Dan John: Wandering Weights, Issue # 168

Wandering Weights
Our Epic Journey Through All Things Heavy, Issue # 168

Thousands of Americans die every year from falls and fall-related injuries. The right exercises for you or your older clients can help prevent falling . . . so why aren’t we doing them? Here’s Dan on older people and falls.
It’s nice to be drinking coffee in my office on a snow-covered morning in Utah. I spent the weekend at home and that seems to be a rare treat recently.

I was able to get a nice walk in with Mike Brown on Saturday. I wear a 40-pound vest when I go for walks and that seems to make the walk a bit more on the workout side of the continuum. I try to go for a walk every day and it also makes my dog very happy. If I don’t walk, I go for a bike ride.

Sadly, I had to replace my bicycle. I have Panama Jack bicycles and they look very cool with the beer holders and all the rest, but they aren’t really up to the task. So, I spent double the money and got another cruiser.

I’ve always liked one-speed bikes with coaster brakes. I’m not on the tour and have little need for spandex and aerodynamics on my rides. My hometown of Murray is loaded with parks so I am never far from being able to ride “car free.”

Dick Notmeyer, who coached me in the Olympic lifts, has been riding or walking daily AND lifting weights for a long time. He is 86 now and still getting along. I have used Dick as my guide through the aging process. There is no question that fat loss happens in the kitchen and in food decisions, but every other quality depends on movement. These daily easy walks and rides complement my morning strength, mobility and hypertrophy work.

Neither workout is a long investment in time or energy, but the benefits carry for a long time.

And, being able to keep up this habit when I am on the road can be difficult. But, it is a breeze at home.

I was all over the net this week. I’ve been reading a lot of books recently, from James Bond to Sapiens (Yuval Noah Harari), and much of my reading sparks questions. So, my searching led me to this great article on “rewatchable” movies.


If we were ranking this list in terms of rewatchability, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off would be towards the top. By 1986, John Hughes had perfected the “teen movie” format in a variety of ways, from the female-centric young love of Sixteen Candles to the outsider POV of The Breakfast Club. But with Ferris Bueller, Hughes tackled quite possibly his most trite subject yet—skipping school—and churned out a classic. As with all of his films, there’s a hefty amount of heart to be found in Ferris Bueller, and while the title character is a fun-loving dude, it’s Cameron and Sloane who carry the hefty thematic weight.

Cameron’s struggling with depression and a troubled relationship with his father, while Sloane worries about her future. It’s to Hughes’ credit that he was able to tackle weighty subjects and in the same breath stage a massive dance sequence in the middle of Chicago, and it’s that balance of pure joy and crushing reality that make Ferris Bueller so memorable. The film is the anti-party movie party movie, having its cake and eating it too, and it is delicious. – Adam Chitwood

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In case you wondered why you should exercise, this article that was linked to the above might clear things up.


Now, if you maintain your exercise program long term, your body might not be the only thing to benefit. Your bank account may also beef up a bit. One study revealed that older people who exercised five days a week for at least 30 minutes saved, on average, $2,500 a year in medical costs for heart-related health problems alone.

You’ll also be at a lower risk of developing arthritis, type 2 diabetes, dementia, and certain types of cancer like breast and colon.

In all probability, you’re going to live longer than you otherwise would. And that longer life, it will likely feel more fulfilling, because exercise lowers the risk of anxiety and depression by reducing levels of stress hormones, like cortisol and adrenaline.

Of course, all these benefits depend on the type and intensity of your workout and how long you exercise for each week. A balanced diet is also paramount to a healthy lifestyle.

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Oddly, rewatchable movies got me thinking about TV. This list is just genius. I haven’t seen every show on the list, but what a list! I would add “Dobie Gillis” as an honorable mention and everyone agrees that “My Mother the Car” is an obvious oversight.

I found this article and I had to read it several times. My students (Religion and Human Experience course at Columbia College) struggle with “good and bad” in our discussions. This article helped me with this issue.


Stories about good guys and bad guys that are implicitly moral – in the sense that they invest an individual’s entire social identity in him not changing his mind about a moral issue – perversely end up discouraging any moral deliberation. Instead of anguishing over multidimensional characters in conflict – as we find in The Iliad, or the Mahabharata or Hamlet – such stories rigidly categorise people according to the values they symbolise, flattening all the deliberation and imagination of ethical action into a single thumbs up or thumbs down. Either a person is acceptable for Team Good, or he belongs to Team Evil.

