Dan John: Wandering Weights, Issue # 301

Wandering Weights
Our Epic Journey Through All Things Heavy, Issue # 301

We did family photos Friday night. It’s been a while. True, we did have Lindsay’s wedding last year, but these shots are a bit different than the staged “Happy Wedding Party Family” photos.
I tried Rusty Moore’s “Potato Hack.” He recommends that before a photoshoot you eat just potatoes (I did Yukon Gold) and greens. I also do that trick with potatoes where you cook them, cool them 24 hours and reheat them. Why? Read this.  Resistant starches seem to be a real thing for me.
So, there is a double whammy here: Lots of potassium and resistant starches seem to help one’s face look a bit better. It’s pretty easy, as my father would say, “Let’s be honest,” eating potatoes and salads for 36 hours (as much as I want, which is NOT as much as you think) isn’t exactly the worst thing ever.
I think it worked. I grew up with “off the boat” pictures of my grandparents (none were alive when I was born—my dad’s mom died in 1925!) and I notice that as I age, I am following the moon face of my ancestors. So, I can only look so much like an underwear model.
I more of a outwear model. Those Covid masks look good on me.
I thought it was a fun little thing to do. Honestly, I know I am not the best looking guy in the world…I have had my nose broken six times, three face surgeries to correct the issues from the breaks, a false tooth (back to the broken nose thing) and, well, I am just ugly…but for family photos, I do what I need to do.
Oddly, it WAS fun. I like these little experiments in diet, training and life. Some work. A lot don’t.
I figure it is my job to try.
I thought I would have more podcasts for you, but it looks like just two this week to share.
Pat Flynn and I had a nice conversation. It turns out that many people are struggling with weight gain during this time. I figured something was up early when every frozen pizza was gone from the grocery store, but the veggie aisles were full to the brim. I am not bragging, but the quarantine has been “good” for my physique. Lots of soups, stews, veggies and daily exercise have been good for my look. We discuss this, and many other things, this week on our conversation.
This week on danjohnuniversity.com:
We were a little short on questions this past week, so rather than a normal Q&A show, we posted a special Fat Loss and Diet Workshop. It’s been very popular, so we hope you’ll take a look.
This past week I added a new Bus Bench style program to the site. The Hypertrophy and Recovery program was originally written for post-deployment guys, it’s a really nice program for anyone. It incorporates plenty of mobility and loaded carry work for those of us that tend to neglect those things. You will find the program in the Workout Setup section of the site.
There was another very popular video on YouTube this week that breaks down the hip and knee angles in the deadlift and squat.
Have a great week!
As I noted before, strength and conditioning articles seem to slow up during the summer. Wait…GOOD S&C articles seem to slow up during the summer.  Let’s look around the net this week.
Marty continues to spin brilliance. I have competed in (and coached) track and field for 50 years now (maybe more if you count elementary school track and field) and this article reflects the truths of training. I love this article.


To go faster, become stronger. To go way faster, become way stronger. The event creates the physique and ergo, great sprinters are always muscled-up. Look at any international level sprinter and the distinguishing commonality, the identifying characteristic is leanness combined with a substantial amount of lean muscle mass, mostly in the legs and glutes.
The similarities between hardcore lifting and hardcore running are numerous. In both sprint training and strength training all-out bursts of energy and power, max efforts, are performed; it could be an all-out 40-yard sprint or an all-out set of high-bar squats. These short, super-intense efforts are interspersed with rest periods. Sprint sessions and hardcore lifting sessions are filled with multiple bursts of maximum effort. The goal (be it lifting or sprinting) is to exceed current best efforts.

End quote
Many of you may not know of my life long “love affair” with poetry. I won the Utah State University poetry competition (and $25!!!) and self-published a collection called Keltic Haicu. Enough about me, but I wanted to give you some background. I think the following link is a marvelous way to bring poetry to this new generation of people who like the written word in byte-sized pieces.
If you like poetry, or if you are interested in reading some of the best works in English, this list is worth keeping: The 32 Most Iconic Poems in the English Language
My vote for the best poem ever is Do not go gentle into that good night. Even in comedy, Rodney Dangerfield’s “Back to School” comes to mind, this poem always transcends. I have sadly said these words.

Do not go gentle into that good night
Dylan Thomas (1914-1953)
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

End quote
I’m starting to think simple things like this are going to be more and more important as the Covid crisis continues.


1. Go Natural
Research shows that nature exposure is restorative for the mind. One study reported better working memory scores after a walk in a natural environment, but not in an urban environment.
From The Distracted Mind: Ancient Brains in a High-Tech World:
    “Natural environments capture our attention in a bottom-up fashion because natural stimuli are so inherently compelling to us (presumably owing to evolutionary factors). They draw us in but generate minimal [prefrontal cortex] responses.”
Work in a city? You don’t have to go far to benefit from nature. Just noticing the sights and sounds of natural features around you can help you recharge.
Find plants, fresh air, a fish tank, or a fountain. Sit down, take a deep breath, and notice the details of nature. Point out as many as possible:
If you are stuck indoors, look at some pictures of nature instead, as research shows they work too. Or try tuning into nature videos on your computer for a few minutes; like a tropical beach or a mountain creek.

End quote
This is a nice (and often obvious) little summary about longevity tools. I like the simplicity.


