Dan John: Wandering Weights, Issue # 256
Our Epic Journey Through All Things Heavy, Issue # 256
It’s hard to believe that I actually have two weekends here at home. In the past six months or so, I just don’t remember this happening. I had this planned, two weekends off, in June, but, well…
This week, I have the “opportunity” to get my once-a-decade colonoscopy. I had originally planned this back in June, but my brother, Phil, died. I gathered up my family for the funeral and changed plans. The center was very good about rescheduling, so here I go (dare I say?).
I’m not sure this is the most exciting thing in the world, but it is essential after fifty. I go to the dentist three times a year, the eye doctor every December, and I have a full physical annually. Like wearing a seat belt and abstaining from smoking, these are, statistically, the things we/I need to do to nudge longevity up a bit.
Since I am fasting already, I figure I would do another round of the Fast Mimicking Diet. I would like to see my bodyweight dip to 220 pounds/100 kilos as I have been hovering close for a while. I think getting the total hip replacement might be the best weight loss program I have ever done: Somehow NOT being in chronic pain 24/7 seems to help with health.
I’m actually surprised how many experts ignore this basic fact. I watch trainers beating the hell out of their clients perhaps sending them deeper into the pain spiral. Pain is brutal on the hormonal balance.
This week on Pat Flynn’s podcast, we discuss…something I have discussed to death. So, of course, we discuss it again. Folks, I hate lunges. There is no need to email me about this. Please.
I have some events coming up. I am very excited about two events in Belfast, the first one with my RKC student, Emma: Dan John: 40 Years With A Whistle
Also, my friend, Niall, will be hosting me for a fun evening in Belfast: An Evening with Dan John: 40 Years with a Whistle
I will also be teaming up with Ole and the gang at Strong4Life in Denmark in October: Dan John – seminarer og workshops den 19. og 20. Oktober 2019
I’m the cover boy on this month’s Home Gym Quarterly; it’s an interesting interview.
This week on DanJohnWorkouts.com:
Here’s a link to Episode 5 of the podcast. This was a really fun episode and Dan gives a tour of the Park Bench Generator. If you haven’t seen the website yet, watch the first part of this video.
As a result of the podcast, we added the Do This Hypertrophy and Recovery Plan (which is the Post Deployment program mentioned in the episode) download to the Member’s Area of the site as well. One of the best parts of this project is getting constant feedback from you about how we can make the site better. There’s a text download and a spreadsheet that calculates all the weights for you.
We’re getting close to having some really nice printable workouts for everyone using the site. I hope to have a big update on that in the next week or two.
Exciting things coming! Thank you all for using and enjoying the site!
For my weekly Easy Strength article, I discuss food:
I use a simple 1-2-3-4 Assessment that I do with “normal” people. Athletes are a bit different to assess; I simply ask: “Can you go?” (The book with the assessment is called, not shockingly, Can You Go?)
And that’s it!
The assessment with the general population is:
One: Stand on one foot.
Two: Two measurements (Over or under 300 pounds and waistline)
Three: I ask three questions.
Four: We do four simple tests, although the first one (a plank) gives us the bulk of the information)
The second question of the “Three” is fairly simple:
Do you eat colorful veggies?
And, of course, everyone answers “yes.” We like to lie to ourselves. This question opens a door to a fascinating discussion. Often, many adults CAN’T eat veggies because of dental issues, so, you know:
Go to the dentist! Floss your teeth (tooth…whatever)
It’s true. I go to the dentist three times a year because that is what is recommended. I floss twice a day, because…that’s what you should do. I can eat veggies because I have my teeth whole and healthy.
I have other ways to ask this question:
Do you eat like an adult?
Do you eat “clean?”
Do you have a menu and shopping list?
Do you practice fasting?
In Mass Made Simple, I wrote this:
“Here is an idea: Eat like an adult. Stop eating fast food, stop eating kid’s cereal, knock it off with all the sweets and comfort foods whenever your favorite show is not on when you want it on, ease up on the snacking and— don’t act like you don’t know this— eat vegetables and fruits more. Really, how difficult is this? Stop with the whining. Stop with the excuses. Act like an adult and stop eating like a television commercial. Grow up.”
It became one of most quoted quotes and, at some level, it seems to resonate with people. Oh, some people hate the paragraph, but they understand it.
Truly, if a person has a menu and a shopping list and prepares meals as regularly as they look at TV or the internet, we wouldn’t have much to discuss in the field of fitness and nutrition.
In 1984, the staff nutritionist at the Olympic training center told us:
“I don’t see what the big deal is:
Eat protein and veggies
That’s pretty good. Years later, Robb Wolf told me the secret to performance dieting:
More Fish Oil
Again, it’s all pretty simple.
Really, how difficult is this? Stop with the whining. Stop with the excuses. Act like an adult and stop eating like a television commercial. Grow up.”
