Dan John: Wandering Weights, Issue # 293

Wandering Weights
Our Epic Journey Through All Things Heavy, Issue # 293

I picked my first tomato today from my little plant colony in my yard. It’s always a nice sign. Here in Utah, it can be hard to grow things well in the spring as the weather likes to swing from summer to winter to summer by the hour.
It was a good tomato. In a few weeks, I will probably be sick of them as my plants will be giving me about half a dozen (or more) a day.
Of all the things I do, I think gardening is the most like coaching. You can’t rush the tomatoes to grow, flower and ripen; you have to let the process unfold.
I guess that’s my biggest issue with “hacking” and all the rest of the instant and overnight miracle stuff in the fitness industry. Sure, you can bypass certain things and it is possible to get some marginal gains doing these kinds of things but outstanding performance needs time.
Like I often talk about, Coach Maughan’s wonderful insight about being a great thrower: lift three days a week, throw four…for the next EIGHT years. You can’t rush greatness.
I sometimes look back over my life and realize that time is often ignored when it comes to success. I became a pretty well-read person by picking up books every day for decades. Sure, I can hack reading by finding those little summary sites on the internet, but I’m not sure that would really sink in like the experience of reading a book cover to cover.
My wife talks about raising kids with an interesting phrase: “If you plant tomatoes, you get tomatoes.”
So, I’m eating tomatoes.
This week on danjohnuniversity.com:
My internet is back on and content is flowing again! I’ve got three pieces for you this week:
The “Now What?” workshop is here.
Episode 48 of the podcast
Dan’s comments on recent events
We have some plans for a bunch of new content coming straight from Dan’s gym so be on the lookout for that soon.
Have a great week!
I’ve had lots of podcasts recently. I do my best to share them with all of you. Each week, I meet with Pat.
This was a fun conversation with Dave. We had some time to go into depth on a lot of information.
Spinning around the internet this week, I found a fair number of positive articles in the world of fitness. This first article is just a nice thing to read.


Speaking about the events leading up to the photo, Mr Hutchinson said he was with his friends when one of them saw an altercation at the top of the stairs by the Southbank Centre, near Waterloo.
“The guy ended up on the floor and these guys [signalling to his friends] rushed in to stop him from getting trampled,” said Mr Hutchinson, a personal trainer and grandfather.
“In doing so, they created a barrier around him, and I was the last one to come in. I scooped him up into a fireman’s carry and marched him out with the guys around me, protecting me and shielding me and protecting this guy from getting any further punishment.”

End quote
I’m a big fan of Phil Maffetone. This article summed his work well.


Like training without eating carbs and using the MAF 180 Formula, fasting promotes fat-burning. The beauty of this is you can do it in your sleep! In the absence of food, the body will tap into stored body fat for fuel.
Even lean endurance athletes have enough stored body to travel several days without consuming any food. While I do not recommend you try this, you may wish to experiment with exercising first thing in the morning while your body is still in fasting mode. Extending this period of fat-burning through your workout can help the body adapt an even greater capacity to utilize this almost unlimited source of energy. However, this won’t work if the foods you do eat are not truly healthy.

End quote
This is really going to be an important way to look at food in the future (or this week).

The new Mayo Clinic research offers evidence for the viability of that approach from the standpoint of managing blood sugar levels. The researchers built a model for predicting how different foods impact people’s blood sugar levels, then they set out to test that model. What they found was that by analyzing a person’s gut microbiome, age, level of physical exercise, and other factors, they could very accurately predict how the body reacts to food; more so than if they attempted to do so by counting calories or carbs.
“As a clinician, I have seen that my patients do not respond to the same foods the same way—just like not all weight-loss diets work for all people the same,” said Heidi Nelson, one of the study’s co-authors, in a statement.
As part of their research, the scientists followed 327 healthy people for six days. Each person submitted stool samples so that the scientists could figure out the unique microbial makeups of their guts. They also kept diaries of what they ate each day, taking care to note the exercise and rest they got. They were also outfitted with blood-glucose monitors that tracked their glycemic responses to food. Once the researches collected those data, they tested the results against the model they built for predicting glycemic reactions to foods.

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The actual article is here.


With this knowledge, Dr. Iyer took a personalized approach to modifying his diet.
“I don’t have to give up all carbohydrates. Instead, I’ve cut down on just the carbohydrates that cause my blood sugar to rise, like rice and wheat grains. I am eating more proteins such as eggs and cottage cheese that keep my blood sugar steady. And I’m staying away from sugary breakfast cereals and yogurts. I’ve lost a little bit of weight and I feel more energetic,” he says.

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Many of our readers are deployed in places all over the world. I enjoy our emails and keep an “open door” for them when they come and visit. John sent this brilliant little piece and I can’t thank him enough.


