This is Week 0 of 6 in Derek Flanzraich’s #absperiment series. Read ahead for Week 1 (how it takes a village), Week 2 (how it’s about the little things), Week 3 (how much traveling sucks for this), Week 4 (early conclusions), Week 5 (the sacrifices), and Week 6 (it's over).
Every movie star has them. Everyone else seems to want them. And every magazine article seems to have the ultimate guide to get them.
But what does getting six-pack abs really mean? Who actually wants them and why? And, above all, are they worth it?
Today is Day 1 of my so-called #absperiment, an attempt to, well, do a thing that everyone wants to do in order to see if this is a thing that we should actually be doing. I'm the guinea pig. The hopefully soon-to-be lean and shredded guinea pig. The plan is to accomplish six-pack abs in six weeks just like anyone else would, without any tricks, torture, or Twizzlers. I’ll then use the experience as a jumping off point to talk about the importance of health and common, if not misunderstood, goals that normal people have; as a chance to explore the balance between external health and internal happiness; and to find out what, if any, sacrifices there are and if they're worth it.
Important disclaimer: I'm not really the average person (at least not statistically). I run a health and fitness media startup, I've been working out on and off for the past eight years, and live a relatively healthy lifestyle. I'm also surrounded by supportive co-workers and friends, have access to some of the best experts in the world, and am able (at least for the most part) to afford a gym membership and high-quality, nutritious food. But I'm also not that different from someone who would seriously consider getting six-pack abs. I'm 6-foot-1 and weigh 200 pounds, not 180. I spend most of my day sitting and staring at a computer, not in a gym. I tend to eat healthy, but splurge more or less on whatever I feel like once or twice a day. I have a few beers on the weekends and eat at Shake Shack far too often (though it's never often enough).
To get six-pack abs in six weeks, I'm following a pretty simple approach:
Move more, eat less (and better), and drink a ton of water.
More specifically, I'm starting with workouts six days a week and eating a lower-calorie, lower-carb, higher-protein diet (I’ll be sharing more details over the next few weeks). I'm also setting certain ground rules:
No crazy diets, no supplements people haven't heard of (sticking with simply vitamin D & fish oil), and no equipment that can't be found at a regular gym (prowler, battle rope, etc...).
I've reached out to some incredible experts from our impressive expert network and extended Greatist family for advice — but, just like the average person, I'm listening to and then promptly ignoring much of what they recommend, creating my own plan instead. This isn't their plan — it's mine, including the healthy food I like most and the effective workouts I most like to do. Unclear whether that’s the best thing to do. I think that's what the average person would do — so that's what I'm sticking with.
I'll also be taking a photo every day, logging all my food (even the things I turn down), and taking 12-site skinfold measurements every two weeks to mark my progress. At the end of it all, I've scheduled a professional photo shoot to keep me accountable (assuming they’ll place me in front of an Abercrombie & Fitch store for at least one of them?).
Will I succeed? We'll see. Six weeks isn't that long, but I'm already beginning to implement new habits: I've put my nutrition schedule into my personal calendar and bought new Tupperware. I've already said no to a few social events and am a little hesitant to attend the ones I've already agreed to. I'm putting my cheat meal on Saturday nights — the night I'll be celebrating my grandmother's birthday in California at the end of the month. I'm not hungry yet (obviously), but I’m a little worried about how I'll react when I really am. I'm excited about my workouts now, but I’m concerned about the decisions I'll make when I've got too much work to do. Also I’ve decided to carry this 1 gallon water bottle around, which is probably going to be the poorest choice of all.
Either way, I'm pumped to share (within reason) every step along the way. How will people react when I mention this at a dinner table? How many drinks will I have to turn down? Will the process affect my work, my focus, my creativity? And when I've got that six-pack, what the heck will I do with it?
Ultimately, I’m tired of stuff like this. I don’t know anyone who has actually gotten six-pack abs in six weeks — and I think it’s time someone actually did it so they could share what the heck that entails. So wish me luck? Follow my exercise on Fitocracy, nutrition at MyFitnessPal, and spur-of-the-moment ice cream daydreams on Twitter.
I’d love to hear your experience if you’ve attempted something similar. Comment below — let’s start a conversation!