I Got Six-Pack Abs in Six Weeks Once And It Sucked
Ten years ago, I got six-pack abs in six weeks.
At the time, I was a year or so into my first startup, Greatist. Greatist’s vision was to make the idea of health & wellness more accessible. I had grown up the biggest kid in the class and felt like everything out there in health & wellness was only for people who already had six-pack abs and Gwenyth Paltrow (or trying to take advantage of those who didn’t and weren’t.) So I became obsessed with shaping the narrative of health & wellness for the healthier. Me and an early team started publishing fact-checked, expert-approved health & wellness content written in the voice of a “friend that was a little further along.” We did a lot of things wrong, but we did the content part really right and ended up building the largest site on the Internet for millennials who care about their health (15M unique visitors per month, 2M people on an email newsletter we sent every day). We raised a bunch of money and successfully sold the company in 2019 to Healthline, the largest health site on the Internet. It was a wild ride with lots of ups and downs, but I look back on what we built with an awful lot of pride. Greatist had a real impact on the way we talk about health & wellness at a time when the space was getting more mainstream — and sorely needed something like it. Plus I learned a zillion business, team, culture, growth, startup, and marketing lessons along the way. And probably nothing captures what we were going for better than this crazy stunt I pulled to show how you didn’t need six-pack abs to be happy.
The idea was to defy conventional norms and the best-selling narratives that existed at the time — and it struck a chord. It got me on The Today Show and in all the popular health magazines at the time. Ultimately, I think the story (though not my shiny abs) played some role in Greatist’s early attention and success. It was a fairly obvious play at subverting expectations — but hey, it worked!
Anyway, recently Healthline (now owned by Red Ventures plus recently a part of its joint venture with Optum) started removing more personal, opinion-based content… and I learned they had axed this series. Because I’m proud of it and the role it played in my company’s success… but also because come on I got six-pack abs in six weeks, I’ve edited and republished the entire weekly series below. I’ve also included my “one year later” reflection because yikes, it’s hard but important to read. And I’ve added some fresh reflections (a whole decade later!) below all that.
For those curious, I’ve removed any outdated references (I logged my workouts on a popular platform called Fitocracy, for example, that no longer exists), streamlined most mentions of Greatist, and made a few superficial edits (no way to edit those six-pack abs photos, though.) I also deleted the day-by-day food, fitness, sleep log because that was never the point of this.
Oh — and I also reference quite a few experts that helped out on my journey (hi there, friends, been a bit!) and they all deserve another shout out: Dietician Lindsey Joe, trainer & female fitness figure competitor Jen Cassetty, trainer & competitive bodybuilder Robynn Europe, dietician Esther Blum, legendary trainer & author Joe Dowdell, Precision Nutrition Co-Founder & author John Berardi, trainer & coach Jay Bonn, the imitable expert & author John Romaniello, trainer & gym owner Kelvin Gary, trainer & gym owner Dan Trink, then-Greatist star editor (and since at Daily Burn, Tone It Up, & Lifeforce) Jordan Shakeshaft, and above all then trainer and now turned actor & epic activist Matt McGorry. It was quite a crew.
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).
It’s also worth mentioning… I grew up a really big kid. I hurt my right hand when I was 8 years old and ended up in 3 surgeries over 4 years, with my arm in a cast most of that time. I drank A LOT of Dr. Pepper. And I ended up the biggest kid in the class:
So a lot has changed. And now we’re going to change even more.
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 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 logging all my food 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 a 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. (And track it, too!).
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?
Week 1: It Takes a Village
It’s been just one week since I began my six-pack abs in six weeks #absperiment and boy are my arms tired. Seriously, they’re tired from all the working out. Specifically my triceps.
Ultimately, week one honestly wasn’t that tough. I was pretty dialed in and excited about the beginning of this, and I think that focus helped.
For those who’ve been asking for “before” photo spread — a surprising number, actually — I’ve purposefully decided not to show them. I don’t want this to be a typical “six-pack abs in six weeks” story. Though I may be following an approach others would take, my journey has a different purpose: I’m doing this for you so you don’t have to (or, at least, that’s what I’m expecting to conclude by the end of these six weeks). So you don’t have to ignore a social life, sacrifice the indulgences you love, and be miserable if you don’t want to be.
I don’t think you need six-pack abs to be healthy. And I don’t think working to get six-pack abs will necessarily make you better or happier, either. But we’ll see, won’t we? That’s what I’m looking to figure out and report back on.
One of the experts on this #absperiment suggested it’s “sort of like Fast Food nation, but backwards,” and I think that’s pretty right on (at least “sort of.”) I’ve never really wanted or needed six-pack abs, and I don’t expect to keep them for very long afterwards.
So far, this 1-week journey has been primarily about sacrifices. I haven’t been that hungry. I haven’t been that tired. What has made me mad is feeling uncomfortable watching a basketball game in a sports bar because I don’t know what the heck I’d order to drink. It was frustrating to attend a fantastic food and wine tasting, but only take one tiny sip of each wine. I felt terribly sick after my cheat meal of a big burger and fries. Thursday night, I had a vivid dream about an ice cream buffet where I quickly downed an entire serving pan when no one was watching! I dreamt that. Not kidding.
