Dan John: Wandering Weights, Issue # 139

Wandering Weights
Our Epic Journey Through All Things Heavy, Issue # 139

O lifting coach Glenn Pendlay has coached his lifters to over 100 national championships . . . they’re not all young. His plans for older lifters highlight the physical and mental differences in their programs. 


Temperatures have been rising here in Utah. We were sneaking over 40 Celsius the other day, 104 degrees Fahrenheit, and lifestyle changes had to be made. I played several hours of Cornhole, a wonderful summer game, and drank lemonade. I have a new outdoor shower that shoots the water up and that causes some instant relief, too.

The best part of my new shower is that it matches our deck wood perfectly. It is turned on by standing on it, so I am pretty sure the grandkids will find this delightful. My dog is not a fan.

Training in summer in my gym really brings out the sweat. We all find that “warming up” has little or no meaning this time of year. This is the time of year to work on all of the stuff we miss during our winter months: the faster loaded carries, additional groundwork and ropes and rings.

As I went around the net this week, I found these two interesting things about The Hobbit. The Soviets never recognized copyrights, but I found these both interesting. I couldn’t make it through the whole video, but it is better than the American adaptations at about the same time.

While we are on the topic, this early review of The Hobbit by C. S. Lewis is worth rereading:

“You must read for yourself to find out how inevitable the change is and how it keeps pace with the hero’s journey. Though all is marvellous, nothing is arbitrary: all the inhabitants of Wilderland seem to have the same unquestionable right to their existence as those of our own world, though the fortunate child who meets them will have no notion—and his unlearned elders not much more—of the deep sources in our blood and tradition from which they spring.

“For it must be understood that this is a children’s book only in the sense that the first of many readings can be undertaken in the nursery. Alice is read gravely by children and with laughter by grown ups; The Hobbit, on the other hand, will be funnier to its youngest readers, and only years later, at a tenth or a twentieth reading, will they begin to realise what deft scholarship and profound reflection have gone to make everything in it so ripe, so friendly, and in its own way so true. Prediction is dangerous: but The Hobbit may well prove a classic.”

Kirk Adams, MS, RKC is the Head Performance Coach at Golf & Body NYC, has worked with me at RKC events. I thought this article was a nice introduction to the importance of community.

“Training consistently and reaching your fitness goals is always harder when you go it alone. Having a community by your side with standards that hold you accountable help increase your chances for success. Dragon Door has built that community through its courses, books, and instructors. A community gives people somewhere to turn to when they have questions or need support along their journey. Dragon Door has also set standards for basic and exceptional levels of fitness based on gender, age and weight. These standards are excellent training goals. These goals and community accountability can help everyone stay consistent with their training even when personal motivation drops.”

This is an older article, but I find it helps support why fish oil might be a good supplement. I know little about “maresins.”

“‘We’ve known for a long time that DHA tames inflammation, now, we learn exactly how DHA works: via new substances called maresins,’ said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal. ‘We encounter inflammation almost daily, but our body has ways of turning it off. This is an important step toward understanding exactly this happens. You’re likely to be hearing a lot more about maresins if, or when, new therapies arise from this discovery.'”

I thought this simple paragraph spoke volumes about the role of nutrition in elite performance.

“Men’s Health asked Froome whether it was easy for him to stay lean:

“‘No. I think hard about the quality of the food I’m eating – organic fruit, vegetables and meat wherever possible. It’s a common misconception that because we’re training five or six hours a day that we can eat what we want and burn it off. It really is a case of watching every little thing you put in your mouth and how it’s going to benefit you. Your body really does respond to tweaks then.'”

Sarah Young does an excellent job here in talking about the full vision of health and performance by reminding us of an important key.

“And the beautiful thing is, I’ve also noticed how gratitude began to create more room for possibility and potential in other areas of my life. By slowing down and pressing the gratitude reset I could see and affirm the goodness that already exists in my life. And as I shared my gratitude with others for the goodness and the blessings they brought into my life… well… an amazing cascade of gratitude would flow. And as gratitude flowed, so did kindness and grace.

“Now am I perfect in my practice of pressing reset with gratitude? Oh. Hell. No. There are days I’m full on cranky. But each moment offers me the chance to choose again. Each moment offers me the invitation to move from good to better to best. And if I gratefully accept the invitation… goodness happens. And my goal, my intention, is to have more moments where I’m grounded in gratitude than moments I’m not. To experience more moments of wonder and kindness and grace. So I’m thinking, that while I’m not really a New Year’s resolution type, I’m going to make 2017 my year of Pressing Reset with Gratitude. Care to join me?”

