by: Jeremy Balkin

Jeremy Balkin discusses his health journey and how myDNA Wellness helped him not only reach his goal weight, but also find a sustainable balance for his health and wellness.

Transformation photos at the end!

By 4 a.m., I’d already gone through the whole routine.

  • Hours of television to zone out from the day.
  • Three to four snack/soda breaks for dopamine as I zoned out.
  • One to two bathroom breaks to complement the three to four soda breaks.
  • Scrolling endlessly through my phone to keep my brain active as I zoned out.

Keep in mind this was 2011, so scrolling wasn’t the existential nightmare it is today, but it still wasn’t great. By 4:30 AM, I still wasn’t asleep. I started getting heartburn, so I got up for some Tums.

Oh no. I was out of Tums.

At that moment, on this exact night, something clicked in my mind. In hindsight, I like to think it happened due to a newfound resolve I made to myself to be healthier, happier, and maybe lose some weight in the process. In reality, it was probably mainly the discomfort from the heartburn.

Either way, at that moment, I was not physically or mentally healthy. I made a conscious choice to make sure I’d never have a night like this again.

However, I’d made this resolution before. Many times. I made promises to myself that would never stick. However, I did have a routine. I’d visit the gym maybe once a week and do maybe 5–10 total minutes of intense exercise.

Unhealthy Habits Led Me to Believe I Was Fine

The routine also included a lot of sweet baked goods. Working at a bakery at the time with a large surplus did not help this cake-specific situation. Employees of the bakery, like myself, would often trade the surplus food with the fried chicken place down the street. But, of course, I’d tell myself that this was fine. Chicken has protein. AND zinc.

All the while, I’d also convinced myself that going 5–10 minutes on the elliptical machine as hard as I possibly could to the point of dizziness was peak health and tippy-top living, so the food I ate didn’t matter. Also zinc.

I Lost Some Weight, But Remained Unhealthy

However, I remained pretty mentally and physically miserable. That night, in bed, something changed. I don’t know if it was a strong desire to better myself or my impending death, but I stuck to my word.

I started controlling the portions that I ate and ended up losing 100 pounds in 7 months. I’m going to skip over the details here because my route to get there wasn’t ideal. I am certain some, if not all, nutritionists would call my methods unsafe and unfit for the human body.

I Lost Some Weight, But Remained Unhealthy - FamilyTreeDNA Blog

I would lie awake at night but now for different reasons—usually hunger. Scrolling through my phone took me primarily to pictures of the fried chicken and cakes I could only dream of eating in my past life at the bakery.

Traditional Health Habits Became Difficult To Maintain

It wasn’t until well after that that I truly became healthy. I began exercising daily, doing a more well balanced mixture of weight training and moderate cardio. I had more energy. My heartburn was gone. My diet wasn’t as restrictive as it was in those first seven months. I appreciated the food I ate much more.

Traditional Health Habits Became Difficult to Maintain - FamilyTreeDNA Blog

But over time, even this lifestyle became tiring. As a creature of routine, my meals evolved to be boring again, and my workouts were the same. I’d never had a personal trainer or followed any kind of workout or diet regime other than whatever I thought seemed healthy.

myDNA Wellness Insights Provide Sustainable Health Habits

Around this time, my employer, FamilyTreeDNA, merged with myDNA under the flagship Gene by Gene brand. Australian-based myDNA was looking to rapidly expand its reach into other areas and demographics. Myself and my team were tasked with learning the basics of what they do to provide support for customers in the US.

I set up my own Wellness account and quickly got my insights, which were based specifically on my DNA results. I learned first that my body is more prone to storing excess fat and that I’m genetically inclined to feel less full in general.

myDNA Wellness Insights Provide Sustainable Health Habits - FamilyTreeDNA Blog

‘Would you look at that?,’ I hypothetically asked myself. Also, there were lots of ‘huhs’ and ‘hmphs.’ More insights like these (30+) were added to my profile as time went on. My brow continued furrowing.

So, I’m more likely to be less full and more likely to store fat. Okay.

How can I put any of this to use rather than keep eating my boring, restrictive, diet and doing exercises I think are good?

The real gift myDNA has given me personally are the tailored meal and workout plans. Being healthy apparently isn’t restricted to exclusively baked chicken and burpees.

Custom Meal Plans Provide a Framework For Healthy Eating

I started playing around with the meal plans first. It mapped out for me meals/recipes specific to my genetic results. If I didn’t like a specific meal it gave me, I’d simply click Change to substitute it for another one with similar nutrients.

Custom Meal Plans Provide a Framework For Healthy Eating - FamilyTreeDNA Blog

Though it gave me a lot of options, I’d sometimes opt to eat something of my choosing. But, it was and is a great supplement to my daily health, as is the gym I frequent, my personal trainer there, my support network of family and friends, etc.

Recommended Workouts Provide Options For Training

Next, I looked at the workouts on the app. Until then, I’d basically been doing the exact same workouts every day for years. This helped show not just a better variety for my full body and specific areas I needed work on but ones recommended based on the DNA markers it originally detected for me.

The workouts include instructional videos and guidance throughout the process. And yes, I still go to the gym several times a week and see a personal trainer there about once a week. I sometimes do the workouts he recommends. Other times, I’ll work on what I think I should work on.

Recommended Workouts Provide Options For Training - FamilyTreeDNA Blog

Still other times, I use myDNA workouts to mix things up more and get more fitness from a mix of sources.

myDNA Insights Helped Me Reach My Goals and Confidence To Maintain Them

Since I started using myDNA, I am down 10 lbs and 4% body fat. I am finally at both my goal weight and strength level.

This, of course, will change. Life isn’t perfect, and I will inevitably fall off track sometimes. I’ll gain weight. I’ll lose weight. I’ll go on vacation and eat whatever I want for two weeks straight. I’ll be sad. I’ll be happy.

However, long-term fitness isn’t about gaining or losing weight from week to week or even necessarily eating healthy every day or every week. It’s about consistently sticking to your plan as much as is comfortable for you and knowing that no matter what happens, you are safe in the knowledge that you’re living in a way that fits you.

myDNA Insights Helped Me Reach My Goals and Confidence To Maintain Them - FamilyTreeDNA Blog
A before and after shot of me.

My original plan of a very restrictive diet and the same workout every day eventually stopped working for me. It got boring. It got repetitive. myDNA is one of many tools to help you live a balanced life in the most thorough way you want.

How can I purchase myDNA Wellness through FamilyTreeDNA?

To get started on your own health journey:

  • If you already have Family Finder results with us, you can upgrade to the Wellness product from myDNA by signing in to your FamilyTreeDNA account and scrolling down to the Additional Tests & Tools widget near the bottom of your dashboard. There you will see the myDNA Wellness Membership section, simply click on the myDNA Wellness button.
How can I purchase myDNA Wellness through FamilyTreeDNA? - FamilyTreeDNA Blog
Jeremy Balkin - FamilyTreeDNA Blog

About the Author

Jeremy Balkin

Customer Service Manager at FamilyTreeDNA

Jeremy Balkin has been active in genetic genealogy for 11+ years and has been writing his whole adult life. Through helping customers daily, helping his team, and continuing to write, he hopes to continue to connect with more people on the subject using his own blend of knowledge and humor.

Working for FamilyTreeDNA itself has shaped the past quarter of his life, and mostly for the better. It has become a part of him, and he hopes to never lose it. In his free time, Jeremy likes to spend time with his nine-year-old son and girlfriend, Gillian.