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.
61 thoughts on “What A Six Pack Taught Me About Starting A Successful Online Business”
Haha this has to be one of my favorite blog posts I’ve read in a long while. I love the analogy and … Well, let’s face it- you’re a stud 🙂 . Well played, sir. Now I’m off to get my 6-pack abs – both figuratively and literally.
Thanks Brandon! We should grab a six pack next year at Fincon.
It’s so about the diet. Everyone has abs. But working them out more just pushes the flab further out. The hard part is watching what you eat.
And you’re so right on finding the path that works for you. Not every system is right for everyone, both in business and personal life. I’ve managed to cut down my spare tire by actually putting weight on. I’ve been able to add muscle to my frame and in the process I’ve lost some of my flab. I’m thinking of switching things up and attack the flab full-on.
Yeah, it’s all about the diet. I think I could have just eaten right and gotten the same result without even exercising. And situps are pointless too. I didn’t do a single situp after talking to the fitness guys. Some of the experts are really hard core. I could never maintain what they do. No way.
All good advice… but I can’t help wanting to hear about what you wound up doing for your food plan. 🙂
The food plan was about as simple as it gets.
1. Stop eating rice
2. Eat bread and dessert in extreme moderation. But do some cardio afterwards if consumed
I wasn’t really that strict about no carbs. For example, I ate breaded chicken all the time. In Italy, I had gelato and pasta everyday but I didn’t gain any weight because of the amount of walking I did.
Stop eating rice? I’m Asian, fairly impossible. I also love Korean food, how to eat soon dubu without it. Hmmmm…
Lol that’s awesome! I’ve also been going back and forth about losing some weight and it’s good to see you found a sustainable food plan.
Thanks Mariana. After about a month, eating this way felt normal. It’s amazing how much more alert you feel when you eat less carbs. It’s eye opening.
HA! I love this. Crappy fluorescent lighting and all. 🙂
Good work nerd. best article ever. Maybe you can add a corollary. Sometimes the journey reveals that your end goal was really something else. A 6 pack is nice, but maybe your real concern is being healthier and a role model for the chubbies. For me I just want to be the old man that still shows up the 25 year olds on the vball courts and in the ring. If a 6 pack is a byproduct, thats great. But you could have a 6 pack and still be in poor health. Think we have so many preconceived notions when starting a business and often end up in a different place but just as happy.
So true my friend. I should have you write a post for this blog. Are you up for it?
Excellent distillation of the process into success steps.
Great story to inspire your readers. Real smart guy.
How did an Asian guy go with out carbs specifically rice?
Great stuff Steve, especially about establishing a pace you can maintain. When I trained for my first marathon, I remember consistently running on regular basis (not speed or how many miles in a day) was what eventually got me to my goal more than anything else.
I know right? Giving up rice was one of the hardest parts. These days, I’ll have some brown rice in moderation so it’s not too bad. That being said, I don’t think I could ever train for a marathon. I admire the people that have to fortitude to finish one.
I never leave comments on blog posts but I had to with this one.
This is one of the best posts I’ve ever read!
Keep up the good work … both physically & professionally 🙂
Thanks Ian for coming out from behind the shadows:) I really appreciate it!
Great article! I enjoyed reading it very much and the comparison to building a business were spot on!
Thanks Barbara. I’ll catch you at OH tonight
What a great post. Love the crouton conversation. Glad breaded chicken might be a keeper for those of us on a similar path.
The nerve right? My wife ate ice cream and cake in front of me all the time. Thanks man!
Haha I love this post Steve!! First off, congrats on getting ripped and breaking out the 6 pack! It’s definitely no easy task and takes a lot of discipline. Love how you related everything back to starting an online business. I have no doubt the skills you gained there and applying them to your training and diet got you those cheese graters lol! So true about the diet though, you can do all the sit ups in the world but if your eating cake all day you ain’t gonna see any abs.
Really enjoyed reading this! So funny! So true! So motivating! Now I’m off to hit up that bench press 🙂
Thanks Marin. If it was just about working out, it would be easy. But man, not eating your favorite foods is tough. Thanks for the kind words and glad you enjoyed it.
This is terrific. It’s such a great comparison. We’re all looking for that one simple trick (doctors hate him!) to get in shape, but the reality is that it’s just not that easy. Same goes with professional growth: success through perseverance and hard work are the norm; we just hear about the overnight successes because they make fun stories 🙂
Thanks Debt BLAG!
Great article steve, good advice. have you tried diet according to your blood type ? and fasting ?
Liam, why would I bother fasting? Sounds painful.
Great article……you’ve got the right idea, there are no “quick fixes”!
Yes, yes, yes, and yes to all four final points you made. And, sometimes establishing a pace takes time because there are no shortcuts. Also, love when you say taylor what you learn to your own personality. I too believe your business should glow with your personality, yours does and it glows with charm and love, how could it not, Bubblebee Linens, adorable. Understanding that we are all unique and personable while learning useful information from experts allows us to explore the possiblities and make it our own. Great post!
Thanks Victoria. Really appreciate it
Great post Steve and nice abs! yes, you can’t lose weight without cutting out the bad foods and you can’t keep the weight off without exercise. Eating right and exercise are the only way, no matter what some guru’s say.
Thanks Bill! I wish those muscle shakes worked though. Would have made it whole lot easier.
This has probably been my most favorite post thus far. Two important subjects all rolled into one!
Thanks Michelle. I enjoyed writing it! Was 4 months in the making.
Interesting thought too. 6 pack abs don’t mean a thing to me, but finding your own way is something that can help. Still there are things you need to do, and you have to figure out if what you have to do to reach your goal is worth it to you personally.
