Dan John: Wandering Weights, Issue # 126

Wandering Weights
Our Epic Journey Through All Things Heavy, Issue # 126

We know this already but sometimes forget: Being in shape for a sport is different than being “in shape.” Here’s Mike Boyle on conditioning.


I’m not a huge golf fan, but I like the Masters. They do a nice job on the coverage but, yes, I do get tired of the reverential tone of the announcers. I thought the special they did on Arnold Palmer was excellent and, of course, ending in a playoff was marvelous.

The Masters is also one of my signs that summer is near. Here in Utah, we play a fun game with the weather. Let’s explain the rules:

I plan a party for my daughter’s birthday; she is 27 and the parties are MUCH more fun when your kids get older. It’s Spring in Utah…so we make a decision about where to host the event.

The game begins!

  • We plan an outdoor brunch and the weather responds.
  • Massive rain storm. (Traditional opening salvo from Utah weather)
  • I move everything inside.
  • Perfect weather follows.
  • Everyone goes outside to play Corn Hole and ask why we didn’t set up outside.
  • I move things outside.
  • Snowstorm hits.

I give this round to the weather.

Before discussing some interesting things from the Internet, I recently bought Brad Pilon’s ebook on gut flora. He has a nice Q and A at the end with a list of foods to consider for health. I have been keeping a “magic list” of foods for years. I have lists from all over the place:

American Lung Association
Most Allergenic Foods (Foods that trigger allergies)

Men’s Journal
The Superfoods
Olive oil

Dr. Elson Haas
Interview with “Mind and Muscle Power”
Least Allergic Foods
Salmon (and other deep sea fish, like halibut and sole)
Sweet potatoes

(He goes on to recommend cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, apricots, beets, squashes, olives, olive oil, cranberries, herbal teas and tapioca.)

Best Polyphenol Foods
Brad Pilon
Good Belly/Bad Belly
Dark chocolate
Olives (green and black)
Black currants
Orange juice
Red wine
Dark coffee

So, if you are looking for foods that “win:”

The olive family

Let’s look around the net this week. I thought this nice piece from Jay Ashman was excellent. Training can’t always be focused on Olympic gold.

“I have gone from four days a week to three days a week in the gym because I no longer want to be tied down to training. I want it to complement my life.

“I simplified it all and I feel goddamn great.

“Physically, mentally, it is a nice breath of fresh air.

“I am getting stronger. I am increasing work capacity and conditioning. I am adding muscle. I am pleased.

“I have no real goals right now other than progress. That is working for me.

“I train hard, I focus on what I enjoy, and I live my life.”

I visit Open Culture every day. Sometimes, the artists teach the athletes better than any coach. I thought this piece was brilliant.


  1. Seek out instruction: A good teacher will help you understand the purpose of practicing and can teach you ways to make practicing easier and more productive.
  2. Write out a schedule: A schedule helps you organize your time. Be sure to allow time to review the fundamentals because they are the foundation of all the complicated things that come later.
  3. Set goals: Like a schedule, goals help you organize your time and chart your progress…. If a certain task turns out to be really difficult, relax your goals: practice doesnʼt have to be painful to achieve results.
  4. Concentrate: You can do more in 10 minutes of focused practice than in an hour of sighing and moaning. This means no video games, no television, no radio, just sitting still and working…. Concentrated effort takes practice too, especially for young people.
  5. Relax and practice slowly: Take your time; donʼt rush through things. Whenever you set out to learn something new – practicing scales, multiplication tables, verb tenses in Spanish – you need to start slowly and build up speed.
  6. Practice hard things longer: Donʼt be afraid of confronting your inadequacies; spend more time practicing what you canʼt do…. Successful practice means coming face to face with your shortcomings. Donʼt be discouraged; youʼll get it eventually.
  7. Practice with expression: Every day you walk around making yourself into “you,” so do everything with the proper attitude…. Express your “style” through how you do what you do.
  8. Learn from your mistakes: None of us are perfect, but donʼt be too hard on yourself. If you drop a touchdown pass, or strike out to end the game, itʼs not the end of the world. Pick yourself up, analyze what went wrong and keep going….
  9. Donʼt show off: Itʼs hard to resist showing off when you can do something well…. But my father told me, “Son, those who play for applause, thatʼs all they get.” When you get caught up in doing the tricky stuff, youʼre just cheating yourself and your audience.
  10. Think for yourself: Your success or failure at anything ultimately depends on your ability to solve problems, so donʼt become a robot…. Thinking for yourself helps develop your powers of judgment.
  11. Be optimistic: Optimism helps you get over your mistakes and go on to do better. It also gives you endurance because having a positive attitude makes you feel that something great is always about to happen.
  12. Look for connections: If you develop the discipline it takes to become good at something, that discipline will help you in whatever else you do…. The more you discover the relationships between things that at first seem different, the larger your world becomes. In other words, the woodshed can open up a whole world of possibilities.

