Genetics or exercise: Which wins at weight loss?

Growing up, I heard stories about how my mom always struggled with her weight. Even in junior high and high school, she felt fat.

When I was growing up, she was always on a diet (still is) and many of my aunts and cousins live with weight problems too.

So when I started to put on a few extra pounds, it was easy to think that it was just my family curse kicking in. And, it would have been really easy to sit back and say that there was nothing that I could do about it — that it was all in my genes and out of my control.

But as they say — that’s not how I roll.

While it’s perfectly normal to look at your family and wonder “how in the world can I ever beat my genetics,” the truth is that your weight has far more to do with your daily choices than you might think.

In fact, the results of a new scientific study are finally debunking the myth that genetics are everything when it comes to your weight and putting the control back in your hands.

Here are the facts…

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Genetic effects based on age

Previous studies have demonstrated that your genetics absolutely do have an effect on your body mass index (BMI) from your childhood to your early adulthood.

However, this new study, which was published in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS) found that the influence of your genes falls off as you age.

This means that the older you get, the less your genes matter in your weight.

In fact, the study of over 8,000 women proved that by menopause, lifestyle modifications, like exercise can easily overcome any genetic predisposition to weight problems.

And, the effect of these lifestyle modifications on your weight goes up as your age goes up. In other words, for every decade older you get, the bigger impact exercise has on controlling your weight and fighting your genetic leanings toward weight gain.

So, you may be born with your genes but that doesn’t mean that you can’t beat them.

Starting an exercise program that works for you

If you’re not already a regular exerciser, the time to start is now.

To begin:

  • Take some selfies – These pictures will remind you of where you started so that when you hit times that you want to give up, you can see the changes in your body that will inspire you to keep going.
  • Start small – When you first start your new exercise program, instead of jumping in with both feet, try making one small change at a time. For example, begin with a 10 minute walk the first day and work your way up slowly over the first few weeks so that you can create changes that last.
  • Plan your routine – Exercise is about creating a habit, which is all about planning. Set out your workout clothes the night before. Have your water bottle ready to go. If you’re heading to the gym, get your bag ready with a change of clothes. Make things easy on yourself and you’ll be more likely to stick to it.
  • Give yourself grace – There will be times that you just don’t feel like exercising. Be good with it but get back on track.
  • Journal – When you start your exercise program, you’ll experience benefits that go far beyond weight loss. Keep a journal of your exercise journey to remind yourself of everything you’re getting from your hard work to keep you going.

Your genetics may make it easier for you to gain weight but they are not stopping you from losing it. Make the changes now to get in the shape you want and get healthier and happier.


  1. Exercise beats genetics in determining amount of body fat — The North American Menopause Society (NAMS)
Dr. Adria Schmedthorst

By Dr. Adria Schmedthorst

Dr. Adria Schmedthorst is a board-certified Doctor of Chiropractic, with more than 20 years of experience. She has dedicated herself to helping others enjoy life at every age through the use of alternative medicine and natural wellness options. Dr. Schmedthorst enjoys sharing her knowledge with the alternative healthcare community, providing solutions for men and women who are ready to take control of their health the natural way.