Dan John: Wandering Weights, Issue # 169

Wandering Weights
Our Epic Journey Through All Things Heavy, Issue # 169

Mike Boyle has the experience to know when to keep training simple. When coaching kids, K.I.S.S. is the rule . . . and even then, there are lessons to learn that will make you a better coach. [CONTINUE READING]


Well, the Super Bowl is behind us and now we look forward to August when football begins again. It’s now that odd time of year for sports fans in America when not a lot happens.

True, the Winter Olympics start this week. I’m a fan of some of the sports, but the American coverage tends to focus on figure skating and the personal stories that warm the heart. I like a warm heart, as much as the next person, but I also like to watch the events.

That’s one thing I like about watching TV sports in Europe: they just show the sport. Handball, called Team Handball in the United States, is a hugely popular game and perfect for the television. Frankly, I don’t need to know that little Billy struggles with dental hygiene to enjoy the sport.

Yesterday, the Super Bowl coverage was the usual mix of hyping upcoming shows for the network who has the rights to the show and “talking heads” talking their heads off. Speaking of talking heads, I had a very nice interview this week with Adam.

I thought this article was very good. These are very close to my standards in Can You Go?.


Here are my 6-baseline movement (minimum) standards for health and reduced risk of incidental pain or injuries. Please note all the below MUST NOT induce pain. If you have pain during the below movements, seek out qualified help. Starting a strength training program without achieving these minimums, can move you closer towards pain and injury, unless you’re factoring this into your programming.

1.     Being able to touch your toes with no knee bend or bouncing.
2.     Raising arms completely vertical above head, in a straight line. Looking on the side, if your arms are ahead of your body, then it’s a fail.
3.     Having the ability to hinge (bend) at the hips with no knee or back bend. Google “hip hinge” if you don’t know what this looks like.
4.     Breaking parallel in a goblet squat, without your lower back bending like a banana.
5.     Static lunge (knee to floor on the back leg – front knee angle at 90 degrees) with a vertical torso position. No twisting or bending like a pretzel.
6.     Stand on one leg for +10 seconds.

End quote

Taking time to read seems to simply prepare you for things better than listening to the news or garbage. I loved this article.


The guidance is echoed by business giants today, like Berkshire-Hathaway’s Warren Buffett and Bill Gates of Microsoft, as well as thoughtful politicians like former president Barack Obama. They make time to step out of action, for hours, days, or weeks, to read books and contemplate other peoples’ thoughts, despite having already reached great heights. And if they didn’t begin with the principle that learning is a lifelong process—which involves acknowledging one’s own ignorance—perhaps they would not have thought to seek the wisdom of others and succeeded as they did.

Obama, who was a voracious reader as a young man, committed to reading a book—not news—for an hour a day during his eight-year presidency, he told the New York Times (paywall). The practice helped him “slow down and get perspective,” which he said is especially difficult when the flow of information never stops and your job is to be in the thick of it. By deliberately stepping away from fast-paced communication and contemplating alternate views expressed in a slow form, books, he ”maintain[ed] his balance” while leading a nation for eight years.

Clearly, if a US president can take time to contemplate, so can the rest of us. After all, admitting ignorance is wisdom. The Oracle of Delphi in the fourth century BC called the philosopher Socrates the wisest guy in Greece. Socrates didn’t buy it, and sought to test the claim by conversing with a politician widely admired for his wisdom. But when Socrates asked questions for which he had no answers, he discovered the politician didn’t know much either. The difference between them was that the politician thought of himself as wise, whereas Socrates admitted ignorance.

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I had a lot of articles originally this week on fasting and longevity, but let’s just use this one here. It’s simple and to the point.


Practice intermittent fasting. By skipping breakfast and eating all of your meals within an eight-hour window, you will increase your body’s inherent autophagy process[2]. Like a protein-specific fast, intermittent fasting gives your body a chance to “catch up” on all those lingering toxins — by cleaning up in real-time. A 16-28 hour fast is known to be extremely useful to remove toxin build-up.

Eat a high-fat, low-carb diet.  The keto diet (high-fat, low-carb) also gives you an edge you when it comes to autophagy. The shift from burning glucose (carbs) to ketones (fats) that occurs on a keto diet mimics what occurs naturally in a fasted state — and this increases autophagy in its own right[3].

Exercise using high-intensity interval training. HIIT exercise is another advantageous way to stimulate autophagy. Remember, exercise and autophagy are both bodily responses to stress, and high-intensity exercise puts you in the good-stress sweet spot. You’ll get just enough impact load to provoke muscular change (and autophagy) without harm. Aim for approximately 30 minutes a day to give your longevity an optimal boost.

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But don’t take vitamins. This article is just amazing. I remember literally everything in this article and the history as I used to watch Merv Griffin after school (with my mom) doing my chores and homework…before playing Street Football for the rest of the night. Griffin’s guests often discussed diet, weightloss and vitamins. It was a pillar of the show, frankly. I summarize the key point here, but the whole article is worth your time.


How could this be? Given that free radicals clearly damage cells — and given that people who eat diets rich in substances that neutralize free radicals are healthier — why did studies of supplemental antioxidants show they were harmful? The most likely explanation is that free radicals aren’t as evil as advertised. Although it’s clear that free radicals can damage DNA and disrupt cell membranes, that’s not always a bad thing. People need free radicals to kill bacteria and eliminate new cancer cells. But when people take large doses of antioxidants, the balance between free radical production and destruction might tip too much in one direction, causing an unnatural state in which the immune system is less able to kill harmful invaders. Researchers have called this “the antioxidant paradox.” Whatever the reason, the data are clear: high doses of vitamins and supplements increase the risk of heart disease and cancer; for this reason, not a single national or international organization responsible for the public’s health recommends them.

