Dan John: Wandering Weights, Issue # 270

Wandering Weights
Our Epic Journey Through All Things Heavy, Issue # 270

I am sitting next to a pot of jambalaya as I write this week’s WW. I’m prepping for tonight’s LSU-Clemson game. As I said, I am picking the Tigers.
I do love a good slow cooked meal. I came to the conclusion years ago that I could survive with just my George Foreman Grill and my slow cooker. I’m sure there is a philosophical insight here or maybe even a way to look at training, but I really am getting hungry smelling dinner and I can’t be as brilliant as I need to be right now.
The seasons have moved forward here in Utah. We used to get these daily snows in November and December and then the big storms now. We seem to have shifted “over” a bit. I shovel a few inches every day so the school kids can have a nice path and no one slips on my porch. Since I have returned to serious training, this provides me a good reminder about back health every morning.
I shovel “left-handed.” I figure after all those years of throwing in one direction, it might be a good idea to start tossing in the other. Oddly, this seems to save my back, but I can’t really cast the snow as far. Yes, I compete at everything, including snow tossing.
Shoveling snow and slow cooking soups and stews are some of my favorite parts of winter. I think this is the best time of year for fat loss as nature is allowing you to sleep more (it gets DARK in winter here early), the meals are hearty mixes of veggies and whatever is close to my hand, and I get my healthy dose of cold immersion by stepping outside for anything.
As I prepare for a delightful evening with my family, I hope all of you are enjoying 2020. The world seems crazy in the past few weeks, but I am sure the promise of the new year will bring us peace. And joy.
As always, I fall back on the last lines of The Count of Monte Cristo: “Wait and Hope.”
You can certainly get your share of me on podcasts this week. Pat Flynn and I return with a very good conversation on his podcast.
Mimi Chan and I continue to discuss The Sword in the Stone. I love this book.
Tim Anderson and I discuss something that I keep trying to simplify but seem to constantly make more complicated: Easy Strength.
This week on danjohnworkouts.com:
We’re running the New Year’s special for two more weeks. Take advantage while you can! $29 for three months and then the regular monthly price after that. Use code NEWYEAR.
The podcast continues to grow every week! Thank you for all the questions, ratings on the streaming services, and downloads. We really appreciate it. Here’s Episode 19.
New essays posted in the member’s area this week:
Oddly I’m a Pear Tree
The Strength Coach’s Toolkit
Advice From Arnold
Fix the Fixable
This past week was a special one. I had the chance to spend a couple of days with Dan and we brainstormed and recorded a bunch of new content for you. Workshops, lecture series, and in-depth tutorials are all on the way in the coming weeks. We’re both fully committed to making the site an incredible resource for you and I’m really excited to share what we’re creating for you.
Have a great week!
Let’s look around the internet this week. I had a friend tell me about the “real” truth of the Seoul drug cover up and I am wondering, after reading this article, if I can even care any more.

Prominent weightlifters were rarely subject to tests, while some doping controllers were allegedly taking cash to accept manipulated urine samples, claimed the report by journalists at German broadcaster ARD including Hajo Seppelt, who broke the story on Russia’s state doping scandal.
Close to half of 450 world championship or Olympic medallists between 2008 and 2017 were not asked to undertake any doping tests, according to the report.
Dorin Balmus, doctor of the Moldovan national weightlifting team, was caught on hidden camera explaining how urine samples could be manipulated — including by getting lookalikes of athletes to provide the samples.
The undercover team also filmed Thailand’s Olympic bronze medallist Rattikan Gulnoi admitting to using steroids when she was 18 years old — something that could see her stripped of her prize.

