Dan John: Wandering Weights, Issue # 325

Wandering Weights
Our Epic Journey Through All Things Heavy, Issue # 325

Three times a year, I have an odd week. This past week was one of them: it’s the week that I give my Red Cross Power Red Donation (two whole units of blood but I get my plasma back), a dentist visit, and a doctor’s visit. The blood draw and the dentist visit are probably the two best things I do for my heart and cardiovascular system and I try to practice what I preach about sound medical advice…and intervention, as appropriate.
I just realized that I will probably receive a thousand emails about the point about CV health. It seems, from the responses I get from Youtube and Instagram, I am literally the only person on the planet who knows how to use a search engine.
Here: Dental Health and CV health
Just one example of blood donation and heart health.
You are welcome.
After a few days of sitting in a chair while someone pokes and jabs me, I get some insights about things. First, and I think this is more important every time I pass around the sun, I’m happy to spend three weeks a year with needles, straps and wraps.
I don’t want this to go on fifty-two weeks a year.
One of my key coaching principles is “Proactive, not reactive.” In my career, a few people have taken my advice and gone to the doctor when something was a bit “odd.” Without a hint of hyperbole, there are a few people walking around Utah who enjoyed this morning’s sunrise because they had early medical intervention a couple of decades ago.
My 1-2-3-4 Assessment, see Can You Go? for details, is simply an attempt to clear out the big questions and figure out what to do with a client for the next two weeks or so. And that is crucial but not nearly as crucial as taking care of the simple steps of visiting the appropriate doctors and the dentist with appropriate visits.

My dentist recommends three visits a year. My insurance only covers two. The hygienist was concerned about me paying, out of my own pocket(!!!), for the third visit. I asked her how much that costs: “46 dollars!”
I know times are tough for many, but $46 a year is a wise investment to stay ahead in dental health and hygiene.
So, three times a year, I carve out a week out of my life and live proactively.
This week on DJU
Here’s a link to Episode 78 of the podcast.
This week I want to wish a special welcome to all the newcomers to the site this past month. It’s been a lot of fun watching so many people get started, take part in the forum conversations, and start making progress. Thank you for being a part of the site. Dan and I marvel every time we speak that we get to do what we love for a living and we both appreciate you very much for that opportunity.
Have a great week!
I always ask podcasters to send me the link after it is published. I don’t always receive them but this week was unusual. Let’s begin with Pat Flynn’s weekly talk.

Pat and Dan build upon previous conversations about strength standards, what they are, and why they’re worth striving after. Also, listener questions on where to look when swinging a kettlebell, thoughts on steel mace training, and best “bang for buck” exercises for people over 60.
I returned to Brett’s Art of Manliness podcast and I really enjoyed discussing standards.
I thought that calling this a “guide” to living was interesting. This podcast does a nice job linking life and lifting.
Mimi Chan and I met up again to discuss The Sword in the Stone. I enjoy our visits.

Audio Podcast

Youtube Podcast
As I scrolled around the internet this week, I found some fun stuff. This first article tied into my Covid quarantine brain. I’ve been seeing my anger rise a bit this past year. Is it good?


So yeah, anger is a motivator.
Is it a good fit for everyone? NO.
Is it healthy? Debatable. (Losing a lot of fat is objectively healthy.)
Sustainable? Hell no.
Positive? BIG no.
Effective? For some people, it’s the only way that sticks.
Personally, I’ve thrived on it, though that’s something I’m not entirely proud of.
If you’ve seen Pumping Iron it’s sorta like Mike Katz’s transformation story, channelling bullied kid into obsessive bodybuilder (except he was way bigger than me and I tended to bully myself). How’s that for self-loathing?
But, my point is, if hating your current status is the only wind that truly fills your sails, then I say open them all and fly a Jolly Roger flag and see how far you can get.

End quote
I really liked this article and I am really glad what they picked for Number One and you can scroll down to see it. When I was in college, I worked at Village Host Pizza and the two Hanson brothers in REAL life came in all the time. They played for the San Francisco Shamrocks and, well, let’s just say they didn’t have to act in the movie. In Harold and Maude, the scene in Colma (the cemetery) is filmed “on” and around my grandparent’s tombstone. I was amazed at how many of these movies I have seen.

