I recently had an old college friend e-mail me to ask for help. She was in the same situation I was in just 8 months back: finally having lost all the weight she gained in college, she wanted to know what she had to do for abs.
That is how it started for me. After endless hours of running up and down the West Side Highway and trudging through snow for 6AM Spin classes, I began to wonder why I could not see my abs. Now trust me, they’re there. Hold your breathe and you’ll feel those bad boys. But seeing them is a completely different story! They are nicely cared for and protected by a layer of fat, which has to be burned off before your abs can appear.
Seeing such women as Massy Arias (@Massy.Arias) and Lita Lewis (@FollowtheLita) motivated me to take on my biggest challenge in the pursuit of abs: training to compete in a Figure competition. Yes, bodybuilding. I figured, 4-5 months of training and I would be on the beach sipping Mojitos in an itty-bitty yellow bikini– showcasing my abs and all their glory. I would quickly learn that this would not be an overnight process.
Now, not everyone has to go this route to ensure those lovely cuts in their stomach region but doing so has taught me a lot about what it takes to get there. Let me cut to the chase:
It will not be easy. Honestly, it won’t be. Your diet, your training and your mindset all need to be in sync before any change is possible. You will be tested time and time again, you will ask yourself if you really want this and you will have to simply ignore the voice in the back of your head telling you to give up.
You will make sacrifices. That doesn’t mean you have to completely do without your favorite foods. It simply means having Chinese food, pizza and those 3 glazed donuts (oops!) all in one week can no longer be your lifestyle. It will mean making smarter choices about foods when you eat out with friends or not mindlessly eating the whole package of Oreos while watching Colbert. Hey, we’ve all done it! We just have to consider what will ultimately make us happy from here on out.
Oh, and it has to become a lifestyle. It’s been said time and time again but diets do not work. Do not, I repeat, do not going into it thinking you will do it for a few weeks, get abs and then go back to old habits. It is kind of like when you end up in a really stressful life situation. Do you ever think “I will just find a solution, be happy and then go back to being stressed?” No! So why do it with your health? Resolve to creating something manageable for you!
No Two People Will Eat or Train the Same. “Resolve to creating something manageable for you.” So important it needs to be said twice! Just because your sister likes morning cardio does not mean you do too. And hey guess what? That’s perfectly okay! Figure out what keeps you moving, why you need comfort foods, how you de-stress, who you’d like to get involved. Healthy should be about whatever works best for you! It should make you happy.
It may take a while. Some people have incredible genes– bless their DNA! The rest of us will have to be consistent. When I started my journey back in December of 2013, I was at 23% body fat. Women will usually start to see abs at about 12%-15%. After 8 months of training, I am sitting at about 19.5%. Burning fat takes time! And this is why it’s so important to make this a lifestyle change and not just a quick fix. You may be working at it for a year or more, thinking that you are not making progress when you are!
So, now that we’ve got those little nuggets out of the way I want to help you discover your best body: whether that means abs or no abs. Yeah, it’ll be tough. And making changes– especially lifestyle changes– are always scary but I want you to just let go and have fun with it. I promise you’ll discover some great things along the way!
Read Parts II & III: