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Overcoming Genetics

By Coach LaMonte

Do genetics play a role in our current/future health? Yes. Should that make you just accept that fate and use it as an excuse? No. Take the following examples:

  • I can’t touch my toes…my mom can’t touch hers either…must be genetic – I’ll never be flexible
  • My family members all get diabetes and high cholesterol…I don’t want to end up like that…but maybe it’s unavoidable.
  • I want to look like that fitness model…but no one in my family looks that way, so I guess that goal is just out of reach and I shouldn’t try for it.

Do you see what I see? Maybe a tiny bit of genetics…but mostly I see excuses.

Do genetics play a role in flexibility? Yes. Some have more range of motion in their shoulders, knees, back and other areas. I can easily look back and remember my younger days when I was able to fold in half like a swimmer. But the thing is, I’m not the age that I used to be and my hips and back don’t bend that way anymore. My hamstrings and back are often tight, stiff and I have lost flexibility. My mom struggles with flexibility too. So should I just accept this fate? Nope. In order to improve I have to put in work and add in daily stretching.

The fact is that genetics can be a factor in your physical condition and other aspects of your life, but usually it’s just an excuse. If you want to succeed at anything in life, you’re going to have to figure out how to overcome excuses. We all need to stop saying “it can’t be done because…family, genetics, blah, blah, blah.”  As a kid, I always had skinny weak legs and no upper body strength, and even now I am still skinny and I have weak shoulders. I could have blamed genetics – everyone in my immediate family is small (in stature) and not very strong – and accepted my fate. But instead, all of my high school, college and adulthood I have put in the work consistently to rise above and try to build that strength. I have still never managed to become some huge body builder, and maybe that is genetics, and that’s ok.  I had to stop comparing myself to all of these huge amazing athletes and become happy with my own body and its strength.

My family has had issues with being overweight, diabetes, cancer, alcohol, drugs and gangs. And even though some of those are choices, it’s easy to sit back and fall into the same HABITS that were passed down from generation to generation. See, our parents not only pass down their genes, but they also pass down their choices: did they choose to exercise daily? Did they choose to sit down together as a family and eat healthy meals? Did they choose a healthy lifestyle or the exact opposite?  It’s important to understand your family history, both from a genetic standpoint and from a lifestyle standpoint. Once you understand it, you can look those things in the eye and make the decision that you WILL overcome both. You will NOT let them be excuses that hold you back from reaching your goals.  I know that there are a lot of things from my family that I don’t want for myself and I surely don’t want to pass on to my kids. I want to be an example and leave positive footprints.

So today, accept where you have come from, what makes you you…and then take that huge first step in recognizing that what got you to where you are, is not what will take you to where you want to go. Every single day, make the choice to stop using genetics as an excuse and instead choose to overcome them.  Take easy steps at first, whether it be taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or passing up a dessert. Every little bit can make a difference. Most importantly, believe in YOU – You are unique and you have control over this one life that you’ve been given. Go live it to the fullest!

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