Dan John: Wandering Weights, Issue # 312
Our Epic Journey Through All Things Heavy, Issue # 312
The weird thing about life during Covid is how days seem to last forever and months fly by. I know how Albert Einstein explained that time is relative (being around your relatives makes time go slower) but it’s strange to watch the seasons pass from my office window and I don’t feel connected.
Here in Utah, Covid cases are exploding and we seem rudderless here. Everyone I know in the medical field has that look of exhaustion. I have been doing these free workouts for nurses at a local park but as the weather turns, I don’t have an answer.
I’m not great at reading an audience sometimes but these ER nurses “ask” for a workout but I notice that the moments of breathing drills tend to be the key. I have seen a few tears and, every so often, I note that some of my group seem to be napping a bit.
They have my permission to workout while snoring.
I always joke in podcasts and talks that my job is more than just five sets of two. I need to focus on the “lees,” too.
There’s a lot more “lees” but that will give you the basic idea. Right now, I know that a lot of relationships are strained and I think that exercise, recovery and nutrition can help.
But only so much.
October is generally a tough month for me. Practically every rough life patch for me has happened in October. Mom died on the second, Dad on the thirtieth. A freeway accident nearly took out Tiff and Kelly. Obviously, there are a lot of things I won’t share but they all happened in October, too.
I thought 2020 wouldn’t be an issue as, well, 2020 seems to just be a rough one. Of course, I woke up on the last day of the month to find out that Sean Connery died. Not only was he James Bond but he was also a lifelong fitness enthusiast and a bodybuilder who competed in the first Mister Universe (won by Bill Pearl).
I quote him all the time, especially that wonderful line from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade:
Whenever life punches me in the mouth, usually in October, I respond to it with some reflection and meditation. Generally, I learn something. Generally, these events make me appreciate life just a bit more. Generally, I try to be a better person. When I ask myself “well, what did we learn Little Danny John?,” I usually respond:
Life is more than five sets of two or three sets of three. I gladly put this October in my rearview mirror but the lessons of this October are going to make me wiser in the future. I am sure these lessons will illuminate me somehow.
This week on danjohnuniversity.com:
Here’s a link to Episode 66 of the podcast.
The Fat Loss Workout Generator has been very popular! Thanks to everyone that’s had a look and given it a shot.
The updates continue on the site with a brand new Dashboard this week. We really cleaned up how the workouts are displayed and consolidated everything that was on the Workouts and Dashboard page into one thing. We also added a notifications tool that we will use to keep you posted on all the new stuff on the site as we’ve been adding new content almost daily.
Lots more on the way! We’re still trying to make the site even better.
Have a great week!
I’ve been doing podcasts, it seems, nearly every day. This week I returned to one of my favorite websites with the Art of Manliness Podcast.
It was nice connecting up with the great people at the Strategy of Fitness Podcast. This was a quick one, but a fun one.
And, of course, Pat and got together and discussed a whole bunch of things. Pat inspired me to retype a lot of my old poetry and it has been fun doing this. Many people don’t know this, but I am an “Award Winning Poet.” I have won several contests and the cash prizes, all together, could buy a nice lunch.
My adventures around the world wide web this week took me to this really excellent workshop on “How to Speak.” This video is something I would recommend to everyone.
Robert Sjoberg, SM ’81, made me do it.
We were sitting in my office, whining about somebody’s horrible lectures, when he said, “You should do an IAP class on how to speak.”
“No,” I said, “I’ve never given a lecture I rate at better than a B+; I’d be depressed for a month afterward; it would take a week to prepare; and, besides, nobody would come.”
“I’ll come,” he said.
Actually, that first edition of How to Speak drew about 100. This past week about 250 showed up. It’s a little hard to say exactly because [the lecture hall] officially seats 150 and perhaps another 100 sat on the stairs and floor or stood in the back or watched from the hall.
It became so popular, in fact, that the annual talk had to be limited to the first 300 participants. Every year, Professor Winston improved upon the talk. As he put it, “There is much more now, of course, because I keep learning new things. I’ve added techniques for passing oral exams, delivering successful job-interview talks, and ensuring that ideas become as famous as they ought to be.
Marty Gallagher just keeps on giving us more and more. Mark Chaillet’s insights on recovery are worthy of a pause in your day.
Mark was all about single reps and recovery. He would talk at length about how the body needs to be completely rested between all out efforts. He was championing the rested effort way before anyone else. It was another prophetic oddity about Mark. I got the sense that Mark really did not really like powerlifting or lifting weights. He was just really, really good at it. Mark didn’t care about the history of strength, or strength greats of the past, he didn’t read the muscle mags or care to talk about powerlifting training.
He just zeroed in on the fact that, regardless what you do, or how smart you are, no matter how often or long you train, in the end the guy with the biggest single rep was the winner in powerlifting. Getting good at single reps was all new to me. I was there to learn. Now it was all about technique and psyche and the rested effort. Going from Hugh’s ground-and-pound template to Mark’s rested effort template (not that he ever called it that) created an ideal powerlifting training contrast.
I knew this story from my other readings, but I think the history here is important. The more I study nutrition, the more confused I get.
Dr. Harvey urged his client to follow a new diet that de-emphasized starchy or sweet foods, which he believed tended to create fat. Banting, who was used to lavishly buttered toast, beer, meat and pastries on a regular daily rotation, grumbled that there would hardly be anything left in the world for him to eat, so the doctor drafted him a meal plan.
