Dan John: Wandering Weights, Issue # 276
Our Epic Journey Through All Things Heavy, Issue # 276
The smells of spring are in the air. Now, of course, we know that snow is in the forecast, but, as I type this, the birds are convincing me that longer days and blue skies are ahead.
This was always my favorite time of year as an athlete. This is the start of track season and the weather cooperates more with the discus. I’ve been thinking about throwing again, but I came up with an interesting insight:
I don’t have the habit anymore.
For the bulk of my life, I would simply grab my stuff, walk to the door and say: “I’m going throwing.”
That was it: the gear was ready, the field was empty and I walked, rode or drove to throw. And, for hours, usually alone, I would throw. Sometimes, I would throw well over 100 times.
And, now, I can’t “get it together.”
It reminds me of this story:
“An old Jewish story tells us that when some calamity was threatening his people, Rabbi Israel Bell Shem-Tov, used to get to a certain “Holy Place” in the forest, light a “Sacred Fire” and say a “Special Prayer”. Thus, every time the calamity was averted. Many days later, in the time of Nagid of Mezritch, when such threat arose again, he went into the forest and said: “God, Lord of the universe, I do not know how to light the “Sacred Fire”, but I still remember the “Holy Place” in the forest, and I still know that “Special Prayer”. Then, he said the special prayer in the holy place. When he returned home, the calamity had been averted also. Some years later, when Rabbi Moshed-Leib of Sasov found himself in trouble, he went again into that “Holy Place” in the forest and said: “God, Lord of the universe, I still know the “Holy Place”, in this forest, but I do not know how to light the “Sacred Fire” and forgot that “Special Prayer”. Yet, Oh, Lord, have pity on us and save your people.” This time too the tragedy was averted. Finally, In the days of Rabbi Israel of Rizhyn it was his turn to avert the calamity of his people. Sitting at home, he prayed to God from the depth of his heart: “Sorry, Lord, I do not know that “Holy Place” in the forest, I cannot light. The “Sacred Fire”, and worst of all, I even forgot that “Special, Prayer”. Yet O God, have pity on us and deliver us from danger.” And God listened to him and the calamity was averted again.” (A Hasidic Story)
I do know where to throw anymore: the schools have made it difficult to use their facilities and parks are not welcoming to discus throwers. I don’t know where my shoes and discs are anymore, but I can find them.
But I know the story!
It’s time to shake off my winter blues and go outside again.
I enjoyed my conversation with Pat Flynn. We talked in depth on an issue that drives me batty: binary thinking. “Either/or” is always a bad option in life, lifting and living. I like options.
This week on danjohnuniversity.com:
We uploaded 2 episodes of the podcast this week. Make sure you’ve subscribed to the show on your favorite platform to catch them all. You can also find both here.
New essays posted in the member’s area this week:
Unconventional Opinions About Strength & Conditioning
Trim Your Waistline
A Simple Strength Program
Fat Loss: The Hardest Thing to Do… And That’s All People Want to Do
We also uploaded another ebook in the downloads section this week. Lean Made Simple was a collaboration between Slade Jones and Dan and we’re excited to give it to you on the site. We also have several other collaborations as well as more of Dan’s original work on the way.
Have a great week!
I have a workshop in Sweden coming up and quite a few others in Europe. Over the next few weeks, I will share the details with you.
In July, I will be back in England.
If you want a discount, here you go, from the people running the clinic:
“We’ve sorted you a personal discount code which you can send out to your network. They can use code DAN10 at checkout for 10% off the current listed price. The pre-sale rate elapses at the end of February, so be good to get this out into the ether before it expires.”
Let’s look around the internet this week.
Mike Rosenberg sent this in.
One reason that a lack of quality sleep might lead to overeating is because it’s believed to stimulate hunger, and/or suppress hormone signals that communicate fullness, the study said.
“It’s previously been shown that when we are sleep deprived, or we don’t get good quality sleep, our hormones can actually stimulate hunger,” Aggarwal said. “The ones that regulate suppression of hunger and fullness and satiety can be off balance.”
Levels of insomnia can influence the hippocampus, the region of your brain that regulates food intake. If intake of sugary and fatty foods leads to abnormal activity of the hippocampus, it might be harder to avoid cravings for unhealthy foods.
“We tend to make fewer rational decisions and instead make more impulsive, often emotion-driven decisions when we’re tired,” said Dr. Maya Adam, director of Health Education Outreach at Stanford University’s Center for Health Education.
Aggarwal said that women are at high risk for obesity and sleep disorders because of several different factors, including hormonal changes pre- and post-pregnancy.
