There is a chapter in It Starts with Food on genetics and how big a part they play in determining your future. The book touched on how people with a family history of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure or obesity may believe their chapters have already been written and how this history will override any lifestyle choices they are in control of making. The Hartwig’s (the authors) use a beautiful analogy from Dr. Francis Collins – “Genetics loads the gun and environment pulls the trigger”. They explain that yes, it is very real and scary that certain groups are more susceptible to heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure or obesity than others and that for some it can seem that their genes and make up are like “a loaded gun”. BUT the amount of stress you have to manage, your level of activity, your physical environment and the food you put on your plate are all choices you make everyday that make up your environment. You (mostly) choose the environment you build for yourself and live and breathe it day in and day out. You spend a lot of time in this environment. If you have a healthy, balanced environment you put that loaded gun to the side and say adios to the writing on the wall. If you have high stress, low activity, poor diet and toxic environment you may very well be pulling your own trigger. Now I am not a doctor, nutritionist, naturopth or any other qualified medical advisor. I know it’s not this simple and that every case is different. But this does make a lot of sense to me. Let me share with you my gene pool and my various environments I have built myself over the last 5 years and what this has shown me. Let me introduce you to the Topps.
This is my family. Mum and dad, Jason and me. Mum and dad have been married for 40 (FORTY) years this September which is incredible and i’m so lucky to have such amazing role models at the other end of the phone. My dad is 60 and has played sports his entire life. He stills runs any building site like a boss and does more heavy lifting than most kids half his age! Mum pushes a desk by day but wears a spin bike every other morning. I think you would agree she’s in great shape for a young lady about to reach another milestone b-day. Jason has always always always been a gym baby. I remember him eating egg whites and plain tuna for months on end in order to ‘bulk up’. When he was 16 he slipped a disk in his back and rehabilitated himself back to better shape than before his accident by religiously following the physio and specialists guidance for 12 months. He has always been a benchmark for what hard work and dedication can achieve. So why am I showing you my amazing humans? Because im lucky enough to not have heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure or obesity in my family. My family is happy and healthy in all senses of those words. That means that any “gun I load” is 100% due to my environmental choices. I have lived and breathed in both a healthy, balanced environment and a toxic environment for sustained periods of time and my body has changed drastically to reflect the environment i am living within. When I work long hours, eat poorly, exercise sporadically and miss my own personal goals I am on auto pilot to just achieve a few tasks at hand. I miss the small things. I miss my friends and family and most of all I miss living. I rush from one task to the next without stopping to reflect on what I achieved or what I could’ve done better. Months seem to go by in a blink of an eye and I still seem to have to ‘start again’ again.
But when I have a healthy work life balance, eat well, do exercise i enjoy regularly and make time for myself I thrive. I have two hands on the steering wheel. I feel passionate about so many things. My relationships flourish and I enjoy the little things of every single day. I love the smell of my morning coffee. I love the feel of new shoes forming and norming around my feet. I love the burst of air so cold when I walk outside it takes my breathe away just for a minute. I am so happy to say I have made many decisions in 2014 that put me on the path to a healthy balanced environment and I am so excited for the changes that come with that. Nearly everyday this year has been better than the day before.