Dan John: Wandering Weights, Issue # 244

Wandering Weights
Our Epic Journey Through All Things Heavy, Issue # 244

When you read this, it will be a big day in my home. It’s my wife’s birthday and…my daughter Lindsay’s birthday, too. I couldn’t afford a nice gift in 1992, so I gave Tiffini a baby.
That’s my story and I am sticking to it. It’s already basically halfway through summer. It’s been an odd one for me. I’m wondering out loud about the last seven months or so. I’m not sure I can take much more on my emotions!
I really enjoyed my time in England. I may have done my best workshop ever…I had some excellent questions and it really just flowed well.
I enjoy the whole process of travel and the fun of being around like-minded people. I got a lot of reading in and finished “Spring Chicken” again and I nearly have two other books completed. I like rereading a lot, I miss so much the first time I go through a book.
I’m continuing to work on some new projects. Recently, I have been exploring here in WW some updated insights on the book Easy Strength, which basically seems to be unavailable. Last week, I went over training for Quadrant One, so let’s move, logically, to QII:
Quadrant Two
Sadly, everyone loves to read, and perhaps follow, the training programs of fighters, NFL football players, Navy SEALs and Special Operations people. And…you can’t.
Quadrant Two is the realm of collision sports and collision occupations. There may be 100 qualities needed to play in the NFL from size and speed to the moment to moment tactical changes in technique WITHIN the rules. It can take a decade to develop the tool kit.
I once explained the basic commando as being a person with a B+ grade in 100 classes. They are not the best at everything, but amazingly good at a lot of things. If you are 22 and NOT in the Navy or in an elite Division One football program, your chances of being a SEAL or NFL player are practically, without divine intervention, nil.
The impact of the strength coach with collision sports and occupations is…well, “it depends.” Sometimes, the best answer in the world is “it depends.” Clearly, increasing strength tends to make most people a bit more resilient and a bit more useful. I think that many people WANT to be called at night when there is a flat tire, a broken water main, or someone with uncontrollable vomiting.
These people are strong and resilient. The weightroom can make them stronger.
In truth, we could have the best facilities, the best coaches and the hardest working cadre of people in the world and still lose. Sometimes, talent just outshines training. And, in total candor, in warfare, “the enemy has a vote.”
Bad things happen.
So, yes: the strength coach can impact the Quadrant Two person. The strength coach can improve some qualities.
But it doesn’t guarantee success.

End of Easy Strength review for now. Next week, training in QII. I think I will share some stuff and keep returning to it over and over.
For those of you on the East Coast, I will be speaking in the outskirts of Washington DC next week. I get these emails all the time: “When are you going to be here or there?” Then, I tell the writer: Here! There! Often, I get the follow-up email that the location is over an hour away from the person. Well, I fly five-plus hours to get there, but somehow the car can’t go one? Remember the number one rule of success: Show UP!
I got a lot from the internet this week. First, here is a “Must” watch video on fat.Brilliant.
Not only do I find this article exciting, the process fascinates me. The computer might have the ability to unlock “lost” languages.


First some background. The big idea behind machine translation is the understanding that words are related to each other in similar ways, regardless of the language involved.
So the process begins by mapping out these relations for a specific language. This requires huge databases of text. A machine then searches this text to see how often each word appears next to every other word. This pattern of appearances is a unique signature that defines the word in a multidimensional parameter space. Indeed, the word can be thought of as a vector within this space. And this vector acts as a powerful constraint on how the word can appear in any translation the machine comes up with.
These vectors obey some simple mathematical rules. For example: king – man + woman = queen. And a sentence can be thought of as a set of vectors that follow one after the other to form a kind of trajectory through this space.
The key insight enabling machine translation is that words in different languages occupy the same points in their respective parameter spaces. That makes it possible to map an entire language onto another language with a one-to-one correspondence.
In this way, the process of translating sentences becomes the process of finding similar trajectories through these spaces. The machine never even needs to “know” what the sentences mean.

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This is a nice three-part article on basic success.

2. Build Strength

Start Training. Stop Exercising.
The problem with most of us is not with going to the gym or exercising. It’s HOW we exercise.
So you might hit the gym four times per week. But if you do it half-heartedly and without focus, you will never see the results you CAN achieve.
So stop exercising. And start training. The former is just something you do; the latter is something you plan.
What are your goals? What are you trying to achieve with your body? Want to get stronger? Lose weight?
How strong? How much weight do you want to lose? Why?
When you have a goal, you train. When you don’t have a goal, you just work out for the sake of working out.
It sounds obvious. But I’ve been exercising most of my life. It’s for only the past six months that I’ve started training. And I’m getting stronger by the day.

