We are what our ancestors ate

Harry Bichakjian, my maternal grandfather

I had a chat with my doctor about weight. Hers as well as mine.

She’s quite proud to have reached and maintained her Weight Watcher’s life goal. The downside is that this has her convinced anyone can shrink and stay shrunk.

Is that annoying or what?

I’ve followed all her advice and then some: reducing portions, cutting back on fat and sugar, adding whole grains and walking more. It works, but the results aren’t exactly dramatic.

Me: Doug Kalajian

Why is that? The doc’s theory, believe it or not, is that it’s an Armenian thing.

“You probably inherited the gene that kept people alive during hard times,” she says.
I’ve heard this theory before, although not in regard to me. While reporting a series of stories a few years back, I interviewed several weight-loss experts who suggested that people who survived historic famines and other upheavals were the ones who had the ability to store enough fat to carry them through.

Their descendants inherited the same ability, only it’s not exactly a blessing in an age of abundance.

This would explain why I share a waistline as well as hairline with my maternal grandfather, Harry Bichakjian, who looked enough like me to be my slightly older brother. Grandpa, a cook and restaurateur, appears to have carried ample reserves of lamb fat.

Grandpa died long before I came along, so I can’t compare dietary notes with him. But I’d be foolish to ignore his example, because he was only a few years older than I am now when his heart gave out.

The doctor says I just have to keep increasing my exercise level until my metabolism overrides its genetic setting. I’m skeptical, but I’m willing to try.
It isn’t easy to overcome the weight of Armenian history, is it?
(Visited 79 times, 1 visits today)


  1. Ara April 30, 2010 at 3:50 pm

    Hey Doug, I share your pain, man! I have been struggling with those darn genes most of my life! But with most of my family being overweight and my doctor saying that high blood pressure and heart problems are endemic among the Armenian population, I gotta do something!

    Fortunately, I seem to have found the perfect solution. I noticed that, whenever I go on vacation, I seem to lose weight. Went to Brazil, lost 10 pounds. Went to Spain, lost another 10. So, apparently, the solution to the Armenian problem is to travel more! I don't know if it's walking all day looking at sights or the fact that portions are smaller in most foreign countries, but whatever it is, I can certainly live with diet program!

    Good luck!

  2. RetroKali April 30, 2010 at 5:20 pm

    makes a lot of sense.

  3. Anonymous May 1, 2010 at 3:01 am

    Sense sounds more like we need more activity at home. Perhaps walk for that quart of milk instead of going by car.(Or park a few blocks away from the store.) I think I might try this.

  4. Bonnie May 1, 2010 at 3:39 am

    Love the similarity in photos, Doug, though, with the quality of grandpa's photo, it may not extend much beyond the mustache and glasses. (No groucho marks, please.)

  5. Doug May 1, 2010 at 6:23 pm

    I think Ara's suggestion is definitely worth a try!

    More walking is high on the agenda, too. Right after a snack…

  6. David Blasco May 2, 2010 at 3:23 pm

    An amusing item, that will no doubt load this blog up with Weight Loss ads!


Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *