitness tests, body fat, dress size, measurements.
5. Work on your posture and have good form.
6. Follow me on Facebook: www.facebook.com/mariamkang
What Is The Best Advice You Have Ever Been Given?
Did You Make Any Mistakes When You First Started Out?
In my high school years I focused too much on eating low fat and ended up eating high carb.
In my college years I focused on fad dieting that wasn’t sustainable in the long term.
What Other Activities Are You Interested In Apart From Fitness?
I love to dance. I didn’t play a sport but I was a cheerleader and always enjoyed the performance aspect. I also love reading as I am addicted to buying books. I also love baking, especially muffins and cookies. Most of all, I enjoy writing. I’ve had a diary since I was in 3rd grade, became a published writer in 6th grade, started an online blog in 2005 and have been writing consistently for magazines, newspapers and online sites since then.
Your Best Tips To Getting Into Contest Shape/Losing Those Last Few Pounds?
If you want to lose weight in a short period of time you should:
1. Focus on cardio
2. Increase reps
3. Limit carbohydrates, especially sugar
5. Rest/Sleep enough
What’s Your Funniest Moment At The Gym?
Where Does Your Motivation Come From?
I am motivated by the people I inspire, the people who support me and the people who have high expectations in me (this goes back to the successful environment question). I also envision feeling confident in jeans, bikinis, sleeveless tops and tight shirts. I know how it feels to not feel good about one’s body (I weighed in around 150lbs from 2006-2009) and I don’t want to get to that place again.
Favourite Fitness Models?
When I was younger I really admired a lot of fitness models but as I became older I realized I didn’t relate to many of them. A lot were competitors, single or not moms yet and most made a living from being fit. Since being a healthy mom is not something I am paid to do, I really admire the everyday mom, like me, who can maintain a household, work a regular job, raise healthy children and prioritize her health.
“Focus on Progress, not Perfection”
“There is no supplement for hard work”
“If you fail to plan, plan to fail”