Today’s Topic: Why You Still Don’t Have Abs
Goal: Get You Abs
How: Understanding the root cause and how to fix it
I’ve worked with hundreds of athletes in my Box for the last five years as they’ve trained towards various fitness goals. Needless to say, I’ve picked up on some common themes among people in what they do, say and think during this journey.
One of these themes has become a mega-peeve of mine. This “peeve” sabotages results-getting BIG time. Let’s talk about it…
The Not-So-Magic Pill
A common mindset trap I see people fall into is what I call the “magic pill” syndrome. The magic pill syndrome varies from individual to individual but can be summarized as: wanting a shortcut to results.
In fitness this looks like:
- Wanting to buy results in the form of supplements, pills, etc.
- Wanting to out-exercise a shitty diet (impossible)
- Wanting to get six-pack abs but still get plastered each weekend (nope)
- Wanting long-term health yet unwilling to change lifestyle habits (nutrition and sleep)
For any result there must be the adequate input. This usually requires more than what most are willing to give, or more than they realize is necessary. The difference between those that reach their goals and those that do not, is a willingness to invest enough input—time, effort, consistency—to reach their goals.
Typically, an input requires time and effort(s). This equation looks something like this (I’m not a mathematician btw):
Time (X) Habit = Result
Invest enough time of a specific habit and you will see a result. Examples include sleeping, eating, abstaining from alcohol or drugs, etc. The result equation requires ONE dose of time and ONE dose of habit repeated over and over until you get a result.
This is what we are shooting for: The adequate dose of each for a long enough period of time. Most fall short before reaching their goals by missing a part of the equation.
In the opposite direction we have an unhealthy equation: -1 (bad habit) (x) 1 (time) = -1 (fatter, sicker, and nearer the grave). Repeat this and you become metabolically deranged and ultimately die from disease.
In between these two spectrum ends you have something like: 1 * .5 = .5 ← Where .5 is represented as half time or half-effort. In this example, you reach only half way to your goal because you don’t invest enough time or effort past a certain point. This is where the majority of results-seeking people are: somewhere on the path to their results but not sure where. The problem here is we are terrible judges of our results. We get frustrated; lose motivation, start eating crap, and end up making it way harder on ourselves. It’s a constant yo-yo of motivation and strictness.
When we are moving towards a goal, we often get discouraged from feeling we have made little headway when in fact we may be doing everything right. To further compound this issue, we have hidden result indicators that take time to show positive results—eating clean as an example. You don’t see the immediate benefits of eating better—although you will probably feel them. We might feel better but we don’t see the internal changes and the external changes take time to show, sometimes a lot of it. This leads to frustration. We are impatient creatures who want what we want and now. This is at odds with results getting–it takes time.
To further compound this issue, most of us use the mirror to gauge our results. This is the most inaccurate measure of all, at least in the short term. Sometimes the mirror takes MONTHS to show the hard work paying off. The same goes for the scale. The internals of our body take time and are hidden from our view. It’s simply too hard for most trainees to stay consistent until the results start showing. As a result, most give up before their results start to show.
The reason most don’t get results is because they don’t keep doing what is working for long enough. They either give up or they bounce around between diets or programs.
Some measures we can use to gauge how we are doing:
- Blood lipid test
- How you feel throughout the day
- Improved performance in the gym
- Better sex
- Better sleep – longer, fuller, deeper
- More happiness (tough to measure but possible)
- Less stress (same as happiness)
These healthy habits include:
- lifting heavy weights
- frequent metabolic training
- eating slow
- eating clean
- staying gluten-free
- drinking way less or not at all
- Sleeping 8 hours a night
- and so on
What are some ways to combat this?
First, you must accept what it is going to take: it’s going to be a long, hard journey. In my experience, even a 60% adherence will provide results if you keep going. I recommend aiming higher than 60%, but as a starting point, anything above 50% is a great start and is usually enough to start showing positive changes. I recommend aiming for 80% adherence in all the variables: sleep, stress, training, diet, and lifestyle. It’s unlikely you will ever reach 100% and that’s ok.
80% will allow you to reach life-changing results and live a long and prosperous life. If you want to go above that than more power to you, but remember, the goal isn’t perfection, it’s progress.
Developing habits is tough work. The best way to develop a habit is to focus on only one habit at a time. Single-mindedly focus on it until it sticks. There are apps that help with this (like the app Lift). Each habit you successfully implement will bring you that much closer to your goals. Keep in mind, though, that you want to build these habits into forever habits. You want to develop a routine that will last for the rest of your life. You are building a lifestyle that consists of a bunch of positive habits.
Think of your habits as the maintenance to the machine that is your body. If you neglect one or more, your results will systematically breakdown. When you reach your goals you will still need to maintain them. It is in your best interest to develop these habits now and get them to stick. Once you reach maintenance mode, this becomes a much simpler equation. But getting to this high level is still a huge journey.
Start working on your habits now…they will be with you forever
This might sound like a lot of work, but the reality is if we don’t live a lifestyle that promotes the greatest expression of our genes (thanks to Mark Sission for this phrase) than we are broken. It is what it is folks. You want to strive for being as un-broken as possible. It comes back to the original point: Nothing comes without the proper input. There is no easy way. No free lunch. No magic pill. No secret program.
It all comes down to hard work and positive habits invested over a long enough period of time.
So get working. Start building positive habits and get them working for you on a daily basis.Once you reach a high level of adherence, it gets much easier to maintain.
Remember: Time (x) Habit = All Your Dreams Come True.