So you want to see your abs…Here’s what you need to know.
I’m going to tell you right now that often the first time you attempt to get leanlean
the process is often more difficult than you’d expect.
There are going to be mistakes, frustrations and it’s going to take a lot longer than you’d like because your body will fight against you.
Our body, just like our minds, doesn’t like change and will resist it.
Sounds fabulous, right?!
But honestly, as much as we like to try not to focus on the negative,
I think it is key we face the obstacles and struggles going in so we are prepared for them.
Too often we try to ignore that there will be challenges and that ultimately sets us up for failure.
So I want to share 5 things to be aware of in the process of trying to reach a new level of leanness you’ve never achieved before so you can be prepared to stick with the process!
But before I dive into those tips, I just want to remind you of the importance of MACROS for body recomp.
Macros matter most when we are really trying to lose that last little bit and do everything we can to preserve our lean muscle mass while losing fat.
You need to focus on increasing your protein, but you also can’t fear carbs the more active you are.
Your body will need the instant fuel.
And by cycling macros every couple of weeks, you can also help give yourself a wider diversity of foods, maintain a better hormonal balance and even MENTALLY feel more in control and motivated to keep moving forward because you have little mini “end dates” and points at which you know you get a little shift!
Now, here are 5 things you need to know about getting abs for the first time…
#1: Realize you may feel like you look worse before you look better.
Often the areas we most want to change are the LAST to go.
And often in the process of even losing off of other areas, the areas we want to change that haven’t look BIGGER and worse.
Not to mention, fat loss and body recomp are a slow process. Especially toward the end, results can feel like they aren’t happening when things are building and changing.
This is why it is key we use more than the scale.
Use pictures of a ton of different angles NOT just the areas you want to lose so you can see fat coming off of other places.
Use measurements to track changes.
And then even focus on tracking your consistency so you can trust in the process.
But realize that things will be coming off at a snails pace and you may even at times look SOFTER in the process.
You may have times where the scale doesn’t change…doesn’t change…doesn’t change…then BAM! It drops dramatically.
It wasn’t just the eating right around it that did it.
You’d probably been losing fat slowly over time.
However, you didn’t lose until you dropped the water weight being stored in your fat cells.
Which may have even been why you looked SOFTER for a bit!
One common time you can look softer is if you have been slightly lower carb.
So often we fear carbs BUT you can sometimes need to add them in to lose water weight.
This phenomenon is known as the Whoosh Effect. And while the science on it is limited, it is something we’ve seen happen time and time again.
The hypothesis as to why this happens goes back to our body not liking to lose weight.
We each have fat cells and the size of these fat cells change as we gain weight, increasing in size, or lose weight, shrinking in size.
Fat cells are filled with triglycerides, which will be used as energy for the rest of your body.
Working out, being in a calorie deficit, all make your body need to call on these stores to fuel.
You’d think this would mean steady decreases as you draw from these stores during your diet.
But instead, water is often stored in these fat cells as your body tries to maintain your current weight and avoid depletion of its energy stores.
They store water to anticipate more fat filling them soon.
So because of this water storage, your weight plateaus even though you are technically losing fat.
And often it’s why we can feel like we look extra soft and squishy during the fat loss process at times. We will see this especially around our middle or thighs. It’s why you can hit dead zones where you feel you look WORSE even.
Then BAM! We get that Whoosh Effect and you wake up the next day and your body has let go of the stored water!
And often the cause of this water release comes from kicking our body out of the deficit temporarily so it no longer feels like it is “starving” and in need of holding on to the water weight to keep those fat stores ready to be filled!
It’s why we may see this release after a cheat meal or day or even a carb refeed where our energy stores are “refilled” even if we still keep ourselves in the overall deficit for the week.
But it’s why sticking with the process despite not seeing results immediately is so key!
#2: Know your whyS and set a motivational deadline.
The closer you get to your goal, the more cravings will probably have increased and your mind will work against you.
You’ll want to eat. You’ve been in a long, consistent deficit and there are probably foods you’ve cut out for a period of time because they weren’t easy to work into your macros.
As much as you may think you want abs, well, just getting abs for the sake of…well…getting abs won’t keep you truly motivated for long.
Especially when your friends ask you to go out for happy hour after a long and stressful week.
But precision is key.
And especially if you’re pushing yourself to a level of leanness you’ve never been able to achieve before, you’re going to have to be ready to sacrifice.
That’s why you need not only a why but WHYS and a deadline to keep you motivated.
I’d wanted to achieve a six pack for years before I did.
What finally got me to actually commit was setting a photoshoot, announcing it to all of my clients and wanting to be able to create a nutritional program to help clients no matter their goals. But I felt I couldn’t talk about getting lean if I didn’t personally know the struggles.
So having that hard photoshoot deadline, public “pressure” and accountability and even a big investment of money in the process, helped me stay consistent when I 100% wanted to quit.
