The Negative Side to Achieving Female Abs

With all this talk about summer and needing to be sexy in a bathing suit, I felt the need to share a little bit about my own experience with working towards those gotta-have abs. If you’re looking for the secret to abs, please stop reading immediately and continue to search through the Oxygen Magazine sitting on the coffee table nearby for the answer- because I promise you, what I’m going to tell you will either disappoint you or bring you relief and peace. I’m hoping it’s the second option.

I’m going to share a little bit about my story on the quest for perfect abs. But before we go into that, I am going to be blunt and tell you that I am still on that quest. Everything I am about to tell you is for both your benefit and mine, because I too forget the truth behind what it takes to get a six pack for females. I often look at photographs of my favourite fitness models and competitors and drool over those tight tummies, and then get a little infatuated with reaching that level of chiseled..ness.

As you all probably know, I was 100% dedicated for my fitness competition last year. No fruit. No sugar. No almond milk. No gluten. No dairy. No cheese. Honestly, the only foods I had for 20 weeks were egg whites, chicken, brown rice, oats, protein powder, broccoli, green beans and asparagus. Oh and one tablespoon of peanut butter per day. Every once in awhile I switched out oats for a little sweet potato. But there was NOTHING ELSE. If you think I’m kidding…well, I’m not kidding so just believe me.

At first, this post may seem like I’m dissing myself or aggravated at my fitness prep but that’s definitely not the case. There is more to this, I promise. I have a point and a message I want to send but first I want to recap last year’s quest for the perfect shredded physique.

This was my grocery cart for 20 weeks.


photo-9This cooler was with me every where I went, whether it was to a party, to a meeting, to a study group or what have you.

I mean, the water bottle still goes everywhere with me but that’s still a downgrade from what I usually carried.

4774220004f811e290351231381b5983_7 I spent my Friday nights in the fitness room of my gym wearing my heels, walking up and down checking out my smile, turns and making sure my booty was “poking out” enough. This was indeed a little fun for me, but at the same time, I do remember turning down a few really fun parties to do this instead. Oh, and I had to retake this picture several times before I posted it on Instagram because I thought I looked fat in some of them.
photo-25I was eating calorie free chocolate dip, dressings and pancake syrup. Calorie/carb/everything free dips….do you know how many chemicals were in this thing to make it taste so good but be so guilt free? My body HATED me for this. I was not “healthy” I was skinny..and this was my secret. Deathly, disgusting fake products.


This became the only thing I read because it was the only thing that I was really interested in any more.

Now PLEASE do not get me wrong. I LOVE FITNESS MAGAZINES with my life. It’s actually been a dream of mine since I was little to work for a fitness magazine. It’s a huge passion for me. But it definitely shouldn’t be my only passion, right? I was become information-overloaded and it was all I was starting to think about.

Until I started to look like this.


Now, you may not know my face very well but I’ll just tell you, I have a very round face. I have always kind of had that child-like face and even my body tends to want to be a little on the softer side. This picture here scares me. You probably can’t tell, but this is not what I look like. My legs look like twigs here and I have absolutely NO muscle development. All gone! Thankfully, this was mid prep and I ended up filling out a little better right before my show and developed a little more muscle definition.

So dieting+no social life+ eating out of Tupperware religiously+ no freedom in food choices+cardio every day+fake food= MY abs. I’m not saying this is how you got your abs, but I’m saying, in 2012, this is how I achieved my abs because I did what I was told by my coach and followed the fitness competition norms.

There are different ways to achieve abs I’m sure. Some people have awesome genetics. Some people take fat burners. Some people diet and don’t need to do much cardio to get abs. We are all different. But this is my story, so I’m sharing how I got them. I would love to think that eventually I could learn how to have them again by doing it differently but for the mean time, I’m not stressing. I enjoy being lean just from choosing whole, clean foods and that’s good enough for me. I absolutely LOVE getting stronger and seeing muscle growth. As a matter of fact, my face is getting fuller. My arms are getting bigger and stronger. My abs actually FEEL stronger, even though they are less noticeable. I get to cook fun meals and post them on my blog! I could never do that before because I was too scared to eat outside of my normal diet.

