Dan John: Wandering Weights, Issue # 309

Wandering Weights
Our Epic Journey Through All Things Heavy, Issue # 309

Fall is falling here in Utah. I woke up to a nice rainstorm and a serious drop in temperature. Before I know it, I will be shoveling snow a few days a week. It’s time for me to start moving things around from summer to winter.
My compost bin is full as I move the tomato plants, sunflowers, flowers, mint and all the rest into the bin. I bought a new one and it’s my height. The magic of composting will turn all of this and the leaves about to fall into wonderful soil for the future.
I was thinking about composting while I was making sauerkraut the other day. There is something magical about fermenting and composting. You put some ingredients into a container and sit back and watch the magic happen.
Really, when I think about it, this is what happens when we lift weights and exercise. We put the work in, strive to have some kind proper fuel and, quicker than one might think, the body adapts and changes. “Proper fuel” seems to be the hardest one for many people to understand.
That reminds me, a few weeks ago I shared my “Superfoods” list. I added a new part and let me just share this and the Lung Association’s allergy list:
Lung Association
Most Allergenic Foods
Most Subsidized Foods in USA
This second list needs to be kept in mind when we discuss the long-term issues with obesity in America. The other day, I was with someone who takes 18 different medicines a day and this person’s diet reflects the worst of the American diet. We don’t use this term as often as we used to do, but I have always enjoyed the acronym SAD, Standard American Diet.
I’m not moralizing or trying to be political. I’m just thinking that what you put into a container is really important.
 This week on danjohnuniversity.com:
Here’s a link to Episode 63 of the podcast.
This past week I added a Video Library to the University. Dan’s been making some videos just for members and we’ll be expanding that section as time goes on. It also features all the YouTube videos in one place in an easily searchable format. We hope this will be a nice resource for those who don’t spend as much time on YouTube as I do.
Here is one of Dan’s glute workouts. I’ve been doing it every day for over a week now, and my back feels amazing.
This entertaining video discusses how Dan gets ready for his Fat Loss Walks.
We are still making improvements to the site every week. If you haven’t visited in a while, now is a good time to check it out again.
Have a great week!
I enjoyed my conversation with Pat (obviously). I’m amazed how popular our little podcast has become recently.
I found a number of good articles on the internet this week and a couple of great articles. I liked this article on mathematics. I could easily argue that my whole career is based on geometry and I regret walking away from continuing my education in this field.


Several times in your talk you quoted Simone Weil, the French philosopher (and sibling of the famed mathematician André Weil), who wrote, “Every being cries out silently to be read differently.” Why did you choose that quote?
I chose it because it says in a very succinct way what the problem is, what causes injustice — we judge, and we don’t judge correctly. So “read” means “judged,” of course. We read people differently than they actually are.

And how does that apply to the math community?
We do this in lots of different ways. I think part of it is that we have a picture of who actually can succeed in math. Some of that picture has been developed because the only examples we’ve seen so far are people who come from particular backgrounds. We’re not used to, for instance, seeing African-Americans at a math conference, although it’s become more and more common.
We’re not used to seeing kids from lower socioeconomic backgrounds in college or grad school. So what I was trying to say is: If we’re looking for talent, why are we choosing for background? If we really want to have a more diverse set of people in mathematical sciences, we have to take into account the structural barriers that make it hard for people from disadvantaged backgrounds to succeed in math.

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Marty sent me this article before it was published and I was actually excited to share it with the world. So…here it is.


Could one replicate the lighting fast fat-burning results that Alone contestants experience on a uniform and consistent basis? How best could the diet be modified – without compromising results? What are the characteristics and commonalities?

Establish a basic position of starvation, fast, stop eating for as long as possible

Detoxification commences with commencement of the fasting process

When you can stand it no longer, add back small portions of protein, fat and fiber

Establish and maintain the premise of hunger, never eat unless hungry

Select quality proteins with a moderate to high fat content

Jettison starch and refined carbs

Protein, fat, and fiber carbs do not spike insulin

Fiber has a beneficial roto-rotor effect: fiber scrapes intestinal walls of sludge and bile

The longer the gaps between eating the better the results

Stay true to an extremely narrow selection of foods

Eat less, eat less often, eat organic when possible

This Alone diet works: every contestant experiences a profound physical metamorphosis

Discipline is easier when not continually tempted: the toughest part of the Alone diet is adherence

Stay committed to a position of continual hunger even when surrounded with temptation

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Phil Maffetone has been in my library since 1987. I’ve been reading his work longer than I have known my wife! It took me a while to embrace his concept of slower is better in terms of fat loss training and that’s on me. I liked this simple article this week.


