Dan John: Wandering Weights, Issue # 284
Our Epic Journey Through All Things Heavy, Issue # 284
There are some aspects of our “Stay in Place” that I like. First, my gym…well, my equipment…is more popular than ever. My kids come by and train, people call and ask to do this or that and it makes me happy that I can provide this service.
We organized a haircut party on Saturday. Those of us who have interacted a lot got together and we hired someone who was “safe.” For some of us, we get flashbacks on the 1980s right now. It was a wonderful time and I look like a GQ model again: save for my face and body.
We went through six magnums of champagne. Since I don’t drink champagne, that can give you some insights on the level of “I need a break” that infects my family and circle of friends. Sadly, we still can’t see so many of my friends and family as they need total social distancing.
When this all comes around, I am going to get tested and find out if I had the virus. I had a friend go to Italy this year, come home and sit next to me…sick…for a couple of hours and, not long after, Tiffini and I both were exhausted constantly and felt just plain lousy. I’m not going to waste any one’s time with my guess, but, one day, I would like to know.
I have changed a few things. I have always been good about taking Vitamin D and getting sun, but I am also eating more sauerkraut as Phil Maffetone mentioned that this kind of food is good for the gut. If it is good for the gut, it is good for the immune system. I’m also doing the Metamucil Two-Week Challenge and it is the easiest challenge of my life.
I figure that I should make a few strides ahead during this time. I am training well, eating well and trying to expand my life. I am working on a lot of new lectures. I should have a new one on the transitions from Arnold and Jane Fonda and the Jogging craze to the Industrial Model of training to our more flexible approach today (for most of us) finished this week. I will make it available on Youtube. I have a massive number of videos on my Youtube account and I’m amazed when people tell me they don’t know I have one.
Brian is keeping busy:
This week on danjohnuniversity.com:
The podcast is still going strong! Episode 38 is live on the site and on YouTube. Here’s the link.
I haven’t mentioned the recent essays on the site in the past couple of emails, but they are still coming. Here are three of the new ones:
The Three E’s: Exercise, Eat, and Eliminate
Either / Or
Step One and Two: How the Strength Coach Makes All Your Dreams Come True
The forum continues to expand as well. There are some really good discussions happening about Dan’s programs, writing, and other’s experiences. If you haven’t visited yet, be sure to check it out.
The quarantine special is still going on. CORONA gives your 3 months access for $29.
Have a great week!
I’ve been doing about a podcast a day. Pat and I had a good talk this week.
It’s been a while since I talked to my friends on Iron Radio. It was fun to meet up again.
My podcast with Alex from Serbia
Let’s go look around the internet. Stone Soup is Dan Martin’s explanation for my coaching method and the Coyote Point Kettlebell Club.
This eighteenth century folktale is, perhaps, the most intriguing, because we teach this story to children, encouraging them to cheer for the con artists. The story’s most popular version is Marcia Brown’s 1947 Caldecott-winning children’s classic. In this telling, a trio of exhausted war-fatigued soldiers arrive in a small village. The soldiers are desperate for food. They beg. They plead. They get nowhere with the peasant villagers.
Out of options, the soldiers setup a cauldron in the village square and boast that they plan to make a soup fit for a king. They fill the cauldron with water, and they drop in three random stones. The antic gets the attention of the villagers, who ask about the soup. The soldiers, saying they’re happy to share their stone soup, taste the soup and observe that the soup was magnificent, “but, oh, if there were carrots, it would be much better.” Naturally some gullible peasant offers carrots. The soldiers then take another taste, and now they say that the magnificent soup only needs cabbages. This process repeats—with the soldiers asking for beef and potatoes, barley and milk— until the soldiers have tricked the peasants into providing all the ingredients for a soup.
In many tellings, once the soup is finished, the soldiers sell the stones to the villagers. Now that’s a serious con, and we celebrate it with our children.
This is a nice piece and I OWN this bit of advice.
Let Someone Else Do It
For Tomer Yogev, cofounder of leadership and performance consultancy Tandem Spring, working smarter means focusing on the areas in which you’re strongest—and letting go of things you’re doing for other reasons. High performers tend to think it’s easier to do things themselves, but “when it comes to working smarter, we often spend a lot of effort on trying to fix the problems that we see,” he says.
