Fitness magazines, blogs and Facebook posts are loaded with “tips” and “secrets” to help you achieve those 6 pack abs we all so desperately desire. Feeding the believe that if we only had a washboard midsection we would be healthy, happy and 100% secure with our body. This idea is further perpetuated by the celebrities and starlets we admire in film and on print.
I was looking at old pictures the other day and came across some of my bodybuilding competition pics from 2005-2008. While looking through them and remembering that period in my life I had the realization that I was not at all happy. I remembered how I was starting a new career in fitness and had a blooming new relationship (that would later turn into a marriage) and how both seemed to consistently take a back seat to my training schedule. I look back at how many sacrifices I had to make professionally and personally to maintain that level of physique. I also recall how each competition became harder and harder to prepare for as my excessive dieting and training seemed to compound each year resulting in steady decline to my “off season” conditioning. For my last show I had let myself get up to 265lbs by May of 2008 and ended up cutting down to 204 lbs to be on stage in September of that same year.
This is what I had to go through personally to have magazine quality abs for about 3 months out of the year. I missed many opportunities since my life was controlled by my training and eating. Superficial goals like having a six pack come from a very self conscious place. For me that meant that it was never good enough and I was never fully confident in my look. I had images in my mind of what I should look like on stage and since the reflection did not mirror that image I was never able to fully enjoy being in that kind of shape. Very similar to letting the scale dictate your success, the sad truth is even when you hit that “magic number” you will instantly want it to be lower.
A side not regarding the standards set by celebrities and models; It is said “seeing is believing” but In our digital world I don’t know if that statement still holds up. We see images of celebrities with amazing bodies that set the standard to achieve. Buyer be warned; photo shop is a very powerful tool. Even if there is little to no enhancement, perhaps in a movie; keep in mind that actor/actress only had to look like that for the days they were shooting which might only be a week. Once those images are captured they can go right back to their normal lives and habits. Point is that “look” and the habits to achieve it do not have to be sustainable and more often than not they aren’t.
It was some years later I found that abs could not make me happy but movement could. The ability to move well and move often allowed me to take on new hobbies, explore new areas and never be held down by pain or fatigue. It was some time ago I made the decision to focus on movement capabilities over physical appearance in my training and workouts. When I look back at those pictures over the last 5 or 6 years I am flooded with memories of days in the woods with family, time on two wheels with friends and days spent on and under the water. When I see those photographs all I can recall is pure Joy.