The true story of how I found my abs

Are you working out regularly, but can’t seem to find your abs? I know your struggle.

I used to play sports; go to the gym and run.

Result?

I had fun times; I made friends, I spent money and got in shape, but I had no abs.

Let me stress that playing sports; going to the gym and running are all great ways to be active. However, this story is not about being active.

This story is about finding your abs.

Here is the blueprint of how I found my abs, tweak it to your liking.

Month #1: Sleep

My first step was building a good sleep routine.

Seriously, if you think you are ever going to get a rocking body with a lack of sleep, you are setting yourself up for failure.

This step alone took me a month to master.

During that month, I did not even exercise. My main goal was to build a strong sleep routine.

I would go to bed at 9:30PM and wake up at 5AM — Period.

Here is a link if you want to know more details on why sleep is important and where to start, read : Want to lose weight? Start in the bedroom

Month #2: Exercise every day

Pick an exercise you love.

Good examples: walking; yoga; Dancing; aerobics; light to medium weight lifting; biking; spinning on stationary bike; cardio machine; hiking, swimming, etc.

You are going to do that exercise every day for 30 minutes.

This part is not about sculpting your body just yet. Doing light exercise 30 minutes/day will not sculpt your body.

This part is about building your habit — a strong foundation.

Working out daily needs to become a habit before you can even start thinking about abs.

One step at a time.

I personally chose spinning on my stationary bike. Every day I would do 30 minutes of moderate spinning.

I did not care much for when. I would do it whenever I had time. For me the evenings were better.

Side note: every week, I would pick one day and not work out.

Feel free to pic the day you want.

Personally, I still pick whatever day that I am the busiest as my rest day.

Month #3: Water

Yes water.

If you are one of those people who already drink lots of water every day, great. Move on to the next step, but most of us don’t.

As easy as it sounds, drinking more water is actually a challenge that is difficult to master — one that deserves a month to work on.

Drinking more water should be a major step into anyone’s project of finding their abs.

Remember, you will still be working out every day, but you will add your water challenge.

Let’s take a moment to review the benefits of drinking more water:

· You will move more — and therefore sweat more — so will need to hydrate your body.

· Water serves as a great detox. In other words, water will help remove the toxins in your body. On a daily basis, a build-up of toxins make you crave junk food and make you feel sluggish. Over time, it can lead to serious health problems.

· Water will increase your energy & relieve fatigue

Therefore, water promotes Weight Loss.

On a side note, water can even improve skin complexion (this actually happened to me). Water can help regulate your hormones-your mood-and your metabolism. Water can boost your immune system and help avoid headaches. Water can even help avoid cramps and sprains!

How much water do you need to drink? — from 2000–3000ml of water daily.

Try making this into a simple process. Drinking 8 glasses of water every day can seem overwhelming.

Get a decent athletic water bottle instead — they are generally 750ml up to 1000ml. A water bottle you can take everywhere with you (work, in your car, on your dining room table, on the couch, etc.) and drink its full capacity 3 times/day — One every 5 hours approximately.

Get ready to pee often, but I swear it is worth it.

Month #4: Eating Apples

Out of all the super foods out there, Apple is definitely my favorite. Here’s why:

They have a good taste; they are inexpensive and super accessible. But most of all, they are jammed packed with health benefits.

They are known to improve brain health, prevent circulatory diseases like heart attacks and strokes; balance glucose level which helps prevent diabetes; have antioxidants that help prevent cancers and improve your skin health.

But that is not all!

For fitness purposes, let’s go deeper into how apples can help you find your abs.

Apples are known to have a very good fiber called Pectin. This Fiber helps remove your built up toxins and also helps with your digestions.

This means a better gut flow — keeping what’s good, flushing what’s bad

With better digestion you have a better chance at losing the extra fat that lays so comfortably on your belly.

Apples can also balance your sugar level. Like mentioned earlier, this will help prevent diabetes, but on a daily basis, this will lower your cravings!

Apples will also help you boost your metabolism, which you will need to maintain that workout routine.

By eating an apple every day, there is a possibility you will slowly start to make healthier nutritional choices all around.

I know you’re probably thinking why we’re not talking about other food items and go deeper with nutrition?

Because nutrition is complex, just as working out is too.

That is why you should only focus on one item at a time.

If you want to go ahead and change your whole diet all together right now, be my guest. But if you want to increase your chances at long term success, you should trust me and focus on just the apple for now.

I will talk more about nutrition latter in month#7.

Month #5: Exercise 2x/day

Whatever you have being doing every day for a month now, find the opposite.