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I enjoyed this little article waaaaay too much. I have seen most of the films: The 20 Best Movies of the 1990s.

1. Goodfellas (1990)
Martin Scorsese, who made best-of-the-decade films in the 1970s and ’80s, kicked off the ’90s with what many consider to be the high point of his career: a fact-based, testosterone-fueled gangster movie with iconic performances by Ray Liotta, Robert De Niro, and Joe Pesci (who, yes, is like a clown to us). In many ways, it felt like the movie he’d been born to make, combining his favorite elements of crime, Italian-Americans, moral ambiguity, and swearing.

5. Beauty and the Beast (1991)
After falling to a low point in the 1980s, the Disney animation division began a renaissance with The Little Mermaid (1989) that continued—and perhaps even reached its zenith, depending on your view—with this gorgeous, humane, richly entertaining musical take on a classic fairy tale. The first animated film ever nominated for Best Picture, it’s one of the most beloved movies of any genre.

11. Fargo (1996)
For their sixth movie, brothers Joel and Ethan Coen returned to a favorite subject—bumbling criminals—and introduced a new one: the singsong Minnesota accents of their homeland. People went around talking like Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand) and Jerry Lundegaard (William H. Macy) for months after its release, but the film’s dark comedy, righteous heroes and pathetic wrongdoers made it resonate even longer.

12. Boogie Nights (1997)
Paul Thomas Anderson’s first film, Hard Eight (1996), went largely unnoticed. But his second one, this sprawling rags-to-riches story about L.A.’s pornography business in the 1970s, put him on the map permanently. Julianne Moore and Burt Reynolds were frequently singled out by awards-giving bodies for their supporting performances, but the amazing cast also included Mark Wahlberg, Don Cheadle, John C. Reilly, William H. Macy, Heather Graham, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Alfred Molina, all playing strong, identifiable characters.

14. Waiting for Guffman (1997)
Thirteen years after This Is Spinal Tap, Christopher Guest—Nigel Tufnel himself—directed his own mockumentary that did for community theater for Spinal Tap did for rock bands. Semi-improvised by Guest and fellow comedy luminaries Eugene Levy, Fred Willard, Catherine O’Hara, and Parker Posey, it straddled the line between merciless and affectionate as it skewers delusional strivers and small-town pettiness. The only people who don’t like it are bastard people.

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I don’t know this site very well, but it was fun skimming through it. This article made me laugh at some of the things that are just absolutely still true.


Sandow was one of the first fitness icons of the modern age, and he had some pretty solid advice for getting fit.
While Sandow bemoaned the ill effects of a sedentary desk job, he lacked interest in walking for walking’s sake, calling it “tedious” and “defective.” Instead, he advocated bicycling. “Each week the bicycler acquires an added skill, and power which could not be done the week before.” And while he found horseback riding “exhilarating,” he admitted bikes would be the more practical mode of transport for most: “A clerk on a salary of fifteen or twenty-five dollars a week, to whom the purchase and keep of a horse would be impracticable, can easily buy a good cycle, which, with reasonable care, should last for many years, requires no feed and almost no expense for keeping it in order.”

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This is a nice little article starting with my hero, Tommy Kono.


1. The Weightlifter Who Beefed Up at a Japanese Internment Camp
A scrawny, asthmatic child, Tamio Kono developed his weightlifting physique in the most unlikely place—a Japanese internment camp. During World War II, he and his family were forced from their home in San Francisco and moved to a detention center in the California desert. For three and a half years, they endured brutal conditions along with other Japanese immigrants. Although the situation was terrible, the climate wasn’t. The desert air agreed with Tamio’s lungs, and he started lifting weights to pass the time.
After the war, Kono kept training, and within a decade, he was the lynchpin of the U.S. national weightlifting team. Despite his family’s detention, he proudly lifted for the Americans. Using his freakish ability to raise and lower his weight quickly, Kono helped the team fill gaps in its roster. During his career, Kono lifted competitively at weights ranging from 149 lbs. to 198 lbs. To bulk up, he’d devour six or seven meals a day, and to slim down, he’d “starve” himself with three meals a day. He won his first gold as a lightweight during his Olympic debut in 1952, his second as a light heavyweight in 1956, and then a silver as a middleweight in 1960. All in all, he set seven Olympic records and 26 world records. Plus, he went on to become Mister Universe three times. Not bad for a boy who’d once been a 105-lb. weakling.

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Boy…is this article needed for these times!