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I hope you read the whole vitamin article, because the following article does for obesity what the above did for supplements. It comes down to this: there are no easy answers/solutions.



Wells memorably calls this double-bind the ‘metabolic ghetto’, and you can’t escape it just by turning poor people into middle-class consumers: that turn to prosperity is precisely what triggers the trap. ‘Obesity,’ he writes, ‘like undernutrition, is thus fundamentally a state of malnutrition, in each case promoted by powerful profit-led manipulations of the global supply and quality of food.’

The trap is deeper than that, however. The ‘unifying logic of capitalism’, Wells continues, requires that food companies seek immediate profit and long-term success, and their optimal strategy for that involves encouraging people to choose foods that are most profitable to produce and sell — ‘both at the behavioural level, through advertising, price manipulations and restriction of choice, and at the physiological level through the enhancement of addictive properties of foods’ (by which he means those sugars and fats that make ‘metabolic disturber’ foods so habit-forming). In short, Wells told me via email, ‘We need to understand that we have not yet grasped how to address this situation, but we are increasingly understanding that attributing obesity to personal responsibility is very simplistic.’ Rather than harping on personal responsibility so much, Wells believes, we should be looking at the global economic system, seeking to reform it so that it promotes access to nutritious food for everyone. That is, admittedly, a tall order. But the argument is worth considering, if only as a bracing critique of our individual-responsibility ideology of fatness.

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This week’s WW really offers some ideas here: forget vitamins, fast, and don’t expect the corporations to stop making you want to eat crap. Read books and stand on one foot.

Oddly, it makes sense to me.

So, until next time, keep on lifting and learning.


Mike Boyle has the experience to know when to keep training simple. When coaching kids, K.I.S.S. is the rule . . . and even then, there are lessons to learn that will make you a better coach. [CONTINUE READING]


The Sword in the Stone


Madame Mim Five

As I was preparing this week for The Sword in the Stone, I found this great quote from Philip Womack:

“White manages to compress several centuries of British history into his work, and Wart sees it all, remaining sympathetic, valorous and humanly flawed till his final, tragic (in the Aristotelian sense, as White himself would have it) end. Wart oversees the transformation of Britain from a world where Might is Right, through his own more civilised court, to the decadent cynicism of Mordred and his twisted views. Wart can understand what goes before him; but King Arthur can’t change what’s going to happen. Such is the pain of human existence.

One of the last things that Wart does before his death is speak to a little page, Thomas. “My idea of those knights,” he says of the Round Table, “was a sort of candle… I have carried it for many years with a hand to shield it from the wind. It has flickered often. I am giving you the candle now – you won’t let it out?”

As we march into “boiling water,” I thought this summary perfect frames our journey.

To continue:

“It’s quite a long way off, you know,” continued the goat without self-pity. “For myself I don’t mind very much, for I am old. But look at that poor owl there, that she keeps merely for a sense of possession and generally forgets to feed. That makes my blood boil, that does. It wants to fly, to stretch it wings. At night it just runs round and round and round like a big rat, it gets so restless. Look, it has broken all its soft feathers. For me, it doesn’t matter, for I’m naturally of a sedentary disposition now that youth has flown, but I call that owl a rare shame. Something ought to be done about it.”

The Wart knew that he was probably going to be killed that night, the first to be released out of all that band, but yet he could not help feeling touch at the greatheartedness of this goat. Itself under sentence of death, it could afford to feel strongly about the owl. He wished he were as brave as this.

“If only I could get out,” said the Wart. “I know a magician who would soon settle her hash, and rescue us all.”

The goat thought about this for some time, nodding its gentle head with the great cairngorm eyes. Then it said, “As a matter of fact I know how to get you out, only I did not like to mention it before. Put your ear nearer the bars. I know how to get you out, but not your poor friend there who is crying. I didn’t like to subject you to a temptation like that. You see when she whispers to the lock I have heard what she says, but only on the locks on either side of mine.  When she gets a cage away she is too soft to be heard. I know the words to release both you and me, and the black cock here too, but not your young friend yonder.”

“Why haven’t you let yourself out before?” asked the Wart, his heart beginning to bound.

“I can’t speak them in human speech, you see,” said the goat sadly, “and this poor mad boy here, the wittol, he can’t speak them either.”

End quote

I think this is a beautiful section. Wart is going to be popped in a pot, yet he stops and admires the bravery and compassion of the goat. One could argue that Wart is naïve and simple, but time and again in our stories, he has these moments of simple courage that really set him apart in the annals of literature.

Obviously, I love him.

“Wittol” is an interesting word and should be used more often. Yes, it does mean “witless,” but it also means, like cuckoldry, a man who allows/ignores his wife’s adultery. So, by all means, I will be using this in my daily life.

This selection also makes me even more confused about Wart’s abilities to speak with animals. The goat can’t “speak them in human speech,” but Wart seems to understand him perfectly. I will live to survive another day, of course, as, I noted this last time, it is fantasy.

I seem to enjoy this chapter the more I retype it and reanalyze it. Originally, I considered skipping it, as some editions do, but I find this marvelous reading.

Until next time.


Are you making program design too complicated? Start with basic movements and see if they make the difference your client wants. Here’s Alwyn Cosgrove: Basic Movements and Program Design

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