Dan John: Wandering Weights, Issue # 265

Wandering Weights
Our Epic Journey Through All Things Heavy, Issue # 265

I’m sitting in the Kansas City airport waiting to fly home. I had a wonderful time at the Kansas NSCA conference and Paul Luebbers knows how to host. I met a lot of great coaches and, I am happy to say, I learned a lot.
The American football college weekend didn’t go “my” way this weekend, but it is still a wonderful game. One day, Division One college football will wake up and realize that a true playoff is the way to decide things in sports. I have nothing against Miss Congeniality, but the way to prove “who is better” is on the field of play…not by a committee meeting.
Part of the great documentary, The Soul is Greater, is watching Ricky get denied his chance to go to the Olympics because of a committee decision. One thing, love it or hate it, about USA Track and Field: if you place in the top three at the Olympic Trials, you go to the Olympics. If you have a bad day…or someone has the most epic day of their life and never repeats it…well, that happened.
I don’t like committees. I used to have a superintendent who said the same awful joke every meeting, “God so loved the world that He didn’t send a committee.” We would then plow through aimless meetings for years at a time. Committees are good for pointing out “less than obvious” flaws and reminding us all of the mission or goal.
So, yes, I have had committees and found great value.
But we need “big kids” making decisions and not deciding things behind closed doors.
Since coming off that plane in 1985, sick beyond sick, I have always turned to Earl Nightingale and his famous 12th tape from Lead the Field: The Person on the White Horse. Whenever I have stumbled or failed since 1985, I have looked at my leadership, or more often LACK of leadership, as the cause of problems.
I was at a meeting in 1998 and I thought the plan moving forward was stupid. I kept my hand down because, frankly, I didn’t care. Not my job!
A year later, the person in charge was fired and I was given this task.
I had to fix “stupid.” That’s a tough task.
I learned something: if my experience or knowledge can help, step up. I’m not perfect at this as I still think I could have done more to keep the kettlebell community together. Well, that’s on me.
Play and win or lose on the field. Make transparent decisions. Lead from the front. Lead.
It’s been almost 35 years since I walked around Utah with those tape cassettes listening to Earl Nightingale’s lovely timbred (timbered is also correct) voice as I put the road map together to bring me here to this day. And I amazed to reread that it was 35 years ago!
Maybe it was the discussion with Pat Flynn that got me deep diving here so much. We discussed resumes and eulogies and that always gets me going. At my brother Phil’s funeral, I was shaken by the 1000 guests, fire engines, firefights, police officers, military officers and virtual “Who’s Who” of this area of California. It wasn’t his resume that brought people to celebrate his life. Enjoy our talk.
This week on danjohnworkouts.com:
Episode 14 is live! This was a long one with a bunch of really good content. We hope you enjoy it.
New essays posted in the member’s area this week:
I Have One Rule
“Here We Go…” – The Road to Recovery
Programming 101
Bigger Better Deal
The Anterior Chain
We’ve been working on improving the content on all the platforms and especially on Instagram, so be sure to check out the newest stuff. 
Have a great week!
This week on the internet, I found a lot of interesting things to share. I thought this article was just brilliant.


A few big things
People get themselves in trouble with money in three big ways:
1. Mortgages
2. Car loans
3. Student loans
If you get a $350,000 mortgage instead of a $250,000 mortgage, you will spend about $80,000 more over the life of the loan.
That’s a lot of coffee.
If you get an $80,000 Chevy Silverado with 100% financing, that is a lot of interest. Same if you lease a BMW.
That’s a lot of coffee.

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I just can’t read and reread this article about sugar enough. John McCallum was warning us of this in “Keys to Progress” and I think we ignored him.

