Twenty-three and Me

by Stephanie Logan

My partner knows of my love for studying history and culture and looking into my family lineage, so for Christmas he bought me a 23andMe membership. I was already fairly certain of the geographical roots of my ancestors and had only one small surprise. What I wasn’t prepared for were some of the physical and behavioral characteristics the geneticists could predict through my genetic code: my misophonia for one.

Misophonia is a condition in which the hearing of normal sounds, often not even noticed by others, causes an emotional reaction in an individual – me. As a child and teen this was something particularly difficult for me: especially while having to listen to others chew. And, as children often do, I thought that everyone experienced what I experienced. So in an effort to be sure that no one else felt as miserable as I did when eating a meal, I tried to discipline myself to chew so silently that not even I could hear it. Of course this was impossible, but it didn’t stop my attempts. My misophonia worsened as a teen then tapered off in intensity as I aged. But, if I am in a room full of people eating together, my ear still picks out the food-slopper almost immediately.

More shocking to me was the genetic code that predicted my weight. They told me what a woman of my ancestory, height, and age would weigh on average. Then they told me that my genetic code indictates that I would naturally carry 8% more weight than that average.

I thought, “Nah!” They couldn’t predict that. So, I found the calculator on my smart phone and did the math.

Every year my weight fluctuates almost the same amount. In the summer, when I feel like I can live on melon, zucchini, and tomato sandwhiches, I generally weigh the average for my ancestory, height, and age. In the winter when hearty foods are staples, and melon and tomatoes are relatively tasteless, I generally fall into the eight percent above average range. Then I checked my Google Fit and the difference is exactly eight percent this year between July and January.

Eight percent above average weight is hard wired into my genetic code. My mother’s voice, the Weight Watchers of my youth, and Noom (decidedly better than WW) of my present have tried to tell me that it is my food choices or will power or activity level or even my unhealthy emotional relationship with food.

But is isn’t!

It’s genetics.

And also seasons.

Summer heat and activity and produce produce a leaner me. Winter inactivity and seasonal starches produce a heartier me. And both of them are perfectly fine versions of me.

This could have been very helpful knowledge for me twenty-four years ago when I found Gwen Shamblin’s Weigh Down Workshop. It became one of the most physically and emotionally unhealthy times in my life as Ms. Shamblin taught what was essentially starvation for the sake of spirituality and managed to build a cult around it.

I got out before getting all the way to the cult part but not before I hurt myself and the baby I was carrying in the year 2000.

Former Evangelical homeschool mom and one-time missionary and pastor’s wife, Stephanie Logan, aka Snicklefritz, writes from her life story and four decades of experience in the evangelical movement. Her views and stories are her own.

Copyright © 2023


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