Have you been seduced by Abdominal Workouts that promise visible rock-hard ab’s? Ironically they are the most inefficient way to achieve that goal.
One of the first things you learn when becoming a coach is that you can’t spot reduce. No amount of sit ups will get rid of unwanted belly fat. Sure, you might get better abdominal muscles, but you won’t even see them unless you reduce your overall body fat percentage, and doing endless sit ups is not going to get you there.
I can definitely attest to this. Before I became a coach I had a little pot belly so I thought if I did a gazllion sit-ups each day I’d have abs. It didn’t work. Then I tried losing as much weight as I could. At 176cm tall my ideal body weight is around the 70kg mark so I dropped it down to just under 62kg and you guessed it, I still didn’t have abs.
I didn’t realise how gaunt I looked until a friend of mine came to see me and was so shocked she blurted out ‘Are you sick? Do you have cancer?’. Later that day I looked in the mirror and for the first time I saw myself as a whole and not as a person with a fat tummy. My face was gaunt, my bones were sticking out, I did look ill and my little pot belly was still there.
I began to ask myself, why did I put myself through all this? Who was I trying to please? The truth is that I had become unhealthy and obsessed with appearance more than fitness. It dawned on me that not every body is meant to have rippling abs and my health, self-worth and happiness did not and should not depend on what is for many an unrealistic beauty standard.
I no longer focus on body image focused goals, now I train and eat to improve my strength, performance and mental health. My goals are orientated around what feels good for my body.
Over time I also realised that the people that mattered in my life only cared about how I made them feel, not whether I had abs or not. After all, at my funeral (which I hope is many years away) I would like to think that people will say things like ‘she was kind and a great friend’, not ‘she was always dieting and complaining about her body’.
Another thing that helped me redirect my focus was the realisation that genetics and our hormonal profile play a huge part. Coach Nicky gets abs easily but stores excess fat on her legs while I am the opposite.
Perhaps I could have trained harder, but after changing my focus the desire had left me. And what if I finally got those abs and I couldn’t maintain them? Would I always be living in the past saying remember when I had abs?
I don’t have a problem with anyone wanting to have abs and doing body physique, good on them if that’s what they want to do. But if you do, my tip is - do it for yourself, avoid seductive quick fix programs that undermine your health and self-esteem and ensure your primary goal is to enjoy the journey.
Coach Ange Gawthorne