Weird dreams aside, my big takeaway this week was that getting six-pack abs isn’t just a personal struggle — it takes (and affects) a village. Before embarking on this journey, I hoped I would receive some support from the community, but I’ve been blown away by the warm reception and kindness of so many. My friends and family have been especially understanding. (At least, so far — it’s unclear how my Russian grandma will react when I tell her I can’t eat any of the delicious dishes she cooks for me.) My girlfriend has been nothing short of incredible, agreeing to try a “peeled zucchini” instead of pasta recipe without putting up too much of a fight. (We’ll see how she feels during week four of her drinking red wine without me.) And John Romaniello, my buddy and all-around all-star, has been an awesome accountability partner, swapping emails to keep each other in the loop as we both work to accomplish similar goals.
And I’ve been extraordinarily lucky enough to receive guidance from some of the most incredible experts in the health and wellness industry. Trainers and fitness competitors Jen Cassetty and Robynn Europe offered invaluable tips (“train your abs the way you train other parts of your body that you want to grow. You wouldn’t do six sets of 40 bicep curls and expect to grow huge arms”), and dieticians Lindsey Joe and Esther Blum shared best practices, too (include an indulgence meal — but not a crazy one — once per week: “You can have your cake and eat it too”).
I also turned to Peak Performance’s Joe Dowdell, who talked me through his take on the plan, as well as Precision Nutrition’s John Berardi & Jay Bonn, who counseled me on the importance of “using the power of less” (aka “minimum effective dose”) to get in the best shape possible with limited time. Finally, I turned to Matt McGorry, who I’ve started to call my “sherpa” (he, for some reason, was unexpectedly OK with this). He has been my go-to guide for this journey, getting me around the riverbend (he was also OK with this Pocahontas reference). I’ve been working out with him for some time now and he agreed to manage the process, helping me take it up another notch. He’s the perfect fit, with both experience as a competitive powerlifter, getting extraordinarily lean, and as a trainer just making relatable choices. Plus he’s hilarious, and may or may not sing and dance to classic 80’s hip-hop with me on the gym floor during rest periods. I know my weakness — prioritizing work above all else — and without him I wouldn’t be as committed in the gym or, more importantly, as focused on proper form to avoid injury.
Last, but certainly not least, I was struck by how our awesome community responded. Maybe it’s the whole “six-pack” abs thing and it just works, but I’d like to think our readers get that this is different. And that that’s why there are nearly 100 supportive comments and questions on last week’s intro post plus encouragements on social media. So thanks everyone. A huge, huge thanks. Here’s to week two!
Week 2: The Little Things
It’s two weeks into my six-pack abs in six weeks #absperiment and even the cheap roadside cart donuts look delicious. But I stayed away from $0.35 crullers these past two weeks, and I’m well on my way to achieving that elusive goal.
Week Two reminded me how much this journey is less about the big things (accidentally eating a whole Carvel mint chip ice cream cake or missing workouts, for example), and more about the small details and excuses that derail us. Here are the ones that, for me, stuck out the most.
Laundry. I’m not sure I’ve ever really worked out 6–7 days in a week, and my exercise clothing drawer definitely wasn’t ready for it (step up yo’ game, clothing drawer!). Today, for example, I have one sock left. Just one. I’ve done laundry twice a week and this weekend finally decided to buy some more athletic shorts so that I won’t have to wear my girlfriend’s yoga pants the rest of this #absperiment. I realized, though, how often dirty laundry (or just one sock) can be enough to skip a workout. When there’s no external pressure to exercise (like a personal training session or, say, a public six-week challenge), we so often take the easy way out, allowing things like laundry, rain, or the ole “I’ve already worn all my girlfriend’s yoga pants” excuse to get in the way of something we never regret doing afterwards.
Willpower. Last Tuesday, I woke up at 6 am and drove to Boston for an all-day conference, then drove back. The conference was actually amazing (very TED-like) and so was I… at least in terms of sticking to my diet. Knowing I didn’t have any time to work out, I fasted in the morning, ate a super healthy lunch right before the conference began, and then said “no thanks” to the insane amount of delicious food (gelato, fruit, chocolate, pigs in a blanket, etc…) and drinks. But then, heading home at 11:30 pm for a four-hour drive, I messed up, purchased a large bag of trail mix, and ate the whole thing (roughly six kazillion servings) on the way home. Whoops. I was a little hungry and a lot tired, and felt like I needed some non-coffee energy for the long drive ahead. I justified in my head that I had been so good the rest of the day that this trail mix dangerfood couldn’t be that dangerous. I’ve found my willpower erodes and, by the end of a long day, I’m always more likely to choose worse. Clearly a whole bag of trail mix isn’t the end of the world, but it’s amazing how one wrong call can cancel out a whole day of making the right ones. When the #absperiment began, I set a limit of not eating after 9 PM to specifically target this problem, but haven’t been that precise. I’ll do better this week and return to making that less of a suggestion than a rule.
Alcohol. I went out with some of my best friends Friday night and knew it was going to be a big test. We had a huge Mexican dinner (I had a chicken salad) with a ginormous bowl of chips and guacamole (I had one spoonful of guac), tons of margaritas (I drank strictly water), and then far too many mixed drinks at a bar after that (I drank nothing at all). Basically, I nailed it. And had a great time, too. Would I have had a better time if I was able to down some tequila shots? Maybe. Would I have had a better time if I was able to eat as much guacamole as I could stuff down my throat? Absolutely. But I don’t regret it. The scary thing to me was counting up how many calories I would have consumed if I had been drinking with my buddies. Cutting out alcohol makes a big difference for most people and I have no doubt it’ll make a huge one for this #absperiment.
