Dan John: Wandering Weights, Issue # 326
Our Epic Journey Through All Things Heavy, Issue # 326
It’s a quiet morning as I type up this week’s Wandering Weights. For those of us who are American football fans, the season is behind us. It’s strange to think how much has changed in a year since the last Super Bowl.
Honestly, I didn’t know which way was up for most of the past year. I saw people behave in the worst possible ways and I’m stunned that many don’t think they deserve consequences for their actions.
Because of quarantines, I have not seen a number of my friends, travel is practically nil and so many things that I used to really cherish went missing.
WW keeps me grounded. Each week, I start collecting things for our newsletter, organize the podcasts, well, usually just “podcast,” and do some thinking about what to say.
Some weeks, it flows. Oddly, I really struggled this week. Then, a funny thing happened, we watched “Accepted.” It’s a 2006 movie with Justin Long and Lewis Black. Honestly, it’s not very good.
But this is Covid times, so I watched it. The movie meanders around and the plot is obvious if you have ever seen a high school or college movie. Yet, I found the point of the movie captivating:
Education should be about learning. Moreover, the learner should follow their interests in education.
None of this is earth shaking and you will sleep just fine if you don’t see the film. I think that this film, and my goofy enjoyment of it, reminded me why I like doing WW and taking the Great Courses, so much: I’m just following my interests.
I love weightlifting and all the stuff that surrounds it. Sometimes a question about nutrition gets me reading something that connects me to something else and soon I am reading about the Neanderthal’s use of language. Each week, I invite you into my mind and my weird internet searches.
Some week next year, we will bring forth our 400th edition of WW. The archives will chart my crazy voyages of learning. And, that’s the point:
Education should be about learning.
This week on danjohnuniversity.com:
Here’s a link to Episode 79 of the podcast.
Big news for the podcast! We finally got a better mic. Hopefully, it’s a noticeable difference.
Dan and I have been chatting about the next big upgrade to the site. I won’t share too much yet, but we have some really cool stuff in the works. Stay tuned.
Have a great week!
There are lots of podcasts to share with you this week. I’m really trying to get the podcasters to share the links with me.
If you haven’t yet heard of Dan John, you’re in for a big treat! Dan has been coaching for over 4 decades, and has been an athlete his entire life. From Track and Field to Olympic weightlifting, Dan has played and coached for many years. With over 10 books authored over the last 20 years, Dan has shared his wisdom, insights, and failures with coaches and athletes around the world. He’s been coaching others online since 1998, before most people knew what Adobe Acrobat is.
This episode I got to sit down with Dan, and talk shop with him. To say there are a few gems in here of wisdom is an understatement. Get your notebook ready, and enjoy the conversation, as while we cover some “serious” training topics, we have quite a few laughs on the way.
-Everything needs to be finished, BEFORE you complete it
-Why coaches can and should say “I don’t know”
-Why & How training should change as you move through more decades on this earth
-When are you “good enough to be frustrated”?
-There’s a time and place for everything
-Why you’ll need 3,000 pieces of paper
End of accolades
I enjoyed our discussion here with D and D: Episode: EP10 – Keys To Success In Strength Training, Nutrition, and Life. Listen to the podcast on Apple Podcast or Spotify.
Congrats to Pat Flynn on his 500th podcast!
Pat and Dan discuss “old timey strength secrets” found in long forgotten training manuals, such a those written by Eugen Sandow. What holds up, what doesn’t? What insights are there to be regained? They also chat about the importance of building momentum in your self-improvement efforts and how to do so. Then listener questions on sled drags and building a lean, athletic look.
Let’s start digging around the internet. I taught history for decades and I always defended the good people of the Middle Ages.
Q: How would you explain medieval science to someone today and how does it differ from contemporary ways of looking at science?
The basis of medieval science is that it’s intensely logical. In the Middle Ages, they said the more precise your observation, the harder it is to replicate. Therefore, you have to go back to really, really simple observations. And then use those observations as the basis for logical constructions to build a theory. It’s a different way of thinking about nature, but it’s also intensely practical.
The other part of it is that they do science for really practical purposes. The astrolabe is a device designed to tell the time and to measure the motions in the heavens. So you’re measuring, precisely, the motions of the stars — something astronomers today aren’t really interested in. They’re interested more in cosmology: how things are made and what things are made of.
But people in the Middle Ages made really precise measurements of the planets and the sun and the moon through the stars. Because they wanted the most accurate calendars that they could. That was important to Christians; in order to celebrate the feasts and festivals, like Easter, on the right day of the year, they had to get a very tight grip on the solar and lunar calendars.
I think this article is really important NOW. A lot of people tell me that this is really common. Fortunately, as I get tired, my eyes get weary and I can’t really read my phone in bed.
