Thursday, July 10, 2008

In Search of my Lost Abs

It took the explorers Lewis and Clark more than two years, from July 1803 to December 1805, to travel from the East Coast to the source of the Missouri River, cross the Continental Divide along the border of Montana and Idaho, and to eventually find their way down the Columbia River to the Pacific Ocean. They spent all this time looking for a water route to carry goods and men across the North American continent. I don’t have anything quite as ambitious in mind. I am just looking for my abs. Unlike Lewis and Clark, I won’t have to worry about marauding Native American warriors, grizzly bear attacks, malaria or dysentery. Except for some outdoor exercise, I won’t even have to leave the house in search of my abs. My only foes will be a lack of will-power, some relentless junk food advertising and well-meaning relatives who leave tasty treats all over the place.

It’s tough to establish whether my abs are really lost or just misplaced. If they are truly lost, I’m in trouble. Let’s face it, anything that has been lost for more than 25 years is probably gone for good. For all I know, my abs are packed away in a dusty box with all our other irreplaceable ‘treasures’ being stored at Public Storage, costing me $75 a month. For what I don’t know. Trying as hard as I can, I vaguely recall having abs many years ago, at about the time my lovely wife and I got married in 1981. If anyone needs reminding, this was back in the disco era. When even John Travolta still had his abs. I think I still have mine, but like an explorer of old, I am going to have to tough it out for a few months, and start looking. From personal observation of other people my age, abs appear to be as elusive as the mythical golden fleece, and about as easy to find as the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Very few people have them, but everybody seems to want them. Or would be thrilled to get some for Christmas. I might have to fall back on that option if all else fails.

Most people with abs are thin. This is a good clue for what should definitely be Step #1. Stock up on provisions for the long journey? No. Lose some weight. Like it or not, if I’m ever going to find my abs, I will have to drop (more than just) a few pounds in body weight. Even at a relatively trim 160+ pounds where I am now, those pesky abdominal muscles are covered by a layer of subcutaneous fat, sometimes referred to as love handles, a tummy, a muffin top or some such silly euphemism.

So, my plan for the next few months will be twofold:

First, go for the dietary low-hanging fruit, by changing the behaviors which I already know contribute to the problem. For starters I will eliminate random between-meal snacks (other than a scheduled mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack); cut down drastically on all highly processed food such as breads, white pasta, etc and try to eliminate as far as possible, any table sugar. That includes candy, desserts, cookies etc. After 4 weeks, I will review the dietary strategy and make some additional adjustments.

Secondly, add some targeted ‘ab exercises’ to my regular program. I am already doing several core exercises, but it can’t hurt to get more specific. My son advises doing a series of nine exercises from his ‘Ab Ripper’ program. He still has abs, so I think it is a good bet to take the advice. Just like the dietary plan, I will start on this program today and review progress after a month.

So here we go. Unlike previous journeys of discovery, my search isn’t going to add new species of plants or animals to the world list, and there won’t be any new place names or rivers by the end of it. However - if successful - it will prove that few things are impossible. Who knows, maybe Jimmy Hoffa really is a greeter at Wal-Mart, and Elvis is alive and working at a gas station outside Chico, California. Once I find my abs, I might just look into that. I’ll keep you posted.


rundangerously said...

great plan, bert! core strength work is the best cross-training (and boost) for general running improvement - and not to mention overall health!

not much on diets - i try to follow the simplest plan, calories in, calories out - burn as many, or more (hopefully), calories as i consume during the day! doesn't always work ;) but it's a goal of mine :D

Steeeve said...

Yankee Bert, your abs are made of meat. Steak in particular - t-bone, rib eye, sirloin, some filet. Your abse will return when you feed them what they're made of.

Go Annie said...

Ha Ha Bert! Very funny piece about the long lost abs. I wish I had the will power to eat healthier. My friend could not save me from engulfing a fudge brownie the other day. Oh well, I will do better this week.

Congrats on becoming a citizen and making it to Boston next year too! I might end up running it again. It's a great race as you will soon find out. Thanks for all your kind words. I'm truly flattered :)

Bert said...


I think I will pass for now... There are some pretty strong and fast! mammals around who don't eat even a thimble full of steak. All the gazelles for one - and they have pretty good abs. I have a suspicion my abs will show up one of these days as soon as a bit of the rest of me disappears.