Although the pose and clothes are the same, a lot has changed for Kang
"Fit Mom" Maria Kang recreated a viral photo she shared five years ago.
The original photo featured a fit Kang with her three sons and the words "What's Your Excuse."
The new photo has the same subjects but the wording now reads "What's Your Reason."
Kang told INSIDER that finding your "why" is more important than listing excuses.
About five years ago, Maria Kang shared a photo that would spark some controversy and conversation. The image featured Kang in a sports bra and shorts that show off her six-pack, her three rambunctious sons, and three words: "What's Your Excuse?"
The picture received a lot of backlash, with commenters and media outlets claiming it .HuffPost reports.
"I haven't changed my tune, I've just grown up a whole lot," Kang wrote in the caption. "I've always known there are excuses in life — you've seen me go through many these past several years as my kids grew from toddlers into tiny men. What I've learned is you can't only confront your Excuse, you must also direct your Purpose."
Kang told INSIDER in an e-mail that she recreated the image at the request of her followers.
"Since several years [sic] have passed and my children have grown older, I thought it was a good time to take photos again and see how much has changed over the course of five years," she said.
Kang said she has always considered herself a "tough love" type of person. So when she had three children from 2009 to 2011 — and felt great about maintaining her fitness level — she felt judged by people around her who gave "false excuses" as to why they couldn't succeed like Kang.
"I loved the phrase 'What's Your Excuse?' then, and I still do now," she said. But when captioning the new photo, Kang said she wanted to refocus on the "why."
"As a busy mother who sees women strive for health every day in the organization, I knew they knew what their excuses were," she said. "What matters most to me now, is that people find their reason. If you can find your reason, you can combat any excuse."
For Kang, her reasons for living a healthy and fit life range from keeping diseases at bay to being a role model for others. She also said being healthy makes her feel strong and sexy.
As for the people who took offense to the original image, Kang said that any shame they felt was "self-imposed."
"No one can make you feel shame unless you allow them to," she said. "In fact, when I created the original photo, I never even considered moms. I was posting for all the people who didn't have children and understood that if 'this busy mom can do it, so can you.'"
And that is still the message Kang wants to send her followers on Instagram.
"I hope people will ask themselves what their reasons are. Perhaps I came into your world because you hated me, or even liked me, whatever you know of me, know that I'm asking some really good questions that will hopefully make you think," she said. "I don't want you to think of me, think of you. Not everyone online is out to judge or offend you."
Since going viral, Kang has started an organization called the No Excuse Mom group where women host free workouts in their communities in more than 30 different countries.
"While it was difficult to be called a fat-shamer, narcissist, bad mom, etc. I am thankful to have reached so many people out there — especially mothers," she said. "These women have stood up alongside with me and said, 'No Excuses!' and without their support and solidarity, I don't know how I could've handled such incredible backlash."