Monday, February 21

My Not So Skinny Genes

Here’s a picture of some of my female ancestors.

Besides their sunny disposition, notice anything about them?

My family tree is littered with these hardy, solid looking women. I do not come from the genteel class. My female ancestors didn’t spend their days fox hunting, attending glamorous soirees or traveling through Europe shopping for art. They were plowing fields, managing the kitchens of the rich and sewing dresses for the aristocracy. Manual labor put roofs over their heads and food on the table and they were built accordingly.

Their DNA inhabits my body and while I’m proud of my working class roots, their propensity to pack on the pounds I could live without.

A lot of people like to blame their genes on their weight problems, but research is proving that your DNA accounts for very little of your health issues. A study in Denmark on over 3,000 Danish twins suggests that only 25 percent of health issues are genetic, the rest—75 percent—can be attributed to environmental factors. To lifestyle.

And then there are the Pima Indians of Arizona. These individuals have one of the highest levels of obesity and Type 2 diabetes in the world. Half of adult Pima Indians have diabetes and 95 percent of those individuals are overweight. To study the impact of lifestyle on these diseases, a research project compared the American Pima Indians with their Mexican counterparts living in a remote mountainous region in northwestern Mexico.

The researchers discovered the Mexican Pimas, living a traditional lifestyle of greater physical activity and lower consumption of animal fats, had significantly lower rates of obesity and diabetes—only 8% of the Mexican Pimas studied had diabetes (compared to 50% in the American population) and no one was considered overweight. The scientists concluded that despite a genetic predisposition toward these conditions, the healthier lifestyle of the Mexican Pimas trumped genetics.

The good news is that you’re in control of your health. The bad news is, you’re in control of your health!

It’d be so much easier to blame Great-Great-Great-Grandma Katherine for my large backside and call it a day, but that’s not fair. To her or me. While I have to fight to keep my weight in a healthy range, I do it and have done it for years.

It’s possible to triumph over your not so skinny genes, but it takes commitment and hard work. A sense of humor doesn't hurt either. Take a look at these broads.

Now those are some women I'm proud to call family!

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