Dan John: Wandering Weights, Issue # 152

Wandering Weights
Our Epic Journey Through All Things Heavy, Issue # 152

As I was working on the video edit of Immaculate Dissection Functional Anatomy, there was one spot that stopped me cold: Kathy Dooley said if toddlers start walking early, there’s an increased risk of a hip replacement later in life due to lack of proper hip compression. Through all the stories of hip replacement, I’d never heard this before. Wow! What do you do about it if that’s your situation… or that of your clients? Train the lunge. Here’s Kathy with more details on the lunge and hip compression. ~ Laree
I am in a hotel in Cincinnati as I type this week’s edition of Wandering Weights. I did a workshop with Dave Hall and Chip Conrad on Saturday and then had great seats (out of the rain) for the Bengals-Bills game. Nick Vigil, former Utah State University player, had a great game for the Bengals and it was just fun to watch.

I’m good friends with the Bengals’ strength coach, Chip Morton, so I always get to hang out and meet the coaches and players. The NFL facilities are amazing but it is always good to see that the basics, the fundamentals, are the most important thing.

As soon as I finish this, I will hop in an Uber and go back to the facility. I will be home tonight and it will be nice to have a normal training week after that.

Let’s look at the web this week. My friend, Tim Anderson, wrote a nice piece this week on an issue that really links fitness with life.


Recently, I was angry at a friend, a saint of a friend, a truly beautiful person (who is probably going to read this, can you tell?). I was just so agitated. The sad thing is, I really didn’t fully know why. Later, I got aggravated with my wife and she really didn’t do anything either (she probably wont read this. Can you tell?). Anyway, I was walking around “on edge.” I didn’t like it. I knew I was mad at people, but I didn’t know why. I only knew I didn’t want to be agitated with people. It feels good to feel good, and I wasn’t feeling good, at all. I didn’t understand what was going on. Until, I decided to look inside. Do you know what the root of anger is? Fear. I was afraid of something, and that’s personal, BUT, I didn’t know I was afraid until I looked. Once I looked, I could see I was holding onto something that was not only out of my control, it was also irrational, and it was a thorn inside of me. A thorn that was festering…

The point is, If you are not where you want to be, if you are struggling with something you don’t understand, if you feel like the world is against you, if you can’t seem to have meaningful relationships, if you are not WHO you know you want to be and can be, I encourage you to look inside and see if you are holding onto something that you really need to let go of. Maybe it’s a belief, a memory, a grudge, an imagination, a lie, whatever… Let it go. Look in your hand. Look in your heart. The things we cling to often keep us from grabbing the things we want most.

End quote

The following video popped up on the web in a few places and I liked the discussion.


Before structured shoes became prevalent in the 16th century (and apparently in those places where they never have) people walked with a different gait, pushing onto the balls of our feet instead of rocking forward on our heels. It looks a little affected — like a gymnast or ballet dancer — but is apparently much healthier.

End quote

This other video discusses hip hinging and I like this very simple explanation.

I go to my “23 and Me” account weekly. Every week, something new about DNA hits the news. This article doesn’t say much, but I’m sure we will hear more soon.


The insult “You’re a Neandertal!” has taken on dramatic new meaning in the past few years, as researchers have begun to identify the genes many of us inherited from our long-extinct relatives. By sequencing a remarkably complete genome from a 50,000-year-old bone fragment of a female Neandertal found in Vindija Cave in Croatia, researchers report online today in Science a new trove of gene variants that living people outside of Africa obtained from Neandertals. Some of this DNA could influence cholesterol levels, the accumulation of belly fat, and the risk of schizophrenia and other diseases.

The genome is only the second from a Neandertal sequenced to such high quality that it can reliably reveal when, where, and what DNA was passed from Neandertals to modern humans—and which diseases it may be causing or preventing today. “It’s really exciting because it’s more than two times better to have two Neandertal genomes,” says evolutionary genomicist Tony Capra of Vanderbilt University in Nashville.

End quote

I thought this piece was not only outstanding, but the lessons are adaptable to my American readership.


Although we tend to highlight the roles food quality and macronutrient ratios play in obesity and other diseases, we can’t ignore the role food quantity plays. One massive change from our ancestral environment is that in the U.S., you can go into the average chain restaurant and have a trough of seed oil-soaked carbohydrate with a quart of sugar water served up in a few minutes for under $15. The portion sizes are gargantuan. Salad bowls full of pasta, pizzas the size of manhole covers, plates of fries that arrive overflowing onto the table. You go pick up Chipotle burrito bowls for your officemates and it’s like carrying a golden retriever puppy in the bag.

