Let's Get Real!
I meet with a lot of people and talk about a lot of different health, fitness, and nutrition goals. You would be surprised at some of the things that I hear. It’s anything from I need to lose 20lbs in the next 4 weeks so I can be ready for my wedding photos to I want to run the same mile time that I ran when I was 18 years old in high school track, even though they are 50 years old and haven’t run a mile since they left high school.
Goals are wonderful to have! As a matter of fact, I think it’s important to always chase your fitness goals. I mean, where would be if we set a goal of running a mile in 8 minutes and then we just stopped working out after reaching that goal. That’s why we should set lofty goals and why we have to allow our goals to be flexible. The important part of the journey is that it has to be something that is enjoyable. By this, I mean our goals have to be ambitious, but we also have to have self awareness and, as we look at long term goals, we have to make sure that the approach, the way we tackle our goals, is sustainable, and fits inside what makes us happy.
I wanted to share with you guys a dose of reality when it comes to setting goals, because when we see pictures of cover models and airbrushed magazine covers of abs, we might not understand just how expensive it can be to get there. And I’m not just talking money. Here is the truth about 6-pack abs!
Men >20% Body Fat & Women >30% Body Fat:
Doesn’t require much work, can be associated with poor health, less life expectancy, most are on some medications, somewhat sedentary lifestyle.
A pretty easy transition to:
Men 15-20% Body Fat & Women 25-30% Body Fat:
Most college-aged athletes, more energy, better health, active lifestyle. This level of body fat will require some thought and planning of what you eat. You will look ok, but not cover model status yet!
Another pretty simple transition not requiring a lot of changes:
Men 13-15% Body Fat & Women 23-25% Body Fat:
Most professional athletes are around this level of body fat, somewhat easy to maintain, to get here it will require some meal planning and you will have some social limitations, like limiting alcohol and doing more exercise. Sleep will be a key factor here. You’ll need 8+ hours a night consistently.
This next transition isn’t all that easy:
Men 10-12% Body Fat & Women 20-22% Body Fat:
Most professional and Olympic-level athletes live here; you look very fit and are in good health; less food cravings because your diet is very balanced and dialed in; somewhat easy to maintain once you have had a chance to get used to it; energy levels high throughout the day. To be at this level, it will take planning and consistency with training and nutrition which will require more time. You may need more individualized coaching on training and nutrition.
This transition is expensive:
Men 6-9% Body Fat & Women 16-19% Body Fat:
Think Olympic sprinter physique; look very lean; might even have a 6-pack here; you will be very fit, however you may have a struggle with social settings and food, as well as spending much of your time training hard and recovering from that training appropriately; sleep is huge here; you will have to give up some things that are not fitness and nutrition related.
Very expensive transition:
Men <6% Body Fat & Women <16% Body Fat:
Bodybuilders; fitness models; you will feel a sense of accomplishment when you get here; however, no food in social settings; huge time commitment tracking everything for workouts and nutrition; hyper focus on food; little time to do anything but workout, prepare food, recover, and do it all over again; most likely, you will experience a loss of sex drive, disordered eating, low testosterone, and a life that is not so enjoyable and balanced.
So there you have it. The truth about what it takes to be get that 6-pack and be on the cover of a magazine.