Sense of humor. It’s awkward telling people I’m working to get six-pack abs in six weeks in social situations. People often get the wrong idea or friends will tease me about “all that celery” I must be eating. They’ll wave BBQ chicken wings under my nose. They’ll keep offering me swigs of their cool beer on a 90-degree summer night. But it’s always easier if I don’t take things so seriously or personally and instead join in on the jokes. I’ve decided not to drink alcohol, but I definitely keep telling people my 1-gallon water jug is full of vodka. And when my girlfriend wanted a custard concrete from Shake Shack (my biggest weakness) for dessert one night, I went with her. It wasn’t torture. OK, not complete torture. But instead of suffering, I just tweeted that “I’ll have the gourmet gulp of air.” And it was one delicious gulp.
Sleep. Despite recognizing its importance, I’m bad at getting enough sleep. There’s too much to do and never enough hours in the day! And the extra workouts don’t exactly help with time management (though I’ve found, to be fair, that there’s a lot of Parkinson’s Law involved here). But never before has sleep been more important. Exercising so many more days can physically take a toll. And sleep is crucial for weight loss. So this week my goal will be to get more than seven hours of sleep, ideally eight, each night. And I’ll start recording it along with my nutrition and exercise. So stay tuned for those results and wish me luck — but not after 11:30 pm.
Week 3: Traveling Sucks
We’ve reached the halfway point of my six-pack abs in six weeks #absperiment and I’ve messed up big time.
I thought I had planned for my trip really well in advance, communicating to everyone in the family that I was on a “special diet” (try translating “absperiment” into Russian), purposefully setting my cheat meal on Saturday nights, and making sure to eat healthy before and after plane rides. But I blew it. All trip long I was wishing I could have my two favorite California food groups, See’s Candies and In-N-Out Burger, but knew I wasn’t allowed. I would be happy, I told myself, with a solid cheat meal at the awesome Chinese food restaurant where my grandmother’s birthday bash would be held. But then, that night, I overdid it.
There was a lazy Susan at our big table and, due mostly to the fact that all of my grandmother’s friends are over 80 and don’t have big appetites, I ended up eating far too much (like, say, two lychee ice cream desserts too much). Fine, though. I had a tough workout earlier that day and it was my cheat meal after all. But what I’ve found, unfortunately, is the day after my cheat meal I can’t stop thinking about cheating more. And this time I had it really bad. The morning afterwards I ordered an egg and veggie scramble at breakfast, but stared hungrily at my mom’s bagel, my grandma’s croissant, and my brother’s milkshake (it was a late breakfast). I got to the airport and gave in, getting three pieces of See’s Candies after seeing I didn’t have to purchase a whole box. First slip-up.
Then, on the plane, something took over. I ordered a whole box of snacks, tearing through chocolate chip cookies, candy fruit snacks, and a packet of mixed nuts like Cookie Monster. I knew it was a mistake even as I om nom nom-ed them, knowing I’d have to write it down, knowing it’d affect my goal, knowing I was letting myself down. But for some reason I couldn’t stop.
Snacks done, I collected myself and began thinking about why it’d happened. For one, traveling sucks: I couldn’t stick with my daily routine, I was out of my food and fitness comfort zone, and I wasn’t getting good quality sleep. Everyone else around me was “on vacation” and eating whatever they wanted. And I really wanted See’s and In-n-Out. Badly. I felt my willpower was in overdrive the whole trip and, eventually, it had to crack. I’ve also been under heavy stress, I’m beginning to admit to myself, without proper rest and recovery. Finally, I was in the sky and thinking: “Hey, maybe consuming calories above 10,000 feet works differently.”
My results after the first two weeks were killer: I went from 14.7 percent body fat to 12.6, and lost over 7 pounds. My grandma even worried aloud whether there was enough food for me in New York. But this thing can’t happen overnight. There’s no such thing as six-pack abs in twenty-one days. So this Sunday happened, but it’s OK. Instead of giving up, even for the day, I resolved to forgive myself and move forward with a better plan for my fitness, food, rest, and recovery. Even Cookie Monster now admits cookies are a sometime food.
So what’s the plan?
1. Re-tooling my cheat meal. Expert dietician Lindsey Joe challenged me just a few days before to change the way I experience the “cheat meal” because “you’re not cheating anything, but simply enjoying something that you know has higher calories (or sugar, or fat, or whatever) and plan on getting back to your normal eating habits at your next meal or snack.” Instead, she said I should “take time to savor the way those specially picked foods make all your senses feel.” Indulge, not “cheat.” OK, check.
2. Evolving my diet. The low carbohydrate thing, as my trainer Matt has been cautioning, isn’t super sustainable. I’ve basically been eating a super low-carb, low-sugar (no fruit), no dairy, and some good fats diet — increasing calories a little for strength training and interval workout days. For the next three weeks, though, my plans are to swap some complex carbs in for the fats (mostly post-workout), including foods like quinoa, sweet potatoes, and maybe some berries back into the mix. This will also help my training recovery (I hope), since I’ve essentially doubled the amount I’ve been exercising and have honestly felt a little beaten up.