It’s not ridiculous to say that watching Harold and Maude can change your life. On paper, the film may seem like a dark romantic comedy based on the relationship between a 20-year-old boy infatuated with suicide and an 79-year-old woman who lives each day like it’s her last, but it digs so much deeper than that. Harold and Maude is a celebration of life. Director Hal Ashby wants to eliminate societal tropes like age and gender in order to fully cherish living and appreciate the freedom of it all. It feels like watching a dream that’s speaking directly to you, urging you to understand that life is worth living—not in any particular way, but in whatever way feels authentic. Cult movies are beloved for being weird or campy, and Harold and Maude is no exception, but the appeal goes beyond that. I could go on and on; instead I’ll leave you with the Cat Stevens lyrics that reverberate through the movie:
    Well if you want to sing out, sing out
    And if you want to be free, be free
    ‘Cause there’s a million things to be
    You know that there are. 
    —Sean Yoo

End quote
I met Arnold twice. I think this article does about as well as anything explaining him. “Come with me if you want to live” is a great line for a vaccine.
This quote will help you understand the video:

And so once again we take a quick spin through Schwarzenegger’s filmography and bibliography, because doing that is always fun, and it behooves us in this moment of maximum American self-antagonism to further ruminate on how this particular sword was tempered. It turns out “put that needle down” is a paraphrased deep cut from 1996’s wacky comedy Jingle All the Way, in which he yells, “Put that cookie down, now!” at Phil Hartman. It makes no sense, and doesn’t particularly help anybody, to dredge that one-liner back up now, in the middle of a raging global pandemic and burgeoning American cold civil war. Then again, it makes exactly as much sense as anything or anyone else does.

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Sadly, events in the background in 1968 and 1972 really made it hard for O lifting to stay in the public eye. Oh…Olympic lifting. The snatch? The clean and jerk? Never heard of them? Exactly. Marty does a great job here showing how close we were to having some more lifting, rather than skateboarding, at the Olympics.


For these reasons, Hoffman (allegedly) submarined powerlifting in 1968. The 1970s would bring a rash of steroid scandals that changed everything, insofar as any possibility of powerlifting’s inclusion into the Olympic games. When the drug scandals broke, the IOC identified “at risk” sports, sports that benefited from PEDs, Performance Enhancing Drugs. PEDs are of far greater benefit to a shot-putter than in a gymnast, or an equestrian rider.  Ergo, the discus was deemed an at-risk sport while synchronized swimming was not. Powerlifting became radioactive.
Once the first wave of steroid scandals broke in the 1970s and then continued unabated into the 1980s, powerlifting’s chances of Games inclusion evaporated. Yet, within the powerlifting community the Olympic fantasy was falsely, or perhaps naïvely presented to their faithful members as the ultimate goal: getting powerlifting into the Olympics was the eternal priority, everything should revolve around attaining Olympic inclusion.
This lofty goal would be attained by demonstrating that powerlifting could and would become a “clean” sport, as drug-free as 10-meter diving or dressage. There would be lots of out-of-competition testing and plenty of drug suspensions until all the bad apples were purged. Powerlifting would become so drug-free and pure that the IOC elite would say, “Powerlifting is so pure and clean, so cool and popular, that it deserves to be in the Olympic games!”
In another kiss-up move, the IPF (International Powerlifting Federation) and their American sister affiliate, changed their weight classes to mirror the IWF’s (International Weightlifting Federation) changing of their weight classes.
The IWF created a new set of world records by establishing new weight classes. They sought to create a “clean slate,” the commencement of a new, pure, clean, drug-free era of weightlifting, one that would differentiate modern, clean, pure, chaste, wholesome weightlifting from those dirty old (amazing, incredible, god-like) drugged-up Bulgarian and Russian lifters of the 1980s. Oh, and they eliminated a weight class, thereby shortening competitions.
The powerlifting elite solemnly intoned, “Well hell, if we want to lift in the Olympics, we need to mimic the IWF weight class changes – we too will cleanse our books: this will be our year zero.”  I wrote an article at the time pointing out that the IOC was hardly looking to include another at-risk lifting sport into the Olympic games.
Quite the opposite, the goal was to throw out at-risk sports and events; toss them out of the Olympic games and replace them with more popular, viewer-friendly, no-risk “sports.” (sport was given a highly elastic definition) Promoters wanted events that were popular with the TV viewing public. They wanted ratings. Period.

