Confession: I Don't Have a Six Pack

39SHARES

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
8/15/2008 6:00 PM   :  201 comments

Last week, I was leading a group of my SparkPeople co-workers through a 10-minute core workout. Since I teach fitness classes (including Pilates) regularly, most of the exercises we do as a group are pretty easy for me since Iím used to doing them (and usually for much longer than 10 minutes).

The next day my co-worker Rachel, after telling me how she was sore from some of the moves, said, ďYour core is so strong! I canít believe you donít have a 6 pack!Ē
Want to hear my reply?



I immediately responded, ďWho says I donít?!Ē

ďYouíve told me before that you donít.Ē

ďOhÖYouíre right. I donít.Ē (haha)

Anyway, it got the pair of us talking and it kept me thinking. I explained how, having strong abs doesnít mean youíll have defined abs. After all, itís the layer of fat on top of the abs that determines how much of them that youíll see. The more I thought about her comment over the next few days, the more I decided I should share it.

I donít have a six pack. I donít have anywhere near a perfect body. I have stretch marks on my hips (that Iíve had since I was a teenager, even though I was a fit and healthy athlete). I have the all-too-common cellulite on the back of my thighs (show me a woman that doesnít!). My butt sticks out way further than I think it should. And my belly, while mostly flat and definitely strong, does have a pinchable inch or so that turns into a belly roll when I sit down. Iím not ashamed to admit it!

I told Rachel that I could have a 6 pack if I wanted. Heck, I think almost anyone could. But what it takes to get to that point is serious, almost obsessive exercise and calorie counting for most people. Iíve been there before, but what it took to get there (and stay there!) was mentally and physically exhausting. Iíd rather be ďokayĒ with how I look and have a normal life where I can eat ice cream when I want to and exercise moderatelyÖnot obsessively.

I think that most people would expect that fitness instructors, trainers, and experts who seem to know it all about working out and eating right would have perfectly toned bodies. And youíre not wrong to think thatís the case. After all, gracing the cover of every fitness video and magazine are the bodies of super toned fitness models and trainers. Theyíre not shy about showing off their ripped abs and muscular legs in their skimpy workout clothes either. Is that the true picture of fitness? No wonder we all think we need to change our bodies.

I think these people are the exception to the rule. And not only that, but they make all of us regular people think that being fit and healthy means looking like a model on a fitness magazine cover. That couldnít be further from the truth. More and more research is showing that fitness and fatness donít have to be mutually exclusive. Overweight people who exercise regularly are healthier than thin and ďnormalĒ weight people who donít exercise.

By eating right most of the time and exercising to focus on your health and fitness level (and not for the sole purpose of looking perfect, losing weight or burning calories), I think youíre more likely to reach the point where you like the way your body looks and feels just enough...or maybe more. And no matter what it looks like at that point, youíll be healthier as a result. Isnít that what itís all about?

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Comments

  • 201
    Overweight people who exercise regularly are healthier than thin and ďnormalĒ weight people who donít exercise.

    I keep telling people this. What happened to common sense. Did it just jump out the window and fell to it's grave? C'mon people. Let's be healthy and fit but not crazy. Thanks for the article! - 10/10/2013   8:53:28 PM
  • 200
    You look great to me, Coach Nicole and I have a feeling you'll still be looking great when you are a silver citizen. - 8/31/2013   9:42:25 AM
  • 199
    Thank you for this blog. I never would have thought you did not have a six pack but frankly you have a nice fit body. I appreciate your candor and it already makes me feel better about my own body issues. I do want to lose weight but more importantly I want to be healthier. I will never be a size 2 and I will never grace the magazine covers and I am okay with that. But I will grace the cover of my own life book. I love your videos and appreciate your help throughout this journey. - 4/16/2013   5:00:20 PM
  • 198
    Thank you!!! What a great blog post!!! - 8/31/2012   1:58:06 AM
  • 197
    I love this Nichole! How terrific you were willing to share this personal info with us. I agree with everything you have to say. I have a degree in Exercise Science and even I can get caught up in the hype, the desire to "wish I looked like that fitness model". So hearing what you said reminded me that not every fitness expert looks like that and "we" average, regular fitness fanatics don't need to either! Thanks so much for the reminder! It sure made me feel better today. :-) - 8/22/2012   9:09:57 AM
  • SAVEDDAUGHTER
    196
    I give you a standing ovation for this blog post. It's nice to hear that I don't have to have 'ripped' count-them-while-I-stand abs. Most people are shocked when I tell them I have never wanted six pack, rock hard abs. I just wanted flat, soft abs. I didn't want to look like I was just chiselled by some sculptor to represent some perfect Greek or Roman god. I just wanted my stomach to be flat. That's it. Just flat and soft.