3. Drinking more than just water. I’m drinking a gallon of water a day, but haven’t been doing a good job of replenishing electrolytes — so I may start adding coconut water to my post-workout protein shakes.
4. Emphasizing rest and recovery even more. Finally, I’m going to place an even bigger emphasis on rest. As expert trainer Kelvin Gary wisely advised this past week: “Don’t overcook the turkey!” In Week Three, I averaged 7.3 hours of sleep per night, but I’ll work to increase my sleep even more. I’ll do even more stretching pre and post-workout and may even schedule a massage…
There is still a lot more work to be done. I’m adding an extra day of intervals. I’m also going, as Jay Bonn counseled me this week, to start thinking on the “conservative side when thinking of ‘how much?’ in regards to adding carbs in… [because] there’s not as much time for testing and making adjustments.” He’s right. Time is running out and I’ve got some slip-ups to make up for!
Week 4: 26 Early Conclusions
It’s the start of Week 5 and I’m already coming to some interesting conclusions about my six-pack abs in six weeks challenge. Since there are only 13 days left (but who’s counting? Answer: Me), here are 26 quick learnings I’ve made so far, two for each day.
Now, for my by-no-means exhaustive list of early #absperiment conclusions:
1. Don’t, under any circumstances, be on a diet for July 4th. It’s the nation’s birthday and of course even the United States will put pressure on to ruin your focus. As my buddies downed hot dogs, burgers, pizza, and beer this past week, honest Abe Lincoln himself wouldn’t have approved of my arugula salad.
2. It’s just as important to make sure you’re getting enough calories as it is to make sure you’re not eating too many. It took me a few days to realize that eating fewer than 1300 calories per day (and burning 400-plus calories per workout) could be a problem — and the possible culprit for my slip-up last week. I asked both Jay Bonn and expert dietician Lindsey Joe for their thoughts and they agreed. “What you’re doing isn’t a lifestyle change and it’s a short-term focused goal,” Bonn said. “[But] it’s evidence that diets tend to not work in the long run … [Willpower] is like a muscle. It gets used up all day long whether you realize it or not. Eventually, there’s nothing left in the tank.” Similarly, Joe explained: “the body definitely has a threshold, where too few calories (‘fuel’) causes the body to think it’s somehow ‘starving.’ So we’ll fight off losing weight by holding onto what is already stored… almost like a bear in hibernation.” I definitely don’t want to be a bear in hibernation (OK, maybe sometimes when the weather sucks), so have been determined to increase calories since then (in healthy ways, of course).
3. People at Sunday brunch don’t like it when you just stare as they eat a plate of apple pie.
4. If John Romaniello says I’m beginning to look good, it must be true. For the record, as of this week, I’ve lost nearly 3% total body fat and 13 pounds since this started.
5. I couldn’t stop laughing at an improv show and, for the first time, I could feel my abs!
6. Professional photos are really expensive. After the long wait, I promise you’ll be seeing some high-quality “after” (and even some “before”) photos soon.
7. Working out a lot is awesome. Six days per week is intense for sure, but I still look forward to every single session. And I feel great afterwards. I’ve learned that I like the increased amount of exercise more than I like the decreased amount of food (not really a shocker, but something that definitely sticks with me).
8. Certain things I used to eat before don’t really feel “worth it” anymore. Like muffins. WTF are up with those?
9. If food is near you, you’ll probably justify some reason to eat it. Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve found keeping things I shouldn’t eat as far away as possible from me has been key. I’ve removed nearly everything from my apartment, steered clear of social events with free food, and always moved away from any goodies left on the office table.
10. Any more than a handful of nuts has a surprising amount of calories and fat. I now think of them as the dangerfood of dangerfoods.
11. Not eating anything after 9 pm is clutch. I now realize how eating after that point in the past has single-handedly tanked day after day of healthier choices. Make a categorical rule and stick to it.
12. A handful of blueberries can be the best indulgence in the world. Take the time to really enjoy them. Maybe sing a song to them. Maybe read them poetry. What are we talking about again?
13. Getting enough sleep can be incredibly powerful in the weight room. I’ve had more sleep this week than any other week so far (averaging about 8 hours per night) and it’s made a huge difference in how I feel — and how I lift.
14. Baby carrots contain a surprising amount of carbs. Who knew?
15. I have the weirdest nonstop hankering for s’mores. S’mores…
16. Stay away from mirrors. Matt warned me that one of the downsides to getting six-pack abs in six weeks is that I won’t be able to stop checking my abs out in the mirror, especially in public bathrooms. I definitely don’t think I’m there yet. I’ve only done that, oh, 150 times. Yesterday.
17. I’ve had an unfortunate effect on people around me and what they’re eating, or worse, what they think about what they’re eating. Even though I’ve tried to explain the real reason why I’m doing this #absperiment and how it’s precisely so they don’t have to do it, it’s often too late. Suddenly everyone at the table’s enjoying their pizza a little less, and that defeats the whole point of ordering pizza!
18. Planning dates and social events is totally different. If I’ve already finished a workout and obviously can’t go somewhere to have a treat, what else is there to do outside? I have been left with basically just coffee meetings and movie dates as options, maybe a brunch or two.