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This is a nice little piece from Josh Hillis. As most people know, I think he is a brilliant mind in the vast wilderness of fat loss: Why Diets Stop Working Long-Term, GMB Fitness

In fact, many of these diets probably “worked” for you in the short term—8 weeks, 12 weeks, sometimes maybe even six months. Then, at some point, it all came apart. You “fell off the wagon,” stopped following the diet, and gained back whatever weight you had lost. Often, people gain back more than they had initially lost.
Most people follow this cycle of diet failure for years, or even decades. It’s demoralizing.
The diet world would tell you that, ultimately, you failed because of a lack of willpower. That you just didn’t have the herculean determination that “really fit people” have. You know, the diet industry likes to say that kind of crap.
The reality is actually even simpler: If you failed at a diet, you failed because of either a lack of flexibility or a lack of skills. Both of those things can be fixed with practice.
Developing skills and flexibility, in contrast to a diet, can feel like more work in the short term. It takes time and practice to develop skills—if you’ve done Elements or Mobius, or have learned any movement skill, you know that it takes time.
Eating skills are like that too—they take time and work to develop.

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I very much enjoyed this piece on Tolkien. I struggled with Lewis’s writing as a child and reread Narnia a few years ago and really came away uncomfortable with the later books. I like how this short piece knitted things so well for me.


5. J.R.R. Tolkien’s relationship with C.S. Lewis was complicated.
Tolkien’s fellow Oxford don C.S. Lewis (author of The Chronicles of Narnia) is often identified as his best friend and closest confidant. But the truth is, the pair had a much more troubled relationship. At first, the two authors were very close. In fact, Tolkien’s wife Edith was reportedly jealous of their friendship. And it was Tolkien who convinced Lewis to return to Christianity. But their relationship cooled over what Tolkien perceived as Lewis’s anti-Catholic leanings and scandalous personal life (he had been romancing an American divorcee at the time). Although they would never be as close as they were before, Tolkien regretted the separation. After Lewis died, Tolkien wrote in a letter to his daughter that, “So far I have felt … like an old tree that is losing all its leaves one by one: this feels like an axe-blow near the roots.”

6. J.R.R. Tolkien enjoyed clubbing.
Well, the extra-curricular, after-school sort. Wherever Tolkien went, he was intimately involved in the formation of literary and scholarly clubs. As a professor at Leeds University, for example, he formed the Viking Club. And during his stint at Oxford, he formed the Inklings, a literary discussion group.

7. J.R.R. wasn’t blowing smoke about those war scenes.
Tolkien was a veteran of the First World War, and served as a second lieutenant in the 11th (Service) Battalion of the British Expeditionary Force in France. He was also present for some of the most bloody trench fighting of the war, including the Battle of the Somme. The deprivations of Frodo and Sam on their road to Mordor may have had their origins in Tolkien’s time in the trenches, during which he contracted a chronic fever from the lice that infested him and was forced to return home. He would later say that all but one of his close friends died in the war, giving him a keen awareness of its tragedy that shines through in his writing.

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My wife and I discussed this article at length. It’s worth your time.


One bright light that’s often noted in our post–Great Recession world, where many industries are convulsing, is that jobs in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math are growing. But women hold only 25 percent of STEM jobs. The result is that unlike the job-hopping millennials, many women our age feel lucky to have steady work, even if it’s not their dream job. But if there were a recipe for a midlife crisis, it could be showing up day after day for a job that’s slowly corroding your soul.
“Sometimes, I have these moments of clarity, usually during lengthy conference calls,” says Lori, 41, a contracts analyst in Charlotte, North Carolina. “This voice in my head suddenly starts shouting: What are you doing? This is pointless and boring! Why aren’t you out there doing something you love? Name one thing you love! Cheese? Okay, great. Let’s get some goats and start making cheese, and we can sell it from a truck. We’ll call it something clever. And then, I spend the rest of the conference call thinking up names for my imaginary cheese truck: Hmm, some pun on a wheel? Fromage on a Wheel?”
So why doesn’t she become the Fromage on a Wheel lady?
“I have friends who have told me over the years, ‘Just quit your job and be a baker or be a cheesemaker,'” she says. “I’ve never had that option. Especially now, we have a child. You want to provide security and safety and health insurance. Those things overrule your own personal preferences. What if something really bad happens? Or if we lose a job?” She shudders.
For many women these days, a layoff means joining the gig economy. The majority of freelancers are women, and some people predict that half the workforce will be freelance by 2020. But for those who like going to an office, or having decent health insurance, or who thought their hustling days were behind them, it can feel like a demotion—and it can make a full-time position more elusive. A résumé gap is still seen as a liability, even though some 30 to 40 percent of highly qualified women take time off at some point.

