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Six-Pack Abs in Six Weeks #Absperiment: The Sacrifices

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This is Week 5 of 6 in Derek Flanzraich's #absperiment series. Catch up on Week 0 (why he's doing this to begin with), Week 1 (how it takes a village), Week 2 (how it’s about the little things), Week 3 (how much traveling sucks for this), and Week 4 (early conclusions).

I’m not suffering. I’m not starving. I don’t feel tortured when people nosh on food I can’t eat in front of me. And I look better than I’ve ever looked. I weigh less than I have in five years, maybe 10. And though the last few days have been the toughest yet, I’m not giving up on the #absperiment challenge until it’s complete.

But after that? I’m having the biggest Shake Shack meal anyone has ever had. This week’s update is about the things I’ve given up to make this happen so you can decide for yourself whether it’s worth it.

As always, here’s my day-by-day, meal-by-meal, workout-by-workout week to keep me honest:

Illustration by Bob Al-Greene

Day 29 (Monday, July 9): Cardio Interval Running + Walking, Med Carb, Med Calorie Day, and slept 7.75 hours

Day 30 (Tuesday, July 10): Metabolic Resistance Training + Modified Tabata, Med Carb, Med Calorie Day, and slept 7.5 hours

Day 31 (Wednesday, July 11): Slow Steady-State CardioLow Carb, Low Calorie Day, and slept 7.5 hours

Day 32 (Thursday, July 12): Strength Resistance Training + Cardio, Med Carb, Med Calorie Day, and slept 8 hours

Day 33 (Friday, July 13): Metabolic Resistance Training + Arms + CardioMed Carb, Med Calorie Day, and slept 8.5 hours

Day 34 (Saturday, July 14): Cardio Interval Running + Walking, Med Calorie Day and No Cheat Meal, and slept 8 hours

Day 35 (Sunday, July 15): Slow Steady-State Cardio Jog + WalkLow Carb, Low Calorie Day, and slept 7.5 hours

Here’s a (condensed) list of the things I’ve sacrificed on my journey to get six-pack abs in six weeks. Can you endure them all?

  • Drinking not a single drop of alcohol. That means beer, wine, whiskey, sangria. Zippo. Zilch. Nada.
  • Feeling uncomfortable watching any big game at a sports bar, especially the ones you care about most. Really? You’re going to order the vegetable and hummus platter instead of the wings?
  • Canceling/not attending/feeling terribly out of place at any social event focused on drinking. Think twice about attending any birthday parties. Think thrice about going out for drinks with friends. And don’t even think about a wine tasting, distillery visit, or beer pong tourney.
  • Feeling terrifically sick if you do mess up and eat something bad for you. Not just emotionally, but also physically. Who knew just a few fries could make you feel like vomiting?
  • Dreaming about food constantly. Multiple times already I’ve had vivid dreams about secretly or accidentally consuming massive amounts of food. Don’t need Freud to tell you what this means.
  • Seeing the look on your grandmother’s face when you tell her you can’t eat any of her home cooking. And die.
  • Making others drink alone. This is super crappy.
  • Making others feel bad about their food choices. It’s amazing how self-conscious people can get about ordering fries, pizza, whatever when you’ve been talking about your abs for 15 minutes.
  • Having to constantly explain what you’re doing. “Well, it’s after 9pm and I’m on this thing…” “You mean a juice cleanse?” “No… I’m trying to get six-pack abs in six-weeks. It’s for Greatist.” “So you can’t eat anything?” Repeat.
  • Sounding like a douchebag. Because who needs six-pack abs more than douchebags, really?
  • Scheduling in one-and-a-half to two hours of gym time every day. I’m currently doing seven days a week: five days of cardio, three days of lifting, and two days of intervals. That means it’s taking up roughly 11 to 12 hours every week. Have time for that?
  • Thinking every part of you is falling apart. During the last five weeks, I’ve had what I’m pretty sure was tendonitis in my right foot, a pinched sciatic nerve that’s sent heat pangs down the entire backside of my left leg, re-aggravated my slightly herniated discs at the top of my spine, and thought the top of one of my knee-caps had been knocked off (turned out to just be super weird swelling). I’m OK, but none of this part is fun.
  • Being super grouchy a surprising amount of the time. I have felt more like Oscar the Grouch than my normal, positive self. And it has particularly bothered those closest to me — the people I wanted this #absperiment to bother the least.
  • Doing laundry constantly. Can be either a time or money drain, but regardless super stressful when all you need is a two clean socks for the day’s workout.
  • Having no room for “off days.” It doesn’t matter how icky you’re feeling — or if you forget your athletic shorts and just want to call it a day.
  • Photo by Jordan Shakeshaft

