"Hot mom" Maria Kang recently came under fire after saying overweight women shouldn't be proud of themselves, but revealed she struggled with weight issues and bulimia before getting in shape.
Kang, 32, battled bulimia during her early twenties as a way to cope with her poor self-esteem.
"I used disordered eating to fill an empty void," she told the Daily Mail. "It was worse when I was feeling anxious. People often call bulimia the 'good-girl drug' because we don’t do drugs or drink alcohol. We just abuse food."
Maria said her negative body image began as a little girl, when she used to compare herself to her taller, skinnier sisters and to size-zero supermodels in fashion magazines. She used food to numb the pain and vomited to curb weight gain.
"[Bingeing and purging] was a horrible habit," she recalled. "I felt like I had no control over my mind and I had such self-defeating thoughts."
The chronic binge-eating and vomiting caused her weight to fluctuate dramatically. The 5-foot-4 Kang, who once weighed 152 pounds, now weighs 125 pounds and is a size two, thanks to a sensible diet and daily workouts.
Maria's diet is generally high-protein and features vegetables and fruit, and includes plenty of almonds, which she snacks on throughout the day. Her workout routine is 30 to 60 minutes of strength-training and cardio exercise every morning, five to six days a week.
Kang said getting pregnant helped her let go of her perfectionism and motivated her to embrace being healthy instead of just skinny.
"I had to let go of being perfect," she said. "When I became pregnant with my first child I was like, 'Wow this is what my body is really made for.'"
While she has been accused of being condescending and vain after asking women "What's Your Excuse?" for not having a hot body, Maria insists she wants to be a role model, not a weight bully.
"I work to be a role model," she said. "If I can make health a priority as a working mom of three kids who has struggled with bulimia and weight issues, then you can too."