I can’t tell you how many people I’ve consulted with who believe that they are destined to live out the health short-comings of their parents. They enter our relationship with a defeatist attitude right from the start. But who can blame them, really? If you buy into what you’re being sold through conventional wisdom and the all-knowing screen on your living room wall, you begin to believe that a life of health and wellness is not only out of your control, but most likely beyond your reach as well. After all, don’t copious amounts of drugs, electric motor scooters, pain zappers, and telescopic gadget grabbers come part and parcel with the aging process?
A guy came in the other day who was a walking billboard for every “As Seen on TV” health product imaginable. His slow shuffle and dour demeanor announced his condition, but he had the assurance of celebrity endorsers that his luck was about to turn. The guy had so much copper on that I had thoughts of trading him in for his scrap value.
On the flip side is Larry. Larry is 84 years young and still going strong. Swims 3 days a week. Bikes every day. Plays in a weekly golf league. He has a positive outlook on life and keeps a strong network of support around him. He enjoys life and shows no signs of slowing down.
So what gives? Who is the outlier here? Was one cursed with a weak family bloodline while the other was gifted with superior genetics?
The answer might be simpler than you think.
Many of today’s top health experts believe that your expression of health is roughly 2% genetic makeup (two percent!) and 98% lifestyle habits.
But don’t your genes determine your health? Yes, but it’s not quite that simple. You see, while your genes make up your framework, your lifestyle choices act as the switch that turns your genes on or off. Think of your genetic makeup as the hardware. Your lifestyle habits are the software. So just because you might be carrying a gallon of gasoline somewhere in your DNA, it won’t be an issue unless you set a match to it.
The behaviors that appear to be most offensive to our health are those that run counter to our genetic blueprint as humans. Once upon a time we used to eat nothing but what came from the ground or what we hunted down. Activity was by necessity a way of life, and everyone participated. Sleep was plentiful, as was uplifting social interaction. And there was an abundance of vibrant health.
Contrast that to our current harried lifestyle. The most critical drivers of our health have been relegated to afterthoughts. We struggle to keep up with work commitments and deadlines. We are inseparable from our phones and other digital stimulation. Our self-worth is shaped by the opinions of distant acquaintances on social media. Laboratory concoctions act as stand-ins for real food, and are taken on the run from a cardboard box or a plastic bag. Time that could otherwise be used for exercise and other healthy movement is now devoted to binge watching. And sleep? Sleep is for the weak. For the unmotivated.
What has our modern lifestyle gotten us? Wonderful advancements in technology and other sectors for sure. But also a whole litany of chronic metabolic diseases like obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, autoimmune disease, and more.
How you live your life – what you eat, how you move, how much you sleep, your emotional state, etc. – has the most significant impact on your overall state of health. You can inherit the most exceptional genes in the world and completely wreck them. You can also receive what might be considered an objectionable set of genetics and create an outrageously healthy life for yourself.
While previous generations has contributed to your make up, they do not dictate your outcome. You are not predestined to succumb to the same health ailments that they did. You have, through your thoughts and actions, the ability to set an entirely new and wonderful path for yourself and for your family.
But that’s entirely up to you.
Be Your Best,