No Excuse San Angelo Moms Strut Their Stuff in National Calendar
After having children, it’s not uncommon for women to worry about the ways their bodies have changed and to feel they don’t have time for fitness and health. Oftentimes, women are also under the misconception that fitness means a strict diet and an intensive exercise regiment.
One San Angelo group not only proves that ideology is a myth, but it also allows for no excuses when it comes to moms engaging in a healthy lifestyle. For the 283 members of this group, a healthy lifestyle means cooking a little healthier and spending three to four days a week for less than 30 minutes on fitness. Not to mention, no matter what size, shape or how many kids a woman has, she can grace the cover of a calendar if she’s comfortable in her own skin.
Above: These San Angelo moms appear in the 2016 national Fit Mom Swimsuit Calendar for the month of February. (Contributed/Mayra Vasquez-Esparza)
Last Friday, No Excuse Moms, an international organization started by a mother-of-three, Maria Kang, and has taken the world by storm with her platform and book The No More Excuses Diet, released the 2016 national Fit Mom Swimsuit Calendar, and four moms from the San Angelo group, who donned swimsuits to show off their varied shapes but hard earned bodies, are gracing the February cover.
“This calendar is created every year to show how everyday health comes in different sizes, shapes and ages, and that there are women of all walks of fitness, from extremely buff to medically obese showcased in the national calendar who are all striving to become a better version of themselves,” said Mayra Vasquez-Esparza, the fitness leader for the local chapter of No Excuse Mom.
Above: The San Angelo No Excuse Mom group meets three to four times a week. (Contributed/Mayra Vasquez-Lopez)
Vasquez-Esparza also said the calendar was about empowering women, and the main organization picked 12 groups across the nation to focus on.
“We were one of the groups chosen,” said Vasquez-Esparza, “We didn’t get the cover like we were hoping for, but we did get the inside of the calendar."
The mother of three said that since the group didn’t have a lot of experience with calendars, they didn’t get too creative with the photo shoot. They also didn’t think they were going to win because of that, especially after noticing other pictures online that featured a lot of moms with creative ideas.
However, about four weeks ago, the fitness leader received an email from the main organization asking for Vasquez-Esparza’s picture and pictures of the group.
“I didn’t think anything of it; and about two weeks ago, I got an email that the calendar is out and they sent us a back shot of it, and we saw that we were February."
Vasquez-Esparza said the calendar stems from a 12-week challenge from March to May, and this is the third year for the calendar. Groups from all over the world can submit their photos during the competition to show their hard work. The San Angelo group originally had 18 moms interested, but by the time the photo came around, there were three moms along with Vasquez-Esparza, who had recently given birth to her third child, in the photo.
“I was six-days postpartum when I took the picture,” Vasquez-Esparza said. The young mother also said Ashley Wilson took their photo for free since the group is a non-profit organization and an extension of Fitness Without Borders.
Alice Franco, 31, of Denver City who has been a part of the No Excuse Mom group in San Angelo since last year and also graced the February cover of the international calendar said, “I didn’t think we were going to get picked whatsoever. We were such a small group of moms.”
Lesley King, 39, originally from upstate New York and who started with the group last July and also appeared on the calendar added, “I was honestly really surprised. I did it just for fun and to support the group.”
King said since starting the group, she feels she’s come a long way in losing all the baby fat, and doing the calendar was a fun way to highlight her hard work. She also liked the message the calendar sends to women around the world.
“I think a lot of the message is that you don’t have to have a perfect body,” the mother of four said. “You just have to make strides towards being healthy and happy in your own skin. Confidence says a lot."
That message of confidence has resounded across the globe, and with the release of the 2016 calendar, many national media outlets are taking notice.
“The Daily Mail featured the calendar [last Thursday] late afternoon here and it has already been shared over 1,000 times. PEOPLE magazine and Cosmopolitan online both covered the calendar with warm receptions,” Vasquez-Esparza added.
People interested in purchasing the calendar to see these moms in action, can buy it here for $19.99.
How No Excuse Moms Started in San Angelo
After the birth of her second child, Vasquez-Esparza said she had a hard time getting the weight off, and after she found a flyer with Maria Kang and her three children on it, along with information about No Excuse Mom, she knew she found a way to incorporate fitness into her life.
