Dan John: Wandering Weights, Issue # 161

Wandering Weights
Our Epic Journey Through All Things Heavy, Issue # 161

What are progressions? How are they part of your training continuum? Gray Cook with more…. [CONTINUE READING]


I just finished three days here in Seoul. The people are marvelous, the food rivals Norway for its sheer volumes of health, and the workshop organization was world class. We just booked a return next year and now…

I’m sitting alone listening to jazzy Christmas music and I finally have a few minutes alone. As great as this trip is/was, there is always that moment, usually just before packing, where I just hit some kind of wall.

It’s an odd thing, but I told my daughters in a FaceTime call that I would see them tomorrow. For me, tomorrow is a full day ahead of their tomorrow, so I will be home their “day after tomorrow.” The world is shrinking incredibly fast.

Tomorrow, I leave at 7:00 pm and arrive in SLC at 7:30 pm. Oddly, that makes for a long day, not a half an hour. I will wake up and work out and clear my work and prep for a day of watching in-flight movies and hoping for naps. It’s what I do.

I also spend way too much on the internet. This is what I found interesting this week. To stay young, adopt the Tismane Diet noted here:


The researchers found the average 80-year-old Tismane has the arteries of an American in his 50s.

“They’re changing slowly, but what we’re seeing is the beginnings of changes in their physiology,” Kaplan said.

About 17 per cent of their diet is wild game, such as peccary (a species of wild pig), monkey, rodents, deer and pheasant-like birds, so they eat very lean meat and their diet is low in saturated fat. Another seven per cent of their food intake is freshwater fish, including piranha and large catfish. They get the bulk of their other calories from plants, many of them very high in fibre.

End quote

Several people sent this link to me. I loved the truths shared here.


·      Forced simplicity delivers results. The limitation of my equipment means that I can’t waste time doing things that aren’t contributing to my improvement. My snatch, press, clean and jerk and front squat have all come up because… there’s nothing else that I can train. No doubt there’s a synergistic effect as well – a better clean is likely to translate to a better front squat.
·      I’ve fallen in love with the overhead squat. Snatch a weight, then squat with it held overhead. I could never do these in the past, but I’ve had some time to fill and I find them very satisfying. They’re a great balance of strength, balance, power and core stability, but are nowhere near as fatiguing as normal back squats.
·      Cardio still sucks. It just does.

End quote

If piranha isn’t available, try this little diet idea from our researchers.


“Our findings suggest that even if you have had type 2 diabetes for six years, putting the disease into remission is feasible”, says Prof Michael Lean from the University of Glasgow who co-led the study. “In contrast to other approaches, we focus on the need for long-term maintenance of weight loss through diet and exercise and encourage flexibility to optimise individual results.”

Isobel Murray, 65 from North Ayrshire, was one of those who took part. Over two years she lost three and a half stone (22kg) and no longer needs medication. “It has transformed my life,” she said. “I had type 2 diabetes for two to three years before the study. I was on various medications which were constantly increasing and I was becoming more and more ill every day.

“When the doctors told me that my pancreas was working again, it felt fantastic, absolutely amazing. I don’t think of myself as a diabetic anymore.”

Taylor said that the trail shows that the very large weight losses that bariatric surgery can bring about are not necessary to reverse the disease. “The weight loss goals provided by this programme are achievable for many people. The big challenge is long-term avoidance of weight re-gain,” he said.

End quote

I read this piece twice and I couldn’t decide if I liked it or hated it. Sometimes, the double speak  reminds me of The Sphinx in Mystery Men:

“He who questions training only trains himself at asking questions.”


[Mr. Furious tries to balance a hammer on his head]

Mr. Furious: Why am I doing this, again?

The Sphinx: When you can balance a tack hammer on your head, you will head off your foes with a balanced attack.

Mr. Furious: And why am I wearing the watermelon on my feet?

The Sphinx: [looks at the watermelon on Mr. Furious’ feet] I don’t remember telling you to do that.


Mr. Furious: Okay, am I the only one who finds these sayings just a little bit formulaic? “If you want to push something down, you have to pull it up. If you want to go left, you have to go right.” It’s…

The Sphinx: Your temper is very quick, my friend. But until you learn to master your rage…

Mr. Furious: …your rage will become your master? That’s what you were going to say. Right? Right?

The Sphinx: Not necessarily.

Overall, I liked this reading…but, I need to master my rage.


“Today might not be perfect, but it’s a perfect day to feel happy.” ~Lori Deschene

Happiness is not something to pursue in the future. Happiness is available right now, right where you are. When we stop chasing the shadow of happiness, we begin to recognize that all the things we need to to be happy have been with us all along.