Sorry. That seems to pop out of my mind occasionally.
I can see the hands coming up. “Dan, I’m allergic to X, Y and Z.” Okay, first don’t eat them. But, look at this list from the American Lung Association:
Most Allergenic Foods
Fish and eggs surprised me, but the rest of them are, in 2019, probably as far from nature as a plastic straw. Many people struggle with milk and wheat: in college, we were told that 95% of the population had issues with one or both of them. Milk is famously unconsumable for many groups.
In contrast, Dr. Elson Haas, in an interview with “Mind and Muscle Power” gave us this list of the most tolerable foods:
Least Allergic Foods
Salmon (and other deep-sea fish, like halibut and sole)
(He goes on to recommend cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, apricots, beets, squashes, olives, olive oil, cranberries, herbal teas and tapioca.)
I quickly began to see a pattern here: humans seem to feel better with foods not tampered much by humans.
The least allergic food list and Haas’s recommendations seem to tie in well with Brad Pilon’s work in “Good Belly/Bad Belly.” This list of foods has the best micronutrient profile.
Best Polyphenol Foods
Olives (green and black)
That’s not a terrible list of foods. You don’t often hear: “I’m going make you eat chocolate and drink wine until you come around in conditioning!”
I often quote an old Men’s Journal article on magic foods. This was the list I used to compile my “perfect diet:” It allows you to eat ANYTHING you want AFTER you eat two pounds of salmon, a dozen eggs, three handfuls of almonds, a pound of beef, and two large servings of real yogurt each day. After that, eat anything you like. Good luck on that.
As you review all the lists, you might find that certain things “win.”
For the Win:
The Olive Family
Let’s sum this all simply:
Eat closer to nature.
Eat protein and veggies (see the lists above)
Drink Water (and coffee…and wine!)
And…you KNOW this!!!!
End Easy Strength
Let’s look around the internet this week.
Stu McGill’s fine book, The Gift of Injury, teaches us this same point as this article: Exercising To Ease Pain: Taking Brisk Walks Can Help
“Movement is essential for nutrition of the cartilage,” says Dr. Virginia Byers Kraus, a professor at Duke University’s Molecular Physiology Institute who serves on the research and medical committees of the Arthritis Foundation.
“Cartilage doesn’t have a blood supply but does have living cells,” she explains. “So the way it gets nutrition is by dynamic motion — putting weight off and on as you walk and move. The fluid inside the joint flows into and out of the cartilage like a sponge, so all the nutrients in the joint fluid get into the cartilage” and help slow any degradation there.
Neuroscientist Benedict Kolber with Duquesne University in Pittsburgh says exercise may also cause changes in the brain that can make a big difference in damping down pain.
“Exercise engages the endogenous opioid system,” he says, “so our bodies make opioids and use these opioids to decrease pain.”
In addition to other mechanisms still being worked out, natural opioids are thought to bind to the same receptors in the brain as opioid painkillers, Kolber says, but without the complications or potential for addiction. “There are some circumstances,” he says, “in which your body can produce so much of these natural opioids that you actually get some sense of euphoria” — hence the term runner’s high, a phenomenon athletes have long described.
Mike Warren Brown sent this in. I think this is wonderful: Novelist Cormac McCarthy’s tips on how to write a great science paper
Inject questions and less-formal language to break up tone and maintain a friendly feeling. Colloquial expressions can be good for this, but they shouldn’t be too narrowly tied to a region. Similarly, use a personal tone because it can help to engage a reader. Impersonal, passive text doesn’t fool anyone into thinking you’re being objective: “Earth is the centre of this Solar System” isn’t any more objective or factual than “We are at the centre of our Solar System.”
• Choose concrete language and examples. If you must talk about arbitrary colours of an abstract sphere, it’s more gripping to speak of this sphere as a red balloon or a blue billiard ball.
• Avoid placing equations in the middle of sentences. Mathematics is not the same as English, and we shouldn’t pretend it is. To separate equations from text, you can use line breaks, white space, supplementary sections, intuitive notation and clear explanations of how to translate from assumptions to equations and back to results.
This article preaches nothing that would surprise our weekly readers. But, this is also a study that the other researchers seem to respect.
Hall has done two small but rigorous studies that contradict common wisdom that faults carbohydrates or fats by themselves. In both experiments, he kept participants in a hospital for several weeks, scrupulously controlling what they ate. His idea was to avoid the biases of typical diet studies that rely on people’s self-reports, which rarely match what they truly eat. The investigator, who has a physics doctorate, has that discipline’s penchant for precise measurements. His first study found that, contrary to many predictions, a diet that reduced carb consumption actually seemed to slow the rate of body fat loss. The second study, published this year, identified a new reason for weight gain. It found that people ate hundreds more calories of ultraprocessed than unprocessed foods when they were encouraged to eat as much or as little of each type as they desired. Participants chowing down on the ultraprocessed foods gained two pounds in just two weeks.
