You’ve probably been thinking (ever since last letter)…
You started out good, man. You were talking about fat loss, muscle building, and being aerodynamic. You were talking about psychology and being a backyarder.
I was in.
But then you threw a psychedelic curveball. The secret? I don’t care about secrets. I just want to look seriously well built and do insanely cool shit with my body.
Just take me to the warp zone. Please.
I know what you want. But you have to bear with me. You’ll be happy with the road we’ve taken when we cross the finish line because there’s a commonality across all physical transformations.
- You want to know how to build muscle? Then you have to know how your body adapts.
- You want to know why you’re immobile? Then you have to know how your body adapts.
- You want to know how many licks it takes to get to the tootsie roll center of a tootsie pop? Then you have to know how your body adapts.
Stress, recovery, adaptation — these things are the glue. Information doesn’t stick without glue. Enter: program hopping, confusion, hysteria, plague, oil spills, and weapons of mass destruction.
And, besides, you don’t hit a warp zone when you turn on Mario. You have to play SOME of the game first. It’s not like being able to delay gratification is an important characteristic or anything. Oh. Wait. It is. That’s right. My bad.
So, first, what is essentially a primer on evolutionary biology…
Unfortunately, I took the easy route in school. Settled for a degree in health and physical activity and a degree in health and physical education. (This.) So I’m no expert. Not even close.
I’m instead going to use a proven strategy to help me not only pass down information, but also help me sound a lot smarter than I really am.
This strategy? A little something called plagiarism.
And my victim, for the most part = Dr. Robert Sapolsky and his Stanford lectures.
I told you about the secret because it uproots a system of thought that dominated the world not long ago.
DNA’s structure was discovered by Francis Crick and James Watson in 1953. The dominant thought at the time was that DNA coded for every process, adaptation, and output inside of your body. Your quirks, your strengths, your weaknesses . All of it tied back to your DNA.
All Super Saiyans have gold hair and green eyes, after all. If something is coding for eye color and hair color, why not everything be coded for?
Mozart and his piano. Da Vinci and his artwork. They were born — coded — with a talent for those arts.
It was in their DNA.
If your DNA didn’t code for something? You lose. You either play the piano like Mozart, or you play the piano like you have pickle fingers.
And if you’re in the latter group? Give up. Don’t try. You can’t get better. Your DNA won’t let you. You don’t have the midi-chlorians, man. Get over it.
This philosophy of DNA ruling creation is known as genetic determinism: who you are and whatever you become is a product of your DNA and only your DNA. Everything comes from whatever momma DNA and poppa DNA spat out as your DNA.
But science did what science (sometimes) does. It searched for the Good and the True. And the Good and the True has since revealed something about this quagmire, something best said by Dr. Robert Sapolsky:
Genetic determinism? My tuchus.
We’ve hopped on the pendulum and swung far, far away from genetic determinism. We’re at the point where people (smarter than I can ever imagine being) say most of the DNA inside of you is junk.
Not like garbage junk though. It’s junk because it’s not programming for anything. It’s just floating around. It’s WAITING for directions.
And it gets directions from…
(Ready for this?)
This shouldn’t be much of a surprise after reading about the secret. If you were genetics and nothing but genetics, nothing in your environment would be able to change you. But, as I wrote before…
You are forever changed because of <the secret>. Your body went through one more stress cycle than it otherwise wouldn’t have. Your brain is imprinted with information it otherwise wouldn’t have.
You digested information from the environment and your body changed.
Turns out, your body is GOBBLING UP information from the environment. All the time.
The creature you are is only said creature because of your environment.
It’s well known: when a boy hits puberty, he grows. He builds muscle. Hormones. Whatever. In other words, a man’s body typically has some genetic programming that lights fire inside upon hitting puberty.
But what would happen if this boy lived in space? What if there were no gravity? Would he still go through puberty the same? (Assuming the boy isn’t Goku in a Capsule Corp. shuttle equipped with artificial gravity.)
(Hint: gravity is big. I’ve thought a lot about gravity. It’s THE link joining my mental models performance and physique. You’ll learn all about this…eventually. Delay gratification.)
And this is why Sapolsky, in his lectures, mentions something along the lines of…
You can’t even say that “x” gene does “y” without also classifying the environment in which “y” happened.
This mash up between your genes and environment is known as epigenetics, and there are three slices to the epigenetic pie: nature (genetics), nurture (environment), and randomness.
The wildcard of this triforce…?
You can’t tame randomness. You can’t modify your genetics. The only thing you can grab by the cojones is your environment.
Unfortunately, most people under appreciate the complex web of “environment.” When I think of environment, I think of dusty polluted cities. But environment is SO MUCH more.
This is what I’m going to write about next letter.
Might not sound all that exciting, but think about it…
Any sort of change, any sort of upgrade or transformation, depends on one thing: your ability to control your environment. It’s about you and the world you expose yourself to.
So, yeah. Kind of a big deal.
You’ll know all about it soon.