For breakfast, according to Banting’s “Letter,” Harvey recommended four or five ounces of meat or fish, unsweetened tea and a small bit of biscuit; for the largest meal at lunchtime, another serving of meat or fish, fruit and vegetables, some dry toast and poultry. Then three or four ounces of protein for dinner. Permitted snacks included fruit and tea, or the occasional rusk (a hard baked cracker along the lines of a baby’s teething biscuit). No champagne, port or beer was allowed, but — we are not barbarians, now! — Dr. Harvey encouraged Banting to enjoy a few glasses of sherry with his lunch and dinner, and even a nightcap of plain gin, whiskey or brandy.
The patient was delighted. Not only did Banting’s medical issues all improve, he began to sleep more soundly and watched the weight steadily come off. In a little more than year he lost 46 pounds, and would put on his old suit — 12 inches larger around the middle — to show his friends how much had changed. Gone were the boot hooks and knee braces, and the corset-like truss, too. Banting gladly paid Dr. Harvey’s bill and added an additional donation of £50 in gratitude, “for distribution amongst his favorite hospitals.”
Then Banting thought about how to share his good fortune with the public. He considered writing a letter to The Lancet medical journal or a popular magazine, but without the proper pedigree or introductions to recommend him, they were likely to toss it aside unread. He ultimately decided to self-publish a pamphlet entitled “Letter on Corpulence: Addressed to the Public.”
These little articles are worth a visit (no reviews) as a contrast from the previous reading: Can an apple cider vinegar a day keep the doctor away?
This one explains everything well:
On a plant-based diet, the microbiota is tipped in favour of the other major phylum, firmicutes. Some of the complex carbohydrates in plants cannot be digested by our bodies alone. They have to be broken down by the gut microbiota, which produce enzymes to chop up the long chains and ferment them into short-chain fatty acids such as butyrate – which is made exclusively by bacteria – acetate and propionate.
These fatty acids are beneficial to the body. Butyrate, for example, provides an energy source that the cells lining our intestines can directly access. It also controls the proliferation of cells in the intestine and is thought to possess anti-carcinogenic properties. All of which meant that my score of 51% firmicutes was a healthy sign.
Zooming into the genus level, which offers a more detailed look at my microbial composition, the good news continued. I had three times as much of the butyrate-producing roseburia than the healthy cohort used in O’Toole’s study. Many more lachnospira than normal but many fewer bacteroides (not to be confused with bacteroidetes) and alistipes – as O’Toole put it, in more scientific terms, “bugger all”.
Again these were positive results. Lachnospira degrade pectins and ferment dietary fibres and I have three times more than typical. And bacteroides are often associated with meat-based, high-protein, high-fat diets, just as alistipes tend to be more present in people who eat less plant-based food. In sum that meant my gut – the lack of six-pack notwithstanding – was probably in good shape. Of course, it’s not the sort of thing you can boast about at dinner parties. “I’ve got significantly higher than average amounts of lachnospira,” is unlikely to be a conversational gambit that will impress non-microbiologists, even if you do manage to pronounce the word correctly. But just as we now know that high cholesterol is something to be avoided, so too might we soon begin to become aware of the sorts of bacteria counts that are markers for good health, especially as the price of testing comes down.
There were, however, one or two results that O’Toole struggled to make sense of. In particular my high levels of natranaerobius, a genus of bacteria that thrive in high-salt, highly alkaline environments. Did I eat a lot of sushi? No, while I love fish, I tend to prefer it cooked. Did I prepare a lot of fish? No more than once a week.
Although he found nothing sinister in the natranaerobius, it perturbed him that he couldn’t quite put his finger on the cause of its abundance in my gut. But by then he had managed to make a blind prediction of my diet that was uncannily accurate. He saw very little evidence of meat-eating – I haven’t eaten meat for 30 years. But there was plenty of evidence of high fibre, which is good because bacteria feed on fibre. If we don’t feed bacteria, they feed off us – specifically the mucus lining in our large intestine. There was also evidence of lots of fish and a large range of vegetables. All of which exactly represents my diet.
I suggest that it must be satisfying to get his prediction so right.
I’m sensing a theme lately in my WWs: I tend to find a fair amount of contrarian information. And that’s fine. It’s part of the process of life: sometimes something works well “here” and is a disaster “there.” I look forward to sharing more with you next week.
Until then, let’s all 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 166
“Ha!” cried Galapas, stopping outside one of his cells. “Are you going to give me back my patent unbreakable helm, or make me another one?”
“It’s not your helm,” answered a feeble voice. “I invented it, and I patented it, and you can go sing for another one, you beast.”
“No dinner to-morrow,” said Galapas cruelly, and went on to the next cell.
“what about that publicity?” asked the giant. “Are you going to say that the Queen of Sheba made an unprovoked attack upon me and that I took her country in self-defence?”
“No, I’m not,” said the journalist in the cell.
“Rubber truncheons for you,” said Galapas, “in the morning.”
“Where have you hidden my elastic says?” thundered the giant at the third cell.
“I shan’t tell you,” said the cell.”
“If you don’t tell me,” said Galapas, “I shall have your feet burnt.”
“You can do what you like.”
“Oh, come on,” pleaded the giant. “My tummy hangs down without them. If you will tell me where you put them I will make you a general, and you will go hunting in Poland in a fur cap. Or you can have a pet lion, or a comic beard, and you can fly to America with an Armanda. Would you like to marry any of my daughters?”
“I think all of your propositions are foul,” said the cell. “You had better have a public trial of me for progaganda.”
“You are just a mean, horrible bully,” said the giant, and went on to next cell.”
Ah. Finally. We come to the “next cell.” Our story explodes from here as we meet the person in the next cell.
The Queen of Sheba, probably Yemen, is as rich in its own folklore tradition as our Arthurian stories. The term, and the woman, is a fertile ground for the literary world.
Galapas is an interesting giant. His bargains with his inmates seem, well, interesting.
DanWandering Weights is published each Wednesday by On Target Publications
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