I have a story about the “environment” slice of epigenetic triforce. This story changes everything. Food becomes more than calories. Training becomes more than sets and reps.
It actually makes the triforce a tetraforce. (Hint: there’s something else beyond nature, nurture, and randomness to think about.)
But before I tell you this story, let’s put a layer of chocolate on top of epigenetics.
Last letter, I wrote about how environment is the change catalyst. You don’t reach down your throat and flick a switch to get a sun tan. You get a sun tan by sitting in the sun.
A switch inside of you gets flicked, yes, but the ENVIRONMENT does the flicking. Not you.
In a sense, environment is everything.
Environment is the ONLY thing. It’s the only piece of epigenetics you control.
Now, for some extra clarity, we’ll start with a little Gedankenexperiment (thought experiment). Einstein was famous for his Gedankenexperiments. If something was good enough for Einstein, it’s good enough for us.
You have two robots in front of you. We’ll call them, oh, I don’t know, Android 17 and Android 18 respectively. Android 17 and Android 18 are identical. They were built to replicate human function as best as mechanically possible. They’ve been tested for power output, movement capabilities, and intelligence.
You strap Android 17 to a bottom of a helicopter and drop it into a desert. You strap Android 18 to the bottom of a helicopter and drop it into a rain forest. You Leave Android 17 and Android 18 alone for one year.
After one year, you rescue them. You take them back into the lab. You retest them for power output, movement capabilities, and intelligence.
Unfortunately, nothing changes. They test for the same power output they were built with. The same movement capabilities. The same intelligence, intelligence that was loaded into them by some software.
They are robots. They are mechanical. They are static. They don’t change. They have what they were built with. No more, no less. (Unless they break.) The only way to change a robot is to take out the old and replace it with the new.
Now think of you. Think of who you are at this exact moment in time. Clone this version of you into identical humans, V1 and V2. (You are V0.) Test V0, V1, and V2 for power output, movement capabilities, and intelligence.
Let V0, you, live your normal life. Drop V1 into the rain forest, just like you did Android 17. Drop V2 into the desert, just like you did Android 18.
In one year, you rescue V1 and V2. Retest them for power output, movement capabilities, and intelligence.
Unlike robots and machines, humans WILL change. Humans are organic biological creatures that communicate with the environment. Humans are always in flux. Like a Saiyan. You upgrade organically, not via replacement.
If you want a bigger muscle, you don’t dissect your old one and stitch in a new one. You upgrading by feeding yourself information. Specific information.
Although V0, V1, and V2 started out as the same person, the environment changes each of them both physically and mentally. V1 would have all sorts of skills and knowledge about the rain forest that would be foreign to V2. Same goes with V2 and the desert compared to V1.
V1 becomes Rain Forest Man. He changes to better survive the rainforest. He knows the growl of a jaguar. He knows when to run away from a certain rustling in the bushes. He knows how to climb trees. His body handles humidity better than V0.
The story is similar for V2. He becomes Desert Man. He knows sounds specific to the desert, like the sound of a rattlesnake tail. V2 has skills that the desert required him to build if he were to survive, skills that V0 doesn’t have.
And these changes aren’t haphazard. Each environment carries specific information. V0, V1, and V2 become the best possible versions of themselves given their environment.
It’s like Mega Man becoming the ____ Man of whatever Robot Master he kills. Kill Ring Man, become Ring Man. Kill Drill Man, become Drill Man. Killing Crash Man won’t make you Cut Man.
Humans assemble themselves (selfishly) around behavior and adaptations that increases their odds of survival and their odds of reproduction.
So Rain Forest Man betters his odds of surviving and reproducing. Desert Man does the same. But each adapts to a different end because each environment carries different information. Each environment has different dangers and challenges. V1 and V2 adapt specifically to the subset of information they digest.
Just like Rainforest Man and Desert Man become the best possible versions of themselves, you, too, are the best possible version of yourself given the environment you’ve been exposed to.
Sounds a little strange though, doesn’t it?
What do you mean I’m the best version of myself? What about my body fat? Or the fact that I don’t have a lot of muscle? This isn’t the best version of myself. My body isn’t working in my favor. My body is SABOTAGING me…right?
Only seems that way because you’re looking through a mainstream fitness lens. But mainstream fitness isn’t real life.
You need to instead look through a biological fitness lens.
Your body rarely sabotages it’s biological fitness. The beacons of biological fitness, as mentioned: survive, reproduce.
And here enters the perils of being human: we need resources in order to survive, and said resources are finite. Humans seem to know this. (Somehow?) So we’re pretty careful with resources. We don’t waste them. We are misers. Cognitive misers. Physical misers.
We don’t waste. We use shortcuts when we think. We don’t spend money we don’t have. We don’t spend the money we do have unless we need whatever is on sale. We don’t keep things around we don’t need, especially if those things cost money.
- From a mainstream fitness lens, body fat is a burden. It’s a puffy sack of globular skin. Eugh.
- From a biological fitness lens, body fat is a miracle. It’s a stockpile of resources in case you ever experience a shortage of resources in the future.
- From a mainstream fitness lens, being immobile is a bummer. You can’t do the splits, you can’t kick people in the head. Why in the world would your body get rid of these abilities?
- From a biological fitness lens, keeping unused ranges of motion around is dumb. Would you spend money on a heating bill if you lived in Florida?
- From a mainstream fitness lens, being weak and lanky is a shame.
- From a biological fitness lens, having giant muscles increases your monthly mortgage. You you need the resources around to support the extra $$$ over the long haul.
There’s one huge takeaway from all of this, one big conclusion that won’t leave you absolutely empty handed. But I find the true nugget nectar — the part that is over overlooked, the part that makes you feel somewhat warm and fuzzy inside, the part that may turn off some of the self-hatred you have, the part that plucks the psychedelic strings of what it means to be human — to be this:
See your body as a smart creature and try to understand that most of what it does (and will do) has honest to goodness biological purpose.
You are not being sabotaged.
As for that takeaway…
Your body makes magic happen on account of HONEST biological motive (not mainstream fitness motive), which has inherent ties to the information within the environment.
So the question becomes:
What kind of world, what kind of environment, what kind of atmosphere is going to push for the adaptations I want to have?
Perhaps better said in the negative…
In what kind of atmosphere would it be nearly IMPOSSIBLE to NOT have x, y, and z adaptations?
- If you want a sun tan, what kind of world would make it IMPOSSIBLE for you to be pasty white?
- If you want to be leaner, what kind of world would make it IMPOSSIBLE for you to be fat?
- If you want to be more muscular, what kind of world would make it IMPOSSIBLE for you to be a thin mint?
Just questions to end this one. Next time, I’ll tell you all about that story I mentioned. It opened my eyes. Maybe it’ll do the same for you.