Life stages such as child-rearing, menopause and caregiving to ailing spouses or family members can also cause the stress that may lead to overeating and sleep disturbances, Aggarwal said.
Another potential explanation for the connection between poor sleep and poor dietary habits, is that consuming too much food can cause gastrointestinal discomfort, which can make it harder to fall or remain asleep, the researchers said.
Mike’s sleep article and this article do a nice job with discussing the basics. This Doctor Oz guy was originally a pretty good resource. His book, basically arguing paleo or clean eating, was pretty good. He now recommends about five supplements a day on his show (if it is still on). I did watch the “Goop” documentary and I thought it was comic relief, but she did bring on some people I really respect, like Valter Longo.
Celebrity junk science is an obvious player. It might even be cloaked in scrubs, like Dr. Oz – though chastised by the Senate for his quackery. (Physicians, in general, have little to no training in nutrition.)
Celebrities garner enormous platforms, often clouding the truth (or drowning it completely); the deal between Netflix and Gwyneth Paltrow, whose company Goop was sued over a certain jade egg, suggests that science is losing the battle.
One needn’t be a celebrity to hold sway, however. A list of the Top 100 influencers showed that most were bloggers or athletes with no expertise. (None were scientists.) These voices gain considerable traction on social media. Health Feedback, a network of scientists who review the accuracy of online content, conducted a study with the Credibility Coalition and found a minority of articles received a positive rating, with most “exaggerating the benefits and harms of various foods.”
Traditional media don’t always shed light, alas. Single-study sensationalism is ubiquitous – for example, glyphosate in oats, coconut oil and weight, coffee causing cancer – and findings lack context.
And science journalism has taken a hit, and is perhaps why CNN interviewed an anti-science zealot. Or why the Los Angeles Times tweeted that there’s a “growing belief” about the health benefits of celery juice. (Pro tip: It’s not a thing.)
Surrounding the din of bogus dietary advice and media hype is a backdrop of science denialism, which legitimizes anti-science when espoused from top levels of government. Science illiteracy also plays a role.
Nonetheless, there are knowledge gaps: 57 percent of Americans have never seen the dietary illustration from the U.S. Deparment of Agriculture called MyPlate or know little about it, and 63 percent reported it was hard to recognize sustainable choices. Shoppers also claimed that identifying healthy food was difficult (11 percent) or moderate (61 percent). Unsurprising, perhaps, since 48 percent looked to crowded food packages for guidance: Some labels are meaningful while others are little more than marketing. (All natural, anyone?) Indeed, powerful food and agriculture lobbies still exert influence on dietary guidelines and obscure the science.
Through all of this, I believe the nutrition science community has tacitly contributed by failing to participate collectively in the public discourse. Nor have we adequately defended our discipline when attacked, whether by journalists, physicians or food writers.
So, there is a story here. During the winter of 1978, I worked as a bartender (and bouncer) at Village Host Pizza in San Bruno, California. The guys from the San Francisco Shamrocks, which shut down while I was flying back to Logan, Utah (Utah State University), used to come by almost every night for food and beer. They were great guys and I got to know them really well. One day, one of the really good players asked if I liked “Slap Shot.” Well, of course! He then pointed over to a table that had two of the three “Hanson Brothers.”
You can’t make this stuff up. They were interesting guys and the movie captured them well. This movie is now considered one of the best sports films of all time.
In casting the players, Hill insisted on using actors who could actually skate. Al Pacino was originally up for the role of Reggie Dunlop, but was offended that the director seemed more concerned with his agility on the ice than his acting chops. Nick Nolte, Harrison Ford, John Travolta, Tommy Lee Jones, Kurt Russell and Richard Gere also auditioned for various parts in the film; none of them skated well enough to qualify. Ontkean, who had been a star Right Wing at the University of New Hampshire, was perfect for the role of the former college star who wants to play clean, “old time hockey,” but Hill also upped the verisimilitude factor by hiring actual hockey players – guys who could not only skate and handle a stick, but could also be shown removing their dentures before hitting the rink. The Hanson characters were actually based on brothers Jeff and Steve Carlson (their third brother, Jack, opted out of filming because his team was in the playoffs at the time, and had to be replaced by Jets player Dave Hanson). Opposing goons Clarence “Screaming Buffalo” Swamptown and Ross “Mad Dog” Madison were respectively portrayed by Joe Nolan and Connie “Mad Dog” Madigan, professional players whose real-life reputations were as fearsome as those of their characters.
This little article updates the player-coach’s life.
I was teaching when this “stuff” came out. All of a sudden, as what happens in American education, students were dancing their term papers and some argued that they couldn’t learn X or Y because they were kineoauditory learners. (I made that up) As always, there were gems in this information, but, as always, the school I worked at took it way too far.