19. I’m definitely more grouchy and tired. I can pretend that’s not the case, but it’s true. But hey, what a good excuse to cue the second straight Sesame Street video in two weeks!
20. The thing I miss most is fresh summer peaches. On Twitter, someone asked me what I missed the most and, though the first answer that came to mind was definitely ice cream, I think the true answer is peaches.
21. I spend at least 10 times more time thinking about and making my meals. One of our team members at Greatist asked me how much more time meals have taken and, though I’ve found removing certain things from a diet (versus being wishy-washy about whether they should be included or not) makes things way more simple. I definitely think about my meals way more, plan for them way farther in advance, and spend more time preparing them.
22. I was eating much more before than I needed. Someone else on Twitter asked if there was anything I was actually glad to be rid of — and though no specific food comes to mind, I’ve definitely realized how much more food I was eating before. It turns out I can eat a lot less and be just as satisfied. That’s been a major revelation for me. Or maybe my stomach has just shrunk?
23. Bison is an awesome meat. Try it.
24. The Greatist community is awesome. I’ve also been particularly struck by how many of you have been following along with this challenge. We’re building something really meaningful — and our community is where it all starts.
25. Scheduling my workouts and meals so far in advance has made any changes to that routine bother the heck out of me. Maybe this is me just being grouchy again, but if this were a lifestyle change and not just a six-week experiment, I fear I’d lack the ability to be spontaneous — and that that would affect my appreciation for life big time.
26. And finally, here are all the things I can’t wait to have after this is all done. This is the most popular question I’ve been asked and though I haven’t thought about this thaaat much, I guess I’ll just take… tons of Rocky Road and Mint Chip ice cream, far too much red wine, a bison burger from Bareburger, yogurt with tons of toppings from Yogurtland, several bowls of Honey Bunches of Oats with Almonds, a specific double IPA from a local bar, a Peanut Better smoothie from Energy Kitchen (now defunct, womp womp), an order of Russian pilmeni and pierogi, a Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew + Antioxidants Kind Bar (waiting for me in the freezer), 12 fresh peaches, too much Fireball Cinnamon Whisky (hard to explain), a whole jar of almond butter, a double meat chicken burrito with guacamole from Chipotle, the biggest assortment of dark chocolate candies I can order from See’s, three-and-a-half honeydew melons, two huge caramel apples with nuts from Disney World (guess I have to visit then?), frozen butterbeer from The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (here too!), a full meal at Medieval Times (what?), a whole personal molcajete of guacamole (and chips) from Rosa Mexicano, copious amounts of sushi, Blow Pops, the awesome California Burger from Hillstone, a slice of amazing pumpkin pie from somewhere, and of course a full-size Hopscotch concrete from the Madison Square Park Shake Shack. Not that I’m keeping track or anything.
Week 5: The Sacrifices
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.
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 (something to do with my mother?).
- 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.” “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.
- 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. Don’t even consider that scone.
- 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 arugula 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!
Week 6: It’s Over
It’s over. Not to bury the lede, but I’m the proud owner of six-pack abs thanks to six weeks of sacrifices and support.
Up until my binge on a Shake Shack burger and frozen custard Monday night, I hadn’t had a single beer, banana, or starchy carb in six weeks. I worked out 39 times in the last 42 days. And I dropped from 205 pounds to roughly 185 (maybe less — the scale once, true story, read 177.6), and most importantly, from 14.7 percent body fat to my sub-10 goal: 9.4 percent. And thanks to all that? I now look like this:
I went into this six-pack abs in six weeks #absperiment on a mission to figure out whether they’re worth it. Whether, you know, the magazine covers are right and perhaps you should do this just like I did.
Now that all that’s behind me, here’s my take:
There’s no secret. “What’s your secret?” was the most popular question I was asked, but the truth is there’s nothing new. Other than some water, sodium, and carb manipulation the last few days before the photo shoot (explained below) , everything I did was what you’d expect: Eat better, eat less, and work out more. I didn’t eat anything weird (mostly, you guessed it, chicken and vegetables). I didn’t do any strange workouts (weight training, intervals, and cardio). I didn’t take any unknown supplements (just fish oil and vitamin D.) I was just totally dialed in. Other than one “cheat meal” each week for the first three weeks and one slip up early on, I didn’t waver. I didn’t eat a single bite of dessert. I didn’t cave at lunch and have a sandwich or a wrap. I ate a freakin’ arugula salad on July 4th. Six weeks is a really, really short time (even if it seemed like an eternity) — there was no margin for error.
What the human body can do is incredible. I honestly never thought I could look the way I do right now. Six weeks ago, I was pretty fit and healthy — but now I have those elusive six-pack abs plus an appreciation for how to get there. Recording every single thing I ate and every single exercise I did forced me to learn more about the balance between carbohydrates, fat, and protein than ever before — and how each affected me. I know now a lot more about how many calories are in a tablespoon of olive oil, how many carbs are in a baby carrot, and how much protein is in half a chicken breast — and probably far too much (he knows too much!). In some ways I was treating my body by the end of the #absperiment as a science experiment, a precise equation that would be affected by a single extra shelled pistachio — and I’m pretty sure that’s not so healthy. I’m lucky that my body can change so quickly (and everyone’s body and biology is different for sure), but wow is it amazing how much can change with hard work and focus.