In a series of five studies, which surveyed 1,200 individuals, the authors found that the intellectually humble are far more motivated to learn for its own sake, more likely to enjoy challenging cognitive tasks, more willing to consider different perspectives and alternative evidence, and less threatened by awareness of their own limitations.
The Harvard Business Review points out the Pepperdine studies’ importance in defining the fuzzy concept of open-mindedness, with a fourfold measure to assess individual’s intellectual humility:
    Having respect for other viewpoints
    Not being intellectually overconfident
    Separating one’s ego from one’s intellect
    Willingness to revise one’s own viewpoint
Becoming intellectually humble can take us into some uncomfortable territory, places where we don’t know what to say or do when everyone around us seem so certain. But it can also give us the push we need to actually learn the things we might have kinda, sorta pretended to understand. Read Pepperdine’s study, “Links between intellectual humility and acquiring knowledge” at The Journal of Positive Psychology.

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I needed to read this because of my two daughters, but this makes good points for all of us.

In his book, “The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less,” psychologist Barry Schwartz argues that the more choices we have, the more likely we are to anticipate regretting our decisions later on.
Schwartz says that one of three things is likely to occur when young adults are faced with too many choices:
    They make poor choices
    They become more dissatisfied with their choices
    They become paralyzed and don’t make a choice at all
Here’s the advice I give to millennials who struggle with decision fatigue:
1. Address how you truly feel.
Self-awareness is everything. When we force ourselves to think about our feelings, words, emotions and behaviors, we start to understand what’s really bothering us and what we really want.
How do you feel about your current situation? What changes would you like to make? What’s important to you right now? What are your current goals? What are your future goals?
Asking yourself these questions will guide you in making a decision you feel good about and are less likely to regret.
2. Identify your options.
At this point, it’s time to get serious and start brainstorming the choices you have and what outcomes they might lead to.
For example, switching jobs could affect your salary, living situation, work responsibilities or commute.
Define the key factors of each decision and how they might affect your current situation. Maybe you need to take care of a sick family member and can’t afford to take on a demanding job.
3. Identify the things you can control.
It’s okay to take risks, but you also want to avoid choices with outcomes that you have very little control over.
You might be dealing with a difficult boss who is unpleasant to work with. If that’s just your boss’ personality, confronting her behavior might not change things at all. In fact, it might even make things even more awkward.
What you can control, however, is how you react to your boss’ behavior. You can choose to not let it affect you or maybe think about finding a new job altogether.
Once you’ve recognized what you can and can’t control, you’ll have an easier time narrowing down your list of choices.
4. Make a decision.
It may take some time to figure out what you want your next move to be. Don’t rush yourself — but at the same time, don’t spend too much time obsessing over your choices.
It may even help to talk things through with someone or ask for a different perspective. Just be careful not to accept blind advice.
Once you’ve made a decision, be prepared for the possible outcomes. Make a plan for what to do if things don’t turn out the way you expected them to.
5. Embrace the uncertainties.
I often tell my patients that it’s okay to worry or feel uncertain, provided that you don’t allow it to take over your life.
The only “right” path is the path that feels right to you. You might accept the new job offer and realize that it wasn’t a good culture fit or that there were far more responsibilities than you were prepared to take on.
You won’t always get it right the first time, but when you embrace and accept your mistakes, you become a lot smarter, wiser and more confident about the choices you make in the future.

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I can’t say I am “shocked” about this article, but it’s good advice…whether or not it is true.

Roberts said that people with type 1 diabetes are mainly only at risk if their insulin is so poorly controlled that they have hypoglycemic episodes. But even people who don’t have any kind of diabetes should watch their sugar intake, she said.
“Just because you don’t have type 2 diabetes doesn’t mean you can eat whatever carbs you want,” she said. “Especially if you’re not active.” What we eat, she added, is “a big factor in maintaining control of our destiny.” Roberts said this new study by Xie is interesting because it also shows an association between prediabetes and cognitive decline.
That’s an important point that often gets forgotten in discussions of Alzheimer’s. It’s such a horrible disease that it can be tempting to dismiss it as inevitable. And, of course, there are genetic and other, non-nutritional factors that contribute to its progression. But, as these and other researchers point out, decisions we make about food are one risk factor we can control. And it’s starting to look like decisions we make while we’re still relatively young can affect our future cognitive health.
“Alzheimer’s is like a slow-burning fire that you don’t see when it starts,” Schilling said. It takes time for clumps to form and for cognition to begin to deteriorate. “By the time you see the signs, it’s way too late to put out the fire.”

