Dan John: Wandering Weights, Issue # 297

Wandering Weights
Our Epic Journey Through All Things Heavy, Issue # 297

I hired a new handyman this week. I have had some mixed success with handymen here in Utah, but I think I may have found my guy. He has a group of hard-working people and they do some things that, frankly, I haven’t seen a lot in the past decade:
They “Show Up.”
They show up on time and get the job down.
They finish the job.
The mere fact that I am stunned by someone doing their job doesn’t exactly speak highly of much of what I usually encounter in this economy.
Honestly, good coaching comes down to this. It’s showing up and getting the job done. When I look back on the bad coaches I have interacted with throughout my career, the lack of “showing up” really stuns me in hindsight.
Listen, I get it: I have kids, grandkids, multiple priorities, car tires that seek out nails, and snowstorms. We all have this but, oddly, some people seem to have life issues every other day.
For those of you who are personal trainers, you know that most of your clients will have “their dreams come true” if they showed up at the gym and in the kitchen prepping appropriate meals. I have had genetic wonders who spoke eloquently about their goals and ghosted far too many practice sessions.
Woody Allen told us that 90 percent of success was showing up. I’m at a place in my life where this truth should be stamped “TRUTH.”
For those of you who are good friends, I can be fairly sure you show up.
For the record, I had all my fences painted, my decks fixed up (Utah is hell on wood) and painted and a few small tasks done around the yard. Certainly, I could have done all of them myself, but I have the odd ability to turn a two-hour project into a disaster. So, I help the economy and spend my time doing things I am a bit better skilled at in my work.
It’s a win-win.
This week on danjohnuniversity.com:
Episode 52 of the podcast is here.
The workshop this week is one that’s been in the queue for a while, but it’s a good one. This one is all about using kettlebells as a tool for throwers.
There have been a number of great conversations happening on the forum as well, so be sure to check those out if you’re a member of the site. 
Have a great week!
For the record, Pat Flynn and I couldn’t connect this week and I didn’t get any new podcasts for you (save mine, link above). So…I am sorry.
Let’s zip around the internet for a minute and see what I found interesting this week.
Stress is a big topic. I found this article to support what most of us have found to be helpful for stress and its impact on the immune system.


This one starts from a simple premise: stress suppresses your immune system. Though the research in this area is preliminary, it’s been shown that meditation and mindfulness can improve one’s response to stress, and, in turn, promote immune function.
A good way to start practicing mindfulness, as I’m sure you’ve heard, is through meditation. But it doesn’t need to be a big thing. (Remember the concept of “snacking” I outlined above?) Just take 10 deep breaths before you start the day. Focus on your breathing and try to be completely present without judgment.
If you would prefer something more structured, try an app—I like Insight Timer, State: Breathing, and Stop, Breathe, Think. For additional resources, read the words of Pema Chödrön, who wrote When Things Fall Apart and Jon Kabat-Zinn, who wrote Full Catastrophe Living and Wherever You Go, There You Are. Finally, here is a full list of meditation tools that I rounded up a few weeks ago.

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My second master’s degree, in Religious Studies, was based on this method of learning and decision making. After four years, four years!!!, of studying with this method, I found it second nature. A little thinking, obviously, can go a long way: What a 16th-Century Mystic Can Teach Us About Making Good Decisions
3. Seek Confirmation
Ignatius advises individuals to act on reason, feeling confident that they have invested their time and energy to make a good choice. But he also says that people should seek out additional information to see if reason confirms the choice. The emotions they feel following a decision, such as peace, freedom, joy, love or compassion, might give an indication if it is the right choice.
In today’s hurried world, a 16th-century Catholic mystics’ advice may seem quaint or his process tedious. However, many modern psychological approaches confirm the value of such reflective practices.

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As a teacher since 1979, I found this article illuminating. My daughter, Kelly, specializes in a method called “Direct Learning” and I was amazed at how the students respond. I had to live through some of the methods noted in this article and I felt that some of these methods of education were flawed from the start.


No evidence for (1): Using praise lavishly

Praise for students may be seen as affirming and positive, but a number of studies suggest that the wrong kinds of praise can be very harmful to learning. Other research argues that praise which is meant to be encouraging and protective of low-attaining students can actually convey a message of the teacher’s low expectations. What is important is praise which is valued by the learner.
*No evidence for (2): Allowing learners to discover key ideas for themselves *
Enthusiasm for “discovery learning” where learners undertake problem-solving activities or open-ended tasks is not supported by research evidence, which broadly favours direct instruction where children are more explicitly guided through the learning process. Although learners do need to build new understanding of what they already know, if teachers want them to learn new ideas, knowledge or skills, they should teach them directly.

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I hope you enjoyed those selections. There wasn’t much on lifting, but I have found that good articles on strength training tend to come in waves: not much, then “how will I fit this all in?” In a few weeks, my new book, Attempts: Essays in Health, Fitness, Longevity and Easy Strength, will be available and I hope you enjoy it.
And, 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 150

Oak spoke first, as became the noblest of all. He stood throbbing his leaves in the twilight, to which Time had mixed down day and night; stretching out his great muscular branches; yawning, as it were, like a noble giant of the earth who cracks his limbs in the morning when he wakes.
“Ah,” said the oak. “It’s good to be alive. Look at my biceps, will you? Do you see how the other trees are afraid of Gravity, afraid that he will break their branches off? They point them up in the air, or down at the ground, so as to give the old earth-giant his least purchase upon them. Now I am ready to challenge Gravity, and I can stretch my branches straight out in a line parallel to the earth. He may swing on them for all I care, but, bless you, they won’t break. Do you know how long I live? A thousand years is my expectation. Three hundred years to grow, three hundred years to live, and three hundred years to die. And when I am dead, what of that? They make me into timber, into ships and house beams that will be good for another thousand. My leaves come the last and go the last. I am a conservative, I am; and out of my apples they make ink, whose words may live as long as me, even as me, the oak.”

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When I finally read this vision of Athene, I think my mind memorized it. The thousand years of the oak, the great biceps, the fighting against gravity and the ink from the apples just filled my imagination.
We will meet the rest of the trees, but I love this paragraph. I should wake up and announce this daily:
“It’s good to be alive. Look at my biceps, will you?
We will meet the Oak again at the moment Wart gets to the sword in the stone (spoiler alert!) and pulls it out on his third try. But, for now, let’s let the Oak speak.

DanWandering Weights is published each Wednesday by On Target Publications


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