Reprogramming Your Genes Starts with Reprogramming Your Mind

Reboot, renew, repair, revitalize? What goals went into your decision to join the Primal Challenge this month? (If you’re on the fence, what vision or particular aspirations pull you toward giving it a shot?) What are you looking to change? How do you hope to feel? What would you like to achieve?

Whether you’re ramping up an already Primal style or beginning to “baby-step” it (more on that tomorrow), rest assured that you’re undertaking powerful stuff. As we’ve mentioned in the past, the Primal Blueprint isn’t about quick, temporary fixes or surface level makeovers. (Although you will find yourself feeling slimmer and looking good…) By its very nature, the PB’s reach extends far beyond the number on a bathroom scale, the arch of a flexed muscle, or the fleeting drama of a bikini reveal. For our part, we have bigger things in mind.

Over the last few years we’ve brought you posts on the latest research in epigenetics, the recent scientific realm that explores the environmental activation and inactivation of our genetic switches. (It’s also the central thread of The Primal Blueprint.) The point here, as we’ve mentioned many a time, is this: your genetic profile is not simply a static, stagnant code that determines your health trajectory in life. It’s a much more complex a picture than that. Think dynamic process rather than set script. Think active intersection of lifestyle choices with genetic factors instead of rigid, predetermined course. The research into epigenetics teaches us this; we are not passive recipients of physiological fates. We’re active players who can create the path to our own wellness. The Primal Blueprint in this regard ultimately restores and retools your systems by reprogramming your genes themselves. As you think about the role of the PB in your life and particularly in this month’s Primal Challenge, know this. Wherever you are in your health journey, where you’ll be tomorrow, next month or next year is all about what you choose for yourself today. Your progress will be written in your genes themselves.

The Primal Challenge fittingly is all about supporting transition for that deep level of change and success – taking that next key step, doing the next good thing for your health: rethinking food and fitness, exploring new dimensions of wellness in addition to refining your day to day routine. Everybody’s challenge will be unique to where they are in achieving health and wellbeing. For all of us, however, the challenge implies an intellectual expedition and personal journey of sorts. It’s about more than revising our planner pages and switching our daily menus. Sure, this month we’ll be offering up plenty of recipes, workout plans and other Primal lifestyle tips. Laying out a plethora of options can take the guesswork out of the implementation process. But our intention isn’t to make the PB seem like a rote prescriptive plan. Taking on the PB lifestyle means making it your own, learning to see it in contrast to the larger status quo as well as your own (previous) standard operating procedure. Time and experience help you peel away the layers of mis- and disinformation, revealing a new center – a new lens – for your thinking about health, a core of common, albeit unconventional, sense. (Look for more on the Primal lens throughout the Challenge month.)

Living Primally – making sound, unconventional choices in the name of your own health and well-being – involves undoing the years of brainwashing that bad science, big pharma, big agra, advertising execs and even grandma have passed down. There’s a lot to unravel, undo, let go of. It’s about sweeping away the distracting, confusing clutter of modern conventional wisdom – the messages driven by profit, spin, and urban myth rather than biological reality. It’s about getting back to Primal basics, the very actions and choices that offer true health and unmatched vitality. In creating a new Primal lifestyle, we maximize our physiological potential and reprogram our genetic mechanisms themselves. When we revise our thinking and adopt a Primal lens in our lives, we have the power to change our health and physiological future. Reprogramming our mind leads to the ability to reprogram our genes – and restore our health.

But there’s another nuance here. We know our attitudes influence our ability to stay on a healthful course. Our thinking in that way influences our ultimate success (or lack thereof). Yet, it appears there’s even more to the story. Our minds themselves, researchers are finding, have the potential to directly influence our health. In other words, our thoughts play into our physiology. The concept has been key to many Eastern philosophies and wellness practices for centuries, and now it’s a new arena in Western medical research. The mind-body connection. For decades, researchers have acknowledged (and through studies confirmed) the reality of a placebo effect, for example. The placebo effect has been measured as an actual physiological as well as psychological response to an inactive treatment. But it’s not all about sugar pills or bogus interventions. In recent years the power of meditation, as another example, has been shown to slow HIV progression, enlarge areas of the brain, and enhance heart functionality (PDF) in those with cardiovascular disease.

Are we suggesting that you can simply “will” your way to health without doing the real work of taking care of yourself (e.g. eating healthy, exercising regularly)? Absolutely not. This website, after all, is all about the daily work (and play) that sets the Primal Blueprint in motion. Attitude, however, can feed that momentum in very concrete ways. Our emotional experiences and reactions strongly influence our hormonal response. The best diet and exercise efforts can ameliorate but ultimately can’t undo the harsh impact of chronic stress and negative energy. Stress management techniques and positive thinking can transmit their own powerful signals to the body, right down perhaps to the DNA. The point here isn’t to live the perfect Zen existence. Instead of the absence of stress, a more reasonable goal can be fostering a deeper grounding for yourself in the midst of life’s circumstances. Practicing centering techniques can offer a strategy and mental space you can return to throughout your day. A healthy life isn’t always about what you can do away with but how you can learn to live healthily with what’s around you.

In a larger sense, you can ask yourself how your thinking has or hasn’t been aligned with your physical efforts in the past. Has your attitude helped or hindered you? What’s been blocking your progress? Are your mind and body truly aiming their energy in the same direction? In addition to adopting the concrete elements of the Primal lifestyle, we challenge you to take on the psychological side of the coin. Engage your mind this month and direct its power and focus to provide the right conditions for change. For our part, we’ll bring you more on this theme in the next few weeks, and we’ll of course be interested in hearing your feedback throughout the Challenge month.

Comments, questions, ideas for this month’s offerings? Send us your thoughts, and hope you’re enjoying this first Challenge week!

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