Chel’sea Ryan, a clinical social worker and therapist at the Southwest Center for HIV/AIDS in Phoenix, says she has both personal and professional experience with this phenomenon. After a day of office work and an evening of caring for her kids, she would lose sleep in favor of unwinding, reasoning, “This is my only time to breathe, be human, be a woman.” But her late-night habit created an anxiety spiral that eventually resulted in panic attacks. She’s seen it in her patients too. “A lot of clients have kids, or multiple jobs, or home life isn’t that great,” she says. “So they’re picking and choosing times when they can really cater to themselves, and usually that’s at night.”
If we’re really going to cater to ourselves, why not do a few minutes of yoga, or drink tea, as we’ve been told to do 5,000 times by freakishly cheerful wellness influencers? Why fall face-first into our phones? “For many of us, when we finally put away all of our technology at the end of the night, it is the first time that we are left alone with our thoughts and feelings without any distractions,” says Shapiro. “If we’re afraid of what we may find, or—perhaps more commonly—know that we will be met with uncomfortable, complicated, or heavy thoughts or feelings, we are going to unconsciously try to avoid them. Engaging in the late-night scroll may be an attempt to either push off the flood of emotion that may hit us when we close our eyes, or to exhaust ourselves to the point that we instantly fall asleep and don’t have to think at all.”
Dark! Accurate! And, ultimately, Shapiro says, not going to work. “We’re trying to protect ourselves, but we forget that avoidance actually makes the emotions stronger and we enter into a cycle of late-night anxiety,” she says.
I’ve been a fan of Tony Bennett basically since I first heard him sing. He is a legend. This might be the best article I have ever read on…well, life, living and everything.
Studies have shown that, as a preventative against Alzheimer’s disease and as a way to mitigate its effects, a Mediterranean diet — high in olive oil, fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes and fish — is beneficial. Susan, as Tony’s main caregiver, has kept him on the diet. She also oversees his three-day-a-week exercise regimen, aware that improved blood flow is thought to slow the progress of memory loss. A few minutes before 4 p.m. on the day I visited, Tony’s trainer, an outgoing young man named David, put the singer through a set of exercises that would have challenged someone three decades younger. They started with upper-body exercises, Tony pulling on thick elastic bands, then moved to aerobic work: Tony jogged up and down the hallways. Then on to lower-body work: stepping on and off a 6-inch-high box, plus six sets of squats. Though he did not speak, Tony responded to David’s instructions and, at one point, as he sat puffing for breath in his chair, he reached suddenly for Susan’s hand. She clasped it. “Feels good to work out, huh, cutie?” she said.
“Yeah,” Tony said.
“Good!” Susan replied.
Tony on SCTV (mentioned in the article)
This is another nice article from AARP. Good advice on glute training here.
Joan’s favorite moves to stay fit and flexible
Lie on your side with your knees bent and a loop resistance band around your thighs. With your feet together, raise your top knee. Hold, then lower. Do this 10 times, then switch sides and repeat.
Holding a chair, stand with your feet apart and a loop band above your ankles. Swing one leg straight behind you. Hold, then lower. Do this 10 times, then switch sides and repeat.
Sit on the floor with your knees bent, your feet flat, your shoulders propped against a bench. Raise your hips until your back is parallel to the floor. Hold, then lower your hips. Do this 10 times.
I love Tim and I love Tim’s work. This story is just wonderful: Plastic People | Original Strength
I have a friend, Mrs. V, who is a tremendous athlete. One day she had a very significant stroke. It took away her ability to run, walk, and have controlled movement. It also took her ability to speak clearly. Not only that but for a brief while, it took her hope.
I have another friend, Mrs. J, who is a real-life superhero. This friend showed Mrs. V how to get on the floor to roll, rock and crawl. She spent time with Mrs. V to help her remember how to breathe again. After that very first movement session, Mrs. V was speaking more clearly.
I say Mrs. J is a real-life superhero because she loved Mrs. V enough to help her start where she was, she helped Mrs. V remember how to breathe and crawl again. And you know what, Mrs. V’s plastic brain rewired itself through those childlike movements and Mrs. V’s body was restored to her again. Not only was her body restored, but so was her hope and her contagious spirit.
The truth is, Mrs. V is also a real-life superhero. She got knocked down, very hard, and she literally learned how to get back up. She put in the time to relearn how to move again, and by doing this, she re-wired her plastic brain and she got her life back. I’m not sure I’ve actually met anyone as passionate about life as she is. It’s contagious.
From sumo wrestler to fat loss instructor! I think this is worth a full read.
How Shicore works
Shicore is generally categorized into two components, one being physical movement — a kind of exercise which models sumo wrestling movement and expression — and the other being food, a way of eating to create a healthy body that cultivates confidence and self-discipline. Today I’ll be introducing the latter.
His book breaks down eating well into three key ideas:
Joy in eating
10 different dishes a day
I’ve written extensively about harahachi-bunme (which you can read about here in full detail here), but harahachi-bunme is about eating until you are 80% full. It’s a term which directly translates to “8/10ths your stomach”, and is an approach which highlights the importance of eating in a way where we neither stuff nor deprive ourselves of food.
