Dan John: Wandering Weights, Issue # 299

Wandering Weights
Our Epic Journey Through All Things Heavy, Issue # 299

I’m back home this week. My street, under construction since May, is now really hard to deal with daily. The curbs are in but there is no way a car can get over them. We took one car on our road trip and MY car is stuck in the garage.
I came home to a finished backyard. We have to do some annual deck work and this year we added some flagstones to the area between our decks. We are supposed to be in a desert (we are) and I try to conserve water by using decks, raised rock gardens and other waterless options.
We are now averaging a dozen tomatoes a day. The cherry tomatoes are a joy and not all of them that get picked make it into the kitchen. My wife pops them in her mouth as she picks them and, honestly, there are few flavors as good as freshly picked fruit and veggies.
So, basically, it’s summer. It’s unbelievably hot, tomatoes, sunflowers and mint are exploding, and I am training for something somewhere in the unseeable future. I have been considering a comeback, an unretirement, in the discus and maybe the javelin but there is nowhere to compete.
I hate saying “next year” as, in total candor, once you hit a certain age you get less confident about those kinds of statements. But, for now, let’s say “next year.”
This week on danjohnuniversity.com:
Episode 54 of the podcast is here.
We posted another workshop this week. This one is titled The Five Interlocking Keys.
Dan also shot a quick video about his travel workouts while he was on vacation last week.
As always, we’re trying to create as much content for you as possible. Thank you for all the support on the website. We wouldn’t be able to produce so much without the members on the site.
Have a great week!
It was nice to talk with Pat again. This has been a lot of fun meeting weekly with him.
Being on the road, I had a chance to play around a bit more on the internet. Let’s look.
I get questions on tumbling a lot. I can’t find the original book I used, a 1936 book from some USC professors, but this one from the turn of the last century has some fun basics here. There is nothing fancy about coaching tumbling save to do it.
Most people won’t watch this video, but I loved it. I’ve been a fan of Bossa Nova since I first heard this sound…and I continue to love it. Most of this video flew over my head, but it reminds me of “what I don’t know.”
I think we go way over the top on breathing stuff sometimes, but I still think there is great value in practicing breathing. I thought this was a good article.
What I’d like to make clear is that breathing, like any therapy or medication, can’t do everything. Breathing fast, slow, or not at all, can’t make embolisms go away. No breathing can heal stage IV cancer. These severe problems require urgent medical attention. But, like all eastern medicines, breathing techniques are best suited to serve as preventative maintenance, a way to retain balance in the body so that milder problems don’t blossom into more serious health issues. Should we lose that balance from time to time, breathing can often bring it back. Add to this, researchers still have much to learn about this endlessly expansive field and there should be more in-depth scientific research into the area.
For now, most of us see breathing as a passive action, something that we just do: breathe, live; stop breathing, die. But breathing is not binary. It’s not just that we do it that is so important – how we breathe matters, too. I call this awareness and practice of healthy breathing a “lost art”, because it’s not new at all. Most of the techniques I’ve been exploring are ancient. They were created, documented, forgotten and then discovered again in another culture at another time, then forgotten again. This went on for centuries.
One thing that every pulmonary researcher I’ve talked to over the past few years has agreed on is that we tend to overbreathe. What’s considered normal today is anywhere between a dozen and 20 breaths a minute, with an average intake of about 0.5 litres or more of air per breath. For those on the high end of respiratory rates, that’s about twice at much as it used to be. Breathing too much can raise blood pressure, overwork the heart and lull our nervous systems into a state of stress. For the body to function as peak efficiency we need to breathe as closely in-line with our metabolic needs as possible. For the majority of us that means breathing less. But that’s harder than it sounds. We’ve become conditioned to breathe too much, just as we’ve been conditioned to eat too much. With some effort and training, however, breathing less can become an unconscious habit.
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Obviously, squatting is something I believe in. This article takes it to another level:
The Forgotten Art of Squatting Is a Revelation for Bodies Ruined by Sitting.
So why is squatting so good for us? And why did so many of us stop doing it?
It comes down to a simple matter of “use it or lose it,” says Dr. Bahram Jam, a physical therapist and founder of the Advanced Physical Therapy Education Institute (APTEI) in Ontario, Canada.
“Every joint in our body has synovial fluid in it. This is the oil in our body that provides nutrition to the cartilage,” Jam says. “Two things are required to produce that fluid: movement and compression. So if a joint doesn’t go through its full range—if the hips and knees never go past 90 degrees—the body says ‘I’m not being used’ and starts to degenerate and stops the production of synovial fluid.”
A healthy musculoskeletal system doesn’t just make us feel lithe and juicy, it also has implications for our wider health. A 2014 study in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology found that test subjects who showed difficulty getting up off the floor without support of hands, or an elbow, or leg (what’s called the “sitting-rising test”) resulted in a three-year-shorter life expectancy than subjects who got up with ease.
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I love this article. A lot of people will disagree with it (and that’s fine…no need to end your subscription or say horrid things about me) but the three things here are worth a look. It’s an interesting list.
Shakes, liquids and anything else that resembles baby food shouldn’t stay on menu when it’s time to shave off calories or make your diet more manageable and painless. This includes “recovery shakes” with high-glycemic index carbs and protein shakes, fruit juices, milk and yogurt. Packing a good deal of calories in proportion to the little satiety they provide, liquid calories have no place in your diet other than for convenience.
Think you need a “recovery shake” post-workout? Think again. Unless you’re an elite athlete training twice a day and need to refill muscle glycogen as fast as possible for your next training session, “fast carbs” are a complete waste of calories. Your time (and money) is better spent with whole food carbohydrates that offer chewing resistance.
Are you drinking whey protein shakes throughout the day because you’re too lazy to cook or eat real food? Well, if you’re too lazy to step into the kitchen or chew your food, you’re probably not going to reach your fat loss goals anyway. I’d rather have you learn to savour a good steak with veggies rather than rapidly chugging insulin-spiking and appetite-triggering whey protein shakes. Liquid calories should be replaced with whole foods, including your protein choices. But if you must supplement your diet with protein shakes, I recommend casein or milk protein isolate over whey.
What about those vitamin drinks, smoothies and fruit juices people are drinking to make sure they’re getting enough antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals? Another complete waste of calories Do you think you risk missing vital nutrients if you cut these “health drinks” out from your diet? It’s actually the other way around: strong evidence suggests that overdoing intake of antioxidants and vitamins can negatively affect your health and your training results. A balanced diet with wholesome foods such as meat, eggs, berries, veggies and some starches, doesn’t need vitamin or antioxidant support. It has everything in abundance. If you’re still paranoid, take a multivitamin with your first meal.
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That should be enough to get you thinking. Next week, I will be back (bigger than ever!) with some more materials. 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 152

