It's Not About the Abs

This much I’ll admit: I like to look good naked.

I also openly confess that on some days, the only thing pulling me off the couch to get to the gym and train is the thought of building glutes, glutes, glutes.

And sometimes when I’m getting ready in the morning, I’ll sneak a peek at my abs in the mirror just to see how they’re coming along.

It gives me satisfaction to be able to slide on my favorite pair of jeans without a one-man fight. And to know that my mindfulness in the kitchen is paying off.

That’s just the extrinsic motivation, though. That’s the superficial, fleeting stuff.

Fitness should not be solely about getting abs.

Or glutes, or biceps, or what have you. If you train for aesthetics, that’s one thing. But if that is your singular focus and the only thing getting you to drink your gallon of water and consume sufficient protein – if this is you, you’re missing the point.

Forest for the trees, my friend.

What happens when we have a society obsessed with abs? Just take a look around.

Scroll through the plethora of Instagram fitness accounts nowadays and you’ll see tons of selfies taken in the bathroom, at the gym, at a restaurant, at the beach. All not-so-subtle ways to show off one’s chiseled abs or voluptuous derriere.

Hashtag belfie.
Hashtag gettinswole.
Hashtag straightflexin.

These people, they become Instagram famous. And then due to the influx of followers (who are there solely to ogle said selfies), they all of a sudden dub themselves fitness experts – certified by Instagram, of course. What happens then? They disseminate fitness information left and right – some correct, most grossly outdated – and eager fans eat up their words without a second thought.

It’s easy to mistake popularity for legitimacy. I get that. I also understand that people interpret looking the part to mean that you know your stuff. It happens all the time.

 A really insightful post by Jen Sinkle on Men's Health. You may want to take a read. 
A really insightful post by Jen Sinkle on Men's Health. You may want to take a read.

But even beyond that, holy crap.

We've become a society of narcissists.

I understand that it must be very exciting to see your bicep veins popping for the first time in your life – and maybe you’ll want to snap a photo of that and share it with your social media network.

But does every photo have to be a selfie?

Do you really have to spend more than five minutes trying to catch that perfect lighting on your back muscles?

If you believe that fitness is all about the abs, you’re missing the point.

As a coach, my greatest gratification has come not from having a client drop several inches and pounds of fat over a few months’ time, but from watching his or her mental transformation.

It’s not about the abs; it’s about improving your quality of life.

It’s about letting go of the need to control every little iota of food that passes through your lips and realizing that your mental sanity is more important than breaking out the food scale at a restaurant.

It’s about turning the tables so that rather than building your daily life around your gym schedule, you fit in your training session around your job and your social schedule.

It’s about knowing when it is and is not appropriate to count macros and being able to not worry about calories when you go out to your best friend’s birthday dinner.

It’s about learning that one little slip up is not the end of the world and does not mean that you’re a screw-up; rather, you decide to adopt a proactive attitude and try to learn from your mistake.

Your self-worth is in no way, shape, or form tied to the number on the scale or on your bodyfat percentage.

Don't get me wrong: there's nothing wrong with wanting abs.

Yes, they can make you look badass, and they are absolutely worth of admiration.


Don’t overlook the importance of the journey. You’ll learn so much more on your way to your destination than actually being there.

Please don’t sacrifice your relationships for the sake of getting in your workouts. Be careful not to become so self-absorbed with yourself that you neglect your friends, your family, and your significant other.

Sometimes, a night at the movies with your best friends over a bag of greasy, buttery popcorn is totally worth the calories.

The gym will always be there.
Selfies are just a click away.
Macros? They’re not going anywhere.

But relationships – they are fragile.
Your mental health needs constant nurturing.
Your happiness is, above all, critical.

Fitness is just one small corner of your life.

It’s not about the abs.



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