6 pack abs. It’s something that most guys want but will rarely achieve in their lifetime. For me, I’ve wanted a 6 pack since I was in high school but was never able to quite get over the hump.
Even when I was playing junior olympic volleyball and in the best shape of my life, I was still sporting a “keg” with almost zero definition. No matter how hard I trained and no matter how much I exercised I could not for the life of me lose my stomach fat.
But ever since other bloggers like Jeff Rose, David Siteman Garland and Ramit Sethi started getting in mad shape, I decided it was finally time to buckle down, suck it up and cross this goal off of my bucket list no matter what the cost. That’s right, I was one determined Chinese boy who wasn’t going to take no for an answer.
Anyways, I will say this up front. Going for six pack abs was easily one of the hardest things that I’ve ever tried to do.
Not only does it require dedication and exercise but a ridiculous amount of discipline and mental toughness as well. In fact, my path to 6 pack abs reminded me a lot of my path to making money online.
Now you’re probably thinking…”What the hell does getting a 6 pack have to do with making money online?”. Well let’s just say that from a mental standpoint, the two are almost identical. Here’s a taste of the mental torture that I went through these past 4 months.
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Phase 1: The Get Rich Quick Phase
When I first started my 6 pack quest, I was desperately hoping that there was some special “muscle shake” that I could drink for a few months and then magically have a chiseled stomach.
So I researched all of the abs products out there on the market.
Get a six pack in just 9 minutes a day!
Learn the secrets of getting jacked In 2 weeks!
Take these supplements to get ripped fast!
Trust me, I looked into all of these “magic” workout plans that promised results in a short period time and they were all too good to be true.
However, there was this one product called the “Ab Grate”(shown above) that did catch my eye. But when I sat down to think about it, I realized it wouldn’t be feasible to take this baby to the beach and have to use it every 15 minutes:)
Anyways, my journey started out by looking for the “quick solution” and the easy way out. But as we all know, there’s no magic bullet to six pack abs. There’s no magic bullet to making money online either. You’ve got to put in the work.
Phase 2: Working Hard But Getting Nowhere
So fine. After coming to the conclusion that I needed to put forth some real effort into this goal, I started exercising like a mofo. I did situps, crunches, side bends etc… You name it. If it made my stomach feel tight, I did the exercise until I was ready to puke.
But as Sir Mix A Lot once said, “You can do side bends or situps, but you still won’t lose that gut!”. (Ok, those lyrics aren’t entirely accurate but you get the point)
While my stomach muscles did get stronger, I wasn’t seeing any results whatsoever. In fact, arguably I was making things worse because I was building extra muscles under my many layers of stomach fat which made my stomach bulge even more.
Probably the worst exercise that I did were these side situps which worked my obliques. Having large obliques under a thick layer of fat made my stomach look huge in a bad way. (Wish I had pictures to show you but I must have accidentally deleted them:)
Anyways, I ended up spending all of my efforts on the wrong exercises because I had no clue what the heck I was doing. In reality, I should have known better. Just like with an online business, it’s really easy to jump right in and waste a ton of time doing stuff that doesn’t matter.
If you want to make progress quickly, you need to consult with someone that knows what they are doing and learn from them.
Phase 3: Asking For Help
So the first person I consulted was my buddy David Siteman Garland. He had recently gotten a six pack so he clearly knew what he was doing.
No Steve…You are going about it all wrong. Getting a six pack is 85% diet and only 15% exercise. You need to eat right above all else!
What?!?!?! You mean I don’t have to do all of these situps? What?!?!? You mean I have to watch my intake of carbs?
I love carbs. Can I still have dessert and just run around the block a couple of more times to burn it off? Do I really have to sacrifice my favorite foods?
Incidentally, this was by far the hardest part of the process of getting a 6 pack. I had to become much more disciplined about what I put into my body which largely meant foregoing many of the foods that I enjoyed eating the most.
But deep down, I knew I could do this. After all, when my wife and I started our online store together, we sacrificed many nights and weekends to work on our business while our friends were out partying. I was no stranger to drastic changes in lifestyle.
Phase 4: Getting Burned Out
But here’s the thing. I like to take things to an extreme. If losing weight meant cutting out carbs, then by all means I was not going to have any. So I cut carbs entirely out of my diet….and it made me extremely irritable.
Me: Do you have to eat ice cream in front of me? I mean really?