Ancel Keys was intensely aware that Yudkin’s sugar hypothesis posed an alternative to his own. If Yudkin published a paper, Keys would excoriate it, and him. He called Yudkin’s theory “a mountain of nonsense”, and accused him of issuing “propaganda” for the meat and dairy industries. “Yudkin and his commercial backers are not deterred by the facts,” he said. “They continue to sing the same discredited tune.” Yudkin never responded in kind. He was a mild-mannered man, unskilled in the art of political combat.
That made him vulnerable to attack, and not just from Keys. The British Sugar Bureau dismissed Yudkin’s claims about sugar as “emotional assertions”; the World Sugar Research Organisation called his book “science fiction”. In his prose, Yudkin is fastidiously precise and undemonstrative, as he was in person. Only occasionally does he hint at how it must have felt to have his life’s work besmirched, as when he asks the reader, “Can you wonder that one sometimes becomes quite despondent about whether it is worthwhile trying to do scientific research in matters of health?”
Throughout the 1960s, Keys accumulated institutional power. He secured places for himself and his allies on the boards of the most influential bodies in American healthcare, including the American Heart Association and the National Institutes of Health. From these strongholds, they directed funds to like-minded researchers, and issued authoritative advice to the nation. “People should know the facts,” Keys told Time magazine. “Then if they want to eat themselves to death, let them.”
This apparent certainty was unwarranted: even some supporters of the fat hypothesis admitted that the evidence for it was still inconclusive. But Keys held a trump card. From 1958 to 1964, he and his fellow researchers gathered data on the diets, lifestyles and health of 12,770 middle-aged men, in Italy, Greece, Yugoslavia, Finland, Netherlands, Japan and the United States. The Seven Countries Study was finally published as a 211-page monograph in 1970. It showed a correlation between intake of saturated fats and deaths from heart disease, just as Keys had predicted. The scientific debate swung decisively behind the fat hypothesis.
Keys was the original big data guy (a contemporary remarked: “Every time you question this man Keys, he says, ‘I’ve got 5,000 cases. How many do you have?’). Despite its monumental stature, however, the Seven Countries Study, which was the basis for a cascade of subsequent papers by its original authors, was a rickety construction. There was no objective basis for the countries chosen by Keys, and it is hard to avoid the conclusion that he picked only those he suspected would support his hypothesis. After all, it is quite something to choose seven nations in Europe and leave out France and what was then West Germany, but then, Keys already knew that the French and Germans had relatively low rates of heart disease, despite living on a diet rich in saturated fats.
The study’s biggest limitation was inherent to its method. Epidemiological research involves the collection of data on people’s behaviour and health, and a search for patterns. Originally developed to study infection, Keys and his successors adapted it to the study of chronic diseases, which, unlike most infections, take decades to develop, and are entangled with hundreds of dietary and lifestyle factors, effectively impossible to separate.
To reliably identify causes, as opposed to correlations, a higher standard of evidence is required: the controlled trial. In its simplest form: recruit a group of subjects, and assign half of them a diet for, say, 15 years. At the end of the trial, assess the health of those in the intervention group, versus the control group. This method is also problematic: it is virtually impossible to closely supervise the diets of large groups of people. But a properly conducted trial is the only way to conclude with any confidence that X is responsible for Y.
Although Keys had shown a correlation between heart disease and saturated fat, he had not excluded the possibility that heart disease was being caused by something else. Years later, the Seven Countries study’s lead Italian researcher, Alessandro Menotti, went back to the data, and found that the food that correlated most closely with deaths from heart disease was not saturated fat, but sugar.

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I found this little article a LOT of fun. The fact that I loved Number One should not be considered bias on my part.


1. “The Americans” (FX)
It’s somewhat ironic that the best television program of the decade would be a family drama about Russian spies. The premise of “The Americans” was sexy and enticing—Russian operatives living in suburban America in the ‘80s—but the show quickly developed into something so much richer than its concept (while never losing its ability to bring out some awesome ‘80s wigs and outfits for a mission or two). Like a great piece of fiction, “The Americans” is about its characters more than its concept, and Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell ended up giving two of the best performances of the decade. You can slowly watch Rhys’ Philip Jennings unravel over the course of the six-season run—the pressure of balancing his past life and his new life slowly breaking him apart. Ultimately, this was a major theme of “The Americans”—how do we balance who we were with who we are now and who we want to eventually be? Ultimately, this was a show that excelled in every single possible department with which one could judge television. The writing, direction, acting, and ambition were unmatched in the ‘10s, and that’s why it’s our choice for the decade’s best.

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Readers of WW should recognize much of this, but this is a nice approach to habits…and breaking habits.


