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My own six pack ab experiment [Fitness Friday]

Fitness

I recently read an article titled “I Got Six-Pack Abs in Six Weeks. Here’s How I Feel One Year Later” and a lot of it really resonated with me.

Granted, I didn’t get six pack abs in six weeks, but I did get them over the course of about a year and a half.

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November 2015

I was lifting weights 4-5 days a week, doing HIIT training one or two days a week and doing a long run on the weekend. I was also tracking every gram of fat, carbs and protein (aka macros) I ate about 85% of the time.

I felt amazing. I loved how I looked. And I didn’t think it was affecting my social life too much. But, in the interest of full disclosure, I lost my period (yes, I’m talking about that again). I mean, I’m not planning on using my reproductive system but I understand it’s not healthy to go into amenorrhea.

So, I kept my workouts pretty much the same but stopped counting every macro I put on my plate. I posted about specifically trying to gain weight this past February. Well, I’ve definitely put weight back on.

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November 2016

I still look pretty good, though! And while my jeans aren’t falling off me anymore, they all still fit. I’m still feel awesome, can still lift really heavy and, heck I’m training for a marathon!! Someone at work recently asked if I was still following my meal plan and I said that since I was marathon training I needed to eat more. So, I do.

But here’s the rub: just like the author of that article, body image is weird after you get six pack abs and then (kind of) lose them. You think, “Oh, I have to keep it up! Everyone said I looked amazing! What will they think when I don’t look like that any more?” Or, “My love handles didn’t used to hang over these pants…did they?”

It’s weird. So weird. I can’t imagine what people who do body building or bikini competitions go through!

Still, though, I’m glad I did it. I actually learned a lot about how to eat to fuel your workouts and re-fuel afterward. I learned a lot of new recipes that I still make. I still love lifting and refuse to cut back even though I’m marathon training. But I also learned that I love wine and ice cream and pizza. However, I admit, I still feel a bit guilty when I eat those things. So, yeah, if you want to get six pack abs and you’re not naturally predisposed to them, just know you can probably do it, but it might not be easy physically or mentally to get them or keep them.

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  • Monday 11/7 – Lower body strength workout + 5 mile run
  • Tuesday 11/8 – Upper body strength workout
  • Wednesday 11/9 – 5.5 mile run
  • Thursday 11/10 – Lower body strength workout
  • Friday 11/11 – 2 mile run (treadmill) + upper body strength workout
  • Saturday 11/12 – 10 mile run
  • Sunday 11/13 – Rest

3 replies on “My own six pack ab experiment [Fitness Friday]

  1. Maggie

    Coming off of my own 6-week experiment … yeah, it’s weird. Some parts of my diet have gone back to “normal” but there are a couple good habits that I’ve kept up. What’s interesting is how well I can stick to a plan when I take the time to prepare – go grocery shopping with intention, pack my lunch, etc. When I leave things open-ended (i.e., sitting at home with access to snacks), things go off the rails. I don’t really feel guilty about it until I weigh myself and then I have to remember, weight fluctuates, it’s not the end of the world.

    As for body image. 4 years ago, I was about 20-30 pounds lighter and down a few dress sizes. No one else seems to notice (or care) that I put most of the weight I lost back on and my dress size crept up a couple notches. I notice, of course, which is why I agreed to go through a 6-week diet/exercise plan. My husband actually prefers me with a little junk in my trunk, and he’s the only other person who really sees what’s going on under my clothing.

    But it is interesting how it changes your social life. I know I’m going to give into temptation, so it’s better to avoid going out to lunch or dinner or for drinks and therefore avoid going off the plan.

  2. Bethany @ Accidental Intentions

    I think it was one of your blog posts about lifting/your diet plan where you posted a quote that was something to the effect of “You can have six pack abs or you can have a social life, but not both,” and I thought that was really poignant. I suppose the same could be said for most fitness endeavors that you undertake to change something about yourself, whether that’s your diet or your strength or your speed or your endurance or whatever. You can half-ass those things (see: all of my marathon training cycles) and probably still see some sort of improvement (even half-assing marathon training, I’m always, eventually, able to run very long distances with much more ease than I could have at the beginning of marathon training, for example), but if you don’t commit 100% to the program, you’re not going to see the results you wanted (4:45 marathon, you still elude me so!), and even if you DO commit 100% to it, once you deviate from the program after it’s “finished,” it’s not like you get to keep those results forever. It’s not a degree. I have a Bachelors to my name that will never go away even if I never set foot in an educational institution ever again, but five weeks after the Chicago Marathon, you better BELIEVE I couldn’t go out and run another marathon again this afternoon, even if I hadn’t been injured and had run some between then and now. And while constantly for the rest of my life following a marathon training program is hardly realistic, even if it were realistic, my social life would take SUCH a hit as a result. I’m not some crazy social butterfly or anything, but I do like to, you know, not spend every free second of my life running. This past marathon season I had one heck of a time trying to get in all of my training, because being with other people was a higher priority for me this year than training, and while I rarely completely skipped a run, I did often have to sacrifice sleep in order to get my run in, and certainly more than once I ran fewer miles than intended because that’s all I could find time for. Since marathon training is such a holistic process (like getting a six pack – it’s not just about weight lifting, but also about your diet), that obviously impacted my ability to recover, and I’m sure my lower mileage had a major impact on my times this year as well. I guess at the end of the day it’s all about where your priorities lie, and it’s not really fair for anyone to judge anyone else for having different priorities (unless those priorities got unhealthy — prioritizing your social life to the point where you stop taking care of yourself, or prioritizing your workouts/diet to a disordered degree).

  3. Emily @ Out and About

    I often think about supermodels, ballet dancers, actresses, and others who have to be extremely cautious about their food intake for public image and career purposes. Sure, they might look great, but what we don’t see is all the sacrifice they are making behind the scenes, right? I have a friend who is a model (and I would describe her as being a healthy-looking model, not one who is stick-thin). One night, we were both at a Chicago Jazz and Blues Tour where we were taken to this awesome soul-food restaurant for dinner. While the rest of us were pigging out, she ate an undressed salad and drank water. That was it! Her discipline has to be incredible. I can’t imagine having to be so restrictive all the time. It’s hard to live life that way. Sad to say, but no wonder so many celebrities end up doing drugs because they need some kind of outlet, right?

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