Truth be told, I never would have described myself as “muscular,” “toned,” or “in shape” until the last few years. I was “skinny,” “tall,” and “lanky.”
I ran all the miles, and did every type of sit-up under the sun, but I didn’t have “abs.” Instead, I had many protruding ribs and a little snack pack of belly fat hanging out around my belly button. My abs, or lack thereof, made me incredibly self-conscious. I remember always trying to hide them with a loose shirt or holding my hand over my stomach whenever I sat.
“WHY IS THIS SO HARD?!”
I asked myself that question often, especially after doing 400 crunches and only eating three graham crackers that day.
Why was it that when I looked in the mirror, I couldn’t see my abdominal muscles? I was doing everything right, right?
L.O.L. Wrong. 120% wrong.
Y’all, I’m going to give it to you straight. Your abdominals’ appearance (or lack thereof) are linked to your genetics, at least to some point. In the same way that I will never be a natural blonde because it isn’t in my genes, I will never have abs without effort. No one in my nuclear or extended family has defined abs. It’s not in our genes.
But if you’ve ever taken a science class, you know that our bodies, minds, and emotions do not result exclusively from genetics. Environment plays a major role in how we look, act, and think!
Through a lot of trial and error, I have overcome my genetics and built a strong core (read: different from “abs”) that is more or less “defined.” And here’s the secret…you can, too.
Today, I am giving you the first of four ingredients in my secret recipe for building a defined “six pack.” Ready? Good! Keep reading!
“Abs Are Made In The Kitchen”
I hate this phrase, but it is so true. The fact of the matter is that you are a human being, and as a human being, you have a transverse abdominis, rectus abdominus, and internal and external obliques (aka what we commonly refer to as your abs).
Whether or not you can see them is dependent upon how much belly fat is covering them up. And like it or not, belly fat is highly linked to what you eat and drink.
Growing up, I used to think that the best way to get abs was to do a lot of sit-ups and eat under 1,000 calories a day. Boy was I wrong. In fact, it wasn’t until I started eating lots (read: sufficient) of calories and lifting heavy that I started losing my belly fat.
As my belly fat began to disappear, my abs started to show. It was the coolest magic trick I’d ever seen. I wasn’t looking at my ribs or at a jello-y snack pack…I was seeing my muscles! The leaner and more muscular my core became, the more motivated I was to make my nutrition changes a lifestyle.
It may not be what you want to hear, but if you want to see defined abs in your swimsuit, you have to get serious about your nutrition.
I’m not going to tell you, “eat this, or eat that!” There is no magic food group that makes it happen. I’m also not going to tell you that you need “x carbs : y protein : z fat.” What works for me may not work for you because our bodies have different needs.
You need a nutrition plan that is perfectly customized to you.
Maybe it’s following macros, or maybe it’s plate-based planning. Regardless of which nutrition plan you choose to follow, it helps to have someone who knows what they’re doing to guide you. Consider hiring an online coach or nutritionist to design a customized eating plan that will help you reach whatever goals you’re working towards.
So there you have it, folks. Ingredient #1 in building that six-pack is taking a look at your diet and seeing where you might need to make some changes. I know it can be intimidating, but take that first step. Your body will love you for it. I promise.
Stay tuned for Ingredient #2 next week!