Sunday, January 31, 2010

She gets it from her momma!

Recently, I came upon an article in Women's Health magazine, "Thigh Anxiety: Are you Destined to Inherit Your Mother's Body" by Margaret Renkl (Jan/Feb 2010 issue). This article really caught my attention as I've always wondered how much genetics impact your weight loss and healthiness, aka Nature vs. Nurture. The article discusses the issue of genetics and the inheritance of bodyshapes, weight issues, and other certain health factors.

Fact: While your genes may determine up to 80% of your weight and body shape, environment, and personal choice still play a significant role.

When I was overweight and even at a healthier weight, I've always noticed a similarity between my bodyshape and my mothers despite the size/weight difference. We have the same curves and lady lumps in all the same places, which I appreciate. It's not only my mother, but her sister and her own mother that have had issues with weight and even other women's health issues that concern me.

However, I wonder if my mom, aunt, and grandmother were raised in a different environment that encouraged physical activity, if they continued to watch their waistline as they got older and had to handle more life responsibilities, etc., would they all be fit and lean or would they eventually expand no matter what they did? Is it really genetics or is it a history of patterns?

When I lost weight, I immediately toned up with muscle and I've been told that I have Mrs. Obama arm muscles too :). The article mentions that while you need physical activity in order to build muscle, people who have "muscular" genes requires far less exercise tha others to look fit. My grandmother had "Tina Turner" legs and I know for a fact that I inherited those as well. So to me, I feel like its a mixture of both, and I hope I retain the positive from both nurture and nature. I want to keep the inherited muscular toned genes and I also want to keep up the enivironment I've created for myself: a new found hobby of working out and LOVING it (hence me become a fitness instructor).

But we can't blame it all on our mothers, etc. 50% of our genes come from our father! In fact, there is some speculation that we can inherit the genes from our dad that stores extra pounds in our gut. Sadly, I know I've inherited that gene. When I lose weight, that's the last area to shrink. When I gain weight, that's the first area to get bigger!

And what about eating? We inherit genes that relate to our psychological relation to food and consumption. Dr. David E. Cummings, M.D., a professor of medicine at the University of Washington stated a fact that I know hits home for me: The more weight you lose, the harder your body works to compensate. You become hungrier and your metabolism bcomes more efficent. Increasingly, you being to crave food--and such a drive is very difficult to resist. AHA!!! This is totally my current situation. Mental control is not my strongest suits when it comes to food. Food and eating can really cosume my thoughts for a very long period of time. To the point, where I have to get that big mac or that slice of pizza, just to have mental peace. I've tried going to bed ingnoring those thoughts, and I literally can't sleep.

Can we really fight genetics? Or is it a lost battle? Nature vs. Nuture. Who will really win?

Nuture is still a strong weapon against the obesity epidemic. It all comes down to making the right choices and being in the right environment. For me that means:
-reduction of stress
-finding healthy altneratives to pizza or a big mac when a strong craving hits
-continueing to find fun exercises

I think those key things can help me fight genetics. However, in the long run, we can't stop genetics from doing its destined job. While you can delay your future with exercise and healthy eating, eventually we'll hit menopause and our body will begin to take shape of what's in our genetic makeup.

The article ends with this empowering thought: "At the end of the day, you're in the driver's seat of your own life and the navigator of your own body".

So tell us...are you worried about your genetic future? What do you do to fight the genetic battle during your weight loss journey? What do you think matters the most--nature or nuture?

*While I don't post everyday, you can always find me on Twitter: @rosehooks. Follow me!


luvlylayd said...

Great post!

I don't think either one matters most, they're both equal...

RosetheFitnessInstructor said...

Agreed! Just goes to show all factors are in important in living a healthy lifestyle, and you can't focus on just one thing or ignore others. Look at the big picture!

Thanks for the comment and thanks for reading!

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I was scrolling through my google reader and the title of this particular post jumped out at me! You hit on the final reason I start a workout program and .....stop. I wonder is it all for naught (smile). In other words, is this a losing battle because I will inevitably turn into my family genetics anyhow? I saw a glimmer of hope after reading your post. I realize my family genetics - and my mother's great legs - play a role in my lfe as indicators I need to be aware of, conditions I should watch out for, as I am genetically predisposed to the "usual" - high blood pressure, diabetes all results from stress. However, if I use this information to my benefit, I do not have to follow the same path. I am (finally) taking the first step in my mental resolve to change my life. A mental change is what's needed to make the habits stick. ~Thank you for the encouragement!