Get a 6 After 35 Part 2
In part 1 of this article, we presented an overview of the six pack quest. Why you might want one, and what the components of this lofty goal are. We ended by talking about exercise, one of the supporting pillars of the 6 Pack tripod.
In part 2, we touch on nutrition and recovery, the other two pillars.
3 Pillars to a 6 Pack (continued)
Pillar 2: Proper Nutrition
When you’re going for a six pack, you need to learn more about nutrition. I insist on delivering a short primer on nutrition with my coaching packages because so much of one’s success depends on it. If you’re my client, I will more likely be with you during your exercise rather than your meal, especially the mega fat trap that is the work lunch hour. So learning to take charge of your food choices is crucial.
In the early stages of changing your Lifestyle, some basic guidelines can go a long way. But going for a six pack, you’ll have to be fussier and make more changes. You won’t be able to cut calories dramatically right away without going crazy, so don’t do that. But you’ll make small, minuscule sustainable changes, which will accumulate and contribute to the big endpoint.
As with training, one size does not fit all in nutrition. Different ideas work for different people.
For example, you must have heard of low-carb dieting by now. Does it work? Yes, for a time. After a while, most people are unable to tolerate the low energy levels, and stop. Even worse, many rebel by overloading on carbs when they go off the low carb diet.
How about intermittent fasting, such as fasting for 18 hours, then having 6 hours in which to eat? It works… if you can take it. Some people thrive on it. Others get so hungry that they can’t last long, and when they stop, they rebound eat… badly.
So your eating program, nutritional tactics and methods will depend on personal (both physical and psychological) make up, available time, cooking ability, strength of motivation and even professional limitations such as whether you need to entertain business partners.
Those are the things I take into consideration when creating a food plan that must support the 6 pack goal.
Having said that, there are some of the changes I teach that seem to work for a wide range of people and situations.
- Eat smaller portions. This helps you with hunger control, provide your body with a continuous supply of energy, and maybe even boost your metabolism due to something called the TEF. You’ll gradually be accustomed to the smaller serving sizes and lose the urge to fil your stomach to the max at each meal.
- If you’ve been skipping breakfast, it’s time to make sure you start the day off right from now on. When you skip breakfast you’re generally really hungry around lunch, and you’re less likely to be picky about what you eat. You’re also more likely to snack in extra calories during the morning to stave off those hunger pangs.
- Eat natural foods. It doesn’t have to be too complex. I teach the 3 stages rule – if a food you’re considering took more than 3 stages of processing from the original food to arrive before you, don’t eat it.
- In place of the usual junk, substitute healthy snacks! I teach my clients to replace that habitual kit kat or Mars bar with all kinds of foods that are not just healthy and filling, but tasty too! This is such an important component, because it avoids the unrealistic and psychologically devastating step of eliminating snacking altogether.
- Learn to prepare simple and healthy meals. It’s worth the investment. You can choose exactly what you put into your meals, you can be sure it is healthy, and you effectively nullify one of the biggest pitfalls a working professional encounters – no choice lunches at the hawker center or food court.
Pillar 3: Proper Sleep
Finally, an often neglected component of training programs is rest and recovery.
In a previous article Four Reasons You’re Not Losing Weight, I explained that lack of sleep raises cortisol and ghrelin levels, hormones that lead to eventual weight gain. Cortisol causes release of glucose which end up getting stored as fat, while ghrelin is an appetite stimulant. I also mentioned that less sleep means greater waking hours which leads to more snacking temptations and opportunities.
When you’re after a 6 pack though, there’s more to sleep than just that. Remember, you’re trying to not just lose fat but sculpt your abs as well. That means that you are trying to build muscle, and you need to recover for that. There’s an old saying that goes “You don’t build muscle in the gym, you build it when you’re resting outside of it.” And sleep is so important for that, especially if you’re working full time and not just any performance enhancing drugs.
Chances are high that at the moment, the amount of sleep you’re getting is “Not enough!” So how much sleep should you get? I don’t advise going by numbers, like 7h, 8h, 10h. My recommendation is, sleep at a reasonable hour on Saturday night, but don’t set your alarm. Observe what time you naturally wake up Sunday morning. That’s the number of hours of sleep you should shoot for for a start. Chances are you’re not getting that, so it’s a good start. You can always tweak the number later on.
How Will It Feel?
Look to how you will feel when you achieve your goal.
In part this will depend on your reason for wanting a six pack in the first place. But I can share with you one thing that many people who accomplish this goal do feel:
Confident and proud.
This isn’t surprising. In a way, getting a six pack, especially when you’re a full time working professional with a family, is as hard for many people as completing a first marathon or climbing their first mountain. There will be many challenges, new skills you have to develop, a lifestyle you have to adopt, naysayers and other negative nellies predicting or even wanting you to fail.
But when you succeed?
It’s a tremendous affirmation that you can accomplish anything you set your mind to. I’ve seen the changes that come from knowing you have conquered a personal challenge and reached new heights. The qualities you develop on your physical quest will also translate to successes out of the physical too, such as at school, in your career and business, and even in your roles like being a boss or being a parent.
You will get admiring glances at the beach or the pool but on the inside is where you derive the greatest, Life-impacting change.
That ultimately, is what AA35 is all about. Being healthy, fit, and young, and using that as a springboard to get to the greater things in Life, so that you can lead it fully and happily.