Willingham goes so far as to say people should stop thinking of themselves as visual, verbal, or some other kind of learner. “It’s not like anything terrible is going to happen to you [if you do buy into learning styles],” he says, but there’s not any benefit to it, either. “Everyone is able to think in words, everyone is able to think in mental images. It’s much better to think of everyone having a toolbox of ways to think, and think to yourself, which tool is best?”
Husmann says the most important thing, for anyone looking to learn something new, is just to really focus on the material—that’s what the most successful students from her study did. Rather than, say, plopping some flashcards in your lap … “but I’m really watching the football game,” she said.
Fleming did not return a request for comment by press time, but his own papers seem to warn against getting too carried away by VARK. “I sometimes believe that students and teachers invest more belief in VARK than it warrants,” he wrote in 2006. “You can like something, but be good at it or not good at it … VARK tells you about how you like to communicate. It tells you nothing about the quality of that communication.”
This is a fun, yet brief, article on cold showers. Jump in!
Do it first thing. As soon as you get up. Don’t torture yourself with postponement. And don’t muck around with hot-to-cold transitions, temperature tweakings, etc. Fling wide the plastic curtain, crank the tap to its coldest, take a breath, and step right in. Not grimly or penitentially, but with slapstick defiance: Holy Mother of God! Cowabunga! Here I go! (If it’s too early in the day for slapstick defiance, try a head-shake of weary amazement.)
The water hits, and biology asserts itself. You are not a tired balloon of cerebral activity; you are a body, and you are being challenged. You gulp air; your pulse thumps. Your brain, meanwhile, your lovely, furry old brain, goes glacier-blue with shock. Thought is abolished. Personality is abolished. You’re a nameless mammal under a ravening jet of cold water. It’s a kind of accelerated mindfulness, really: In two seconds, you’re at the sweet spot between nonentity and total presence. It’s the cold behind the cold; the beautiful, immobile zero; a flame of numbness bending you to its will. Also—this is important—you can still lather up in a cold shower, and get all your washing done: hair, body, everything.
Well, that should get you through the week. Take your cold showers, get some sleep, go outside and try to figure out the worldwide epidemic of bad nutritional advice. We will meet again next week.
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 129
The scene changed as suddenly as a house of cards falling down. The boar was not at bay any more, but charging Master Twyti. As it charged, the alaunts closed in, seizing it fiercely by the shoulder or throat or leg, so that what surged down on the huntsman was not one boar but a bundle of animals. He dared not use his spear for fear of hurting the dogs. The bundle rolled forward unchecked, as if the hounds did not impede it at all. Twyti began to reverse his spear, to keep the charge off with its butt end, but even as he reversed it the tussle was upon him. He sprang back, tripped over a root, and the battle closed on top. The Wart pranced round the edge, waving his own spear in an agony, but there was nowhere where he dared to thrust it in. Robin dropped his spear, drew his falchion in the same movement, stepped into the huddle of snarls, and calmly picked an alaunt up by the leg. The dog did not let go, but there was space where its body had been. Into this space the falchion went slowly, once, twice, thrice. The whole superstructure stumbled, recovered itself, stumbled again, and sank down ponderously on its left side. The hunt was over.
And, as swiftly as Robin stabs the boar, the hunt is over. I wanted to separate out the readings just a bit today as the finish of the successful hunt is not a celebration. As the others, the lost members of the hunting troop, slowly arrive, they will be much more enthusiastic about things.
Let’s pick up on the reading to remind us why this small group is not so happy:
Master Twyti drew one leg slowly from under the boar, stood up, took hold of his knee with his right hand, moved it inquiringly in various directions, nodded to himself and stretched his back straight. Then he picked up his spear without saying anything and limped over to Beaumont. He knelt down beside him and took his head on his lap. He stroked Beaumont’s head and said, “Hark to Beaumont. Softly, Beaumont, mon amy. Oyez a Beaumont the valiant. Swef, le douce Beaumont, swef, swef.” Beaumont licked his hand but could not wag his tail. The huntsman nodded to Robin, who was standing behind, and held the hound’s eyes with his own. He said, “Good dog, Beaumont the valiant, sleep now, old friend Beaumont, good old dog.” Then Robin’s falchion let Beaumont out of this world, to run free with Orion and roll among the stars.
The Wart did not like to watch Master Twyti for a moment.
For a moment, let us remember Beaumont, the valiant. I have little to add save that I must say that White has an ability to write about a dog’s death that fills my heart with sorrow.
Sleep now, Beaumont.
DanWandering Weights is published each Wednesday by On Target Publications
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