When I was a young employee of D. E. Shaw, I never took any vacation time, despite having an unlimited vacation policy.  I always felt I was too “indispensable” to be away from the office.
Of course, when I got the chicken pox, and was quarantined at home for two weeks (several of my co-workers hadn’t had the disease, and during the Dark Ages, there was no chicken pox vaccine), the company somehow managed anyway.
It is very rare that you’re truly indispensable at work, even if you’re a founder CEO.  If you are, you’ve done a piss-poor job of building your management team.
In contrast, you truly are indispensable at home.  No number of nannies, cleaners, tutors, and other helpers can substitute for having a husband, a wife, a father, or a mother present.
There is a famous quote that most of you have heard that seems appropriate here.  It was spoken by Brian Dyson as part of a graduation speech at Georgia Tech in 1991:
    “Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling some five balls in the air. You name them – work, family, health, friends and spirit … and you’re keeping all of these in the air.
    You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. But the other four balls – family, health, friends and spirit – are made of glass. If you drop one of these, they will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged or even shattered. They will never be the same.”

End quote
Fourteenth? This gave me joy. Roger Rabbit finally getting some respect.


Although it was not the first, Who Framed Roger Rabbit? displays by far the most accomplished and ambitious use of this difficult technique, making the interaction between cartoons and real-life characters utterly convincing. The near-miraculous achievement of George Lucas’s Industrial Light and Magic Company, the director of animation, Richard Williams, and literally hundreds of animators cannot be praised too highly.
Perhaps equally miraculous is that all the major film studios cooperated in the production, an unheard-of agreement in the highly competitive and protective world of Hollywood, where copyrights and trademarks are the fountain from which countless dollars flow. Disney permitted the use of Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, Warner Brothers allowed Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck to appear, Paramount gave permission for Betty Boop, Universal agreed to let Woody Woodpecker make an appearance, and virtually every other well-known cartoon character has at least a cameo role.
Kathleen Turner supplied the speaking voice of Jessica Rabbit but was uncredited; Amy Irving supplied her singing voice.

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That should get you through the week. I will continue to keep striving to bring you thoughtful pieces each and every week. And, until next time, let’s 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 146

Just for clarity, if you have the 1958 version from The Once and Future King, the story moves to the story of the geese. In our earlier (and better) version, we are going to meet a Goddess.

“Where are you going to take me?”
Archimedes finish his sparrow, and wiped his beak politely on the bough, and turned his tender eyes full upon the Wart. These great eyes had, as a famous writer has expressed it, a bloom of light upon them like this purple bloom of powder on a grape.
“I am going to take you, said he slowly, “where no human being has ever been, to see my dear mother, Athene, the goddess of wisdom.
It was a long and terrible journey, passing beyond the solitude into the undiscovered country of Kennaquhair, whose latitude is 91 degrees north and longitude is 181 degrees west.  Here, in the luminous hollow of a tree stump that had been blasted by lightning and whittled clean by the winds of knowledge, they alighted on the outstretched hands of the goddess. Athene was invisible, or at least the Wart never remembered having seen her afterwards. At the time he did not notice that she was invisible-it only struck him when he woke up next morning-because he was aware of her without seeing her. He was aware that her unthinkable beauty was neither that of age nor of youth. That her eyes were the only things you thought of looking at, and that to be her was terrible, whereas to be with her was only joy. If you can understand this, she was in herself so unhappy that words only melt in such temperatures, but towards other people she was the spirit of invincible mercy and protection. She lived, of course, beyond sorrow and solitude, and, if you follow me, the suffering which had brought her there had left her with a kind of supernatural good manners.
She was a conqueror.

End quote
If I haven’t been clear: White is an amazing writer. Rereading the description of Athene reminded me of my mother, of Blessed Memory, and her long days living while her husband, brothers, cousins and, later, sons were off fighting the various wars of this country.
If you are looking for something to write for a mother’s eulogy, this might be too much, but it is lovely:
That her eyes were the only things you thought of looking at, and that to be her was terrible, whereas to be with her was only joy. If you can understand this, she was in herself so unhappy that words only melt in such temperatures, but towards other people she was the spirit of invincible mercy and protection.
Plato tells us that the name, Athene, may come from the root “she who knows divine things.” She is a master strategist and, usually, considered the goddess of wisdom. Her symbols, still rich in Sorority life (my daughter informs me), are the owl (no surprise), snakes (which is interesting when you compare Wart’s visions here with Athene and the dreams of T. Natrix), olive trees and a gorgon medal (for protection). She is a major influencer in the Iliad and the Odyssey.
The site of our meeting is interesting. I looked it up and found this:
Kennaquhair (literally, “know-not-where” in old Lowland Scots) is an imaginary locality in Walter Scott’s novels The Monastery and The Abbot. In T. H. White’s The Sword in the Stone, Kennaquhair is the land of Athene, mother-goddess of the owls, and is located at the doubly impossible co-ordinates of 91 degrees north and 181 degrees west.
That’s just cool. “Know-not-where” is just a great word to keep in the quiver. The tree is “whittled clean” by the winds of knowledge. Again…beautiful writing. But I love this little point:
Suffering brought her good manners.
Sometimes I read something and instantly know that I am missing so much. I’m not sure what White means by this, but I can only remember how my parents (the Greatest Generation) acted different. Mom wore white gloves to the store and always wore a coat in public. Dad always…ALWAYS…had on a tie. There wasn’t swearing, belching and farting around them. How did we lose simple “good manners” so quickly?
I might have to come back to this reading a few more times.

DanWandering Weights is published each Wednesday by On Target Publications


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