I didn’t really notice this until I traveled abroad with Primal awareness.

You won’t get a large salad bowl filled to the brim with pasta in Italy. In China, you’re not being served 4 cups of white rice in a single sitting. Soda in Europe is served in small cups like you’d use at home, not 32 ounce tankards. It’s a small detail, but it makes a big difference.

End quote

I will not be traveling for a bit, but this is good advice. So, until next week, keep on lifting and learning.


Have you heard of the idea that early walking might lead to hip problems later in life? What do you do about it if that’s your situation… or that of your clients? Train the lunge. Here’s Kathy Dooley with more details on the lunge and hip compression.


Picking up with “The Sword in the Stone” (Part X)


“Ah, a magician,” said Sir Ector, putting on his glasses and looking closely at Merlyn. “White magic, I hope?”

“Assuredly,” said Merlyn, who stood patiently among the throng with his arms folded in his necromantic gown, while Archimedes sat very stiff and elongated on the top of his head.

“Ought to have some testimonials,” said Sir Ector doubtfully. “It’s usual.”

“Testimonials,” said Merlyn, holding out his hand.

Instantly there were some heavy tablets in it, signed by Aristotle, a parchment signed by Hecate, and some typewritten duplicates signed by the Master of Trinity, who could not remember having met him. All these gave Merlyn an excellent character.

“He had ’em up his sleeve,” said Sir Ector wisely. “Can you do anything else?”

“Tree,” said Merlyn. At once there was an enormous mulberry growing in the middle of the courtyard, with its luscious blue fruits ready to patter down. This was all the more remarkable, since mulberries only became popular in the days of Cromwell.

“They do it with mirrors,” said Sir Ector.

“Snow,” said Merlyn. “And an umbrella,” he added hastily.

Before they could turn round, the copper sky of summer had assumed a cold and lowering bronze, while the biggest white flakes that ever were seen were floating about them and settling on the battlements. An inch of snow had fallen before they could speak, and all were trembling with the wintry blast. Sir Ector’s nose was blue, and had an icicle hanging from the end of it, while all except Merlyn had a ledge of snow upon their shoulders. Merlyn stood in the middle, holding his umbrella high because of the owl.

“It’s done by hypnotism,” said Sir Ector, with chattering teeth. “Like those wallahs from the Indies.

“But that’ll do,” he added hastily, “that’ll do very well. I’m sure you’ll make an excellent tutor for teachin’ these boys.”

The snow stopped immediately and the sun came out—”Enough to give a body a pewmonia,” said the nurse, “or to frighten the elastic commissioners”—while Merlyn folded up his umbrella and handed it back to the air, which received it.

“Imagine the boy doin’ a quest like that by himself,” exclaimed Sir Ector. “Well, well, well! Wonders never cease.”

“I do not think much of it as a quest,” said Kay. “He only went after the hawk, after all.”

“And got the hawk, Master Kay,” said Hob reprovingly.

“Oh, well,” said Kay, “I bet the old man caught it for him.”

“Kay,” said Merlyn, suddenly terrible, “thou wast ever a proud and ill-tongued speaker, and a misfortunate one. Thy sorrow will come from thine own mouth.”

At this everybody felt uncomfortable, and Kay, instead of flying into his usual passion, hung his head. He was not at all an unpleasant person really, but clever, quick, proud, passionate and ambitious. He was one of those people who would be neither a follower nor a leader, but only an aspiring heart, impatient in the failing body which imprisoned it. Merlyn repented of his rudeness at once. He made a little silver hunting-knife come out of the air, which he gave him to put things right. The knob of the handle was made of the skull of a stoat, oiled and polished like ivory, and Kay loved it.

End quote and chapter

Like all homecomings, part of the issue in this short chapter is “coming home.” I know, obvious. Every fall, American high schools and universities put aside a weekend to welcome all the alumni. There is a football game, a dance, tours of the campus and, usually, a fair amount of drinking. I’ve been to my “fair share” of these events and I always get the feeling that  “Yes, I am part of this but, no, I am not part of this.” It’s a classic moment of appreciating my favorite quote from Oscar Wilde:

“The test of a first rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in the mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.”

(W)Arthur is about to discover, as so many of have discovered, that coming home from the quest (or any adventure or journey) isn’t the same as leaving on this quest. The world doesn’t change when we travel: we change.

