Get Personal with Genetic Testing
Written by Dr. Erik Boudreau, ND FABNO
Go ahead--pat yourself on the back. While the rest of the world is hitting the snooze button at 6am, you’re there in the gym--sweat pouring and heart pounding as you force that last rep or run that last mile. Or, perhaps you prefer to take care of business after hours, lifting and pushing and spinning late into the night. Whatever your desired path to success, the destination remains constant: the endless pursuit of physical fitness.
You live the life, twenty-four hours a day (or at least a solid 23)-- eschewing the temptations of “taking it easy” in favour of ever-greater heights: a new personal-best bench press or elliptical session, hitting a number on the scale you haven’t seen since high school, or simply seeing a fitter, leaner, meaner version of yourself in the mirror. At first, when your journey just began, it felt like every workout brought you one lengthy stride closer to that ultimate vision. And since that time, you’ve dutifully embroidered your training into the very fabric of your life, rarely missing a session while gradually turning up the intensity. Unfortunately, the past few days/weeks/months (years?) appear to be exemplifying the law of diminishing returns. Despite working harder than ever to continue making gains, the “you” of today has the same looks, strength and stamina as the “you” from last week/month (year?). What gives?
First of all, it’s important to look into the workouts themselves. If you’re over-training, then you’re not giving your muscles and joints the time or nutrients needed to recover before the next session. Eventually, your body will in all likelihood force you to give it the rest it needs (ie. via an injury).
Under-training, on the other hand, can happen when you’re not gradually ramping up the frequency/duration/intensity of your workouts. You may be convincing yourself that you’re going “all-out” because you’re doing exactly what used to constitute an “all-out” session--but your body knows better. In a similar vein is the notion of exercise variability--essentially, keeping your body (and mind) a little off-balance at all times (figuratively--not literally!). Simply put, humans are lazy (yes, even you). We’re designed to work just as hard as we need to in order to get the job done. This applies to the data entry clerk who spends 6.5 hours each day on Facebook before blistering through 1.5 hours of actual data entry, and it equally applies to our bodies when we exercise.
Think about it--every workout is more or less a demonstration of what your body--right now, as it is--is capable of doing. Why should your muscles grow or fat percentage drop if your body did just fine with what’s its got? The key is to continually challenge your body, throwing it curve balls to force it to adapt. Keep it on its toes (which is to say, your toes). There are infinite ways to do this-- mix in new exercises to work the muscles from a slightly different angle, vary the number of reps or sets you do, change the pace for each rep, etc. While this is hardly a revelation (anyone who’s ever picked up a fitness magazine has no doubt come across these suggestions), there’s a new, 21st century twist to the concept.
We all know about genetics, and its relevance in health and fitness. When we encounter someone whose biceps grow or waistline vanishes seemingly by touching a dumbbell or treadmill, respectively, one of our first thoughts is invariably “Bah. Genetics.” While there is certainly more to it than that, our genetic make-up can certainly have an immense impact on everything from our exercise results to our very motivation to work out in the first place. To help athletes from all walks of life tap into their unique genetic potential, Canadian laboratory company Rocky Mountain Analytical offers a test called Nutrigenomix. Using a simple salivary collection, they are able to determine the genetic basis for your individual nutritional, cardiovascular, and fitness health, and how to most effectively impact each one.
Evaluating 45 different genetic markers, the test details which nutrients you may need to supplement, as well as the specific nutrient forms you’re most able to utilize. It also outlines the impact that things like caffeine, sodium and various fats may have on your risk for chronic disease. Finally, and most relevant for this article, the Nutrigenomix test outlines the ideal ratio and duration of resistance vs. cardiovascular training for your constitution, your inherent motivation to exercise, and your likelihood to excel in strength vs. endurance training.
So how do you break through the wall? While the tried-and-true advice of “keep your muscles guessing” is always a good idea, perhaps its time to take it a step further and get personal.
Find out exactly what works (and what doesn’t work) for you, and tailor a diet, lifestyle, and exercise routine designed to get the most out of what you’ve got.
To learn more about personalized nutritional and lifestyle planning, or Nutrigenomix salivary testing, contact Cheam Wellness Group at (604) 776-2432.