Dan John: Wandering Weights, Issue # 209

Wandering Weights
Our Epic Journey Through All Things Heavy, Issue # 209

There’s more to being successful in strength and conditioning than just learning the science of strength. The art of coaching is woven deeply into the collective wisdom of the great minds that preceded us. Through their mentorship, we can become better coaches by learning from their successes . . . and their mistakes. [CONTINUE READING Jeremy Hall, as he tells the story of how he came to be the editing author of The System]

 

The weather is getting cold in Utah. We were training outside on Saturday and the air was dry and cracking. It’s hard to do groundwork when the cement sticks to you.

As of now, my brother’s home in Paradise, California, is still standing. Not many of his neighbors can say that. The fires in the west of the United States continue to get worse every year and I don’t have an answer for it. My dad lost a house to a fire, as well as my brother. And…we’ve almost lost two others in the various fires of California.

Veteran’s Day, 11/11 at 11, has come and gone, but I’m still not sure everyone appreciates the 100th Anniversary of the end of WWI. “The War to End All Wars” didn’t seem to do that, but the destruction of this war still boggles the mind. WWII was always the focal point of my youth, but occasionally as a child, I would meet a First World War vet.

As so often happens, I regret not having a tape recorder going. We were discussing this about our friend’s parents not long ago and how they would share stories of the war or the Great Depression and, well, with their passing, the story goes, too.

My family has served in every conflict. My niece, Danielle, continues on as an Army Nurse and Lieutenant Colonel. My brothers, dad, uncles, and cousins have all been part of the military. I can certainly say that they were not only treated well after they returned, but things are clearly better today.

Between the election and following the fire story, I spent a lot of time online this week. So, I also found a lot of great articles. This first one might be the single most important article I have read in a while. I found the “decay rate of knowledge” to be astounding.

Quoting

Finally, the decay rate of knowledge is multiple phenomena wrapped into one. By understanding that these separate phenomena exist, it helps us understand how fundamental the trend of knowledge decay is:

Data, facts, information, and knowledge are all growing exponentially. With the advent of the Internet Of Things, more precise measurement tools, and online tracking, the amount of data about us and our world is growing. As a result, researchers have more data from which to derive scientific facts. The tools of science are subject to Moore’s Law. Better tools mean that science progresses faster.
·      The number of scientists in the world is growing rapidly. Ninety percent of all the scientists who have ever lived are alive today.
·      The number of people creating and sharing ideas is growing exponentially. 30 years ago, the main people creating ideas were scientists, intellectuals, and thought leaders. With the advent of social media, millions of people are regularly creating and sharing their lessons learned.
·      We can perform exponentially more complex calculations. As a result of Moore’s Law, the calculations per second that we can perform is growing. Each advance in computation allows us to understand the complexity of the world at a deeper level and solve whole classes of problems that were previously unsolvable.
·      We are forgetting what we know. Finally, we have the Forgetting Curve, which shows that we humans forget nearly everything we are exposed to over time without reinforcement.

End quote

“Don’t go to war.” I think this article does a very good job explaining longevity. I’m not going to comment much more…I went on a rant about this article with Bill Wade…but it is worth reading.

Quoting

Maybe that’s why Ancestry’s chief scientific officer Catherine Ball says the company has no plans to offer a longevity score in any of its DNA testing products any time soon. “Right now a healthy lifespan looks to be more of a function of the choices that we make,” she says. She points to places in the data where lifespans took big hits—for males during World War I, and then in two waves in the latter half of the 20th century as men and then women took up a cigarette habit.

“Don’t smoke, and don’t go to war. Those are my two pieces of advice,” she says. And maybe make time to exercise. Ball already has a Tuesday morning workout penciled in her calendar. This time, she says, she won’t be canceling it at the last minute.

End quote

This article has been shared a lot, but I like the simple point about diet here.

Quoting

Here’s my main takeaway from 10 years of eating sensibly: If the plan you have for what you feed yourself causes you more stress and adds more work to your already-busy life, you’re not eating well. If you’re meticulously counting calories, or carbs, or worse yet tiny milligrams of sodium, you’re going to drive yourself crazy, distance yourself from the enjoyment of eating real food, and continuously subject yourself to the downward spiral of yo-yo weight loss and weight gain perpetuated by trendy diets that only really, truly care about one thing: how much money they make off of you.

The best diet isn’t sexy. It doesn’t have celebrity endorsements. There’s no plan you have to buy into. Hell, it doesn’t even have a marketing strategy. The best diet is one that is based on the inclusion of healthful foods—not the exclusion of food groups—and will last you far longer than the lifespan of whatever Atkins, Zone, Whole30, South Beach, low-fat, low-carb, Paleo, Mesozoic, Bulletproof, or keto plan is the hot new thing.

