Now that the holiday feasts are over, it’s time to regain my focus on getting fit—and if you’re reading this, then you’re probably ready to do the same. I’m about to share with you my current flat abs routine that has always worked for me in the past. That next beach vacation will be here before you know it, and those abs aren’t going to flatten automagically, so let’s get moving!
Before we begin, please note that these are tips based on my own personal 6-week journey to getting flat abs. Not everyone will see the same results, but I can guarantee that if you follow these tips, you will be on your way to a fitter, healthier you!
HOW MY “6-PACK IN 6 WEEKS” CHALLENGE BEGAN
When I booked a trip to the Virgin Islands, I only had 6 weeks to get my abs to a place that I could be proud of. I challenged myself to get as close to a 6-pack as I could in a matter of 6 weeks. I was determined to see this through. For the most part, I was in shape, but I couldn’t seem to get rid of that pesky lower belly fat. It was time to get serious about getting rid of it once and for all. And to do that, I needed to focus on three things: my mentality, clean eating, and ab + cardio workouts.
RULE 1: CHANGE THE WAY YOU THINK
“Your body won’t go where your mind doesn’t push it.”
If you approach your goal with a negative attitude, it’s not going to work! You will give up—many people slowly talk themselves out of working out within the first few weeks of January after making it their #1 resolution to get fit. Don’t be that person. Will it be easy? Nah. It won’t be. Don’t hate me. I know I just said to be positive, but I’m still realistic. It won’t be easy, but it is still 100% doable.
Focus on the REASON behind your fitness goal. When I did it, I focused on how I wanted to look when I got into my bikini in the Virgin Islands. That was a year ago. Now I’ve just started my 6-week challenge all over again, and this time I’m focusing on how I want to look during my honeymoon (although it’s several months away). This time I’ll do a vlog about it, so check back in next month to see the results.
Here’s a tip. This is a 6-week challenge! So on the hard days, when you’re tired and don’t feel like working out or you’re tempted to down that Krispy Kreme donut your co-worker brought in, remind yourself that the challenge will be over before you know it. Now of course, the ultimate goal is to turn this into your lifestyle, but you need to pacify those sneaky, negative thoughts and temptations that are bound to creep into your psyche. Now say it out loud. IT’S ONLY 6 WEEKS. NO EXCUSES. I WILL NOT PUNK OUT. Great! You just committed—now it’s time to follow through.
RULE 2: EAT CLEAN
“You are what you eat—so don’t be fast, cheap, easy, or fake.”
If you have ever heard of the phrase “abs are made in the kitchen,” then I’m here to confirm that it’s 100% true. This is probably the part you won’t be too crazy about. Some people have no problem working out, but struggle with their inner foodie. This is where your mental strength is going to come into play, so DON’T CHEAT.
My main rules for clean eating were:
- Eat Good Carbs
Thanks to lipogenesis, the carbs you eat get converted into fatty acids, and fatty acids are the building blocks of fat (this video by study.com does a great job explaining it). You’ll want to limit your carbs, but still include them in your diet to prevent your energy levels from dropping. Good carbs to eat include foods like whole-wheat pasta, black beans, oatmeal, and lots of veggies. Eatthis.com listed the best 9 carbs for weight loss here.
- Limit Sodium Intake
Sodium tends to rear its ugly head in packaged and convenience foods, like frozen pizza, crackers, canned soup, etc. Sodium consumption is a surefire way to add water retention to you abdominal region, which results in a more bloated you. If you really want flat abs, find an alternative to salt when seasoning your food. I usually ask Karl to experiment with various herbs and spices when he cooks (because y’all know I hate cooking).
- Stick to Power Foods
According to this article on livestrong.com, power foods include nuts, peanut butter, legumes, green leafy vegetables, dairy, plain instant oatmeal, eggs, whole grains, olive oil, berries, protein powder, and lean meats. I like to blend certain power foods into protein smoothies after a workout.
- Get Familiar with Good Protein Sources
Protein, protein, protein! It’s essential, especially if you’re going for a sick-pack. As bodybuilding.com says, it’ll boost your metabolic rate up, prevent the lean muscle mass loss that typically accompanies very low calorie diets, and keep you from feeling hungry.
- Avoid Alcohol and Sugary Drinks
No alcohol?? Yea. Come on, it’s just 6 weeks. As for sugary drinks, that wasn’t hard for me. I stopped drinking soda and juice a long time ago. Honestly, water is mainly the only thing I drink.