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Obviously, I agree with the basics of this article, but it also encourages me to keep on keeping on.


As it happens, though, the pursuit of a therapeutic has been given a lifeline. New research shows that physical exercise can “clean up” the hostile environments in the brains of Alzheimer’s mice, allowing new nerve cells in the hippocampus, the brain structure involved in memory and learning, to enable cognitive improvements, such as learning and memory. These findings imply that pharmacological agents that enrich the hippocampal environment to boost cell growth and survival might be effective to recuperate brain health and function in human Alzheimer’s disease patients.
The brain of an individual with Alzheimer’s disease is a harsh place filled with buildups of harmful nerve cell junk—amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles—and dramatic loss of nerve cells and connections that occur with severe cognitive decline, such as memory loss. Targeting and disrupting this harmful junk, specifically amyloid plaques, to restore brain function has been the basis of many failed clinical trials. This futility has led to a re-evaluation of the amyloid hypothesis—the central dogma for Alzheimer’s disease pathology based on the toxic accumulation of amyloid plaques.

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That should be enough to keep you busy for a few days. I will continue to look for things that give some clarity and balance in our world. 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 123

“Ah,” said Sir Grummore, gnawing a pork chop which he held in his fingers, “down in time for breakfast, hey?”
“Yes, I am,” said the Wart.
“Fine huntin’ mornin’,” said Sir Grummore. “Got your spear sharp, hey?”
“Yes, I have, thank you,” said the Wart. He went over to the sideboard to get a chop for himself.
“Come on, Pellinore,” said Sir Ector. “Have a few of these chickens. You’re eatin’ nothin’ this mornin’.”
King Pellinore said, “I don’t think I will, thank you all the same, I don’t think I feel quite the thing, this morning, what?”
Sir Grummore took his nose out of his chop and inquired sharply. “Nerves?”
“Oh, no,” cried King Pellinore. “Oh, no, really not that, what? I think I must have taken something last night that disagreed with me.”
“Nonsense, my dear fellah,” said Sir Ector, “here you are, just you have a few chickens to keep your strength up.”
He helped the unfortunate King to two or three capons, and the latter sat down miserably at the end of the table, trying to swallow a few bits of them.
“Need them,” said Sir Grummore meaningly, “by the end of the day, I dare say.”
“Do you think so?”
“Know so,” said Sir Grummore, and winked at his host.
The Wart noticed that Sir Ector and Sir, Grummore were eating with rather exaggerated gusto. He did not feel that he could manage more than one chop himself, and, as for Kay, he had stayed away from the breakfast-room altogether.

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My sophomore year in high school, we blended four junior high schools’ football teams into one sophomore team. We had a lot of talent. Making it as a starter meant you had to beat out a lot of experienced people. Some of the starters simply won the race to puberty and would soon vanish as the rest of us caught up.
There was this one guy from Westborough Junior High who constantly talked like a NFL player. Most often, he would say: “I can’t wait to get to some hitting.”
Let’s call him Charlie. Charlie loved to talk about hitting. He went to our coach and talked him into borrowing a helmet so when he jogged around the soccer field, he’d “be getting ready to hit.”
At first, I feared him. Then, we started contact. If you hit him, he complained that it wasn’t game time. If he hit you late after a play, he told you: “This is football.”
He, and in hindsight this is so obvious to me, quit the next year. His mouth wrote checks that his body…and mind…couldn’t cash! He grew his hair out and became a rocker.
Loud talking is an essential part of rocking.
“The Wart noticed that Sir Ector and Sir, Grummore were eating with rather exaggerated gusto.”

I’ve always been reminded of Charlie when I read this section.
Everyone is brave in the cafeteria.
The boar doesn’t care. And the boar is waiting.

DanWandering Weights is published each Wednesday by On Target Publications


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