Good guy/bad guy narratives might not possess any moral sophistication, but they do promote social stability, and they’re useful for getting people to sign up for armies and fight in wars with other nations. Their values feel like morality, and the association with folklore and mythology lends them a patina of legitimacy, but still, they don’t arise from a moral vision. They are rooted instead in a political vision, which is why they don’t help us deliberate, or think more deeply about the meanings of our actions. Like the original Grimm stories, they’re a political tool designed to bind nations together.

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Do I like this article? I don’t know. As I reviewed it again today, I found this selection to sum the issue for the author…and give me some clarity.


Being well informed isn’t regurgitating the opinion of some twenty-two-year-old with no life experience telling me what to think or how outraged to be. Your first thought on something is usually not yours but someone else’s. When all you do is consume, you are not only letting someone else hijack and direct your attention; you are also letting them think for you.

Avoid the noise because it messes with the signal. Your attention is valuable, it’s the most valuable thing you control. So why spend so much time on stuff that will be irrelevant in a few days? Learn to read the right way, this will help you remember what you read. Read what stands the test of time. Read from publications that respect and value your time, the ones that add more value than they consume. Read what prompts you to think for yourself. Read fewer articles and more books. Read books that have stood the test of time, those that are still in print after 20 years or so. And, learn the big ideas from multiple disciplines.

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I’m shocked we don’t tax sugar like we tax cigarettes. This article shows us, once again, that garbage eating has long-term consequences.


In a 2012 study, Roberts broke nearly 1,000 people down into four groups based on how much of their diet came from carbohydrates. The group that ate the most carbs had an 80 percent higher chance of developing mild cognitive impairment—a pit stop on the way to dementia—than those who ate the smallest amount of carbs. People with mild cognitive impairment, or MCI, can dress and feed themselves, but they have trouble with more complex tasks. Intervening in MCI can help prevent dementia.

Rebecca Gottesman, a professor of neurology at Johns Hopkins, cautions that the findings on carbs aren’t as well-established as those on diabetes. “It’s hard to be sure at this stage, what an ‘ideal’ diet would look like,” she said. “There’s a suggestion that a Mediterranean diet, for example, may be good for brain health.”

But she says there are several theories out there to explain the connection between high blood sugar and dementia. Diabetes can also weaken the blood vessels, which increases the likelihood that you’ll have ministrokes in the brain, causing various forms of dementia. A high intake of simple sugars can make cells, including those in the brain, insulin resistant, which could cause the brain cells to die. Meanwhile, eating too much in general can cause obesity. The extra fat in obese people releases cytokines, or inflammatory proteins that can also contribute to cognitive deterioration, Roberts said. In one study by Gottesman, obesity doubled a person’s risk of having elevated amyloid proteins in their brains later in life.

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If you are wondering what to eat, this article gives you some simple advice.


“We found that those who had the highest intake of fiber or total fiber actually had an almost 80 percent greater likelihood of living a long and healthy life over a 10-year follow-up,” Bamini Gopinath, from Australia’s Westmead Institute, told PsychCentral. “That is, they were less likely to suffer from hypertension, diabetes, dementia, depression, and functional disability.”

So, if you are the kind of person who does Drynuary—in other words, you just want to be a little bit healthier without completely revamping your entire life—just try to eat more fiber.

The best part about this health advice is that it doesn’t involve eating something you don’t like. Fiber is in almost every fruit, vegetable, and whole grain. You could eat more apples and celery, sure, but there’s also fiber in things like corn tortillas, beans, grainy bread, and some types of breakfast cereal. A Chipotle burrito with brown rice and corn salsa will get you 22 grams of fiber, compared to just three grams in a Big Mac. (The burrito also has more than twice as many calories, though, so, you know, exercise caution as you would in all things.)

But you don’t have to stop eating anything you do like: People lose about as much weight just by eating a lot of fiber as they do on complicated diets, even if they eat slightly more calories in the process.

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I found myself grabbing Tom Brady’s book, The TB12 Method, this week. Again, I ask myself, why did so many people “pan” this book without reading it. The Super Bowl is this weekend and you simply HAVE to look at his career and listen to what he tells us about the aging athlete. Sure, he might be a “one off” rarity. Or not.

Next time, we will know about the game and we can discuss aging and athletes more. Until then, keep lifting and learning.


Per Chris Holder: Anything good, lasting and course-correcting takes time. What determines how much time is your attention to detail. Because of the complete saturation of fitness coaches on social media, and our need to have this and that done yesterday, the details are the first thing lost. [CONTINUE READING]


The Sword in the Stone


Let’s pick up on The Sword in the Stone. Madame Mim has Kay and Wart in tiny cages and she is preparing them for dinner. Here you go:


First she sang the old witch’s song:

Black spirits and white, red spirits and grey,
Mingle, mingle, mingle, you that mingle may.
Here’s the blood of a bat.
Put in that, oh, put in that.
Here’s libbard’s bane.
Put in again.
Mingle, mingle, mingle, you that mingle may.