Thankfully I’ve now learned a ton to make the process easier for myself and clients and even know how to maintain so my set point is lower, BUT that outside accountability and motivation beyond just wanting abs made all the difference.
So give yourself no way to wiggle out of your goal if you want to succeed!
#3: Plan ahead…With EVERYTHING.
You can’t be guesstimating. You can’t not track a bite of food.
You can’t be skipping random workouts or randomly stringing routines together based on how you’re feeling that day.
You need to have everything planned out. Planning .
A clear plan of action gives us added accountability and motivation to stay the course. It also allows us to make more accurate adjustments based on how we are progressing.
It let us see what truly works, and what doesn’t.
Planning ahead also removes a lot of the stress involved in the precision required.
It’s hard in the moment, when you’re hungry or tired or stressed from a long day to figure out what workout to do or what to eat.
Because, often you don’t want to do what you know you should in those situations.
It’s why planning ahead, having meal prep frozen or having fast restaurant go-to options is so key. It takes the thought and guesswork out of it.
It even takes the stress and emotion and CRAVINGS out of it.
The food is there. You know what you have to eat.
Even already logging it in your food tracker adds accountability and makes things easier so you aren’t just having to track as you go!
And by having your workout pre-planned, you are making sure you’re progressing. You’re not just doing what you feel like, as your energy at times may dip as you adjust and tweak ratios and calories.
It’s easy when we are tired to slack. But everything in your programming needs to work as a cohesive system. Your macros are based on your training and visa versa. So both need to go together.
You can also see if your performance is truly decline because you have that clear progression you repeat to compare and track numbers against.
Data is key to helping you achieve results as efficiently as possible as well!
#4: Find ways to move more.
By being in an extended deficit to lose that last little bit of stubborn fat, your body is going to find ways to conserve energy.
That means you’re going to naturally fidget less and want to move less.
You want to be conscious of this and do little things to keep your NEAT or non-exercise activity thermogenesis higher.
You want to burn more calories during your normal day.
This does NOT mean making your gym sessions longer. It does NOT mean even doing 2-a days.
It just means being conscious to move more.
Too often we try to train harder or length out our training sessions which actually leads to less results and more metabolic adaptations.
Plus, the quality of these training sessions often decreases and we end up doing a lot of wasted volume we can’t recover from. This actually ends up diminishing our returns.
Plus when we train harder as we try to cut calories lower, the deficit we are in grows.
And our body fights that weight loss for survival purposes.
This trying to do more in our training could actually lead to more metabolic adaptations and muscle loss instead of aiding our weight loss process.
And I know we often think, well I won’t lift more, I’ll just add in even a quick HIIT training session.
But just recognize, these intense sessions can deplete our glycogen stores and actually sometimes even make us hungrier. Plus they can add more to our fatigue.
This is why walking can be such a great thing to add in.
It doesn’t detract from our energy for future training sessions. And it is low intensity so we can do more of it without causing further cravings.
It can also really assist in fat loss, especially when included after workouts that have targeted our stubborn areas to increase blood flow to those areas and mobilize more fatty acids to be utilized.
So be conscious of when you start to feel like doing less to not fall into the couch but still include some fun activities over the week to move more!
#5: Progress will feel slow. Your body will fight you.
I know I slightly mentioned this already, but I think it’s key we oversell the negative to ourselves so we stick with things when we want to quit and challenges arise.
We’re almost ready for them if we do make ourselves aware early on.
PLUS, there is a light at the end of the tunnel for the same reason progress is slow…
The longer you’ve been above the weight or leanness level you want to be at, the harder it will be to reach that new point.
Your body doesn’t like change. It wants to maintain balance and balance to it is where you’ve currently been at, especially if you’ve been at that weight for awhile.
Your body will do what it can to stay there.
The positive part of this is that, once you get lean and start to transition into maintenance practices, it becomes easier and easier over time to maintain a leaner physique.
But the initial getting there is often not easy.
Progress will be slow. And this is actually a good thing.
When we try to see dramatic results, often we aren’t really losing more fat.
Often we are simply losing water weight and glycogen that’s been stored.
Plus, the faster we attempt to lose weight, the more we often lose muscle and not just fat.
Muscle is metabolically more costly to maintain.
So when our body is in a deficit and looking to conserve energy, it will use muscle as fuel.
That not only provides the energy it thinks it needs, but it also helps it conserve energy overall.
So embrace the slow process.
The easiest way to do this is by focusing on those daily habits as goals themselves.
Put your focus on doing what you know will lead to results. Celebrate the consistency in those habits as wins.
That will help you stay focused on the actions that will build toward results.
These 5 things are key to be aware when you commit to a program to get abs for the first time.
The process will be slower than you’d like, and your mind and body will fight against you as you seek to achieve something you’ve never done before.
But remember, maintaining gets EASIER!
Just focus on those daily habits and don’t freak out and do more when results are slow!
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