Takanohana goes beyond and explains that this also means not being particular about getting three meals a day — it can be one big meal in the morning, or maybe four small meals throughout the day. On some days, it could be no eating at all. But he simplifies the matter in the end and emphasizes: To eat when you are hungry, that is all.
Joy in eating
Takanohana believes that to eat well, you also need to find joy in it. He encourages individuals to eat what they want, but to eat it slowly, and with soups, tea, or water. He doesn’t believe in fussing over calories, and is comfortable eating high-fat or high-carb foods, as long as he enjoys it within the framework of harahachi-bunme. As an additional note, he also mentions that he makes it a personal rule for himself to not eat past 9pm so he can accurately determine this point.
10 different dishes a day
The final idea is about getting 10 different dishes a day. Largely following an ichiju-sansai style of eating, his meals often consist of rice, soup, and a few side dishes or okazu, to accompany his meals.
He encourages individuals to eat okazu and soup first, and have the rice last. If the okazu are enough to fill you, he believes that there is no need to have rice with the meal. Again, he highlights how it’s less important to worry about high calories or high fat food, but much more important to focus on variety in color and food types.
I know Charles is no longer with us, Bless Him, but a reader asked some advice for people older than me. I literally can’t recommend reading this enough.
Eugster offered TODAY some exercise and diet tips for those looking to jump-start their fitness later in life.
Employ high-intensity interval training: “It takes less time to do and can be good for your heart.”
Train less if you have an aggressive regimen: “I was rowing six days a week, but now I only train three days a week because you need to have a day of recovery, which is when the muscles are built.”
Trim that waist: “In old age, you have to be far more careful of having a fat belly. It’s the visceral fat that engulfs your organs, and that is the fat that is extremely dangerous especially in old age because it causes inflammation. It’s one of the first stages of chronic disease.”
Try something new: “Learning a completely new sport is something extremely beneficial for your body and your mind. You have to develop new synapses in your mind in order to do completely new movements under pressure.”
Use protein supplements: “If you want to build muscle in old age, you have to take protein supplements, usually in the form of whey protein and leucine. A Vitamin D supplement is also very important because deficiency is very common in older people.”
Maintain a diet with variety. “I don’t think it’s a right idea to have a fixed diet where you’re eating the same thing. You should eat all sorts of different things. An interesting thing I have now discovered is that if you consume a lot of protein, it’s advisable that you start consuming fat, which is something that is a bit difficult to do because everything in the grocery store is low-fat or no-fat now.”
Eugster’s hope is to change the way the aging population is valued while also helping anyone getting up there in years know that life can be even better as you get older.
“In my opinion, you can rebuild your body at any age,” he said. “You can learn something new or start a new life at any age.”
That should be enough to read for all of you this week. I will keep on keeping on and continue to move, step by step, to a time when the pandemic is behind us. 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 180
The day for the ceremony drew near, the invitations to King Pellinore and Sir Grummore were sent out, and the Wart withdrew himself more and more into the kitchen.
“Come on, Wart, old boy,” said Sir Ector ruefully. “I didn’t think you would take it so bad. It doesn’t become you to do this sulkin’.”
“I am not sulking,” said the Wart. “I don’t mind a bit and I am very glad that Kay is going to be a knight. Please don’t think I am sulking.”
“You are a good boy,” said Sir Ector. “I know you’re not sulkin’ really, but do cheer up. Kay isn’t such a bad stick, you know, in his way.”
“Kay is a splendid chap,” said the Wart. “Only I was not happy because he did not seem to want to go hawking or anything, with me, any more.”
“It is his youthfulness,” said Sir Ector. “It will all clear up.”
“I am sure it will,” said the Wart. “It is only that he does not want me to go with him, just at the moment. And so, of course, I don’t go.
“But I will go,” added the Wart. “As soon as he commands me, I will do exactly what he says. Honestly, I think Kay is a good person, and I was not sulking a bit.”
“You have a glass of this canary,” said Sir Ector, “and go and see if old Merlyn can’t cheer you up.”
“Sir Ector has given me a glass of canary,” said the Wart, “and sent me to see if you can’t cheer me up.”
“Sir Ector,” said Merlyn, “is a wise man.”
Merlyn’s next speech, I think, is the best part of this whole book…which, from me, is high praise. It’s worth reading ahead.
I think we have all been in Wart’s shoes today. Canary, by the way, would be called “sherry” today. It is/was a fortified wine with grapes from Spain or the Canary Islands. It was also called Sack Wine.
A glass of wine, a slap on the back and “off to your tutor” is pretty good advice in most of The Sword in the Stone. Merlyn, of course, offers more than just a lesson. It’s time for Wart’s last transfiguration.
DanWandering Weights is published each Wednesday by On Target Publications
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