What Would You Do If You Knew At 20 What You Knew Now?

Hindsight may be 20-20, but it's never too late to start making changes for the better.

24 Jan, 2018



Imagine if you knew at age 20 all the lessons you learnt about your body by the time you were 40, how valuable would that be?

I recently got access to my Fitness Report from myDNA. It was a revelation.

When I was 20

When I was 20, it was 1998. I had started an internship in London and took up kick-boxing with a friend. It was quite satisfying. We would return to our shared flat pumped up and continue to fight. We quickly discovered that we were more likely to hurt ourselves than anyone else when we tried a roundhouse kick when we weren’t warmed up.

I got into jogging and completed a 10k run. But there were times when my main source of exercise was running for the tube after a few glasses of wine.

Eventually I got into yoga and hiking to escape the craziness of city life.

a person sitting at a table reading a newspaper with a cup of coffee and slice of toast
Exercise in my thirties

On relocating to Melbourne aged 30, I had a go at swimming, but it didn’t last long. Yoga and aerobics were my thing, until pregnancy and a dodgy pelvis made that tricky.

After two babies, I tried to get back into shape. Mostly I pushed a pram around. I tried group training but a couple of sessions left me with a bad knee, highlighting how weak I’d become.

Getting fit for 40 and beyond

With 40 just around the corner, I realised that I needed to do something to get stronger and joined a gym. I’ve been there for six months and the strength in my knee has changed substantially for the better. It’s not only my knee. So much of my body feels stronger as a result. I feel that strength training feels like the best thing that I can do for my health in the long term.

When I got my Fitness Report

When I got my fitness results, it felt like a snapshot of me. The first thing I noticed was that I have naturally low stamina, which wasn’t great news.

The main contributor is my PPARGC1A gene variation, which is relatively rare (13.3% of the population). Whilst it’s disappointing, it also goes some way to explaining why I’m no endurance athlete. It showed me that others have a natural advantage over me when it comes to stamina. I need to work harder than others to get the same results.

The upside of this is that I am more suited to power sports, which means my muscles are equipped to work at full power in sports that rely on sudden bursts of energy. Whilst I’ve never been a sprinter or high jumper, this was the most valuable part of the report for me. It reaffirmed my decision to go to the gym and to focus on weights.

Renewed enthusiasm

The knowledge of my results has perked me up. I’ve always exercised cautiously, but my results suggest that I have more potential than I appreciated. I began putting my weights up more often. It turns out I can lift some decent weights for a small person, but my personal trainer has stressed the importance of technique. It’s no use putting the weights up if technique is sacrificed on the way.

Surprising revelations

I was surprised to learn that my overall injury risk is normal. In fact, my COL1A1 result puts me in the 4.4% of the population who have a reduced risk and better supported joints. This was surprising because I have a history of over-mobile joints, but it seems that the research is still unclear as to which genes, or combination of genes, influence this condition.

Even with an overall ‘normal’ injury risk, injuries are more likely when you’re not strong. So my results don’t mean that I can be complacent.

Probably the biggest wake-up call has come from my Fitness workout program. The examples of what a week could look like underline to me that I am simply not doing enough. It’s time to diversify and add a few more workouts into my regular training program.

If I could turn back time

So what would I have done differently if I had known my results?

I think if I had understood my capacity to build muscle, I would have been inspired to focus on it when I was younger. Maybe I’d have stuck at kick boxing for longer and got better at it as a result.

I can’t rewind time. And life involves a degree of experimentation. But I think I’d have benefited from having a greater appreciation of my physical potential at an earlier age.
What will your myDNA Fitness Report reveal about you?

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