“You always were a treacherous fellow,” replied an old yew. “What’s the point of it? Surely it’s better to help than hinder? Now Oak here, and a few others of us, we take pride in keeping faith. We like to be steadfast. Everybody prizes me because, like Alder, I scorn to rot in water. My gateposts are more durable than iron, for they do not even rust.”
“Yes,” chimed in some cypresses, sycamores and others, “Live and let live, that’s the best motto. We and our sisters are always pleased to see the grass growing under our shade.”
“On the contrary,” said a fir who always killed the grass beneath him, and a nervous aspen joined in, “kill or be killed, that’s the way to get on.”
“But please don’t talk of killing,” added the aspen. “The cross was made out of me, and I have trembled ever since. I only kill, you know, because I am frightened. It is a terrible thing always to be afraid.”
A cedar decided to cheer her up. “Oh, come,” he remarked, twinkling his dusty spines. “What’s the point of all this argument and boasting about your powers? It seems to me that you all take life too seriously. Look at my old friend Sequoia here, who has had the humorous idea of constructing himself a very hard-looking bark out of soft blotting-paper, so you can punch him without hurting yourself. If it comes to that, look at me. What is my mission in life? You might think it a humble one, considering my size, but I find it amusing. I am antipathetic to fleas.”
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I was going to continue on, but there is something discussed here that will be coming up in White’s other books. Here you go:
Live and let live
Kill or be killed
This “false dichotomy,” if you will, dominates much of Arthur’s world in the upcoming books.
I’m not sure if White saw all the way into his fifth book, The Book of Merlyn, but these two extremes seem to bounce around certainly in the next book, The Queen of Air and Darkness (originally, The Witch in the Woods), too.
The title of the next book in our King Arthur series is lifted from A. E. Houseman’s “Final Poems.”
  Her strong enchantments failing,
         Her towers of fear in wreck,
     Her limbecks dried of poisons
         And the knife at her neck,
     The Queen of air and darkness
         Begins to shrill and cry,
     ‘O young man, O my slayer,
         To-morrow you shall die.’
     O Queen of air and darkness,
         I think ’tis truth you say,
     And I shall die to-morrow;
         But you will die to-day.
Houseman’s “Final Poems” has a darkness about it as he was giving tributes to the dead of World War I.
These two conflicting thoughts, Live and Let Live/Kill or be Killed, dance through the dialogues of the rest of collection of White. Arthur’s intentions were to make “Might FOR Right,” not “Might MAKES Right,” and this noble idea gets cast out because of the sins of the flesh (things I dare not say!)
The Book of Merlyn runs this through some more animal transfigurations (ant and geese) as well as long discourses from Wart’s animal friends. I liked the book; I seem to be in a minority.
Steadfast. Trembling. Live and let live. Flea prevention. Kill or be killed. Our trees discuss big themes here and their approach to life reflects their vision of life.
Like many of us, our trees are trying to figure out where they stand in this world. For the trees, it tends to be in one place.

DanWandering Weights is published each Wednesday by On Target Publications


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