Genetics are not the reason, but an excuse: My 300-pound weight loss story


In one of the most popular episodes of our Genetic Jackpot Podcast, Shannon spoke to Emily Brown of Genetic Garden about how your genetics can impact your diet and overall health.

First, I would recommend listening to it and consider it. It’s a good interview and it’s a subject that’s worth exploring for a few reasons:

1. There’s plenty of evidence to suggest that genetics can have an impact on obesity. Whether it’s family history or how you behave, there are plenty of credible studies to suggest there’s a link – ranging from various institutions, including the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. You can read more here.

2. There’s also growing evidence to suggest that genes may be linked to the type of food you like – and obviously, that shapes your diet. If you hate vegetables, that may discourage a vegan or vegetarian diet. If your body does not react well to meat, it’s the other way around – you’re most likely going that route.

3. Obesity is the single most important health issue facing the United States. It adds billions of dollars in health care costs every year. The military is having issues expanding its size due to possible recruits being out of shape. Obesity is a national security issue and an issue that needs to be address. Any possible solution or theory that brings the topic of weight management up is crucial and needed.

With that said, however, I’d like to propose this: While genes can be a reason for obesity, they are not THE reason.

About six years ago, I weighed over 550 pounds. I wore size 56 pants. I wore 4XL – 5XL shirts.

As of today, I have lost over 300 pounds. At one point, I had dropped 327 pounds, but I have gained some back in the form of muscle following a four-month weight-lifting program.

Now, I have not taken a DNA test for various reasons. I don’t know if I have the obesity gene or not.

But I can tell you this – it did not matter if you make dieting, exercise and weight loss a life choice. If I have the obesity gene, magically it did not matter these past six years because I’ve been shredding weight and fat.

If you’ve seen the movie Back to the Future, think of genetics like you might time traveling – your future is not pre-determined. You may have some disadvantages, but you also have some advantages.

Before and after our interview with Emily, I spoke about my weight loss journey and shared some of my story on this podcast. I also wrote a book earlier this year about weight loss.

I explore some of those themes below. If you enjoy this podcast, check out our other episodes below.

Listen to The Genetic Jackpot Podcast! Episodes below.

You can also listen on our iTunes page here

Episode 9: Exploring the link between weight loss, diet and genetics

Episode 8: The backlog of thousands of untested rape kits

Episode 7: Chicago news anchor’s journey to Africa for answers

Episode 6: Helping younger generations become aware of DNA

Episode 5: DNA’s Role in the Golden State Killer Case

Episode 4: Opening up the “Pandora’s Box”

Episode 3: Pets and DNA

Episode 2: To test or not to test?

DNA could lead to justice for boy robbed at North Carolina lemonade stand


By NICK SLOAN, Genetic Jackpot

DNA has helped crack numerous unsolved murder cases and rape cases across the country.

Then there’s this – it could play a hand in finding the suspect who robbed a 9-year-old child who was operating a lemonade stand in North Carolina.

The Union County Sheriff’s Office said the boy was held up by a teenager late last week, netting the crook a grand total of $17.

So far, authorities have discovered evidence, including a hat, BB pistol and a metal cash box. The box is being tested for fingerprints and DNA, The New York Post reports.

Here’s the full press release from the sheriff’s office in Monroe, NC:

Union County Sheriff’s Deputies are pursuing leads in connection with a robbery occurring at the roundabout near the entrance to St. John’s Forest around 3:00 pm yesterday. Deputies responded to a report of an armed robbery involving a 9 year old boy selling lemonade.

The boy was allegedly approached by a teenage black male suspect wearing a camo hat and black shirt. The suspect allegedly stuck a black handgun to the boy’s stomach, demanded money and fled the scene on foot.

While searching the area for the suspect, deputies located a trail in the woods where a camo hat, a black colored BB handgun and the stolen metal tin were recovered. Deputies believe the suspect left a bicycle and walked from there to the lemonade stand before the robbery.

If anyone has information that might assist detectives in this matter, please notify the Sheriff’s Office or Union County Crimestoppers.

Episode 9: Exploring the link between weight loss, diet and genetics

How important are your genes when it comes to fitting in your jeans? In this week’s episode of Genetic Jackpot, we explore how genes can impact obesity and the food you like.


We speak to Emily Brown of Genetic Garden about how your genes, diet and overall health can be connected.

We also have a discussion about the obesity gene and while it may exist, it doesn’t serve as a permanent road map to your life and Nick shares his story of his 320-pound weight loss journey.


Episode 8: The backlog of thousands of untested rape kits

Episode 7: Chicago news anchor’s journey to Africa for answers

Episode 6: Helping younger generations become aware of DNA

Episode 5: DNA’s Role in the Golden State Killer Case

Episode 4: Opening up the “Pandora’s Box”

Episode 3: Pets and DNA

Episode 2: To test or not to test?

Episode #1: An introduction to The Genetic Jackpot

Episode 7: Chicago news anchor’s journey to Africa for answers

downloadFor many, online records and databases can serve as our primary source of research into our families following a DNA tests.

Many others, unfortunately, do not have that option. WGN anchor Cortney Hall spoke to us about her journey to Senegal after a DNA test revealed she was of Senegalese Mandinka ancestry.

She shares her story with us, then we chat about the unique difficulty African-Americans can face when researching their own history.

Episode 6: Helping younger generations become aware of DNA

3330fa0a364d9ef1722def2e693bd088Back when we were in high school, we learned what was known about DNA through boring textbooks and lectures. Thankfully for today’s high school students, there’s a new way to become aware of DNA.

Throughout the nation, undergraduate students are traveling to high schools to help students learn and become aware of the power of DNA.

They’re using interactive modules in their efforts.

We spoke with Lynn Villafuerte, Assistant Director of Graduate Program Services at the University of Kansas, about this and the future of DNA.

Episode 5: DNA’s Role in the Golden State Killer Case

220px-Original_Night_Stalker-East_Area_RapistFor years, authorities in California have pursued an individual believed to be responsible for at least 12 murders, more than 50 rapes and over 100 burglaries.

This week, a suspect was arrested after matching crime scene DNA with genetic material that was stored by a distant relative on GEDmatch.

The case has garnered compliments for crafty police work, but also generated some privacy concerns.

Joining Shannon Halligan and Nick Sloan in this special episode to discuss the Golden State Killer case is Michael Tabman, a retired agent from the FBI and security consultant.

Episode 4: Opening up the “Pandora’s Box”

205362_317911191636887_2008363276_nA Chicago area biologist discovers he’s related to a world famous pop band from India! We were joined in this episode by Robert Sliwinski of DNA Explorers to talk more about this.

DNA testing can be simple….but it can also lead to complicated results.

“Here’s the thing, it is a Pandora’s Box, you may learn something you don’t want to know.”

Have you opened your box?

Let us know if you made any discoveries (good or bad) after DNA testing!