The other day, I had a client mention that he saw a photo from my last Whole30 challenge. He paid me a really nice complement, saying “You looked shredded dude. I’ve never seen someone look like that.” Then he followed that statement up with: “You’re a genetic freak man.”
Now, I know this client was trying to give me a compliment and had the best intentions, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized it bothered me. Saying someone is a “genetic freak” takes away from all the hours, months, and years of hard work they put in. It also sets up a situation where you can make an excuse. “I don’t have the genes for that kind of body.” “I’d never be able to get there.” “I can never compete with guys/girls like that.” That’s not how you #getyourmindright. It’s simply setting you up for failure before you’ve even begun.
Let’s be clear. Genes set the stage, and probably determine what our maximum potential is, but it is how those genes are EXPRESSED, i.e. our phenotype, that truly determines how much of that potential we achieve – and that is dependent on environment. And environment IS something that you can control, at least in part. Here are four different environments I focus on in my life and with my clients:
Food environment – High nutrient density, low inflammatory foods, eaten to satiety 3 times a day, ALA #whole30. That means: meat, seafood, veggies, fruit, tubers, and some nuts and seeds. Local and organic whenever possible. I’ve voted with my $ to support local, sustainable agriculture and the ethical treatment of animals. I DON’T Eat: bread, sugar, dairy, legumes (including peanuts and soy), artificial sweeteners or preservatives, processed foods, or factory-farmed meat (whenever possible).
Sleep environment – Sleep is perhaps the most important environment that I control. I have a cool, completely dark room. We installed blackout shades and put black electrical tape over all LED lights in the room. It’s like being in a cave, and it’s awesome. We also have a bed-time routine. Electronics off by 9pm, in bed to read and then snuggle (very important to connect with those you love!) Building this routine allows me to get 8-9.5 hours per night. A lot of people will say, “I don’t have time for that.” That’s fine. But be ready to deal with the consequences of less-than-adequate sleep.
Movement environment – I make it a point to move consistently and in a variety of ways all day. I try to never hold one position for long (i.e. standing, seated, squatting). I have a smart, progressive exercise regimen I do 3-5 days/week with friends. I intersperse this with lots of play and gentle exploration. I also try to do mobility and pre-hab work for about 10 minutes a day. Mainly, I move like it’s my job!
Stress environment – I have a relatively low-level of stress at my job (mainly because I love what I do). I have a loving wife who supports and uplifts me. I have a loving pup that brings me laughter every day. And, I have healthy outlets for my stress (i.e. movement, meditation, writing, and good friends who listen).
For the past 10+ years, I have been conscious and careful of what I put in my body. I have worked hard to achieve the level of fitness I currently have. And I wasn’t always right. I didn’t always make the best decisions – but I DID make some tough decisions. I did make sacrifices. I had some setbacks, but I never let that stop me. To write off that long-term commitment as “just genetics” is quite frankly insulting.
Build your healthy routine. Start one step at a time.
Results easily earned are easily lost again.
Get your mind right. Know what you want out of this health/fitness journey. Re-assess often. It’s not easy to make lifestyle changes that stick, so find some other people who want to change. Build a support network. Reach out. I promise you other people will respond when you do. Then we can all be “freaks” together!