    I used to swim 5 days a week while I was younger, I did ab work and I could see the slight definition even beneath the fat. I was a child and didn't get that I needed cardio to burn it off, but as the years past and health issues ensued I just stopped everything all together. Now, I'm focusing on being as healthy as I can be, thanks to the awesome little boy God has given me, and reaching my heaviest weight yet.

    And on this journey it's GREAT to know that 'perfection' isn't on the cover of some magazine.

    Thank you. - 7/11/2012   11:13:44 PM
  • 195
    Hear! Hear! I loved this blog.

    I was once a very miserable size 4, starving myself & still hating how I looked.

    I am a much happier size 8/6. I like ice cream once in awhile, too & have some kind of 'treat' every day.
    I know I'm strong, & I like how I look. - 7/6/2012   9:10:56 AM
  • 194
    Dear Coach Nicole, I always enjoy your blogs. You are one of the few voices of reason is this crazy fitness, exercise-crazed, body-image obsessed world. We should strive to be as healthy as possible and love our bodies the way they are. - 5/1/2012   12:53:52 PM
  • LEMUHAMMAD
    193
    Thanks for your wisdom. Great article and it helps shed the light on alot of things. Not having a six pack doesn't necessary someone is unhealthy. - 4/30/2012   12:03:10 PM
  • 192
    I definately don't have a six pack, but I'm happy yo report that I don't have a keg either! - 4/30/2012   7:56:09 AM
  • 191
    I would just be happy to flatten my "baby pouch"!!!! No 6-pack for me...I don't like beer! lol - 5/10/2011   9:58:23 PM
  • KST8ER
    190
    this is my favorite article!! Very common sense approach - and I like the fact that BALANCE in life has a value as much as 6 pack abs... - 2/22/2011   11:54:51 AM
  • MJ7DM33
    189
    Nicole thanks for this article! I really liked the things you said! - 2/17/2011   9:42:59 AM
  • 188
    Terrific Article !! - 2/9/2011   12:00:36 PM
  • 187
    "I donít have a six pack. I donít have anywhere near a perfect body."

    You may not be perfection, but you are beautiful. I never thought that a six pack would mean that I met perfection. I've seen unhealthy people sporting six packs and great builds - none of them were close to perfection. You are fit and healthy, which means you have so much to be thankful for. - 2/1/2011   11:22:04 AM
  • 186
    Thank you so much! This is exactly what I needed to hear when I needed to hear it. I've been struggling so hard to reach my ideal of 'perfection' and have lost touch with the main reason why I started becoming active- to be healthier. - 2/1/2011   8:17:12 AM
  • 185
    You're my new hero. I'm not interested in 6 packs . You sound like a "normal" healthy person with a life other than just obsessing about your body. Thank you. My 120lb 5'6" daughter can pinch an inch. I don't think that is a good gauge of health or fitness. I'm looking to be more healthy and more comfortable with my body not on the cover of a fitness magazine. - 1/3/2011   9:47:39 PM
  • 184
    I've read this before and thought, "Good for you, but personally I want to see my abs!"

    Lately, though, I've been feeling down because my soon-to-be-maintenance body isn't what I'd expected. Now it's comforting to know I'm not alone, and that even fit people have rolls of fat. I've started obsessing over the calorie burn and calorie intake. I definitely need to step back.

    I WILL have a toned body, but I don't need a photo-shopped, professionally photographed, plastered in make-up, perfectly smooth, very tight, body builder, fitness model body. I'll just have my own healthy, toned body. - 12/31/2010   10:14:16 AM
  • 183
    we'll all been a bit brainwashed by the images of "perfection" we see in magazines, billboards and TV/movies.

    We all know what we see when we look in the mirror, and we all need to ease up on ourselves.