I see the same thing happen over and over again — the reward value of the habit decreases because it isn’t as gratifying as people remember. One client of mine, for instance, thought the act of smoking made her look cool as a teenager. Even though that motivation had dissipated in her adulthood, her brain still associated positive feelings with smoking. Hence, her reward value was high. When that same client started paying attention as she smoked, she realized that cigarettes taste bad, commenting, “Smells like stinky cheese and tastes like chemicals. Yuck.” This helped her brain update the reward value of her habit. She was able to get accurate information about how smoking feels right now, which then helped her become disenchanted with the process.
After seeing how effective this practice was with my clients, I decided to test it even further. My lab and I developed three apps that deliver this same kind of mindfulness training to anyone with a smartphone via short sequential lessons over a period of three to four weeks. The apps are designed to help people break bad habits such as smoking, overeating, and anxiety (which oddly enough, is driven by the same habit loops as the other two behaviors).
Tens of thousands of people from around the world have used these apps, and my lab has published a number of studies showing significant, clinically meaningful results: 5x the smoking quit rates of gold standard treatment, 40% reductions in craving-related eating, and a 63% reduction in anxiety. In a recent randomized controlled trial, we even found that our mindfulness app for smoking cessation taught users how to better control the part of their brain that gets over-activated by smoking cues and chocolate cravings.

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I have to catch a plane. Until next week, 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 118

It was Christmas night and the proper things had been done. The whole village had come to dinner in hall. There had been boar’s head and venison and pork and beef and mutton and capons—but no turkey, because this bird had not yet been invented. There had been plum pudding and snap-dragon, with blue fire on the tips of one’s fingers, and as much mead as anybody could drink. Sir Ector’s health had been drunk with “Best respects, Measter,” or “Best compliments of the Season, my lords and ladies, and many of them.” There had been mummers to play an exciting dramatic presentation of a story in which St. George and a Saracen and a funny Doctor did surprising things, also carol-singers who rendered “Adeste Fideles” and “I Sing of a Maiden,” in high, clear, tenor voices. After that, those children who had not been sick from their dinner played Hoodman Blind and other appropriate games, while the young men and maidens danced morris dances in the middle, the tables having been cleared away. The old folks sat round the walls holding glasses of mead in their hands and feeling thankful that they were past such capers, hoppings and skippings, while those children who had not been sick sat with them, and soon went to sleep, the small heads leaning against their shoulders. At the high table Sir Ector sat with his knightly guests, who had come for the morrow’s hunting, smiling and nodding and drinking burgundy or sherries sack or malmsey wine.
After a bit, silence was prayed for Sir Grummore. He stood up and sang his old school song, amid great applause—but forgot most of it and had to make a humming noise in his moustache. Then King Pellinore was nudged to his feet and sang bashfully:
Oh, I was born a Pellinore in famous Lincolnshire.
Full well I chased the Questing Beast for more than seventeen year.
Till I took up with Sir Grummore here
In the season of the year.
(Since when) ’tis my delight
On a feather-bed night
To sleep at home, my dear.
“You see,” explained King Pellinore blushing, as he sat down with everybody whacking him on the back, “old Grummore invited me home, what, after we had been having a pleasant joust together, and since then I’ve been letting my beastly Beast go and hang itself on the wall, what?”
“Well done,” they told him. “You live your own life while you’ve got it.”

