So I’m watching TV one day last weekend (something I don’t normally do) and I keep seeing all of these infomercials and ad’s for exercise equipment and training programs.
“Act right now and get Johnny Fitness’s latest P-97XL Super Whamo Exercise Program and you’ll drop weight faster than a kid drops a hot potato!”
“Just 30 minutes a day on the NEW Roto Turbine Stepper Upper and you’ll lose so much weight your mother-in-law will think you’re sick!”
See, I have this theory that people want this kind of stuff because it’s sexy.
It’s action oriented.
It’s something they can do and tell their friends, “Well, I’m doing the (fill in the blank with whatever program they’re currently on).” Or they can brag, “I bought the (blah, blah) exercise size piece and it’s SO easy!”
And that’s cool.
I’ve always said that the greatest exercise program in the world is the one you’ll do. If it’ll get someone up off the couch and moving, I’m all for it. The problem is most of those exercise pieces turn into glorified clothes hanging devices and the exercise video’s collect dust like a dog collects fleas.
I’m also pretty positive that most of these folks who are expecting miraculous results didn’t hear, see or read the fine print. You know, that lawyer legalese that accompanies all of these advertisements which states something like this; “Individual results will vary. In a recent Independent study average weight loss for participants was 20 lbs. Average total inches lost were 13. Participants also followed the meal plan included with every (insert exercise piece or program here).”
* Note from Uncle Steve: Is it just me or do you hear that announcers voice in your head when you read that last line?
Our Disdain For Meal Plans
Make no mistake…dropping body fat and obtaining, much less maintaining, a lean physique is hard work. Especially after a certain age…
And who really wants to eat “clean” when they have to go to a Super Bowl party or out on a date night with the spouse?
Lemme ask you: When was the last time you ran into someone who’d dropped a substantial amount of body fat and you asked them, “What type of meal plan are you following?” rather than what type of exercise routine they’re doing?
I’ll answer for you…never.
I get it.
Really, I do.
Good quality meal plans ain’t sexy. They’re just not cool like a marathon, or a Spartan Race or a 30-minute-session-on-a-treadmill kind of cool. In fact they’re downright boring.
And they’re effective.
So before I tell you how to get that lean physique and those sweet rock-like abs, I’m going to get to the ugly truth first. O.K.?
1) Laws Were Made To Be Broken…Or Are They?
The Law of Gravity is one of those things that you don’t really have to ponder or decide if it applies to you or not. You know that if you jump off a roof today, seconds later you’ll come face to face with the hard surface below. You’re never going to jump off a roof one day and suddenly go soaring through the clouds.
It’s an immutable eventuality. It always has the same outcome and it sounds like splat…
Many years ago some smarty-smart named Newton came up a bunch of universal “laws” that are applicable to a wide range of events and situations. His first law is called the law of thermodynamics and basically says that energy can’t be created or destroyed and then some other three dollar words to complex for this ten cent redneck.
Also (in laymen’s terms) it means that if you want a flat stomach so you can admire that six-pack when you gaze into the mirror, calories rule all.
See, torturing yourself on Johnny Fitness’s Super Fabulous Ab Cruncher thingee isn’t going to do jack squat for your six-pack if you don’t get rid of the layer of fat covering it. And the bottom line is that for the vast majority of us, fat loss requires eating fewer calories than you expend through exercise or daily life.
2) The Extra Fat Is Your Body’s Best Friend
God designed our bodies pretty well. He gave us all kinds of awesome benefit’s to help insure our survival, like sweat glands to keep us cool and eyesight so we could see and neat stuff like that.
He also gave us hunger pangs to encourage us to eat, because eating means survival and fuel for the body and that fuel chiefly comes from stored fat. You see, your body stores fat to stave off death in case of a food shortfall or famine. It’s smart like that.
So when you decide to get rid of those precious fuel storage sites, your body is going to rebel against you like a teenager going through puberty. And it will get even nastier before it’s over.
In a study done in 2005 researchers found that, as your bodies fat stores deplete, its willingness to burn said fat slows to a snail’s pace. Want a visual on how slow? Watch grass grow, or better yet wait for some young men mature emotionally…
So if you’re down to those last few pounds of fat covering your hard earned abs, get ready to wait a little longer because it’s going to be a while before it’s all gone.
3) Are You Really Going To Wear Revealing Clothing And Show Off Your New Physique?
Going to the beach is great, isn’t it? I mean seriously, laying in the sand, reading a good book, listening to the sounds of the surf and sipping a cool beverage render thoughts of a heavenly paradise, doesn’t it?
How often do you really do that? If you’re anything like me (and speaking as a small business owner) it’s maybe once or twice a year. And that’s a big maybe…
And if you’ve got kids?
Besides which, laying in the sun like that for hours at a time will, before long, have you looking a lot like an old Johnny Bench catcher’s mitt.
Hey but if that’s your thing…
4) You’re Probably Not Going To Maintain Your Flat Stomach
I have a friend who is a competitive bodybuilder. He, like me, is 54 years of age. You know the biggest struggle he has in prepping for a contest?
If you said, “shaving off all of his body hair so he’d look good and defined under the bright lights”, you’d be partially right…
It’s getting rid of his gut.
Every time he gets ready for a show he has to diet down. You know why? Go back and read #2…
And if I haven’t made it abundantly clear, our bodies like that covering of fat, and this article tells you all about that.
