fitness · Sat with Nat

Forget fighting genetics, I’m working with them

WAAAAAAY back  in 2014 when I when I first found out about my high blood pressure I was livid. You can read about it here. The doctor quipped I couldn’t fight my genetics. It hurt. It felt like that one comment wiped away all the dietary and activity choices I’ve made as an adult. GAH.

Since then I started working in the life insurance industry and I’ve found out almost everything health-wise is genetic. Yup, it’s all about the law of big numbers they say. Your folks have high blood pressure, you likely will too, ditto high cholesterol and other risk factors for disease. I don’t buy that I’m genetically determined to kick it due to a heart attack but I’d be a fool to ignore the evidence that my cardiovascular system is less than stellar.

My maternal grandparents both died of cardiovascular disease in their 60s and my folks have varying concerns with cholesterol and high blood pressure for the past 20 years. I have large, knubbly varicose veins and my blood pressure is managed with medication. Sure, my resting heart rate is around 60 beats per minute, which is respectable but not stellar. I get far more than the recommended 150 minutes of moderate activity a week. I sit between 300-700 minutes on a given week. I take the stairs. I eat mostly plants. I’ve maintained my weight loss of 40 pounds from a year ago. I drink beer or wine on the weekend. I do a 10 minute yoga routine in the morning. I’m working with my body rather than fighting against it. I tried restricting carbs, BIG MISTAKE so I strive for the Canada’s Food Guide proportion of carbs:protein:vegetables and fruit.

As I’ve been talking to Gran, my paternal grandmother, and looking more and more like Grammie, my maternal grandmother, I’ve been thinking how those two women shaped my ideas of women and fitness. Gran is turning 86 this year and teases me mercilessly that she was a grandmother at my age, a great grandmother in her 60s and may yet live to see her great-great grandchildren born.

Gran and my eldest son in 2013
Gran and my eldest son in 2013

I know that 41 socially looks different now than it did for Gran in 1971 but biologically? Not much has changed. I might add that Gran is on one medication for acid reflux, lives in her home unassisted, and does daily exercises to limber up in the morning. She only goes for 30 minute walks now instead of 2 hours. She drives. She is the model of what fit in our 80s can look like. It’s not looking like I inherited her preternaturally amazing cardio system but I’m pulling together some stories that show how she has shaped my idea of what fit women look like to share with you over the month of February.

4 thoughts on “Forget fighting genetics, I’m working with them

  1. I’ve been venturing into Ayurvedic medicine. I like the idea that we change what we eat or do with the seasons and for our body type.

    Sometimes I think western medicine is to focused on finding why as wrong with us, and less interested in finding balance.

    Perhaps there are other ways to look at your genetic predispositions…

  2. Another great post. I’ve only found you recently but you talk a lot of sense! Now in my forties I’m slowly stopping beating myself up for not being thin enough or toned enough or fast enough but it’s taking time and a good talking too.
    My dad is a fit 76 year old who will regularly walks 3 to 5 miles several times a week. I hope I take after him.

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