Dan John: Wandering Weights, Issue # 313

Wandering Weights
Our Epic Journey Through All Things Heavy, Issue # 313

I enjoy putting together this weekly newsletter. Like many of the people I know, for some reason, I am tired this week. I decided to focus this week on the positive so I spent some extra time working on my vision of my career.
Brian got me to read Derek Siver’s book, Anything You Want. Siver’s story of growing an online business, and its lessons, really got me thinking. Honestly, I wish I would have read this book when I had that first website back in 1998.
I really like his insights about NOT being there for everybody…especially negative people. My old boss, the late Archbishop George Niederauer, used to point out that I’m a diva:
I ignore all the positive reviews and languish over the negative ones.
Siver’s work, I hope, has finally pushed me to understand, as the poet Ricky Nelson, taught us:
But it’s all right now, I’ve learned my lesson well
You see, you can’t please everyone, so you’ve got to please yourself
Whenever I post a Youtube video or podcast, I often get really scathing comments. When I look at their profile, rarely do the negative commenters actually have a profile. They hide behind anonymous.
I just don’t have the air left for these people. I have more yesterdays than tomorrows, so I need to focus on those who want to go on the journey with me. I generally embrace the positive and now I will only embrace the positive people…appropriately, of course!
This week on danjohnuniversity.com:
Here’s a link to Episode 67 of the podcast.
I’ve got two updates for you this week. First, Dan created a kettlebell workshop for your viewing pleasure. We posted a short version for all to watch and you see that here. The long version is for members of the site and you can find it here.
My second update this week is the addition of a beginner’s Olympic lifting program to the site. Dan and I worked together on finding great drills that will help you get comfortable with the lifts over the course of a month. You certainly won’t master them with this program, but you’ll be ready to start training the snatch and clean and jerk.
As always, more on the way!
Have a great week!
I had several fun discussions this week on podcasts.
Pat and I had a fun discussion. Be sure to think about the haiku contest this week. Pat’s Summary: Pat and Dan discuss how becoming a better writer may improve your career in unexpected ways.  They also offer a challenge to write your own fitness haiku and win a free audio book. Then, listener questions on getting your first handstand, things they used to teach but no longer recommend, and how to relate to God in times of great difficulty.
The poems we discussed can be found here.
 This was a fun discussion about (w)holism with Declan.
I enjoyed my voyage over the madness of the internet this past week. Let’s look.
Sean Connery. He died the same day my Dad died (Albert John died in 1991). I loved Sean like I loved Frank Sinatra: flawed, sure, but role models for style and “that certain something.”


There’s a wild picture of Sean Connery on a golf course in Spain back in 1973. His hair is thin and his face is weathered, and it appears as though all his best days are behind him, that he’s about to go down for a nap. He was 43 in that photo. I’ll never get over that. Even earlier, at the height of his powers in his heartthrob heyday, Connery looked … older. It always seemed like Connery was passing time until his actual age caught up with his inner old man. And then, mercifully and gloriously, it did. He embraced the evolution in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade—at 58, Connery abandoned the feigned leading-man machismo shtick and went full AARP as Indiana Jones’s graybeard father, Professor Henry Jones. You can keep his early Bond roles. I’ll take Connery as the elder Jones, pompously and erroneously quoting Charlamagne, looking handsome as hell in a natty three-piece wool suit with a bow tie and a houndstooth hat. As two professors of archeology, senior and junior go looking for the Holy Grail, and in the end they choose very wisely indeed. But as Connery taught us by leaning into his dad years, why bother with the fountain of youth when you can just act your age? —John Gonzalez

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I’m not sure if I will get this book, but this summary is something I think most of us can live with daily.


While the dust settles, the best advice for the curious to take from Lifespan is to experiment with habits that are easy, free, and harmless—like taking a brisk, cold walk and eating a lighter diet. With cold exposure, Sinclair explains, moderation is the key. He believes that you can reap benefits by simply taking a walk in the winter without a jacket. He doesn’t prescribe an exact fasting regimen that works best, but he doesn’t recommend anything extreme—simply missing a meal here and there, like skipping breakfast and having a late lunch.

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Honestly, the reason I think I began to really understand strength and conditioning is that I used to daydream about training. I would read an article, hop in the car with Dad, drive along with the Giant’s game on, and think about lifting. When I came back to the ragged Strength and Health magazine, it seemed like I had magically memorized it. This article explains why this might be the secret to learning.


According to Lila Davachi, a Columbia University cognitive neuroscientist specializing in memory and an NLI research scientist, spacing gives you extra learning “for free.” You don’t have to study any more, she says, and you could maybe even get away with less.
“We measure experiment participants’ brain activity while they’re learning, trying to take in the information, and then ask them to rest,” Davachi says of her research. “Unbeknownst to the subject, we’re looking at their brain during rest. And they’re just mind wandering.” This stage is crucial, she explains. “We see there is a footprint of what was happening during the learning; the brain continues to rehearse the prior information.” Davachi has found that participants whose brains show more replay during that rest period do better on recall tests later.
“Your brain is doing your work for you while you’re doing other tasks,” she adds.

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I read a lot of productivity articles…instead of being productive, I guess. I think this one, by itself, would be a great course for success. I love it.


1. Banish desk chaos
“A clean environment keeps the mind clean and sharp,” Shankman says.
2. Ask for deadlines
If your boss says it’s okay for you to turn in something “when you can,” it may be tempting to accept that leeway. But an open-ended assignment can be harder to prioritize. “Pick a date for everything you want to accomplish and set it in stone,” Shankman recommends.
3. Make a night-before plan
Work backward to map out how you’ll prepare for an event or meeting. That can include getting enough sleep the night before and choosing an outfit. Since Shankman wakes up at 3:45 a.m. to exercise, he simplifies his morning routine by sleeping in his workout clothes.

