10/18/2013 03:25 pm ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

Why Maria Kang Is Not the Problem: Love Yourself Enough to Change

On Tuesday afternoon while leisurely strolling through my Facebook feed, I stumbled across an interesting article about fitness model Maria Kang. The article was galvanized by a photo of Maria posing in an exercise bra and shorts with her three kids. In the picture she displayed her toned physique but caused controversy due to the picture's caption: "What's your excuse?"

The article accused Maria of "fat shaming" women. Her message has been considered demoralizing, futile and slanderous. In addition, she was made to seem as if she was insensitive to the sufferers of obesity, while using her body as an egotistical contrivance for self-glorification.

I disagree wholeheartedly!

I don't think this was a premeditated attempt to ridicule women that don't wear a size 2, nor was it an attack on men that lack the presence of washboard abs. This is merely an instance where her motive was misrepresented. Maria Kang is not the "real" problem -- self-acceptance is.

Obesity is an epidemic in our society that needs to be addressed, rather than avoided. Acceptance is the most difficult, yet most important element in resolving this widespread issue.

The idea of self-acceptance should not be misinterpreted as an excuse to live an unhealthy lifestyle, nor is it a reason to evade the resolution of an obstacle. It is understanding that your health is not predicated by a "magic" number on the scale. It's being secure with the idea that you may not look like Maria Kang, but can still be successful like Oprah Winfrey.

I've never struggled with an eating disorder or a food addiction, and I don't know what it's like to be overweight. However, I know how it feels to dislike who you are.

I was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder at 14, became a smoker at 22, survived a Vicodin overdose at 28 and beat a two-year addiction to anti-anxiety medication -- I know what it's like to struggle!

I know what its like to keep telling yourself that you don't have a problem -- trying to convince everyone around you that you can stop whenever you want to. The truth was, I hated my addiction. To be honest, I hated myself even more. I wanted to stop but was too embarrassed to admit that I didn't know how.

The fact is, I'm no better than you. I had to stop making excuses, stop blaming others for my hardships and accept responsibility for my decisions. By dedicating myself to change, I was able to overcome my addictions and get a better grip on my anxiety disorder.

Regardless of your personal views surrounding Maria's picture, we cannot negate her intended message -- no matter how busy you are, there's no excuse for not taking care of yourself.

Being healthy doesn't mean that you have to work out seven days a week, become a vegan or drink coconut water and herbal tea. Being healthy simply means finding a balance in your life. It may mean adjusting some of your food choices and portions in order to achieve a level of physical, mental and social well-being.

Understand that skinny is not the new healthy. Recognize that you don't have to look like Alessandra Ambrosio or Heidi Klum to be healthy. Realize that your weight was not the reason you didn't get the promotion. Keep in mind that you are special, that you are love and you are appreciated.

Being unhealthy is a problem... it's a liability. But just like any other problem, there is a solution. Don't wait until you get diagnosed with heart disease, Type 2 diabetes or hypertension before you correct it. One of my closest friends died recently due to complications associated with congestive heart failure. He was only 32. He wasn't overweight, he just didn't make healthy decisions.

Take care of yourself. If you want to be healthy, make healthier choices. Be aware of what you put into your body. Remember, you only get out of it what you put into it. Increase your fruit and vegetable intake, adopt a regular exercise routine and cut out processed food. Make positive changes in your life and shed the excuses.

Be happy, be healthy, but most importantly, love yourself!

Need help with substance abuse or mental health issues? In the U.S., call 800-662-HELP (4357) for the SAMHSA National Helpline.

For more by Quentin Vennie, click here.

For more on fitness and exercise, click here.

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