The combination of healthy foods with exercise factors, particularly intensity and duration, significantly influence fat-burning and physical performance.
Exercise intensity is a key part of the formula, with increasing intensity reducing fat-burning. Being aerobically fit burns more fat at all intensities. (While women have higher body fat percentages, they can also burn more fat than men, as demonstrated in their relative improved endurance capacity compared to other sports.)
As metabolism improves and fat-burning and ketones increase, there is a point where more fat is burned than fat consumed.
Thus, the formula includes:
    Training slower to burn more fat — using the MAF HR
    Consuming meals higher in fat, moderate protein, and low or very-low in carbs.
    As ketosis develops overall caloric needs reduce — caloric restriction.
    Hunger can help guide your transition to this healthier state. While fat-burning increases right away, it could take one to two months to rev up fat-burning, then longer to fully adapt to increasing calorie restriction.
    The rate of adaptation also depends on your existing metabolism, dedication (how strict you are), and personalization — matching your level of carbohydrate intolerance.

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There is a simple point in this article about lower body training. I used to do Prison Ministry, so I can counter the argument about some of the myths of prison training (and the perfect bodies!) but this provided some interesting insights.

Rather than bore you with prison life stories that other with more experience and insight have covered so well, I’ll isolate the factors involved in the physical training during incarceration.
    Minimal equipment.
    No time limit.
    Adequate recovery.
    Volume is king.
The workout will encompass pushing, pulling, hinging and squatting. When the movements are done properly, the core will take care of itself. I want to be clear here, when people do bodyweight or ‘prison style’ workouts, they tend to do some light aerobics and then just bang out push ups and pull ups. This is wrong.

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This is just a fun article. I love cartoons and I think I knew every single one of these.


More than almost any other short film in this list, this one needs no introduction. Animation legend Chuck Jones at the height of his creative powers? The final appearance of Elmer Fudd in a Jones-directed cartoon? Bugs Bunny in his best drag performance? A pitch-perfect parody of Richard Wagner’s operas and ballets, the Bugs-and-Elmer formula that had grown kind of stale, and even a send-up of Disney’s Fantasia? There’s no wonder this became the first cartoon selected for the National Film Registry.
The short continued in the vein of Jones’s earlier opera parody, Rabbit of Seville, itself a nod to an earlier Woody Woodpecker short loosely adapting the same opera by Gioachino Rossini. What’s Opera, Doc? was an especially labor-intensive cartoon to make, requiring Jones and his animators to fudge the numbers on their time cards to get it done, claiming the additional weeks were instead allocated toward the easier-to-produce Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner shorts. The added time and effort show onscreen. Maurice Noble’s art direction evokes the limited animation style of rival studio UPA to create a world influenced by the horrors of German silent-film expressionism, featuring jagged towers and buildings and sets that simply couldn’t be replicated in live-action even with the highest of budgets. Meanwhile, Dutch angles are used to give the story of Bugs and Elmer’s last stand a scope worthy of Wagner’s grandiose epic.
Then there’s the real star of the show, Bugs’s lapine femme fatale, the pigtailed Brunhilde. For many people, including RuPaul, Bugs Bunny provided a first introduction to drag queens, and the wascally wabbit never did it better than here, riding atop a morbidly obese yet graceful steed as Brunhilde. It is a definitive entry for the character, whose creative life is a subject of a chapter in Jones’s own illustrated autobiography. “Bugs went through a period of wild awkwardness before settling into the self-contained studied attitudes peculiar to him, so that his every movement is Bugs and Bugs only,” Jones wrote. He described What’s Opera, Doc? as one of the final corners turned in that evolutionary process: “Probably our most elaborate and satisfying production.”

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I read this article and I sent it to my wife. The Covid Culture seems to mean nearly constant Zoom meetings that last longer and longer. This was worth a read.