I still set goals to pursue, but I no longer arrange my life around them. I’ve stopped comparing myself with others. I’ve stopped trying to become a person whom I think will be happy someday. And I now realize what truly matters to me.

I put myself in the center and I surrender to my heart, my soul. I let my heart tell me who I really am. I see, hear, smell, and taste like I never have before.

I enjoy all the quality time I have with my husband, I enjoy calling my mom every night just to hear her voice. I enjoy sitting quietly and listen to what my soul has to say.

Even though life is up and down, I now know all the emotions are different colors in my happy-ever-after picture. I appreciate that I can still feel them.

And I know my life is not perfect, but today is a perfect time to feel happy.

End quote

My new theory about longevity is that it comes down to two things:

1.     Keeping a healthy social life
2.     Keeping a healthy liver (let it “cleanse” itself of sugar)

So, when I see that minimal exercise and some level of fasting in one’s life leads to longevity, I try to figure out which of the two this fits in: well, NOT eating probably gives the liver a chance to regroup and we know that exercise (usually you are NOT eating during exercise, too, so “double win”) probably assists the liver in flushing the anatomical toilet.

When the inexpensive diabetes drug, Metformin, is linked to longevity, I think “liver.” Its job is to empty the liver (of liver sugar…whatever that is…).

When I see that red wine or coffee consumption assists in longevity, I look at the fact that both seem to be social events. “Cup of coffee?” is the answer to many office problems. “More wine?” is the answer to most issues with parenting. (I only joke a little.) Generally, the more connected we are…the higher the quality of life. Yes, there are raging asses that live to old age and, in my mind, “good for them,” but let’s stay on point (Loneliness can be toxic though: watch this video).

This article shows that my good friend, coffee, is a double winner: social climber and liver cleanser.


Coffee is great for your liver (especially if you drink alcohol).

A study published in 2006 that included 125,000 people over 22 years showed that those who drink at least one cup of coffee a day were 20 percent less to develop liver cirrhosis — an autoimmune disease caused by excessive alcohol consumption that could lead to liver failure and cancer. Arthur L Klatsky, the lead author of the study, told The Guardian, “Consuming coffee seems to have some protective benefits against alcoholic cirrhosis, and the more coffee a person consumes the less risk they seem to have of being hospitalised or dying of alcoholic cirrhosis.”

Studies have also shown that coffee can help prevent people from developing non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). An international team of researchers led by Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School revealed that drinking four or more cups of coffee or tea a day may be beneficial in preventing the progression of NAFLD.

End quote

Until next week, enjoy your coffee. It should help you keep lifting and learning.


Clipped from Gray and Dan’s Essentials of Coaching workshop, here’s Gray explaining that 
a progression is different than a continuum.

The Sword in the Stone



ust as they were going to swim off on their tour of inspection, a timid young roach appeared from between two waving bottle bushes of mare’s tail and hung about, looking pale with agitation. It looked at them with big, apprehensive eyes and evidently wanted something, but could not make up its mind.

“Approach,” said Merlyn gravely.

At this the roach rushed up like a hen, burst into tears, and began stammering its message.

“If you p-p-p-please, doctor,” stammered the poor creature, gabbling so that they could scarcely understand what it said, “we have such a d-dretful case of s-s-s-something or other in our family, and we w-w-w-wondered if you could s-s-s-spare the time? It’s our d-d-d-dear Mamma, who w-w-w-will swim a-a-all the time upside d-d-d-down, and she d-d-d-does look so horrible and s-s-s-speaks so strange, that we r-r-r-really thought she ought to have a d-d-d-doctor, if it w-w-w-wouldn’t be too much? C-C-C-Clara says to say so. Sir, if you s-s-s-see w-w-w-what I m-m-m-mean?”

Here the poor roach began fizzing so much, what with its stammer and its tearful disposition, that it became quite inarticulate and could only stare at Merlyn with mournful eyes.

“Never mind, my little man,” said Merlyn. “There, there, lead me to your dear Mamma, and we shall see what we can do.”

They all three swam off into the murk under the drawbridge, upon their errand of mercy.

“Neurotic, these roach,” whispered Merlyn, behind his fin. “It is probably a case of nervous hysteria, a matter for the psychologist rather than the physician.”

The roach’s Mamma was lying on her back as he had described. She was squinting, had folded her fins on her chest, and every now and then she blew a bubble. All her children were gathered round her in a circle, and every time she blew they nudged each other and gasped. She had a seraphic smile on her face.