    That why we were so happy when Glamor magazine published a picture of a model with her belly roll showing - she was us, but she was in a magazine
    http://www.glamour.com/health-fitne
    ss/blogs/vitamin-g/2009/08/on-the-c
    l-the-picture-you-cant.html
    - 11/12/2010   2:02:08 AM
  • 182
    Imagine my disappointment when I discovered 'six-pack abs' did not mean they CAME from a six pack. It sounded so much better than 'beer belly'.


    Hey, if you can't laugh at yourself, someone may do it for you! - 8/17/2010   10:45:58 AM
  • 181
    great blog. - 8/7/2010   8:58:53 AM
  • 180
    Nicole, thanks once again for an EXCELLENT article that really puts self-esteem and fitness into a reality. You've got an amazing way of putting into words just what my mind is thinking this time around. I once was anorexic and epliptic at the same time trying to find some form of control in my young life. I survived that and was determined to find a better way to live and accept myself for being ME. Mentally I have been there for years, its just taking me longer to get my fitness level to where it needs to be and be healthy. I no longer want to be "skinny" or "model thin". Instead I want to be fit and healthy for my body, not someone else's body. I am getting there and not only am starting to see results but feel it emotionally and mentally- Thanks. - 4/18/2010   7:01:41 PM
  • 179
    Oh, the 6-pack abs. I'll never have them. It's just not in my genetics. My body likes to put weight in the stomach. First to pile on, last to leave is the tummy fat. I'd have to be anorexic again to have a prayer of seeing a 6-pack, and that won't happen ever!

    And I don't care. I'm a normal, healthy person. I don't care if I don't look like a fitness model, I just want to be healthy. - 4/15/2010   4:02:20 PM
  • 178
    Thank you for helping "real" women feel good about their bodies! - 3/27/2010   11:17:33 PM
  • 177
    I am slightly overweight-I know that, but I have alwas maintained that I am much fitter and healthier than someone of a normal weight who doesn't exercise. My core strength is pretty good from 2 karate sessions a week and my cardio fitness is getting there with 4 running sessions a week. Who says you need the perfect body to be fit and healthy-I am sure there is a 6pack buried somewhere and maybe one day it will reveal itself, but I don't mind if it doesn't. - 11/19/2009   4:34:14 AM
  • 176
    Thank you for your article :-)
    I know I am not happy with my belly and should be doing more exercises but most times when i look at my belly I am reminded I gave birth to 5 beautiful children..

    Glenda - 10/7/2009   7:52:47 AM
  • 175
    As I tell my wife and friends, "I have a 8 pack, I just opt to keep it well insulated." - 9/28/2009   10:41:25 AM
  • 174
    I don't think I'd want a six-pack. I'm a woman and proud of it and I want to look feminine. I had a bellydance dvd of Kathy Smith and she has a very hard, muscled body. She may have felt sensuous bellydancing but I didn't think she look sensuous. Bellydancers are supposed to have a belly.