If you are about to follow or thinking about following a similar approach to getting abs you need to simply ask yourself…is it worth it? Are abs worth giving up 90% of everything else? That’s the question I have to ask myself from time to time. I need to channel my energy elsewhere, like developing stronger relationships, getting lost in music, calling my family to tell them I love them, help others learn how to be more than just LEAN but how to LIVE.

My dream is to help females STOP fantasizing and drooling over fitness models and their perfect abs and thinking “Oh if only I looked like that.” or “I’ll never be that skinny.” Because I promise you, those ladies had to make some serious sacrifices to get there and that’s because to them, it’s worth it. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows. They had to give up some things and work really freaking hard. I know this because I had to do the same. And after my competition, I remember telling my mom exactly this, “Mah, I had the perfect body for a few weeks. The one I’ve always wanted. In return, I lost social skills, missed out on relationships and had nowhere to go with this ‘perfect’ body because i was so terrified of messing it up. I will never again sacrifice my life for a lean set of abs.”  I do not have a 6 pack naturally and I never will. I was not born with those genetics. It’s easier for some than others and if you’re one of the “others” you need to decide what you really, truly want in the one life you have. Laughter and stress free dinners with family and friends? Or sweat-inducing nervous breakdowns because you’re scared of what that banana might do to your body fat levels. Maybe you can have a little bit of both. And if you can, that’s amazing. That’s called balance. It’s a point I have finally reached. I am conscious of my food choices but I allow myself to live in the moment.

These days when I find myself fantasizing, I just remember what it took for me to get to that “dream” level of leanness. It’s not what I want for my one and only life. I want to be happy. That’s where my heart truly lies these days.

14 thoughts on “The Negative Side to Achieving Female Abs

  1. Tamara Grand

    What an incredibly brave (and important!) post! I’m a personal trainer and group fitness instructor and constantly hear women complain about their abs and covet the abs of Oxygen models. They don’t like it when I tell them that it takes extreme measures to get there. I’ll never have abs like that and I’m okay with it; I have strong legs and arms and get to enjoy meals with family and friends! Thanks for posting this!

    1. MoonFitness Post author

      Tamara, thank you so much for reading and enjoying my post! I’m sure you hear about a ton of women on the quest for a 6 pack…little do they know, you generally have to make many sacrifices that you really shouldn’t have to sacrifice. Keep being a light and shining to those women! I’m so glad to hear that you are happy with your strengths and enjoying being fit without letting it control you!

  2. sprint2thetable

    This resonates with me! I just did my 2nd figure competiton yesterday. I didn’t have abs until a couple of days before competiton. I don’t have genetic blessings there. While I didn’t go to the extreme you did for a long, and my diet plan was different…. I know what I have to do to get there. And I’m NOT willing to do that up until competition time. I love going out and eating… I just got home from a massive Mexican dinner and then I had nutella cheesescake for dessert. It was blissful. I’m building again – no, that won’t mean cheesecake regularly, but it also won’t mean feeling deprived. I won’t see my abs until the next show which will be months from now… and I have to accpet that. I can’t build muscle while eating nothing but chicken and asparagus (good lord, I’m OVER asaparagus). SO my point… if you compete you do have to be willing to make sacrifices, but you have to also be realistic, give yourself time to grow, protect your sanity, and enjoy life. You have the find the balance and accept your body for what it is.

    AWESOME post, great points, and SO proud of you coming to a happy place and accepting what you need to do for growth and a healthy lifestyle.