“Hall’s study is seminal—really as good a clinical trial as you can get,” says Barry M. Popkin, a professor of nutrition at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, who focuses on diet and obesity. “His was the first to prove that ultraprocessed foods are not only highly seductive but that people tend to eat more of them.” The work has been well received, although it is possible that the carefully controlled experiment does not apply to the messy way people mix food types in the real world.
The man who designed the research says he is not on a messianic mission to improve America’s eating habits. Hall admits that his four-year-old son’s penchant for chicken nuggets and pizza remains unshakable and that his own diet could and probably should be improved. Still, he believes his study offers potent evidence that it is not any particular nutrient type but the way in which food is manipulated by manufacturers that plays the largest role in the world’s growing girth. He insists he has no dog in any diet wars fight but is simply following the evidence. “Once you’ve stepped into one camp and surrounded yourself by the selective biases of that camp, it becomes difficult to step out,” he says. Because his laboratory and research are paid for by the national institute whatever he finds, Hall notes that “I have the freedom to change my mind. Basically, I have the privilege to be persuaded by data.”
Finally, this article on my hero, Lee James, is just wonderful.
Here is a sampling of the training routine Lee was following at the time. He trained Monday thru Friday, with Wednesday reserved for jumping drills and stretching ( no lifting ) Interestingly, he did the actual competition lifts just once a week, although for many sets. Lee also did a lot of pulls, once a week on snatch pulls and once a week on clean pulls. He also did strict form overhead presses once a week.
Lee believed it was imperative to do extra lower back work as he employed both hyperextensions and the good morning exercise once a week.
Lee left nothing to chance when it came to leg strength. He squatted four times a week, twice on back squats and twice on front squats. He also did leg extensions four times a week.
Lee didn’t skip his ab work either, as he also did sit-ups four times a week.
This is a good mix of articles this week. I look forward to bringing you more in the future. Until then, 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 109
The Wart waited to see if there was any more of this story, but there was not. The voice of T. natrix had been getting slower and sleepier towards the end of it, for the afternoon was advancing and the wind was beginning to fall cold. The sing-song had seemed to get more and more wrapped up in its subject, if you can follow the idea, until it seemed that the story was telling itself while the serpent only drowsed-though it was not possible to tell whether he was really asleep, because snakes have no eyelids to close.
“Thank you,” said the Wart, “I think that was a good story.”
“Dream about it,” whispered T. natrix sleepily, “while you hibernate.”
“Good night,” said the snake.
The funny thing was that the Wart really did feel sleepy. Whether it was the voice of the snake, or the cold, or the influence of the story, in two minutes he was dreaming himself, in a reptilian dream. He was old, as old as the veins of the earth, which were serpents like him, and Aesculapius with a beard as white as glaciers was lulling him to sleep. He was teaching him wisdom, ancient wisdom, by which the old snakes can walk with three hundred feet at once upon the same world in which their grandchildren the birds have learned to fly; he was singing to him the song of all the Waters:
In the great sea the stars swing over
The eternal whirlpool flows.
Rest, rest, wild head, in the old bosom
Which neither feels nor knows.
She only rocks us, cradled in heaven,
The reptile and the rose.
Here waters which bore us will receive us.
Good night and sweet repose.
In the end it took Merlyn twenty shouts, in his high human voice, to wake the sleeping serpent up in time for tea.
End quote and end chapter
When I first read the 1938 version, if you recall I started with a later edition that (I think this is true…it was almost fifty years ago) skipped this chapter, that last line drifted over me as a thing of beauty. I wrote a poem years ago for a class:
The foam stood up and reached for me
And made the sea like milk for me.
My mother pulled me out in time to write this poem.
When I was about ten, I got caught in the heavy undertow in the Pacifica beaches and Mom came in — she couldn’t swim — and grabbed me and pulled me out. I was far too brave for the Pacific Ocean and the conditions. After my mom died, I wrote a series of poems for a collection, long lost, and two of them won awards in poetry contests.
“In the end, it took Merlyn twenty shouts, in his high human voice, to wake the sleeping serpent up in time for tea.”
I just think this line is lovely. White’s simple contrast of the voice of the reptile and the “high human voice” is great reading. “The Reptile and the Rose” is also a great name for a pub, in case anyone wants an investment idea.
I’ve been retyping this chapter for a long time. I’ve “heard” that rewriting great authors helps one’s own writing; I certainly hope this is true. I have spent hours retyping The Sword in the Stone and I am constantly amazed by the care White puts into the small details that paint the landscape of this book.
He’s been teaching me wisdom, ancient wisdom.
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