RK Tip of the Week|Understanding the power of evolution to aid your fitness goals

Posted on May 26, 2010


You’d probably agree that humans are more highly evolved than crickets. Or maybe not when you look at how crickets are able to regrow their legs to be a perfect replica of the first pair & the closest thing we can do is grow skin to cover a cut or to hold our ever expanding waistlines of body fat. As humans, we can’t regenerate anything perfectly, but we can morph our bodies into something far from the original form and still have it function as a body. And that is both a blessing and a curse.

People who lose limbs are able to adapt their bodies to walk without legs or use what’s left of an arm as a type of hand. People who lose a kidney can adapt to function without one. And people who lose focus on their health & wellness are able to turn their bodies into things that look & function nothing like they were designed by God to, and yet, onward they go – although with much greater health risks.

I was originally thinking of this tip because I’m increasingly shocked by how a persons’ body will adapt to excessive weight, chemical ingestion from garbage-y processed foods, and laziness toward exercise. And to me, it’s truly shocking because I think to myself, “man, that body was NOT intended to function that way” and the body figures out a way to do it, for a while. But the more I thought about it, I chose to take a different approach. Yes, our bodies can handle serious alterations to their desired function (take a heroin addict who is actually worse off health-wise without the heroin than with!) but that alteration will directly impact the quality & longevity of a persons’ life. And if our highly evolved body can deteriorate and still function, what if you took the other things about being highly evolved and used them to go in the opposite direction? Toward optimal health & well-being!

Kind of a “How to make evolution work for you in 2 simple steps” deal:

1. Suffering forces you to do 1 of 2 things, change or breakdown…either you grow or you flame out, but when you suffer, one thing is for sure, you won’t stay the same. Suffering is an experience, and one that you should aim to grow from. Pushing your muscles (safely!) to new levels of burning in a workout? The muscle most certainly grows, and your mental will power grows along with it. You are now equipped to handle greater intensities of workout that will net you a bigger return on your exercise investment. Eat junk-y foods after a long hiatus from them & feel sick to your stomach after? You’ll either change the behavior and learn that it wasn’t worth it, and felt gross, so you’re not doing that  again, or you’ll repeat the cycle & breakdown every goal you’ve met to this point.

2.Evolution includes lots of adapting to grow stronger. “This is how my family’s always been”, or “I’ve never been one to ____fill in the blank of the healthy habit you’re avoiding.” Based on research science, the species of monkey, fish, plant, etc. that survived are the ones that adapted to the environment. Are you a lemming willing to follow any comfortable ideal that has permeated your family or friends for a generation or two? Or are you willing to adapt yourself so that you are the strong one that survives? I was just struck by the thought of my mother (and probably every other mother saying at some point), “If everybody else jumped off a bridge would you do that too?” Man that was annoying…but true!

When you do something outside of whatever your ‘norm’ is, you create a ripple in yourself & others that is going to have an effect. It’s easy to be just like everyone else (8 out of 10 are overweight or obese) – it’s the real deal when you stop outside of that & use your ability to adapt to a new environment to become something more.

We’ve got incredibly complex bodies given to us. So…

What are you doing to make yourself grow more healthy & fit?

Are you suffering in order to grow at all right now? *Suffering could be getting up at 5am to get the workout in, using all your focus to avoid the 3pm candy bar, or working right through your internal voice telling you tomorrow would be a better day to get off the couch.

Will you grow & evolve into something stronger, more vital, more optimal or risk being the species that’s just like all the others that doesn’t evolve long-term to pass along strong healthy genes? It’s never too late to change your genes! Seriously. Get on it gang. You can do it.