The researchers also found that people who consumed a moderate amount of alcohol had a better chance of living longer than those who were heavy drinkers. They defined moderate alcohol consumption as five to 15 grams per day for women and five to 30 grams per day for men. According to the National Institutes of Health, a standard drink contains about 14 grams of pure alcohol. That equates to 12 fluid ounces of beer, eight of malt liquor, five of table wine, and 1.5 of distilled spirits.
The available evidence around moderate drinking is tricky. Researchers have solid evidence to say that heavy drinking can absolutely be detrimental to your health. But the line between moderate drinking and abstaining from alcohol altogether is fuzzy. Whether people who moderately drink fare better than people who abstain is even murkier. We still don’t have a solid study with enough participants to back that up. For now, it’s safe to say that moderate drinking will not cause you severe harm, but whether it’s better for your health than abstaining remains to be seen. If you’re trying to make the absolute best health decisions based on the available evidence, the smartest move is probably to drink very little or not at all.

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I know a lot of the readers here don’t click the links, but this one might be worth it. An absolute joy…Calvin and Hobbes.


There’s only one rule in Calvinball, and that rule is that you never play it the same way twice. Otherwise, you make it up as you go. You change the rules as you see fit, and arguably, if you care to find a game in the gamelessness of it, it’s a game of one-upmanship where invented rules defeat rules that defeat other rules. It is a chimera. A slippery eel. It is the search for order swiftly dissolving into the delight of anarchy and entropy.
You might have to make up a song. Or recite a poem. Maybe you go slow-motion, or turn invisible, or whirl about until you’re dizzy.
And once again it occurs to me: this is where we are.
Do the days feel like slow-motion?
Have I gone invisible?
Why am I dizzy? Am I dizzy? I’m dizzy.
We’re all touching the Opposite Pole. We’re all in the Song Zone. We’re all jumping about until we find the Bonus Box. There are no rules but the rule of impermanence. The score is Q to 12.

End quote
This is a nice little collection this week. With Autumn sneaking around the corner and our continued struggles here with all kinds of disharmony, maybe Calvin and Hobbes will help us through the tough times.
And, until next week when the score is Q to 12, 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 155

“The next dream,” said Athene, “is called the Dream of the Stones.”
“It is the last dreams she will give you,” added Archimedes, “and this one goes at two million years a second. You will have to keep your eyes skinned.”
Wart saw a darkness in front of him, with lights in it. The ark was so dark that it was like lampback, and the lights so light that the coldest blue fire of diamonds could not touch them. The harsh contrast between them made his eyes ache. He was looking at Sirius, actually, just as he had been looking at him a few hours before, but it took him quite a time before he realized that he was looking at a star at all. There were none of the mellow velvet which he had been accustomed to see through the earth’s atmosphere, but only this fierce emptiness of black and white, and, besides this fact, the constellations were in different positions. It was a few thousand years ago and all the shapes of the evening have altered since then.
The nearest star, which looked the biggest for that reason, burned with a roar of terrible gases, and another star was coming towards it. You could see them surging on their endless paths into eternity, marking their aimed but aimless courses across the universe with straight lines of remembered fire-like the meteors with which the Creator sometimes stiches together the weak seams of our dome, the bright darning-needles suddenly darted in and out of the velvet by a finger on the other side.
As the two stars came closer together a huge mountain of flame was dragged out by attraction from each. When they were at their closest point the top of the mountain broke off from the smaller star and streamed through the emptiness towards the bigger. Some of it reached its destination; but the bigger star was proceeding quickly on its way, and some of it was left behind. This part hung in space, lost to both its parent and its seducer, a whirling cigar of fire. Its mists of flame began to crystallize as they cooled, to turn into drops, as water does when it is cooled from steam. The drops took up a circular path of their own, spinning round the star from which they had been dragged.

End quote
I decided to pause here. White’s reinvention of the Big Bang, along with the “Creator’s knitting,” should probably be read breathlessly straight through. I think some of White’s best poetry is seen here:
“You could see them surging on their endless paths into eternity, marking their aimed but aimless courses across the universe with straight lines of remembered fire”
“Aimed but aimless courses” seem to be a nice way to think about life in general and goals specifically.
I find the Dreams of the Trees and the Stones marvelous reading. Wart, as a review, is standing with an owl and a goddess and living in dreams. I’ve had a few conversations with people about Wart’s adventures in these books and it always takes me back to an afternoon in Ohio.
On a break at discus camp, we were watching Star Wars. We had an obnoxious teen (as if there were any others?) who had been a sarcastic pain all week. When the Death Star exploded, he exclaimed:
“That’s so fake.”
I had had enough.
So, the Wookie? That was real? The spaceships? The aliens in the cantina?
I went on a bit longer, but I had made my point. Exactly what is “real” when it comes to science-fiction or fantasy?
I will venture to say: not much.
But everything.
I used to use Aesop’s Fables as a way to convey this conundrum when I was teaching high school. There are things that happened…we can call that history. Yet, as we all know, history focuses on unbelievably “big” things and the day-to-day lives of most of us will never be recorded or remembered.
Don’t take that wrong.
The story of the Fox and the Grapes involves a talking fox. I haven’t encountered many talking foxes, but I have seen “Sour Grapes” many times in my life. Here is the story, if you don’t know it:
A fox one day spied a beautiful bunch of ripe grapes hanging from a vine trained along the branches of a tree. The grapes seemed ready to burst with juice, and the fox’s mouth watered as he gazed longingly at them.
The bunch hung from a high branch, and the fox had to jump for it. The first time he jumped, he missed it by a long way. So he walked off a short distance and took a running leap at it, only to fall short once more. Again and again he tried, but in vain.
Now he sat down and looked at the grapes in disgust.
“What a fool I am,” he said. “Here I am wearing myself out to get a bunch of sour grapes that are not worth gaping for.”
And off he walked very, very scornfully.

So…this is so fake.

DanWandering Weights is published each Wednesday by On Target Publications


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