Then she sang her work song.

Two spoons of sherry
Three oz. of yeast,
Half a pound of unicorn,
And God bless the feast.
Shake them in the colander,
Bang them to a chop,
Simmer slightly, snip up nicely,
Jump, skip, hop.
Knit one, knot one, purl two together,

Pip one and pop one and pluck the secret feather.

Baste in a mod. Oven.
God bless our coven.
Three toads in a jar.
Put in the frog’s knee.
Peep out of the lace curtain.
There goes the Toplady girl, she’s up to no good that’s certain.
Oh, what a lovely baby!
How nice it would go with gravy.
Pinch of salt.

Here she pinched it very nastily.

Turn the malt

Here she began twiddling round widdershins, in a vulgar way.

With a hey-nonny-nonny and I don’t mean maybe.

At the end of the song, Madame Mim took a sentimental turn and delivered herself of several hymns of a blasphemous nature, and a tender love lyric which she sang sotto-voce with trills. It was:

My love is like a red, rose nose
His tail is soft and tawny,
And everywhere my lovely goes
I call him Nick or Horny.

She vanished into the parlour, to lay the table.

Poor Kay was weeping in the corner of the end hutch, lying on his face and paying no attention to anything. Before Madame Mim had finally thrown him in, she had pinched him all over to see if he was fat. She had also slapped him, to see, as the butchers put it, if he was hollow. On top of this, he did not in the least want to be eaten for Sunday dinner and he was miserably furious with the Wart for leading him into such a terrible doom on account of a mere arrow. He had forgotten that it was he who had insisted on entering the fatal cottage.

The Wart sat on his haunches, because the cage was too small for standing up, and examined his prison. The bars were of iron and the gate was iron, too. He shook all the bars, one after the other, but they were as firm as rock. There was an iron bowl for water-with no water in it-and some old straw in a corner for lying down. It was verminous.

“Our mistress,” said the mangy old goat suddenly from the next pen, “is not very careful with her pets.”

He spoke in a low voice, so that nobody could hear, but the carrion crow which had been left on the chimney to spy on them noticed that they were talking and moved nearer.

“Whisper,” said the goat, “if you wish to talk.”

“Are you one of her familiars?” asked the Wart suspiciously.

“No,” he said. “I’m not a familiar. I’m only a mangy old black goat, rather tattered as you see, and kept for sacrifice.”

“Will she eat you too?” asked the Wart, rather tremblingly.

“Not she. I shall be too rank for her sweet tooth, you may be sure. No she will use my blood for making patterns with on Walpurgis Night.

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Walpurgis Night is April 30. It is a celebration that was also known as “Witches Night,” but this would long after our story. Of course, that doesn’t matter as White seems to enjoy having a mix of modern (1930s) references sprinkled into his story of the Arthurian legends.

This leads me to a point about this section: the talking goat. I never fully understand White’s rules about talking animals. In the Bible, we have two talking animals: serpent and Balaam’s talking ass (donkey…for clarity). The “rules” of the Bible and talking animals seem to apply to White:

Animals talk when we need to push the story forward.


When Wart was the fish, and soon to be a hawk, serpent, and badger, it makes sense that he would be able to talk to the animals, like Doctor Dolittle. In this story, we are going to see, especially with next week’s reading, a difficult set of rules to understand when Wart can talk to animals.

Now, I need to stop and pause here. Years ago, at discus camp in Ohio, we had a young man who was annoying in all levels of teenage annoyingness. He was an expert on everything and, worst of all, he though his presence was necessary at every occasion.

He stayed two weeks. Generally, the staff rests up on the middle weekend, goes out to meals and competes in Highland Games. At night, we watch movies. So, we found ourselves watching Star Wars (the original and, YES, that is what we call the movie) with our teenage friend.

When the Death Star explodes, he went into a rant about how phony it was to have an explosion in space…
And, I shut him down right there. Both of my daughters heard my rant, I will highlight the basics here without the profanity:

“Wait. So this is phony? The Wookie? That was real…this is phony. Choking people out with The Force: real. Death Star explodes: phony.”

I went on a bit longer. Well, a lot longer.

So, as I spend far too much thinking about White’s use of animal language in The Sword in the Stone, I need to bring out my inner coach and remind myself that this is a fantasy book about a legendary figure.

Next time, we get a hint that most of the animals know Arthur’s actual identity.

Until then…


Thousands of Americans die every year from falls and fall-related injuries. The right exercises for you or your older clients can help prevent falling . . . so why aren’t we doing them?
Here’s Dan on older people and falls.


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