Posts Tagged ‘sociology’

I personally love the Bell curve and all that it represents. Take for example the people in America. On one end of the Bell curve we have the standard American: overweight and underactive. On the other side we have an athletic American: in shape and most likely overactive. What do I mean by overactive you are probably thinking? Let’s start by talking a little about how your body works.

The human body is an amazing work of art. Every day for hundreds of years, all over the planet, thousands of the world’s smartest people (doctors and research scientists) have been TRYING to figure it out. One of the most impressive things they have discovered is that the harder you work the body (within reason of course) the better it becomes! Try doing that with your car and see what happens. There is a certain amount of your physiology that is based in your parents genetic contribution to who you are, but the vast majority of who and what you are today, is nurture, not nature. What this means is that you are the end product of every single interaction with the world and the subsequent remodeling your body went through to accommodate to those interactions. Think about it for just a second. Remember when you cut your big toe on a sprinkler while walking barefoot through the park back in 5th grade? Take a look at that same toe right now and gently run your finger over that scar that you’ve carried with you all these years. Let me ask you this: why do you know that 5×5=25? It is because while sitting in Miss Larson’s class, you had to write your multiplication tables over and over and over again until the cells in your brain created and reinforced a connection that has stuck with you to this very day. You are the product of all of your life’s interactions. Interesting isn’t it?

So what does this have to do with being overactive? While our bodies are always looking to find a state of homeostasis, the truth is, our environment is ever changing so that homeostasis is a moving target. Take for example doing a push-up. The first time you attempt to do one, it is a foreign movement and you struggle to not only keep your body straight but also to push yourself up against gravity’s pull. After the challenge is over, the adaptations begin! The body recognizes that it was just faced with a new challenge and it will now seek a way to make it easier should you have to attempt it again in the future. Your brain has to establish new pathways to control the muscles more efficiently, the muscle cells use some of the freely available amino acids floating in your blood stream to build themselves a little stronger and even your blood vessels adapt to allow for greater blood flow to carry oxygen in and carbon dioxide out. This happens every day with everything you encounter as the body seeks the path of least resistance.

Not too much, not too little

The problem arises when we purposefully attempt to force our bodies to be what want. Whether this be a cosmetic change of fat loss/muscle gain or a performance goal like running a marathon. While the goals seem innocuous in their healthy appearance, they can in fact become detrimental if not worked towards in a logical, science founded manner. Work just hard enough to elicit the desired compensatory response and then rest adequately for the body to be 100% ready to go again. Sadly while the sedentary Americans err on the side of undertraining, our overzealous athletic Americans are rampantly overtraining and not allowing for enough rest time before starting again. In this case, as is with most, more is not better! I love to tell my clients to remember the age old story of Goldilocks and the three bears. If you are in doubt when it comes to “how much” as it pertains to your food or exercise, go with Goldilocks’ thought process: Not too much, not too little, just right. Simple enough, wouldn’t you agree?

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First, let’s start with a definition:

Apathy (also called impassivity or perfunctoriness) is a state of indifference, or the suppression of emotions such as concern, excitement, motivation and passion. An apathetic individual has an absence of interest in or concern about emotional, social, spiritual, philosophical and/or physical life.

It is my opinion that the very downfall of western civilization (USA) is and will be deeply rooted in the rampant apathy that has spread across this once great nation.  I will give a few examples for you to peruse:

  • “I’m just retaining water.”
  • “I’m not fat, I’m big boned!”
  • “It’s the carbs that made me fat!”
  • “I have flat feet, so I can’t go hiking.”
  • “It’s my thyroid that made me overweight!”
  • “I’ll never be good at sports because I have bad genetics.”

I could go on and on, but I am already getting angry just from typing those examples, so I won’t.  My intense irritation surrounding this issue that pervades American society, is in no small part due to my lifelong career as a personal trainer.  On a regular basis I have had to question why I had more motivation, determination and passion for the success of my clients, than even they did.  Why do I believe in them more than they do themselves?  Because they live in a sad little place called “apathy.”

“Whoa was me.  I’ll never be successful because the cards are stacked against me.  Why bother? ”

It’s like hanging out with Eeyore, only minus the entertaining nature of Eeyore being a cartoon!

We are not slaves to our genetic code, but rather partners with it in the journey of life. If more people would just try to understand a little more about their bodies, I think a world of difference would be made in how we live.  Sayer Ji wrote the following in an article titled: “Defective Genes “Cause” Less Than 1% Of All Disease”

“In the mainstream media (and the popular consciousness programmed to consume it) defective genes are spoken about as if they were “disease time bombs,” fatalistically programmed to go off inside of us, thanks to flawed genetic contributions of our ancestors. And yet, despite common misconceptions, monogenic diseases, or diseases that result from errors in the nucleotide sequence of a single gene are exceedingly rare.  In fact, less than 1% of all diseases fall within this category…

Following the completion of the Human Genome Project (HGP) in 2003 it is no longer accurate to say that our genes “cause” disease, any more than it is accurate to say that DNA is sufficient to account for all the proteins in our body. Despite initial expectations, the HGP revealed that there are only 20,000-25,000 genes in human DNA (genome), rather than the 100,000 + believed necessary to encode the 100,000 + proteins found in the human body (proteome). Did you follow that? There are not even enough genes in the human body to account for the existence of the basic protein building blocks that make it possible, much less explain the behavior of these proteins in health and disease states!

 

The “blueprint” model of genetics: one gene one protein one cellular behavior, which was once the holy grail of biology, has now been supplanted by a model of the cell where epigenetic factors (literally: beyond the control of the gene) are primary in determining how DNA will be interpreted, translated and expressed. A single gene can be used by the cell to express a multitude of proteins and it is not the DNA itself that determines how or what genes will be expressed. Rather, we must look to the epigenetic factors to understand what makes a liver cell different from a skin cell or brain cell. All of these cells share the exact same 3 billion base pairs that make up our genetic code, but it is the epigenetic factors, e.g. regulatory proteins and post-translational modifications, that make the determination as to which genes to turn on and which to silence, resulting in each cell’s unique phenotype.

Moreover, epigenetic factors are directly and indirectly influenced by the presence or absence of key nutrients in the diet, as well as exposures to chemicals, pathogens and other environmental influences. Thoughts and emotions also play a role in how these epigenetic factors are articulated, indicating that the flow of genetic information, once thought to be strictly vertical (passage of genetic information from one cell or individual organism to its progeny by conventional heredity mechanisms), also flows horizontally and bi-directionally, opening the door back up for the human soul to return to biological science, having been reduced to a mere “ghost in the machine,” since René Descartes (1596-1650), the French philosopher and mathematician, split body and soul asunder, almost five centuries ago.

In a nutshell, what we eat and what we are exposed to in our environment directly affects our DNA and its expression.

The implications of these findings are rather extraordinary: epigenetic and not genetic factors are primary in determining disease outcome. Even if we exclude the possibility of reversing certain monogenic diseases, the basic lesson from the post-Genomic era is that we can’t blame our DNA for causing disease. Rather, it may have more to do with what we choose to expose our DNA to, and even more surprisingly: how we choose to think and feel about our embodiment.”

In summary, I would suggest people take a little bit more responsibility for where they are in life and feel refreshed in the knowledge that their actions can take them to new heights, if that is what they want.