This means, if you were doing Yoga every day (which is known to help you stretch, build posture and muscle tone), try finding an activity that is more along the lines of cardio.

If you were like me and you chose a cardio activity, this means you will have to choose an activity (or routine) that is more along the lines of muscle building and muscle tone.

Why? — because you need both.

If you are doing muscle building without cardio, you risk developing a strong core set of abs that could be forever buried under your tummy. This means getting stronger, but not looking sculpted or leaner.

On the other hand, if you do cardio without muscle building, you will lose fat and have endurance, but will not look sculpted. You will look lean and flab.

Introduce a muscle building routine on top of your already set cardio routine.

OR

Introduce a cardio routine on top of your already set muscle building routine.

The magic number here is between 20–45 minutes.

  • Less than 20 minutes is almost not worth it
  • More than 20 minutes is becoming overwhelming on your body and schedule

Remember you are still doing your other workout every day. This will be your second one.

This workout should not be attached to your first one. What I mean is you should do one in the morning, and the other in the evening.

This concept is really going to boost your metabolism in high gear and fits more easily into a typical schedule. It is difficult to squeeze a 1–1.5 hour workout into your day, but you would be surprised at how easy it is to fit 2x/30-minute workouts into your day.

Good examples of muscle building exercises: squats, push-ups, variable crunches, chin ups, pull ups, dips, lunges, overhead press, hip trusts, dead lifts, etc.

Month #6: High Intensity

Month 6 is where I increased my intensity.

For my morning workout (muscle building), I added some exercises, but a I removed breaks. Specifically, I do a variety of 15 exercises, each one for 30 seconds, over and over with out breaks until I reached 30 minutes.

For my evening workouts (cardio), by this time I was following intense cardio videos:

Spinning Video

Ladder Workout

That is what your body needs — short bursts of intensity — in order to become sculpted and let the abs run free for the world to see.

This might seem like a lot, but remember, you have just spent the last 5 months getting used to daily exercise.

If you have followed the progression, by month #6, your body is ready for this challenge and your abs are crying to get out.

There are many ways to increase intensity:

  • Increase the number of reps inside your set time frame.
  • Increase your speed (ex: if you were walking you should start thinking about running/sprinting, etc.)
  • Decrease break times or remove breaks all together
  • Increase resistance if you are on a cardio machine
  • Put your treadmill on incline
  • Increase weights slowly

Don’t forget your rest day once/week!

Month #7 : Nutrition

A good way to keep up the challenge is to add or remove a food item once/month.

This way, your changes will most likely be permanent and you will keep getting healthier and healthier every month…as well as leaner and leaner.

Every wonder why people don’t stick to diets? — because they ask you to go from eating poorly to eating super healthy immediately!

While eating healthier might seem like one challenge or one change, it is in fact multiple changes at once:

Change #1: Buying healthy food (change in your grocery habits and in your finances)

Change #2: Putting time aside to prep/cook healthier food

Change #3: Eating healthier meals and snacks (might not seem as tasty at first)

Change #4: Saying no to tempting foods

I personally slowly removed dairy and refined sugar out of my diet. Then, I slowly added more veggies and finally I adopted a Paleo/Alkaline type diet.

I now follow my new food plan about 80–90% of the time. The remaining time (mostly weekends) I treat myself, but that decision is entirely up to you.

I eat:

  • eggs and spinach for breakfast
  • an apple-a banana and almonds for snacks
  • a salad for lunch (Lettuce, tuna, tomatoes, olives, onions, lemon juice, sesame oil, avocados, cucumbers, etc.)
  • a piece of meat with side veggies for diner (sometimes with a small side of brown rice or quinoa as well).

Please Note:

1. The following guidelines are meant to be used if you are already within your BMI normal range. If you are currently above your normal BMI range, I would suggest anticipating more months, to allow more time for your body to catch up. Remember, this story is not about losing weight, but more about sculpting your body/ getting leaner and bringing your abs back to the surface, where they belong!

2. These guidelines are very progressive for a reason. If you try to squeeze them all in the same month, you risk giving up. It is not natural for your body to go through 5–6 changes at the same time. It will feel overwhelming and difficult to keep up.

If you follow the progression, you will be able to master one challenge before moving to the next. This increases your chances of success phenomenally.

3. If you feel pain during your workout or soon after the same day, you should investigate your routine to find out what exercise could be causing it. When you do, ditch that exercise!

Working out should not be painful!

Soreness and muscle fatigue is expected, but not pain.

Julie Richard, BHSc, BSc(OT), MOT

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