End quote

This article is an older piece, but I think it ties in with Wynton’s insights:

“Nassim Taleb offers an explanation to the mental perils of non-linear rewards in Fooled by Randomness:

“’Our brain is not cut out for nonlinearities. People think that if, say, two variables are causally linked, then a steady input in one variable should always yield a result in the other one. Our emotional apparatus is designed for linear causality. For instance, you study every day and learn something in proportion to your studies. If you do not feel that you are going anywhere, your emotions will cause you to become demoralized. But reality rarely gives us the privilege of a satisfying linear positive progression: You may study for a year and learn nothing, then, unless you are disheartened by the empty results and give up, something will come to you in a flash. . . This summarizes why there are routes to success that are nonrandom, but few, very few, people have the mental stamina to follow them. . . Most people give up before the rewards.’

“If you train yourself to be emotionally rewarded for actions taken rather than outcomes you may be able to lengthen the time you can spend in active ‘failure’ and increase your chances of success.

“A possible solution is to reward yourself for following your system rather than achieving a specific outcome. Select a system you know will lead to success and follow it.

“Eating right vs. losing 20 pounds. Building a business vs. achieving financial independence. Going on dates vs. having a successful relationship. The first are systems, the second are goals.

“Scott Adams, the creator of ‘Dilbert,’ champions this idea in How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big:

“’Goal-oriented people exist in a state of continuous pre-success failure at best, and permanent failure at worst if things never work out. Systems people succeed every time they apply their systems, in the sense that they did what they intended to do. The goals people are fighting the feeling of discouragement at each turn. The systems people are feeling good every time they apply their system. That’s a big difference in terms of maintaining your personal energy in the right direction.’

“When I set a goal of ‘210 pounds and 13% body fat’ I stopped going to the gym and began eating stupid amounts of ice cream. When I decided on the system of ‘work out every day’ I began a real path to fitness success.

“That’s the easy step. The next is the real challenge.”

This article is right on about the issue with pull-ups. Most people don’t have the grip strength to actually do pull-ups. I really enjoyed this.

“I started with the basic dead hang. The dead hang is such a great introduction to calisthenics bar training. It not only preps the hands but also decompresses the spine. Plus it opens up the chest so you can gain better shoulder mobility.

“Start out with 10-30 seconds at a time. From there you can build to longer hangs. I recommend playing with different grips on the bar as well: Supinated, pronated and alternated grips are all fair game. I also suggest using a variety of different hand widths to add to the benefits of the dead hang. Using different grips will work the body in different ways, which can help you discover where your individual strengths and weakness lie.”

I’m not sure I saw a better piece on finance and fitness in the past year than this short and simple article. I loved it.

“They plan out the day and write things down

“‘Those who maintain both a calendar and to-do list are 289 percent more likely to be millionaires, as compared with those who have no real set schedule,’ writes Bell. He also found that successful people ‘document insights.’

“Case in point: Self-made billionaires Bill Gates and Richard Branson are devoted note-takers. ‘When inspiration calls, you’ve got to capture it,’ says Branson.”

This article dovetails well with the previous article.

“Regardless of the size of your paycheck, you probably already make enough money to become rich.” —David Bach.

“‘How much you earn has almost no bearing on whether or not you can and will build wealth,’ writes self-made millionaire David Bach in ‘The Automatic Millionaire.’ It’s not about how money much you make, he says, but how much you keep

“The good news is that you don’t have to earn six figures to start saving and investing — anyone can find ways to set aside a portion of their income.

“The philosophy is one of paying yourself first. The key is to start as early as possible, in order to reap the full benefits of compound interest.”

My wife, Tiffini, insists I add this article. She argues this is her secret to genius.

“A Yale doctor says drinking a certain beverage, activates more of your brain, than doing any other human activity.

“We’re talking about wine, and it doesn’t matter what bottle you grab as long as you sip it slow, and take in the flavor.

“‘The old joke is everyone is a little bit smarter after they’ve had their first glass of wine,’ Wine expert Jan Fridrichsen said.”

Until next week, let’s keep lifting and learning.


This week we have another free lecture for you. It’s David Weck talking about spinal rotation vs bracing. He’s the guy who created the BOSU, in case you didn’t recognize the name. Check out his discussion of his Head Over Foot™ alignment idea—availiable in video, audio and text (all free).

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