Home > Blog > DNA - make it work for you

DNA - make it work for you

Posted by eric on December 7, 2011

Do your genes predispose you to being obese? Perhaps. But I contend that you can use another type of DNA to combat obesity and live a healthy life. My DNA? Dedication. Nutrition. Action. 

Why all three and not just a quick-fix diet?

By incorporating all three of these factors, you will be successful in getting - and staying - healthy. While the percentage of failed diets (i.e., diets that don't result in long-term healthy weight) could be argued ad nauseum, the facts show that dieting alone will not provide a long-term solution because it doesn't address the root causes of the original problem.

That is, people aren't unfit because they woke up one morning that way. Poor eating and exercise habits are formed over months, years, decades of time in some cases. Time spent watching fast food ads, playing video games, eating out of depression or anxiety, and generally conditioning oneself to be unhealthy.

This time spent learning an unhealthy lifestyle isn't suddenly going to be overridden with a pill or a 3 month diet plan. Even starting an exercise program and eating right will only go so far. In fact, nothing will be successful until a person has been reconditioned to expect health.

Dedication

Only when the mind and the spirit have engaged - have become dedicated - can someone have the prospect of succeeding in their quest to change their health. I've been around the block - I've seen people be successful in changing their habits and I've seen people fail. In the end, it always comes down whether or not they made a conscious decision to change their lives for the better and understood what it was going to take and embraced the journey.

And it is a journey. Even those of us who can be considered "fit" or "healthy" continue to struggle daily. Do I occasionally get the taste for a cheeseburger and fries? Sure. Do I want that extra cookie? You bet. But in the end, I know what it takes to maintain my health. I understand the risks of eating poorly and the example I'm trying to set for my children. Of course, I may still eat that cookie from time to time. And that's okay. Dedication is not the same as obsession.

Nutrition

The next leg of the stool, so to speak, is nutrition. Once someone has decided to do the right thing, it's important for them to understand what "eating right" means. It doesn't mean cutting out entire food groups, or ingesting only liquids for two weeks, or mixing broccoli and cranberry juice or any other off-the-wall solution.

There are three sources of calories in our diets - fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. I'm not a nutritionist, and don't even play one on TV, but I understand enough about the body to know that eliminating any one of these key building blocks long terms causes problems.

The percentages of each of these relative to total coloric intake vary based on what a person's goals are - more protein if you're exercising heavily, for example - but a good rule of thumb is 25%-35% of each of them. Talk to your doctor or a nutritionist to get what works for you.

Example: A gram of fat equates to 9 calories, a gram of protein or carbohydrates equates to 4 calories. So if you're on an 1800 calorie diet, and 33% (600) of your calories should come from fat, then you can take in 67g of fat. Hard to believe? Probably - we all started putting on weight when we started eating fat free. Fat helps us to feel full. Also, full-fat items like regular mayonaise tend to have fewer artificial ingredients. Fewer chemicals = better for you.

I recommend using a tool like myfitnesspal.com to help you track what you're eating. It's simple to use, has a huge database, is free, and has a great mobile application if you're using a smartphone. It will account for exercise and allows you to scan the UPC codes on foods to enter them into your diary. You can also create your own foods and save them (for a special smoothie, for example) and share them with myfitnesspal friends. A great motivator.

Action

The last leg of the stool is action. Get out and do something - exercise, act upon your nutrition plan, learn about what's good for you and what isn't. Without action, the best of intentions won't matter and you won't see any improvement in your health.

As I've said before on this blog, exercise takes many forms. Don't decide to go from try nothing to triathlon without carefully planning your journey. Consult your physician if you're unaccustomed to exercise and severely out of shape - killing yourself isn't the best method of losing weight.

Start slow - walk around the block, then a few blocks, start jogging a little, etc. Take the stairs once in awhile. As you become more fit, mix in different exercises. Working with a personal trainer will help because they can provide you with a wide variety of exercises specifically suited to your current level of fitness and overall goals. 

So employ these three factors in your life - and let your DNA help you live a healthier lifestyle.

Stay fit everyone.


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