Let’s get real about abs

by Kim on September 25, 2014

Why is our society so obsessed with abs?

If you have a ripped stomach, there’s only one possible explanation: you’re a perfect specimen of fitness. You eat perfect healthy meals, follow a perfect workout program, and you NEVER EVER cheat.

Abs are the ultimate sign of fitness, right?

Well, like most things, it’s not that simple. I mean, we all “have” abs, right? It’s just a matter of how much our bodies want to unveil them to the world.

This is a case where “everybody’s different” rings true times a million.

Someone with an apple-shaped figure is naturally going to have a way tougher time uncovering their abs than someone with an hourglass shape. Naturally super-thin people have toned-looking stomachs by default.

And some people just won’t have visible abs until they’re down to a super unhealthy and unsustainable body fat percentage (via a super unhealthy and unsustainable lifestyle).

I’ve heard so many figure competitors come back post-competition to say that they were never so unhealthy and unhappy as they were on competition day, when they were at society’s version of the ideal weight and shape.

When it comes to abs, the question is always “is it worth it?” What would you personally have to do to get to that place, and are those really sacrifices you’d want to make?

I won’t lie—I wouldn’t mind having ripped abs someday, just to do it. It’s an exciting challenge.

Kind of like running a marathon. That was hard for me—really hard, and in certain ways, somewhat unhealthy—but I can always say that I did it.

With the ab thing, I have a pretty good idea what it would take, for my body, and it would be no joke.

Whether it would be worth it…I’m still deciding.

What do you think? Are abs worth the trouble?

What do you think is the best measure of fitness?




{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Fiona September 26, 2014 at 10:39 am

I have always focused on my ‘ab’s as a measure of my fitness and it’s too hard! I have the genes of a ‘lower ab weight carrier’ along with my mom and sisters. No matter how well I eat, no matter HOW much I work out, there will always be a little pooch. I don’t when I became obsessed with a ‘flat’ stomach or abs but it’s unhealthy and not a sign of how strong we are or are working to be. Yes if you got ’em, awesome, keep rocking them but I think we need to start focusing on the GOODS we do have, like my strong arms, or my strong legs that can help me squat and curl some good weights! I’m working towards accepting myself.
Great post!


Kim September 29, 2014 at 10:41 am

Love your attitude! Our bodies are ultimately in more control than we are, and there are just some things we might have to let go of. But you’re right, we all have things worth celebrating! :)


Rosey Rebecca September 26, 2014 at 9:54 am

I don’t know about having rock hard abs, but having a strong core is definitely important. I’ve been working on core strength nonstop in physical therapy because my therapist thinks that it’s the root of all my problems. So I think it’s not as much as looking ‘ripped’ for me as feeling better overall!
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Kim September 29, 2014 at 10:38 am

Yesss! I think the importance of core strength is one of those things that tends to go in one ear and out the other, but you’re right, super valuable to overall health!


Katie September 26, 2014 at 8:58 am

Truth: when I see a guy with “6 pack abs” I assume they “know they’re hott” and won’t be attracted to me. I carry my weight in my stomach/thighs and would love to slim down, but it hasn’t quite happened yet. The actual 6 pack I’m not so concerned with.
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Kim September 29, 2014 at 10:28 am

Good point–I think I have that preconception about 6 packs too.

The idea of a 6 pack is kind of funny for me, given the way my stomach looks right now, haha, but it’s fun to talk about. :)


Katie@LifesNextBigStep September 26, 2014 at 7:11 am

Um I’ve never had abs. Not to say I’m not working on it…but that’s not to say I wouldn’t ‘like’ to see them some day. It’s just not something I’m holding my breath for. I’m that elusive pear shape you talk about, hips and butt for days, and I carry my ‘belly’ weight in my lower belly. Getting that to go away will take 100% commitment to food and the gym, which isn’t something I am able to do right now. Maybe after number 2 arrives it will be more of a focus, but I think just being healthy and mindful of food and putting in 4-5 good, solid days working out is just as important, if not more important, than having defined abs.

And I’m with Presley – my hubs plays soccer a few times a week, drinks beer, eats okay, but he ALWAYS has visible abs. His sister is the same way (granted she works out a lot harder than he does). It can be infuriating! But it is what it is :)
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Kim September 29, 2014 at 10:31 am

Reminds me of that weight loss commercial with the husband and wife stick figures, where the woman’s like “we stop drinking soda, he loses 20 pounds, I lose 2.”



Presley @ Run Pretty September 25, 2014 at 9:05 pm

My husband has abs whether he eats right and workouts or sits on the couch for a month eating Doritos. Literally, he would still be ripped in the ab department.

I had legit abs when I ate like a bird and ran like a bear was chasing me 24/7. I don’t have them now that I eat healthily (with my sweets, too, obviously) and work out like a normal person (aka I have a life). I’m happier now, but my stomach hangs over my pants when I sit down. WHATEVA. I do what I want. ;)
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Presley @ Run Pretty September 25, 2014 at 9:06 pm

****works out. not workouts. it’s late…
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Kim September 26, 2014 at 10:02 am

LOL, I love you. Ryne I’m not totally sure about (jealousy)…but then guys are good at being physical freaks of nature, so I guess I should discount him. :)


Dawn September 25, 2014 at 6:52 pm

I can’t say if ab’s are worth the trouble because I’m still trying to locate mine but once I get there I will be sure to let you know.
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Kim September 29, 2014 at 10:31 am

I hear ya :)


emma @ be mom strong September 25, 2014 at 6:05 pm

Ugh… speaking of abs I will NEVER have mine again after two c-sections and I am just accepting it! One pieces are all the rage now anyways!
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Kim September 29, 2014 at 10:33 am

So true! I’ve been pretty happy with my tankinis…haha.


Ashley @ My Food N Fitness Diaries September 25, 2014 at 6:01 pm

Interesting topic! I feel like abs are quite the prized possession within our society, and I don’t really get it either. I honestly feel like abs are SO genetic. To be honest, my abs are probably one of the parts of my body that I’m most confident about and I haven’t really done anything in particular to help them out. I rarely do core work (except for the 5 minutes of it in BodyPump), and I guess I eat well, but I eat a lot of carbs and sugar too. I owe it ALL to my mom. She has a super long torso (as do I), and it’s just never been a “trouble zone” for her (nor me). Whenever I do gain or lose weight, it’s ALL in my butt and thighs … which is where I DO have to work if I want toned legs/glutes. That all being said, I don’t think the way someone’s abs look are a good way to measure fitness AT ALL. I think the best way to measure fitness is totally personal and depends on goals. If you’re a bodybuilder, the best way to measure your fitness would be how much you can lift with proper form. If you’re a runner, the best way to measure your fitness is how fast/long you can run (again, depending on goals). For me, I measure my fitness based on how much I can lift in BodyPump, how long I can hold a plank, how many pushups I can do, etc. because that’s what my fitness of choice is right now.
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Kim September 29, 2014 at 10:37 am

So well put, Ashley! Love that.

I think people REALLY overlook the genetics component of the whole thing. I would love to have a long torso, but it’s just not what I was given. The best we can do is work with what we have, and let the rest go!


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