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Genes, Self-Esteem, and Exercise

In a recent UCLA study, a variant in the oxytocin receptor gene has demonstrated different expressions of empathy and social skills. In their study, those with one type of variant were predisposed towards depression. Oxytocin is generally related to certain types of outgoing behavior, generousity, and is also known as the "cuddling gene" (from orginal tests that oxytocin made rats cuddle). The study sheds light on an issue that certain people may not have the same fundemental psychological tools to cope with stress and other life challenges, leaving them predisposed and tending toward symptoms of depression.

It's important to note that, according to this study: nobody is doomed to fail. It just means that you have to stimulate your own production of oxytocin. In a study at SUNY Stoney Brook, scientists were able to link dopamine and oxytocin production to people who had a real goal (specifically: this study was about "falling in love"). The production of these two hormones naturally compels a person to a goal, almost like hunting for food or water.

What I find fascinating about these studies is that even if the brain doesn't produce these hormones automatically, someone can still effect their production through their own vices. Obviously, it's easier to accomplish your goals if you are, as we could now argue based on these studies, "a  naturally driven" individual. For those of us who lack this drive, it's important that we recognize the importance of our goals.

Weight loss and fitness are two different achievements. To draw a parallel from a Jewish source: King David praises the righteous who are saved from calamity in Psalm 34. He draws a distinction between withdrawing from what is destructive and committing to that which is constructive. Weight loss is about preventing the onset of diabetes, heart disease, abdominal distention, and other maladies. Fitness is a commitment to preserve and invigorate the body with activity, which stimulates the "good feeling" of the goal driven person with increases in positive hormone production.

Our bodies are receptive to setting goals and pulling ourselves out of a rut. If you need guidance in setting your goals and moving forward, email me at cagefit@gmx.com to talk about yourself and how to set realistic first goals.

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Exercise- Some Motiviation Required

It requires some thought in to why we do and don't do things. Exercise was not really much expected of the average person when there was so much labor to do around the home and job. Our evolution from labor based to service based industries has created a need for us to generate time for activity. Hence- our need for motivation.
Exercise in ancient Greece, for example, was an ingrained part of the religion and culture. The Gymnasium was dedicated to physical perfection, but also developed into a meeting place of philosophers and educators.
In some ways, exercise is a motivator today for people to look attractive, impress their friends, potential friends, or just to make people notice them. Vanity can motivate.
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Body weight, reexamined...

The constant battle with the scale can be unending and unnerving. Before you even consider using it as your guide to a healthy weight, you should really consider the alternatives:

Body fat percentage: this is the most accurate measure of health and fitness. It means a low weight or lean person can have too much body fat and still have the potential for many ailments associated with being "overweight" including Type II diabetes and osteoporosis, for example. A heavier person with normal body fat percentage would actually be better off. Technology allows us to measure body fat percentage through a bioelectric resistance pad, which are those silver pads you can find on some scales. Make sure you purchase that kind of scale because it really appraises you of true progress- more lean tissue and less fat. See how you fall out on the chart below:



Waist-to-Hip Ratio: this is another effective way to measure how much fat has accumulated around the abdomen. As a general rule, the hips …