End quote
As most readers would know, I love the holidays. This is a marvelous little party and I particularly love the reference to the fact that turkeys had not been invented yet. I have seen many wild turkeys in the mountains around Los Gatos and Santa Cruz and those turkeys look nothing like the turkey I eat at Thanksgiving.
If you read The Game of Thrones, and I applaud you if you get through  Book Four, you will see the term “mummer’s farce” over and over. A mummer is basically an actor, maybe more like a street performer. I remember the “Punch and Judy” sequences of my television childhood (Captain Kangaroo!) and that might be a good example.
Growing up we used to play all kinds of games, outside, during parties. Tag, Hide and Go Seek, One Foot Off the Gutter, and all kinds of sports were just part of what we did. It seems to be disappearing a bit now. I like this game:
“Hoodman’s Blind or Blind Man’s Bluff in medieval times was a physical contact and rough game. The rules where one person was to be chosen to be “it” and blindfolded by having the hood of his litrapipe pulled down over the head. The player is then spun around several times and is to seek his tormentors. The tormentors are to actively torment him by pulling at his clothes, shoving him around, and whipping him. Once he has successfully captured a player, he is then released from the blindfold and the person he captured then becomes “it”. There is not (sic) conclusion to the game.”
Hoodman’s Blind: Medieval Games at Medieval Net.
Hoodman’s Blind: Medieval Games at Medieval Net.
hoodman’s, blind, man’s, bluff, games, Middle, ages, medieval, times.
“Morris Dancing” is a kind of group dance often with bells and other gear. It is still popular and I have seen variations of this in my travels. Traditional dancing, and this is for my American readers, is still popular in many parts of this world. RTE, Irish television, hosts weekly “Trad” dancing shows.
“Adeste Fideles” might only be three or four centuries old…or maybe it goes back to some anonymous monks in the Middle Ages. Like most Christmas Carols, the song expands (and contracts) throughout history. I know the first two verses of dozens of Christmas songs…then I just hum along. “O Come, All Ye Faithful” is a good example: as I studied this week, I realized I knew very few of the lines past the first minute or so. “I Sing of a Maiden” is very old with the first written version from about 1400, but, obviously, the roots are much deeper.
1. Adeste Fideles laeti triumphantes,
Venite, venite in Bethlehem.
Natum videte, Regem Angelorum;
Venite adoremus,
venite adoremus,
venite adoremus
2. Deum de Deo, lumen de lumine,
gestant puellae viscera.
Deum verum, genitum non factum; (refrain)
3. Cantet nunc io chorus Angelorum
cantet nunc aula caelestium:
Gloria in excelsis Deo!
4. Ergo qui natus, die hodierna,
Jesu, tibi sit gloria.
Patris aeterni Verbum caro factum;
5. En grege relicto, Humiles ad cunas,
vocati pastores approperant.
Et nos ovanti gradu festinemus;
6. Aeterni Parentis splendorem aeternum,
velatum sub carne videbimus.
Deum infantem, pannis involutum;
7. Pro nobis egenum et foeno cubantem,
piis foveamus amplexibus.
Sic nos anamtem quis non redamaret?
8. Stella duce, Magi, Christum adorantes,
aurum, thus, et myrrham dant munera.
Jesu infanti corda praebeamus;
“Oh Come All Ye Faithful”
1. O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant!
O come ye, o come ye, to Bethlehem.
Come and behold Him, born the King of angels;
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord!
2. God of God, Light of Light,
Lo! He abhors not the Virgin’s womb.
Very God, begotten not created; (refrain)
3. Sing, choirs of angels, sing in exultation!
Sing, all ye citizens of heaven above:
Glory to God, glory in the highest!
4. Yea, Lord, we greet Thee, born this happy morning,
Jesu, to Thee be glory given.
Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing;
5. See how the shepherds, summoned to His cradle,
leaving their flocks, draw nigh to gaze.
We too will thither bend our hearts’ oblations;
6. There shall we see Him, His eternal Father’s
everlasting brightness now veiled under flesh.
God shall we find there, a Babe in infant clothing;
7. Child, for us sinners, poor and in the manger,
we would embrace Thee, with love and awe.
Who would not love Thee, loving us so dearly?
8. Lo! Star-led chieftains, Magi, Christ adoring,
offer Him frankincense, gold, and myrrh.
We to the Christ-child, bring our hearts oblations;
I don’t think I recognize a third of these verses. As a child, we sang it in both languages, but I doubt you would hear Latin much today.
The other song hasn’t remained as popular:
I sing of a maiden
That is makelees:
King of alle kinges
To her sone she chees.
He cam also stille
Ther his moder was
As dewe in Aprille
That falleth on the gras.
He cam also stille
To his modres bowr
As dewe in Aprille
That falleth on the flowr.
He cam also stille
Ther his moder lay
As dewe in Aprille
That falleth on the spray.
Moder and maiden
Was nevere noon but she:
Wel may swich a lady
Godes moder be.
King Pellinore seems happy to have the Beast behind him and he seems to love the feather bed.
We shall see.

DanWandering Weights is published each Wednesday by On Target Publications


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