I’ve wanted abs my entire life. The problem was, I also wanted cake. There were stints of time, though, that I would forgo the cake because some ‘expert’ said I needed to if I ever wanted a chance at a well-muscled abdomen. I even read once that blueberries were key to ‘blasting belly fat’, so I ate blueberries until I was blue in the face. And yes, my belly flattened out a bit…as did my butt and boobs. I was losing weight (which wasn’t the goal), but was no more defined than I ever had been despite the hundreds of sit-ups I did every day. After more attempts than I care to admit, I concluded that I just wasn’t genetically prone to having abs.
Then, I discovered CrossFit. I fell in love immediately, and figured if I couldn’t eat my way to a six-pack, maybe I could exercise my way to them. After a couple of months of hard work at the gym, my coach reminded me that abs were made in the kitchen. EYE ROLL.
So, I tried this Paleo thing. It was easy enough – don’t eat ‘bad’ stuff. While I stuck to it, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to smother my face into a loaf of ciabatta about a week in. The high-fat, low-carb thing didn’t help me feel full for very long, so I was eating tons but still feeling pretty sluggish in my workouts. And still no sign of a single ab.
After a couple of months of Paleo, I just wanted a donut. Bad. Actually, I wanted to eat a donut and not feel bad about it. Then, by some miracle of the donut gods, a friend of mine Instagrammed a picture of her eating one at a nutrition seminar led by Nicole Capurso, the CrossFit Games athlete who wrote the infamous “How Donuts Gave Me Abs & An 80kg Snatch.” I was signed up within 10 minutes.
At the seminar, Nicole went through all the science of flexible nutrition. I listened, mesmerized by this idea that, when it comes to body composition, the body recognizes a carb as a carb no matter the source. Honestly, I was more mesmerized by the box of donuts she brought. She talked about macros and the different energy systems, and I sat there thinking about whether I wanted chocolate sprinkles or glazed. It wasn’t so much that I was excited about the donut itself. I could go anywhere and buy one. I was excited to enjoy it wholeheartedly. Without guilt.
I started flexible eating on a Monday (because there’s no other day to start, right?). Within a week – and I’m not kidding – I started seeing definition in my stomach. More importantly, though, I started feeling great. I was stronger, faster, and just felt good!
I’ll be honest, I’m not the prime example of a flexible eater. Sometimes I fall off the wagon. Sometimes I stay off the wagon. For a week. Sometimes even a month. But I almost always get back on it because the results are real and it just makes me feel fueled. I feel healthier, stronger, more confident, and have revamped my relationship with food so there is, finally, no guilt.
After all this time, I’ve finally figured out how to have my abs, and eat cake too.