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Shane McLean sent this in. Sadly, the following is kinda what I do!


It’s common to hear people dismiss the energy balance equation in favour of narratives that talk about how “it’s hormones, not calories” or similar rhetoric. Such claims usually emanate from the realms of pseudoscience peddlers and diet cults. In dismissing the relevance of energy balance, a common move is to cariacture CICO as a simplistic input-output idea that claims “calories are all that matter” and that “all calories are created equal”. The process such pseudoscientists follow is always the same:
    Step One: The guru attempts to win over their audience by painting “the opposition” as those who claim a calorie surplus is what leads to fat gain or that calorie deficits are required for fat loss.
    Step Two: The guru then tells their audience that these people who accept CICO holds true are simply going around telling people to eat less, demanding they count calories, or stating that food quality is irrelevant.
    Step Three: Now that the audience seems how stupid CICO is, the guru can proceed to weaving a narrative about how it’s really hormones that matter, not calories. The audience then views this as a much more elegant, scientific narrative and so it surely must be correct.
    Step Four: Members of that audience are now equipped with a lovely story to tell others and are able to confidently call true nutrition experts idiots for being brainwashed by outdated notions about calories.

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As you may have noticed, Gentle Reader, I love lists. Maybe it’s the way I think. I like this article and I am watching some of these films on my time off: 25 Feel-Good Films You’ll Want to Watch Again—and Again

The deepest, richest, most romantic kind of a movie, a full-bodied glass of red wine to be enjoyed anytime one’s faith in humanity is fraying, Moonstruck might be the most comforting film ever made. Norman Jewison’s Oscar-winning rom-com, written by John Patrick Shanley, works because of its wonderful sense of place (the cramped kitchens and restaurants of Italian-American Brooklyn Heights), its passionate and committed cast (including Cher, Nicolas Cage, Olympia Dukakis, and Danny Aiello), and its loopy celebration of love emerging from the strangest and most unexpected places.

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I hope these articles I share are all positive; I hope you enjoy them. Let me know if you like them.
And, until next time, let’s 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 167

“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.
“Now then,” said Galapas, “What about that ransom, you dirty English pig?
“Ay’m not a pig,” said the cell, “and Ay’m not dirty, or Ay wasn’t until I feel into that beastly pit. Now Ay’ve got pine needles all down my back. What have you done with my tooth-brush, you giant, and where have you put more poor little brachet, what?
“Never mind about your brachet and your tooth-brush,” shouted Galapas, “what about that ransom, you idiot, or you too steeped in British sottishness to understand anything at all?”
“Ay want to brush my teeth,” answer King Pellinore obstinately. “They feel funny, if you understand what I mean, and it makes me feel not very well.”
“Uomo bestiale,” cried the giant. “Have you no finer feelings?”
“No,” said King Pellinore. “Ay don’t thin Ay have. Ay want to brush my teeth, and Ay am getting cramp through sitting all the time on this bench, or what you call it.”
“Unbelievable sot,” screamed the master of the castle. “Where is your soul, you shop-keeper? Do you think of nothing but your teeth?”
“Ay think a lot of things, old boy,” said King Pellinore. “Ay think of how nice it would be to have a poached egg, what?”
“Well, you shan’t have a poached egg, you shall just stay there until you pay my ransom. How do you suppose I am to run my business if I don’t have my ransoms? What about my concentration camps, and my thousand-dollar wreaths at funerals? Do you suppose that all this is run on nothing? Why, I had to send a wreath for King Cwythno Garanhir which consisted of a Welsh Harp forty feet long, made entirely of orchids. It said, “Melodious Angels Sing Thee to Thy Rest.”
“Ay think that was a very good wreath,” said King Pellinore admiringly. “But couldn’t Ay have my tooth-brush, what? Dash it all, really it isn’t much compared with a wreath like that. Or is it?”
“Imbecile,” exclaimed the giant, and moved to the next cell.

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The return of King Pellinore. I warned you, Gentle Reader, in the beginning that this story flows from our visits with Pellinore.
In the original The Sword in the Stone from 1938 especially, the pattern of transformation stories and reality stories (if you understand what I mean by “reality” here):
Wart’s “quest:” He finds Merlyn (After Meeting King Pellinore chasing the Beast Glatisant)

Fish (Perch) Transformation
Madam Mim
Tilting Lesson (King Pellinore and Sir Grummore)
Hawk Transformation
                        The “Middle of the Book:” The Adventure with Robin Wood
Snake Transformation
Boar Hunt (King Pellinore finds the Beast Glatisant…again)
Owl Transformation
Galapas the Giant (King Pellinore is among the captured…all are saved by the Beast)
Badger Transformation
Wart becomes King Arthur (and receives gifts from all of his friends, (including Pellinore and the Beast)
Pellinore, in my simple opinion, is the thread that connects all of our story.
A few quick points:
Gwyddno Garanhir was the ruler of a sunken land off the coast of Wales, known as Cantre’r Gwaelod. He was the father of Elffin ap Gwyddno, the foster-father of the famous Welsh poet, Taliesin. Taliesin is responsible for many of the early Arthurian(ish) stories.
I “think” the reference on the wreath comes from Shakespeare, as White is clearly an expert:
“Good night, sweet prince.
May flights of angels sing thee to thy rest” Hamlet, Act 5, Scene 2.
Sottishness, by the way, iis drunk. It’s a great word to use.

DanWandering Weights is published each Wednesday by On Target Publications


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