Being a massage therapist for the last fourteen years has taught me a lot about body composition and what it means relative to peoples habits. The beauty of my profession is that the body never lies. No matter what a person says or thinks their body communicates to me an honest chronicle of behavior minus any politicizing. This experience gives me a unique phenomenology where I can measure what really works relative to peoples ideas. Tone, muscle striation, skin color and smoothness, pore size, pain tolerance , etc., are all clues revealing the story of one's health.
When I first started my practice I had the opportunity to work with a diverse range of people from all over the world. I had a client from Norway that was just turning 60. She would come to south Florida every winter while sailing through the Caribbean. Her body was astonishing because her biological and chronological age were easily 30 years apart. Relative to the Americans I had been working with she expressed zero inflammation, great skin, and was totally ripped. My initial impression was that this must be genetic as I had little understanding of environmental influences and their long term affect on peoples morphology.
I must have been quite annoying because I incessantly grilled her about how she could have a physique equivalent to a healthy 25 year old woman from the US. Yes, I was one of those annoying talking body workers back than. Patiently, she shared that she used no chemicals on her body and described how Europe had different regulations on their food supply. This was before GMO's had entered the U.S. lexicon causing me to really notice, for the first time, what an impact organic food has on our biology. There had to be other factors contributing to her badassness other than superior Scandinavian genetics and food.
Fortunately, I was able to massage ten other european's that season which gave me a control to my initial observations. Across the board these people were just healthier than their peers from this side of the pond. Comparing similar age, economic resources, exercise regiments and beliefs it was quite obvious that my european clients had an advantage. Having such a contrast between either side of the Atlantic left an indelible impression that catalyzed my inquiry. At the same time I was introduced to Ayurveda, which is a holistic, scientific approach to wellness from southern India, to cleanse my body from heavy metals.
As my body became cleaner I started to express many of the characteristics my euro clients had. For three weeks the only meal I ate was an Ayurvedic dish known as mung dahl. This meal was too balance my body by removing toxins while conquering my addiction to sugar. What do you mean addiction to sugar? What's wrong with sugar? Apparently, refined carbohydrates cause metabolic dysfunction that when left unchecked can lead to a host of other problems. Once I got past the cravings, which were horrific, my temperament, demeanor and body totally mellowed out. My yoga practice became easy. I could meditate and hold long chain thoughts for greater periods of time. When my chiropractor would dig into me it didn't carry the same excruciating pain as before. The dull white noise of sourness, that I wasn't even ware of until it left, was gone leaving me in a much more jovial disposition. Just by removing these dietary impediments I was left unencumbered and happy.
These observations caused a core shift in my approach to life. I saw in myself and others the fundamental link between food, as the main environmental input, and health. It was evident that people's diet was the primary catalyzing agent in their development. "You are what you eat and what you eat eats," became my primary mantra. Researching the inputs to your fuel sources can be a daunting task especially when considering how far food has to travel. Modern agriculture and food distribution logistics can be seen as a macrocosmic snapshot of the health crisis in the United States. People that have access to fresh food have much better physiques, plain and simple.
How Nature Nurtures is how I view the field of Epigenetics. Epigenetic's studies gene expression through habit driven behavior and environment. Not all of our genes express. They need to be catalyzed either positively or negatively. For example, you might carry the gene for pancreatic cancer but if your behavior doesn't switch 'on' that gene cancer is unlikely. The old notion that your physical fate is predetermined solely on the heritable traits given to you by your parents is now seen as only half the story. In many instances, the behaviors that are 'parent mimicing' carry much more influence than previously thought. During our formative years we imprint habits that are both beneficial and deleterious. This is where having the correct knowledge base can uplift someone from the quagmire of history. Body composition is a combination of self determined and given habits plus environmental inputs. Having the capacity to control your own physical narrative first starts with an honest self assessment and than fixing mistakes. Your body is the perfect barometer of your environment. Learning to trust it's signals and adapt alights the evolutionary journey.