According to the organization’s website, the campaign originally started with a “fitspiration photo” of Kang and her three children with the caption, “What’s Your Excuse?” In 2014 Kang decided to create a platform and website as a way for moms to meet and connect online, and to form groups at their local parks while having access to important health information. That platform has skyrocketed to international levels, and it was the perfect way for Vasquez-Esparza to get her baby weight off while maintaining accountability for her actions.
“Finding a schedule to do it is very hard,” Vasquez-Esparza said. “So when I decided to become a leader, I figured I won’t just be working by myself; I’d be working with other moms."
Above: No Excuse Moms and their kids enjoy fitness and fun at Kids Kingdom in downtown San Angelo. (Contributed/Mayra Vasquez-Espinoza)
Vasquez-Esparza said originally she didn’t plan on starting the group. In fact, she had never taught fitness and wasn’t a “fitness person.” She just figured she had to find a way to get the weight off after her daughter’s birth, and she knew she had to do it now.
“The push was that my mother became a diabetic. I don’t want to go through that, so I figured now’s the time to stabilize it,” she explained.
Therefore, Vasquez-Esparza went online to the No Excuse Mom website and looked for a local chapter, and when she didn’t see one, she decided to wait a while to see if something came up. When that didn’t happen, she took on the role of group leader and started the local chapter in San Angelo.
“I started in April 2014, but it’s just starting to pick up this year,” the mother of three said. “Last year, there were about 60 members, and this year we have 283 members, so it’s pumped up."
Meeting and hanging out with other moms is a good thing for people interested in fitness and looking for a way to meet new people.
Like many of the moms in the San Angelo group, Vasquez-Esparza is not from the area. She was born and raised in Uvalde, Texas, and moved to San Angelo with her husband and their then two children three years ago. The couple has three children, ages 7, 5 and 5 months.
Thus, finding people who understand what being a busy stay-at-home mom entails while enjoying fitness has been a rewarding experience for Vasquez-Esparza. Also, she said since starting the group, her knowledge about fitness has changed because of being a leader and having to engage in lots of research. Plus, she’s gotten to know a lot of moms with similar values.
“We have a lot of moms especially from the military looking for a meet and greet, so this group has been rewarding. I’ve become really good friends with some of the moms, and I love it," Vasquez-Esparza stated.
Both King and Crystal Oliva, 29, from Brownsville, Texas and who also joined the other moms on the calendar cover, are the military wives and moms Vasquez-Esparza spoke of.
King’s husband is in the Army, and she started the group because she was new in town and wanted to find likeminded people and moms with little ones. The 39-year-old stay-at-home mom has four children: 5-year-old twins, an almost 4-year-old and a two-year old. King said she and her kids are never home. Her family has been in San Angelo since June of last year and they have two more years to go. Because the King family moves around a lot with the military, groups like this help.
“You have to know where to look to find the same interests,” King noted.
At this time, the mother of four said fitness is the stage of life she’s in, so finding other moms who can talk and meet in a child-friendly environment is key. King added that not everyone wants to hear what she had for dinner and not everyone wants to know her workout plan, but some do, and No Excuse Moms talk about these types of things and share important information with one another.
“When we joined the group, we talked about our goals and what we hope to get from it. I’m about to do my second half marathon and about to go through instructor training to do group fitness,” King stated. “Everybody’s been so encouraging, and once I have a group of people behind me, I keep going."
Oliva, whose husband is in the Air Force, and who was medically discharged from the same branch, said she joined the group in March because she’s constantly looking for things to do with her two daughters, Alexia, 1, and Jasmine, 3.
“They go crazy; they drive me crazy; they drive each other crazy, so I’m always on the go doing stuff with them, at least in the mornings before it gets too hot," the stay-at-home mom said. “This is enough to do with my girls.”
Although Franco’s husband isn’t military, he is in the oil field, and being a stay-at-home mom can get a bit boring, said the mother of two children, Adrian,3, and Ezekiel, 2. Therefore, she started the program last year after finding out about it on Facebook. She stated that she joined not only for her, but also her kids. The Franco family has lived in San Angelo for five years.
“I was a stay at home mom, and I was bored. I didn’t know what to do. They were driving me crazy, and they were driving each other crazy. We didn’t get out much.”
