How A DNA Test Helped Me Get In Shape

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Why DNA?

In an effort to tone up and whip my body into shape, I looked into FitnessGenes, a DNA based workout and diet plan that guarantees real results. The problem is I love food (here, I find out why), workouts don't seem to have a serious effect on me and I have a full-time job. This is what happened when I tried the program.

My Current Situation

I would describe my build as somewhere between curvy and athletic. I have the big legs and butt, a smaller waist and an average bust. I am only 5 feet tall, which makes shopping incredibly difficult. Everything is long on me, tight on the hips and too big up top, usually all at the same time.

My fitness goal has always been to slim my lower body and of course achieve a flatter stomach. I’ve always been really active (I played softball for 10 years and was a cheerleader for 12), but I’ve never been a skinny girl. As I got older and no longer participated in extracurricular activities, I tried to keep myself entertained with my workouts. Boxing is by far my favorite, but I found that I eventually plateaued. Pilates came when I joined ClassPass, and while I always feel like I’m getting a great workout (just ask my sore abs on the morning after), I never seem to see real results. The Stairmaster just makes my legs bigger, and barre classes don’t have the same lengthening effect I hear other girls talk about. Yoga does absolutely nothing for me other than make me look silly in class.

As far as my eating habits go, I’m somewhat convinced I have a food addiction. I have zero self-control when it comes to junk food, and salads just don’t satisfy me at all. If I do force myself to have a healthy lunch, there’s no doubt I’ll be ravenous by 3pm. It sounds crazy, but I wish I could be hypnotized to eat better. If I can just have my wires crossed to feel utterly fulfilled when I eat fruits and vegetables the way I do when I eat chili fries and cupcakes, life would be perfect.

The DNA Test

I hear about a DNA test that can give me more insight into the foods and workouts that guarantee results specifically for me. If there’s a way to trick my body into doing whatever I want it to, I’m on board. While that may not exactly be the case, I sign up to try it.

A FitnessGenes DNA kit lands on my desk—it’s a small cardboard box with a plastic tube in it. So this is what $260 bought me, huh? I open it up and don’t see any needles in there, so we’re off to a positive start. The directions instruct me to spit into a tube until I hit the fill line. (Just thinking about it now, I’m getting grossed out all over again.) It sits on my desk for two weeks before I can talk myself into doing it. The kit came with a return box, which made it really easy to send it back. I dropped it in a post-office box and waited anxiously.

Two weeks later, I get a call from FitnessGenes cofounder Dr. Dan Reardon (who is a fox, by the way. See him below). He asks me a series of questions: “Do you have brown eyes?” The answer is yes. How he knew that from a vial of spit (seriously, gross!), I don’t know but technically he could have easily just Googled me. “Do you find that you always feel hungry—even soon after eating?” Yaas! Now things are getting interesting. Total side note: I don't know what he looks like at this point, but when I do find out, I'm mortified for telling him I was having mac and cheese for lunch that day.

I find out a few things: I am lactose intolerant (I hate milk, so whatever) and I have a very dominant obesity gene (I knew something was off!). Obesity doesn’t actually run in my family but this particular gene tells me to eat more and eat all the time. Of course, I listen to it because I’m weak—but at least now I know what the problem is: I’m not actually hungry all the time, I just think I am.

What he tells me would only appeal to a bodybuilder (certainly not a 26-year-old, 5-foot-tall beauty editor).

Then Dr. Dan runs me through the workout regimen and meal plan that are ideal for my DNA make up. What he tells me would only appeal to a bodybuilder (certainly not a 26-year-old, 5-foot-tall beauty editor). Somehow my DNA calls for a high-protein diet and a gym schedule packed with weight lifting. Come again?

Dr. Dan suggests eating a hearty piece of steak or salmon first thing after waking up. Let’s get something straight here: I can barely get myself ready in time for work in the morning, without having to worry about cooking a steak. And another thing: Breakfast is nonexistent to me. I usually just have some juice or tea, so I imagine I won’t be in the mood for fish at 7am. Every meal after that, Dr. Dan continues, should be just as high on protein with little to no carbs. Kill me now.

Then he drops another bomb on me. Apparently my peak workout time (the block where I will burn the most fat and recover most effectively) is between noon and 3pm. Well, I work full time so I instantly feel like I’m being set up to fail. I take the information Dr. Dan has relayed to me and try to process it as best as I can.

My First Week

I find a salmon recipe on Pinterest that I am obsessed with and, yes, I actually eat it for breakfast. It isn’t bad at all! It keeps me full until lunch, which is great because that eliminates a lot of my in-between snacking. Cooking it didn’t interfere with my morning routine too much either. The night before, I marinated the salmon and wrapped it in foil; in the morning, I popped it in the oven while I got ready, then placed it over a bed of spinach and corn and drenched it in lemon. I’m proud of my smooth start. Disclaimer: When I got home that evening, my house still smelled like fish. I now leave my kitchen window cracked open during the day.

I wish I could say the same for my workout regimen. I haven’t gone to the gym all week. I’m feeling like working out any time other than the one recommended will just be a waste of energy. This midday bodybuilder schedule is really psyching me out.

The Maintenance

Week two goes a lot better. I’m going to fitness classes where I’m utilizing heavier weights and really working on my cardio (Dr. Dan would be proud), but I’m not going at noon—obviously. I take some classes after work and even try a few in the morning.

Yeah, I Cheated. So What?

I'm not one for structure. Now that I'm on this strict plan, I have the desire to be lazier than ever. And now that I'm so burned out of eating salmon for breakfast every morning, I'm feeling snackier than ever. I'm working on saying "no" to a lot of things but I don't think depriving myself is the way to go either. In my defense, I started this program right in the middle of December (what was I thinking?), which means the holiday snacks have already started to roll in. One day, a platter of mini rice crispy treats lands on my desk. I have to say, the 3 pieces I ate were delicious. What? I said they were mini!

The Verdict

All in all, my 4-week program was a success. Dr. Dan told me not to get too hung up on weight because it's not about pounds, it's about changing your body shape. My clothes are fitting better, I don’t feel as bloated and my legs look more toned and not in a big, muscular way. Although I indulged in the occasional desert and skipped a few workouts, I feel accomplished. The most important lesson I learned was not to eat just because my brain tells me I'm hungry—if I already had breakfast, I don't need snacks to get me to lunch. The fact that I learned weights are my friend and eating hearty proteins keep me fuller longer made all the difference. I know I was afraid of looking Arnold Schwarzenegger-ish but FitnessGenes was on point. My results might have been more dramatic if I led a lifestyle where working out in the middle of the day was an option but overall my DNA test was a positive.

I have to admit, the idea of taking a DNA test to lose weight sounded gimmicky at first but now I'm convinced it has some real logic to it. I would be curious to see how my test results match up to a relative or even a total stranger. Would FitnessGenes recommend the same program to everyone? Does high protein and heavy weights work for every body type? I'm not sure (it certainly worked for Dr. Dan) but in the case of Stephanie Montes, 26-year old, 5-foot-tall, Mexican beauty editor, the DNA test proved to be legit.

Let us know in the comments below if you have ever tried any wacky trends to get in shape. Would you try a DNA test to get into shape? (All I can say is I hope your DNA will be less high-maintenance than mine!)

Marquee Image Credit: @classpass, @justdimpleit