Many people want them. Those coveted slices down and across the abdomen. So smooth, so lovely, so strong, so sexy. What are they? Six pack abs.
Every so often, I hear someone say, “I could have a six pack if I just lost about (“X” amount of) pounds. Well, that my be true for a select few who are genetically blessed, but for the rest of us this may be overshooting. Yes, you have to be super lean to see your abs, (about 11-14% for most women, but a “healthy,” yet lean body fat for us ladies is actually much higher at about 19-22%), it also takes a ton of work. So unless you are a competitive athlete, super lean and strong, or a genetic anomaly, then be prepared because as they say, the struggle is real.
First, abs are muscles. In fact, a whole bunch of them, so they have to be worked, built, and sculpted just like other muscles. So yes, losing that 20 pounds of fat will get you closer to seeing that six pack, but it is going to take much more than hanging out on the treadmill for a half an hour every day. Abs themselves have to be worked. They must be contracted and pushed into adaptation. It takes lots of time, reps, sets, and even heavy lifting to build the abs and lots of them. This process can not be accomplished overnight and without a great degree of commitment and consistency.
And don’t forget that abs don’t just come from work in the gym. I hate to say it, but if you want defined abs, then be prepared to sacrifice… a lot. Ask any chic who has flat, sexy abs and she is not going to tell you it came from spending late nights in the bar doing shots of Yager, or snacking on candy from the vending machine at work, or Friday night pizza and wings. If this is how your friends spend their time, then be prepared for the possibility of spending Friday nights home alone and in bed by 10pm. Unfortunately, from time to time, you will have to abstain, say no, and pass on some of the things that taste so good, but are so very bad for you. Plus, your friends and family may not understand or support this desire, so you may be on your own. Listen, treats from time to time can work just fine, but your everyday diet needs to be squeaky clean and chock full of veggies and lean meats. It isn’t always fun or exciting but is essential to the process.
And another bad thing about abs? They are so darn fickle. Unless you are in the very low body fat percentage region, then your abs will not always show. Getting your period? Gassy? Overeat? Stressed? Too much salt? Too much water? Too much anything? Bye bye abs. See you tomorrow… Maybe. Any number of reasons can cause the stomach and abdomen to bloat, covering your hardwork and sacrifice. The truth is that our bodies don’t usually like to be that lean and can fight back to get into a more healthy state, so these things happen, it’s nature, though no less disheartening when you have your heart set on a six pack.
So when you set your sights on building a rock hard stomach, with beautiful, rippling abs to show off, know that it is possible, but not without a great degree of hard work, sacrifice, and commitment. And remember, the next time you see someone rocking a six pack, know that it was achieved through lots of work, discipline, and patience. (And give her a high five, because you know she worked her tush off to get there!)
There is no doubt that defined abs are sexy and strong, but are they worth the hassle? And is it really that good for your health over the long run? Some say yes, but many think not so much. Either way, there are other goals that may be better indicators of hard work and healthy living that can fit your body and lifestyle. Why? Well, this next part is important, so pay attention; trust me, I know. Six pack abs will not make you happier or healthier, a better mom, wife, sister, daughter, friend, or person. Do you know what will? Being strong, confident, proud, energetic, present, grateful, happy, and healthy. So think carefully about what you want for your life, body, and health, and go get it. Do it, be it, and become it, and, oh yeah, please don’t forget to love yourself along the way. Because you can be lean, healthy, and happy if you choose to do it right.
About the Author: Mandy Skinner is the author of the ebook PB&J and Push-Ups: The Busy Mom’s Guide to Diet and Exercise, as well as the Soccer Mom with Muscles blog. She is also the Fitness Editor for Healthy Moms Magazine, as well as a contributor to Big City Moms. She is the proud mom of two, Sean and Sarah, as well as a Personal Trainer and Nutrition Coach devoted to living healthy and happy. In addition to her athletic endeavors, Mandy is a constant advocate of healthy and active living.