Time for another experiment/challenge. I was thinking of waiting to finish the challenge before writing about it (seeing results will probably motivate more people to try this challenge) but I figured making it public now would only strengthen my commitment and perhaps inspire some of you to start now rather than later.
Get my abs to be visible by the end of the year.
Although I’ve always been on the skinny side growing up, I’ve never actually had a low enough body percentage to see my abs. In fact, I have a slight belly and love handles. For years, my goal was to just gain weight since I was tired of being a walking broomstick. I achieved that a few years ago which I wrote about in this post. Since then, I’ve been on maintenance mode.
However, since doing my pull-up experiment, I wanted to do another experiment and decided on getting a six pack mainly because it’s quite tough to do since it will take a good amount of discipline and time. By achieving this goal, I hope to gain more confidence in my ability to reach my goals. That and, c’mon, who wouldn’t want to have a 6 pack, right?
Doing 1,000 crunches a day isn’t going to work. I tried it about 8 years ago for several weeks so I know 🙂 Abs are made mainly by watching what you eat and basically getting your body fat to go down to a certain percentage. For guys, it’s around 10% and under. For women, it’s around 16%. The exact % varies for each person based on genetics and other factors. Some guys can look ripped at 11% body fat while others might have to go down to 8%.
According to my calipers, I’m at about 16% at the moment. I know these things aren’t the most accurate way to measure body fat but seeing that not even a hint of abs are showing even when I tighten my abs as hard as I can under shadow producing lighting and misleading angles, that seems about right. (See pic below)
This doesn’t mean that I’m going to starve myself because I do NOT want to lose weight. In fact, I want to put on more muscle while lowering my body fat which means I’ll be gaining weight. After doing a bunch of reading, the program I’ll be using is Intermittent Fasting (IF) (LeanGains.com is the best source to learn more and it’s all free.)
My buddy, Thaya, over at Tweakfit.com mentioned this approach to me over a year ago (he’s been having great results with his weight loss) but the second I saw the word “fasting”, it turned me off because I associate that to losing weight, something I don’t want to do. However, I came across it again during my research on getting a six pack and looked more into it.
The basic concept of intermittent fasting is to fast for a certain amount of hours a day and then eat the amount of calories you’d normally eat within a specific time frame. The standard routine is to fast for 16 hours which includes sleep and then eat your daily meals within an 8 hour window. For women, it’s a 14 hour fast followed by a 10 hour feeding window.
Whether you want to lose weight or gain weight really comes down to how many calories you take in versus how many calories you use during the day.
Some Things You Should Know:
I’ve actually been doing IF for a few weeks now. Since I’m also trying to gain weight (muscle), my fat loss progress will be slower compared to someone who’s only aim is to lose fat. Anyway, here are a few things I’ve noticed so far.
The first week might be a bit tough. I’m used to eating about every 3 hours so not eating for 16 hours straight got my stomach growling pretty loudly.
• Larger meals
Because I only have 8 hours to consume enough calories for me to gain weight, I have to consume it all in 3 big meals. The first few days, I was absolutely stuffed after each meal and before I was even close to being hungry again, it was time for my next meal.
Since we all have different schedules, there’s no “right” time to start and stop your eating window. You just have to figure out which time frame works best for you. For me, I normally stop eating about 6 hours before I go to bed so by the time I wake up, I only have another 2 hours before my eating window starts again.
• Your body should adapt
After about a week, I got used to it. Going 16 hours without eating isn’t bad at all now and eating those big meals has gotten a lot easier. It might take you longer to get used to it.
• This is a eating habit, not a fad diet
Aside from eating healthier foods, the only real difference between Intermittent Fasting and just eating regularly that I can see is the time frame in which you eat so you’re not really doing anything that is unsustainable like going on a no carb diet.
• IF isn’t for everyone
Although I think this style of eating will produce great results, it’s definitely not everyone’s cup of tea. For me, IF is actually easier than having to eat every 3 hours and since I’m basically eating much of the same foods I’ve been eating, it’s not too big of a change for me.
And of course, for legal purposes, consult your doctor before starting any fitness/diet program.
For progress reference, here’s a picture I took on June 7th, 2013, the same day I posted this article. I’m flexing my abs as hard as I can in this picture. Those two faint, random lines you see, one on each side, are a result of not sitting straight… my belly fat crease. I need to remind myself to sit up straight.
I guess that’s about it for now. Since I’ve never seriously attempted this goal before, I’m not sure what to expect in terms of speed of results but hopefully 6 months is enough time. I’ll write another post once I reach my goal. Maybe it’ll happen a lot sooner.
Anyone else doing IF? Feel free to comment with any questions, suggestions, or thoughts.