How to Not Gain Abs in Two Weeks

The craze began after having sat in my extremely cushioned chair wrapped in a blanket, despite the 90-degree weather. So far, quarantine had been an endless cycle of moving from TikTok, to Netflix, to Youtube, all while trying to convince myself to be productive. Suddenly, as I was scrolling through TikTok, a short brunette in a fluorescent sports bra and leggings showed up on my feed doing crunches while preaching the importance of exercise. 

Although I could have ignored the severely misplaced video and gone back to my blissful day of laziness — after all, I am typically the girl who stops doing the workout when Coach Scottie turns the opposite way — I took this as a call to get in shape. I threw the blanket across the room and onto my bed as I worked to push myself up from the chair I had not expected to leave until lunch. I made my way to my computer and began furiously researching workouts. That night, I went to sleep with a newfound resolution to sweat and burn until I had Insta-worthy abs.

The next morning, I sprang out of bed, inspired and empowered to take on Chloe Ting’s Two week ab challenge. As ridiculous as it may have been, the siren call of toned abs in 14 days pushed me to abandon all of my sense. I closed down all the apps and tabs that might pull me back into the loop of nothingness except YouTube, where I took a breath and clicked the play button. 

Once the video began to play, I fell into action: Russian twists, side planks, and crunches. Five minutes into the fifteen-minute video, I paused to catch the breath that I had never really lost until now. My bounty of uncontrollable stray hairs stuck to my face, which was as shiny and red as a ball of bubblegum. Sweatier than I had ever been, I stood up, walked closer to the mirror, and did the inevitable. Slowly, I adjusted my leggings and took a look to see if any ab roots had begun to blossom. When none surfaced, I went back to work, trying to justify avoidance of some of the exercises because they appeared “too hard.”

A fair warning to those who plan on attempting a two-week ab challenge or any other physical challenge: even when your arms begin to burn after the seventh variation of a side plank, even when your feet become so blistered that each footstep is followed by a shout of pain, and even when your hands and feet leave greasy, mysterious sweat prints on the floor, do not skip a day of the workout. Naïve to the world of exercise, I thought it was alright to skip a day since I was too tired. I also happened to be “too tired” on the next day, then the next day, and then the next day. 

Let me spare the suspense; I easily slipped back into my pre-workout physique. True to form — pun intended — I had no problem settling back into the welcoming arms of TikTok and YouTube.  True, there will never be a photo of me with the caption “Ab Champion” framed in the PE office, but I cannot be blamed for squat jumping at the chance to break the depressing and repetitive cycle established during quarantine. If one day my TikTok algorithm decides to throw another perky 20-year-old woman with a tight ponytail at me who summons me back to the world of exercise, I would not be opposed. Yes, maybe it was torture, but at least it was torture that I can look back and laugh at it.