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I know that my weekly newsletter is the finest, most comforting and insightful thing you receive in your inbox every week. This is an important article on truth and advertising.

1. Test the statement by adding in what it leaves out.
Advertising selects its words carefully: “comfort” and “luxury” or “solution” play on positive associations but dance around in-depth explanations that qualify their use. Critical parties will be quick to highlight what these words don’t say. While the right words may be enough for people who are inclined to support the brand to reinforce their affiliation, the repetition of key questions can contaminate the confirmation. For example, what does “ultimate” mean? Is there really nothing comparable? How does “ultimate” equate to costs? And what does it cost to maintain “ultimate”? Who will view this as an ultimate driving machine? Your neighbors? Colleagues? How will they assess its “ultimacy”?
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Finally, I’m sure this coach meant to say something. He certainly said a lot and I think I agree with it. I would suggest reading this article about WHY this is such an issue with hiring in American professional sports.

“Next thing that’s very important to me is that we build a smart football team, that we have a smart football team here, and I know we have the people in place to do that,” he said. “The first part of being smart is knowing what to do. We’re going … we’re going to know … we’re going to have systems in place that are easier to learn, alright? Complicated to the defense or offense that they’re going against, or the special teams group they’re going against, but easy for us to learn. Because when we can learn our system, and we can get good at our system, then our talent can take over. Less thinking equals talent take over. But we need to have systems in place, and we will have systems in place to do so.”

End quote
Who can argue with that?
Before I sign off, I just want to let everyone know that Pavel and I are still working hard on the updated version of Easy Strength. I don’t know when we will see the final edition, but I sure like what I see so far.
And, until next week, 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 179

“No. You go to the chapel again then, and Kay offers his sword to the vicar, and the vicar gives it back to him, and after that our good cook over there meets him at the door and claims his spurs as a reward, and says, ‘I shall keep these spurs for you, and if at any time you don’t behave as a true knight should do, why, I shall pop them in the soup.'”
“That is the end?”
“Yes, except for the dinner.”
“If I were to be made a knight,” said the Wart, staring dreamily into the fire, “I should insist on doing my vigil by myself, as Hob does with his hawks, and I should pray to God to let me encounter all the evil in the world in my own person, so that if I conquered there would be none left, and, if I were defeated, I would be the one to suffer for it.”
“That would be extremely presumptuous of you,” said Merlyn, “and you would be conquered, and you would suffer for it.”
“I shouldn’t mind.”
“Wouldn’t you? Wait till it happens and see.”
“Why do people not think, when they are grown up, as I do when I am young?”
“Oh dear,” said Merlyn. “You are making me feel confused. Suppose you wait till you are grown up and know the reason?”
“I don’t think that is an answer at all,” replied the Wart, justly.
Merlyn wrung his hands.
“Well, anyway,” he said, “suppose they did not let you stand against all the evil in the world?”
“I could ask,” said the Wart.
“You could ask,” repeated Merlyn.
He thrust the end of his beard into his mouth, stared tragically at the fire, and began to munch it fiercely.

End quote
And, with that tragic look and beard munching, this chapter ends. I continue to be amazed by this rather short, quiet chapter. I have referenced “I could ask” probably daily since I first read this line. It sits quietly in my mind as the answer to so many of life’s questions; you don’t have to wait to be grown up.
I’ve asked students to be kind and they strived to be kind. I asked one young man to please stop choosing poorly.
He stopped.
I asked.
I’m not sure this always works, but asking seems to help.

DanWandering Weights is published each Wednesday by On Target Publications


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