For some perspective, here’s a (lightning-fast!) time lapse from where I started to where I ended:
This was so lonely. It’s hard to express how alone you feel when you’re counting every calorie, pre-planning every meal, and working out every single day. The funny stares when walking through the park holding a one-gallon water jug were not a big deal. The late dinners at which I ate nothing (seriously, not a single thing) were bearable. But despite supportive friends and team members, no one really knew what I was feeling, what I was going through, and what kept me going. I felt trapped when asked to go places and do things. I felt embarrassed on weekends when I had to make sure to spend hours in the gym each day. I felt uncomfortable making others awkwardly eat and drink alone. I felt hungry and sad when I went to bed. The final week, I could barely sleep at all (my worst weekly sleep average for the whole #absperiment) — as if even my body wasn’t supporting me anymore. Worse, there were also noticeable side effects for others. I’m usually really positive and happy, but (as everyone in my office now attests to) I was tired and grouchy (dare I say hangry?) throughout the #absperiment. That sucks. Ultimately, I’m not entirely sure who the people are who get and maintain six-pack abs for an extended period of time, but I feel for them and hope they have some awesome friends (who maybe ideally have six-pack abs, too?).
It’s even harder work to look your best for a photo shoot. Throughout the #absperiment, I tried to mimic exactly what a person would normally do in an effort to achieve six-pack abs — except for the last few days. Why? The photo shoot. This is a thing. A thing. It turns out competitors, models, and others go all out to make sure they look their best on the day of their shoot and, once I learned all about it, I figured it’d be an interesting story to share. So I embarked on (the absolutely most “lite” version) of what they’d go through. The basic idea is to play with water, carbs, and salt to get as lean as possible. For three days, I increased my water intake significantly (drinking more than two gallons per day), started adding salt to everything I ate, and cut out as many carbs as I possibly could. I then started cutting the water, drinking only half a gallon the day before the photo shoot and then just a few sips the day of. I also began eating dry carbs (this meant unsalted rice cakes and sweet potatoes) to soak any remaining water up. Expert trainer and fitness competitor Robynn Europe explains: “Since your muscles have been depleted of carbs, instead of the carbs making you hold water under your skin… your muscles suck it up like lines of coke.” Perfect. Thanks to that, the last couple days of the #absperiment were definitely the worst. Rice cakes and dehydration suck. But, along with a tan (weird) and a shaved chest (weirder!), it worked.
The water/salt/carb manipulation, shaved chest, and tan made a difference — but LOL nothing can make a difference as much as professional photography, lighting, and Photoshop can.
The point? The people you see on the cover of health and fitness magazines, supplement ads, and in movies have (almost always) done everything they can to look their best. Fitness models, I’m told, are sometimes so dehydrated that they can’t get out of their chairs to do the photo shoot. I did a grossly imprecise, haphazard version of this and look what happened. Imagine what the pros do (eat a ton of unsalted rice cakes, I’m sure).
Where I’m going from here. The closer I got to the finish and the more I talked about Shake Shack, the more my expert advisors began to worry. “Hopefully you’ll try to keep most of what you achieved,” urged Joe Dowdelll. “You may not want to stay as shredded as you’ll be at the end as that does take a concerted effort, but you will definitely be able to stay in very good shape if you keep applying 80 percent of what you’ve been doing.” A similar response came from Precision Nutrition’s Jay Bonn: “After all of this you just might discover the nice balance between what’s enjoyable, what’s practical, and what’s effective for you.” Even dietician Lindsey Joe was worried: “Hope you’ve also gained some things for as much as you’ve given up.”
Of course, the plan was never to return back to where I started as immediately as possible… though it’d probably be pretty easy, since all my friends keep daring me take on the #kegsperiment (40 pounds in 40 days) next. I shared a bunch of conclusions previously, but the ones that stick out are: How much less I have to eat to be satisfied; making sure I indulge only when it’s really worth it; and how much I loved working out more (though maybe not seven times a week). Ideally, I’ll keep my weight under 195 pounds, roughly midway from where I started and ended. I love living life like a “greatist,” empowered to make healthier choices, indulging when I think it’s worth it, and sharing in adventures with others. This was not that life.
There’s no way this could have been accomplished alone. As early as Week 2, I wrote about how it takes a village, but the truth is that it’s only become more important since. The experts I reached out to early on got weekly updates (much like you!) and shepherded me along, answering my questions and worries with amazing guidance and advice. I was lucky to have Precision Nutrition’s awesome Jay Bonn on my side, trainer & gym owner Kelvin Gary as a personal cheerleader, and dietician Lindsey Joe with so much to share. Joe Dowdell and Dan Trink lent their support — and Dan even performed 12-site skin fold measurements on my nearly naked body four times without complaining once. NYHRC not only didn’t kick me off their cardio machines, but also tweeted encouragement. The epic John Romaniello and always-honest Robynn Europe gave me the real scoop on how to look best for the photo shoot and kept me sane by reminding me they’d done the same thing many times, just a million times worse.