Dropping the layer of fat covering those highly sought after abs is very, very hard. Keeping them off for any appreciable amount of time is even harder.
Why is that, you wonder? Well…here’s a theory.
Don’t get me wrong, these guys still look great. Just not action movie hero great, if you know what I mean and I think you do…
Maintaining that level of low body fat requires hard work, dedication and being a little bit consumed with oneself…to the point of fanaticism. Here’s a little ditty about what the typical model goes through to get on the cover of a magazine.
And unless you have a HIGHLY patient and understanding spouse or partner who is willing to endure your grumpiness, complaining about hunger and other such pleasantries, you might want to rethink this whole six-pack abs thing…
5) Stop chasing rabbits.
You may have heard the old Native American Quote which states, “If you chase two rabbits, you will lose them both.” It means that if you try to focus on too many things nothing gets accomplished.
Have you ever heard of Hick’s Law? Probably not, so here it is: Hick’s Law is a model of human reaction time. It basically says that a person’s reaction time (RT) increases as the number of choices (n) increase, and that the relationship between reaction time and the number of choices is a linear function of the logarithm (base 2) of the number of options the person has to choose between.
This “law” is primarily used in things like martial arts, where a punch is thrown and one has decide how to react. Or when you go to a website looking for something and the site has minimal choices to select from or many. Which is more doable or insures success?
But I think it can also be used to describe why it’s so hard to get the results we want in terms of a lean physique and a flat stomach.
For example, if I offer you an opportunity to come to the gym and do the program I have personally designed and laid out for you, what are your choices?
Yes or no…right? You’ll follow through (reaction) on your choice based on your desired outcome and its meaning to you. Your “why” if you will.
What if I offer you a gym membership and once you get in the door, point to the equipment and say, “There it is. Go get ‘em, Tiger!”
How likely are you to decide (correctly) what to do or to stick with this program for very long?
Now throw in your work schedule, kids, husband, wife, boyfriend or girlfriend plus all of the activities that you have to or want to do and you can see how this gets complicated really quickly.
I have a client who I’ve worked with for over 20 years now. Very early on he told me, “I think all day long. When I get here (the gym), you do the thinking for me and I’ll pay you for it.”
He gets it.
Everybody Wants Washboard Abs
So, with everything I just showed you, you still want that flat abs look…right?
Great! Because you can have it, if you’re willing to do what it takes. And it’s going to take a lot, believe me. As a former competitive bodybuilder myself, I know wherefrom I speak.
You simply need to decide if you want a lean looking stomach, or truly epic, marble-like sculptured abs. And the difference is pretty big.
“What do I have to do, Uncle Steve?”
Here we go:
1) Keep It Simple
Here’s an excerpt from my website and The Plan: “Recently I heard Tony Robbins, the famed self help and motivational speaker, state this about complexity: “Most people, in order to feel significant, make things really complex so they feel like they’re really unique and special, but…complexity is the enemy of execution. The more complex you make it, the more likely you are NOT going to follow through.”
Remember Hick’s Law?
Keep things simple, or make them as simple as you can. You’ll be happier and greatly improve your chances of success if you will.
2) Eat A Supportive Nutrition Regimen.
That means no sugar, no processed starchy carbs (bread or pasta of ANY kind), no booze, no soda or fruit juices, no ice cream, no flavored yogurt, no sugar-free drinks, no nothing of the sort. For most folks this will require at least a 12 week commitment…minimum.
When I dieted for my first bodybuilding competition on a Saturday night in November of 1991 I dropped from 230 pounds to 187 pounds in 12 weeks. I ate the same thing 8 times per day, every day, for 10 weeks. On the day of the contest I had 4% bodyfat and abs so defined you could wash clothes on them.
I was also miserable and wanting nothing more to do than to eat anything and everything I could get my hands on…and after the contest I did. Two days later (Monday) I weighed 215 pounds.
3) Train Hard And Intelligently
To truly get that cross-cut steel look to your abs, or even to flatten it to an appreciable level, you’re going to have to build some muscle, or at the very least maintain what you’ve got, and that means lifting heavy stuff. A smart training regimen is tantamount to success in this endeavor.
No if’s, and’s or but’s.
You’re also going to need to incorporate some form of conditioning work (I use this term because I really don’t like the word c-a-r-d-i-o) into your regimen fairly frequently in the form of HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) for fastest results in minimal time. Which is gonna suck because HIIT training sucks.
You’ll know you’re doing it right when your extremities feel like spaghetti noodles and you can feel your heart beating in your toe nails.
The good news is that once it’s done, you can say you did it an know that success is just one step closer.
8 hours a night.
Anything less means diminished results or results that take much longer to achieve.
5) Repeat Daily
Monday through Saturday, every week.
No slack, sister.
Sundays you can back off the training and go for a walk or something. But your eating doesn’t deviate.
Consistency is the key to success.
If this is really what you want, then you’ve got to be consistent. There really isn’t any other way.
You can’t be “good” Monday through Friday, eat like a college kid at a Frat party on Saturday and Sunday and expect to get the results you’re after.
So, if your goal is a flat stomach, wash board abs or just to get leaner and more “cut”, it’s gonna require work, more work and determination like you may have never known. I wish there was another way, but the cold, hard reality of it is that there just isn’t.
And if there was, I’d be the first one to try it and let you know how it works…