Converted from paper version of the Broad Ripple Gazette (v07n22)
Gettin' Ripped in Ripple - How Much do My Genes Control the Size of My Jeans? - by Laura Minor
posted: Oct. 29, 2010
How Much do My Genes Control the Size of My Jeans?
As I have mentioned several times before, I hear many, many, comments regarding various beliefs about diet, exercise and health. One such phrase I encounter often is that weight and one's ability to lose or gain pounds is primarily determined by his/her genes. I have heard many people say that due to that very reason, they forgo watching their diet and exercise altogether as they find it a lost cause since they cannot change their genetic makeup. While, of course genes do play a role in our body type, composition and metabolism, your lifestyle and behaviors have a huge impact on whether you will take control over what you can and give less importance over what you can't.
It is certainly true that the genes a person is born with have an impact on body weight. Research suggests that the impact is the result of ongoing interactions between the person's environment and individual genetic makeup. Studies indicate that 25-40% of the difference between individuals with respect to body fatness can be attributed to genetics. Therefore, most people have between 60-75% control over their bodyweight. Doesn't sound like a lost cause to me!
I have been told time and time again that I have "good" genes. Well, certainly not all of my genes are good. For example, I wouldn't consider the digestive problems passed on by my dad's side of the family "good" (love you dad). However, I WOULD consider the lifestyle and behaviors that my parents and environment support are good for weight control and overall health. My body type and physical endurance are much more the result of daily running, regular resistance training, and healthy diet; not just pure luck.
I do understand that many people struggle with the gene cards stacked against them to a degree. Mother Nature is certainly not always fair; but it is what it is and there are things that you simply cannot control in your genomics. Does that mean you should just throw in the towel and let your genes completely rule your body? NOOOO!
The rising rates of obesity in America aren't due to changes in our genes. In fact, the human genome, changes excruciatingly slowly-probably less than 1% every one hundred thousand years. So how can we explain the fact that obesity rates have soared by 40% in the United States in the last decade? Certainly our genetic makeup has not changed to cause this. Many people do have bodies that are genetically programmed to make us more vulnerable to gaining weight. But biology is not destiny. Weight gain only happens in an environment that leads to eating too much food and getting too little physical activity. For people who find the right balance between food and physical activity to maintain weight loss, having fat genes does not make much difference. Although you can't change your shape or where you tend to carry weight, you have the power to make sure that your body is as fit and healthy as possible. And as a bonus, when you take ownership in your health, you will have more confidence, improved self-esteem, not to mention more energy and less stress! As I say, fitness is so much more than the number on the scale.
So, stop blaming mom and dad. In fact, thank them for the attributes you love about yourself; be it your pretty eyes, captivating smile or fabulous voice when you belt out a tune in the shower!
Laura Minor owner and operator of So.Be.Fit. Personal Training and Fitness studio located at 54th and the Monon. She is passionate about teaching others how to "FIT" exercise and physical activity into their daily lives, and have fun while doing so! Visit her website at www.sobefitindy.com or e-mail laura@BroadRippleGazette.com