My writing mentor, Jack Schroeder, had me read the classic book by Thomas Wolfe, “You Can’t Go Home Again.”

Wolfe was a rare talent and probably the bulk of his writings were published posthumously. In “You Can’t Go Home Again,” a phrase not unlike “You can’t step in the same river twice,” Wolfe’s protagonist, George Webber, writes a novel about his hometown. Of course, the readers from his hometown take offense to the caricatures and send him letters…as well as death threats. He then travels to New York City, France and Germany (under Hitler’s thumb) before returning and rediscovering himself in his native country.

Wart “can’t go home again.”

As we read this selection from The Sword in the Stone, (W)Arthur is present but only referenced. He is “seen but not heard.” For those of us from large families, we may recognize the feelings Wart must be going through: fully present in the setting, but only talked about…not talked to. If you are the youngest in a large family…or the only male or female…you probably understand this scene far too well.

Wart has come home after a successful quest. He finds himself in a crowd of people who tug him in several directions:

·      Merlyn, obviously, is prepared to mentor the future King/Emperor.
·      Ector and Hobs appreciate that Wart has passed the first test of manhood.
·      Finally, Kay wants everyone to go back to the past pecking order and keep things as they were just hours before the homecoming.

You can’t go home again.

I can remember flying into SFO (San Francisco International Airport…located in Millbrae) and feeling “home” in my heart. Over time, I didn’t have that feeling anymore: Mom and Dad were buried in Colma, my family has moved away, the neighborhood barely has people who remember me or my family and no one in any of my schools would even remember the family name. When Tiffini and I moved back to Burlingame for our “Two Year Date,” I tried over and over to reconnect with friends and classmates.

Often, it went well. People reintroduced themselves and we shared long stories of successes and failures. And, about as often, people tried to put me back into the box that I lived in decades ago.

I doubt there is a reader who doesn’t understand this at some level.

“Home is where the heart is” is a great cliché, and “home” has a funny way of changing addresses as we move through life.

In the space of a few hours, Wart’s home has changed radically. The rooms, the walls and most of the people are the same, but HE has changed. Both the quest and the quarry (Merlyn) ensure that Wart’s worldview will never be the same. I will discuss Hecate again, but she is usually considered the Goddess of Crossroads and Wart certainly finds himself at one of life’s crossroads in this moment.

From this time forward in the book, every attempt by Kay to demean and diminish Wart will lead to an even greater opportunity for Wart to shine forth.  Wart’s homecoming, like all heroes, changes the rules for everyone.

White’s humor shines through in Ector and Merlyn’s interchange. The Disney movie did a nice job with this scene (the story is changed quite a bit and Kay is larger, ruder and more lumbering than what I read in the book) as it does seem to lead to animation. This particular section has always made me laugh:

“Ought to have some testimonials,” said Sir Ector doubtfully. “It’s usual.”

“Testimonials,” said Merlyn, holding out his hand.

Instantly there were some heavy tablets in it, signed by Aristotle, a parchment signed by Hecate, and some typewritten duplicates signed by the Master of Trinity, who could not remember having met him. All these gave Merlyn an excellent character.

“(T)ypewritten duplicates signed by the Master of Trinity, who could not remember having met him” became funnier and funnier to me as I wrote more and more Letters of Recommendation through the years. I have written extraordinary letters for my current doctor, lawyer, and most of my kid’s teachers. And, yet, I also have had to write:

“Of all the students, I have ever had, X is one of them. I can’t recall any moments of greatness or insight from X, but s/he did a fine job occupying a chair for much of the time, and fulfilled the minimal expectations…or lower…expected of him/her.”

Feel free to use and edit this as you wish. The BEST letter I ever wrote was for my attorney, Paul Burke. I simply noted this:

“If lives depended upon something being done, I would rush past most of the faculty members I know and hand the keys or information or whatever to Paul as I know he would not only ensure the task was fulfilled, but fulfilled in its entirety.”

On his college visit, the Dean leaned forward, smiled and pointed to my letter: “Explain this.” And, of course, he did.

The Master of Trinity during this period when White wrote this book, J. J. Thomson, discovered the electron and others members of Trinity include Isaac Newton with his theory of gravity (which I refuse to believe as it is only a theory!) and Ludwig Wittgenstein who changed my approach to education. I wrote about Wittgenstein’s famous “Family Resemblance Theory” in a series of articles trying to explain: “Why do bad things happen to good people:”

Why bad things happen to good people (Part One)

I visited San Francisco a few weeks ago. I spent some time with my brother Gary. He has jet black hair, dark eyes, about my height, but weighs 70 pounds less. In fact, if you saw the two of us together, you would not think we were related. For those readers who don’t know, I’m blond, blue-eyed and built a bit thick.