To be more effective, you’ve got to ask for help and enlist people who are better at certain tasks and functions than you are, he says. That requires taking a hard look at your strengths and having the humility to admit that there are some areas you’re more skilled in than others. You’re likely spending more time than is necessary on the things you’re not good at—when you can delegate those tasks, you free up time to do the work you’re best at, which you’re probably going to do faster and enjoy more, he says.
Work When You Feel Like It
It may seem like working smarter means front-loading your day so you get more done sooner. But that’s ignoring your ultradian rhythm—the 90- to 120-minute pattern found in our sleep and waking hours. By taking more breaks and carving up your day into 90-minute segments, you capitalize on the periods of focus you naturally have, which can help you get more done.
Paying attention to your energy cycles is critical to working smarter, says performance consultant Heidi Pozzo. When you’re feeling focused and energetic, you’re going to get more work done in a shorter period of time. “A lot of people are really good at high concentration work in the morning. So, if you can, block your day in a way that the first thing you work on is the most impactful,” she says. Of course, if you’re not a morning person, shift that advice to when you feel at your best.
I love Jim Wendler’s work. We do much of the same things in conditioning.
The majority of my conditioning today involves three things:
Weight vest walks/stairs
Prowler walk (1/2 mile)
If the weather is poor, I will ride the AirDyne bike. I don’t really have a detailed plan for what I do UNLESS I have a challenge to complete. Last year, I wanted to push the Prowler for 1/2 mile in 30 minutes with 270lbs. Because I had a very specific goal, my conditioning (and lifting) reflected this. If I had a specific lifting goal in mind, I would go back to the weight vest walks/stair walks.
But if I’m in between challenges, I just do whatever I want to. I have “basic minimums” for the Prowler and weight vest. So as long as I perform my conditioning sessions within these parameters, I am fine. And no, none of these minimums are “Instagram Ready”. They are moderate at best.
At this point of my life, my conditioning is primarily done for two reasons: health and challenges. Not training for a specific sport allows a lot of freedom and is insanely easy to do. But like training for a sport, consistency and discipline are key to getting the job done. Like I tell my athletes, “Strong legs, strong lungs!”
The last sentence seems to sum up the whole article here. The search for the perfect diet can really be a dead end.
The premise of the study, called Predict, is this: Over a thousand participants ate a series of carefully logged meals while regularly forking over bodily waste, information on sleep and stress, and samples of blood. Many of the participants were twins, which will allow researchers to also suss out the role that genetics play in how we respond to food. Spector is specifically interested in how gut microbes—which can vary even between twins—that process the stuff we eat affect our health. The results are preliminary but, on the surface, striking: The researchers found that nutrition labels could account for less than half of how subjects’ blood sugar, fat levels, and insulin increased after meals—factors that, Zoe notes, are linked to things like weight gain and heart disease. One cool take-home message is that counting calories might not be all that helpful for maintaining health.
Obviously, I think there is Free Will. It’s a standard that has informed my life and my career(s). I could be wrong.
Doing so would rid us of some considerable moral baggage. Notions of willpower are easily stigmatizing: It becomes OK to dismantle social safety nets if poverty is a problem of financial discipline, or if health is one of personal discipline. An extreme example is the punitive approach of our endless drug war, which dismisses substance use problems as primarily the result of individual choices. Unhealthy moralizing creeps into the most quotidian corners of society, too. When the United States started to get concerned about litter in the 1950s, the American Can Company and other corporations financed a “Keep America Beautiful” campaign to divert attention from the fact that they were manufacturing enormous quantities of cheap, disposable, and profitable packaging, putting the blame instead on individuals for being litterbugs. Willpower-based moral accusations are among the easiest to sling.
In the end, believing in willpower is often simply not necessary. Now, when I hear the word “willpower,” it’s a mental red flag that prompts me to clarify further. Did my patient, Thomas, really have a willpower problem? While he struggled with alcohol cravings, he had no problem motivating himself in the positive sense, continuing to be extremely successful in his professional career and excelling as an amateur athlete, winning several competitions around the New York City area. His difficulty resisting the impulse to drink didn’t seem to be related to this ability to stick with a plan. Some researchers call this quality “self-discipline” and differentiate it from impulse control or resisting temptations. Which of those cognitive functions is the “real” willpower? To ask that question is to miss the point.
