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Holding the Cards

By Ben Smith, Lead Health Coach at Fitness Interactive Experience

“Life is not always a matter of holding good cards, but sometimes, playing a poor hand well.”
-Jack London

The game of poker is a great metaphor for life. Luck vs. Skill is a lot like Nature vs. Nurture.

We’re all dealt a certain “hand” of genes, but the decisions we make throughout our lives can have a tremendous impact on the expression of those genes.

Poker makes a great analogy because there are elements that cannot be controlled and elements that can. If poker was all skill, the inexperienced player wouldn’t participate because they would lose every time. If poker was all luck, players would have a very difficult time becoming exceptional. The combination of the skill and luck makes for an interesting game.

We’re all dealt a certain “hand” of genes, but the decisions we make throughout our lives can have a tremendous impact on the expression of those genes.
In order to be an effective poker player, you should make decisions based on expected values or outcomes. Poker, much like life, is a game with variance, meaning that things will happen that go against the odds, BUT as long as you consistently make decisions that have a positive expected value, you will win in the long run.

Let’s bring this back into our body’s terms. Each of us are a dealt a metaphorical hand (genes) when we’re born. We have a genetic predisposition for a laundry list of attributes: eye color, hair color, allergies, personality traits, diseases and general aptitude, just to name a few. Most people will concede that the decisions we make in combination with our genetic make up have a tremendous impact on our path in life. If, for example, you knew that you were predisposed to diabetes and that your diet could be the deciding factor in whether or not you would become diabetic, you’d probably adjust your behavior accordingly.

The problem is that most of us are playing the game having no real knowledge of the actual “hand” we’re holding. I’ll argue that if you know don’t know the “cards,” it’s hard to play a truly winning hand.

Enter genetic testing…

It’s costs around $100 and can all be done via the mail. There are no probes necessary and you’ll get your results in about 4-6 weeks. It may end up being the best $100 investment you’ve ever made.

I recently received my results and I was amazed at the degree to which components of my personality could be traced back to genetic markers. I was also amazed to discovery that I am susceptible to certain conditions and drug allergies that I was not aware were common in my family. It’s incredible information to have!

I’m now able to take preventative measures to avoid potentially life threatening conditions because I’m aware of my genetic predispositions.

Whether it be through, diet, exercise, sleep/lifestyle habits or a combination of all of the above, you have the ability to control how you play the hand you’re dealt. I encourage everyone to learn more about their genes and develop a strategy to if necessary, “play a poor hand well.”