Thursday, September 25, 2014

Genetics: They don't make you and they don't have to break you!

Hey Fit Fam,

During my fitness journey I've had numerous people make remarks about my genetics. I am very grateful that I do have some good genes working in my favor, but it can be really offensive when someone makes these remarks in the wrong way. For example, if you say to me, "Well .. ya know Stacy, you should feel lucky because not everyone is blessed with your genetics." -- I take that as an insult. Why? Because it's taking away from the WORK I put in! It's saying that while I may workout, I've ultimately been "given" my body because of some genetic code.  No .. I don't have my genetics to thank for my current body. I have 4+ months of sacrifice and dedication to thank!! I can't discredit the fact that I have spent MUCH of my life at least being AWARE of what I ate and how active I was. But that's not to say I have been in perfect shape, or even close to it most my life -- because I haven't. Sure, I've never been overweight. Sure, I've always held a little more muscle. But my body has fluctuated over the years mainly because I went about fitness, eating "clean" and fueling myself for the long way more often than not. Oh and also champagne and vodka...that too. So while I don't mind for someone to point out I may have good's the people who have negative intentions, or that say these things to make themselves look or feel better, that bother me. Because well .. my genetics did NOT give me anything you see today.

Here are a couple examples of my personal genetics and how they not only may work for me .. but could also work against me if I wanted to make them my "excuse".

** My booty -- I've always had somewhat of a bubble butt. Nothing crazy (no J-Lo genes up in here) but I've always had something back there.  While genetics may mean I have MORE butt to work with - this could go either way ya know!! My butt still needs weight lifting to "stand up & stick out" otherwise it's just going to sag ... I'm in my 30's now ya know and it IS different!!! In fact, focusing on glutes has allowed me to discover some flaws I didn't know were "under there" so to speak. I found out that I am genetically more prone to have some loose skin under my butt cheek - one side in particular.  I looked this up and it has a name ya'll .. who knew?! Ya ready ... it's called a "a banana roll". Some people have them because they are overweight or don't work glutes, but other extremely fit people have it because of well .. genetics. My "banana roll" is very minor and I even had to point it out to my coach - but I never noticed it until my butt started LIFTING and gaining more muscle .. then that little pocket of skin under one side .. just stayed. My skin and muscle in that particular area just doesn't grow/tone like the rest of my glutes do. Come to find out there really isn't anything specific I can do for this (you can't spot reduce) -- except push harder, focus on certain glute exercises more than others, eat some good healthy fats to fill myself out back there and take in some vitamins to help with my skin elasticity. Since I first noticed this a few months ago it has almost disappeared. So while I appreciate all the compliments I'm given on my booty -- it is far from "perfect"!! And while I have some genetics that help me have more to work WITH, I still have to WORK HARDER and SMARTER to have that work in my favor. Believe it or not, just like many of you, I want my butt to GROW ... the right way of course! It is still a "work in progress" :)

**My Muscle Mass -- There are studies out there that up to 90% of your basic muscle strength is hereditary because of variations in fiber type. Slow twitch fibers are predisposed to be able to perform endurance related activities but have a harder time with muscle mass, where as those with fast twitch fibers can gain muscle easier but may have a harder time with endurance. If this is true, then I am no doubt made up of fast twitch fibers..haha. Over the years I've learned that I do seem to develop muscle quickly and have really good muscle memory.  But when I was in elementary school I was a "stick"!! That muscle was built over many years of "on and off" activity (cheerleading, gymnastics, on and off weight training). So while I may be one of the people that develop it easier -- that doesn't mean my genetics can be credited for my muscles and certainly not my definition.  I never had "cuts" in my arms, I never had a defined "six pack" (a 2-pack maybe) and I never had striations/separation in my legs/glutes --  until I started working much harder in the gym and focusing on what and when I was eating! I could also turn the tables on this one too. Those genetics also contribute to what I like to call my short stump legs. As far as I know we can't crack the genetic height code so I have to find a balance in lifting ... otherwise that "muscle gene" could work against me! That short and athletic build can be a huge downfall for me in some areas. I have an "athletic shape" .. which means I literally have no waist!!  I will never have that tiny hourglass - perfectly indented mid section some of ya'll have .... no 23 inch waist measuring tape pictures on Instagram from me :) Not to mention my torso is about 5 inches long... haha - that doesn't help! I can't wear those cute crop tops that were in season this summer because if I do ... all you see are big ole wide obliques, which give the illusion of a "thick" middle section. Instead of harping on it ... I do things in the gym to balance my body out, focus on doing (or not doing) certain ab exercises and on stage I pose in was that are attractive for ME.

I could keep going. Genetics also mean that I have a nose I don't care for, ears that stick out a little too much and the most awful bushy, frizzy, fine, stringy, very hard to maintain hair! We all are made up of SOME gene that we wish we could change and some that we are just stuck with  - - but thankfully when it comes to building your body... genetics actually play a very small factor in the big picture. 

When you are always blaming genetics for the way you look, or your lack of results, you are finding an easy excuse and selling yourself short in a big way. There is actually some scientific backing to this. Yes ... I did my research before simply going on a rant. I discovered something called Epigenetics. I found an article where it was explained like this -- "Genes provide the assembly line for our proteins, which are part of every important structure in the human body (i.e. cell components, enzymes, hormones, tissues, organs, etc…), however, it’s our consistent lifestyle habits that ultimately determine which genes express & how they express."  The article went on to say that there have been several studies recently that have shown how specific lifestyle changes including exercise and nutrition alter gene expression at a molecular level.

There ya have it. As if visual proof from the gazillion "transformation" pages on Instagram aren't enough ... it's been medically/scientifically proven over and over again that we can often times reverse what we think we've been "cursed" with.  So just because "all the women in your family" have big hips doesn't mean you cant work hard and with TIME and EFFORT see your body defy those genetics! Think about the effort you are putting in ... maybe it's you .. not your mama.

I once had a friend in college that would always say "I'll never be smaller than a size 5 no matter what I do because no women in my family is smaller than that". Hmmm .. was it that or was it maybe the Coors Light she drank? Was it that ... or the fact that she (or the women in her family) had never lifted a weight in their life? So they never saw what their body was capable of doing? Another big genetic excuse I hear all the time is "Everyone in my family has bird legs" .. or ... "Everyone in my family has a pancake butt". Okay .. well what are you doing to change that? Are you maybe spending too much time on a treadmill and not enough time focusing on weighted exercises that target your legs/glutes (think beyond the basic squat). Just as important .. are you eating enough of the RIGHT calories to allow your muscles to recover and grow?

The bottom line here is that there are likely other factors .. not genetics .. playing the major role in the way you look or the results you aren't seeing. I love this pic/quote by the BEAST Dennis Wolf ...

I've decided to start a blog series dedicated to this. I want to share some motivational stories of amazing men and women that haven't let their genetics or circumstances be an excuse. They got it out of their minds that they were in some way "destined" to look a certain way, they put in the effort, made sacrifices, worked hard and saw the results!

If you know someone who wants to share their journey, please have them email their story (and pics if possible) to --

I'll be posting the very first - "How I Beat My Bad Genes" next week!!

Eat Clean. Train Dirty

1 comment:

  1. This topic gets me so fired up too.... LOL. Some people just have no idea the amount of work that goes into a fit body so when someone tells me I'm "lucky to be so tiny or in shape etc etc" ...Well... My response isn't very pretty.