End quote

We have known for a long time about the value of fiber in the diet, but we just seem to forget this every so often. The issue with fast food places, and really most dining spots, not serving fibrous foods continues to be a silent issue in America. “Give us our veggies and fruit!”

Quoting

As my colleague Ed Yong has written, low-fiber diets make gut bacteria more homogeneous, possibly for generations. Mice that are fed high-fiber diets have less severe food allergies, potentially because gut bacteria break down fiber into short-chain fatty acids, which support the immune system. A more recent study in mice found that a low-fiber diet can spark inflammation in the intestines. We still need more studies to understand exactly how fiber and the microbiome interact in humans. But we do know that hunter-gatherer communities in Tanzania and elsewhere, who don’t eat Western diets, eat about 100 grams of fiber a day and have much more diverse microbiomes than Westerners.

“We’re beginning to realize that people who eat more dietary fiber are actually feeding their gut microbiome,” Justin Sonnenburg, a microbiologist at Stanford University, explained to NPR.

End quote

That article got me looking around for more fiber articles. I found this one interesting historically.

Quoting

In the decades after World War II, a one-eyed Irish missionary-surgeon named Denis Burkitt moved to Uganda, where he noted that the villagers there ate far more fiber than Westerners did. This didn’t just bulk up their stools, Burkitt reasoned; it also explained their low rates of heart disease, colon cancer, and other chronic illnesses. “America is a constipated nation,” he once said. “If you pass small stools, you have big hospitals.”

“Burkitt really nailed it,” says Justin Sonnenburg, a microbiologist at Stanford University. Sure, some of the man’s claims were far-fetched, but he was right about the value of fiber and the consequences of avoiding it. And Sonnenburg thinks he knows why: Fiber doesn’t just feed us—it also feeds the trillions of microbes in our guts.

Fiber is a broad term that includes many kinds of plant carbohydrates that we cannot digest. Our microbes can, though, and they break fiber into chemicals that nourish our cells and reduce inflammation. But no single microbe can tackle every kind of fiber. They specialize, just as every antelope in the African savannah munches on its own favored type of grass or shoot. This means that a fiber-rich diet can nourish a wide variety of gut microbes and, conversely, that a low-fiber diet can only sustain a narrower community.

End quote

I am concerned that I might be confusing people. Let’s share two from the archives to return clarity to diet and exercise. This first article from Nick Horton has been my “go to” for a long time.

Quoting

I ended up hitting a 155k Front Squat PR while I was in the middle of a “diet”!   I also went from barely hitting 90k snatches to power snatching it multiple times a week, and hitting a new PR of 95k!  Not bad for being calorie restricted.

For about 3 months I followed the basic tenet of Berkan’s fasting system and gave myself a  “feeding window” every day where I got to eat.  And at any other time, I didn’t eat.

(His system calls for an 8-hour window, I did 10 or more.  With twice a day training like I was doing, 8 wasn’t practical – read below for more details.)

During this window, I would try to get in all my protein, veggies, and other needed stuff for the day.  I didn’t try hard, and I didn’t count calories. But, I slowly dropped from 195 pounds to 186 pounds over the course of 3 months and was noticeably leaner all the while gaining strength.

Seriously, my diet was not complicated.  Here was how I worked it around my workout schedule – which was also its own crazy experiment.

To be fair, my workout schedule included up to 13 sessions a week, all to max on Oly lifts and/or squats, so you might be inclined to think that it was this that spurned the fatloss.  But, keep in mind that I was working out similarly prior to the fasting protocol and I was NOT getting leaner until I added the fasting.

End quote

And, to make it even simpler, JB’s classic on Minimum Effective Dose…or, as I say: “Do this:”

Quoting

Because Marsha was working 2 jobs, was heavily involved in a host of volunteer experiences, was planning a wedding, and admitted to not enjoying “gym exercise” very much, I built her program with the minimum effective dose in mind.

Here’s what her program looked like.

Day 1 – 10 minutes
Close-grip push-ups x 10
Inverted rows x 10
Kettlebell swings x 20
Rest 1 minute
Repeat 5 times

Day 2 – 6 minutes
2 minute walk
15 second treadmill sprint at 8mph and 12% incline 15 seconds rest
Repeat 5 times
2 minute walk

Day 3 – 10 minutes
Close-grip push-ups x 10
Swiss ball crunches x 10
Air squats x 20
Rest 1 minute
Repeat 5 times

Day 4 – 6 minutes
2 minute walk
15 second treadmill sprint at 8mph and 12% incline 15 seconds rest
Repeat 5 times
2 minute walk

She followed this program for 16 weeks. And, at the end of the 16 weeks, Marsha had lost 20 lbs of body fat and dramatically shifted her body composition.

