Women aren’t supposed to have abs. Sorry ladies. While there are a few very lucky women with washboard stomachs… the vast majority of us are designed to have little pudge. I don’t know why the media insists on making us feel like we are fatty’s when we are not. It makes me furious!!
The average body fat for women in the United States is between 25-31%. Ideally, we want to be around 22% to maximize our ability to be amazing human beings (and create amazing human beings!). Maintain a body fat below 14% and your body will start using essential fat reserves (that could be used for building a stronger, more amazing body) for energy to keep you alive.
So what body fat percent does it take to achieve that toned look in your stomach?
I think that every one of these women look beautiful and healthy. The women who are considered at fitness level (20% and 25%) definitely aren’t sporting that rock hard body we see on the front of EVERY magazine cover. Yet they are probably the healthiest of all. To achieve a rock hard stomach and abs, most women need to reduce to 15% body fat or less.
I had abs once. (And only once!) But I had to get down to an unhealthy body fat % and take extreme measures to get there. You see, we each have our own “set point”: the body fat % where your body likes to hover around naturally when you give it just what it needs. Genetics have blessed a few women out there who have naturally low set points. Others, like myself, tend to shift toward a higher body fat % and stay there like a stubborn mule. To get below that point, you must drastically reduce calories. This will cause your metabolism to slow down drastically as well, so that your body can easily get back to that set point it likes so much.
This is me at 13% body fat. On April 3rd, 2015, I competed in a figure competition, and went on quite a journey to get there. I look so happy and proud of my accomplishment, but inside, I was dying to just have a glass of wine and eat some sushi. I was tired, beat up, dehydrated… and ready to go back to my normal life.
While I am glad that I did the competition, I eventually had to return to my regular routine. That includes meals with friends and family, social events, and sleeping!
Here I am at 20% body fat. I’m certainly far from that toned stomach I saw (very briefly) over a year ago. And even though summer is in full swing, I don’t feel the need to go after that illustrious 6-pack. I feel better than I have in a very long time. I eat an abundance of healthy food, prioritize sleep over cardio, and strength train 4 days a week. I get to go out and enjoy a cocktail, I have a ton of energy, and I’m building a stronger body every day.
So, what is more important to you? Having a toned stomach that every other girl would be jealous of? Or building strength, feeling energized, and having a social life?
I will always have some extra skin on my stomach and loads of extra fat cells. But I have a story of triumph to go with it. When I look at my stomach in the mirror, I see the struggle I’ve overcome and an obese child, and feel proud of my 75lb weight loss. And my stretch marks… are tiger stripes that give me strength.
I’ve learned that the most important relationship you have in life is with yourself. When you look yourself in the mirror, do you give yourself a compliment and offer kind support? Or do you tear yourself down for not living up to the social standard? It’s time we fall in love with our bodies… in every shape, size, and form.
Don’t let the media or any person tell you that your stomach should look a certain way. You are a unique creation that can be compared to NO ONE! The models in magazines and television have made a career out of looking lean for the camera. They diet down for the photo shoot and probably go eat a cheeseburger afterward. When celebrities are caught on camera with their stomach out they are ridiculed and torn apart. Personally, I’m tired of being deceived, brainwashed, and belittled.
I know that you are a warrior as well. Fight the emotional battle of loving yourself in this very moment. Appreciate every wrinkle, sag, and stretch mark you have. When you look yourself in the mirror, look at the whole picture… from the curves in your body to the smile on your face. Congratulate yourself for everything you have overcome already. You are a masterpiece, and you weren’t meant to have abs.