    1. MoonFitness Post author

      Love love love this response!! You definitely have your head on straight when it comes to what’s realistic, and lord knows I’ve come to you plenty of times with my own struggles about body fat and getting abs. You’ve definitely helped me figure out what’s realistic and what’s not. It always depends on your goals! I have my good days and bad, but for the most part, I’ve been really pleased with myself and my body for its physical transformations. Abs are really only realistic for a short period of time, and thank goodness because NOBODY wants to eat chick and green beans in their car, out of a Tupperware while their friends are celebrating the end of a long week with Mexican food! I’m so proud of you for competing yesterday, I saw the pictures and you looked absolutely beautiful!! Can’t wait to keep up with your progress while you build again! 🙂

  3. MissSkinnyGenes

    Thank you for writing this, Madelyn. It is so important and scary and brave and wonderful to share your story like this–and I can say that I needed to read your post this evening. When you’re feeling a little lost on the road to finding peace with your body, it helps to have a friendly signpost remind you of the right way…

    1. MoonFitness Post author

      That’s so interesting because I felt a really random urge to write this post, and it came out of the blue! Maybe I could sense that somebody needed to read about my experience. I was just talk to Abel last night about body image issues for women and I mentioned how much I look up to you for your ability to overcome challenges and accept yourself no matter what. It’s so admirable and I definitely have been learning from you from afar:)

  4. Tiff

    This is really great and sooooo true! Having abs isn’t worth it to me. I want to be toned, sure, but I like carbs… especially beer. haha

  5. Deanna

    THANK YOU for this post!! My life is *full* of women and trainers who have abs every day of every year…and yet seem to eat a variety of foods, the occasional treat, etc. It’s VERY compelling to feel lazy or weak or stupid that I can’t just do exactly what they do and look like them.
    The thing is, I don’t live a life where my abdomen is on constant display, and I’ve never been able to come up with ONE realistic reason why my life would be better if I had more visible abs (for example: “I could suddenly start pursuing fitness modeling instead of my current career” = not realistic). I am super fit and strong and have maintained a smaller jeans size than when I was 13 for almost three years (I’m 35). I’ve found what works for me for food and treats and rest and workouts and you know…BALANCE. So…there *is* more fat on my body/waist that *could* be lost…but like you, I’m just not willing to be miserable. It’s just not worth it to me. Constantly saying, “Well MAYBE if I had the motivation of an upcoming photo or workout shoot, I’d be willing to never, never have another grain. Ever.”….but that’s not my reality so why should I stress over it so much?!?!
    Another crazy-meter is to see if you look at various catalog models (for bikinis, underwear, etc.) and start to think, “Hmm. Not toned. Not defined.” and they are BIKINI MODELS. Like…remember when “Gorgeous” was GOOD ENOUGH??!!
    Anyway, I hope your post is passed around like crazy and really helps a lot of girls and women! Thank you!! 😀

    1. MoonFitness Post author

      “Remember when gorgeous was good enough” I LOVEEE that! Thank you for your wise words and sharing your story. It’s very true that if there is no realistic reason that you MUST IMMEDIATELY have those abs, then why stress and grow grey hairs over it? Pursue a career that is what YOU want to do for your life. If a perfect set of lean abs doesn’t fit into the equation, no big deal! Just means that you have more time for family, outings and dare I say, chocolate:)

  6. Meg @ A Dash of Meg

    beautiful post sis! sorry it took me so long to comment, but i love this so much and think every one should read it! i have seen you in a lot of pics and didn’t even know that was you in the pic you shared. crazy how far we will go for abs, but why? you know? like why the hell do abs make us feel so good????? i wish they didn’t because things would be so much more easier that way! lol i am still on MY quest NOT to have abs, but to find out why we want them so much. it’s been on my mind a lot lately!

    love you

  7. RatherBeEating

    Great post! I totally feel your pain. I long for awesome chiseled abs as well, but the diet measures I have to take to get there makes me mean, cranky, and miserable. (I love cheese, dammit). lol. Don’t sweat, your hard work shows! keep up the good efforts.

  8. Pingback: Wednesday Interlude | In My Skinny Genes

  9. njpaleo

    Wow, so glad to read this! We “regular” women forget (or don’t know) that those models in the fitness magazines, in all those motivational posters, etc., work to a level that isn’t realistic for regular moms with regular lives….and most are airbrushed too….. Anyway, I’ve decided that I may not have 6 pack abs, but I’m happy with enjoying life. Thank you for your post!


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