Notice the shockingly low exercise volume. If you do the math, in 4 months she exercised for a grand total of 8 hours. 30 minutes a week.

Of course, if you’re savvy you’re probably wondering if we made any nutrition changes. Yes, of course we did. But, in the spirit of keeping this simple, I gave her the following nutrition suggestions:

Weeks 1 and 2
I asked her to simply eat each meal slowly and have about 4 meals each day. No other changes.

Weeks 3 and 4
I asked her to also begin eating lean protein, legumes, and lots of veggies with each meal.

Weeks 5 and 6 (and beyond)
I asked her to also start avoiding white, starchy carbs, fruit, and calorie-containing drinks. In addition, I added one day each week where she could eat whatever she wanted.

That’s it. No calorie calculations. No complicated rules. Just simple nutritional steps and 30 minutes of exercise per week. You can’t get much more efficient than that.

End quote

That’s some good information. Until next week, keep lifting and learning.

Dan
DanJohn.net

Jeremy Hall: “Only grasping maybe 2% of what I was getting into, I accepted Coach Parker’s offer and assumed that even if nothing came of it, I would get a graduate-level education in strength and conditioning just by going through the process.” 
[CONTINUE READING Jeremy Hall, as he tells the story of how he came to be the editing author of The System]

The Sword in the Stone, Part 65

Quoting:

“Oh, come on,” said Kay. “He is probably loopy like Wat, and does not know what he is at. Let’s go on and leave the old fool.”

They went on for nearly a mile, and still the going was good. There were no paths exactly, and the glades were not continuous. Anybody who came there by chance would have thought that there was just the one glade which he was in, a couple of hundred yards long, unless he went to the end of it and discovered another one, screened by a few trees. Now and then they found a stump with the marks of the axe on it, but mostly these had been carefully covered with brambles or altogether grubbed up. The Wart considered that the glades must have been made.

Kay caught the Wart by the arm, at the edge of a clearing, and pointed silently toward its further end. There was a grassy bank there, swelling gently to a gigantic sycamore, upward of ninety feet high, which stood upon its top. On the bank there was an equally gigantic man lying at his ease, with a dog beside him. This man was as notable as the sycamore, for he stood or lay seven feet without his shoes, and he was dressed in nothing but a kind of kilt made of Lincoln green worsted. He had a leather bracer on his left forearm. His enormous brown chest supported the dog’s head—it had pricked its ears and was watching the boys, but had made no other movement—which the muscles gently lifted as they rose and fell. The man appeared to be asleep. There was a seven-foot bow beside him, with some arrows more than a cloth-yard long. He, like the woodman, was the colour of mahogany, and the curled hairs on his chest made a golden haze where the sun caught them.

“He is it,” whispered Kay excitedly.

End quote

I have read this section many times, but, as always happens with things, I missed the image of the glade being the road to this adventure. I missed the man-made parts of the glade, it seems, in every prior reading.

Wart’s moment of deduction is worthy of Sherlock. That’s one of the reasons I like taking folks on tours of my house, my neighborhood and the area around me. “Tours” is an overstatement, of course, but I get accustomed to seeing things a certain way and it is nice to have another set of eyes showing you what you miss.

Often, when I travel, I will talk to a local about something and I get one of two reactions:

“Oh yeah…that.”

“I’ve lived here my whole life and never knew that.”

I have walked through this story many times and missed the point that Wart makes so clear. It’s like what we learn in the stories of Sir Percifal: everything you ever seek is “right there.” Love, happiness and joy are just right here. The harder you look for them, the longer you travel, the more likely you are to discover that you left them where you started.

For those of you who know your Sherwood Forest, you know the person we just met. White’s description gives little doubt that we are meeting the most famous of the Merry Men, Little John:

“This man was as notable as the sycamore, for he stood or lay seven feet without his shoes, and he was dressed in nothing but a kind of kilt made of Lincoln green worsted. He had a leather bracer on his left forearm. His enormous brown chest supported the dog’s head—it had pricked its ears and was watching the boys, but had made no other movement—which the muscles gently lifted as they rose and fell. The man appeared to be asleep. There was a seven-foot bow beside him, with some arrows more than a cloth-yard long. He, like the woodman, was the colour of mahogany, and the curled hairs on his chest made a golden haze where the sun caught them.”

The long bow and the length of the arrows will be important when we meet our next character, just after we meet Wart’s “love of his life.” Sadly, Kings can’t choose in the ways of love.

Until next time.

Dan

Pain is a reality of rehab and performance, and the more you understand, the more you can help your clients understand: [CONTINUE READING Sue Falsone, Pain Theories]

 

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