3. Mind the Cost of Meetings
Paul Graham, co-founder of startup incubator Y Combinator, distinguishes between two types of schedules: the maker schedule and the manager schedule. If you alternate between meetings, conference calls, and email, you’re likely on a manager schedule. Managers tend to organize their days in one-hour blocks of time. By default they “change what  [they’re] doing every hour.” Makers tend to be creators such as writers, programmers, and artists. Their work requires long stretches of uninterrupted time.
Makers’ and managers’ schedules tend to intersect at meetings, and both types of people should understand the ramifications of these get-togethers. Even a short meeting can have a cascading effect, whether it’s forcing you to switch contexts or preventing you from beginning an ambitious project because you know that a mid-day interruption awaits. We should always be asking ourselves, “Is this meeting necessary?”

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I love, love this article about writing. It’s just amazing.


The rules, as Leonard established them, are—
    Never open a book with the weather.
    Avoid prologues.
    Never use a verb other than “said” to carry dialogue.
    Never use an adverb to modify the verb “said.”
    Keep your exclamation points under control!
    Never use the words “suddenly” or “all hell broke loose.”
    Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly.
    Avoid detailed descriptions of characters.
    Same for places and things.
    Leave out the parts readers tend to skip.

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All of this should keep you busy for a bit. I look forward to another week of working and training and living. 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 163


They proceeded to trad their tipsy way through the forest, staring carefully at the earth in front of them in case it should give way, and stopping very often when an extra large bramble fastened itself in their flesh. When Merlyn was stuck with a bramble, he swore, and when he swore he lost some of his concentration and they both became dimly visible, like Autumn mist. The rabbits upwind of them stood on their hind legs at this, and exclaimed, “Good gracious!”
“What are we going to do?” asked the Wart.
“Well,” said Merlyn. “Here we are at the Burbly Water. You can see the giant’s castle on the opposite bank, and we shall have to swim across. It may be difficult to walk when you are invisible, but to swim is perfectly impossible, even with years of practice. You are always getting your nose under water. So I shall have to let go of you until we have swum across in our own time. Don’t forget to meet me quickly on the other side.”
The Wart went down into warm starlit water, which ran musically like a real salmon stream, and struck out for the other side. He swam fast, across and down river, with a kind of natural dog-stroke, and he had to go about a quarter of a mile below his landing-place along the bank before Merlyn also came out to meet him, dripping. Merlyn swam the breast-stroke, very slowly and with great precision, watching ahead of him over the bow wave of his beard, with that faintly anxious expression of a faithful retriever.
“Now,” said Merlyn, “catch hold again, and we will see what Galapas is about.”
They walked invisible across the sward, where many unhappy-looking gardeners with iron collars round their necks were mowing, weeding and sweeping by torchlight, although it was so late, in what had begun to be a garden. They were slaves.
“Talk in whispers,” said Merlyn, “if you have to talk.”
There was a brick wall in front of them, with fruit tress nailed along it, and this they were forced to climb. They did so by the usual method of bending over, climbing on each other’s backs, giving a hand up from on top, and so forth, but every time that the Wart was compelled to let go of his magician for a moment he became visible. It was like an early cinematograph flickering very badly, or one of those magic lanterns where you put in slide after slide. A slave gardener, looking at that part of the wall, sadly tapped himself on the head and went away into a shrubbery to be sick.
“Hush,” whispered Merlyn from the top of the wall, and they looked down upon the giant in person, as he took his evening ease by candlelight upon the bowling green.
“But he’s not big at all,” whispered the Wart disappointedly.

End quote
Just a quick pause here in our reading. Right before us is the GIANT! And, Wart is not impressed at all!
Years ago, at the Upper Limit Gym, Mark Eaton, the Utah Jazz center would come in and train with me. I’m bigger than most people, but Mark was on a different scale. He stands well over seven feet, but built like a thrower.
When people would come in the gym, they would often see Mark and NOT be impressed. From the far end of the facility, they would see him driving weights overhead and think “but he’s not big at all.”
Of course, as they walked into the facility and got closer, they would think it was an optical illusion: Somehow, like a Willie Wonka hallway, the room was built to trick the eyes. Only when they got close did they realize this wasn’t a normal ceiling; it was much higher than usual. Mark needed to train in this area and not in the shorter eight-foot ceiling area as he would have driven the weights through the roof.
Finally, the visitor would say: “Wow.”
You have to get close. Wart and Merlyn will be close very soon.
One final thing before we move on: “but every time that the Wart was compelled to let go of his magician for a moment he became visible.”
My personal motto, from our visit with Hawks so many chapters ago, is “Never Let Go.”
It’s good advice when you are near a giant.

DanWandering Weights is published each Wednesday by On Target Publications


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