Is it all in the genes?

April 5, 2022

My ears always prick up when I hear news stories related to health & fitness.

Often the subject hits the headlines when results of studies are published – for example, to establish if obesity is more about genetics than lifestyle.

The headline will usually be along the lines of “Overweight people found to have a faulty gene” and the story will go on to explain how some of us are pre-destined to be obese as it’s simply in our genetic make-up.

Another, similar topic frequently raised is how some of us have genes which make us lose weight, tone up or build muscle at a much faster rate. The idea proposed being that those with the good genes will obviously win when it comes to gym performance and therefore why should lesser mortals even bother trying….

Here’s what I know…

Whilst I consider myself an expert in all things training and fitness, I’m not an actual medical professional and therefore I wouldn’t want to get too involved in the validity of any ‘obesity gene’ theories. The way that these findings are presented however does concern me, and has the potential to make me feel just a little angry.

The reason? Because the outcome of this type of reporting is that people believe they are pre-dispositioned to being overweight or pre-dispositioned to fail in any form of training programme. That means that many will simply just not bother to exercise regularly and will not entertain the prospect of replacing a poor diet with a nutritional, healthy eating plan. They are disincentivised, disengaged and disinterested, despite the fact that they are most probably the people who could benefit most from adopting a healthier lifestyle.

Here's what to remember…

I like to concentrate on what I know, rather than what I’m not sure about, so here are a few points I’d like to put out there: -

  • Your training journey is totally unique to you
  • Your activities have to make sense to you in your world, no one else’s
  • Suggestions of being limited will most likely resonate with you when you are at your lowest
  • Repeated claims can easily become self-fulfilling prophecies
  • Psychological beliefs can often take a physiological form

Being told that you are limited by something outside of your control is guaranteed to make you feel unhappy and you are highly unlikely to engage in an activity which you associate with unhappiness – even although the action of exercising regularly is a 100%, sure-fire route to feeling good.

Here’s what I truly believe…

I accept that people with specific genes may have to work out harder than others to achieve the same results, but that should not stop them from trying to make as many health-improving wins as they possibly can. The only comparison that matters, in my opinion, is your current level of fitness versus your ability when you started your training. 

I’m also of the opinion that genetic factors will actually make very little difference to the average person’s training success. A professional athlete may need information at a microscopic level to make the tiniest beneficial tweaks to performance, but for those of us who just want to improve our bodies and minds, I think it matters much less.

If you like the idea of possibilities rather than limitations then I am the Personal Trainer for you. Why not get in touch to arrange a free consultation, from which we can tailor your route to personal success (without the need for genetic testing!).