The awesome Ian Spanier was flexible, professional, and so freakin’ good as a photographer that I basically never needed to do the #absperiment in the first place to look this great. My close friends didn’t hassle me too much about drinking only water, eating only health things, and complaining about it — and, to my knowledge, still remain my friends. My family kept emailing me encouraging things and my brother really came through with some clutch supportive texts over the home stretch. The entire Greatist team endured my crabbiness, listened to my boring food and exercise-related stories, and continued to support me. I’m lucky to have such an amazing team filled with such amazingly understanding and thoughtful people. Jordan Shakeshaft, our fitness editor, took on a particularly huge load tackling these weekly posts and turning them into something readable and not a million pages long, often at the last minute (sorry!).
Finally, Matt McGorry may have been my personal “sherpa” for this journey, but really became my closest friend. I saw him three times a week, but only he really knew what I was going through because he’d done it before. Only he really cared what the heck I’d eaten for breakfast, and only he wanted me to succeed as badly as I did. I’m not sure what I would have done without Matt’s friendship through every step of this (even the photo shoot!).
So are six-pack abs worth it? I began this #absperiment with the belief that you don’t need six-pack abs to be happy, but wanted to see for myself. I look better than I ever have, but am I happier? Absolutely not. The past six weeks haven’t been full of torture and suffering — they’ve been hard, sure, but ultimately manageable. But I won’t do it in the future and, in retrospect, I wouldn’t go back and do it again. Six weeks is too short of a time and demands too many sacrifices, sacrifices that I now know I’m not willing to give up. Six-pack abs are a superficial measure of health and fitness success — they don’t mean you’re the most in shape, the most healthy, or the most anything. If you’ve considering trying to get six-pack abs yourself (or maybe even were inspired by this series), I’d suggest it may be worth asking yourself what you’re really after.
Is it six-pack abs or simply losing some weight? Is it six-pack abs or feeling a little better about yourself? If you begin to make healthier choices, one at a time, maybe you’ll get six-pack abs eventually… But is that really what you want? Everyone is different, motivated in different ways and interested in different things. And though six-pack abs are not for me and, I think, not for most people, maybe they are for you. That’s totally OK, too. Just know what you’re going to have to sacrifice. And I’d recommend taking more than six weeks to get there.
One Year Later
One year ago, I had six-pack abs.
There’s photo evidence too. Photo evidence that appears much higher in Google search rankings than I’d like, but photo evidence nonetheless. Someday my kids will be convinced I Photoshopped the whole thing. Some days even I’m convinced that’s what happened. But I did it, and now it’s over: I got six-pack abs in six weeks, and all I got was a lousy photo shoot!
But is it really over? More than a year later, and the #absperiment continues to be on my mind. Here’s why.
Six Pack Abs in Six Weeks? Seriously?
I wanted to see what it was actually like to accomplish the infamous “six-pack abs in six weeks” that seems to headline almost every health magazine and fitness DVD. I honestly figured it’d be possible, but I was curious about what sacrifices I would have to make and how they would affect me. Most importantly, I wanted to see if six-pack abs would actually make me happy and, if not, figure out why everyone seems so convinced they do.
The Short-Term Impact = Worth It
During last year’s #absperiment, I wrote a weekly article on its short-term effects: Exclusion, isolation, and deprivation. It meaningfully affected all my relationships — professional and personal. It sucked — a lot. In retrospect, there’s no chance I’d ever do it again.
I celebrated right after my photo shoot with a burger and two frozen custards. It was raining. And I was struck by how only one person was around to share that moment with me. I was supposed to be celebrating some kind of triumph, a really special once-in-a-lifetime physical and personal achievement. But nobody from Greatist really wanted to hang out with me. None of my best friends wanted to be around the six-pack me. I ate my frozen treats with one hand while holding an umbrella in the other and talked with a buddy about a personal relationship that just ended. Then I went home alone, and for three hours I felt sicker than I thought possible.
But hey, “six-pack abs in six weeks” is a hell of a story! And ultimately, the story has communicated what we’re trying to accomplish with Greatist, that healthy is more about happiness than super-regimented nutrition and exercise.
Healthy is more about happiness than super-regimented nutrition and exercise.
At the time, the thing that surprised me most wasn’t that I was able to get a six-pack in six weeks, but instead how meaningfully the challenge resonated with our community. People didn’t click because of the flashy wording in the post titles and then leave when they didn’t get what they expected. Instead, they understood. They shared stunning comments like this. And it renewed my faith that this whole Greatist thing may actually have a serious shot at helping the world think of health in a new (actually healthy) way.
Long-Term Impact = Scary
I lost the six-pack in a matter of days. I spent the next two months eating more or less everything I looked at and returned to my normal, cheerful self. (Literally, I even ate a 7-Eleven Big Bite hot dog just because I could.) My team and friends stopped avoiding me. I could eat guacamole and chips again (even after 9pm!). The article series did really well, even receiving tons of press coverage, most of which didn’t try to muck up the message. At the time, I felt the sacrifice was justified.
Today I’d love to say, “Hey, that was fun and weird and crazy, and now it’s over. Haha abs LOL!” But I’m not actually sure it’s over. I still more or less eat anything I look at. I struggle to regularly attend the gym. And even though I feel happier than I did during the #absperiment in general, when I look in the mirror abs-less and back at my normal weight, I feel worse.