When she found the group, Franco said she told the kids they were going to run around and have fun while she works on getting herself back into shape, which the 31-year-old has done. This group has helped her stay in shape with the varied workouts, and she’s developed strong friendships with members of the group.
No Excuse Moms is Good for the Kids
Beyond the benefits to the moms and their fitness, the kids also take away a lot by being a part of the group.
“My kids get to be around other kids,” Franco said. “They love to play, love the park and to be outside, and I love to be around other moms who are in the same boat."
Vasquez-Esparza said, “Sometimes the little ones are more into working out with us. It’s really adorable."
(Below: Kids got to enjoy fitness and fun with their moms last week when a yoga instructor provided a demonstration for the No Excuse Mom group in San Angelo. Contributed Photo\Mayra Vasquez-Espinoza)
She added that after the workouts, the kids have play dates, and moms can talk about anything and everything.
Additionally, Oliva said the group will take the kids to Story Time at the Tom Green County Library after their morning fitness routines, which she enjoys.
King, on the other hand, enjoys the consistency for her kids.
“They know that we don’t sit at home, and that we get out,” King explained. “We talk about eating healthy. They know that exercise is important, and they know when they meet at the playground, mommy has to exercise, and they get to run and play with their friends, and that’s their exercise.
For Those Moms Who May Want to Join
For those moms in and around San Angelo interested, the No Excuse Mom group meets every week. They gather on Mondays at 6:30 p.m. at Glenmore Park, Wednesday at 9 a.m. at Kids Kingdom Park, Friday at 9 a.m. at Unidad Park and on the second and fourth Saturday of the month at 9 a.m. for a one- to two-mile stroller walk along the Concho River near Kids Kingdom.
The fitness leader added that when new moms join, they sign a waiver and photo release. She also has a questionnaire that asks who the mom is, how many kids she has, what she’s interested in and what she can and cannot do.
"It lets me know what type of workouts to schedule," Vasquez-Espinoza said.
(Above: No Excuse Moms and their kids enjoy stretching for the camera. Contributed Photo\Mayra Vasquez-Espinoza)
Additionally, the workouts are usually 15 to 20 minutes because the kids are running around, and they have to be taken care of. Additionally, the group has different fitness experts come out and give demonstrations, and the group has fitness experts and nutritionists available for people to talk to if they have questions.
“You can start from anywhere, anytime. It doesn’t matter what shape, size, or what your goal is,” Vasquez-Espinoza said. “Everyone has different goals. As long as you have the motivation to come out and to change something that’s going to last you a lifetime. It has to be consistent because your life is as long as you take care of your body. Exercise helps you keep up with the little ones, and you have to have goals.”
Also, the group leader added that joining is free because the group is a non-profit; however, they do have store merchandise and Maria’s book moms can invest in.
Vasquez-Espinoza also stated, "I’m not a fitness expert, so I don’t expect anyone to say what I say goes. We always recommend them talking to their doctor before coming out and knowing what their expectations are, and what they can and cannot do. It’s basically all about knowing your body and that’s very important."
The leader said she normally does cardio-based activities and weight training. She uses sand bags, and asks moms to bring free weights. She also posts information on the group’s Facebook page, including the workout regime and whether or not to bring out mats and snacks and drinks for the kids.
As for the other moms, they said joining No Excuse Mom is a great way to get out and have fun.
Franco said, “I would say definitely look for a group like No Excuse Mom. Get out; have fun. Get some fresh air. Let your kids play, and just interact with other moms."
Oliva added, “When your sluggish, you don’t do as much, but when you keep yourself active you have that drive you normally wouldn’t have when you’re not active. Thirty minutes or 45 minutes is not much to give up from your day. The kids are getting their exercise in the park running around, and we’re getting exercise; and also you can socialize with other moms instead of being stuck at home. There’s always going to be work to do at home, so just get out even if it’s for that short amount of time. “
King agreed with Oliva and said women don’t have to be on a strict diet plan or workout regiment.
“It’s little steps. If you’re going to cook, make healthier choices when you cook for your family,” King noted. “Even if you can get out, start taking a walk. Twenty minutes of a walk is still 20 minutes you’re not on the couch. Make it a family affair. On the weekend, go for a hike. Take the kids swimming. Do something just to keep moving. It doesn’t have to be big and if you can find other people to help support you; it’s better because you know people are counting on you getting there.”