Wife: Just because you are on a crazy diet doesn’t mean that the kids and I can’t eat ice cream.
Me: Well can you stop licking your cone like you are enjoying it so much?
Wife:Whatever. And by the way, are you supposed to eat those croutons in your salad?
Me: The croutons are mixed in with the lettuce so it would be a pain to pick them out. I’m eating em.
Wife: I don’t know. Croutons are made of bread which contain carbs. I can pick them out for you if you want.
Me: If you so much as touch my croutons, you’re sleeping on the couch tonight!
Wife: WHAT DID YOU JUST SAY?!?
Me: Er…um….If you touch my croutons, I’ll probably be sleeping on the couch tonight. Can I just eat my croutons in peace?
Anyways, I stayed on the no carb diet for roughly 2 weeks before I realized that I couldn’t keep this up. In fact, it reminded me a lot of my early years blogging. When I first started MyWifeQuitHerJob.com, I used to write 5 times a week which nearly burned me out. In fact, I almost stopped blogging entirely because of this.
With my diet, I knew that in order for things to work, I needed a strategy that I could maintain in the long run. I needed a routine that I could follow indefinitely without affecting me mentally.
Phase 5: Discovering My Own Way
During this process, I consulted with several people who had successfully achieved six pack status. One buddy of mine Billy Murphy was kind enough to send me his daily diet regimen. And here’s what it looked like.
Anyways, I took one look at his meal plan and realized that there was no way in hell that I could eat like this for several months. Not only did it require prep work, but the meals sounded so bland that I would probably have to force myself to eat it.
So I ended up devising my own diet plan that was specifically tailored to my personality. I would try my best to avoid eating carbs. But if I did cheat and eat ice cream or dessert, I would either go for a walk or do light cardio for an hour immediately afterwards.
This simple act of penalizing myself for a carb related infraction forced me to keep myself in check while still allowing me to eat some of the foods I craved from time to time.
Ultimately, none of the other diets that I looked at were going to work and I took what I learned from the experts to find my own way. And interestingly enough, this was exactly what I had to do with my online businesses to make them successful.
You can get as much advice as you want from experts or business gurus, but when it comes down to it, every business and/or diet is going to be different. At some point, you will have to take what you have learned and tailor things to your own situation. And only you will know what is best for yourself.
Phase 6: Success!
It took me roughly 4 months and 25 pounds of weight loss to reach my goal, but I’m ecstatic to be able to cross this milestone off of my bucket list! Initially, I was going to hire a photographer and commemorate this once in a lifetime achievement with some professional shots. (The photos above were taken in the locker room on my phone with crappy fluorescent lighting).
But you know what? I think I’m going to maintain this diet indefinitely.
Not eating carbs makes me feel more alert and I actually feel much more mentally sharp when I avoid bread and desserts. Getting a six pack has not only made me feel better but it has also improved my performance in the sports that I play.
Anyways as you can tell, this post wasn’t really about getting 6 pack abs so much as what I learned from the process. Here’s a summary
- There are no shortcuts for your meaningful goals in life
- Seek out help right away so you don’t waste any time.
- Establish a pace that you can maintain in the long run
- Tailor what you learn from the experts to your own personality
Hope you enjoyed this post and I’m interested in hearing your thoughts in the comments section.
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Steve Chou is a highly recognized influencer in the ecommerce space and has taught thousands of students how to effectively sell physical products online over at ProfitableOnlineStore.com.
His blog, MyWifeQuitHerJob.com, has been featured in Forbes, Inc, The New York Times, Entrepreneur and MSNBC.
He's also a contributing author for BigCommerce, Klaviyo, ManyChat, Printful, Privy, CXL, Ecommerce Fuel, GlockApps, Privy, Social Media Examiner, Web Designer Depot, Sumo and other leading business publications.
In addition, he runs a popular ecommerce podcast, My Wife Quit Her Job, which is a top 25 marketing show on all of Apple Podcasts.
To stay up to date with all of the latest ecommerce trends, Steve runs a 7 figure ecommerce store, BumblebeeLinens.com, with his wife and puts on an annual ecommerce conference called The Sellers Summit.
Steve carries both a bachelors and a masters degree in electrical engineering from Stanford University. Despite majoring in electrical engineering, he spent a good portion of his graduate education studying entrepreneurship and the mechanics of running small businesses.