But, it is funny. Gary looks like my sister, Corinne, so much so that people often thought they were twins. And Corinne looks like my brother Ray. Hang on, there are six of us. Ray and my oldest brother, Richard, look like they came out of the same stamp. My brother Rich could pass for my brother Phil’s dad. And, although I may hate to admit it, I look like Phil. So, if you see Gary, who looks like Cor, who looks like Ray, who looks like Rich, who looks like Phil, you may not think he looks like me. When you see all six of us together, you will see how much Gary and I look alike. But, you see, you have to see all six of us together. You have to look at the whole picture.

It is amazing how often when I travel to give a talk, I discover afterward that a major brouhaha has been boiling around the place the past week. I get hints of it during the questions from the audience. One group recently kept hammering about God and justice, or truly, God and fairness. It turns out that things had really turned down for one of the participants, a good person from all accounts, and, well, it just did not seem right. Why do bad things happen to good people?

Hey, I don’t know. I can give a string of answers, “Suffering, a consequence of original sin, . . . becomes a participation in the saving work of Jesus (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1521),” or “Faith gives us the certainty that God would not permit an evil if he did not cause a good to come from that very evil, by ways that we shall fully know only in eternal life (CCC 324),” but it sure does not seem to provide comfort for the person asking the question. Nor do these answers help the junior high-level catechist who tried to use these examples to explain “why do bad things . . .”

I turned to the Book of Job to help fortify for my next talk. I found great wisdom in two lines. When God speaks to Job “out of the storm,” His first words are “Who is this that obscures divine plans with words of ignorance? (Job 38:2)” Who is this? Maybe part of the reason I can’t answer the question perfectly is “who is this?” Forgive my “words of ignorance,” it’s the best I can do today. The other line worth thinking about occurs at the beginning of the story: “We accept good things from God; and should we not accept Evil? (Job 2:10)”

How often do I thank God for the good days, the easy commutes, and the wonderful tastes of life? Do I just remember God when “bad things happen?” Perhaps, we need to remind ourselves to celebrate and be thankful much more often. We need to stand back and look at the “big picture” of life.

If you stand back and look at the big picture, you will see the connections. How some “bad things” turn out to be “good” and some good, bad. And even then, you still won’t have enough perspective, you will still “fully know only in eternal life.”

I have a family portrait in my hallway. I am surprised how much I look like Gary.

I’m happy that Merlyn also has letters from Aristotle and Hecate. I used to make my students memorize “SPA:”

Aristotle (the historical genealogy of these three philosophers)

Plato’s Academy was famous for the line: “mèdeis ageômetrètos eisitô mou tèn stegèn.“ “Let no one ignorant of geometry under my roof.”

Aristotle expanded Plato’s work to take philosophy into the realm of geometric proofs. Later, Aquinas would use Aristotle’s methods to understand theology. I often note that Pythagoras, of A squared plus B squared equals C squared fame, was also the father-in-law of Milo. Milo, of course, invented progressive resistance exercise by picking up a bull every day and carrying him around.

Lifting and geometry go hand in hand. Geometry and solid thinking also are always paired together.

Hecate has been transformed recently by Wiccans and others into a much more modern deity, but she is the Goddess of Magic…and, as I noted, crossroads.

Merlyn will train young Arthur in the classic Greek tradition (ideally based on gymnastics and music), including the use of magic, as well as early Twentieth Century educational methods. It’s going to be fun to watch and follow.

I have argued for years that The Sword in the Stone is a love story to education and learning. Odd: I just noticed that I often separate “education and learning.” Ideally, we walk hand in hand with both through life, but it doesn’t always happen.

“Thy sorrow will come from thine own mouth.”

Yes, we all set traps with our “traps,” our mouths. As my Mom used to say so eloquently, “Shut your trap.” True wisdom drips from this phrase.

Rarely in my life have I caused as much harm in my body as I have with my mouth. Kay serves as a great example for all of us. As the late Brian Oldfield taught me: “Everybody serves a purpose…some as just bad examples.”

Until next time…


Have you heard of the idea that early walking might lead to hip problems later in life? What do you do about it if that’s your situation… or that of your clients? Train the lunge. Here’s Kathy Dooley with more details on the lunge and hip compression.

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