One of my coworkers, Russell, has been struggling with his weight for the past several years. His problem is that he falls for most of those “quick fix” dieting schemes that are advertised in abundance through the internet and infomercials. These fads, as we all know, typically do not work – and if they do, they are only temporary because they don’t change the way you view exercise and food.
About two weeks ago, Russell approached me with a very large, very thick five-hundred-fifty-two page monstrosity of a book titled “THE 4-HOUR BODY,” written by Timothy Ferriss. Russell practically begged me to read the book for him and to highlight interesting facts and things that I felt were important to a healthful diet and weight loss regime. I was extremely skeptical of the book simply because, having skimmed through it, I saw a lot of questionable theories – and really, that’s what the book is all about. Timothy Ferriss implores his readers to understand that he is NOT a doctor, nor does he have a PhD. What he does have, however, is a very large social network that includes professional athletes, doctors, celebrities, and various other “in the spotlight” persons.
I’ve gotten through about thirty pages of the book and while much of it reads like a biography (he likes to share anecdotes of his past), it is surprisingly a very good read. I am keeping the information at arm’s length because I don’t want his unproven theories to derail me from my progression; however, I would like to share with you a small section of his introduction:
PREDISPOSITION VS. PREDESTINATION: DON’T BLAME YOUR GENES
The marathoners of Kenya are legendary.
Kenyan men have won all but one of the last 12 Boston Marathons. In the 1988 Olympics, Kenyan men won gold in the 800-meter, 1,500-meter, and 5,000-meter races, as well as the 3,000 meter steeplechase. Factoring in their population of approximately 30 million, the statistical likelihood of this happening at an international competition with the scope of the Olympics is about one in 1.6 billion.
If you’ve been in the world of exercise science for any period of time, you can guess their muscle fiber composition, which is an inherited trait: slow-twitch. Slow-twitch muscle fibers are suited to endurance work. Lucky b*stards!
But here’s the problem: it doesn’t appear to be totally true. To the surprise of researchers who conducted muscle biopsies on Kenyan runners, there was a high proportion of fast-twitch muscle fibers, the type you’d expect to find in shot-putters and sprinters. Why? Because, as it turns out, they often train using low mileage and high intensity.
If you are overweight and your parents are overweight, the inclination is to blame genetics, but this is only one possible explanation.
Did fatness genes get passed on, or was it overeating behavior? After all, fat people tend to have fat pets.
Even if you are PREDISPOSED to being overweight, you’re not PREDESTINED to be fat.
Eric Lander, leader of the Human Genome Project, has emphasized repeatedly the folly of learned helplessness through genetic determinism:
People will think that because genes play a role in something, they determine everything. We see, again and again, people saying, “It’s all genetic. I can’t do anything about it.” That’s nonsense. To say that something has a genetic component does not make it unchangeable.
Don’t accept predisposition. You don’t have to, and we can feed and train you toward a different physical future. Nearly all of my personal experiments involve improving something that should be genetically fixed.
It is possible to redirect your natural-born genetic profile. From now on, “bad genetics” can’t be your go-to excuse.
As I continue to read the book, I will continue to share what I find with my fellow Sparkers. I felt that that little excerpt is extremely important because there are so many of us who DO blame our parents or our grandparents or our third cousin, twice removed for our inability to get and stay in shape.
If you’re looking for an interesting read that may help to break some of your predetermined views on yourself and the helplessness of the weight-loss world, I am CURRENTLY suggesting that you pick up “THE 4-HOUR BODY” by Timothy Ferriss.