Dan John: Wandering Weights, Issue # 321
Our Epic Journey Through All Things Heavy, Issue # 321
It’s a New Year and, with that, I began the 10,000 swing challenge. I was reminded as I started on day two about my hamstrings and grip. I discovered deep in the night about fascia and how the body reacts to lots of work.
Yeah. I’m sore.
Trying to deal with the questions on the internet about the challenge is exhausting. Like the Forty Day Workout or the One Lift a Day program, it seems pretty obvious to me that doing 500 swings a day with a kettlebell for 20 days should be, well, obvious.
But, in 2021, it is the task of many to wade deeply into the Minutia Ocean. I actually think these questions hurt sometimes; perhaps the questions get in the way of the action. As I have said many times, doing something with full vigor, even if things are not perfect, is far better than sitting at your keyboard for body composition improvements.
When Mike Warren Brown and I first embarked on this voyage of bell boredom, we didn’t have a map, a star nor a clue. But we had a number: 10,000. I keep coming up with variation after variation for the challenge, but the way I am doing it this time is the simplest. I’m doing 500 swings a day…any way I can get there.
I’m doing my swings live on Instagram and I’m saving them to Youtube and the questions pour in as I train. Over and over, I answer the same questions about the details of the challenge.
The answer is always the same: 500 swings for 20 days.
This might be my life’s greatest insight:
Or don’t do.
This week on danjohnuniversity.com:
Here’s a link to Episode 74 of the podcast.
Our New Year’s special will be running throughout January. You can use code NEWYEAR to receive 3 months of access for $29.
A bunch of people, including Dan and myself, are doing the 10,000 Swing Challenge together on the site. We would love it if you joined us.
Have a great week!
Pat’s podcast has become a real highlight for me. Adding Jim has been great. We have added an additional Q and A weekly, but it wasn’t ready as I worked on this WW.
Pat and Dan are once again joined by special guest Dr. Jim Madden to discuss how to achieve effective, sustainable fat loss for adults through a reasonable combination of easy strength, brisk walking, and intermittent fasting. The conversation also explores what good use occasional challenges can serve.
I enjoyed digging around the internet this week. Usually, the year-end is filled with a lot of great Top Ten articles. I think it is telling that I didn’t find any for 2020.
There is nothing fancy in this article, but I think most readers would shrug their shoulders and say, “Yeah…” And maybe that’s the secret to nutrition: it’s basically the same advice my mom, your grandmother, would have said. I only include this first one but the other points in the article, more fish and protein and less sugar, shouldn’t surprise anyone.
1. To support the brain and body, eat Mediterranean
Some of the planet’s healthiest people live off the coast of the Mediterranean. Their diet, appropriately packaged as the Mediterranean diet, is associated with astonishingly low risks of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and metabolic syndrome.
The Mediterranean diet’s stellar health effects have led some doctors to consider it the “ideal diet” for health and longevity, and rank it healthiest compared to other popular diets.
The Mediterranean diet has an especially powerful effect on the mind, according to a 2020 evaluation of 7,758 people. This analysis was observational but adds to a growing list of studies and randomized controlled trials linking the Mediterranean diet to positive mental and physical outcomes.
In a study published in April, researchers found that people who ate a Mediterranean diet had a higher cognitive function and less risk of cognitive impairment as they age. Meanwhile, other studies suggest eating Mediterranean can boost metabolism and cardiovascular health.
Currently, the Mediterranean diet is the “most scientifically supported” dietary pattern for reducing cardiovascular risk, study co-author Gal Tsaban, a researcher at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, told Inverse.
Caveat emptor. When I saw this, I (sadly) wasn’t surprised at all. The hucksters are so normalized now that nothing shocks me.
Wellness advocate Belle Gibson, who translated her high profile as a cancer survivor into publishing success, has admitted her cancer diagnosis was not real.
Ms Gibson, 23, who claimed to have healed terminal brain cancer by eating wholefoods, made the admission in an interview with the Australian Women’s Weekly.
The success of Gibson’s book, The Whole Pantry, and her smartphone application, which advocates natural therapies, has been largely dependent on her high-profile as a cancer survivor.
Asked if she had ever had cancer, Ms Gibson told the magazine: “No. None of it’s true.
“I don’t want forgiveness. I just think [speaking out] was the responsible thing.
“Above anything, I would like people to say ‘OK, she’s human’.”
I found this to be absolutely true in my life experience.
Invest in experiences
You might think it’s more practical to spend money on something that you’ll use for years rather than on a fancy dinner or vacation. But research suggests that an intangible experience can often bring you joy for longer than a physical object.
“People believe material goods last—and they do last in a physical sense, but that doesn’t mean you continue to derive value from it,” Kumar says. “Experiences are fleeting, but not in a psychological sense. They live on in our memories, they live on in the stories we tell.”
graph showing that experiences get more satisfying over time, but material goods only decrease.
For example, people get boosts of pleasure from planning and anticipating experiences, like vacations—and then again when recalling those memories later. That’s partly because experiences often cultivate connection and feelings of belonging, whereas we’re more likely to consume material purchases alone.
We’re social animals, after all. In Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, as soon as our basic needs—food, shelter, and safety—are met, the first thing we seek is companionship. Research on human flourishing confirms that cultivating meaningful relationships through institutions like work, religious communities, and marriage enhances our well-being, and is associated with better health and longer life expectancy.
