A six-pack, washboard abs or at least a couple of cuts on the sides and perhaps one in the middle. Admit it, we all, at some point, dreamed of a rocking bod. I’m writing this entry because I sort of feel the need to respond to the comments I get on social media and offline about wanting to have a stomach like mine. And to programs, products, brands and services that sell by promising their clients six-packs. Obviously, I cannot type in this long response in the comments section and just tag everyone, so I am setting things straight here. All modesty aside, I do love it when my stomach feels flatter and a few cuts show up. That means, there are days that they don’t. And when friends tease and ask me to show them my “abs”, I jokingly say “They’re not here today” or “They’re not in season.” Haha! It’s not a secret I want to keep because I don’t enjoy being labeled as the girl with abs when there are days that I actually don’t have them.
So here, I reveal five of the deepest secrets a person with abs will probably never tell you. EVER.
5. They don’t do 500 crunches a day. In case you have gotten lost in the sea of six-pack dreams, may I remind you that abdominals are just muscles that, like all others, have a purpose. The abs, together with other core muscles, must be able to keep your spine in neutral alignment. To give the six-pack its shape, you have to tighten those muscles. And when they become too tight, you lessen your range of motion, which in extreme cases, may affect your spine’s alignment. For yogis, this may also translate to less or smaller backbends.
The glamour muscles or the ones that are visible, grow in size when toned. This means the 500 crunches a day will not only hurt your neck but may also make you look a bit thicker.
When working the core, you’ll want to target the deep muscle called Transversus Abdominis to develop real strength. Start with stability before going for strength. Resistance exercises work best for this. Read more here.
4. They (partially) got it from their momma. Yep, your genes affect how your abs show, the same way they affect how the rest of your body looks. If a naturally athletic body runs in your family, chances are the coveted six-pack will likely show on your stomach too. And if you don’t have the genes for it, don’t fret, keep training and eating right. Your abs of steel are in there though not prominent. True strength lies in how you perform, not how you look.
3. It involves major sacrifice and discipline–especially when it comes to food. I don’t think I’m the only one who prepares for shoots or events by eating extra clean and healthy and being very strict with my workouts. Not that I just want to flash some abs but also because that’s when my body is at it’s optimum. According to one of my coaches, Andre Cabrera of 360 Fitness Plus, abs start to become visible when the amount of body fat goes down. Mine started at around 20% (I’m now at 16%) and it still wasn’t as visible as those you often see in magazines! Abs, especially when they’re not prominent can easily hide behind a layer of fat. AND THERE’S NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT. Women store fat more easily than men for specific reasons. Are you willing to sacrifice eating a regular meal every single day just so you have abs to show? If you’re down to live off salads with barely any dressing all the time, then you’ll be fine. However, salads don’t provide enough calories especially when you work out. Besides, are you ready to drop your desserts forever? We all know where strict diets lead up to–binge eating.
My advice? Just eat right and keep moving whether or not you get washboard abs shouldn’t be a major concern. Keeping your body fat in check is.
2. It takes a lot to get abs to smile for a camera. I’m no fitness model and I still consider myself to be an average girl who eats when she’s hungry and just loves to work out. Sometimes, even after all the preparation and training, those cuts around the stomach (and even on the other parts of my body) just refuse to show on the shoot or event day itself. If it isn’t your profession, it may not be as simple as taking your shirt off or putting a bra top on. There’s lighting, camera angles, lots of exhalation to engage the core (maybe a couple of seconds holding the breath) AND, (tada!) body oil! Oh. I hate to say this, but there’s also Photoshop.
1. Their abs are just not there everyday. I said it in the beginning. A lot of factors contribute to the abs not being there. I have little muscle tone that just a bit of increase in my body fat causes a sheath to instantly cover my muscles like a cloak, my belly often being the first victim. People who are naturally thin have got it going on for them, as a little amount of muscle immediately becomes visible. Those who have more muscle tone have it easy too. And so do those who have it in their genes.
My abs not being visible on some days may be because of several different reasons that happen to most regular people. There’s stress, lack of sleep, dehydration and water retention. But considering that I don’t see my ab muscles all too often, I still think my core strength is pretty decent, lots of thanks to my yoga practice.
See, there are tons of reasons out there as to why your abs just aren’t like JLo’s, but none of them good enough to stop you from working to get leaner and stronger. This is why personally, rather than spending half an hour in front of the mirror looking for those cuts, I check on my abs by seeing how long I am able to hold myself up in plank or an arm balancing pose. 😉
To all my friends who have sent nothing but kind words my way, throwing you lots of hugs and kisses. I am always very flattered by your compliments. This entry is for you. And to all you beautiful, curvy people out there, for you too. I am strongly against body shaming, NOT JUST FAT SHAMING. And this problem in our society will not end unless we stop embarrassing ourselves first in front of the mirror.