One of the most sought-after features on the human body and yet highly overrated! Not to mention difficult for the majority to attain. Even if you do manage to lower your body fat percentage enough to reach this condition, maintaining a ‘six-pack’ can be an entirely new challenge.
The reason this feature is so sort after is it apparently represents peak physical health but most people are unaware of what other factors and sacrifices are made in this journey.
Few people have the genetics that allows for ‘easy abdominals. For the rest of us, its hard work over long periods of time. Usually sacrificing social occasions and standard high-calorie meals for simple clean meals like skinless chicken breast with steamed greens and high-intensity exercise. In short, you need to be in a consistent, controlled caloric deficit.
I believe that everyone should make better nutritional choices and keep active on a daily basis. Recording a starting weight, pictures, and measurements along with your daily food and fluid intake is the best way to begin. Use an app like My Fitness Pal to give you a relatively accurate calorie calculation per item of food and fluid. The average person roughly consumes 2000 calories per day, so you could aim for 100 calories less (1900) per day to start.
Be consistent with your exercise. You want to keep your health in mind so if exercising regularly, you will need to ensure enough food is consumed. At the end of each week, record your measurements, weight, and take pictures again. Use the same clothes and measure at the same time of day for accuracy.
Has there been a change? Weight can safely drop 600g – 800g per week. Consistently dropping over 1kg per week may cause that dreaded rebound effect in the future where your weight quickly climbs back on and then some! Remember that we are aiming to lower calories but not starve yourself.
Now I’m going to throw a real spanner in the works and mention that while you may be dropping calories, there may not be much change straight away or even in the first few weeks! This I’ve seen many times and it can be very disheartening. Compared to 20+ years ago we did not have near the number of convenience foods we have today! Years of packaged foods, takeaways to support our busy lifestyles, etc have caused a massive increase in gut-related health problems.
So how do we get around these problems and start trimming down our mid sections?
You must first start with your mindset. No one will bring you down or lift you up more than your own mind! Be thankful that you are in a position to change your condition. Next, we decide why we are doing this! Do you want to get on stage or do you want to have a flat stomach and be able to still make social events? If you want a shredded 6 pack then be prepared to go through a stage of feeling absolutely miserable! Anyone who has ventured here for the first time can attest that this process involves huge sacrifices both socially and personally.
This is why a 6 pack isn’t everything! You can still have visible abdominals, a flat stomach, eat regular food, and look healthy! This is a much more realistic goal to work towards. Please remember that your body is unique! You can only be responsible for yourself. Focusing on your path and consistency instead of someone else’s. Scrolling through social media looking at ‘perfect bodies’ is not always the best idea.
Now how do you feel about your gut health?
Is there any food or drink that you feel brings your mood down, or causes your stomach to bloat, cause gas or any skin reactions? Can be a real trial and error process but if you have an idea then the best thing to do is cut these foods/fluids out. Improving your gut health through probiotic and prebiotic foods/supplementation in my opinion is a good place to start. This will allow you to better process food and absorb nutrients. If a machine is to do a job effectively, you want it in good working order correct?
In summary, having that shredded 6 pack year-round for most of us is not the be-all and end-all. Focus on learning about your body, following a plan that you can keep consistent with, and regularly record your progress. The end game is a long and healthy life. No goal is worth you being unhappy and sacrificing your health.