I Used To Have Abs
I used to have abs, but now I don’t. I miss them so much that I’m willing to embark on the painfully disciplined journey to get them back.
For most of my 20’s, I was the girl with rock hard abs. All it took was 16 crunches and BOOM…there they were and I knew it. From 1999 – 2007, I rarely wore a top that did not show off this feature. When 16 crunches no longer kept up the look, my shirts began to get longer and longer. I’ve always worked out pretty regularly (3-5 time a week), but as I now approach 40 and have watched this metabolism of mine slow down, I have discovered my current diet and workout regime is not contributing to the developments of my middle section.
For my 37th birthday this past February, I decided to switch my regular workouts to sessions focused on body sculpting. By the start of this summer, I noticed definition in my shoulders and legs, and my overall endurance spiked. Great right? While 80% of my body was taking shape nicely, those damn abs were BLAH at best. But why? My core is strong AF, I can hold a plank for at least a month and can out crunch anybody. But when I take off my shirt, my middle is still soft, undefined and lacked luster. So, I sought outside council and asked a trainer. I didn’t ask just any trainer. This guy is beyond cut and he knows it. He walks the streets, rarely in a shirt, as a chiseled piece of chocolate advertising his expertise.
On a random early morning in the gym, I ask him, “How do I get abs? I used to have them but can’t seem to get them back”. His response, “Your diet is garbage. That’s why you can get them.” Well excuse me mister. Being that this is our 1st ever conversation, you don’t know anything about me; so I thought. He then enlightened me that no matter how hard I train, abs are defined in the kitchen. He challenged me to take a month…NO sugar, NO salt, NO fried foods. Merge that with a muscle specific workout and in a month, I’ll see abs. Once I achieve the desired definition, I can moderately layer in the sugary-salty-fried foods I love, but keep in mind that moderation is key.
Challenge accepted. August 1st came and I realized how much sugar & salt are in the everyday “healthy” foods I eat and that French fries and donuts (my go to meals while PMSing) are both FRIED! What do I do when a chilled glass of white wine or frosty beer are regulars in my life during the summer months? When rooftop work events with cocktails and cheese and breads and passed hors d'oeuvre are consumed BEFORE dinner? What about when date nights and girlfriend meetups are always great excuses for a cheat day. Looking back, it seems like I’m always on a “cheat day”, however I no longer have the metabolism of my 25-year-old self. This is why I no longer have abs.
Here we go...August 1st
Besides fries, I am not really a fried food eater, so that part is pretty easy. The plan is not to remove all sugar or salt 100%, but to drastically reduce their consumption. No breads or cheese or simple sugars, 1 glass of wine per week (so far I've had 2 glasses this month), and no beer. I have to increase the amount of times I eat per day. By not eating often enough, your body stores the fat it receives because it does not know when the next meal will be. Eating more smaller meals throughout the day actually increases the metabolism and helps to burn fat.
(Please excuse the nasty mirror)
I love Greek yogurt but realized that the flavored fat-free one I get from Trader Joe's is ALL wrong. There should be no more that 3 ingredients, milk, bacteria cultures, and cream. Dr. Oz breaks it down beautifully here. Now I have switched to Fage Total. With only 5 grams of sugar, it has a very tarty taste and super thick consistency, but it grows on you. With 18 grams of protein, a cup of this and a banana is my typical 1st meal of the day.
I also added a variation of abdominal exercises to hit each muscle group. Because music is such a part of my workout routine, instead of doing a specific number for each movement, I tend to switch the exercise when the beat changes or until I burn out that muscle.
Finally seeing results, but those obliques remain my biggest challenge!
This is my journey until September 1, 2018. Regarding eating, I have been pretty good but could have been a lot better. The hardest challenge was holding a glass of wine at an event while nursing it the whole time. I did flat out brake for a glazed donut. Unapologetically, I had just started my cycle that day and made love to the donut in the middle of Wall Street and regret nothing in that moment. So here I am with 11 days to go. I hoped to be further along but behaving “pretty good” & mid-street donut make out sessions are not contributing to my end goal.
Nonetheless, I am beginning to see the appearance of my long-lost friends; the abs! I’ve gone through PMS and hopefully the donut cravings have subsided. I am willing to go all out for the rest of the month to challenge myself physically and mentally. I have been cooking and eating at home more to control my sodium intake, but I am getting bored with these low salt, carb free meals. I have discovered new ab routines that target different areas and do them daily. In the gym and in the kitchen, consistency is key. Pray for me on this final leg as I phase out the "used to" in "I Used To Have Abs"!!!