All of these words are what we have been told we need to do to get those perfect abs. It feels like pretty much every single day my Facebook feed is flooded with articles and tips and pictures of how to get “flat abs fast”.
And I’ve bought into it.
I can’t even remember a time that I wasn’t pursuing flat abs. No matter what I was doing, running or yoga or strength training or pilates, I was always focusing on my abs. If I could just get those washboard abs, everything would be fine. And that idea has been reinforced time and time again through all forms of media. Even if I wasn’t immersing myself in that media, it was always there, whispering in the back of my mind.
Don’t believe me?
Look at these magazine covers, most of them recent.
What do they all have in common? The cover tells you that just inside all your ab dreams will come true. In four easy moves! In two short weeks! With just one workout a day! Imagine high-school Katie’s disappointment when her abs never showed up in the time frame given.
Now, I’m not blaming these magazines entirely for my ab woes. I’m not mad at them. I’m more mad at myself because for so long I have based my worth off of what my stomach looks like. I have spent many hours looking at it from every angle to see if it was worthy. I have done countless workouts to shred/blast/burn away the fat to see those coveted abs.
I never stopped to wonder why.
Why is a six-pack the golden star of a healthy body? Why should ab definition define me as a person? What do shredded abs prove?
Here is a side by side comparison of me from about 7 months ago to this past weekend. While there isn’t much difference in the ab department, I can tell you the me on the right is far happier. The me on the right is strong. The me on the right could probably outlast most people in a plank. The me on the right can lift way more weight than I ever have. The me on the right is learning about balance and how flat abs shouldn’t dictate my thoughts about my body.
Could I get lean and shredded and have those six-pack abs? Sure. It’s just a matter of getting my body fat down through what I eat and exercise. But in order to do that, I think I would have to trade in a lot of what makes me happy and balanced just to see 6 bulges in one muscle. At this point in my life, it isn’t worth it.
So, I’m going to love my strong, happy, balanced body with or without those abs. I’m sure I’ll have days where I struggle, where I look in the mirror and long to see what I see on TV, in the movies, or the cover of magazines, but I will remind myself that abs don’t make me a better or more healthy person.
They’re just the icing on the already pretty awesome cake that I am!