I’ve been struggling for years with various diets, or more accurately, lifestyle changes. Low carb seems to be the best in terms of making me lose weight quickly and making me more alert.
However, I can’t seem to maintain it. My willpower is really bad and I always get cravings for either sweets or carbs, even weeks into the diet. People say this goes away after a few weeks but I’ve gone two months and felt the same cravings as I did on day one.
Plus I always feel hungry no matter how much I eat, which is also opposite of what low carbers say. I can eat half a chicken and a plate full of broccoli and feel full…for an hour. Then I feel hungry again plus cravings for sweets and bread. Then I spend all day and night fighting it like a crack addict. A handful of almonds or pork rinds does not fix this. Did you experience any of this?
Did you count calories, use portion control, or any other methods to control the amount of food you ate? Or was it only no carbs?
Love how you dissected the process Steve ! Nice job and congratulations 🙂
I have a bit of a belly too, even though I lift. I consume ALOT of calories …
I’ve wondered If I eat “Clean” how would I maintain enough calories
so that I don’t end up losing muscle with the fat !
Anyone got an answer to that lol ?
Wow, that’s nuts man. Can you keep the 6 pack for the long term? Good job! The best I ever had was a 4 pack… I’d be happy to get back to 4 pack now…
I think I can maintain this diet forever as it’s not too aggressive.
Big props man!!! Love your blog, company, and all. So happy for you and your family! See you all around. Nice pic again =P.
The conversation between you and your wife is hilarious! Seriously, it takes a lot of determination to get rid of carbs! Maybe a follow up article for those of us who are still struggling?
Great post, makes perfect sense with this analogy. Really opened my eyes. You are so right. Even though I’ve heard it over and over I still keep searching for the easy, get-rich-quick scheme. It is hard for me to admit I don’t have the answers and I’m not going to get ahead just surfing the internet. I’ve got to go out and do some actual work.
Same with diet and exercise. It is pretty basic, input and output, but you have to find what works for you. My hubby and I were forced into following a very low-fat diet due to issues with his gall bladder (it ultimately has to come out). Hubby lost 20 pounds 6 weeks, I’ve only lost about 10 ’cause I’m eating up the food he can’t have anymore. It helps tremendously to have both of us doing this together. I once had a strength and conditioning coach tell me that diet is more important than exercise. It’s been difficult making the change, to read labels and looking up nutrition info on-line but you do what you have to do. The funny thing is I don’t enjoy the fatty foods anymore and I feel crappy after I’ve eaten them.
Wow Steve nice job! Its all about what you put in your body. Getting info from someone that knows what they are doing is key. Its still difficult but at least you know you are on the right path.
Hope you are doing some core exercises to.
Great post! I totally agree with you about this journey! Losing weight and staying committed to it will allow you to gain some discipline that can be utilized in business! Keep up the great work! =)
Great post Steve!
I too am on a no-carb diet, and it is a real journey and struggle. It’s all about discipline when it comes to health and business!
Love it! That’s probably what I would do to my husband too. He’s Chinese and ears lots of rice and then complain about his stomach. So I have been dying to do your course as I have tried many others but they were all about a physical shop. I wish I had found you three years ago but am so excited cause I got some money and will be signing up to have a product that sells. 2015 is going be my best year!!!!!
Great effort and great work. Congratulations! Amazing what can be achieved when you have a definite goal and put a plan in place to achieve it. Really inspiring!
This is literally the second post I’ve read on your blog and you have a real skill for writing! Both posts have been very enjoyable, and this one was totally awesome! I’m a huge fan, great job, and congrats on the bod!
Here it seems like you’ve found the universal journey to reaching just about any point. It’s amazing to me how the same resistance walls can be met over and over again, regardless of the journey one faces.
Congrats on your six pack! I for one never liked sit-ups and never desired a six pack. I only worked my chest and shoulders… yeah you guessed it my stomach is just normal weight with no definition. Am one of the lucky few with a great metabolic system.
I guess a great successful plan is the one your development and fine to yourself.
It seems interesting and strange LOL
Hi Steve! I’m so inspired to follow your path to 6pack. Is it possible for you to share what is your typical meal plan in a day?
Oh my! I thought I was going to fall over when I saw the “Ab Grate”! ?? Very good post and very true! I know I’ve been guilty of wanting “instant” results, get rich quick, but it just doesn’t work like that way. I do, however, love ALL the tools you give us in your class…
Hi Steve! I’m so inspired to follow your path to 6pack. Is it possible for you to share what is your typical meal plan in a day
No shortcuts in everything: six pack abs, business success, relationships, life. I loved this case study!
a really inspiring blog I really got inspired because of this blog, and also a good way to make money. I am 100% sure it will help me. seeing forward to do it as soon as possible. 🙂
Steve, what your most entertaining post demonstrates is you incredible single minded perseverance and dedication. This is what you have put into your business and your pursuit of the 6-pack. The thing about most people, my self especially, is the lack of commitment. I signed up to your course in December and I still haven’t got round to starting it. I started a fitness and healthy eating diet in January but I’m already having pancakes for breakfast. Face it – your special and if you couid sell some of your mindset to others, you’d be even richer than you are now. Love what you do – keep up the good work and the healthy lifestyle. Lx
Congratulations! Nice 6 pack. I think dieting is even harder than exercise which is harder than business. But, my method is to keep trying on all 3. Your blog is such an inspiration, and I’m looking forward to joining your course in the future.
I laughed out loud with this blog! You can be pretty funny!… Maybe there is yet another online business lining up for you, aerobics series named: “You can do it!!!” By Steve Little… who knows…
Great job with the analogy. I am still on phase 2 with our business, but I will get there with God’s help and your great course. ?
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