Things I continue to struggle with:
- Rule-Making. Making healthy choices has always been challenging for me, but it’s only become harder since the #absperiment did a number on my self-control. When I’m presented with something I’ve never really wanted in the first place, I literally think, “C’mon, it’s not like I’m still on the #absperiment.” For example, I’ve never really particularly liked muffins. But holy sh!t have I eaten so many mediocre bran muffins in the last year or so. Setting rules for myself, ones I genuinely want to follow, has always been an incredibly powerful tool I’ve used to make healthier choices. But after the #absperiment, I just can’t seem to convince myself to stick to anything, and it scares me a little. Okay, maybe a lot-tle.
- Food as Reward. Since the #absperiment, I’ve treated food as a reward to an extent I never have before. I’m not sure I really deserve ice cream, candy, and French toast for a tough day at the office. (It’s too bad hitting inbox zero burns zero calories.) Sometimes I want some delicious things, and that’s cool. Sometimes I do think I deserve it, especially when sharing something indulgent to celebrate or to commiserate over tough times. But alone? And not just one pint of ice cream, but three, because I accidentally misspelled someone’s name in an email? After just six weeks of treating healthy food as punishment and indulgences as forbidden fruit, the way I look at food has been profoundly affected. Unfortunately, I’ve spent a year trying to snap out of that mind frame without much success.
- Body Image. The third thing — and probably the worst of all — is how my post-#absperiment mindset has affected the way I view my body. Even though I’ve struggled with weight on and off for most of my life, I’ve always been a pretty confident guy no matter the number on the scale. And I’ve come to terms with the size that makes me happiest. During the #absperiment, I wasn’t happy at 180 pounds, even though I’d never been so lean and skinny before. But every morning I’d look in the mirror and literally take a picture, watching what progress I made and mentally comparing myself to the day before. Relative to where I was those last few days, my reflection today looks positively fat. And I’m not remotely overweight! I’m actually pretty athletic and, depending on my nutrition week-to-week, I’m right around where I want my weight to be, where my healthy is. But I’m objectively nearly 30 pounds heavier! It’s been terrifically tough to stop judging my own body when I have such an extreme point of comparison.
Ultimate Takeaway = Find Your Happy
I decided to get six-pack abs in six weeks to see the psychological toll it would take. I’m not trying to whine, and I’m not aiming to compare my struggles to anyone else’s. Instead, I’m sharing what I’ve personally learned from six extreme weeks (and the year since) in the hopes that someone might have a glimmer of recognition, an inkling that, “Hey, maybe that thing I did that one time has affected me in more ways than I’m admitting to myself.”
Nobody else is allowed to define what happiness means to me — or you.
The conclusion I’ve come to is ultimately the same I came to a year ago, just with a broader perspective and better hindsight:
Nobody else is allowed to define what happiness means to me — or you.
I know that’s easier said than realized. Happiness is something we learn to define not just through nature but also through nurture, culture, and community. What “success,” “beauty,” and “power” mean to you is subjective. But the impact of the silly, human shortcuts we take in pursuit of satisfaction based on what others tell us can reverberate for a long time. A long, long, long time. So be mindful and choose better your way, to whatever happiness means to you — and nobody else.
You don’t need six-pack abs to be happy. And sometimes getting them can make you less happy than when you started.
Ten Years Later
A decade later, here we are. I just turned 35. I’m in my mid-thirties, babyyy!
Believe it or not, I’m now married to the same girlfriend I was with with during the #absperiment… and broke up with in no small part because of it. Luckily, things work out and I’m grateful she loves me for me (and hates who I am with six-pack abs, imagine that.) We now live in Austin, TX and have a beautiful daughter with another on the way. So a lot has changed.
I’m even running a new startup… and obviously have been thinking a lot more about Greatist because of it. In fact, that experience directly led me to starting Ness. No matter how friendly and accessible we worked to make health & wellness then, there was just no denying so many parts of it remained out of reach and unaffordable for most people. So, that’s why my team and I are now working to build a world where everyone can afford to be healthy — starting with health & wellness-first credit cards. (For more on Ness, see here.) Anyway, back to the abs.
Sometimes I joke about this whole six-pack abs in six weeks series that “if you want to read something really depressing, boy have I got the experience for you!” But it’s true. Though it’s an interesting journey through a crash diet with some fascinating learnings (if I say so myself), the long-term effects are ones that STILL resonate with me today. Things like body dysmorphia and disordered eating are very real — and though I’m lucky not to have experienced them full out, their perilous edge has lingered with me since like an old acquaintance I can’t quite shake.
I weigh 10% more than I did when I started the #absperiment back in 2012. I had hoped to become a #girldad, but not to get a #dadbod!
Generally I feel happy and healthy, but I still struggle to make rules for myself — and rejecting the default without an “experiment” to use as an excuse is still hard, even in a world that’s become increasingly friendly to healthy eating (though of course there’s still a long way to go.) I’d love to say I’ve figured it all out, but I still struggle with it every day. And of course I can’t blame the six-pack abs in six weeks thing fully. But I empathize profoundly with those that have yo-yo dieted (science says, oh, nearly everyone has) and the unintended mental health effects that has long term. I don’t think this gets discussed enough — and so felt it’d be worth re-publishing this whole thing (and again, come on look at those abs.)
I still very much believe you don’t need six-pack abs to be happy. But I also have never believed you need self-care to be happy even more. So take care of yourselves, all. I’m sure working at it — and I hope sharing this whole journey with has been a helpful reminder.