I was very happy to lead Lee Bacchi through his RKC. I find this article very interesting.


Dragon Door: Before your interview, Dan John told me that you’re a Catholic priest. Are you also considering teaching others to use kettlebells?

Lee Bacchi: I haven’t done it yet, but I hope that I can start training others. Now that I have the RKC certification, I feel more confident. But again, being able to open myself up to new ideas and new experiences—with the humility and patience to do it right, is an idea that can be translated into anybody’s profession and life. And teaching others (especially “more mature” folks) about how to stave off the effects of aging with kettlebells will be enormously satisfying. I don’t know if I am the only “person of the cloth” to earn an RKC, but I am certainly one of the oldest!

But I think it’s not so much about the kettlebell itself, but the approach you have to take with kettlebell training—humility, patience, and consistency. Those three things apply to anybody and in any area of life.

Now, people in the gym see me working out with kettlebells and ask me about it. Most big box gym trainers don’t really know how to train people with kettlebells unless they have a kettlebell certification. When I talked to the guy using kettlebells in the gym three years ago, he made sure to tell me I really needed to learn from a master in order to use kettlebells correctly; otherwise you’ll hurt yourself.

About a month before the RKC, I was training in the gym doing heavy one-arm swings and snatches. After I put the kettlebell down between a sets to rest, a woman walked up shaking her finger at me saying, “You know, mister, you’re going to really screw up your back if you keep using those. I know that because I did!” Then she walked away. And I thought to myself, that she probably did not have good instruction or didn’t follow it. It’s just like when people tell trainers that they don’t do squats because squats hurt their knees. It’s usually not the squat, instead it’s how they’re doing the squats which is causing the injury and pain.

End quote

It’s true: 95% of weight loss probably happens in the kitchen and dining table. But, very often people improve by focusing on exercise. I like this article a lot.

“My weight loss ‘secret’ is so, so dumb

“Just so we’re completely clear about how unqualified I am to tell people how to lose weight, I’ll run down how I lost that 100 pounds. Basically, I just went to the gym, and I … walked. On a treadmill, uphill, at a brisk pace, for about an hour every day — and I do mean every day — from July to April. That’s more or less it! I started grad school in August, which meant I moved out of my parents’ house and away from their immaculately stocked refrigerator, and also meant the place where I worked all day was located more than a 10-foot walk from where I slept, which also helped, but that’s more or less it! That is not something I can monetize.

“You’ll notice I talked mostly about weight loss through exercise rather than diet, despite the fact that the current scientific thinking says that eating less is way, way more important than working out. The thing is, though, it was a lot easier for me to hop on a treadmill than to cut portions, at least at first. So I just ignored the (frequently contradictory) mountains of literature on the best way to lose weight and just focused on finding a way that worked for me. I’m usually not so blithely ignorant, but it worked pretty well here.”

These next two articles highlight some other keys to weight/fat loss. This article tells us something that EVERY doctor we visited in the Bay Area noted as true a few years ago:

“Here are eight Ayurveda tips that can naturally and gently guide you toward holistic and healthy weight loss, without the use of chemicals, processed food, or extreme diets.

” 1.  Drink a large glass of warm water with organic lemon first thing in the morning. This boosts the entire digestive system and gives you a fresh start to your day.”

This article argues that we need to add variety to our meals.

“Twenty-four hours later Dan and I were back in London, him with his precious audio tapes and me with my cherished poo samples. After producing a few more, I sent them to the lab for testing.

“The results showed clear differences between my starting sample and after three days of my forager diet. The good news was my gut microbal diversity increased a stunning 20%, including some totally novel African microbes, such as those of the phylum Synergistetes.

“The bad news was, after a few days, my gut microbes had virtually returned to where they were before the trip. But we had learnt something important. However good your diet and gut health, it is not nearly as good as our ancestors’. Everyone should make the effort to improve their gut health by re-wilding their diet and lifestyle. Being more adventurous in your normal cuisine plus reconnecting with nature and its associated microbial life, may be what we all need.”

I host an HKC this week here in Utah, so I will be busy with odds and ends this week. But, until next week, keep lifting and learning.