- Stick to Water, Green Tea, and Protein Smoothies with Almond Milk
- Water obviously has tons of benefits. I think we all know by now how necessary water is for our bodies!
- The one drink I didn’t know the benefits of until I started this journey was green tea. It’s pretty much one of the most awesome fat-burning weapons known to man. The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) published a study, which found that ingestion of a tea rich in catechins leads to a reduction in body fat. You can get catechins naturally by drinking a glass of green tea or as a supplement.
- As for protein smoothies—love them! I usually make a protein smoothie for breakfast right after a morning workout. I’ve tried 3 different kinds of protein powder: Whey Protein Isolate (Now Sports), Raw Protein (Garden of Life), and Pea Protein (Now Sports). Whey Protein is by far my favorite because it blends in so well with any smoothie I make. My second favorite is Raw Protein (17 grams protein), because it’s a great option for Vegans and Vegetarians and doesn’t taste that bad—it has an earthy taste, but if you put a lot of tasty fruits in your smoothie, you won’t taste it as much. My least favorite is Pea Protein (24 grams protein), however it has more grams of protein than the Raw Protein does—the trick to masking the weird taste of Pea Protein is to use a smoothie recipe that contains bananas and peanut butter.
- Get Your Sugar Fix from Fruits
There are two main types of sugar—the natural kind found in good food like fruits, and the added sugars that come in processed foods like cookies. If you have a sweet tooth, snack on fruit! I eat fruit everyday and I find that it helps satisfy any sugar cravings I might get.
ARE CHEAT DAYS OK? Some people have a cheat day once a week, but I didn’t—mainly because I only had 6 weeks to reach my goal and I didn’t want to ruin it. I waited until AFTER I reached my goal to loosen my dietary restrictions. Once the goal was reached, I just needed to maintain it at that point, so it wasn’t a problem to do some of the things I couldn’t do during the challenge. I still continued my habit of eating healthy when it was all over, but was less stringent about enjoying the guilty pleasures of desserts and alcohol (socially), especially when on vacay!
RULE 3: FIND AB + CARDIO WORKOUTS THAT YOU LOVE
“If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you.”
Someone once told me that he had a 6-pack, but it just wasn’t visible because he had layers of fat on top of it. That made me laugh, but it’s so true! Ab workouts without cardio exercise are pointless if you have flab over those abs! My advice? Do both, but not necessarily on the same day. Find an ab workout you love and do it 3 times a week to help build your adnominal muscles. In between those days, do some light cardio (or heavy cardio depending on your body type)—this will result in a reduction of both your abdominal and total fat.
My favorite ab workout of all-time is Tony Horton’s Ab Ripper X, which is 15 grueling minutes of 349 ass-kicking reps. In the all-too-true words of Tony, “I hate it, but I love it.”
Pro: It’s only 15 minutes!
Con: It might be a little too fast-paced and intense for a beginner.
If Ab Ripper isn’t your cup of green tea, then give a Jillian Michaels workout a try. She’s another favorite of mine and has a “6 Week Six-Pack Abs Workout- Level 1” video you can follow on YouTube.
Pro: There’s cardio involved, so you will shed pounds at the same time.
Con: It’s 35 minutes long.
When it comes to cardio, I suggest finding activities that you’ll look forward to doing. Like being outdoors? Hike up a nearby mountain, go cycling, or find a trail to jog on. Is dancing your thing? Sign up for Zumba classes, channel your inner Beyoncé with a sexy dance workout, or try these Bollywood moves to prep you for that epic trip to India you’ve always wanted to take. Need accountability partners? Set up a time and place to meet up with your friends to go running or sign up for a class together.
Personally what worked for me, is taking a simple activity I was already doing and transforming it into a workout. I have two rambunctious dogs that need walking everyday—but instead of walking them, I turned that walk into a run. It helped me shred the extra flab and as a bonus, my super hyper husky and boxer were always knocked out on our cardio days.
So, that’s my flat abs story! What are you waiting for? Get your positive energy flowing, toss out any temptations that are currently in your kitchen and replace them with power foods, and set aside 30 minutes of your day to boost your heart rate doing something you love. As a matter of fact, now is a good idea. Remember—if it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you. Now, get to it and use the hashtag #travellushes to share those awesome results with us when you’re done!