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Well, folks as I slump my way through another bout of jet lag be sure to enjoy not only The Sword in the Stone but a nice offer from one of the places I am involved with online. 

I look forward to a full week of training (finally!) and until next time, keep on lifting and learning.

For your quick access link, here’s Dan’s full OTP page, including all of his articles, books, lectures and videos, all in one place.

The Sword in the Stone, Part 98
The other snake was lying flat on its face in a state of great agitation. It had managed to push itself into the very roots of the coarse grass among the nettles, for there is always a kind of empty layer between the green grass and the actual mud. The top green layer is supported on pillars of bleached roots, and it was in this secret acre-huge chamber, which coves every grass field, floored with mud and roofed with green, that the poor snake had sought concealment. It was lamenting to itself in a very sweet, cold simple voice and crying, “Alas, Alas.”
It is difficult to explain the way in which snakes talk, except by this. Everybody knows that there are rays of light, the infra-red and the ultra-violet and those beyond them, in which ants, for instance, can see, and men cannot. Just so there are waves of sound higher than the bat’s squeak, which Mozart once heard delivered by Lucrenzia Ajugari in 1770, and lower than the distant thunder which pheasants hear (or is that they see the flash?) before man. It was in these profound melodious accents that the snake conversed.
“Who are you?” asked the snake, trembling, as Wart poured himself into the secret chamber beside it. “Did you see that human? It was an H. sapiens, I believe. I only just got away.”
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In the audiobook recordings, the narrator tends to squeak out the “Alas, Alas” quote and it does provide for more listening pleasure. Much like the talented Harry Potter book narrators, a bit of a change of pace in the reader’s voice adds so much depth to the character.
When Wart became a fish, we were given a lovely explanation about how fish see. White’s ability to describe the tiny details, as I have noted again and again, seems to take me by surprise every time. Modern writers, and I have to remind myself often that White wrote this before the Second World War, often miss the joy of fully painting a world for us. J. K. Rowling, of course, was not afraid to describe and add adventures to many minor characters that blended seamlessly into the greater narrative. Someone once told me that you could sum each Potter book in a page and I wondered out loud: “Now…why would you do that?”
White’s snake is going to leave us with two of my favorite stories in the book and perhaps my second favorite quote (“Never Let Go” wins). As Wart and the snake begin their friendship, it starts off, as often with White, on shaky grounds.

Until next week!


A little bonus for our WW readers. I will be featured in an upcoming issue and I think this might a real help to our readers (many of whom, like me, tend to train “mostly” in garage gyms), so here you go:

Garage Gym Life Media is a digital media company that began as a simple blog in 2015 run by one frustrated home gym owner (me). Having trained at home in one way or another since 2000, I was fed up with always having to modify everything I read in a magazine or website to fit my reality as a home gym owner. I was also irritated by the condescending attitude in some magazines and blogs that portrayed home gym owners as not dedicated because we choose not to abandon our families to pursue our fitness goals.
The brand has always been about the entire home gym experience, both past and present so rather than focus on specific fitness interests, we’ve sought to find the common ground between every one of us who train at home. We think that’s the best way for us to learn from each other’s journeys.
We soon realized how limiting the blog was and moved to a digital magazine format while using the blog for quick news blasts. That magazine, the Home Gym Quarterly, is the only magazine in the world that’s written by and for home gym owners.
The Home Gym Quarterly is produced four times a year, Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall with our Summer 2019 issue just having been released. That issue features an interview with former 4x Highland Games world champion Dan McKim, an interview with Matt Dahl, the creator of the Sanddune Stepper, plus recipes, helpful tips and other features.
As a thank you to Dan John for agreeing to be apart of the Fall 2019 issue, we’re giving you a free promo code so any of the readers of Wandering Weights can check out the Summer 2019 issue for free. Visit https://issuu.com/store/code/3FMXBRE8  and input code 3FMXBRE8 at checkout. Agree to the terms of service and read the Summer issue for one year for free. (Note:  this code does NOT give you a free subscription. Just one year’s free access to the Summer 2019 issue.)
In addition to the Home Gym Quarterly, we also post weekly sales alerts on our blog at www.garagegymlifemagazine.com so home gym owners can find deals to start, upgrade or maintain their gym along with information about workshops and seminars so they can expand their knowledge base.
Anyone who is on Instagram might enjoy watching us on IGTV where we produce four weekly shows:  Sunday Conversations with home gym owners from around the world, Mindset Monday a short program with tips on approaching fitness and life holistically, Technique Tuesday which introduces viewers to a single home gym friendly training technique and Busy Dad Meal Prep with quick, easy to prepare recipes for busy parents.


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