Our experiences also play a significant role in the formation of our identities. “Experiential purchases tend to be more reflective of a person’s identity and their sense of self,” Kumar says. “Our stuff is less centrally tied to who we are. We’re the sum of our experiences.”
When Bike James speaks, I listen.
But the truth is that a beginning rider (someone with less than 2 years of experience) isn’t going to benefit the same as someone who has several years of hard core riding experience and is looking for ways to get an edge while trying to continue their improvements.
Without recognizing that intervening to soon in an attempt to make things “easier” or “more efficient” has different risk-benefit ratios for everyone you can forget that sometimes nature simply needs to take its course. Your body will often figure things out if you give it enough time and the best thing you can really do is make sure you have the strength and mobility to move well so you don’t miss out on some key things in your development as a rider.
The real take home message here is that the ultimate power lies in you, not some piece of bike technology being sold as what “everyone” needs. By understanding that the benefits of bike technology are not linear we can make smarter decisions about what is really the best option for us.
It’s been 20 years since Art Devaney explained this kind of thing clearly enough for me to see the point. Or, maybe, I needed 20 years to get it. This article does a marvelous job explaining the need for complexity.
The good news is that we may be able to slow, or even reverse, some of the complexity loss that comes with getting old. Aerobic exercise and resistance training, for example, have been shown to increase heart rate complexity. The Chinese practice of tai chi, which combines physical movement, breathing techniques, and meditation, has a similar effect on postural control. When you stand still, you may notice your body swaying ever so slightly as your muscles make tiny adjustments to keep you balanced on your feet. We can record these fluctuations on a force plate, which allows us to calculate their complexity. Lower complexity correlates with poorer balance, a slower gait, and risk of falling. But tai chi seems to provide an antidote: In one recent study, my colleagues and I found that just 12 weeks of tai chi training can improve the complexity of postural sway in elderly adults, including those in their 90s. Subjects who completed the training regimen also increased their gait speed and so may be more likely to avoid falls.
We’ve also found that we can improve the complexity of postural control by applying very weak, random vibrations to the soles of the feet. How this intervention works isn’t clear. It’s possible that the vibrations, which can’t be felt, add low-level noise to the sensory system, increasing input to nerve receptors, and thereby lowering their stimulation threshold. This phenomenon, known as stochastic resonance, may boost nerve cells’ ability to gather and react to information about the location and position of the feet. As a result, the body is able to make more complex, and hence more adaptive, postural adjustments.
There are additional benefits to be gained from maintaining complexity on the social scale. Studies consistently show that having an extensive and diverse social network is linked to better health and wellbeing. Compared to the socially isolated, connected individuals live longer, are less depressed, and are more likely to recover from heart attacks, strokes, and other acute illnesses. Simply adding complexity to your daily routine can have far-reaching effects: Learning new skills or solving mental puzzles, for instance, can help improve cognitive function and may help stave off dementia.
This is just something cool: a master’s thesis on Connect Four.
Well, that should keep you busy for a few days. I will continue to swing. Over and over and over. 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 175
“Well,” said Sir Ector, “what about the giant?”
Merlyn looked up from his knitted, and the Wart opened a startled mouth to speak, but the question had been addressed to the vicar.
Reverent Sidebottom closed his book about Pallas, the son of Evander, rolled his eyeballs wildly, clutched his thin beard, gasped for breath, shut his eyes, exclaimed hurriedly, “My beloved, the giant is Adam, who was formed free from all corruption. The wound from which he died is transgression of the divine command.”
Then he blew out his cheeks, let go of his beard and glanced triumphantly at Merlyn.
“Very good,” said Merlyn. Especially that bit about remaining uncorrupted. But what about the candle and the needle?”
The vicar closed his eyes again, as if in pain, and all waited in silence for the explanation.
After they had waited for several minutes, Wart said, “if I were a knight in armour, and met a giant, I should smite off both his legs by the knees, saying “Now art thou better of a size to deal with an thou were,” and after that I should swish off his head.”
“Hush,” said Sir Ector, “Never mind about that.”
“The candle,” said the vicar wanly, “is eternal punishment, extinguished by means of a needle-that is the passion of Christ.”
“Very good indeed,” said Merlyn, patting him on the back.
The fire burned merrily, as it were a bonfire which some slaves were dancing around, and one of the gaze-hounds next to the Wart now went “Houroff, hourouff” in its sleep, so that it sounded like a pack of thirty couple of hounds questing in the distance, very far away beyond the night-lit woods.
It’s occasionally fun to come back and discuss whether or not Wart’s adventures are “real.” I don’t necessarily like the conversation as it sort of kills the whole idea of fictional reading. I’ve discussed this before and, like what Sherlock Holmes once told me, it seems that we can only keep so much in our mental attic. So, I dismiss the conversation.
These things happen to Wart!
We end this chapter. I think this chapter with Galapas and the story of Mim make a nice up ramp and down ramp into our overall story. Each is a traditional bad guy. In both stories, help comes from an unexpected source, the goat and the beast, and when the story finishes, the story finishes.
Editors cut them out. That’s not my choice. In our next chapter, time travels very fast…six years in a sentence.
DanWandering Weights is published each Wednesday by On Target Publications
NEVER MISS ANOTHER POST!
Subscribe below and we'll send great articles to your email box. Includes FREE access to our OTP Vault of material from experts in the field.