“Well, well, well,” said Merlyn, putting on his best bed-side manner, “and how is Mrs. Roach today?”

He patted the young roaches on the head and advanced with stately motions toward his patient. It should perhaps be mentioned that Merlyn was a ponderous, deep-beamed fish of about five pounds, leather coloured, with small scales, adipose in his fins, rather slimy, and having a bright marigold eye—a respectable figure.

Mrs. Roach held out a languid fin, sighed emphatically and said, “Ah, doctor, so you’ve come at last?”

“Hum,” said the physician, in his deepest tone.

Then he told everybody to close their eyes—the Wart peeped—and began to swim round the invalid in a slow and stately dance. As he danced he sang. His song was this:

With a normal catabolism,
Gabbleism and babbleism,
Snip, Snap, Snorum,
Cut out his abdonorum.
One, two, three,
And out goes He,
With a fol-de-rol-derido for the Five Guinea Fee.

At the end of the song he was swimming round his patient so close that he actually touched her, stroking his brown smooth-scaled flanks against her more rattly pale ones. Perhaps he was healing her with his slime—for all the fishes are said to go to the Tench for medicine—or perhaps it was by touch or massage or hypnotism. In any case, Mrs. Roach suddenly stopped squinting, turned the right way up, and said, “Oh, doctor, dear doctor, I feel I could eat a little lob-worm now.”

“No lob-worm,” said Merlyn, “not for two days. I shall give you a prescription for a strong broth of algae every two hours, Mrs. Roach. We must build up your strength, you know. After all, Rome was not built in a day.”

Then he patted all the little roaches once more, told them to grow up into brave little fish, and swam off with an air of importance into the gloom. As he swam, he puffed his mouth in and out.

“What did you mean by that about Rome?” asked the Wart, when they were out of earshot.

“Heaven knows.”

End quote

This little exchange, doctor and patient, is going to lead us next to Wart’s first real moments of danger. It’s a fun little scene and the last line always makes me laugh:

“After all, Rome was not built in a day.”

“What did you mean by that about Rome?” asked the Wart, when they were out of earshot.
“Heaven knows.””

Anyone who has ever tried to use a quote with an adolescent (or an analogy) has probably faced this moment: you suddenly realize that your perfect quote needs a lot of explanation.

By the way, I have amended this quote:

“Rome wasn’t built in a day, but, then, I wasn’t the foreman on that job.” Laugh away.

Mrs. Roach brings us into a nice little seen that is a bit cartoonish, but will be a nice counter to the next engagement with the King of the Moat.

Some people know I am fairly educated in the world of angels. I can spit out the Nine Choirs of Angels without a second thought.

“The roach’s Mamma was lying on her back as he had described. She was squinting, had folded her fins on her chest, and every now and then she blew a bubble. All her children were gathered round her in a circle, and every time she blew they nudged each other and gasped. She had a seraphic smile on her face.”

“Seraphic” is a nice word: “beautiful in a way that suggests that someone is morally good and pure.” I think that one word really pops this part of the story. Now, we have all had people in our lives who tend to overstate ailments (“Let me tell you about this weird mole!”) but I think this term really changes the meaning for me.

The Seraphs (actually, the plural in Hebrew adds an “im,” so it should be Seraphim…like Cherubim) are those amazing angels who stand before God chanting “Kaddosh, Kaddosh, Kaddosh,” “Holy, Holy, Holy,” with their six wings: two flying, two protecting their faces and two protecting their bodies. (Isaiah 6:2)

“Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.”
At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.”

Most of us know the most famous of the Seraphim, Lucifer. I found it interesting to discover that my daughter’s middle name “Aileen” and the name, Lucifer, BOTH come from the same root: the incredible lightness of being…or “lightbearer.” There were times in Kelly’s youth (Kelly Aileen is my daughter) that I thought we were raising Lucifer.

The “Nine Ladies Dancing” from the Twelve Days of Christmas represent the Nine Choirs of Angles:

Thrones (Wheels)


Angels (“Guardian Angels”)

The whole song is a simplified Catechism (religious education tool):

12 Tribes of Israel
11 Apostles
10 Commandments
9 Choirs of Angels
8 Beatitudes
7 Sacraments (usually)
6 Days of Creation
5 Books of the Torah
4 Gospels
3 Theological Virtues (Faith, Hope and Love)
2 Testaments
1 Jesus on the Cross (in tradition)

And, yes, I can lecture on this for days.

Let’s hope Mrs. Roach recovers. Until then, avoid lob worm.


Sure, there’s a science of coaching . . . But for Dan, the art of coaching is what gets results:
The art of making people think what they need to do is what they want to do.

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