    Not anything against her. She's done a lot for women who want to get fit. But I've observed that most of the female fitness gurus have very healthy looking bodies but not particulary feminine ones. That isn't to say that I think she or they look masculine. Just very very fit. - 8/20/2009   3:52:26 PM
  • 173
    It must be my age or the fact that I was never "fat" until I was way pass 30, but these kind of articles and the picture of "perfect" is so distorted to me. I know that getting the kind of body that some of ya-all are talking about is extremely low in body fat composition. And I never want to go there. I don't think that is "Perfect" or even attractive! Ladies should have curves. We need that extra layer of fat mostly when we are in our child baring years. I find myself wanting to say over and over "really, get a clue". - 8/7/2009   10:32:24 PM
  • 172
    Thank you, we need to keep on eye in our health and not looks that will come with time. - 7/20/2009   10:43:59 AM
  • MUDCHICK39
    171
    Thank you so much for writing this! - 7/15/2009   7:02:30 PM
  • 170
    I just graduated from a small college and in my junior year we got a new assistant recreation/athletic director. She wanted to offer more fitness classes and decided to train student instructors. I was her first student instructor and I was amazed she asked me if I was interested. I always thought fitness instructors had to look perfectly toned and in shape. While I was very self-conscious I accepted the position and taught a muscle-flex class for a year and a half. I loved every moment of it but I did stress that people would think it was weird to have an instructor on the upper end of a normal bmi and definitely far from having a six-pack. But the director thought I was in shape enough to teach so I did. Some of the students who took my class said it was actually nicer to have someone who looked "normal" because it was less intiminating. It took me awhile to realize that being in shape didn't mean I had to look like a body builder. I was healthy and was a good fitness instructor (I was sad when I graduated and had to give up teaching classes). - 6/24/2009   8:20:01 PM
  • 169
    This article actually makes me feel a lot better about myself and my body image. I've been trying hard (though not obsessively hard as I would have to) to try to reduce the amount of fat around my stomach and thighs to have excellent and noticeable tone. I'm smaller than I have ever been in my life and feel much more fit. The health and feeling fit should be what I focus on, not the whittling away every inch of fat on my body. It's hard for me sometimes to see models and fitness models and not think to myself that I should be like that. I know deep inside that it will never happen, cause I'm not willing to give myself that strict of a diet and workout. I don't know. I do feel a bit better about my overall appearance though now. - 6/24/2009   12:37:40 PM
  • JJBOWEN428
    168
    The women in my family gain weight in their abs first, plus I have PCOS, and that is normally something that goes along with it. I am always told that I have a very "lean" body and asked if I was a dancer. Having lean legs and arms, isnt enough for me. I have always wanted six-pack abs. I realized recently that I do not want to work for them though.lol I would rather enjoy life,food,and my child instead of leaving her while I run on the treadmill. I dont have a completly flat stomach. When I sit down there is a roll, and I have love handles, but at a size 2, I dont worry about it. I love and embrace my small stretch marks, bc they are for my daughter, and if I get flat abs, great....its something Ill work towards, but 6packs, well..........they're over-rated! - 6/24/2009   8:31:37 AM
  • 167
    As long as I can dance and do capoeira I could care less about how my stomach looks although it would be nice to be able to wear super fitting clothes without having to check the mirror twice. - 6/24/2009   6:20:02 AM
  • RKBMANCINI
    166
    I am working towards a flat abdomen, but WILL keep working til I see some definition of the abs. I am hoping the uneven love handles go away too! I am only a month into taking classes, and a day of weights. I will get there. - 5/6/2009   10:28:52 AM
  • RACHELTESTA
    165
    Here's the way I see it. Yes, having large amounts of excess fat is unhealthy for so many reasons. However, I would rather you have the excess fat and exercise than have the excess fat and not exercise. Also, being thin can be very deceptive. Being thin does not constitute being healthy. I've tested the body fat of a lady with a "normal" BMI and her body fat was in the "Very High" range for her age. Not healthy at all. I've also tested the body fat of a lady whose BMI would be considered in the "high" range and her body fat was actually at the lower end of the "normal" range. What is healthier? The first or second? The second for sure. - 4/16/2009   11:05:22 AM
  • REDFENIX
    164
    I don't completely agree. A fat person will most of the time be less healthy than a thinner person because fat by itself is a risk factor for a multitude of conditions - from heart decease to diabetes to osteoporosis. Even if a fat person is able to do a lot of exercise, it does not mean being healthy. And I don't think eating ice cream whenever you like is a good idea either. - 3/31/2009   5:17:45 PM
  • CANUCKGAL2
    163
    Thank you SO much for this perspective! I have lost 20lb actually in the last 6 mo, and am at the point I want to lose 5 more, because I will "see those ABS"...I am sure of it. But, I am now 5'7" and 127lb....like you said, do I want to be that obsessive about exercise and diet enough that it overtakes my life...because that is what I feel will have to happen. I enjoy working out because it makes me feel strong, accomplished, and healthy...and if I still have some Mommy Belly hanging on there....so be it. - 3/11/2009   10:48:24 PM
  • FAITHX
    162
    Holding trainers that look NORMAL to a higher standard of THIN, just because they are trainers is like insisting that every English Literature teacher had to have written a book before they could teach the subject.

    We need to all get a better idea of what NORMAL is, and Coach Nicole looks pretty normal to me...and jolly good too! - 3/10/2009   9:03:56 PM
  • FAITHX
    161
    OK so I weigh 264 lbs at 5'7" I am 52.

    BUT, I work in an office with a skinny 21 yr old and a slim 30 yr old. So Recently, we were talking about getting fit and I challenged them to some simple squats, stretches and toe touches....well at the end of 20 mins, they were begging for mercy!

