We’re big, big fans of other health blogs that get it it right when it comes to fitness, body positivity, and leading a balanced life. One of our all-time favorites is Greatist, founded by Derek Flanzraich. So when I heard that Flanzraich,who’s also the site’s CEO, had just spent six weeks on what was basically a super-intense diet and exercise regimen all in the pursuit of six-pack abs, I had more than a few questions. First, why? And second, was it worth it?
As Flanzraich described in his first blog post about his “abspiriment,” he wanted to know if it was even possible to do what health magazines like to claim: That if you follow a super-strict regimen, you can get totally ripped in just six weeks. But, he said, he also wanted to know if it was really worth it. Because, he says, Greatist is all about achieving a balance between being healthy, and still living a normal, fun life.
Turns out, even though a six-pack is possible, Flanzraich says it probably isn’t worth it for most of us:
Can you explain the abspiriment a little bit? What was your diet and workout regimen like?
The basic idea was that I’ve been reading magazines and seeing infomercials on TV where everyone talks about getting six-pack abs in six weeks. But I’d never met anyone who had actually done it. And I was trying to figure out why this was this thing that people talked about, and yet, it was unclear whether anyone was actually doing it, and if it was even really possible. So, I decided to use myself as a guinea pig and try to get six-pack abs in six weeks.
The goal was to do it just like a normal person would. So, I used no special supplements. I didn’t eat anything weird. I didn’t do some crazy amount of exercise. I never worked out for more than an hour and a half. I never did anything fishy. And there was no secret. The key was that I ate a lot less, I ate a lot better, and I worked out a lot more.
Going into it, what did you think you would gain or learn? What did you actually learn?
The truth is, I went into it with a bias. I’m a big believer in the fact that you don’t need six-pack abs to be happy. But I had never had six-pack abs before, so that was just kind of what I imagined. That there were other things that were more important in life. I’m also a big believer in living a healthy lifestyle, but one where you’re not restricting yourself or limiting yourself during those times when maybe you want to have a little ice cream. I think you can live a really happy, healthy, fit lifestyle without restricting yourself to an extraordinary degree.
But what I found is that you will not get six-pack abs in six weeks without restricting yourself to an extraordinary degree. So that was the challenge.
I did OK. I got them. I’ve never had them, and then I had them. They were…cool? I guess. When I laughed, I could feel them. I felt like taking off my shirt at all times of the day. But…I also felt miserable. I was unhappy and tired and grouchy, because of what I had done to get there. And I wouldn’t do it again. It was pretty bad, and there were some times when I really wondered why I was doing this.
And I can’t imagine someone sticking with it who wasn’t sharing every detail and every workout that they did on social media, and then writing about it. [Read Derek's piece on how this kind of intense diet takes a village over here.] I mean, there’s nothing wrong with six-pack abs, but getting them in six weeks is really pretty miserable.