How to Stop Your Obesity Genes From Expressing Themselves

Today’s “obesity” genes are yesteryear’s “survival” genes.

Fruits and vegetables are a favorite way of mine to eat food that tastes good without adding a lot of calories and I keep my survival genes happy because I'm eating!

Fruits and vegetables are a favorite way of mine to eat food that tastes good without adding a lot of calories. And I keep my survival genes happy because I’m eating!

In a prehistoric world, the more survival genes we had the better we fared. Our instincts told us to forage for food, eat the food we find and keep eating until it’s gone so that we can have a little stored energy (body fat) for times when food is scarce.

Survival genes told our ancestors to EAT, EAT, EAT and when they weren’t eating to REST, REST, REST, to save energy for the next hunt to find more food.

In a world without central air and/or central heat it took a lot of energy just to maintain body temperature. Food was hard to find and even harder to collect and/or bring down so that it could be consumed. These genes served us well.

Our ancestors passed these survival genes to us through the generations. Today, in a post-industrialized world we have instincts that no longer serve a useful purpose.

In fact, what helped us to thrive now threatens our existence. Problem is the human being is evolving much more slowly than his environment!

The urge to eat all the time, in a world where food is always available makes it easy to gain weight and very hard to lose it.

In an environment with lots of highly palatable food never farther than a few steps away and a machine or device to do everything for us without barely moving a muscle, it’s very hard to lose weight.

We struggle with the desire to lose weight and the internal drive to eat to create energy stores and rest to further conserve energy.

It’s not easy to ignore the drives that have been hardwired in our bodies for centuries. You can, however, suppress them! There’s a way to prevent your survival genes from expressing themselves.

If you let your "survival genes" run your show they're going to make you make lots of fat to get you through a famine that probably will never come!

If you let your “survival genes” run your show they’re going to make you make lots of fat to get you through a famine that probably will never come!

It starts with your mind.

Your body doesn’t know that you’re living in a post-industrialized world. It doesn’t know you store food right in your cave! It doesn’t know that when your supply of food in your cave runs low, you can go right out and get more food with very little effort. It doesn’t know that you can easily find food everywhere you go.

Your mind knows things your prehistoric body can’t begin to comprehend and so you must use your mind to influence the drives and actions of your body.

When your genes urge you to act on your prehistoric needs, you can use your mind to override it. It’s like a muscle, the more you use it, the stronger it gets and the better it works. You are building new neural pathways in your head to make overriding your genes more easily.

How to Suppress Survival Genes

Be aware that you have strong instincts driving you TO EAT.

  • You’re not weak!
  • You’re not lazy!
  • You’re not stupid!
  • You’re responding to genes – not “letting yourself go!”

Be aware that you have strong instincts telling you TO CONSERVE ENERGY (telling you to live a sedentary lifestyle).

  • You’re not weak!
  • You’re not lazy!
  • You’re not stupid!
  • You’re responding to genes – not “letting yourself go!”

Train your brain to “coach your body” to override instinctual habits and replace them with thoughtful routines that promote lower body weight.

  • Use positive self-talk to stop eating.

FOR EXAMPLE: You feel full but you’re eating something delicious and there’s still a lot on your plate. You want to keep eating until it’s all gone.

State what you want rather than what you don’t want (think of writing a guest list for a party. You write down the names of the people to whom you will send invitations. You don’t write a list of names of people to you don’t want to come so you can send them univitations!)

  • I am satisfied.
  • I am full.
  • I have had all that I need right now.
  • I will leave food on my plate.
  • It’s GOOD to leave food!
  • I will eat this again another time.
  • I will enjoy this at a better time when I have the calories available.

Sometimes the genes will win anyway. That’s okay, it means you need to “exercise your brain muscle more” or in other words, train for the marathon you must run everyday to suppress the survival genes influence on your actions!

Go back and reread this blog. Pay special attention to the part that confirms you are not weak, lazy, stupid, or apathetic (letting yourself go.) Your survival genes aren’t convinced, so your brain has to work harder!

Eventually you can convince your body that good food isn’t leaving the planet. You don’t have to eat everything that’s available because you will be able to eat it another time when you can balance the calories.

When it comes to balancing calories remember you are not lazy because you’re not active.

Your survival genes are afraid if you spend all your energy running around doing things other than finding/gathering food you won’t have any energy (stored calories) for the important business of keeping you alive.

It helps to reinforce your survival gene suppression in an environment of group support. People like you with an abundance of survival genes know better than anybody else how frustrating it is to live in a modern environment and keep those genes from expressing themselves as obesity! Together you can celebrate your new thoughts and actions and share insight and suggestions to overcome the influence of unnecessary survival instincts!

Once again, you know things your body doesn’t understand. Your survival isn’t threatened by activity so go ahead and move as much (maybe at first it will be “MORE”) as you want to!

Survival genes say "Never climb a mountain just because it's there!" DOn't listen to them!

Survival genes say “Never climb a mountain just because it’s there!” Don’t listen to them!

Find fun and productive physical activities because the more you move the more you can eat and still maintain a ratio of calories in/calories out to support your weight-related goals!

 

Jackie Conn

About Jackie Conn

Jackie Conn is the general manager of Weight Watchers of Maine. She is married and has four grown daughters and four grandchildren. Her experience with her own weight management journey and raising girls has given her insight into the struggles families face with weight, healthy body image, food and physical activity. She has been a regular guest on Channel 5 WABI news for more than ten years and appears monthly as a guest on FOX network morning program Good Day Maine.