    Now I am sure that all the work I did having 3 mammoth children had something to do with this- motherhood brings endurance...but NO WAY am I going to pretend I am a weakling, and dying just because the magazines say so...I am way fitter than the average office worker- no matter what they look like.....and Spark People is helping me lose the weight.

    Frankly, I only want to lose the weight to fit NICELY into clothes- not too worried about the rest of the stuff- no diabetes, no hypertension, no heart disease....just too much fat.. BUT FIT! - 3/10/2009   9:00:55 PM
  • 160
    "Well, I suppose a "6-pack" would be a prestigious thing to have, however to have a FLAT abdomen is my goal. "

    SunnyArizona, I agree. A six pack would be "great success" but a flat abdomen is AWESOME and that's what I am going for. If I can manage to hit up a six pack for the first time in my life, yay, but I won't die if I don't get it. The pressure to keep those abs would be great. I mean once you have them, can you ever really let them go? It's a pandora's box.
    - 3/5/2009   2:06:57 PM
  • 159
    "Overweight people who exercise regularly are healthier than thin and 'normal' weight people who donít exercise. "

    Thank you SO much for this reminder! I try to make this my focus while I exercise because heaven knows the scale doesn't always want to budge. My most generous description of myself is that I have an hourglass figure, but all the sand has settled to the bottom, but at least I can get up and do my workouts! - 3/5/2009   9:52:14 AM
  • 158
    Great Blog! The "six pack" has become the holy grail among the fitness crowd and provides plenty of motivation for many to work hard and eat clean. However, it isn't exactly a precise way to measure someones fitness level. Some of the best "six packs" can be seen on drugged up addicts running from police on the show COPS. However, they are hardly the picture of health. One can have a goal to be fit without necessarily having a goal to have a "ripped" midsection. - 3/5/2009   4:54:43 AM
  • 157
    I have strong abs, and it's taken a lot of work to get them that way! But I also have a good-sized layer of fat over them. I spent most of my teen and adult years yearning for a Hollywood body, and now, at 62, I'm glad to give that up -- FINALLY! I like being strong and healthy, and I'm eating in such a way that I will gradually lose much of my excess fat, though perhaps not all, and that's fine.

    The standards I used to set for myself were impossible to meet! It's nice not to be trying to do the impossible anymore.

    Thank you, Coach Nicole; that was a great article! I think it's exactly what we women need to hear.

    Sue - 3/4/2009   8:20:41 PM
  • PRINCIPALITY
    156
    This was a great article. Got me thinking about a comment I had the other day. I'm 206lbs and I was jogging the other day and passed this lady walking her dog with an excellent figure. She yelled to me, "Your my inspiration, that's what I wanna get to one of these days." I was thinking, if I had her figure I wouldn't be dragging this weight around this track. How silly it is and how easy to be sucked into the ideal of looks. So funny that she wanted to be in my shoes health and exercise wise and I was dying to have her figure and have only enough endurance to walk a dog. - 3/4/2009   5:14:15 PM
  • 155
    Nicole,

    I'm so glad to hear you say "you can be fit and not be the ideal". I spent 22 years in the Army and it seemed like if you didn't fall within the Table of Weights and actually had to be taped and measured to determine if you were within the standards for the military, you were considered "fat". Also, because of this same sterotype, even though I was more qualified than most of the other soldiers I went to promotion boards against, I couldn't get promoted because I was not "skinny".
    - 3/3/2009   11:48:27 AM
  • 154
    I'll be happy just to lose the "muffin-top", never mind developing 6-pack abs! ;-) - 3/3/2009   11:26:53 AM
  • 153
    I have always thought that a 6 pack was the ultimate in the definition of being fit. Its' great to know and understand that reverse crunches and all those weird positions to get those pesky lower muscles in shape is not really doing the trick. Bottom line is that I need to learn to embrace and accept that the only way to lose the belly is to do aerobic exercise! God I hate running...but I intend to walk at a decent incline to start that heart rate rising and the fat cells running for the hills.

    thanks Nicole, you are the only person I listen to when it comes to nutrition, exercise and the true intended look of a beautiful, healthy human being. - 3/2/2009   1:18:03 AM
  • 152
    Wonderful Info.....As far as the six pack...mine was a "case" but I am working on it!! - 2/25/2009   10:46:14 AM

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