    Not eating yummy carbs. Except for sweet potatoes and quinoa, I haven’t had starchy carbs of any kind for five weeks. Not a single piece of bread. Not a single Cinnabon (to be fair, I don’t think I’ve had a Cinnabon since 1998).

  • Running out of things to do. Especially for dates. Because of a regimented exercise and specific eating schedule, doing activities, going out for most dinners, and leaving for treats is out. Plus you’re tired. So I’ve watched a lot of movies and eaten a lot of prepared meals in parks. So fun.
  • Not sampling any famous restaurant specials, any local must-haves, etc… Seriously, no Thai lobster rolls at that Asian place that’s famous for them, and no In-N-Out when visiting the west coast. This one bothered me a ton, actually, because I love adventure and trying new things.
  • Ordering nothing with your coffee. I already order my coffee black (if I don’t brew it myself), but nothing else at the coffee shop is up to snuff. Especially not that new Starbucks Bountiful Blueberry Muffin.
  • Staring hungrily at random people’s food without meaning to. For some reason, I haven’t been able to stop looking when someone is eating pie of any kind. It’s mesmerizing. And creeps them the hell out.
  • Taking significantly more time (and likely more money) to prepare food far in advance. Tupperware is nice and all, but man is it a pain to wash out.
  • Not eating a scoop of ice cream. Not even a little, itty-bitty one.
  • Not drinking any smoothie with bananas in it. Sorry, not allowed.
  • Being tired a lot of the time. Really tired. Especially on low-carbohydrate days.
  • Having your clothes no longer fit. This may seem like a good thing, but having to buy new clothes (or at least carrying a belt around everywhere) is a total pain.
  • Having to skip guacamole and chips at Mexican restaurants. I’m allowed maybe a spoonful of guacamole, God’s gift to mankind, but nothing more.
  • Drinking over a gallon of water a day makes you have to pee nonstop. I left The Amazing Spider-Man four times to use the restroom the other night, no joke.
  • Except for berries, cutting out all fruit. No peaches, no apples, no oranges for five weeks so far.
  • The extra sleeping time takes its toll. I’m behind on a surprising amount of things because all of a sudden I absolutely need to get seven and a half hours of sleep, ideally eight, every night. I’ve done OK at this and definitely appreciate how much better I feel — but it’s a real commitment that forces priorities to change, for better or for worse.
  • Not being able to celebrate the holidays like you’re used to. For July 4th, all my friends had pizza, hot dogs, and tons of beer. I had an arugala salad and water. I can’t imagine what this would have been like on my birthday or around Christmas.
  • Even treating veggies differently. Steering clear of corn, carrots, and tomatoes is weird.

Five weeks in and I’m proof that giving up the above is possible. If you had to, you could. But are you willing to sacrifice all of them to get six-pack abs in six weeks? Or would you rather live a healthier lifestyle, making one healthier choice at a time, while enjoying a normal life? I know where my answer is leaning, six-pack or not… One week until my final conclusion!

The #absperiment is nearly over. Follow the last stretch of my workouts on Fitocracy, meals at MyFitnessPal, and adventures on Twitter.

Which of the above would you be willing to give up? Any of them? All of them? Let me know in the comments below!

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