He ended up doing well. Once we got further into the issues driving his drinking, it became clear that he hadn’t fully realized how much stress was affecting his life. Not only was he beating himself up, thinking that he should just be able to force himself to quit, he had totally unrealistic ideas of how much he should be able to accomplish at work, home, or otherwise. By focusing on the bigger picture—managing his stress and anxiety and interrogating his expectations of himself—he was finally able to cut back, without such a sense of struggle.
And he did this all without worrying much about willpower.
I just received this from the author, but this is some really good material on the Easy Strength program: How I Built Muscle And Lost Fat At The Same Time
In summary, I want to condense a few key takeaways that I hope will help anyone on their journey of body transformation.
Tracking calories was my missing ingredient for fat loss — although I ate well, I consistently over-ate without realizing it. Small bites add up.
Calories are more important, the lighter you are. Being 65kg means I have fewer calories to play with. If you are on the heavier side, then cleaning up your food quality will likely yield quick results without having to count initially.
For me, having a stringent diet works best as the rules are unambiguous, and I have minimal leeway to fall off the wagon. The cheat day kept me motivated and ensured I had a respite and re-feed.
Eating the same foods over and over made life simpler. Staying away from choices kept me on track and almost prevented me from knowing what I was missing.
Strength training doesn’t need to be intense to make significant gains. Regular, high-quality, low-repetition lifting can work wonders.
Gaining muscle and losing fat is possible
If I were to do this again, I would take better before and after pictures for personal reflection. I would also consider taking in more carbs from low-calorie sources such as fruit, as I think the calories were more important than the macro breakdown.
That should be enough for you for this week. 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 137
“What is your favourite bird?” asked Merlyn politely, to keep the peace.
Archimedes thought this over for some time, and then said, “Well, it is a large question. It is rather like asking you what is your favourite book. On the whole, however, I think that I must prefer the pigeon.”
“I was leaving that side of it out,” said the owl in civilized tones. “Actually the pigeon is the favourite dish of all raptors, if they are big enough to take her, but I was thinking of nothing but domestic habits.”
“The pigeon,” said Archimedes, “is a kind of Quaker. She dresses in grey. A dutiful child, a constant lover, and a wise parent, she knows, like all philosophers, that the hand of every man is against her. She has learned throughout the centuries to specialize in escape. No pigeon has ever committed an act of aggression nor turned upon her persecutors: but no bird, likewise, is so skilful in eluding them. She has learned to drop out of a tree on the opposite side to man, and to fly low so that there is a hedge between them. No other bird can estimate a range so well. Vigilant, powdery, odorous and loose-feathered—so that dogs object to take them in their mouths—armoured against pellets by the padding of these feathers, the pigeons coo to one another with true love, nourish their cunningly hidden children with true solicitude, and flee from the aggressor with true philosophy—a race of peace lovers continually caravaning away from the destructive Indian in covered wagons. They are loving individualists surviving against the forces of massacre only by wisdom in escape.
“Did you know,” added Archimedes, “that a pair of pigeons always roosts head to tail, so that they can keep a look-out in both directions?”
“I know our tame pigeons do,” said the Wart. “I suppose the reason why people are always trying to kill them is because they are so greedy. What I like about wood-pigeons is the clap of their wings, and how they soar up and close their wings and sink, during their courting flights, so that they fly rather like woodpeckers.”
“It is not very like woodpeckers,” said Merlyn.
“No, it is not,” admitted the Wart.
I read this as an Eighth Grader and I began to appreciate pigeons from that point on. It’s funny how something this simple can change things.
There is a How I Met Your Mother episode where the characters discover that when you point out someone’s flaw, it is like breaking glass. I think if you point out someone’s qualities, the same happens but not as ground shaking.
This chapter made me look at birds differently. I still appreciate the LBJs (Little Brown Jobbers) who flit and flicker outside my window as I work. I appreciate the bravery of the Quail Father who lives here and protects his family. I also respect the Cooper’s Hawk who uses my backyard as a lunch table.
This a marvelous conversation. Notice how White staggers three chapter BIG stories with these quiet little cozy discussions. Next time I reread the book, I will focus on this point.
DanWandering Weights is published each Wednesday by On Target Publications
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