Thought Catalog

4 Reasons Having Abs Aren’t All That

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Shutterstock / Maksim Toome
Shutterstock / Maksim Toome

Our obsession with abs is disgusting. Society has been obsessed with abs since the Greeks and Romans. Now thanks to Photoshop, which we all hate yet judge our own bodies against, we’ve taken it to a whole new level. Nowadays we’d hardly call someone fit unless they’ve got a set of abs that would make Arnold envious. That’s terrible for body image, and whether we’re able to realize it or not, completely wrong.

This isn’t some attempt at trying to glorify having a paunch that hangs out over someone’s belt. Cultivating healthy exercise and eating habits helps build will power, determination, and makes you feel pretty damn good. Flat stomachs are great. But to get down on yourself just because you don’t have a six pack is ridiculous. Normal people don’t walk around looking like fitness models and bodybuilders all day long, nor should they expect to. Everyday people have social lives, family commitments, and way more important things on our plate. Like donuts.

Here are 4 reason abs aren’t all that.

1. Having abs doesn’t mean you’re fit or healthy

What does a nice set of abs even represent? That someone has dieted long enough to show off some stomach muscles, or is incredibly skinny? Ever seen someone who is all skin and bones and has ridiculous abs? While that determination and consistency is admirable, that hardly sounds like a fun way to live day to day life. Abs don’t necessarily mean you’re strong, run a 5k, or that you’re in a good place mentally. Abs will usually come as a byproduct of consistency, hard work, and determination. Being fit and healthy is a combination of many factors coming together, including your psychological well-being. Abs that show are only a very, very tiny part of that.

2. Washboard abs aren’t always sexy

As a red-blooded American man, I can honestly tell you that shredded, washboard abs on a girl aren’t what I look for. I’ve already got a washing machine thank you very much. Shredded abs can’t compare to a great butt, shapely legs, a killer smile, and good conversation. I’d rather see a woman who is strong, confident, and most importantly comfortable in her own skin. That’s sexy. If you’ve got those qualities and you’ve got abs, then good for you. Most women feel the same way about men. A man whose frame exhibits strength is often much more appealing. Oftentimes this isn’t the guy with the lowest body fat. In fact a guy with super low body fat may be a big turnoff for some women. For example women are more drawn to men with broad shoulders, a good butt, and strong legs. This signals strength, and the ability to be a good mate that can offer protection. Women, you can thank millions of years of evolution for this.

3. Abs do not equal strength

I love the feeling of being strong. I’ll take being strong over being shredded any day of the week. An innate primal rush is there when you begin to push the limits and realize just how strong you are. It’s exhilarating, addicting, and that feeling begins to carry over into other aspects of life. You walk a little taller, attack each day with more purpose, and exude more confidence in day to day life. Here’s a sad secret though. When dieting down to have abs that are magazine worthy, you usually have to sacrifice strength. That’s just a sad fact of life. You can still workout hard, but just realize that loss of body fat will usually mean a loss of strength and energy as well.

4. Having abs year round isn’t attainable, or fun for everyone

Unless your job is to be photographed for a living and make money off the appearance of your body, having chiseled abs year round isn’t sustainable. Here’s a dirty little secret about those that do get photographed for a living, they have teams of trainers, nutritionists, and pharmaceutical help whenever they need it. Carrying a little extra body fat is perfectly ok. It’s even healthy. You’ll recover from workouts quicker, have more energy, and won’t be cold all the time (anyone who has dieted down to crazy low body fat can tell you they are cold all the time). Having to diet down to that low also means that you inevitably have to skip out on drinks after work, the Saturday morning brunch of waffles and mimosas, and other parts of your social life. Are abs really worth your sanity and social life? I can’t speak for you, but I can tell you that it sure as hell isn’t for me. I’ll keep my donuts and beer, thank you very much. TC mark

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